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Kel'Thuzad Talents

Last updated on Sep 05, 2017 at 09:55 by Oxygen 18 comments

Table of Contents

Kel'Thuzad Image

General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent choices for playing Kel'Thuzad in a competitive environment in Heroes of the Storm. For each talent, we explain what they do and why they should or should not be taken.

The other pages of our Kel'Thuzad guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About the Author

Oxygen is a veteran of the MOBA genre, which he has been playing for nearly 15 years. He has coached some of Heroes of the Storm's most prominent North American players and teams alike, including Team Liquid. As a Master player, he enjoys playing all Heroes and roles.

1. Talent Build

Level Choices
1 The Plaguelands ? Blighted Frost Barbed Chains
4 Strip Shields ? Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad Armor of the Archlich ?
7 Accelerated Decay Glacial Spike Chilling Touch ?
10 Frost Blast ? Shadow Fissure
13 Icy Grasp Chains of Ice Chain-Link ?
16 Arcane Echoes Hungering Cold Power of Icecrown
20 Deathchill Might of the Scourge Shifting Malice ? The Damned Return
Create your own build and share it with friends!

2. Common Talent Paths

Blighted Frost Build (talent calculator link)

The Blighted Frost Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Shadow Fissure, which deals a large amount of area of effect damage, and Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold, which greatly improves Kel'Thuzad's burst damage through Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay.

Plaguelands Build (talent calculator link)

The Plaguelands Icon 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, Frost Blast Icon Frost Blast, which unconditionally Roots a targeted Hero, Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold, which greatly increases Kel'Thuzad's damage through Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay, and The Damned Return Icon The Damned Return, which more or less doubles Kel'Thuzad's sustained damage output.

3. 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 perfomed by pulling Heroes into Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova's area of effect with Chains of Kel'Thuzad Icon Chains of Kel'Thuzad. This is typically followed up with Shadow Fissure Icon Shadow Fissure, if it was selected as a Heroic Ability, and Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay to deal a large amount of area of effect damage to Heroes frozen by Frost Nova.

4. Level 1 Talents

Kel'Thuzad The Plaguelands ?
The Plaguelands (Level 1) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Increase Death and Decay's duration by 1 second. After gaining 30 Blight, increase the radius of Death and Decay's pool by 30%.

Kel'Thuzad Blighted Frost
Blighted Frost (Level 1) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Frost Nova deals 50% more damage to enemies in the center. After gaining 30 Blight, increase Frost Nova's Root duration by 0.5 seconds.

Kel'Thuzad Barbed Chains
Barbed Chains (Level 1) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Increase Chains of Kel'Thuzad damage by 125%. After gaining 30 Blight, Chains of Kel'Thuzad reduces the Armor of pulled Heroes by 15 for 4 seconds.

4.1. Discussion

This Talent tier focuses on improving the damage output of Kel'Thuzad's Basic Abilities.

The Plaguelands Icon The Plaguelands increases Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay's damage potential by approximately 25%, assuming the target remains within the Ability's area of effect for its full duration. The area of effect increase provided by the Talent helps with keeping Heroes within said area of effect somewhat, although it remains unlikely for Death and Decay to ever deal its full damage. As such, we judge The Plaguelands to be primarily PvE- and siege-oriented; it helps with taking down Mercenaries and razing Structures, on top of improving Kel'Thuzad's waveclear by allowing Death and Decay to hit an entire Minion wave, which is difficult to do without the radius increase provided by the Talent. It is worth mentioning that The Plaguelands synergises well with Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold, as the increased area of effect indirectly allows Hungering Cold to trigger more often against moving Heroes. This Talent also has obvious synergy with The Damned Return Icon The Damned Return, as it also benefits the summoned Shade's own Death and Decay. In short, The Plaguelands is a solid choice if your team composition lacks waveclear, and if it has plenty of crowd control to promote using Death and Decay outside of the combo against Heroes.

Blighted Frost Icon Blighted Frost's power lies in its increase to the duration of Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova's Rooting effect, which is important to Kel'Thuzad's ability to further inflict damage, as well as potential follow up from allies. Blighted Frost synergises particularly well with Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold, as the increased Rooting duration increases the porential number of damage instances that can be inflicted by Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay by holding Heroes within the Ability's area of effect longer. The damage increase provided by this Talent is also notable, and particularly when Master of the Cold Dark Icon Master of the Cold Dark has been completed.

