NOTE: Bare in mind this guide is for experienced players and people who have played Kassadin before. I don't have any rehashed information about his abilities, but I WILL be updating with a list of Riftwalk uses.
|* THE GOOD STATS: AP, HP, and MP. Those are the only three stats that you should care about. The vast majority of your incoming gold should be spent on these three things. Save for boots, every item you buy should be influencing these stats and ONLY these stats.
|* THE OKAY STATS: Attack speed, cool down reduction, and armor. Attack speed will increase the effectiveness of your W. Cool down will allow you to blink, silence and slow faster (and blow through your mana faster). Armor is good if the other team is physical heavy.
|* THE BAD STATS: Magic resistance, attack damage. Kassadin’s passive magic resistance is all you need, spending gold on it would only lower your kill count and thus hurting your income. Attack damage is also poor as it doesn’t scale up the amount of mana drained from Kassadin’s passsive W. Remember that his W drains at a flat rate percent.
|* THE UGLY STATS: Mana and health regen. Terrible! Terrible! Never invest ANY stats into mana or health regen. Kassadin operates better late game when you invest your hard earned gold into gigantic mana and health reservoirs. Kassadin has to dive into the frey and attack weak targets that would be otherwise out-of-reach to your team. To do this he needs high amounts of health to tank damage, and he needs a huge mana pool to make sure he can keep rift walking. You don’t have the luxury to wait around behind your team and wait for your health and mana to come back. Kassadin NEEDS to be making kills. NO NO NO! Don’t be that idiot Kassadin running around with a Philospher’s Stone.
|* CATALYST THE PROTECTOR: Kassadin dosen’t need mana or health regen if you make Catalyst your first item. I rush it and generally keep it until I’m level 18. Trust me, a Catalyst is going to keep your Kass in the fight a lot better then an equvialent amount of gold spent on health and mana regen. Keeping an eye on when I level up is a very huge part of how I play Kassadin. Bare in mind that it effects two of your most important stats and you can use it to build Rod of Ages later in the game, an item that effects all three of your most important stats.
|* BOOTS OF MOBILITY: I catch some flak for this, but try my ways. Since Kassadin is a hunter champion, you need to be able to capitalize on every poor bastard that’s hanging around the fight with low health. Sometimes the window of opportunity is very brief, sometimes teleport isn’t charged, sometimes the kill that would give you the gold you need to win the game is just beyond your speed. Not only does this help you, but it also helps your team. With +5 movement speed, Kassadin becomes a great first responder to ganks. With that and your blink, you can keep an Eve or a Twitch completely countered without having to spend any money on elixirs. Now of course this is the most flexible of the items. I GUESS you could get caster boots, but +33 AP (+44 AP with Zhonya’s, more on that later) really isn’t worth the extra movement speed.
|* ZHONYA’S RING: Rush this item. You should be going for Zhonya’s as soon as you finish your Catalyst and boots. Why? Because you need the mana and you need the AP. Not only that, having Zhonya’s makes all your AP more cost-effective from that point on. Calculate the 25% buff to every AP item you buy after that. Now you may be tempted to go for Soulstealer instead, which does max out at a higher AP bonus then Ring. (125 vs. 140) The key different is Zhonya’s gives a crapload of mana. Soulstealer doesn’t give you shit.
|* RYLAI’S SCEPTOR: Probably the last item you get a chance to put together, Rylai’s Sceptor pretty much rounds out Kassadin. You slow more effectively, you deal more damage, (+100 AP with ring), and most importantly you get a fat HP buff. This pretty much provides everything you need for your late game, especially the max HP you need to survive and take on beefy enemy champions.
|* ROD OF AGES: Turning your Catalyst into a Rod of Ages is pretty low on your priority list, but it’s good to do before the game ends. It really depends on what your income situation is. Sometimes I never get around to completing the item, sometimes I put it together before Zhonya’s. It all depends on the situation. That aside, Rod of Ages benefits all of your most important stats, so it’s a key item for an effective Kassadin.
|* ELIXER OF BRILLANCE: This consumable fits Kassadin’s play style very well. It’s best stacked with a Golem buff, but any time you have 300 gold to spend, it’s good to bring one along. I’m pretty sure the AP bonus is effected by Zhonya’s 25% increase.
