So what is Cassiopeia to you? I'm surprised people still say she sucks or they haven't seen a decent one yet, but those that know her see a gem in the rough. To some extent, their biases have merit; Cassiopeia is not a standard AP carry mage, and unlike her peers, it takes serious skill or a lot of luck for her to take over a game. That doesn't mean, however, she can't devastate whole teams who are unable to shut her down. To describe it in terms of a graph, some AP carries represent spikes, as they have periods of extremely high damage output, followed by a steep drop off in damage potential. This pattern is timing-based, to maximize damage efficiency to "burst" down a hero or team of heroes. See Annie or Veigar for this archetype. On the other hand, Cassiopeia fits a much different curve. Hers is a sin wave, as her damage potential exists in both an offensive and defensive phase. She does not necessarily spike as high as quickly as other AP carries, but her damage output is extremely consistent and designed to wear opponents down until a final strike. To maximize what one can do with Cassiopeia, it's necessary to keep a steady rhythm of spells throughout the battle, but to control that rhythm judiciously. Like a wrong note, every spell cast you miss with Cassiopeia kills the tempo of her dance, and that's a shame for the audience. So here's how I view her pros and cons: Pros: [.]Is one of the better heroes in the early/mid game, where her harassment and combo potential allow her to both whittle down and burst targets down [.]Possesses great team utility, with two ways of bush sighting and two large AoE CC spells [.]One of the most mobile AP carries in the game and has long-range spells to attack from afar [.]Sustained damage potential in the late game is one of the best, and if protected, she can shred teams with her combos. Cons: [.]If caught by CC while out of position, she'll shatter like a glass vase. Extremely fragile at all points in the game, even when built bulky [.]Learning curve is reasonably high, but not too difficult. It'll take a while to learn her, and then longer to play her well, and longer still to play her to her potential. [.]Has trouble with heroes who can subvert her range and close in quickly or heroes who can negate the damage off her skills with heals and hit hard back [.]Relatively predictable and can get punished easily for trying to combo There is one thing I kept in mind while writing this: [highlight][center]This is not a guide.[/center][/highlight] Everyone has their own ways of playing a character, and what works well for one person may not work well for another. I respect the differences in opinion that others may have and welcome criticism or other ideas you may have, because that's how knowledge works. If you enjoy playing Cassiopeia the way you already do, then go for it. Maybe you'll like a few of the points I make. If you're starting out with Cassiopeia, do your research. Read as many guides and opinions and forums as you'd like, make your own educated opinions, and go from there. This is just 1 drop in the ocean. But it's a big drop.
Forever ago (5 months): Submitted guide, with almost all sections completed. A little after: Added Experimental Builds and Synergies. Now (January 5, 2012): Updated Runes, Item Builds for Dominion, Masteries, and Retooled for new focus on Dominion
This'll be a short section, and I'll elaborate more on it in future changes if need be. Most thoughts apply to both standard and Dominion, unless otherwise noted. [title]Marks: [/title]Magic Penetration marks give you the best value against any other type of rune, as every guide for Cassiopeia or another AP caster will tell you. Moving on. [title]Seals:[/title] Despite her innate, Cassiopeia will run out of mana over time. Mana Regen/level runes help to keep her functional in lane and in the field as the game progresses. For most item builds, only Catalyst's effect will provide an external source of mana regen, so these runes are vital. [title]Glyphs: [/title]Cassiopeia has three viable choices for Glyph Runes: Cooldown Reduction (CDR) flat or /level, Ability Power/level, and Magic Penetration. [.]The first, while usable, isn't advisable because the only skill that truly benefits from it is her ult. If you find that you prefer to have your ult up faster, it doesn't hurt to invest in a few CDR/level runes, but no more than a few. [.]The second is what I use, to give a little punch early. If you choose not to start with a Doran's Ring, these runes help to offset that initial lack of AP. At level 6, with combination with flat AP quintessences, she gains 22 AP, which boosts Noxious Blast by 17% and Twin Fang by 11%, which could be a significant difference between a kill and a near miss. [.]I don't recommend getting additional magic penetration if you have to sacrifice a lot AP to do it. Let's directly compare the effects of magic penetration to ability power. Level 2 Noxious Blast does 95+0.9 AP. Going purely off runes at level 6, you can either have 14 Magic Penetration (9 Marks + 9 Glyphs) and 14 AP or 9 Magic Penetration and 22 AP. Assuming 30 enemy MR, & base 15% MP... 14 MP + 14 AP = 114.44 damage 9 MP + 22 AP = 115.71 damage. If we skip to level 18 with level 5 Noxious Blast, then the same applies, assuming 60 enemy MR and 15% MP. 14 MP + 21 AP = 185.33 damage 9 MP + 48 AP = 195.92 damage Not to say MP glyphs are bad, just think about how you want to use them in combination with other glyphs. Most builds go Sorc. Boots and a little bit of additional magic penetration does make a significant difference. [title]Dominion:[/title] I'm going to advocate that instead of AP/Level Glyphs, either flat CDR or MP Glyphs be used. The game, frankly put, goes on much faster and since most games don't even get to 18 if played well, either utility in keeping your Ult up more often or extra penetration to help get take down targets faster in the earlier game would be best. [title]Quintessences:[/title] To be honest, a lot of things could work here. Flat health makes her less squishy at the start, Flat AP gives her an early punch, and Movement Speed makes her much better at kiting with Noxious Blast and escaping the occasional gank. I believe the mix of 2 Flat AP and 1 MS quintessence gives her both extra mobility and a little power early, but there's probably a good balance to be struck, so experiment and see what works best for you.
