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Kel’Thuzad, Lich Lord of the Plague Lands Heroes of the Storm Review
Cat person, Hearthstone enthusiast and lowest body fat percentage in Azeroth. Chains and ice excite the Nexus’ newest combatant, Kel’Thuzad. Review code courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment
Kel’Thuzad, bromodachi of the Lich King and master of the Dread Necropolis Naxxramas, arrives in the Nexus September 5th. He’s a ranged assassin, with an array of skills to immobilize enemy heroes and make them take more damage. His passive quest, Master of the Cold Dark, rewards you for playing him as intended by reducing spell cooldown and, later in the game, giving a huge power surge to your spells. Ambush interlopers for maximum efficiency, and you should be completing his quest easily.
Kel’Thuzad was a human mage, one of the Kirin Tor’s Council of Six. After being killed by Arthas, the Death Knight brought him back as a Lich to summon Archimonde the Defiler. Given control of the Scourge and the Dread Necropolis, Naxxramas, Kel’Thuzad would move to Northrend following his first defeat.
Did I mention he has a cat?
Kel’Thuzad is a great ranged assassin. This means that for as long as he’s out-ranged the opponent, he’s going to be great at doing damage to them. His passive, Master of the Cold Dark, is a quest that grants him blight for every hero hit by his W and E skills, Frost Nova and Chains of Kel’Thuzad. This should allow inexperienced yet attentive players to realize the main truth of Kel’Thuzad- he is not a front-line hero. Flanking is your best friend, and the Arch Lich does especially well in the safety of bushes. He’s also a combo hero- no one skill of his is meant to be use without another for maximum effectiveness. As you level up, you find even his traits add to the combos, with specific traits supporting his skills.
His main damage dealer is his Death and Decay (Q) ability. This is a high-damage attack that hits the first target it collides with and creates a small AoE of damage upon impact. the AoE is great for clearing creeps, but the main trade off here is the cast delay on this skill. Pair it up with Frost Nova (W) or Chains of Kel’Thuzad (E) and you can start racking up damage on your enemies.
One of his traits you’ll have access to is a quest called Phylactery of Kel’Thuzad. By collecting regen orbs, Kel’Thuzad gains the ability to cheat the respawn timer, returning to the base immediately.
Kel’Thuzad is a Lich- a powerful undead sorcerer. In a way, he’s like the opposite of Leoric, having a big base and a tiny body while Leoric has a large chest and tiny legs. This reflects their roles well- Leoric’s bulky appearance denotes a powerful tank, a thing Kel’Thuzad is not. His aesthetic of frost and chains makes him a visually interesting hero, as every attack feels inherently painful to use.
Skills and Traits
Master of the Cold Dark (Passive Quest)
- 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, the cooldown of all Basic Abilities is reduced by 2 seconds. Reward: After gaining 30 Blight, gain 75% Spell Power.
This passive quest is your main motivator to not drive Kel’Thuzad straight into a wall and get killed. It teaches you the laws of using Kel’Thuzad, namely to always freeze your enemies before going in for the kill. Completing it as soon as possible gives you a massive advantage, with the increase in damage and reduced cooldown making you a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Death and Decay (Q)
- After 0.5 seconds, launch an orb that explodes upon hitting an enemy, dealing 150 damage to enemies in the area. The explosion leaves behind a pool of decay that lasts 2 seconds, dealing 70 damage every 0.5 seconds to enemies.
Kel’Thuzad’s main damage dealer is this powerful projectile. Aside from the high damage on impact, the lingering damage it does is great for making areas less desirable or catching unattentive heroes off-guard. Early game it’s great for clearing creeps, especially if farming regen orbs for his Phylactery quest. Due to its long wind-up, it’s more advisable to combo into this skill, after setting up with one of his other skills.
