As a Cassiopeia main, I see that she gets a lot of beef whenever I pick her. I believe there are a lot of things people just flat out don't understand about her, and I am making this guide to (hopefully) clear up some misconceptions, prove that she is worth her weight on a competitive team, and hopefully even inspire some to pick her up for themselves!
I know this is a lot to read and take in, but I've put a lot of work into this guide and I know that if you have any interest in Cass, or just are curious to know what exactly the **** she does to begin with, you'll be able to see her for what she is.
1. What the **** is Cassiopeia anyway?
2. Why should I pick Cassiopeia?
3. When should I pick Cassiopeia?
4. Pre-Game Setup
5. What do you build on her?
6. Skill Orders/All About the Skills
i. Noxious Blast
iii. Twin Fang
iv. Petrifying Gaze
7. How to Gank/Teamfight
8. General Tips
9. LOLReplay Matches
What the **** is Cassiopeia anyway?
Cassiopeia is somewhat hard to identify on a team. She isn't a kind of caster people have really seen before, so what exactly does she do?
The easiest way to classify her using terms is ap soft carry. Soft carry is a term that is heard a lot more in DotA/HoN and it usually means that that character has the capacity to carry, but isn't centered around having the highest damage output around. A good example of a soft carry is Storm Spirit or Slardar.
Even soft carries in League though scale (unlike in DotA/Hon), so it's a bit different, but you can see where I'm going. Usually you want a hard carry on your team, especially because Cassiopeia's ability to pick it up and actually carry won't kick in until she is itemized.
Why should I pick Cassiopeia?
I'm not going to lie, Cass isn't for everybody. She is extremely hard to play without getting your ass kicked or being a liability to your team, and then even harder to use optimally. Personally, I don't blame you if you never choose to pick Cassiopeia.
I think the main thing that keeps people away from her outside of her difficulty is that she is much more subtle than others. Ryze also plays the ap carry role and he is much easier to use, not to mention how sparkly and shiny his kit is. Compare Cassiopeia's Q to Ryze's Q, you have a jumble of snakes that spreads out on the ground with a cackling sound, and then you have a giant red ball of thunder and lightning. Hm.
She isn't as flashy, and her damage is also subtle. She doesn't just unload her **** and watch the damage fly like other dot casters such as Malzahar and Swain, you feel like you are doing so much more work because their life is being chipped away rather than omega blasted, and she is casting spells way more frequently than almost anybody else in the game along with Nidalee.
Her "high skill low reward" is an illusion; her damage is actually quite absurd in theory AND in practicality (for all the haters), it just looks that way. I find her extremely rewarding to play as, even though I get way more assists than kills when I play her I am always left satisfied when I play her because she is so intense to play as.
She's different, and I appreciate that. You might too, you'd be surprised at how fun she is once you get over the initial hump where you are just feeding all the time and everyone is *****ing at you about how much you suck.
When Should I Pick Cassiopeia?
She is best suited for kiting. She is in high contest for best kiter in the game, having the ability to kite entire teams of people. She has value in a lot of compositions as she has great damage output that she can cast from a pretty decent range (her Twin fang and ult both have a range of 700), and she is incredibly mobile. The biggest thing though is to make sure that your team can support you. You are a soft carry and a team shouldn't be centered around you, but make sure that you have people that you synergize with on a team.
The people you best synergize with are good initiators like Malphite, or Amumu. Irelia and Sion are also good choices. Probably the best thing to keep in mind is that you want people on your team who are good at locking targets down and/or being able to stick to them. People that are not especially mobile and are easily kited are not optimal for you, because Cassiopeia is most dangerous when team fights are on the move.
As with any character in League, having the correct gear before you step in is a big deal. With Cassiopeia, she is somewhat flexible thankfully, but I'll tell you what I run and recommend.
For runes I go:
Reds - Magic Penetration
Yellows - Mana Regeneration/5 per level
Blues - Ability Power per level
Quints - Movement Speed x3
Of course, you can swap these out for whatever you feel is necessary. They can be somewhat expensive, as 3 ms quints will run you 6000 ip. If you don't have ms quints, I recommend going for more mpen or ability power per level.
Something I will stress about this guide is that Cassiopeia scales best with items that give magic penetration and straight ability power.
