[Guide] Cassiopeia: The Deadly Cadence
Cassiopeia: The Deadly Cadence
A Guide by Nevrus, written with blood, sweat, and tears.
I recently acquired Cassiopeia and I absolutely love her. When she came out, I saw many bad Cassiopeiae underperforming and generally being useless. I thought, "Either she's a bad champion or no one knows how to play her."
After having played her, I can say it was probably more of the latter.
So, time to get into the nitty gritty of how I have learned to play Cassiopeia and why it is effective.
Let's begin before the game starts: Runes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells.
As for runes, she doesn't have a "required" rune set to be particularly effective. However, an ideal rune set (if you have it or can afford it) would go as follows:
Magic Penetration Marks: All of her damage is magic damage. This will help maximize it, especially against tanks.
Mana Regeneration/lvl Seals: Early on, Cassiopeia has mana problems, even with Deadly Cadence. This will help mitigate that.
Cooldown Reduction/lvl Glyphs: Her strength comes from her ability to rapidly deploy a variety of poisonous and deadly spells. These will help accentuate that, allowing you to perform the Deadly Cadence (more on that later) more effectively.
Ability Power Quintessences: Health would also work, to mitigate her squishiness, but the additional ability power helps early on, because we must delay buying large amounts of ability power until about mid game.
Masteries, I go 9/0/21, taking the spell penetration in Offense and the improved ghost as well as standard caster setup in utility. The extended buff duration can be very useful, as blue buff overcharges your sustainability and spamability.
Summoner Spells: Ghost and Ignite.
Ignite will combine with your strong early game damage output even without ability power to help you get first blood.
Ghost helps you escape sticky situations (which will arise often) as well as help you chase down weak champions to better set up your Deadly Cadence before you get Rylai's.
Now, on to the actual champion!
Deadly Cadence (Passive): Every time she casts a spell, her mana costs are reduced by 10% for 5 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.
This will help mitigate your lack of mana early game, and will downright make your mana pool near infinite late game. Don't go out of your way to stack it if you don't need it, because you're still expending valuable mana. You're just expending less.
Noxious Blast: After about half a second, a blast of damaging poison appears where the cursor was, inflicting anyone hit with a poison that does damage over 3 seconds. If it hits a champion, Cassiopeia gains movement speed for three seconds..
Mana Cost: 35/45/55/65/75
Damage: 75/115/155/195/235 (+0.9/AP)
Move Speed: 15/17,5/20/22,5/25%
This spell is CHEAP. It is also POWERFUL, having a great AP ratio. If you've played Karthus you generally know how to utilize this ability. It also helps your movement speed, which is useful for both chasing and for escaping ganks. Use this early game as your main harass. Don't spam it, per se, but if enemy champions move too close to the minion line, attempt to harass you, etc. feel free to pop them with it. The mana cost is so low that you can keep applying damage over and over again.
Miasma: Cassiopeia instantly sprays a cloud of poison at a target location that slowly grows throughout its duration. Enemies that touch it are affected with a low damage slowing poison for two seconds, and touching it again refreshes this poison.
Mana Cost: 70/80/90/100/110
Damage Per Second: 25/35/45/55/65 (+0.15/AP)
This spell is good for farming minions and for opening a gank attempt, but because of its stationary nature, low damage, and poor ratio, we'll mostly use it as an AoE slow and to help kill minions quickly.
Twin Fangs: Cassiopeia deals direct magic damage to a target. If that target was poisoned, its cooldown is .5 seconds instead of 5 seconds.
Mana Cost: 50/60/70/80/90
Damage: 60/95/130/165/200 (+0.55/AP)
This is arguably one of your strongest and weakest abilities. In terms of per-spell damage potential, it's not that great. But if you set up your combo correctly, you can use it repeatedly. This combined with Noxious Blast gives her great spammable harass and champion last-hitting potential. Something I've noticed is that it isn't very effective until level 2, as the mana cost is a bit too high at level 1 for its damage output, so keep that in mind.
Petrifying Gaze: Cassiopeia does magic damage to enemies in a cone, stunning those facing her for two seconds and slowing those facing away.