- Large pool of AP results in beefy damage output in a short amount of time, typically resulting in high kills. Using AP to increase your spells makes it quicker and easier to express your gold‘s worth of magic damage. Your main spike combo only takes as long as three spells. Not only that, your spells have a longer safer range then your melee attack, making it easier to pop in, deal your damage and pop out. Also, this high damage output allows you to surprise and wound champions that would otherwise be unable to heal themselves without a lengthy trip back to the fountain.
- Large pool of mana results in frightening bursts of mobility and damage. Also allows him to take advantage of Riftwalk’s damage multiplier more effectively then a Kassadin with mana regen. Riftwalk’s multiplier has a 7 second cool down, no matter how much cool down reduction you invest in, you’ll never be able to alter that. With a large mana pool, you don’t need to worry about that 7 second cool down and can allow your multipler to go higher more often.
- Large pool of health and his passive make Kassadin a late game tank. The more health you have, the more daring your attacks can become. Remember that your goal as Kassadin is to make kills, so you typically overextend to reach the squisher targets. This whole process is made easier by a large HP reservoir.
- Blurs the lines between different champion roles. By the end of the game, you can out play and out kill even the strongest of Carries, out maneuver and out survive even the most beefy of Tanks, out damage and out sustain even the most farmed of Nukers.
Cons of AP Spike Kassadin
- Comes in waves. With no MP or HP recovery outside of friendly champions and Catalyst (which is really mostly for the clutch surprises), Kassadin typically spends all of his health and mana in one battle, then must retreat to recharge. You are not a sustainable fighter, it’s extremely costly to be a sustainable fighter as Kassadin. You’ll waste all of your gold trying to be sustainable, and that will only hurt your damage output.
- Doesn’t take full advantage of W. You typically upgrade this skill last and it doesn’t benefit you nearly as much as other abilities. Kassadin is the only viable mana-denial champion on the game (as of writing) and it’s just not very good. On the plus side, W will get you mana in clutch situations, you can use it to steal mana from mage-creeps, and you can keep an escaping champion at low mana for a kill or two. Just remember to point it last.
- Extremely slow early game. Kills before level 6 will be rare, first bloods will be even rarer. Until you get Riftwalk, you pretty much have to rely on your lane partner or yourself. Riftwalk is such an important part of how Kassadin plays, you just need to power through early levels as safely as possible.
Masteries and Runes?
Use any rune page you feel like, nothing is significantly better then anything else. Spell penetration is always good, so is max Mana and max Health. Basically get whatever you need to survive and prosper in the first part of the match.
As far as Masteries go, I typically try and get as much cool down as possible. Remember that the increased Golem buff mastery is very important, as is the 15% magic penetration. At the very least, get those two.
THE CASE FOR SMITE & TELEPORT
Kassadin with Smite allows you to have a much safer early game. Using that and Nullsphere allows you to sidestep the crutch of being a melee champion. Another important side note is that Kassadin with Smite can solo a lane, making him a much MUCH more dangerous factor.
Also, Kassadin has trouble taking on neutral monsters without burning through hundreds of points of mana. Smite is crucial for getting key Golem buffs.
Teleport should be obvious, but Kassadin especially needs it due to having to travel back to the fountain more often then other champions. Also remember that you can charge up your Riftwalk to a high multiplier at your fountain and then Teleport into battle with a x7 blink. That’s always fun.
Remember to specc both Smite and Teleport in your masteries.
|* EARLY GAME: Be defensive. Go for last his, don’t try to damage the other champions very hard. Depending on if you have a good lane partner or if you’re solo, but the general rule of thumb is you shouldn’t try anything risky until you get Riftwalk and Catalyst. Null Sphere should be used almost exclusively for last hitting. Smite helps in this period, make sure to use it in minions that you’d otherwise be unable to last hit.
|* MID GAME: As soon as you hit level 6 and have boots, go gank. Make sure that Force Pulse is charged, or at least at x5 so your next Riftwalk will charge it. At this point in the game, you need to be making money off of kills and assists.
|* LATE GAME: Depending on how your Mid and Early games went, you’re probably some sort of horrible monster by late game. Don’t get cocky, of course, but make sure to go for the weak and go for the kills.