As far as masteries go, I have tested and prefer 9/21/0 every single time, with no exceptions. However, you may decide that you want to go the standard 9/0/21 taking the reduced summoner cool downs, and the additional move speed. It's up to you, but I prefer taking the bonus defenses, especially because of the summoners that I run.
For summoner skills, I run a combination of cleanse/flash/ghost/ignite depending on what I am facing and who is on my team. If I see they have more than one form of hard cc, take cleanse. I find cleanse is extremely important on her because the only thing that can stop Cassiopeia from doing her job is hard cc and obviously cleanse mitigates that a ton. Typically though, I run cleanse/flash just about every game, but those are the spells I recommend the most.
Ghost and Flash are very good choices because mobility is what makes Cassiopeia come together to form a complete package, and is highly valuable. Which one you take depends on you though.
Clarity is also a good choice on her as it helps her laning out a ton, but my build has never left me mana hungry after I finish catalyst (more on that later). It's up to you.
What do you build on her?
There is a wide variety of things you can build on her, she is fairly flexible on the path you take. Every build I recommend on her though has 2 things in common, every time.
Rylais and +3 boots are core on her and I highly recommend you get these every single game without exception. Again, mobility is key. With ms quints and boots of swiftness, you are pretty much teetering on 500 movespeed whenever you land a Noxious Blast. That's insane, faster than most people with ghost on. With a Rylais in tow as well, you are literally impossible to kite, and even Kassadin and Ezreal will be huffing and puffing to keep up with you. Rylais is super core because it gives her 90% of her utility outside of her ultimate, and grants you the power to kite entire teams.
With Miasma at level 5 and a Rylais in tow, you will have this giant expanding aoe slow that slows people for 50%, and is not blocked by magic immunity.
Other than that though, this is the general setup I recommend. It's expensive, but you acheive uber-rape status once you get the ball rolling and get some items in tow.
-Rod of Ages
-Situational Survivability Item (I recommend either Hourglass or Banshee's)
Start off laning with a mana crystal and 2 health pots. As soon as you get the gold, go back and finish a Catalyst. Congrats! Now you have near infinite mana while also being extremely hard to harass. Seriously, this gives very good stats to lane with early game and is worth the trip back. Because once you come back, you should constantly be pushing whoever you are up against out of lane or just straight up killing them, because you are an absolute monster.
I usually upgrade this into a Rod of Ages after I finish my boots and Rylais. I don't recommend it before then because Catalyst's passive remains useful up to level 18. Plus, your mana pool grows in size and it's good to keep the passive to refill your mana pool while you are getting that increased mana pool from leveling so you can sustain yourself more easily.
You can definitely choose to change this into a Banshee's Veil if you need some faster survivability though.
I've really grown fond of Haunting Guise and I get it most games I'm in now. It gives you very solid stats for the cost and can keep you going strong through the mid-game when you still don't have very much ap yet. Again, she scales best with flat ap and mpen, and this gives a great amount of both while also increasing your survivability for a great cost.
Void Staff gives you all the damage you need after these items though, and most games will be ending as you get this. Again, Cassiopeia scales very well with flat ap and magic pen, and this item gives you both. It gives you a solid chunk of pure ability power while also increasing the potency of your poison. You COULD opt to get Rabadon's earlier, but it's pretty **** expensive if you ask me, and I find it's best to save it until you get a more solid amount of ability power before getting it.
Other items that are good
Archangels isn't too bad. Instead of getting a catalyst you can get a tear, and then upgrade it after you get a Rylais for a great boost in ability power. You generally can max it before the 20 minute mark if you rush for it, which is pretty badass. However, I prefer Catalyst because of the bonus health it gives too, not to mention when you upgrade it you get pretty **** tanky with a Rylais also in tow. However, Cassiopeia is naturally hard to kill, so this may be an item you have interest in.
Will of the Ancients also isn't a bad choice. It gives a solid amount of ability power while also upgrading your friends, and it also gives you spell vamp which is very valuable. Only one skill isn't aoe and you are very spammy, so you'd be surprised at the massive amounts of health return you receive while you are casting your spells.