Mana Cost: 120/160/200
Damage: 150/275/400 (+0.6/AP)
This spell is Cassiopeia's most powerful, but also her most dangerous. Because of its close range cone nature, it puts you at great risk to get in a position to use it. In a team fight it can be devestating, but moving close enough to use it on more than one person basically telegraphs your plan and tips the enemies off to control or focus you. It's more effective as a surprise ganking tool to punish someone who curiously wanders into your bush to see if anyone is there, and to stop melee characters who attempt to gank you dead in your tracks. Turn them to stone, pop ghost, and run away. Or just kill them, if they're low.
Level 1: Noxious Blast
Level 2, 3: Twin Fang
Level 4: Miasma
Level 5: Twin Fang
Level 6: Petrifying Gaze
Rationale: Noxious Blast is great harassment tool early game, and since it costs a measly 35 mana, you can keep using it over and over again. Don't use Twin Fangs until you are level 3, and then use it after you land a Noxious Blast on an enemy champion for extra harassment. You should be able to weather your opponent down until they're in a position to be killed (often for first blood), and usually the opponent doesn't believe your noxious blast has enough damage output to be frightening. Apply it often to prove them wrong, because they probably won't go back to base, believing they can dodge it. If you're good enough with it, they can't.
Playstyle: The Deadly Cadence
In case you're musically unaware, a Cadence is a beat that people perform actions to. Militaries all over the world use Cadences to coordinate marches. A metronome is a form of cadence, and it's a better example for the purposes of Cassiopeia's playstyle. Imagine a metronome or pendulum swinging back and forth, one end to the other, repeating ad nauseum.
Cassiopeia's Deadly Cadence is the alternation between Noxious Blast and Twin Fang.
Why not just spam Twin Fang repeatedly? Because eventually your poison wears out or your opponent gets away. By alternating between the two, you accomplish two things initially, and three things eventually:
1. You keep your movement speed buff up, which will help you chase to land more Twin Fangs.
2. You ensure that Twin Fang will always have less cooldown than its maximum, even if you aren't using it every .5 seconds like you can.
3. After you get Rylai's, these spells combo very well together to keep an opponent slowed enough to consistently land them. If they stand and fight, they're dead, but if they try and run, they're dead. Slowing an opponent and getting constant movement speed buffs makes you an inescapable wench, except against flashes. But there's very little most champions can do to counter them.
That having been said, time for the fun part:
Beginning: Meki Pendant, 2 Health Potions- The Meki Pendant will give you fast enough regeneration that you can usually stay in your lane occasionally using Noxious Blast until you have enough gold to buy the next two items.
Meki Pendant > Tear of the Goddess, Boots of Speed- Tear of the Goddess, in one fell swoop, eliminates your mana problems, which if you were to go straight Ability Power, would seriously cripple your damage output. It's important to solve your own flaws before you focus on being the best killing machine you can be.
3rd Trip: Sorceror's Shoes/Mercury Treads: Whichever you need for the enemy team.
Mejai's Soulstealer- If you're doing your job as Cassiopeia, this item will keep itself paid for, even if you die a couple times. It doesn't matter if you're doing well or poorly, get this item and you may just gain enough momentum to carry a game.
Tear of the Goddess > Archangel's Staff- You should have been using abilities often to get Tear stacked up. Turn all that excessive mana into more damage.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter- Get Gian'ts Belt first. Don't deviate from this, get it FIRST. You're stacking now, and want to keep those stacks, so the extra padding to your health bar will be more useful to your AP than the 40 ability power of a blasting wand. Once you can finish the item, your core build is basically complete.
Rabodan's Deathcap/Guardian Angel: If they're wise, catching you out of position and focusing you a lot, get Guardian Angel to retain your stacks. If you're effortlessly slaying the enemy with venom, get Deathcap.
Lich Bane/Rabodan's Deathcap: If you got Guardian Angel, get Deathcap to top of your ability power. If you didn't and don't need one, get Lich Bane to add yet another high-damage nuke to your arsenal. You should have enough ability power that this can be added to the Deadly Cadence.