[img=summoners/flash.png][img=summoners/teleport.png] [title]Explanation:[/title] First off, let's start with the undeniable: [imgsmall=summoners/flash.png] is a must-get for Cassiopeia. It not only saves you if you screw up, but is great for initiating 1 on 1's and positioning in regards to the ult. I feel that most of the things you can do with Flash are already obvious, but I will talk about using Flash in combination with the Ult. [title]Laning Phase, Solo:[/title] Since Cassiopeia is designed to gradually wear down an opponent, then go in for the throat, that's exactly what you should do. However, you need to make sure that once your combo is finished the other enemy hero is either dead or is unable to retaliate against you, because a counterattack could easily bring you down. If you can get your opponent down to 50% health and your mana is sufficient, let the enemy push to your tower, harassing along the way and if he or she overextends too deep within your Flash + Ult range, let it rip. At level 7 with 23 AP, a combo of [imgsmall=summoners/flash.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] can do up to 214+(28*4)+136+130*2= 722 gross damage, which is a lot of damage early. Of course, it's not [highlight]that[/highlight] easy to do and it's likely you'll run out of mana, but its potency should not be denied. [title]Laning Phase, w/Teammate:[/title] With the slow off of Miasma and the potential Slow/Stun off of the Ult, Cassiopeia is a very powerful "cleaner" early to mid-game. "Cleaner" refers to a role allowing her to come in after the initial combat and turn the tables with her combo of spells. The use of Flash is contentious in a 2v2 situation, because it's likely that she will be focused on immediately after a Flash, so be cautious and plan your approach ahead of time. Wards are also extremely helpful for knowing when to initiate or clean up. [title]Team battles:[/title] It's far more valuable to save Flash for a quick escape after a team battle than to use it to initiate an Ult into the midst of another team. If you have someone else to initiate, then it's plausible that a well-timed [imgsmall=summoners/flash.png]+[imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png] will enable your team to start the rout. Just be extremely careful of this tactic, as it can backfire explosively on your team. Onto the second slot, which I believe has two best options: [imgsmall=summoners/teleport.png] and [imgsmall=summoners/ignite.png]. Whichever one you choose depends on your playstyle, but I'll state why I prefer Teleport over Ignite. There are three main reasons: [title][.]Utility:[/title] Having [imgsmall=summoners/teleport.png] allows Cassiopeia to maximize her time in lane, as she can quickly shop and return to her lane within a matter of a few seconds. This additional efficiency, as compared to a Ignite/Flash combo, allows Cassiopeia to farm quicker, level faster and press harder than a counterpart. [title][.]Map Control:[/title] To set up ganks and ambushes, a great degree of mobility is needed, which requires Teleport, especially when the map is warded well. Nothing is more perfect for Cassiopeia than to see an enemy blindly walk into the bush where she teleported to a ward. [title][.]Transitioning into Late Game:[/title] Cassiopeia is still deadly, but she's not going to carry a team a la Annie, with her Tibbers & Stun or Veigar, with his zone/stun and nukes. She fits best on a team as the secondary damage dealer, as someone who can easily kite an incoming team then chase down and eliminate a single target or two. The reason Teleport is picked over Ignite in this situation is that Ignite will do at most 410 damage where as your [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] already does this at level 18, has a longer range, and is spammable. Teleport will allow Cassiopeia to move into supporting her team a little better, instead of being focused solely on doing damage. Note: It's not to say she can't be a primary carry. It's happened before, but it's problematic to manage because if she gets CC'd out, which can happen easily, then your team loses the fight more times than not. [title]Other Viable Spells: [/title] [imgsmall=summoners/ignite.png]: There are lots of reasons to get this, and most builds actually go Ignite over Teleport. It helps to maximize her early game potential and set up her mid-late game, if you can acquire kills with it. [imgsmall=summoners/exhaust.png]: Having this never hurts, especially with disabling enemy carries, but the pros and cons of Exhaust vs. Teleport vs. Ignite have to be weighed. [title]Non-Viable/Non-Recommended Skills:[/title] [imgsmall=summoners/clarity.png]: Only get this if you have mana problems when you start out playing Cassiopeia and try to wean yourself off of it as soon as possible. It's designed to act as a crutch, but if you want to become good with her, it shouldn't be relied upon. I don't recommend it, but if you need it until you're comfortable with her spell usage, go ahead. [imgsmall=summoners/cleanse.png]: On a tank, it would be handy. However, the only viable use of this is to throw off a stun, then Flash away, because even if she's not slowed or stunned anymore, Cassiopeia is still relatively fragile. [imgsmall=summoners/fortify.png][imgsmall=summoners/clairvoyance.png]: Technically, a true tank/support should have this skill, to allow the damage dealers their own skills, but if the situation merits that you must take it, then do so. [imgsmall=summoners/revive.png]: Its cooldown is absurdly long, and will be of use only in a few situations. Other spells are more useful. [imgsmall=summoners/ghost.png]: You already have a portable, 3 second cooldown Ghost within Noxious Blast, so it would be wise to learn how to use that instead of wasting a slot. [imgsmall=summoners/heal.png]: Sure, heal could give you a little health early-mid game and prevent a kill, but it's generally a waste of a slot (Are you seeing a pattern here? >>) when more helpful spells are present. [imgsmall=summoners/rally.png]: The bonus AP from Rally is ever so tempting, until you realize how little health it has late-game and you need to put a lot of points into the Offensive Masteries for it to even function for Cassiopeia. Pass. [imgsmall=summoners/smite.png]Cough. Cassiopeia in the lane is without a doubt 100 times better than in the jungle. Don't do it. Save Smite for someone who could actually jungle [highlight]well[/highlight].
[title][img=skills/cassiopeia/p.png] Passive: Deadly Cadence[/title] [number]After casting a spell any subsequent spellcasts will cost 10% less for 5 seconds. This ability stacks up to 5 times.[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] While this passive is awesome in that it makes your spells cost a lot less if you keep the stacks up, don't be fooled by the illusion that you won't run out of mana, especially in the early-game. There, the benefits of keeping 5 stacks of Cadence up are countered by the fact that Cassiopeia doesn't really have the mana or the mana regen to keep it going. Only after your mana pool is sizable in the mid-late game is it feasible to prep a few stacks as you go into battle. That said, it's still really good: With Cadence: [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] costs: (200+99+60+63+53+38+45+45)= 602 mana, which is impressive for casting 8 skills in the span of about 7 seconds. If you choose to modify the skill order as to maximize savings on the ult, like [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png], that would cost: (110+68+72+63+100+38+45) = [highlight]496 mana.[/highlight] W/o Cadence: Both combos cost 820 mana, which is why [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/p.png] so helpful for Cassiopeia's ability to maintain her steady combo of spells. In the first pattern, she saves ~27% mana, while in the second, she saves ~40%, which is absurd. Many casters go through 500 mana within 3-4 spell casts, while Cassiopeia can unleash 8 consecutive spells with the same cost. No matter how your combo starts, though, [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/p.png] will save you some mana, which is especially important since she usually doesn't need or use direct mana regen items, aside from Catalyst's effect. Note: The first combo of spells is a relatively common pattern, to get the stun/slow right off the bat and allow your team to pounce before a target gets away, but it's to your benefit to think about using the second combo in some situations. [title][img=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] Q: Noxious Blast[/title] [number]Cassiopeia blasts an area with a delayed high damage poison dealing 75/115/155/195/235 (+90% AP) over 3 seconds, granting her 15/17.5/20/22.5/25% increased MS for 3 seconds if she hits a champion. [.]Cooldown: 3 seconds [.]Range: 850 [.]Radius of AoE: 75 [.]Manacost: 35/45/55/65/75 [/number] [title]Explanation:[/title]First off, you need to learn three things how to use this skill. [.]From the time you cast it to the time it affects an enemy, it has a delay of about a quarter of a second. If most heroes move at 310 movement speed, then it's possible for them to move out of the AoE (75) if you aim [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] right on top of them. The solution is that you need to lead with the spell in the direction your target is moving. If they're retreating, cast [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] in front of them, and vice versa. Make a mental note to yourself about movement speed changes as well as characters who have blinks. [.]In the early game, if you move into range to try and cast [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png], Cassiopeia will more often than not miss it, because the initial movement telegraphs your intent to cast and so enemies will retreat out of range. The best way to take away that telegraphing is to stand among your creeps while last hitting, because 850 range is quite far. Without an initial cue, the reaction time slows down a lot, which makes it much easier to hit. [.]In order for the enemy to last hit, they have to either stop and attack or cast a spell from a distance, which opens a window for [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] to hit. This is why Cassiopeia is such a strong harasser early, because this skill's range and potency can zone extremely well. If you can learn the pattern of your opponent's movement, then using this skill got a little bit easier. Second, there are several things to note about this skill. Unlike its counterpart, Karthus's [imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png ], Noxious Blast does full damage to all enemies around. Its excellent AP ratio and short cooldown make it a skill with very high output throughout the game. What's most important about