Lich Bane is also a good choice. It gives you more movespeed which is always great, and it gives pretty decent stats. She is very spammy so you will always have the passive ready to proc the second it comes off of cd. However, it is pretty expensive, and I think there are better options for her.
Skill Orders and All About the Skills
This is the section that most will want to read. I'm going to go over my skill order for her, why I do it, and how to use her skills optimally. This stuff is going to be what you want to remember while you play, and has helped me a **** ton.
For skill order, I always go without exception:
This is your core move. Forget what people say about Twin Fang, that move is very helpful and everything but that is all damage based. This move is what makes Cassiopeia strong. Max it first, always. It has a .9 scaling power in ability power, making it your highest scaling move (well, Miasma scales at a little over 1-1 but they can also walk out of it). It also has 850 range, which is amazing for a move of this kind of strength. It also gives you a 25% ms boost when you land it at level 5.
This is what makes Cassiopeia so mobile and hard to kill. It's insane just how much utility is thrown into this one spell, you can keep this buff forever provided you can consistantly land it. Be extremely wary though, if you miss it your damage output is pretty much gone until it's up again. This move is a huge part of what makes Cassiopeia hard to play, landing it will become second nature before long and you'll be doing it in your sleep because you throw it out so often, but when you first start to play her it can be insanely frustrating to land. It's not like Karthus' q where if you miss you go, "Oh, ****. Missed it. Try again!" It has a much longer cool down (doesn't make cool down reduction worth investing in though) and she is extremely dependent on it to do damage, so you have to be weary.
This skill grants her her power in fights. Remember that. I can't give you tips on how to land it because that kind of intuition can only come in time, however I cannot stress enough just how important this skill is to her kit.
During laning, it can be a little strange to work with and you may find that you are pushing your lane a lot. This is natural, and avoiding this can only come in time and practice. Learn your opponents moves and before long you'll find the optimal times to hit them (when they aren't smothering themselves with creeps). When you first start off be a little weary about spamming this all over the place before you get a tear/catalyst (unless you brought clarity), but once you have one of those feel free to chuck this out almost every time your passive is about to expire (get it to 5 stacks with this move and keep it there forever).
This skill is highly underrated. Level it last, because the most useful part of it is that it's a giant cloud of poison that stays for a long period of time and that obviously doesn't scale with level. Unlike Noxious Blast, it covers a wide area and stays there for an extensive period of time. The slow is also a good bonus, but the main thing that it is useful for is that you might as well just post a sign in the middle of there that says, "All tresspassers will be shot on sight" because that's basically what happens whenever someone gets caught in it.
It creates this deceptively large zone where if your opponent enters it, they are going to get beat the **** out of. The slow makes it easy to land Noxious Blast off the bat, not to mention that it's free Twin Fang spam.
The main thing to remember about it is that you don't want it to be on top of the enemy creeps during laning. If you are laning against a melee, toss it on top of your own creeps. This will make it hard for them to last hit. If they have a ranged move to accompany them (Akali/Pantheon for example), chuck it in an area where they will most likely be standing.
You'll find that with proper placement, you can shepherd opponents into staying in certain areas and you can deny them last hits with this, or just land easy q's.
This move can also be used during chasing. Chuck it directly in front of the opponent that is running instead of on top of them. This creates this very awkward situation for them where they either have to run straight through it and take the slow, or run around it giving you and your team an opening to catch up and hit them with whatever as they aren't running optimally. You should easily be able to catch them with +3 boots and a Noxious Blast, and even more easily with a Rylais.
It can also be used during escaping. Noxious Blast is your primary form of escape along with your ult, and while you are running do exactly what you would do if they are chasing you. They either have to run through the slow or they have to run around it, either way they aren't chasing optimally giving you time to gtfo.
They may blink around it but I mean, who isn't ****ed over by blinks.
This move throws a lot of people off. Some people choose to level it first, but I don't really agree with that. I level it secondary to Noxious Blast because I believe Noxious Blast is more important honestly, and this skill is mostly used for damage as it has no real utility outside of that.
Another reason is because it is extremely mana intensive. It is spammy but it also has a relatively high mana cost, so leveling it early before you have the mana pool to manage it can leave you mana drained very quickly. The only time I level it faster is if I have a Singed laning with me, and that's because when you level Twin Fang first if Singed gets a fling off they are going to die, and there isn't much they can do about it.