Playstyle Guide: Time to Bring it All Together
Grab your first items and head for your lane. Mid or solo if you can, the extra experience will allow you to gank other lanes later on. Play somewhat defensively, doing whatever you can to avoid being harassed, and harassing your enemies with Noxious Blast. If they're playing aggressively, chain-casting it will usually force them to back off, but if they're more defensive, hitting your opponent with one every 10-15 seconds will usually keep the pressure on. While you may be inclined to use it to last hit minions and that alone, Cassiopeia favors an aggressive playstyle because of her short cooldowns and powerful damage output. Use it on minions when the enemy is out of range, but don't waste all of your mana killing minions. You're better off wasting it harassing and killing champions.
At about level 3 you should have rank 2 Twin Fangs, and should start to follow your Noxious Blast harassment up with one or two, but be very careful- This spell costs more mana, and can drain your mana pool quickly if you overuse it.
I'll take this opportunity to explain why you shouldn't use it at level 1. 50 mana for 60 damage is approximately a 1.2 mana-to-damage return, which is kind of efficient but nothing special, especially considering how limited your mana pool is. At level 2, it becomes 60 mana for 90 damage, which is over 1.5 mana per damage, a little more reasonable.
At level 4 you're ready to start farming caster minions. Wait until the wave has stopped moving, then drop Miasma on the minions and follow up with a Noxious Blast and start auto-attacking them. As the Miasma grows and continually applies its damage, they'll die pretty quickly. Easy gold every wave.
You can also use Miasma to harass, but do so only in combination with your other abilities, and only if you A. Want to steal the opponent's momentum, especially if they just returned from healing, or B. intend to kill your opponent. Its 70 mana cost would return better damage with two Noxious Blasts, but the slow can be useful to cut off the enemy's escape route for heavier damage with the Deadly Cadence.
Bush control is also very useful on Cassiopeia. Being able to sit down in a bush and throw Noxious Blasts at your enemy only to become untargetable moments later will really help you unload damage on your opponents. The bush is also a good place to sit down to regenerate mana, as usually the opponents will fear your harassment and leave you **** well alone in the bush. Be prepared to flee if they are not. (This does not work on mid, because its bushes are not good for this.)
If you get an early kill, or just farm minions well enough, you should be able to easily afford the buying order described previously. If the enemy managed to get the jump on you, just buy what you can when you can.
I consider Mid Game for Cassiopeia to begin when she completes Mejai's Soulstealer, usually around level 9 (just in time for a maxed-out Twin Fangs). When you get Mejai's, you should make sure your lane is pushed closer to your opponent's towers, and then freely abandon it to set up ganks in other lanes. You need to build your stacks early to be able to carry later in the game, and while Cassiopeia is great at killing minions, her damage output on towers isn't really impressive because she focuses on magic damage rather than physical damage. Let other people kill the tower, unless you're effortlessly controlling the lane.
Your ideal combo during this phase is as follows:
If the enemy champion is at 50% health or less, open with Petrifying Gaze, trying for a stun if you can. If you can't, you'll probably still get a kill with the rest of the combo.
If the enemy has more health, try to land Miasma right on them and open up right away with a Noxious Blast while they're slowed and can't dodge it effectively. Afterwards, begin the Deadly Cadence, alternating between Noxious Blast and Twin Fangs to ensure that you are keeping up with them if they run. If they don't run, modify the Cadence to include two Twin Fangs per every Noxious Blast, as you don't need the constant movespeed buff.
If the enemy was at more than 50% health when you started, your ultimate can be used for two things: If the gank did not go well, stun/slow the enemy and get away. If it did go well and the opponent is low but likely to escape, use it to try and last hit them with its large burst damage, or to leave them vulnerable for a final volley of the Cadence.
Your role in mid-game is to provide lots of damage in team fights, a tactical slow whenever it's off cooldown, and generally win teamfights throughout the map. While you may occasionally die as a result of your aggressive, kill-hungry playstyle, hopefully competent teammates and skill on your part keeps your stack count rising every life. Your kills and assists will accelerate your gold gain to help you get the other items quickly. If there are no champions vulnerable to gank, do feel free to farm minions, just don't worry about killing towers. Blue Buff is also very helpful during this phase, as it gets your ultimate off of cooldown faster and it allows you to use your abilities with wild abandon for harassment and to build Tear/Archangel's for when you don't have it. You basically have infinite mana when you have it.
