Kel'Thuzad Abilities and Strategy
Welcome to our Abilities page for Kel'Thuzad. Here, we give you an overview of every ability in Kel'Thuzad's kit. For each of them, we explain what it does, how to best use it, and how it works in combination with Kel'Thuzad's other abilities. We also give you strategy tips to play Kel'Thuzad efficiently.
Kel'Thuzad's Tips and Tricks
- Generating Master of the Cold Dark stacks is of the utmost importance early on; the faster you complete this Quest, the more likely you are to snowball.
- When targeting two Heroes, Chains of Kel'Thuzad Pulls them towards the middle point between the two Heroes. Cast Frost Nova there.
- When targeting a Hero and a Glacial Spike, Chains of Kel'Thuzad Pulls the Hero to the Spike.
- Using Chains of Kel'Thuzad against a frontline Hero is useful to then hit a more vulnerable backline Hero without being blocked.
- Upon hitting a Hero with Chains of Kel'Thuzad, use Glacial Spike, wait 0.5 seconds, then recast Chains of Kel'Thuzad towards the Spike for an easy hit.
- Frost Nova should be used as a follow up to Chains of Kel'Thuzad or allied crowd control.
- Frost Blast can be negated through effects that render your target Invulnerable, such as Ice Block; pick your target accordingly.
- Shadow Fissure combos particularly well with a center Frost Nova hit due to the Rooting effect.
Important Hero-Specific Information
Kel'Thuzad's playstyle revolves around what we call "The Combo". The combo, to which we will often refer to throughout this guide, is best described as an Ability chain performed by pulling Heroes into Frost Nova's area of effect with Chains of Kel'Thuzad and Glacial Spike, as needed. This is typically followed up with Shadow Fissure, if it was selected as a Heroic Ability, and Death and Decay to deal a large amount of area of effect damage to Heroes frozen by Frost Nova.
As such, we exceptionally list Kel'Thuzad's Abilities in the order they are generally used to perform the aforementioned combo, and not in the order they are presented in-game, as we usually do.
Chains of Kel'Thuzad
- Mana: 50
- Cooldown: 10 seconds
Launch a chain, dealing 97 (+2.5% per level) damage to the first enemy Hero hit. For 3 seconds after hitting an enemy, Chains can be reactivated to launch to an additional enemy, pulling both enemies together and Stunning them for 0.5 seconds.
Chains of Kel'Thuzad is one of the most complex Abilities in Heroes of the Storm, and the first piece of the combo discussed earlier. Its two-part nature and general complexity makes it one of the most difficult Abilities to use, yet its power justifies this completely, and mastering it goes a long way in becoming a strong Kel'Thuzad player. As such, its mechanic warrants additional explanations.
Chains of Kel'Thuzad is a two-part Ability. The first part is a relatively fast projectile which originates from Kel'Thuzad and moves towards the targeted point. This projectile can pass through Minions, but "attaches" itself to the first enemy Hero or Glacial Spike it hits, dealing damage. If this initial projectile misses, the Ability goes on cooldown, and the second part of the Ability does not trigger.
The second part of the Ability is similar to the first part, except that the projectile originates from the Hero or Glacial Spike, upon which it had attached to initially instead of from Kel'Thuzad himself. If this projectile hits another enemy Hero, both Heroes are dragged to each other until they meet at the center point between each other, where they are briefly Stunned. If the projectile had instead hit a Glacial Spike then a Hero (or a Hero then a Glacial Spike), the Hero is dragged to the Spike and briefly Stunned. This second projectile has to be cast within 3 seconds, else the Ability will go on cooldown, as it will if this projectile misses. It is worth noting that Heroes can never be pulled through impassable terrain or Structures, and will simply be stopped upon contact instead.
The first aspect of Chains of Kel'Thuzad to master is the Ability's skillshot nature. Although relatively fast, the projectile generated by the Ability is rather thin. Furthermore, capable players will always try and avoid it due to its importance. It is therefore essential that you develop a good "feel" for the projectile's speed and width. Try Mode, which can be accessed through your Hero Collection, allows you to remove the cooldown of Abilities, making it perfect to develop this kind of muscle memory.