The main thing that throws people off though is that the cool down doesn't turn to .5 until after it hits whatever you targeted. This adds an extra dynamic to the spell, if the poison wears off before Twin Fang hits or the target dies, the cool down will instead go into it's full duration. This can be very frustrating for newer players to work around but there are ways to work around this.
Use your speed buff as a timer for your poison. The duration of the buff matches with the duration of the poison on the target, so use it as an indicator of when the poison is about to wear off. If it is about 4/5ths the way complete, don't fire another Twin Fang and instead refresh the poison using either Miasma, or another Noxious Blast.
Also, you REEAAAALLLLLYY want to keep this skill on smartcast. You can do this by either holding shift down, or just going under Key Bindings in the options menu and going down to auto-cast. Change it from shift+e to just e, and bam you have auto-smart cast. This will optimize your casting for Twin Fang, and pretty much will allow you to get an entire extra one off before you have to refresh the poison, which is a very big deal. With the recent speed buffs you could probably get an extra TWO in.
This move is widely considered underpowered by those who don't understand it, but I consider it almost broken in the hands of someone who does.
The main thing that sets people back about it is that it's situational, and that technically Sona's has a longer reach. Annie's aoe stun is also more consistant. While all of this is true, the range is an incredible 850, matching the intense ranges of her Noxious Blast and Miasma.
The main thing you have to think about when concerning aoe is it's width. When you look at the skill in that way, this skill has a gargantuan aoe, and when you use it to it's full potential will absolutely break team fights. Since the latest buffs, it's arguably one of the better ultimates in the game and while the stun isn't 100% garunteed, again, it covers such a massive area and does such great damage that it's hard to ignore just how valuable this spell really is.
However, the landing it is the tricky part. To land it on an entire team you are inevitably going to be bumping shoulders with SOMEONE on the enemy team, so it can be very unsafe. This is why I bring flash a lot, flashing in and ulting at the precisely right time can blow teams out of the water, and put you at an overwhelmingly huge advantage in that fight.
Miss it though, and you'll probably get butt ****ed instantly. So, yeah. Be careful about it.
The main thing that makes it better than others though is how much of an advantage it gives you personally when you land it. The reason why I like characters that lock down others easily is because Cassiopeia is incredibly hard to deal with once she gets started on you, but getting started can be tricky. This basically lets you unload your entire **** cannon combo on them and gives you a huge head start, and basically makes the fight go on your terms from then on out.
Not to mention it also butt ****es people who attempt to flank you.
DO NOT even think about trying to ult under these circumstances though.
-While chasing: You have better options and you should save it for when you at least have a chance at stunning somebody
-While someone is spinning: While it is possible to stun during these, it's not worth it to try. Wait for the best moment to stun, don't take chances you don't have to take.
-While people are already stunned: This goes for any stun. Use it as a chain, it goes especially well with an initator. Just another reason why people who lock others down are valuable to Cass.
-As initiaton: People are going to see that you are about to open up on them with your ult. Again, if you miss it, you will pop like a balloon as it's a fairly unsafe skill. Instead, I opt to use it as a chain to my initiator.
How to Gank/Teamfight
As Cassiopeia, it should be a rare occasion that you take a 2v2 lane. I prefer to take Solo Top most frequently, as she can evade (most) ganks extremely easily with Cleanse and Noxious Blast's speed boost. She can also 1v2 like a freaking maniac, it can be extremely hard to deny you farm. I've even gone against bull **** combos like Sion/Zilean and still have come out with a decent creep score, so she is optimal for that kind of situation.
That's not to say you can't take a 2v2 lane though. In fact, if you have a person who can lock-down like I've been mentioning, you'll probably be swimming in gold from kills or effective zoning. And like I said, Singed is a very good complement to her playstyle.
As far as ganking goes though, you should be ganking quite frequently. You have the skills to push a lane up to the tower extremely quickly, which should give you ample time to go and gank. In solo top though, it is much more concentrated on farming, but you can definitely take a break for a few seconds to go and gank mid, or gank the jungler.
