Welcome to our Talents page for Kel'Thuzad. Here, we give you an overview of how strong each of Kel'Thuzad's talents is. Then, we present several viable builds, before analyzing each talent row separately, so that you can make informed decisions.
Kel'Thuzad's Talent Build
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Kel'Thuzad's Talent Build Cheatsheet
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.
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 BuildSituational
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.
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. 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.
Level 1 Talents for 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%.
Frost Nova deals 75% more damage to enemies in the center. After gaining 30 Blight, increase Frost Nova's Root duration by 0.5 seconds.
Increase Chains of Kel'Thuzad damage by 125%. After gaining 30 Blight, Chains of Kel'Thuzad reduces the Armor of pulled Heroes by 10 for 4 seconds.
This Talent tier focuses on improving the damage output of Kel'Thuzad's Basic Abilities.
The Plaguelands increases 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, 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, 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's power lies in its increase to the duration of 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, as the increased Rooting duration increases the potential number of damage instances that can be inflicted by 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 has been completed.
Barbed Chains provides a notable damage increase to Chains of Kel'Thuzad; its power, however, lies in improving the damage of any follow up through its Armor reducing effect. As such, with high-level or otherwise reliable teammates, Barbed Chains-based builds are likely to yield more damage than other builds.
Level 4 Talents for Kel'Thuzad
Pulling a Hero with Chains of Kel'Thuzad grants Kel'Thuzad a permanent 128 (+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 Heroes' Shields.
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.
- 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.
This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's survivability.
The Shielding effect provided by 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. It should be noted that Strip Shields' bonus damage against Shields does scale with the Spell Power provided by Master of the Cold Dark.
Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad provides Kel'Thuzad with two powerful effects, granted you hurry and gather the 12 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 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. This Talent is particularly useful against Illidan, Samuro, The Butcher, and Tracer.
Level 7 Talents for 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 4 times.
Every 8 seconds, Kel'Thuzad's next Basic Attack hits all enemies in the area for 80% additional damage, deals Spell damage instead of Physical, and Slows by 30% for 2 seconds.
Reduce the cooldown of Glacial Spike by 8 seconds and increase its damage by 400%.
This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's damage output and utility.
Accelerated Decay has the potential of greatly improving 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.
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 Tough As Nails, Dodge, or Evasion. It is worth noting that Chilling Touch's damage scales with the Spell Power provided by Master of the Cold Dark.
Ice Cold provides Glacial Spike with a reasonably strong Cooldown reduction. Although difficult to use, the damage increase is fairly powerful, though the Cooldown reduction alone makes this Talent worthwhile.
Level 10 Talents for Kel'Thuzad
- 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.
- 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.
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 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 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 if your team composition does lack crowd control, however.
Level 13 Talents for Kel'Thuzad
Increase Frost Nova's Slow by 20%. Each time Kel'Thuzad damages enemies Slowed by Frost Nova, reduce the cooldown of Frost Nova by 0.5 seconds.
After Chains of Kel'Thuzad's Stun expires, the enemy is also Slowed by 60% for 1 second.
Pulling a Hero with Chains of Kel'Thuzad reduces its cooldown by 5 seconds and refunds its Mana cost.
This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's crowd control potential.
Icy Grasp provides a situationally powerful reduction to Frost Nova's Cooldown. We do feel, however, that both alternatives are more pertinent to Kel'Thuzad's burst-oriented playstyle, as Frost Nova's Cooldown is of little relevance when Chains of Kel'Thuzad is still on Cooldown itself.
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 hits, even without Frost Nova.
Chain-Link reduces the Cooldown of what is arguably Kel'Thuzad's most important Ability by 50%. Chain-Link requires good accuracy however, as the Cooldown reduction may only trigger on double hits. This makes it a poor choice for novice players. Otherwise, Chain-Link has particularly strong synergy with Strip Shields and Barbed Chains; pick if you went for either Talent.
Level 16 Talents for Kel'Thuzad
Whenever Kel'Thuzad hits an enemy Hero with Death and Decay's explosion, its cooldown is reduced by 1.5 seconds.
Enemies that are Rooted take an additional 55 (+2.5% per level) damage each time they are damaged by Kel'Thuzad.
Stunning, Rooting, or Slowing a Hero grants 6% Spell Power for 10 seconds, stacking up to 5 times.
This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's damage output.
Arcane Echoes can be rather difficult to benefit from; although the Cooldown reduction is reasonable, and may work with Accelerated Decay to maintain the damage increase effect, situations where you are able to chain several Death and Decay casts are rare. The Cooldown reduction provided by Arcane Echoes does not trigger through The Damned Return's Death and Decay casts.
Hungering Cold provides a massive damage increase to the combo. Successfully casting Death and Decay against a Hero Rooted by 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, 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. Further, Rooting effects provided by allied Heroes can also trigger Hungering Cold, making it powerful with Arthas, Deckard, and Malfurion, among others.
Power of Icecrown is an acceptable alternative to Hungering Cold if you feel like your 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.
Level 20 Talents for 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.
If a Hero is hit with Shadow Fissure, a second one is cast below them 1 second later. This second cast will not duplicate itself.
- 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.
- Cooldown: 15 seconds
Activate to create a Shade of Naxxramas that lasts 15 seconds and mimics Kel'Thuzad's casts of Death and Decay.
This Talent tier focuses on improving Kel'Thuzad's damage output and utility.
Deathchill is a winmore Talent that serves mostly to punish poor play or The Lost Vikings. Hitting more than one Hero with Frost Blast is rare, and successfully triggering Deathchill hits is about as rare.
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 constitute a proper win condition. Otherwise, look into The Damned Return instead.
Shifting Malice is essentially a defensive Talent for Kel'Thuzad, and is reminiscent of a 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 turns Kel'Thuzad into an extremely powerful sustained damage dealer by essentially doubling the effects of 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, 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.
- 05 Apr. 2020: Descripion updated for Chain-Link.
- 03 Sep. 2019: Talent descriptions and recommendations updated to reflect latest Talent rework.
- 30 Aug. 2018: Talent descriptions and recommendations updated to reflect latest balance patch.
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