Frost Nova (W)
- Create a nova that explodes after 1 second, dealing 212 damage to enemies inside and Slowing them by 35% for 2.5 seconds. Enemies in the center are Rooted for 1 second
One of the two skills necessary for completing Master of the Cold Dark, this skill is arguably Kel’Thuzad’s most important in his arsenal. As you skulk in the bushes, you can use this skill to immobilize important targets before going in for the Death and Decay. When activated, two concentric circles appear. Enemies caught within the outer circle are slowed for the duration of Frost Nova, while enemies within the inner circle are rooted. Note that only rooting will count towards Master of the Cold Dark. It’s the skill that keeps on giving- the root will last long enough for you to either cast Death and Decay, or even combo into Chains of Kel’Thuzad first for maximum damage. And when the enemy’s rooted, the entire team benefits.
Chains of Kel’Thuzad (E)
- Launch a chain, dealing 97 damage to the first enemy Hero or Structure hit. For 4 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.
The hardest skill to use in Kel’Thuzad’s arsenal. This spell requires precision aim to target a hero, before recasting it to chain him to either a structure or ally, stunning any heroes caught by the chain. Clever use of this skill will allow you to escape pursuit, as well as temporarily disable important targets like healers. One of his support traits allows him to create a pillar of ice, too. This pillar can then be used as a chain target, maximizing your ways to trap enemy heroes.
Frost Blast (R1)
- Launch a meteor of ice at an enemy Hero. Upon impact, the meteor deals 100 damage to its target and 275 damage to enemies in the area. All enemies hit by Frozen Tomb are Rooted for 1.5 seconds
Kel’Thuzad’s first heroic hurls a giant meteor of ice and chains at the enemy. After targeting a hero, the meteor will chase it until impact, dealing a wide radius of damage around the targeted hero. Affected heroes are then rooted in place, setting them up for further pain from an opportunistic set of allies. Personally, I find this skill is especially great for once you’ve spotted the enemy team’s healer- healers like Lucio are especially vulnerable here, as enemies will be around him for healing purposes.
Shadow Fissure (R2)
- Create a fissure anywhere on the Battleground that explodes after 1.5 seconds, dealing 440 damage to enemy Heroes in its area
For the more aggressive Lich, Shadow Fissure is a global spell that’s great for once everyone’s locked into place either via your own spells or your that of your teammates. It has a bit of a wind-up, but deals significantly more damage than Frost Blast. Despite being highly avoidable, Shadow Fissure is also great as a means of area denial- simply point it at where you want enemies to not be. Its global range also makes it great for the ambush play. Those Raven Lord tributes are going to be a lot harder to collect if they involve taking such a big hit, after all.
Kel’Thuzad’s high damage is great once you learn to combo his skills into each other. He’s a great ambush hero, and his damage output also makes him great for siege attacks. However, once the enemy wisens up to you, avoid any close range fights- these are a quick trip to the respawn timer.
Strengths and Synergy Heroes
Kel’Thuzad’s high reliance on his skills and general frailty makes him great with tank support. His kit is great for crowd control, and with a tank protecting him he’s free to combo at will. As 2/3s of his basic skills root and stun enemies, any hero with a delayed AoE is going to end up being best friends with their local Kel’Thuzad.
Weaknesses and Counters
Kel’Thuzad is squishy to a fault. Any kind of hero with the ability to close ground is going to be great at taking out a defending Kel’Thuzad. Tanks are also pretty good at taking him out- if you can win the endurance battle and survive his combos, you can get in close enough to remove him from play. In my own experiences heroes like Illidan give the Lich a hard time, especially without protective cover. As a hero based on rooting and stunning, Kel’Thuzad’s effectiveness is inversely proportionate to the size of the map- he’s not going to be so great on larger maps, but expect to finish your quests really fast on the smaller ones.
Kel’Thuzad is effective at a very core level of gameplay, making him an excellent pick for most teams. With the proper teamwork, he can truly shine like an undead diamond on your team, racking up kills, assists and even siege damage. A mad rush to complete his passive quest is beneficial to the entire team, making Kel’Thuzad a rewarding experience to try.