When you do gank, the primary thing is to land Noxious Blast first and then let loose with Twin Fangs. You have some of the highest damage output early game, and if you are doing a gank then they will inevitably run. To use your ult most effectively in a gank you should wait until they are running. This way, if you try to ult they won't just suddenly decide they are going to turn around and run, thus making you whiff your ult (happens more often than you think). If you are cutting them off, then your job just became extremely easy as it's very hard to avoid a Cassiopeia ult without dying when you have to run through her. However, if you are coming in from an angle, it's a little more trickly. Once you see they are going to run, immediately flash in front of them and ult. This is pretty much a garunteed stun. If you don't have flash or your ult up, do what I said in the Miasma section - chuck a Miasma directly in front of them.
She is a very deadly ganker when played right, however it takes a certain level of expertise to certify a kill. Again, people who can lock down like Udyr, Warwick, Rammus, etc. are all extremely effective and complement you very well.
As far as team fights go, positioning is the name of the game. You have good range on all of your skills, so just sit back with a box of popcorn and watch the blood run. Ok, obviously it isn't that simple, but you want to be far behind everyone and out of reach. You have some great poking power due to the intense range and cool downs of your spells, so make sure you abuse that before a team fight lets out.
However, do everything you can to keep out of the initial initiation if you are initiated on. If Amumu bandage tosses in and ults, make sure you cleanse that asap (you did bring cleanse when you saw Amu right?) and position yourself to ult. It's a bit harder to do that against someone like Malphite or Alistar as knock-ups can't be mitigated, but you get the picture. If you are initiated on, inevitably the enemy team is going to be trying to charge you.
You can do a few things here, first you need to land Noxious Blast. This should give you the mobility to get to where you need to be. You can chuck a Miasma out there to try to shepherd the enemy team some while the rest of your team is getting into position to retaliate, and then when you see the moment is right you ult.
It is extremely important that you get as many people in the ult as possible. It's not 100% necessary that you stun them all because it's a pretty hefty nuke as well, and the slow of course is great, but you want to time it so you can stun as many people as possible. Once your ult goes off, back the **** up. While it's a free set-up for you to get the ball rolling, the stun only lasts 2 seconds and you want to get yourself at maximum range of Twin Fang for your main target before they are released. Make sure that you keep Noxious Blast's speed boost up as much as possible, never let it expire.
Cassiopeia is naturally hard to kill. People may try to focus you down, especially anti-carries. The main thing is kiting, most assassins have some kind of blink move to close the gap to you. If you anticipate this, you can put Miasma down on yourself and prep a Noxious Blast for them, and if you land this right you'll be at a huge advantage, even against people like Kassadin or Poppy. Do not be afraid to ult if they are going for you, your ult is a great defensive mechanism that can garuntee your survival, which is important because the longer you stay alive the better. Not to mention since you are so far back, they will have to go somewhat out of position of the rest of their team to get you, and if your team can support (again, lock down characters), you'll have an easy time handling them.
As far as your team initiating goes, wait for your initiator to go in and declare the fight. Make sure you time your ult so they all stay in the same place for as long as possible, and use flash if you need to to get the best position posible.. Chuck a Miasma wherever your initiator went, this gives a very ****ty "aftershock" kinda effect to them where they are struggling to reposition, but your extremely potent expanding slow is stopping them from doing this very easily. Then position yourself to max Twin Fang range of your main target, and let loose.
-Cassiopeia is very dependent on landing Noxious Blast to perform. Only take the shot once you are 100% certain of yourself you will land it. If you are uncomfortable or you think you will miss, don't fire it until you are in a better position. +3 boots are very effective at positioning yourself for this as well.
-Don't rely on Miasma for damage, even if it did no damage I know I would still cast it. Don't just toss it randomly either, try to place it to deny your opponents last hits or to block chase/escape routes for them. This works especially well in funneled areas like the jungle.
-Try not to murder creeps with your skills while trying to harass. Don't push your lane farther than you have to!
-Twin Fang is a great last hitting spell if you do choose to poison creeps though. Noxious Blast/Miasma are very effective at slaughtering mobs.
-When you are fighting, always have Noxious Blast's speed boost up.
-Ult only when the moment is right. If you are unsure, play it safe until you are certain it will make a sizeable impact.