landing this skill is the sizable speed boost she gains upon landing [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] on an enemy hero, as it enables her to escape from a chaser or to move into harassment with [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png]. One final note. In order to be good with Cassiopeia, you need to learn how to use this skill in all types of situations. This does [highlight]not[/highlight] mean spam it on anything that moves. Be wary of pushing too far with this skill. It's deceptively easy to get out of position, so save your shots and your mana for when you need it. You don't have to be perfect with this skill, but you must be efficient with your shots. Don't let anything go to waste. [title][img=skills/cassiopeia/w.png] W: Miasma[/title] [number]Cassiopeia releases a growing cloud of poison that lasts for 7 seconds. Any enemy that passes through it is poisoned for 2 seconds, dealing 25/35/45/55/65 (+15% AP) each second and slowing them by 15%/20%/25%/30%/35%. Continuous exposure renews this poison. [.]Cooldown: 9 seconds [.]Range to Center of AoE: 850 [.]Radius of Aoe: 100-175 [.]Manacost: 70/80/90/100/110[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] This skill is underrated and somewhat underestimated by a lot of players. Yes, its mana cost is prohibitive until late, but it has five important uses: [.]Its zoning potential is outstanding, as it can cut off half of the lane if placed correctly. Helpful when pushing or setting up ganks or even escaping, as the poison and slow effects could make someone think twice about chasing into a counter. [.]Its slow is a considerable amount, and the damage mid-late game is nice (on opposing carries, at least), reaching in excess of 100 damage per second. Every little bit adds up, especially when using Miasma in a gank or team fight. [.]Besides its zoning potential, it can be used sparingly to help set up your combo of Twin Fangs, especially when the slow combines with [imgsmall=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png]. [.]In the mid-late game, it's very easy to farm waves with [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png] and [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png], allowing her to disarm a tower rush with proper support as well as clean up stray ends on the map for her team. [.]With the latest update, you can use Miasma to provide persistent vision inside a bush, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's like a temporary ward. While Noxious Blast can tell if a champion is there when it hits, it doesn't tell if the champion has moved or how many champions are in that bush waiting. Miasma fills that little bit of uncertainty. [title][img=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] E: Twin Fang[/title] [number]Cassiopeia deals 60/95/130/165/200 (+55% AP) magic damage to her target. If the target is poisoned, then Twin Fang's cooldown is reduced to 0.5 seconds. [.]Manacost: 50/60/70/80/90 [.]Cooldown: 5 seconds [.]Range: 700[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title]If [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] is Cassiopeia's Yin, then [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] is her Yang. One is just as important than the other. This skill is what gives Cassiopeia her true bite, literally, as its low cooldown allows her to harass and focus down almost any target. However, it's a bit buggy and sometimes will not be refreshed even if the target has been poisoned. This effect is because the cooldown is reset when the poisoned target has been struck by the spell. If the target dies, the poison effect disappears or the fangs actually land before the target has been poisoned, then the cooldown will [highlight]not[/highlight] be reset. If this happens, your combo potential literally evaporates, so try and make sure your target is poisoned. Its AP ratio and base damage are comparatively low because of its low cooldown, so [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] should be used to harass, while [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] should be used in a combo to finish an enemy. If you try and harass early with Twin Fang and Noxious Blast, you'll find that Cassiopeia runs out of mana very fast in the early gme. For the record, Twin Fang's cooldown refresh also applies with Teemo's [imgsmall=skills/teemo/e.png] and [imgsmall=skills/teemo/r.png] and Singed's [imgsmall=skills/singed/q.png]. If you have the benefit of laning with any of them, synchronize with their poison effects and take advantage of a very spammable Twin Fang. Note: The actual CD of Twin Fang is not 0.5 seconds, because of two things: The projectile has time in the air, which is a little more than half a second, and it only refreshes the cooldown on a poisoned target when it hits, meaning the closer you are to the target, the faster Twin Fang can get off cooldown. [title][img=skills/cassiopeia/r.png] R: Petrifying Gaze[/title] [number]Cassiopeia deals 200/325/450 (+60% AP) magic damage to all enemies in front of her. Enemies facing her are stunned for 2 seconds while enemies facing away are slowed by 60%. [.]Manacost: 120/160/200 [.]Cooldown: 130/120/110 seconds [.]Range: 850 [.]Cone Width:' 90Ã‚Âº [/number] [title]Explanation:[/title]I want to clear a few of the misconceptions with this skill. A range of 850 is [highlight]not[/highlight] short, and its sole purpose is [highlight]not[/highlight] to obliterate the enemy. You have your team to help you do that. As an ult, it's tricky because it does no one thing extremely well, but does a multitude of things somewhat well, like a Jack of All Trades. Here, however, are a few good things about it: [title]AoE:[/title] Though its AoE may seem deceptively small, Cassiopeia's AoE is actually sizable. With the assumption that the area of the cone is (1/4)pi*r^2, Cassiopeia's total AoE is 180625pi units^2, whereas a standard 400 AoE skill has an area of 160000 units^2. What you can take from this tidbit is that it's very plausible to get 3-4 enemy heroes within the area of the ult. The one drawback of this ult, as I noted in the Flash section, is that it causes Cassiopeia to draw in closer than her optimal range and if you're not careful, she can get punished hard by characters with blinks or silences while trying to let loose an ult. In addition, making the most of this ult requires perfect team coordination, because the stun/slow only lasts for two seconds. Sometimes, all you need is 2 seconds of stun to win a team fight. Even if you fail to stun, a 60% slow still sets up for other AoE sources, so make the most of what the skill gives you. [title]Combo-Setup:[/title] The reason I said playing Cassiopeia is like a steady dance is that sometimes her playstyle slows to a crawl and sometimes it speeds up, but it never stops. With [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png], her dance reaches its crescendo, as it allows her to perform arguably the highest-single target DPS in the game. I've already calculated the numbers for her best-case combo at level 7, so I'll go one step further and give her a full set of items. See the damage calculations in item builds, but for those that can't, I'll give a example. [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] with 543 AP, 49% Mpen, and 9 flat Mpen on an enemy with 60 MR does ~2500 damage. This is within a timeframe of about 4 seconds, so the stun from Petrifying Gaze is enough to set Cassiopeia up to really do damage.
Base Skill Order: [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png] My skill order is weird in one aspect in that I prefer to get a higher level of Twin Fang (Level 3 at least) by level 7, instead of straight up maxing Noxious Blast. This shift is for a number of reasons: [title]Flexibility:[/title] Undeniably, [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] is a good skill, with its low cooldown and good damage potential, [highlight]IF[/highlight] you can land it reliably. At higher levels, its damage over time and movement speed boost becomes significant enough to make her an unholy terror at harassment, but having a higher level of Twin Fang early allows you to use any poison and then chain that into guaranteed damage. [title]Guaranteed Threat:[/title] Lots of characters have heals and shields, and it can be awful for Cassiopeia if she faces a dedicated healer combined with someone who can harass just as well as her or even counter her, a la Soraka + Kassadin/LeBlanc. If you find that your DoTs are simply being healed/shielded over, you either need to land more [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] or provide another source of damage in a short timeframe to help tip the scale, which Twin Fang does admirably. However, there are disadvantages, as with any skill build: [title]Mana Drain:[/title] Twin Fang is nowhere near as mana efficient as Noxious Blast, and comboing with the two will drain Cassiopeia's mana very quickly. For this reason, it's necessary to adopt a judicious attitude when deciding to fully commit into a combo, because if you don't get the kill/assist, a significant amount of her mana will have evaporated. Blue buff generally ameliorates this problem, but if you don't have it early/mid game, Cassiopeia can have mana problems. [title]Dependence on Poison:[/title] To sustain the low cooldown of [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png], your target needs to be poisoned. If you can't put that poison on your target, you're just poking with a light nuke, which really isn't productive in the long run, since you can poke with a longer range, higher damage spell in Noxious Blast. If you can tolerate the poison requirements for her combo and you're aggressive, it's possible to max out Twin Fang early for maximum sustained burst early, but this is up to your ability and playstyle, I feel. [title]Conclusion:[/title] Every Cassiopeia player is at different stages of development, both in terms of skill and experience, so your skill build should be based on what you feel comfortable with as a player, not what someone else feels is the best for them. (If you happen to like what someone else does, however, and adopt it as your own, there's nothing wrong with that.) [.]If you can hit Noxious Blast reliably, then max it out early, as it gives you the biggest potential damage on targets. [.]If you want a little more burst mixed in with harassment, then level both Noxious Blast and Twin Fang at the same rate. [.]If you want to be aggressive with her burst, then level Twin Fang faster than Noxious Blast. [.]If you're struggling to hit with Noxious Blast, for whatever reason, don't keep on beating a dead horse; take advantage of the other two skills and level them as desired. You really, really need to learn how to hit with it though. I cannot stress that enough.