Build your items as appropriate, and make sure you stay behind the front-line champions during teamfights. You want to keep your stacks above 10 if at all possible and support your team as best you can. Your playstyle does not change very much from mid to late game, but you should focus more on pushing lanes with your teams instead of building stacks outright.
And now, something I'd like to address: There is a general consensus that Cassiopeia does not bring very much late game, much akin to Evelynn. I would like to establish right here that they are wrong.
Cassiopeia is an incredibly strong ganker, perfect for assassinating enemy champions who have low health and overextend. Convert them to free stacks.
Her ultimate, if used correctly, can not only stun or severely slow the entire enemy team, it will do about 1000 damage to them. This is assuming you are pragmatic with it, however. Try your best to avoid the pitfall of telegraphing that you are using it or the enemy team will position themselves to avoid it.
Also, not many people realize just how useful an AoE slow can be. If you position it correctly, you can slow melee characters to save teammates or catch runners repeatedly. If you have ever played Singed and ruined an entire gank attempt with a well-placed Mega-Adhesive Goo on a narrow jungle pass, you'll be in great shape to support your team.
And lastly, if she's built correctly, even if she doesn't have her ultimate or a tactical place to put her slow, Noxious Blast does incredible amounts of damage from decent range. Abuse it.
This was my first attempt at writing a guide, and I hope those who peruse it find it helpful. I am not an end-all be-all authority on the champion, as I myself am relatively new to her, but if I can pick up a champion and become a stacking, killing, carrying mage overnight, then obviously this build I have developed has some serious potential in competitive play.
*Edit: Updated ratios and abilities for patch. Yay deadlier Twin Fangs, and a longer movespeed buff on Noxious Blast! The Deadly Cadence is even deadlier!
This is pretty solid. one thing you always need to remember is, no matter who you are, you can be taken down, with a few exceptions. Overconfidence can be your downfall.
one question: i've heard that Cassiopia's twin fang skill also gets quick cooldown if she uses it on an enemy her teammate has hit with a poison attack, like Teemo's poison dart. is this true?
Absolutely. Teemo and Singed make great lane partners for her. If they release more champions with poison the combinations will grow. However, you shouldn't need a teammate to apply the poison if you're good enough with Noxious Blast.
Yeah, shouldn't be something you rely on.
Overall good guide, nice explanation on the different aspects. I have liked skipping Rylai's, finding its possible to get good at hitting with Q and W-into E enough. Its is a big plus for sure but could be good learning to play well without it.
I like Poison Track. It's Unique Compared to Other Champions as it is able to be Taken Advantage of by Ally Poisons
I agree with this guide. Cassiopeia is a hard champion to learn, but once mastered she is devastating on the field.
I personally don't agree with the skill leveling. I usually put a point into Q, then level up E whenever I can, W when I can't do E or R, and taking R at every chance. It's worked well. A few times I have leveled up Q before W if the enemy is dumb and keeps walking into my Q. Although I wouldn't recommend doing that, as the slow % from W is so nice to have. Q should only be a harass and leveled up last.
Also, I don't know the rules on linking or whatever, but I put a video of a full cass fight up on youtube, since there weren't many.
Edit: Also, I take clarity and ghost as summoner spells. Clarity gives her extreme longevity for staying in a lane. It also allows you to focus more on ap rather than getting your mana pool/regen up.
I see where you're coming from, but in my experience, enemies usually don't stay in Miasma very long. I prefer making Noxious Blast an effective harass after I've maxed Twin Fangs because it's easy to land if you're good with it, and its damage doesn't require the enemies to stand in one place over an extended period of time. If you consistently land Noxious Blast, the increased movespeed basically makes up for the lack of slow early game, and the damage is very nice.
I just don't think that 75 damage, plus its AP ratio, is effective enough damage for continual harassment. Once you've gotten Tear, according to my build, its low mana cost becomes almost negligible, and its ability to output damage is more useful than the increased slow of Miasma, especially to get early stacks once you have Mejai's.
I could see Clarity being effective, but I prefer having Ignite handy to assist in last hitting. It's quite satisfying to Ignite/Noxious Blast someone and get the kill notification after they've run off into the jungle.
Thank you for this guide!
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