-Don't be rash - goes for any character but you will certainly get ****ed up if you try to go more off impulse than anything else
-Tell haters to suck it - you know Cassiopeia is good and you should show them what you got. If you suck... well... the only way to get better is by playing.
-If you see your opponents buy a Banshee's Veil, do not fret. You more than most casters can work around this very easily in fact. Cast Miasma on top of them. Since Miasma is not blocked my magic immunity, you are free to chuck a Twin Fang at them and break their veil. The cool down will reset, and there you go! Cass has a much easier time working around veil than other casters, so be thankful!
If you haven't heard by now, LOLReplay is the community created replay system that you can download to share replays I personally use gamereplays.org, it's a very easy way to put up your replays and share, and download other people's replays without fear of viruses.
To download, go here: http://www.leaguereplays.com/download/
To view a replay, download whatever replay it is you want to watch from gamereplays.org and save it in the same folder that your matches are recorded (should be a folder called "replays" under LOLReplay, that's what it is for me anyway). To view a replay, you have to have the League of Legends client open. Then, open up LOLReplay and double click what replay you wish to view.
When recording matches, when you open LOLReplay, it will automatically record all matches you play and save them as a file so you can share.
Score - 12/3/12
This isn't a show-off game (well, it kinda is), but when you watch it try to look out for things that I noted in my guide.
I hope to update this frequently with more LOLReplay matches not just from myself but from all Cassiopeia players!
I hope you guys have learned some things about Cassiopeia. She really is a valuable character and can provide a lot of value to a team when played properly.
For all the potential Cassiopeia players out there, good luck! It's a long trecherous road to accomplishing something with her, but once you get good you know it's worth it, and you can proudly call yourself one of the few who has mastered her!
I'm still learning new things every day, so I'm very open to critisism and comments, just keep it polite and constructive! This guide is also not yet fully complete, so check in later for even more!
Remember that you are always free to add me in-game. Thank you all so much for the support!
If you would like to see a video guide, I am trying to put the pieces together to make that happen, so let me know! Also, I have considered starting a stream, but before I make the investments necessary to make this go down, please let me know if you are interested in the idea!
I had a few comments:
I think you have to correct your mastery to be 9/21/0, i think you have a typo there.
What did you mean by:
A solid guide! I really enjoy Cass as my main caster, however I think she is *very* strong early and mid game (levels 4 - 16) before tapering off to a very strong support and mass damage dealer. I would add a few things from personal experience:
If your team is very mobile (Yi, Poppy, Kass, et c.), don't bother picking Cass. She won't perform very well when targets are always on the move in teamfights. Sure, she is amazing in small skirmishes, but full blown teamfights will leave you shattered on the ground in several pieces. I usually don't play her unless two or three allies have solidly beefy characters (Malphite, Sion, Singed, et c). There are other casters if your team will be running around a lot like Vlad who can take damage and deal it back.
Miasma is great to throw down with a noxious blast in the middle. During big fights, most enemies don't worry about the damage from miasma and are focused on other characters on your team. While they sit in miasma, you can freely fire twin fang on their squishiest character, and sneak noxious blasts in for devastating damage.
Lastly, I play normal instead of ranked games often and choose ghost+flash for summy spells. They give very good mobility and positioning because those are key to being effective with Cass.
Any other questions feel free to send me a message on pvp.net!
I tried and failed horribly as Cass. Too much latency.
The only thing I have to add is that Noxious Blast ticks at 0, 1, 2 seconds. If you're aiming for CDR and spamming as hard as you can, you might want to consider stopping at 30%ish CDR so you don't clip the second tick.
I Personally just let spells fly like WHOOOSH.
I'm one of the Tear people, so filling up the tear while simultaneously creating a minefield deadzone was just what I liked.
It never occurred to use that flash trick, it's a very good idea, I used to flash headbutt enemies backwards on ali, though that was rather unreliable.
Glad to see some Cassi info. She's certainly not the easiest to use, but I've always been under the opinion that she has one of the highest sustained damage of any other caster out there.
I also never took note of the movespeed buff. I knew it was there, and i took advantage of it while running away, but I never considered it vital to my function, I'll have to play a little less reactionally.
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