Kel'Thuzad Build Guide “The darkness guides me.”
Welcome to our guide for Kel'Thuzad, a Ranged Assassin in Heroes of the Storm. Within these pages, you will find everything required to understand how best to play this hero, in both different map styles and team compositions.
Kel'Thuzad is a combo-oriented ranged damage dealer with outstanding area of effect crowd control and burst damage potential. Relying on skillshot Abilities to grow through Master of the Cold Dark makes him weak in the early stages of the game and harder than most Heroes to play, let alone master.
Kel'Thuzad's Strengths and Weaknesses
- Very vulnerable to mobile Heroes
- Difficult to play due to ALL Abilities being skillshots
- Limited defensive Talent options and mobility
- Limited early-game power
Kel'Thuzad's Talent Build Cheatsheet
Plaguelands BuildTalent calculator »
The Plaguelands build focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's utility. It is at its best when your team composition may lack waveclear, sieging, or Mercenary Camp claiming power, and a proper way of reliably initiating combat with opponents. Key Talents include The Plaguelands, which improve Kel'Thuzad's sustained area of effect damage, Hungering Cold, which greatly increases Kel'Thuzad's damage through Death and Decay, and The Damned Return, which more or less doubles Kel'Thuzad's sustained damage output. As with all builds, Frost Blast can be used if your team composition has plenty of reliable follow up or lacks initiation tools.
Chains BuildTalent calculator »
Barbed Chains build focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's niches against Armor and Shields, and generally improving the damage potential of your teammates. Key Talents include Barbed Chains, Strip Shields, and Chain-Link. This build works well with reliable follow up, as the value of Armor-reduction and Shields-hate effects increases as more Heroes target the affected targets.
Blighted Frost BuildTalent calculator »
The Blighted Frost build focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's burst damage potential. It works particularly well when your team composition features several sources of crowd control to follow up on Frost Nova or to enable you to easily follow up with your own crowd control chain. Key Talents include Blighted Frost, which increases the duration of Frost Nova's Rooting effect, Shadow Fissure, which deals a large amount of area of effect damage, and Hungering Cold, which greatly improves Kel'Thuzad's burst damage through Death and Decay.
Kel'Thuzad's Synergies and Counters
Since Kel'Thuzad depends highly on skillshots to deal damage, he naturally works well with any Hero that can provide reliable crowd control against a kill target for him to follow up. His frailty also makes him dependent on other Heroes to peel for him; tanks tend to fulfill these two needs, though other Hero types can too.
Since Kel'Thuzad relies chiefly on skillshots to deal damage, he does particularly poorly against Heroes that have ways of quickly dodging his Abilities. Furthermore, his frailty and lack of self-peel makes him vulnerable to Stealthed or otherwise high-damage nimble Heroes that can quickly reach him.
Maps that promote early skirmishes are generally beneficial for the purpose of quickly completing Master of the Cold Dark. Furthermore, Maps with channeled Objectives are good for him since the objectives can reliably be interrupted by Shadow Fissure. Otherwise, Kel'Thuzad's versatility makes him a fine pick all-around.
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.
- Death and Decay should nearly always be used on-Cooldown due to its insignificant Mana cost and short Cooldown.
- When targeting two Heroes, Chains of Kel'Thuzad pulls them towards the middle point between the two Heroes.
- When targeting a Hero and a Glacial Spike, Chains of Kel'Thuzad pulls the Hero to the Spike.
- 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.
Role in the Current Meta
Note about the current Anomaly: This Anomaly provides Kel'Thuzad with more opportunities to hit opponents who try to collect Experience Globes and thus complete Master of the Cold Dark faster. His playstyle is otherwise unaffected, and Kel'Thuzad players should stick with their teammates as per usual.
Kel'Thuzad's reliable crowd control and high area of effect burst damage make him a good fit for most team compositions, whether there is lack of means of initiating or plenty of Rooting or Stunning effects for Kel'Thuzad himself to follow up on.
Kel'Thuzad's high threat level and fragility make him a high-priority pick in most drafting situations, and generally match-dictating as a Hero, in the sense that team compositions do well to support him — and counter him, when possible. His particular vulnerability to highly mobile Heroes makes drafting a tank with reliable peel essential to ensuring the success of Kel'Thuzad-based compositions. His inability to reliably solo lane also makes it important to draft at least one independent Hero for this task.
- 15 Dec. 2019 (this page): Added a note about current Anomaly.
- 27 Sep. 2019 (abilities page): Section updated following the nerf to Shadow Fissure.
- 03 Sep. 2019 (talents page): Talent descriptions and recommendations updated to reflect latest Talent rework.
- 03 Sep. 2019 (this page): Guide reviewed and updated.
- 03 Sep. 2019 (abilities page): Guide reviewed and updated.
- 30 Aug. 2018 (abilities page): Ability descriptions updated to reflect latest balance patch.
- 30 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Talent descriptions and recommendations updated to reflect latest balance patch.
- 05 Sep. 2017 (this page): Guide published.
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