Kassadin Build Guide

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Kassadin - The Ruler of Dominion

written by Jurugar

Kassadin Build

Starting items

  • OR
  • OR
  • OR
  • x 2

Core Build

Late Game / Luxury Items

Situational Items

  • OR
  • OR
  • OR

Skill Order

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • Void Stone
  • Null Sphere
  • Nether Blade
  • Force Pulse
  • Riftwalk

Runes for Kassadin

Masteries for Kassadin

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Kassadin is one of the strongest champions in the game overall, and this is especially true in Dominion. But with great power comes great animosity, and you will likely be the focus of the enemy team more times than not. To be effective in dominion, you need to maintain a high level of killing power while not foregoing your defense; fighters and assassins are the name of the game, and you need to be able to live long enough to do your job. That’s why this build focuses on survivability over pure damage, while still allowing you to fulfill your role as an assassin quite well.


    Note that I wrote this build specifically for playing Kassadin on dominion, but a lot of what I say is applicable to playing him in general.

  • Pros/Cons


    -very high mobility

    -high burst damage

    -good disabler (silence, slow)

    -good AOE damage

    -great at killing other mages



    -very squishy (mitigated by build)

    -burns through mana very quickly (mitigated by build)

    -has difficulty killing tanks and heavy magic resist fighters

    -somewhat low sustained damage

    -vulnerable to heavy AD champs (somewhat mitigated by build)


    As you can see, many of the typical drawbacks of Kassadin are lessened by my build.

  • Abilities

    Void Stone - Kassadin takes 15% reduced magic damage, and converts this prevented damage into bonus attack speed.


    A pretty good passive. Not as good as some of the better ones (Annie, Akali, Vlad), but still very useful when fighting against other AP champs. The damage reduction is calculated after magic resistance, and every point of damage prevented grants you 1% increased attack speed (ex. if you were to take 100 damage, you would prevent 15 -> 15% attack speed buff). This only really comes into play when fighting other mages, as in any other scenario you would either not receive the buff or wouldnt want to stay fighting in melee range. The buff stacks with itself, so you can end up with a very fast attack speed against champs like Evelynn or Singed that do (more or less) constant magic damage.


    Null Sphere - Deals 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 damage with a 0.7 AP ratio, and silences for 1 / 1.4 / 1.8 / 2.2 / 2.6 seconds. 9 second CD


    A very strong move, and yet another reason that Kassadin is the best anti-mage in game. The silence is great for locking down mages as well as preventing champions from using their escape/CC abilities (Ezreal, Alistar, Vayne, etc). If applicable, you should save the silence for interrupting channeled abilities, especially ultimates like Katarina's Death Lotus and Miss Fortune's Bullet Time (note: if it's a 1v1 you dont have to worry as much, as you can always Riftwalk away if you dont want to lessen your damage output). I max it second because Force Pulse is more important in early teamfights.


    Nether Blade - Causes your auto attacks to deal 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 / 90 bonus magic damage with a 0.15 AP ratio, as well as restore 8 / 11 / 14 / 17 / 20 mana per strike (tripled when attacking champions). 12 second CD.


    Kassadin's least useful spell by far, it's main use is to charge up Force Pulse. The passive mana regeneration is nice when you're auto attacking minions during downtime, but you're unlikely to notice it during a fight. The bonus magic damage is only beneficial when you have the luxury of auto attacking i.e. attacking a mage who's standing their ground, which is the minority of the time. I max it last because it's not worth putting more points into.


    Force Pulse - Deals 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 damage with a 0.7 AP ratio in a cone and slows for 30 / 35 / 40 / 45 / 50%. Requires 6 spell charges to activate. 6 second CD.


    Force Pulse can only be used when 6 spells have been cast in Kassadin's viscinity, be they his own, his ally's or his enemy's. It does as much damage as the applicable rank of Null Sphere but in a frontal cone as well as slowing, which combined with its short cooldown makes it perfect for teamfights. However, in 1v1s you may find yourself more limited by gaining 6 charges rather than its cooldown, especially against "right click" champions like Master Yi or Ashe. The slow is great for chasing or escaping. Be careful when casting, as the urge to hit as many enemies as possible may put you too far out of position and vulnerable to attacks. I max it first because the AOE damage and slow are very important early on (especially for the first fight over top).