[title]Beginning Items:[/title] Cassiopeia has a lot of flexibility in her starting item selection and all the choices have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on your comfort level with Cassiopeia and what kind of team you'll be facing. Here are my two cents: [img=items/sapphire-crystal.png][img=items/health-potion2.png]: Advantages: [.]Improves Cassiopeia's mana pool early-game for greater casting capacity [.]Builds straight into [imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] or [imgsmall=items/tear-of-the-goddess.png] (Should you desire even more mana) [.]Health Potions allow her to be more aggressive and to last in lane longer Disadvantages: [.]Cassiopeia's total health is relatively low throughout the early-game [.]Characters with [imgsmall=items/boots-of-speed.png] or MS boosts can outmaneuver her [.]Starts out with low AP and mana regeneration [img=items/dorans-ring.png]: Advantages: [.]Improves every aspect of Cassiopeia early, from health to mana regeneration to AP. [.]Very cost efficient Disadvantages: [.]Doesn't build into anything [.]Lack of health potions lowers her sustainability in lane [.]Can still get outmaneuvered by characters with a movement speed advantage [img=items/meki-pendant.png][img=items/health-potion2.png]: Advantages: [.]Builds into [imgsmall=items/tear-of-the-goddess.png] or [imgsmall=items/chalice-of-harmony.png], if you're having serious trouble maintaining mana (Which you eventually outgrow...) [.]Combination of health potions and mana regeneration give her the greatest sustainability in lane Disadvantages: [.]If you're mana-efficient, there isn't any need to get this, unless you plan to build an [imgsmall=items/archangels-staff.png] in the late game. [.]Doesn't give bonuses to total health, mana, or AP [.]Can still get outmaneuvered early [img=items/boots-of-speed.png][img=items/health-potion3.png]: Advantages: [.]Significantly increases Cassiopeia's harassment potential early and allows her to zone more effectively [.]Helps with escaping early ganks, and the extra health potion allows her to last longer in lane than any other build [.]Builds into any choice of Tier 2 Boots Disadvantages: [.]Lacks bonuses to AP, mana regeneration, or max mana [.]Requires judiciousness when casting spells, as mana can be depleted very quickly.
[title]Boots:[/title] There are really only 2 sets of Boots that Cassiopeia should consider: [img=items/boots-of-swiftness.png] Advantages: [.]Gives the most utility to Cassiopeia, allowing her to harass better or to flee quicker [.]Enables her to outspeed other AP casters or characters who only have Movement Speed 2 boosts Disadvantages: [.]Gives no benefit to overall damage [.]As the game moves from laning phase to group phase, relative benefits decrease. (What I mean by this is as the game progresses and battles are won and lost in quick time frames, overall damage potential trumps movement speed, especially for a carry whose normal position is at the back of group battles) [img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png] Advantages: [.]Gives Cassiopeia her maximum damage potential, especially on other carries Disadvantages: [.]Can't move quite as quickly, which affects her harassment potential a little. When do you use either? Use Boots of Swiftness if you need the mobility in lane to harass or escape more effectively, but use Sorceror's Boots if you want to optimize her damage and are not having any particular troubles in lane. Why not [img=items/ionian-boots-of-lucidity.png] or [img=items/mercurys-treads.png]? [.]Her [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] runs off a 3 second cooldown, while Miasma is at most 9 seconds. Twin Fang doesn't really have a cooldown. The only skill that's affected the most is [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png], which already has a relatively low cooldown at 110 seconds. After -6% cooldown reduction from masteries, -22% from Golem Buff at level 12, and 10% cooldown reduction from an [imgsmall=items/elixir-of-brilliance.png], she has 38% cooldown reduction, which almost caps out. It takes up a valuable item slot, so it's not truly worth it when you can get CDR from other sources. [.]Merc Treads, as they are affectionately known, will not save Cassiopeia from dying in a gank. If she is caught out of position, even with Flash, she can be focused down in about 2-3 seconds. It might help with one CC ability, but not with another. You should [highlight]not[/highlight] be in any position with Cassiopeia where these might be useful. Not to mention they don't really help her damage. [title]Second Item:[/title] [img=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] Advantages: [.]Health and Mana Regeneration on level up is extremely helpful for staying in lane and taking harassment. [.]Builds into a [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png] or a[imgsmall=items/banshees-veil.png], both of which are items that benefit Cassiopeia in different situations, but are excellent nevertheless. [.]Max health and mana bonus helps to make Cassiopeia a little less fragile early and gives her spellcasting capacity a boost as well. Disadvantages: [.]Doesn't provide protection against consistent harassment [.]Boosts to mana regeneration and total mana are generally good, but not as good as a[imgsmall=items/tear-of-the-goddess.png] [img=items/tear-of-the-goddess.png] Advantages: [.]Increases Cassiopeia's spellcasting capacity the most, with bonuses to max mana over time and mana regeneration. [.]Builds into an [imgsmall=items/archangels-staff.png], if you're interested in that, Disadvantages: [.]Provides no health regen whatsoever, requiring Cassiopeia to be reliant on health potions early. [.]Also makes Cassiopeia a little more fragile, due to no bonus max health. [img=items/philosophers-stone.png] Advantages: [.]Provides a sizable amount of health and mana regeneration, better than either of the two previous items [.]Gold/10 bonus can help farm up items faster. [.]Builds into a [imgsmall=items/eleisas-miracle.png] for Tenacity or [imgsmall=items/shurelyas-reverie.png] for Health, CDR, and Movement Speed. Disadvantages: [.]Doesn't build into any damage boost whatsoever to Cassiopeia. [.]Also lacks bonuses to maximum health and mana, leaving her even more vulnerable to burst ganks and her own casting bursts. [.]Takes 26:40 minutes to recoup full gold cost. I'll also throw in some number calculations just to prove my points: [title]Catalyst the Protector:[/title][.]Assuming a level every 2 minutes, gives 250 health and 200 mana every 128 seconds (10 health/5 and 8 mana/5). Bought at ~8-9 minutes. [.]Has the same mana efficacy of a Tear when leveling every 150 seconds and already equals the mana efficacy of a Philosopher's Stone. [.]In order to beat out a Philosopher's Stone on health regeneration, one has to level once every ~65 seconds (19 health/5 and 15 mana/5) [title]Tear of the Goddess:[/title][.]Gives 7 mana/5 and is bought quicker than Catalyst. (-5-7 minutes) Is the weakest of the three items in terms of absolute regeneration. [.]Only beats out Catalyst's mana regeneration if leveling once every 180 seconds. [title]Philosopher's Stone[/title][.]Gives 18 health/5 and 8 mana/5 and is bought the quickest out of the three items. (~3-4 minutes) So depending on how fast you can farm and level, the Catalyst's regeneration can beat out Philosopher's Stone, but such an occurrence seems rare, especially as the time between levels takes longer. The combination of regeneration and total stat bonuses on Catalyst as well as what it can build into, however, make it the preferred item over a Philosopher's Stone. Note: After your beginning items, I would recommend building your second item (Catalyst, Tear, Philosopher's), before upgrading your boots, but you need to upgrade your boots before you get a Rod of Ages, otherwise you'll be too slow in the early/mid-game.