The second aspect of the Ability to master lies in its pulling mechanic. Since Heroes that are pulled meet at the middle point between each other, you need to be able to evaluate perfectly where they are going to land in order to follow up with a center Frost Nova hit perfectly. This can be quite difficult at first, as the distance pulled varies depending on how close the Heroes are to each other; practice, however, makes perfect. Using the Ability against Glacial Spike is easier, however, as targeted Heroes are always predictably pulled to it. Note that Glacial Spike can also be used for easier hits and long-range pulls, as it is immobile and thus makes it impossible to avoid the pulling effect should you first hit a Hero with Chains of Kel'Thuzad. This is particularly important to Kel'Thuzad as it allows Heroes to be hit without needing other enemy Heroes to be nearby.
The third aspect to master is related to decision making. Ideally, you would always try and use Chains of Kel'Thuzad against key targets such as frail Healers or Assassins. The Ability's relatively short range, however, makes this seldom possible. As such, it is generally better to try and hit frontline Heroes with the initial projectile to then pull backline Heroes towards you with the second projectile. Besides the obvious advantage of providing you with additional range, this tends to make opponents play less aggressively than they normally would.
- Mana: 50
- Cooldown: 8 seconds
Create a nova that explodes after 1 second, dealing 180 (+2.5% per level) damage to enemies inside and Slowing them by 35% for 2.5 seconds. Enemies in the center are Rooted for 1 second.
Frost Nova is the second piece of the combo discussed earlier. Although its effect has a short delay, successful Chains of Kel'Thuzad hits allow you to secure hits much more easily, which is why we recommend using the Abilities in this order. Frost Nova can also be used as a follow up for crowd control provided by allied Heroes. Furthermore, its respectable damage can help with waveclearing, although this should only be done when no imminent Hero combat is expected. Successful Frost Nova should mechanically be followed by Shadow Fissure if was selected as a Heroic Ability, and by Death and Decay afterwards. If you have selected Frost Blast as your Heroic Ability instead, it can be used to provide a reliable Root effect which can be followed naturally by Frost Nova for a guaranteed hit.
Should Chains of Kel'Thuzad be on cooldown, Frost Nova can still be used on its own. Although center hits may be difficult, you may be able to secure outer hits for a reasonable amount of damage and a useful Slowing effect. As with all delayed area of effect Abilities, Frost Nova should be aimed slightly ahead of your target's current direction. At best, they may be hit by the Ability; at worst, they will have to steer away from its area of effect, giving you or your teammates some time to catch up to them. You can also use Frost Nova on top of yourself while running away to try to Root or deter opponents chasing you down.
Death and Decay
- Mana: 20
- Cooldown: 5 seconds
After 0.5 seconds, launch an orb that explodes upon hitting an enemy, dealing 150 (+2.5% per level) damage to enemies in the area. The explosion leaves behind a pool of decay that lasts 2 seconds, dealing 82 (+2.5% per level) damage every 0.5 seconds to enemies.
Death and Decay is Kel'Thuzad's main source of sustain damage. Due to its area of effect damage over time effect and skillshot nature, it is typically used third in the combo (or fourth if Shadow Fissure was your selected Heroic Ability). The Ability's extremely short cooldown, insignificant Mana cost, and relatively long range means that it should typically be used on-Cooldown whenever enemies are within its range—whether it be Minions, Structures, Mercenaries, or Heroes. It is worth noting that the initial damage explosion radius is very slightly larger than the lingering area of effect.
Death and Decay's high damage output also makes it perfect for common tasks such as waveclearing, sieging, claiming Mercenary Camps, or simply poking enemy Heroes. Since its cooldown is about half that of Kel'Thuzad's other Abilities, you will have to learn to play around its short cast time and relatively slow speed for use outside of the combo. Playing off allied crowd control effects is certainly one way of ensuring hits. It is worth noting that Death and Decay does not leave its lingering area of effect unless it actually directly hits a target, making it important to either predict enemy movement or aim at Minions or Structures, as unlike Chains of Kel'Thuzad, Death and Decay does not go through Minions.
- Mana: 45
- Cooldown: 50 seconds
Launch a meteor of ice at an enemy Hero. Upon impact, the meteor deals 115 (+2.5% per level) damage to its target and 275 (+2.5% per level) damage to enemies in the area. All enemies hit by Frost Blast are Rooted for 2 seconds.
Frost Blast is Kel'Thuzad's crowd control-oriented Heroic Ability choice. Its power lies in its powerful Root effect that is unavoidable under most circumstances. This effectively allows Kel'Thuzad to initiate from afar against high value targets for allies to follow up with their own crowd control Abilities, or counter-initiate by threatening to Root and heavily damage several Heroes unless they spread out. Since Frost Blast moves particularly slowly and has a very blatant area of effect indicator, it is possible for players to greatly delay its explosion by running away, or outright negate it with a few Abilities, which should always be kept in mind when selecting a target (for example Burrow by Dehaka).