    Riftwalk - Kassadin blinks to target location and deals 60 / 90 / 120 damage with a 0.5 AP ratio in a small area where he lands. Consecutive Riftwalks deal more damage but cost more mana. 7 / 6 / 5 second CD.


    I shouldnt have to tell you that Riftwalk is Kassadin's defining spell, much like Karthus' Requiem or Heimerdinger's H-28G Evolution Turret. This spell allows you to warp into and out of the battle as you see fit, chase down nearly any escaping foe, and jump in out of nowhere to unload your spells. You can cast multiple Riftwalks in short succession for increased damage at the cost of an increased mana cost (ex: Riftwalking 4 times in a row will cost 100 + 200 + 300 + 400 = 1000 mana). However, you have to choose how you use it; if you use it to surprise or chase a foe, you cant use it to escape should they be ready for you, but if you hold on to it to escape, you cant use it to initiate or maeuver during the fight (as a quick note, never initiate large teamfights with Riftwalk). Obviously, put a point in this whenever you can.

  • Summoner Spells

    What I use:

    Flash - Some may call it redundant, but having flash is great for performing difficult positioning/baiting maneuvers, offensive and defensive alike. Also great for escaping similarly mobile champions, like Ezreal, LeBlanc or another Kassadin =P

    Ignite - Great for securing early kills as well as for finishing off champions that are too risky to continue pursuing or will run before you land the killing blow.


    Other good choices:

    Exhaust - Perfect for dealing with AD champions that would otherwise be too strong to engage.

    Cleanse - Great for escaping stuns and other CC that would otherwise prevent you from Riftwalking.

    Revive - Lots of people like having revive for Dominion. Personally I dont, but it's a good spell for Kassadin if you like using it, especially because you can get back into the fight very quickly with Riftwalk.

  • Runes and Masteries

    For runes I use magic pen marks, flat armor seals, flat cooldown reduction glyphs, and magic pen quintessences. The magic penetration runes combined with the items in my build allow me to cut through squishy targets by ignoring the majority, if not all, of their magic resistance. The armor gives me added survivability in the early game, and the CDR runes grant me some much needed cooldown reduction through midgame until I have time to build my Frozen Heart. If you want you can swap out the quintessences for movement speed ones if you want to bump up your already impressive 393 movement speed all the way to 410, which is something I'm still considering.


    For masteries I use a pretty standard 21/0/9. I go into utility instead of defense for the remaining 9 points to get Swiftness, as your early game defense should already be pretty good with the catalyst and armor runes, and movement speed is something that's important in every phase of the game.

  • Item Build

    The goal of this build is to provide Kassadin with the protection he needs to survive all the focus fire you're sure to get with him without impeding his ability to assassinate important squishies and other assassins. This is achieved through the use of magic penetration in lieu of the traditional pure AP stacking, as the champions you're designed to kill are offense-oriented targets themselves. At the end of the day with my core build you should end up with approximately 2500 HP, 2250 mana, 170 AP, 30% CDR, 180 armor, 110 magic resistance, and 55 effective magic penetration on a modest 10k gold.


    As you can see above, there are 4 main items to this build: Rod of Ages, Sorcerer's Shoes, Abyssal Scepter, and Frozen Heart. The first 3 are non-negotiable; the last would only be replaced in very extreme cases i.e. 4 enemy AP champs, with the 5th not being a hard AD carry.


    To start out I usually get a Catalyst the Protector and 1 Health Potion, but you can get away with Boots of Speed and Blasting Wand with a few pots if you prefer. Normally I recall asap (after the fight for top is over, obviously) to buy Boots of Speed, but you can hang out with just the catalyst for a bit longer if your team won the point and you feel confident, as the hp/mana regeneration on level up can keep you sustained for quite a while in between fights.


    Next I buy a Blasting Wand and finish off my Rod of Ages asap. This can be as early as the 5th minute if you got a few kills, but shouldnt be any later than the 7th minute. Buying your rod early is very important because it needs time to grow, and is worth recalling for to buy even if your health and mana are still full, assuming you're not leaving without backup to protect your node. Note that I finish off the rod before I upgrade my boots, which you can get away with because you already have a pretty high movement speed, plus you can Riftwalk anyway.