Barbed Chains Icon Barbed Chains provides a notable damage increase to Chains of Kel'Thuzad Icon Chains of Kel'Thuzad; its power, however, lies in improving the damage of any follow up through its Armor reducing effect. It is currently difficult to evaluate just how effective this effect is when compared to the raw, larger damage increase and utility provided by competing Talents. As such, we do not currently recommend Barbed Chains, but will update the guide shortly after more data is available for a proper assessment of the Talent's performance.

5. Level 4 Talents

Kel'Thuzad Strip Shields ?
Strip Shields (Level 4) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Pulling a Hero with Chains of Kel'Thuzad grants Kel'Thuzad a permanent 112 (+4% per level) Shield, stacking up to 2 times.

Additionally, Chains of Kel'Thuzad deals up to 270 (+2.5% per level) bonus damage to Shields.

Kel'Thuzad Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad
Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad (Level 4) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Quest: Collect 12 Regeneration Globes to charge Kel'Thuzad's Phylactery.

Reward: Kel'Thuzad's Phylactery can be activated while dead to immediately respawn at the Hall of Storms, but must be charged again.

Passive: Kel'Thuzad heals for 10% of all Spell Damage dealt while the Phylactery is charged.

Kel'Thuzad Armor of the Archlich ?
Armor of the Archlich (Level 4) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad
  • Cooldown: 25 seconds

Activate to gain 50 Physical Armor for 4 seconds. Upon activation, nearby enemies take 45 (+4% per level) damage and are Slowed by 35% for 4 seconds.

5.1. Discussion

This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's survivability.

The Shielding effect provided by Strip Shields Icon Strip Shields is equal to approximately 15% of Kel'Thuzad's total Health pool, which is reasonably powerful, especially considering it can be reapplied with relative ease mid-combat. Strip Shields gains real value, however, when used to counter team compositions that make heavy usage of Shields. As such, we recommend Strip Shields against Tassadar and Zarya, and against team compositions that feature at least two of the following Heroes: Abathur, Anub'arak, Artanis, Chen, Johanna, Kerrigan, Lucio, Tyrael, and Xul. Strip Shields has notable synergy with Chain-Link Icon Chain-Link. It should be noted that Strip Shields' bonus damage against Shields does scale with the Spell Power provided by Master of the Cold Dark Icon Master of the Cold Dark.

Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad Icon Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad provides Kel'Thuzad with two powerful effects, granted you hurry and gather the 10 required Regeneration Globes as quickly as possible. The self-healing aspect is Kel'Thuzad's sole form of sustain, whereas the respawn element is extremely powerful in the late-game. Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad effectively lets you play more aggressively and potentially "trade" your life for that of an enemy Hero to then revive instantly for an advantage, or, less ideally, make a mistake less punishing for your team.

Armor of the Archlich Icon Armor of the Archlich provides Kel'Thuzad with instant, on-demand protection against Basic Attacks. Armor of the Archlich is particularly useful against sticky melee Assassins which rely on Basic Attacks to deal damage, as Kel'Thuzad tends to be a priority target due to his lack of reliable escape means. The slowing effect is also useful for easily following up with Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova. This Talent is particularly useful against Illidan, Samuro, The Butcher, and Tracer.

6. Level 7 Talents

Kel'Thuzad Accelerated Decay
Accelerated Decay (Level 7) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Each time a Hero is hit by Death and Decay's pool, they take 25% more periodic damage from Death and Decay for the next 4 seconds, stacking up to 6 times.

Kel'Thuzad Glacial Spike
Glacial Spike (Level 7) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad
  • Cooldown: 30 seconds

Activate to create a spike that detonates after 4 seconds, dealing 60 (+2.5% per level) damage to nearby enemies. The spike can be affected by Chains of Kel'Thuzad.

Kel'Thuzad Chilling Touch ?
Chilling Touch (Level 7) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Every 8 seconds, Kel'Thuzad's next Basic Attack hits nearby enemies, deals Spell damage instead of Physical, and Slows by 30% for 2 seconds.

6.1. Discussion

This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's damage output and utility.

Accelerated Decay Icon Accelerated Decay has the potential of greatly improving Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay's damage against Heroes. It does, however, require opponents to stand within the Ability's area of effect for long; too long usually to be reasonable.

Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike's main use is creating a new target for Chains of Kel'Thuzad Icon Chains of Kel'Thuzad. As it acts as a Structure for targeting purposes, the summoned Spike can be used to pull a target to its base without having to rely on the presence of enemy Structures or 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 Icon 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 Master of the Cold Dark Icon Master of the Cold Dark.

Chilling Touch Icon Chilling Touch provides Kel'Thuzad with something he sorely lacks: an unavoidable source of damage and slowing effect. Chilling Touch is particularly useful when used to Slow a target before initiating the combo, as Slowed targets are less likely to be able to avoid your Abilities. The unavoidable nature of the damage provided by this Talent is also especially useful against mobile Heroes who may be difficult to hit with Abilities, such as Genji, Illidan, or Tracer. Furthermore, Chilling Touch allows the triggering Basic Attack to "pierce" through effects that would normally dodge or reduce the damage of Basic Attacks, such as Block Icon Block, Dodge Icon Dodge, or Evasion Icon Evasion. It is worth noting that Chilling Touch's damage scales with the Spell Power provided by Master of the Cold Dark Icon Master of the Cold Dark.

7. Level 10 Talents

Kel'Thuzad Frost Blast ?
Frost Blast (Level 10) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad
  • Mana: 70
  • Cooldown: 80 seconds

Launch a meteor of ice at an enemy Hero. Upon impact, the meteor deals 100 (+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 1.5 seconds.

Kel'Thuzad Shadow Fissure
Shadow Fissure (Level 10) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad
  • Mana: 60
  • Cooldown: 20 seconds

Create a fissure anywhere on the Battleground that explodes after 1.5 seconds, dealing 400 (+2.5% per level) damage to enemy Heroes in its area.

7.1. Discussion

At this level, Heroic Abilities become available. Both Heroic Abilities have already been described in the abilities section; refer to it for more information.

Frost Blast Icon Frost Blast is Kel'Thuzad's crowd control-oriented Heroic Ability choice. It can be used to great effect as the initiating Ability of burst compositions that seek to isolate a specific target. One side effect of Frost Blast's extremely telegraphed effect is how it forces opponents to spread out and away from your target. Frost Blast can also be used as a counter-initiation move as a means of making following up more difficult.

Shadow Fissure Icon Shadow Fissure works well in conjunction with any crowd control, including Kel'Thuzad's own. This is Kel'Thuzad's most versatile Heroic Ability. Consider Frost Blast Icon Frost Blast if your team composition does lack crowd control, however.

8. Level 13 Talents

Kel'Thuzad Icy Grasp
Icy Grasp (Level 13) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Increase Frost Nova's Slow duration by 1.5 seconds.

Kel'Thuzad Chains of Ice
Chains of Ice (Level 13) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

After Chains of Kel'Thuzad's Stun expires, the enemy is also Slowed by 60% for 1 second.

Kel'Thuzad Chain-Link ?
Chain-Link (Level 13) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Pulling two Heroes together with Chains of Kel'Thuzad reduces its cooldown by 4 seconds.

8.1. Discussion

This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's crowd control potential.

Icy Grasp Icon Icy Grasp provides a generic increase to an otherwise unimpressive Slowing effect. Although the Talent is not necessarily bad, we feel that both alternatives are more pertinent to Kel'Thuzad's playstyle.

Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice provides one of the game's most powerful Slowing effect when it is most needed. Its sheer intensity makes it much easier to follow up for you and your allies after successful Chains of Kel'Thuzad Icon Chains of Kel'Thuzad hits, even without Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova.

Chain-Link Icon Chain-Link reduces the Cooldown of what is arguably Kel'Thuzad's most important Ability by a very respectable 33%. If your aim tends to be poor, this Talent can help make up for it somewhat by giving you more opportunities to use Chains of Kel'Thuzad Icon Chains of Kel'Thuzad. Otherwise, Chain-Link has particularly strong synergy with Strip Shields Icon Strip Shields and Barbed Chains Icon Barbed Chains; pick if you went for either Talent.

9. Level 16 Talents

Kel'Thuzad Arcane Echoes
Arcane Echoes (Level 16) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Whenever Kel'Thuzad hits an enemy Hero with Death and Decay's explosion, its cooldown is reduced by 1.25 seconds.