[title]Mid-game:[/title] So after you've built your second item and your boots, then what? Generally the next step is to move towards either a [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png] or a [imgsmall=items/banshees-veil.png]. Rod of Ages will give you much needed total health, mana, and AP as well as the healing bonus on level up, while Banshee's will give you survivability against spells with extra MR and a spell shield. If you're getting murdered by single CC spells in the mid-game, it would be worth your while to think about investing in a Banshee's, but considering Cassiopeia's substantial mobility and CC application of her own, I feel the [highlight]Rod of Ages[/highlight] gives a better return on investment in the mid-game, because of the huge boost to her health and mana pool, not to mention an source of AP. And now here's a debatable choice: does one choose [img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png] first over [img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] for Cassiopeia's third item: [img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png] [title]Advantages:[/title][.]Gives a greater degree of survivability with 500 extra health [.]Bonus slow that procs off of Cassiopeia's skills can be devastating, whether chasing or running. [.]Generally benefits Cassiopeia more for utility purposes. [.]Costs a little less to acquire than Rabadon's. [title]Disadvantages:[/title][.]The slow is only 15% on Miasma and Twin Fang, reducing its general effectiveness when Miasma already slows by a considerable amount. In other words, the slow on Miasma should be enough in some perspectives. [.]Gives relatively low AP when compared to Rabadon's bonus [img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] [title]Advantages:[/title][.]Gives a lot of AP to Cassiopeia in the mid-game (Gives Cassiopeia a total of 286 AP as compared to her total with Rylai's, which is 160 AP, almost an 80% boost in AP) [.]Maximizes Cassiopeia's potential as a carry in the mid-game [title]Disadvantages:[/title][.]Even with RoA, leaves her more fragile, with no bonus health. Also loses a little escapability, as the movement speed bonus from [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] combined with the slow from Rylai's would allow Cassiopeia to run from almost any single pursuer. [.]Costs a little more than Rylai's (~500 gold) [title]My Perspective:[/title] I've listed some of the notable good and bad things about each item, and as with all the rest of my sections in this guide, I urge you to actually think about this choice for yourself and see what works best for you in-game. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as the answer is adapted to the situation at hand. However, I choose Rylai's in most of my games for a few reasons: [title]Survivability: [/title][.]Cassiopeia will be the first target of most teams in a team fight, due to her ult and damage potential with Twin Fang. Having that extra 500 health makes me a little more comfortable getting in range with her ult as well as sustaining her spell combo. [title]Team Makeup: [/title][.]If you have a team designed to support Cassiopeia as a primary carry and keep her away from anything too dangerous, take Rabadon's, because survivability isn't as big an issue. If you're in solo queue with random people, however, the chances of that are unlikely, especially since it's much harder to coordinate movement and attacks. It'll be likely that you're one of two carries on a team, in which case Cassiopeia should not only think about carrying but also accessorizing to help the other carry do his or her job as well. Another slow fulfills that need perfectly. [title]Harassment:[/title][.]Being able to slow with Noxious Blast is very powerful, because it guarantees that a hit target won't be able to outrun you without Flash. In addition, the extra slow on Miasma not only keeps targets in the AoE longer, but also forces the other team to be passive lest they get caught out of position, slowed, and focused down. In addition, zoning with Miasma & Rylai's is even more effective when pushing, because it forces the enemy team to either vacate the affected area and leave the tower more vulnerable or take damage and risk being tower dived on. Regardless, you should get Rylai's and Rabadon's for Cassiopeia, but which one first is up to you.
So you have your core build now: [img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png]/[img=items/boots-of-swiftness.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] Now what? Basically you have room for 1 offensive and 1 defensive item. Among the six offensive items, there are 3 sets; the first deals with MR nullification, the second with offensive utility, and the third containing items that I would not recommend in general. First off, Magic Resist Penetration/Reduction: [img=items/void-staff.png] VS [img=items/abyssal-scepter.png]: When should you get one over the other if you're looking for damage potential? These two items both increase an AP caster's damage in different ways; the former ups % magic penetration while the other reduces enemy magic resistance by a flat amount, but what's the MR cutoff at which one should switch from Abyssal to Void Staff? A simple equation tells it all: (MR-MRR-MPen)*(1-%MPen). Set this equation equal to each other, and assume a constant base of 15% Mpen and 29 Mpen: (MR-29)*(1-0.49) = (MR-49)*(1-0.15) MR = ~79. So what this means is that Void Staff's added damage begins to eclipse Abyssal's on heroes who have more than 79 MR, i.e. any hero who isn't a carry. It also means that in order for an Abyssal to truly be effective, it needs to be gotten before other carries get their MR items. When the items are looked at as a whole, however, the picture becomes a little clearer. Void Staff only has one purpose, offensive potential, while Abyssal gives a little offense with some much needed MR to help counter other AP carries. Taking all this into account... [title]Get Void Staff if:[/title] [.]Your main targets are tanks, supports, or carries who have already gotten more than 79 MR. [.]Your team and/or the enemy team is primarily composed of AD Champions [.]Cassiopeia doesn't have to worry about other spellcasters [title]Get Abyssal if:[/title] [.]Your main targets are AP and AD carries who lack sufficient MR. If a target has less than 58 MR, then your total MR reduction will bring them under 0 and grant a substantial amount of bonus magic damage. [.]Your team is mostly AP, but doesn't have anyone with Abyssal who has space to get it. [.]The enemy team is mostly AP Champions, to give Cassiopeia a little more survivability. The next three items are items that are designed for a very specific role or purpose that you want Cassiopeia to fulfill. They're not items I would recommend unless you're very comfortable with what Cassiopeia can do and are willing to shift away from her role of a primary carry. They are: [img=items/lich-bane.png] [title]Purpose:[/title] Raises Cassiopeia's harass to godlike potential and enables her to act as a roaming ganker and poker. Normally, when moving through a [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] combo, you will autoattack once if you have Twin Fang set to Smart Cast (which I'll repeat for emphasis). Adding Lich Bane to the core item build gives Cassiopeia 508 AP, which then translates into a 613 damage autoattack every 2 seconds. Assuming you've hit 1 Noxious Blast and Twin Fang on a target with 80 armor/30 MR, that's 1500 damage [highlight]after[/highlight] reduction with three skills. Lich Bane reaches its potential if you know how to poke without overextending, as you can put serious dents in a team before the team fight has even begun. The additional MS and MR also helps Cassiopeia's survivability, so it's a well rounded item. It also specializes against carries, who have generally low Armor and MR. [title]Disadvantages:[/title]Without any additional magic penetration, Cassiopeia is useless against tanks, which appears in her damage calculations. It also doesn't do any one thing extremely well, like Void Staff and Magic Penetration or Will of the Ancients and AP Support. Other items give more AP, so your decision with this item is all about your playstyle with Cassiopeia and what the circumstances are. More often than not, however, it's more helpful to the team for Cassiopeia to get an Abyssal or WotA, in my opinion. [img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] [title]Purpose:[/title] For Cassiopeia to get this means that she'll turn into a heavy support