▣ Hands on first impressions of Cassia, the Diablo 2 Amazon
Cassia is a ranged Assassin that was designed with a specific role in mind: to counter physical attack heroes. Her blind ability negates tons of damage when used properly, and her passive trait is ideal for negating stray damage while chasing or fleeing.
• When moving unmounted, Cassia gains 65 Physical Armor against Heroic Basic Attacks, reducing the damage taken by 65%.
If you time your stutter steps well, Cassia can negate damage and waste the enemy’s time as they try to trade auto-attacks with her. Even if she is stunned, Avoidance activates the moment the stun fades and Cassia starts moving. This results in a very narrow window where Cassia is actually vulnerable.
During my games playing as Cassia, I was struck by how flexible her talents and abilities are. In team fights, I was able to soak up lots of damage and dish it out with ease. Her most useful ability by far is her heroic ability, Valkyrie. It is very safe to use and it’s large AoE makes it difficult to avoid when spaced properly.
• Valkyrie (R)
• Summon a Valkyrie that rushes to Cassia after 0.75 seconds, pulling and damaging the first enemy Hero hit, and stunning them for 0.5 seconds at the end of her path.
• The Valkyrie knocks back all other enemy Heroes in her way
One of the most deceptively powerful aspects of this heroic is how telegraphed it is. Whenever I would connect with this ability, there was ample time for my allies to capitalize on it and deal tons of damage to the vulnerable enemy target. Once an enemy hero is pinned, they move relatively slowly to Cassia’s location. It is about the same speed as a Kael’Thas Pyroblast, but slower than Stitches Hook.
Her second heroic, Ball Lighting, is often used as a simple “cast and forget” damage heroic during a team fight, which becomes more useful when my team already has some form of engage ability. This heroic seems weaker than Valkyrie, but the level 20 talent upgrade makes Ball Lighting worth it.
• Ball Lightning (R)
• Throw a ball of lightning at an enemy Hero that bounces up to 6 times between nearby enemy Heroes and Cassia, damaging enemies hit.
The upgrade causes Ball Lightning to bounce indefinitely and isn’t nearly as gimmicky as it seems. Because the Orb also bounces to Cassia, it can ensure a kill against an enemy Hero as long as Cassia stays within range and keeps chasing. It also ensures Cassia will win any duel against an isolated target.
Cassia’s Basic abilities allow her to operate efficiently at any range. With Lightning Fury, Cassia can safely poke down enemy heroes and then, using Fend, dive on them when they try to retreat.
Lighting Fury is spammable and, if you are skilled at landing it, can do impressive damage with its unique AoE spread. This isn’t a very good ability to take down front line tanks however, as the AoE portion of the ability becomes wasted. I found much more success targeting heroes in the middle of a team fight or using the ability against a clump of enemy ranged heroes.
• Lightning Fury (Q)
• Hurl a javelin that damages the first enemy hit, and splits into two lightning bolts that deal damage to enemies in their paths.
Fend is her most damaging ability, but it has its downsides. Fend causes Cassia to stay still, meaning her passive (Avoidance) stops negating damage. This ability makes you very vulnerable and is best used against fleeing enemies or as a form of wave clear. The mark of an amateur Cassia is using Fend to initiate combat.
The charge component of Fend is a useful part of the ability and offers Cassia some much needed mobility. Although the damage is easy to avoid (just as you would avoid a Kerrigan Combo) the channel can be interrupted, allowing Cassia to continuing auto attacking. In most team fights I used Fend as a gap closer and tried to avoid channeling for the full duration, as to avoid stuns and skillshots.
• Fend (E)
• Charge at an enemy, and upon arriving channel for 1.5 seconds, damaging enemies in front of cassia every 0.25 seconds.
• Deals 50% reduced damage to non-Heroes.
Blinding Light is a useful blind ability due to it’s large AoE and quick cast time. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid on reaction, so if Cassia notices a physical attacker dealing tons of damage she can quickly cast Blinding Light on top of them.
• Blinding Light (W)
• After 0.5 seconds, Blind enemies in the target area for 2 seconds.
• Passive: Cassia deals 15% increased damage to Blinded targets.
In my experience, Cassia players were tempted to cast Blinding Light on the target they were attacking for the 15% bonus damage to her auto attacks, but quickly realized that the abilities longer-than-average cooldown made it more suitable as a defensive option when Cassia was out of position or vulnerable to attacks.
▣ When to pick Cassia
Cassia excels against dive compositions, as she is naturally resilient to their burst damage and can save allies from damage with Blinding Light. She is one of the few ranged assassins that can deal significant damage but has to stand her ground when directly engaged. While she has no obvious synergy when facing long range mages, her Valkyrie heroic is perfect for picking them off when they are in the middle of a casting animation.