Successful Frost Blast hits should naturally be followed up by either Chains of Kel'Thuzad or Frost Nova, should your target still be within range. Likewise, Frost Blast can and should follow a regular combo to keep struck enemies within Death and Decay's area of effect and to generally make kills easier to secure.
It is worth noting that Frost Blast can be used at point-blank range to hit your intended target almost instantly.
- Mana: 40
- Cooldown: 16 seconds
Create a fissure anywhere on the Battleground that explodes after 1.5 seconds, dealing 320 (+2.5% per level) damage to enemy Heroes in its area. If an enemy Hero is hit, set its cooldown to 1.5 seconds.
Shadow Fissure is Kel'Thuzad's damage-oriented Heroic Ability choice. It is notable for having an extremely short cooldown—16 seconds—and global range. Its 1.5 seconds impact delay and relatively small area of effect, however, make it difficult to use against targets that not under the effects of crowd control. This is effectively why Shadow Fissure generally comes third in the combo: casting the Ability as Heroes are being pulled by Chains of Kel'Thuzad into the Root effect provided by Frost Nova is generally enough to secure a hit.
Additionally, Shadow Fissure is unique in that its cooldown is reduced to 1.5s on successful hits, allowing it to be recast almost immediately. Although it may be tempting, avoid using the Ability exactly where it was just cast, as most Players naturally move away following being hit.
When using Shadow Fissure, one must work on developing their global awareness of the battlefield as the Ability's global range opens up many opportunities to follow up on allied crowd control when opponents expect it the least. Shadow Fissure can also be used to deter players from going to certain areas; this is particularly useful when chasing Heroes in narrow paths or near their Gate to block off their path or while contesting Mercenary Camps or Objectives which require a 6-second channeling. One last and particularly devious usage of Shadow Fissure is against players using their Hearthstone; by waiting towards the end of the channel (about 2/3 of the way), you may catch inattentive players off guard and kill them or at the very least waste their time.
Master of the Cold Dark
Quest: Gain 1 Blight every time a Hero is Rooted by Frost Nova or hit by Chains of Kel'Thuzad.
Reward: After gaining 15 Blight, gain the Glacial Spike Ability.
Reward: After gaining 30 Blight, gain 75% Spell Power.
Master of the Cold Dark is a simple Trait that rewards you for hitting with your most important Abilities. Master of the Cold Dark heavily promotes trying to be part of as many early game skirmishes. In essence, this means that you should never be solo laning as Kel'Thuzad, as the opportunities to generate Stacks of Master of the Cold Dark will be rarer. Completing the both the 15- and 30-Stack Quests should be a priority, as Kel'Thuzad's killing power in the mid- and late-game depend completely on these. You should always aim to have the Quest completed by Level 10, although finishing it faster will certainly allow you to snowball. The 15-Stack Quest unlocks Glacial Spike, mapped by default to the  key.
Activate to create a spike that detonates after 4 seconds, dealing 70 (+2.5% per level) damage to nearby enemies. The spike can be affected by Chains of Kel'Thuzad.
Glacial Spike's main use is creating a new target for Chains of Kel'Thuzad. As it acts as an immovable Hero for targeting purposes, the summoned Spike can be used to pull a target towards it without having to rely on the presence of a second enemy Hero. Since the Spike is stationary, it is incidentally much easier to hit than Heroes, and allows you to aggressively pull Heroes towards your team, not unlike Hook. Furthermore, the Spike's relatively large collision can be used to block off narrow choke points and even create some space between melee Heroes and what it is they might be pursuing. With proper Chains of Kel'Thuzad usage, Glacial Spike's explosion damage can be timed with the pulling effect for a reasonable amount of burst damage. It is worth noting that this damage scales with the Spell Power provided by a fully stacked Master of the Cold Dark.
Just like Heroes, Glacial Spike is invisible while in bushes, allowing for sneaky hits against unsuspecting opponents.
- 07 Sep. 2020: Section updated with additional information.
- 27 Sep. 2019: Section updated following the nerf to Shadow Fissure.
- 03 Sep. 2019: Guide reviewed and updated.
- 30 Aug. 2018: Ability descriptions updated to reflect latest balance patch.
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