character. She can clean up pushes and even hold lanes against Mega-creeps with ease, while making all the AP Champions around her do more damage and last longer. [title]Disadvantages: [/title]If you're on an AD heavy team, this item is useless. In addition, as with Lich Bane, you sacrifice Magic Penetration if you don't forgo a defensive item. In addition, it's preferable to let other AP Champions like Mordekaiser and Morgana get this item so that Cassiopeia can fill her other item slots, because maximizing damage and survivability are key for her in the late game. [img=items/deathfire-grasp.png] [title]Purpose:[/title] There is only one reason to get this item, and it is to help with Tanky DPS/Tanks who initiate into its range in a team fight and carries that are out of position or heavily CC'd. Do not go seeking to use this on something; you'll only overextend and die. The extra CDR does help a bit, but I want to emphasize one thing: This is a high risk, medium reward item. It will give you a bit of pop on carries and tanks, but do not expect it to magically implode something except carries. With 29 Mpen & 15% Mpen, on a 2000 HP, 30 MR carry, it'll do about 1k damage. On a target with 3000 health and 180 MR it will do ~700 damage. A sizable portion, but when you can get 400 damage from a [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] on the same target with a lot less risk and more frequency, why bother going close? If you have a competent CC team good at counter-initiating, then this item has some viability because the risk to Cassiopeia is lowered significantly and it improves her burst. I suppose having a [imgsmall=items/kages-lucky-pick.png] early helps Cassiopeia farm. [title]Disadvantages:[/title] If misused, you will die as Cassiopeia as you get focused down. Best used on things with high health or low MR, which doesn't leave very many optimal targets. Somewhat counters the lack of magic penetration with the active nuke, but doesn't otherwise help Cassiopeia or her team. Now for the last two items. I'll be brief about them, since your eyes probably hurt and I don't really want to spend too much time on them. [img=items/archangels-staff.png]: [title]Purpose:[/title] Having this gives Cassiopeia a huge mana pool to cast from as well as a sizable boost to her AP. So why is it an unoptimal item? [title]Reasons:[/title]When could you buy it? Do you want to buy it and put off a Rylai's or a Rabadon's for another 5-10 minutes, both of which have a larger impact on the game than an AAS would? Or you could wait until the core build is finished, but by that time, Cassiopeia's mana pool is already large enough due to Rod of Ages (Or Banshee's Veil). So she really doesn't get any use from the extra mana and there are other items that would be more valuable, like Void Staff or Will of the Ancients, and also give a fair amount of AP in addition to their unique effects. The only reason to buy this is if you bought a [imgsmall=items/tear-of-the-goddess.png] and you want to build it into something. As I covered above, however, Tear's bonuses are relatively inefficient and much less sustainable. compared to Catalyst's bonuses, so there's no reason to have an AAS late game. [img=items/mejais-soulstealer.png]: [title]Purpose:[/title] This is the only item on the list that is normally bought early and snowballed up to its maximum potential. So what's wrong with this item? Cassiopeia is a fragile hero, and if an enemy team decides they want you dead, you have one (possible) stun, one flash, and one movement speed boost to escape a gank. If none of these work, she will die 9 times out of 10, which will sap the cost-effectiveness of this item. In addition, it doesn't help her survivability or sustainability at all, which she almost require. In addition, other people have brought up this point, and I will give them credit: snowball items are only good when your team is doing well, and if your team is losing, you won't be able to keep up your Mejai's stacks. If you're good with it, I won't tell you to stop, but it's not a sustainable item on average, in my opinion.
Once your core build has finished, you should have about 2800 health and 1900 mana, but even that isn't enough for Cassiopeia, who can still die in a flash. That's why it's necessary to think about defensive items if the late, late game is ever reached, so that she can survive in team fights and perform her role. This choice is more a matter of personal preference, so I'll throw in a few thoughts on each item and that'll be that. [item=guardian-angel] VS [item=zhonyas-hourglass]: Guardian Angel will provide additional MR, while both items provide Armor. GA will revive you once without fail if you happen to die, while Zhonya's needs to be activated in a very short timeframe to work. Both are not foolproof, and if you overextend without support, you will still die. So what are the keys to getting the most out of these items? [.]You need good coordination and support from your team. If you're using GA, make sure that your team can frighten off any would-be carries who would try and burst you down again. If you're using Zhonya's, your team needs to hit the enemy team at the very moment they've focused Cassiopeia and pick off the carries. The more cooldowns you can force with a Zhonya's, the bigger an advantage your team has in the ensuing fight. Not to mention enemies will be in point-blank range for an stun with the ult. [.]Look at the enemy team. What are their strengths? Do they have heavy CC? It's unlikely you'll pull off a Zhonya's if you're CC'd, so a GA would be a wiser choice in the long run. If, however, the other team have a lot of damage but not as much CC, a properly timed Zhonya's will destroy their rhythm. [.]How do you play Cassiopeia? Do you work well with your team and are willing to be aggressive to pull off the ace? Or are you in solo queue and have relatively little experience with Cassiopeia or what she can tolerate? (Not a whole lot, by the way.) GA will always be the safer option, with its two defensive bonuses and revive, but Zhonya's can be taken if you have the timing to anticipate and negate incoming burst damage and the team support to take advantage of the two second lapse. [item=banshees-veil] VS [item=quicksilver-sash]: [title]Advantages for BV: [/title][.]If you're getting imploded by AP carries in the mid-late game, it would be to your advantage to pick this up, since the spell shield will block a crucial stun and the extra health will make you a little more durable. [title]Disadvantage:[/title][.]It can only block one spell (Damage and effects) every 45 seconds. [.]If multiple applications of CC are placed on you, you can block one, but then you're screwed. [.]Is relatively expensive. [title]Advantages of QSS:[/title][.]If you're really getting CC'd hard and your team is counting on you as the primary carry to do damage in a team fight, a quick use can surprise the enemy team and allow you to take the the initiative. [.]This will remove almost ALL debuffs present on Cassiopeia when used, which means you can be slowed, stunned, and ignited, and you can choose to clear all of those debuffs. [.]Extremely cost efficient compared to BV. 1440 gold as compared to 2715 gold for BV. [.]Is a non-unique item, meaning that one could potentially stack one or two QSS to remove subsequent applications of CC. [title]Disadvantages:[/title][.]Will not block any damage caused by the CC. [.]Has to be timed well to remove incoming CC. [.]Cassiopeia is comparatively more fragile without extra health or spell block. [title]Conclusion:[/title] In my experience, Cassiopeia will be the target of multiple CC effects, but she's not sturdy enough to take the associated damage as the CC lands. So if you run QSS, make sure your speed boost from Noxious Blast is up if you need to run, or destroy your target with a combo if there's only one here. Otherwise it's safer to run a BV, because the spell shield will block an initiating stun or slow guaranteed and the extra health will enhance her survivability. [item=shurelyas-reverie] VS [img=items/eleisas-miracle.png]: [title]Thoughts:[/title] If you get a Philosopher's Stone early and choose not to sell it, you're basically choosing between the active effect on Shurelya's, which can help your team run and allow you to gank quicker, and the extra 25% Tenacity. These items are usually bought on supports, and I haven't seen (yet) a single Cassiopeia who's playing half seriously build into one of these items. They're still options, however, if you build a Philosopher's Stone.