    Next I finish my Sorcerer's Shoes, which allows me to bypass the magic resistance level the enemy squishies should have at this point i.e. only their base resistance, not to mention movement speed 2.


    9 times out of 10 I build my Abyssal Scepter next, starting with the blasting wand unless I feel I need the magic resist asap, in which case I would buy the Negatron Cloak first. I would only consider skipping ahead to the Frozen Heart if the enemy team was exceptionally AD heavy i.e. 4 or 5 AD champs, at least 2 of which were pure carries. In that case, I would buy the Chain Vest first, then return to finish the Glacial Shroud and finally the Frozen Heart itself. I dont come back to base specifically to buy the Sapphire Crystal or the 2 Cloth Armor, but if you had to recall or died there's no reason to not buy them if you dont have all the gold yet.


    If the game hasnt ended by that point, you can start building a Rabadon's Deathcap, and if you finish that, then a Lich Bane. You can swap the order around if you want - I've never gotten as far in a game as to finish even one of these, so...yeah lol.


    So, this is what your build should look like over the course of the game:


    Early Game:

    Rod of Ages Boots of Speed


    Mid Game:

    Rod of Ages Sorcerer's Shoes Abyssal Scepter


    Late Game:

    Rod of Ages Sorcerer's Shoes Abyssal Scepter Frozen Heart


    Super-Late Game:

    Rod of Ages Sorcerer's Shoes Abyssal Scepter Frozen Heart Rabadon's Deathcap Lich Bane


    Now here's the part where I tell you why I didnt pick your favorite item. "Why didnt you pick..."


    Prospector's Ring - It's a pretty good item, but I dont like delaying my Rod of Ages. Pretty much as simple as that.


    Deathfire Grasp - For one, I dont really like items with active components in general, but that's just me. Second, every item in my build has more than one function; Rod of Ages is defense (HP), offense (AP) and utilty (mana), Abyssal Scepter is defense (Magic Resist) and offense (AP, magic pen), and Frozen Heart is defense (armor) and utility (mana, CDR). Deathfire Grasp would be better suited to a more traditional glass cannon assassin build than it is this survivability build.


    Zhonya's Hourglass - This is definitely more in line with the philosophy behind this build, but it doesnt really fit in with the Kassadin playstyle in general - that is to say, it's pretty much the exact opposite of a highly mobile assassin. You already have enough defense that you dont need the active to survive, and by the time you would need to use it (considering how long it takes someone to kill you in this build) you could have already Riftwalked away to safety.


    Archangel's Staff - This one is a bit more tricky. It seems like Archangel's Staff would synergize well with this build; both Rod of Ages and Frozen Heart have a lot of mana to fuel the passive. However, the problem with this item isnt the item itself, but what would be required to use it. Archangel's Staff and Rod of Ages are similar in that they both require time to become fully effective - Archangel's Staff needs time to charge the tear, and Rod of Ages needs time to grow passively. You would either need to delay your rod of ages by buying a Tear of the Goddess first instead of a catalyst, or you would have to buy the tear afterwards, making it almost impossible to fully charge it. In either case, you would only get the full benefit of the staff after you had already completed your Rod of Ages and Frozen Heart in addition to upgrading your staff from the base tear, meaning there is a very good chance you wont even complete the staff before the game ends (assuming you're sticking to this build). It's sort of a catch-22: the staff is only effective if you have a lot of mana, but if you have a lot of mana you can skip the staff entirely for a deathcap instead. Finally, the only benefit the staff provides besides AP is mana and mana regen, the former you should already have in spades and the latter isn't very important on dominion for Kassadin. If you wanted to do a modified version of my build the staff could work out quite well: start with a Tear of the Goddess, then get a Frozen Heart and finish the Archangel's Staff, and finally finish with a Rabadon's Deathcap if you were willing to give up on health and magic resist in favor of more AP (note: this build only really comes into its prime as the game is almost over, as you need both the fully completed Archangel's Staff and Rabadon's Deathcap to be effective, and the staff itself requires a very heavy investment before it starts providing AP).


    [item=Morello's Evil Tome] - A very good item, but you should already have ~30% CDR from runes/masteries and the frozen heart, so there's no need.


    Rylai's Crystal Scepter - Not a bad item, but pure health will only get you so far. The key thing to note is that you should only have about enough money for 3-4 items excluding boots, so picking this up would require you to drop something else from the core build. Also, you already have a slow on your AOE, and chasing down an opponent is and never will be a problem for Kassadin so another slow isnt really necessary.