Kel'Thuzad Hungering Cold
Hungering Cold (Level 16) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Enemies Rooted by Frost Nova take an additional 55 (+2.5% per level) damage each time they are damaged by Kel'Thuzad during the next 4 seconds.

Kel'Thuzad Power of Icecrown
Power of Icecrown (Level 16) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Stunning, Rooting, or Slowing a Hero grants 6% Spell Power for 10 seconds, stacking up to 5 times.

9.1. Discussion

This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's damage output.

Arcane Echoes Icon Arcane Echoes can be rather difficult to benefit from; although the Cooldown reduction is reasonable, and may work with Accelerated Decay Icon Accelerated Decay to maintain the damage increase effect, situations where you are able to chain several Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay casts are rare. The Cooldown reduction provided by Arcane Echoes does not trigger through The Damned Return Icon The Damned Return's Death and Decay casts.

Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold provides a massive damage increase to the combo. Successfully casting Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay against a Hero Rooted by Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova increases Kel'Thuzad's short term damage output by nearly 50%, on top of making subsequent Basic Attacks extremely powerful. Hungering Cold has extremely potent synergy with The Damned Return Icon The Damned Return, as each instance of Death and Decay damage, including those generated by the Shade, trigger Hungering Cold's damage bonus. Hungering Cold allows Kel'Thuzad to threaten even the Healthiest of tanks.

Power of Icecrown Icon Power of Icecrown is an acceptable alternative to Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold if you feel like your Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova aim is poor. Power of Icecrown's main advantage over the competing Talents is how easy its effect is to maintain, and how it also helps for sieging purposes, granted you do manage to refresh it by hitting a Hero at least once every 10 seconds. Still, the Talent is at odds with Kel'Thuzad's burst oriented playstyle.

10. Level 20 Talents

Kel'Thuzad Deathchill
Deathchill (Level 20) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

When Frost Blast's Root expires, enemies are Slowed by 40% for 3 seconds. Heroes killed while under the effects of Frost Blast instantly release another Frost Blast explosion.

Kel'Thuzad Might of the Scourge
Might of the Scourge (Level 20) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad

Hitting a Hero with Shadow Fissure resets it cooldown.

Kel'Thuzad Shifting Malice ?
Shifting Malice (Level 20) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad
  • Cooldown: 240 seconds

Activate to dash forward, dealing 150 (+2.5% per level) damage to enemies in the path. Takedowns reset the cooldown of Shifting Malice.

Kel'Thuzad The Damned Return
The Damned Return (Level 20) World of Warcraft Kel'Thuzad
  • Cooldown: 15 seconds

Activate to create a Shade of Naxxramas that lasts 15 seconds and mimics Kel'Thuzad's casts of Death and Decay.

10.1. Discussion

This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's damage output and utility.

Deathchill Icon Deathchill is a winmore Talent that serves mostly to punish poor play or The Lost Vikings. Hitting more than one Hero with Frost Blast Icon Frost Blast is rare, and successfully triggering Deathchill hits is about as rare.

Might of the Scourge Icon Might of the Scourge's potential depends on just how much crowd control your team composition has to offer. With two or more Stuns or Roots besides your own, and some proper Map awareness from your part, Might of the Scourge may constitude a proper win condition. Otherwise, look into The Damned Return Icon The Damned Return instead.

Shifting Malice Icon Shifting Malice is essentially a defensive Talent for Kel'Thuzad, and is reminiscent of a Bolt of the Storm Icon Bolt of the Storm which can be used to deal a fair amount of damage, but cannot pass through walls. Shifting Malice is especially useful when being heavily pressured by melee Assassins or otherwise dived repeatedly.

The Damned Return Icon The Damned Return turns Kel'Thuzad into an extremely powerful sustained damage dealer by essentially doubling the effects of Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay. This lets Kel'Thuzad waveclear, claim Mercenary Camps, and siege better than most Heroes, on top of improving his poke. The summoned Shade also acts as an indestructible unit to provide vision over a small area, and may be used as a means of increasing the range of Death and Decay by casting the Ability by proxy. The Damned Return has incredible synergy with Hungering Cold Icon Hungering Cold, and generally works well with Death and Decay-related Talents. The Talent's short Cooldown, which matches the duration of its effect, means it can — and should — have uptime.

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