I think I've covered enough items, so here are some builds. [title]Standard:[/title][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/void-staff.png][img=items/guardian-angel.png] [title]Base Bonuses:[/title]1130 Health, 725 Mana, 481 AP, 20 Mpen, 49% MPen, 68 Armor, 38 MR, 70 MS [title]Cost:[/title]15735 Gold [title]Interpretation:[/title] With a good mix of damage, survivability, and cost, this build serves Cassiopeia well and allows her to spit out damage on a wide range of targets for good damage. You can switch out GA for Zhonya's as needed, but Void Staff will beat out Abyssal in terms of offensive potential in the late game as carries get MR, as noted above. [title]Offensive Utility:[/title][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/abyssal-scepter.png][img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] [title]Bonuses:[/title]1130 Health, 725 Mana, 585 AP, 20 MPen, 20 MRR, 15% MPen, 57 MR, 25% Spell Vamp, 70 MS [title]Cost:[/title]15590 Gold [title]Interpretation:[/title]This set is suited for supporting an AP-based team and sacrifices armor and magic penetration to provide more damage for the rest of the team. Also does well against some AP carries without 79+ MR, but leaves her vulnerable to AD carries. [title]Harasser:[/title][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/boots-of-swiftness.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/lich-bane.png][img=items/banshees-veil.png] [title]Bonuses:[/title]1505 Health, 1450 Mana, 494 AP, 15% MPen, 80 MR, 116 MS [title]Cost:[/title]16925 Gold [title]Interpretation:[/title]The set has relatively few bonuses, as you might have noticed, but it maximizes health and movement speed to allow her to harass well, especially against AP Carries. Relies [highlight]exclusively[/highlight] on perfection of Cassiopeia's [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] into an autoattack to deal damage. Isn't particularly special against anything else, and Cassiopeia is unoptimal against tanks without additional Magic Penetration. On most teams, this set will be hard to manage or get the best results out of, but it's a viable option. [title]Carry Killer:[/title][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/abyssal-scepter.png] OR [img=items/void-staff.png][img=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png] [title]Bonuses:[/title]1130 Health, 725 Mana, 611 AP, 20 MPen, 20/0 MRR, 15/49% MPen, 50 Armor, 57/0 MR, 70 MS [title]Cost:[/title]16590 Gold [title]Interpretation:[/title]You blow up carries with this build and have Armor and MR to take a few hits in return, not to mention Zhonya's to negate the burst of other carries. You *actually* have to be able to use Zhonya's, though, and you have to play mind games with your target(s) and predict exactly when they'll be bringing down the house on you. Even then, without support, you can still die. Keep an eye on the 79 MR threshold and transition into a Void Staff instead of an Abyssal as required, but realize you lose a little survivability in exchange for damage. [title]Tankbuster:[/title][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/void-staff.png][img=items/deathfire-grasp.png] [title]Bonuses:[/title]1130 Health, 725 Mana, 557 AP, 20 MPen, 49% MPen, 15% CDR, 70 MS [title]Cost:[/title]15745 Gold [title]Interpretation:[/title]A purely offensive and aggressive item spec for Cassiopeia, giving you more damage at all levels of MR as long as the DFG is the first hit of your combo. As you might guess, you have no defense at all. Not an advised build, unless you can hit a tanky DPS team right before they build significant amounts of MR. As a side note, unleashing DFG into a combo ([imgsmall=items/deathfire-grasp.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png]) will smear other carries onto the ground. See the damage calculations at the bottom if you don't believe me. ^^ Conclusions: Don't be afraid to experiment. Items aren't very powerful by themselves, it's how the items are used to make your play more effectively. Blindly rushing a core build without thinking of the situation will not improve your skill, no matter how many kills or assists you get.
I'll try to keep these chapters brief, because I've already covered a lot of material. [.]Before you do anything, check your key settings. To play with Cassiopeia, you must do one thing before the game starts: Set both Miasma and Twin Fang to Smartcast, which allows you to cast a spell where your cursor is. It improves efficiency for her combos and makes her spell casting considerably more smooth. In addition, it improves your ability to hit with Noxious Blast, so it absolutely must be done. [.]Last hitting is extremely important for Cassiopeia and use the zoning from harassment to last hit [.]If you have a jungler, leash for him or her, as Noxious Blast's range allows her to return back to lane quicker. [.]Scan bushes with Noxious Blast to scout throughout the game, and if you need persistent vision or suspect multiple champions are in a bush, throw a Miasma in. [.]Whatever lane you're in, you can poke with Noxious Blast, but don't drain more than a third of your mana doing it until you hit level 3 and have at least 1 level in all three skills. It's paramount for Cassiopeia's early game to practice mana conservation. As tempting as it is to last hit with Noxious Blast or Twin Fang, you will waste mana doing so. [.]If you're in a duo lane and you have CC support, it can be wise to throw 3 points into Twin Fang by level 5, but on average, it's safer to throw 2 points into each and wait until level 7 to decide which skill will be maxed first. [.]At level 6, you can destroy almost any hero if the stun on Petrifying Gaze procs. Soften up with Noxious Blast as necessary, then either wait for an overextend or if you want to be aggressive and you have map awareness and prompt teammates, you can flash in to attempt to kill. [.]At level 5-7, you should have your second item choices, but you [highlight]need[/highlight] to buy at least 1 ward (2 if you're laning middle lane) to prevent ganks and allow Cassiopeia to be aggressive, where she shines.
By this time Cassiopeia has her second item, her upgraded boots, and is on the way to getting her third item. The game is starting to shift from laning phase to team phase, so keep this in mind when worrying about ganks and ganking. [.]Eventually at this point, you want to farm up to a Rod of Ages, no matter what your starting items were. She needs the health, mana, and AP too badly to try and rush a Rabadon's, especially since she's sustained DPS and survivability directly translates to damage. [.]Begin to worry about certain types of enemies, like invisible gankers or heroes who have jumps or blinks. It's much harder to play Cassiopeia when you're getting wailed on and you can't make the best use of your skills at close range. [.]Ward! You need to ward with your team if you don't have a dedicated support and even then it never hurts to have a ward. Cassiopeia requires map control in order to play; even if you have speed boosts from Noxious Blast and Miasma, it only takes 1 application of unexpected CC to drive Cassiopeia from a lane, because she's that fragile. Where should you place your wards though? Ask 4 key questions: [.]Is it in a bush? [.]Does it cover major thoroughfares of the map, i.e. places on the map where at least 4 paths intersect or a chokepoint is present? [.]Does it directly observe a epic monster like Dragon, Golem, Lizard Elder, and Baron? [.]What stage of the game is it? Is it more advantageous to ward the enemy jungle instead of baron for example? [highlight]Ward priorities shift over time, so think before you place wards.[/highlight] Here are some points that answer at least 2 of the 3 questions, but I'm sure I missed a few. Green are Sight Wards, Pink are Vision Wards. The reason you pay 50 extra gold for true sight is because invisible characters are present who often roam and gank across the map. If they can be sighted crossing the middle, which is the most common path, it's much easier to anticipate and counter them. [imgext=http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y84/salagross/mapward-1.jpg] [.]After your Rod of Ages, you need to decide if you need survivability or damage. In addition, Cassiopeia needs to think about what item build she'll be going for after her core and how the team compositions will affect her choices. [.]You should be outputting fair amounts of damage as Cassiopeia at this point, but don't become overzealous and overextend, as greed will more often than not earn her a quick death. Work with your team and help get Dragon. At this point, you should be asking for blue buff or getting it regularly.
[.]Whatever your core build, it should be completed at this stage. You need to then accessorize based on the team compositions for the last two items. [.]You should be warding when you can around the map and communicating with your team. You can solo Blue and Dragon moderately easily and do a considerable amount of damage to Baron. [.]Now team fights are generally common and you need to realize what her role is. She's vulnerable to CC, so set her up in the back of your team and harass with [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] and[imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png] to zone the enemy team. After the initiator starts, she should start looking for the most optimal moment to launch a [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png], but she shouldn't overextend in order to get a stun off. It's only two seconds, and you need to synergize the stun or slow as your team pounces. Her best targets are carries, who can easily lose 50-75% of their health from a single combo of skills, ([imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png]) but she can also wear down tanky DPS if protected long enough. [.]Play smart, play efficiently, and work together. Cassiopeia can't blow up someone generally, but she's far more mobile and a far better support than most carries. [.]Most important: Have fun! That's the point of the game, after all. Challenge yourself as a player and see how high you can go with Cassiopeia. As long as you know her limitations, she'll treat you fine.