    Void Staff - See below. Basically, it's not good to stack flat magic penetration with percentage magic penetration, and this build focuses on the former.


    Thornmail - Thornmail is a great item, but is very situational and requires you to play more aggressively, as it's only worthwhile if your opponents are actually auto attacking you. The damage returned is calculated before armor reductions, meaning that having this and Frozen Heart together wont reduce Thornmail's effectiveness. It can be a great 5th item if you're facing a very AD heavy team, with several carries or champions that rely on auto attacks or abilities with on-hit effects such as Gangplank's Parrrley or Ezreal's Mystic Shot. However, it doesn't provide the CDR or mana that Frozen Heart does, and it requires you to stay engaged with AD champions to be useful instead of engaging as you see fit, which isnt really Kassadin's playstyle.

  • Flat vs Percentage Magic Penetration

    Flat magic penetration stacks additively, while percentage magic penetration stacks multiplicatively. However, flat magic penetration is deducted first before percentage magic penetration, meaning that for every point of flat magic penetration you have, your percentage magic penetration actually decreases in value.


    Let's do a little math.


    Let's say that an enemy champion has 100 magic resistance, and you have 30 flat magic penetration and 30% magic penetration:

    The flat penetration comes in first, reducing their resistance to 100-30=70 MR

    The percentage penetration comes in next, reducing their resistance to 70*(1-.3)=49

    So, your 30% penetration deducted 21 net magic resistance.


    Next, let's see what happens when you have 0 flat magic penetration, but still have the 30% magic penetration:

    The percentage reduces their resistance to 100*(1-.3)=70

    So, your 30% penetration now deducts 30 net magic resistance instead.


    As you can see, percentage magic penetration is less effective when you already have flat magic penetration. Additionally, percentage magic penetration stacks multiplicatively with itself, which further reduces its effect.


    Let's say you have the mastery [mastery=Arcane Knowledge] and buy a Void Staff.

    It would be wrong to assume you could just add them together to get 10% + 40% = 50% magic penetration

    Instead, you would have to multiply their effects:

    Enemy starts with 100% of their magic resistance. You deduct 10% from the mastery, then 40% from that already reduced value:

    100%*(1-.1)*(1-.4)=54% of their original MR -> equivalent of 46% magic penetration.


    So basically, the more flat magic penetration you have the worse your percentage magic penetration is, and the more percentage magic penetration you have the worse any additional magic penetration would be.


    Now, let's take all that and put it into a real scenario. You're an assassin, so you're designed to eliminate dangerous, squishy targets. The more magic resistance a target builds the less important he becomes for you to deal with because he is now less offensive-oriented by definition of building defensively (with the exception of Galio), and therefore less dangerous. Because of this, there is a certain level of defense at which a target becomes just another part of the team and is no longer your responsibility to single out. With this build, you have the capability to eliminate all or the majority of a squishy's magic resistance, even assuming they cave and buy a quasi-defensive item like Hexdrinker or Wit's End.


    So, in conclusion, flat magic penetration is better for killing the targets you're designed to kill, as percentage magic penetration is only effective on targets with much higher magic resistance aka fighters and tanks. And to top it all off, percentage magic penetration is only available on Void Staff, which wouldnt be in this core build because it brings no survivability to the table.


    (Note: There IS a difference between magic resistance reduction and magic penetration. For one, magic resistance reduction is applied directly to the target, while magic penetration is a modifier on your own abilities. Additionally, magic resistance reduction supercedes magic penetration in the calculations i.e. 20 magic resitance reduction is applied before 20 magic penetration. The order is: flat magic resistance reduction, percentage magic resistance reduction, flat magic penetration, percentage magic penetration. Abyssal Scepter and [item=Malady] are the only items that can reduce a target's magic resistance, and there are no items that can provide percentage magic resistance reduction)

  • Tips and Playstyle

    Some of this will be pretty basic, some of it wont be. Stick close and pay attention, you might learn a thing or two.


    -Riftwalk drains more mana - and deals more damage - the more times you use it in succession.