I would almost always pick Cassia when the enemy has multiple physical attackers. Thanks to her traits and blind ability, there are some Heroes that simply can’t Kill Cassia while she is moving. It was comical seeing Tracer and Illidan chase Cassia to no avail, as she can easily shrugged off the majority of their physical attack damage. Additionally, Cassia can walk up to a sieged SGT. Hammer without fear, avoiding 65% of her damage easily.
I would categorize Cassia as a tanky ranged assassin that should be picked reactively if the enemy team is relying on physical attack damage. Cassia pairs perfectly with heroes that can easily capitalize off of Valkyrie, So I expect to see a lot of Uther, Ragnaros, Malfurion, and Muradin paired alongside her.
Johanna is especially powerful with Cassia. Shield Glare grants Cassia extra damage on each of her auto attacks and both heroes are tanky enough to dive deep and secure kills. Cassia and Johanna provide a lot of protection to their fragile allies and, in several matches, I saw Lt. Morales, Cassia, and Johanna move together as a team of three, virtually unkillable. If you need more peel but don’t want to draft two warriors, Cassia is a great pick.
Cassia fills the niche that perhaps only Tychus filled previously: a ranged assassin that isn’t fragile. In the right drafts, Cassia can be very difficult to play against, as her passive and Heroic options pressure the opponent from multiple angles. She can’t fit into nearly any draft like Valla, but at the times Cassia is needed, she becomes an incredibly strong presence on the battlefield.
Countering Cassia is about avoiding her two biggest strengths: Valkyrie initiates and favorably trading auto-attacks. When facing Cassia, I would look towards heroes like Lunara or Medivh, who are much more mobile than Cassia and can deliver sustained non-physical DPS, negating her passive entirely.
• Level 1
• [Q] Thunderstroke
Quest: Hit Heroes with Q. Reward(1): 20 Heroes hit = 60 damage. Reward(2): 40 Heroes hit = 2 Charges.
• [W] True Sight
Increases the damage dealt to Blinded enemy heroes by 10%. Quest: Deal Basic Attack damage to Blinded enemy heroes. Reward: 80 Heroes hit = Blind duration +1 second.
• [Active] Charged Strikes
Activate to cause your basic attacks to bounce to a nearby enemy for 8 seconds and increase their damage by 40%. 20s CD.
• Level 4
• [Passive] Ring of the Leech
Cassia heals for 35% of the damage dealt to enemies affected by Blind.
• [W] Inner Light
Increases Blinding Light radius by 25%. Upon being Rooted or Stunned, Blinding Light pulses around Cassia. This can only occur every 6s.
• [Trait] Plate of the Whales
Gain 5 HPS while Avoid is active. Quest: Every 5 Attacks reduced by Avoid grants 1 additional HPS. After 15 bonus HPS, cap it and gain 10% max Health.
• Level 7
• [E] Impale
Increases Charged Strike’s damage by 50% to enemies below 40% health
• [Trait] War Traveler
Gain 3% movement speed every 0.5 seconds Avoid is active. Stacks up to 5 times. The bonus is reset when Cassia stops moving.
• [Trait] Lightning Surge
Cassia stores blocked damage and upon reaching X damage her trait can be activated to deal Y damage in an area around you.
• Level 10
• [R1] Ball Lightning
Throw a ball of lightning at the target enemy hero that deals damage and bounces to other nearby heroes
• [R2] Valkyrie
Summon a Valkyrie that pulls an enemy hero toward your location
• Level 13
• [Q] Grounding Bolt
Lightning Fury slows enemy Heroes by 20% for 1.5 seconds
• [Q] Thundergod's Vigor
Hitting an enemy hero with the initial Lightning Fury missile reduces the cooldown by 1s.
• [W] Seraph's Hymn
Reduce Blinding Light's Mana cost from 70 to 40. Basic Attacks against Blinded enemies reduce the cooldown of Blinding Light by 3 seconds
• [E] Lunging Strike
Increases Fend's duration by 0.5 seconds and the area of effect by 20%
• Level 16
• [Q] Pierce
Lightning Fury's primary missile now pierces. Perpendicular bolts are now only spawned from Heroes.
• [E] Penetrate
Enemies take 3% increased damage from Fend each consecutive hit.
• [Passive] Martial Law
Basic attacks against Stunned, Rooted, and Slowed enemy heroes deal bonus damage equal to 3% of their maximum health.
• Level 20
• [R1] Infinite Lightning
Ball Lightning can now bounce infinitely.
• [R2] Imprisoning Light
Upon initial impact, Valkyrie deals additional damage to nearby Heroes and roots them for 4 seconds.
• [Passive] Titan's Revenge
Increases Basic Attack range by 2 and your Basic Attacks now ignore armor.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.