No. Just don't do it. It can be done. But why bother? ^^; [imgext=http://i565.photobucket.com/albums/ss96/trollcats/1250592801463.jpg]
Cassiopeia loves to play with heroes that do three things: 1. Offer a large amount of CC to increase her damage ([imgsmall=champ/alistar.png][imgsmall=champ/amumu.png][imgsmall=champ/blitzcrank.png][imgsmall=champ/leona.png][imgsmall=champ/nunu.png][imgsmall=champ/rammus.png][imgsmall=champ/taric.png]) 2. Increase her survivability and mobility by a large amount ([imgsmall=champ/galio.png][imgsmall=champ/soraka.png][imgsmall=champ/sona.png][imgsmall=champ/nidalee.png][imgsmall=champ/kayle.png][imgsmall=champ/janna.png]) 3. Apply poison for the Twin Fang Refresh.([imgsmall=champ/teemo.png][imgsmall=champ/singed.png]) She dislikes playing against heroes that: 1. Shut her spellcasting down. [imgsmall=champ/leblanc.png][imgsmall=champ/kassadin.png][imgsmall=champ/soraka.png]) 2. Take advantage of the large volume of spells she outputs. [imgsmall=champ/kassadin.png][imgsmall=champ/maokai.png]) 3. Have blinks or jumps to close into melee range and destroy her utterly. ([imgsmall=champ/akali.png][imgsmall=champ/jax.png][imgsmall=champ/katarina.png][imgsmall=champ/kassadin.png][imgsmall=champ/leblanc.png][imgsmall=champ/nocturne.png][imgsmall=champ/warwick.png]) Note how Kassadin is there three times. [highlight]Do NOT solo lane against a good Kassadin if you have the chance.[/highlight] Even if you're in a duo lane, he can still shut you down. That's not to say that she can't do well against other heroes who have one of the three advantages on her, but Cassiopeia isn't a close range fighter and she uses a large volume of long-range spells to keep her opponents off-balance and hesitant to close. I'm sure you'll find other sorts of synergies and weaknesses to Cassiopeia's game, but these are just a few that came to mind.
This question is of some validity, because everyone knows Cassiopeia is fragile. So what's the best way to make her less fragile? For the sake of curiosity, I'll compare her standard build to an experimental one I've been trying out recently. Standard: [img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/void-staff.png][img=items/guardian-angel.png] Health: 2830 Armor: 152 MR: 68 Effective Physical Health: 7193 Effective Magical Health: 4805 Effective Health: 5999 AP: 530 Experimental: [img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/abyssal-scepter.png][img=items/warmogs-armor.png] Health: 4230 Armor 84 MR:87 Effective Physical Health: 7762 Effective Magical Health: 7910 Effective Health: 7836 AP: 530 So are you shocked? I was floored when I ran these numbers, but how significant is the AP drop from the standard build? If you run the numbers, you have [highlight]exactly[/highlight] the same amount of AP but a 34% drop in magic penetration, so it is vital to run an Abyssal early before people acquire MR. [highlight]Almost no other combination of two items gives Cassiopeia the kind of survivability with this damage potential.[/highlight] It's almost viable, until you realize Madred's exist, which can implode this build. For curiosity's sake, what's the closest item build that comes close to giving Cassiopeia comparable survivability w/o a Warmog's: [img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/guardian-angel.png][img=items/banshees-veil.png] Health: 3235 Armor: 152 MR: 118 Effective Physical Health: 8136 Magical Damage Health: 7052 Effective Health: 7594 AP: 439 So you not only lose damage but can't match pure survivability with this build, which is interesting. The extra effects grant burst survivability in preventing spell effects and reviving her after death, so keep that counterpoint in mind. [title]Conclusion:[/title] Warmog's in combination with Abyssal is a very underrated item combo for Cassiopeia, and some thought should be given to it if you're fighting a team that doesn't have percentage based damage skills, like Poppy's [imgsmall=skills/poppy/q.png] and Vayne's [imgsmall=skills/vayne/w.png] as well as teams without [imgsmall=items/madreds-bloodrazor.png]. You're still going to die if you play without thought, but you can draw the attention of carries for much longer and enable your team to kill the other team's carry much faster. PS: I actually got my first Pentakill ever following this build. It works because Abyssal is your third item after RoA and Boots, which gives you better survivability early and allows you to punch holes in anyone who didn't get MR. Rylai's then follows it up, and you can choose if you want a Warmog's or a Rabadon's. Games will usually end before your 5th item, though.
Basically, if you decide to take the middle lane as Cassiopeia, you're likely to face the enemy team's AD/AP carry, which is good and bad. Bad in that if you misplay your hand, you're likely to be burned and give up first blood, but good in that Cassiopeia is one of the best, if not the best, at harassing in 1 on 1 situations. It's not easy to do that against an adept opponent, so you need to be focused completely. Regardless of who you face, you need to do one thing when you lane mid as Cassiopeia: buy two wards EVERY time you return to shop to cover the bushes that line the lane. Many a gank can be prevented with proper foresight and 75 gold, and Cassiopeia needs to make sure she can engage relatively safely. Here are the most common heroes I see when I mid: [img=champ/ashe.png] [title]Notes:[/title][.]You can harass her effectively with 1 level of [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png], but you need to make sure not to get hit by her Volley too many times. You're generally going to outrange her in most circumstances, so take advantage and zone her out of gold. [.]When you choose to commit, you must commit fully to either draw her into a battle, where you can outDPS her at level 3-5, or drive her off. She can kite you with her slow if you're indecisive and wear you down if you don't take the initiative. [.]When she hits 6, be wary of standing still against her when you're fighting. With your ult, you can insta-gib her if she's close to 50%, but she can do the same to you if you're not careful. Always keep moving and use your creeps for cover against her volley. [.]By this time, your [imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png] and[imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png] should be doing significant amounts of damage, so focus on zoning out with harassment and last hitting all the creeps that you can. [img=champ/caitlyn.png][img=champ/annie.png][img=champ/malzahar.png] I'll finish this soon, sorry! Things have been busy.
Cassiopeia's Stats: [imgext=http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y84/salagross/cass-2.png] Damage Calculation Sheet with 6 Viable Item Builds on Cassiopeia: This is an excel spreadsheet allowing you to modify the damage of Cassiopeia's combos on actual targets with MR and Health. You can also use the accompanying sheet for any other AP carry, and you should try it. https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjttZ172NNkEdHJKVFhTNUZvUWMtVURlUG1hS3pvZUE&hl=en_US If you don't want to click this link, I'd be happy to give you a chart of a set combo ([imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/r.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/w.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/q.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png][imgsmall=skills/cassiopeia/e.png]. You'll have to look at the sheet if you're curious about the other constants I set, but it should give an idea of her damage against actual resistances. Also! Depending on the length of the combo and the reaction time of the user, the time may vary anywhere from 3 seconds to 10 seconds, but this particular combo above will take about 7-8 seconds to fully do its damage, which you can factor into DPS calculations. [imgext=http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y84/salagross/damagechartcass.jpg]
I used so many sites and guides to help me make this, so here's some recognition: Thanks to Solomid for hosting this (Or at least allowing me to make it on their site. If it doesn't get approved, I still learned a lot about Cassiopeia. ^^;) Izri's guide on Cassiopeia here was also a source of inspiration, and I feel I should credit him for it. Leaguecraft's Champion Creator made my number calculations much easier and the League of Legends Wikia also gave me a lot of my base numbers. And to you, the readers, for caring to read my very, very, very long guide.