    Be sure to watch your counter, and if you arent in a hurry to be somewhere, consider waiting for it to fall off before Riftwalking again. On the other hand, you can use this to add to your burst, as hitting an enemy with a 3rd or 4th Riftwalk can deal significant damage.


    -Try to have your Force Pulse charged if you expect a fight

    This can be as simple as casting Nether Blade as you travel or Riftwalking a few times in the jungle, but you need to have this spell available at the start of a fight both for its damage as well as so any subsequent spells cast during the fight can charge up your next one. You can engage with only 5 charges if you plan on Riftwalking in to engage, or even 4 if you plan on using Null Sphere first as well.


    -Bushes and the Fog of War are your friends

    Kassadin is most effective when your target doesnt know you're coming. Use the bushes behind the top node or the pillars at the other nodes to hide your presence, then leap in and engage with a Riftwalk


    -Know when you're getting baited

    If a fleeing target takes an unusual route or his teammates are unaccounted for, be cautious when following them into enemy territory, especially if you lose sight of them in a bush. Consider saving your Riftwalk to escape a potential ambush until you gain vision of them again. At the same time, this build is tanky enough that it would take a full team effort to kill you before you can Riftwalk away, so dont be unnecessarily cautious.


    -Dont be in the front lines of a large teamfight

    You can safely cast your spells from the back most of the time. If you have to get close, consider walking in so you can save your Riftwalk to escape should they focus you.


    -Dont be afraid to take a little damage

    This build is designed so that you wont crumple the second someone decides they want you dead, and the CD on Riftwalk is very short, especially at higher levels. You can dance in and out of the front lines, using your status as a priority target to lure enemies into attacking you instead of your more vulnerable teammates while still retaining the capability to escape should you need to.


    -Make full use of your mobility

    You can move around the map faster than most. Use it to help attack or defend far away nodes.


    -Terrain is your friend

    Other champions have to navigate the obsticles; you can just jump over them. If you get in a jam or want to position yourself for a quick escape, lead an enemy to the nearest wall and jump over it.


    -Riftwalking doesnt stop incoming projectiles

    If someone casts a targetted spell or a ranged champion auto attacks you, it's still going to hit you, whether you Riftwalk away or not. However, you can still jump away to "avoid" CC attached to projectiles, such as Twisted Fate's Pick A Card or Taric's Dazzle; you'll still get hit by the CC, but you can ride it out a safe distance away.


    -Riftwalking doesnt negate effects that are in the process of landing

    If Pantheon jumps on you with Aegis of Zeonia as you Riftwalk away, you will still get stunned - but the Riftwalk will still complete, so you will be stunned a fair distance away.


    -Null Sphere has travel time

    This means that the silence wont go off until the projectile hits. If you REALLY need to silence someone, consider doing it from a short distance


    -Be careful what you open with

    This applies mostly to ambushes. If you open with Force Pulse, your target can still react with spells and abilities. If you open with Null Sphere, your target can still run away. A good rule of thumb is to open with Null Sphere if you think your target is ready to counterattack when you engage, and Force Pulse if they arent. This way you wont waste your silence on a target that is unprepared anyway; if it takes them half a second to react and the silence is 2 seconds long, you've wasted a half second of silence that they wouldnt have cast anything anyway by opening with Null Sphere.


    -Beware being predictable with your Riftwalks

    A coordinated team can trick you into thinking you can escape over a nearby wall, only to have backup waiting when you land. If you suspect an ambush, considering taking a safer route along the outer circle instead of directly through the jungle. You can still effectively escape using pure distance instead of relying on terrain as well.


    -Saving Null Sphere can help ensure a kill

    If you're hunting down a champion like Alistar or Dr. Mundo, it can be beneficial to wait to use your Null Sphere until they get low, then use the silence to prevent them from surviving with their ult.


    -Consider delaying Null Sphere if you're low on Force Pulse charges

    This is sort of a gambit, but it can pay off. If you're low on charges going into a fight, consider waiting until your opponent has tossed off a few spells before silencing them with Null Sphere to help charge your Force Pulse. If they're silenced they arent casting spells, which means you arent taking as much damage, but it also means you cant use their spells to fuel your Force Pulse charges.

  • Summary

    In the end, this build allows you to retain your assassin status while also making you sturdy enough to be effective even if you dont have a team to back you up.


    If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below, and be sure to uprate this guide if you found it helpful.

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