Overview

Kael'Thas remains one of the strongest Heroes in Heroes of the Storm. His ability to deal enormous damage, especially after level 16, mean he can pressure an entire group and deal so much damage that wiping several players at once is a common occurrence. His ability to chain attacks together, combined with his damage over time burning make him a formidable enemy. The one limitation to Kael'Thas is that similarly to Jaina, he's incredibly squishy. So much so that if Nova or Zeratul are on the enemy team he'll spend a great deal of time looking over his shoulder trying not to die. Unsurprisingly, positioning is incredibly important for Kael'Thas because unlike Jaina, he only has Gravity Lapse to prevent enemies reaching him. If he misses this, over extends or doesn't have shielding, he's going to die. 

Guide Updated: 01 July 2016

Pros

Cons

Eye watering damage after level 16

Very squishy without shielding or a pocket healer. 

Excellent area denial thanks to his Phoenix elite 

You'll need to learn your positioning to be truly effective 

Is a powerful pick for any team composition

He's mana intensive early game

Can wipe entire teams if they're silly enough to group together 

I'd consider that, similarly to Jaina, he has a high skill cap to truly maximise her potential

Abilities

Most of Kael'Thas' abilities revolve around area of effect burning that leaves a damage over time effect on enemies who are struck. In addition to this, his trait, Verdant Spheres, adds powerful effects to his skills that significantly increase their damage or utility. Careful use of Verdant Spheres for spikes against enemies is key to ensuring you achieve maximum damage output. 


Kael'Thas' trait is Verdant Spheres. Activating it causes all your abilities to become more powerful. Considering its short cooldown, you should constantly be using it but I'd only really recommend its use on Flamestrike and Living Bomb over Gravity Lapse. It should also be noted that Verdant Spheres can be armed before combat and will remain until you use an ability or if you die. 

Flamestrike is a powerful AOE that deals high damage in a somewhat small area. With Verdant Spheres activated the radius is increased and the damage receives a significant boost. Ensuring that you use Verdant Spheres with Flamestrike is incredibly important for your spike damage. 

Living Bomb applies a very strong damage over time effect onto a player that once consumed, detonates dealing additional damage to nearby enemies. At level 20 Living Bomb's explosion causes it to apply itself to other enemies struck in the blast, causing an amazing chain reaction. With Verdant Spheres Living Bomb costs no mana and reduces its cooldown to 0. You can effectively use it twice on one target, or multiple. Be aware however that if you cast it twice on a single target the first will cause it to detonate instantly. 

Your only defensive skill, Gravity Lapse stuns the first enemy it hits for 1.5 seconds. If you boost it with Verdant Spheres it'll stun 3 enemies. In all honesty, I'd save your Verdant Spheres for Living Bomb or Flamestrike but if you really are in trouble (versus more than one foe) don't be afraid to boot up Verdant Spheres. 

Kael'Thas can launch a Phoenix at a target area, causing the flaming bird to deal damage to enemies along its flight path but also when it lands. Its attack radius is large and because of that, it's great for area denial or continued pressure during a group fight over an objective. 

Pyroblast allows Kael'Thas to send a flaming projectile to a single target. The slow moving spell deals huge damage and on impact will also cause splash damage to those nearby. Pyroblast can no longer be body blocked, meaning anyone who is it is cast on is gaurenteed to die at low health or at the very least, they'll have to use every escape skill they have to get away quickly. 

Talents

Level 1: Mana Addict

Kael'thas is mana hungry and Mana Addict not only improves this for him (quite considerably) but also allows him to obtain Arcane Barrier once he has collected 25 Regeneration Globes. It's a high amount to achieve, but if you're laning (or moving between lanes) and specifically targetting the Regeneration minion, can be obtained fairly quickly. Be sure to collect them as soon as possible. 

Level 4: Mana Tap

Kael'thas is often mana hungry, so taking Mana Tap and having the ability to restore nearly 4% mana every time you use your Trait is often enough to allow you to stay casting in a fight that is lasting a long time. It's great sustain.

Variable: After Gathering Power was nerfed, Netherwind is still the go-to talent for Kael'Thas. Extended reach and quicker speed on Gravity Lapse allows you to easily hunt down those who're escaping or to poke from a safer distance. The fact it also refunds mana when you hit a target alleviates any early game mana issues - just be sure to land it. 

Level 7: Sunfire Enchantment 

Providing Kael'thas with enormous burst potential from his basic attacks, Sunfire Enchament allows your next basic after activating your trait to cause huge damage. 

Variable: Burned Flesh is a great alternative if you're on a map that's particularly small or has lots of tight areas to fight over (such as Shrines). Dealing 8% maximum health as damage to two or more enemies is an enormous amount. 

Level 10: Pyroblast

Although Phoenix has great area denial, Pyroblast is now the way to go. The fact you can target an enemy and instantly zone them out of a fight is powerful, but considering the skill can't be body-blocked gaurentees its damage. Just be aware that if the enemy team has Uther or Kharazim, they'll be able to mitigate the damage. If you can, always aim it on Lt. Morales, Li Ming or any high value target. 

Variable: If you're needing area denial, just take Phoenix. It's great on objective maps and while it's easily avoided, it's great for zoning the enemy from a location.

Level 13: Fission Bomb

Fission Bomb increases the explosion radius of Living Bomb by 20%. This allows for not only greater damage against an enemy team who might be spread out, but late game providing more opportunities for spreading Chain Bomb. 

Level 16: Twin Spheres

I love Twin Spheres. Having the ability to use Verdant Spheres twice, back to back, is amazing. It's effectively 3 Living Bomb's back to back. The options for its use are enormous (a free Living Bomb followed by a Verdant Sphere Flame Strike is amazing).

Variable: For high single target spike damage, take Sun Kung's Fury. Anyone affected by Living Bomb who you strike with a basic attack will take 400 bonus damage. It's a huge burst and although nerfed, is still very strong. 

Level 20: Master of Flames

Allowing Living Bomb to chain, Master of Flames offers a huge damage spike for Kael'thas and when combined with the 20% greater explosion radius allows him to deal enormous damage to any team. 

Variable: If you're after eye watering damage, take Arcane Power. It returns a handful of mana and further increases your ability damage by 15%. If you prime it before your Flamestrike, the enemy team is in for a world of pain. 

Matchups

These Hero Threat Levels (1 being lowest threat and 10 being highest threat) are to help you determine which enemy Heroes can give you a headache. Any Heroes that aren't on this list are easy pickings for Kael'Thas. If a Hero is listed here, take greater care and unsurprisingly, most of Kael'Thas' threats are the same as Jaina's. 

Hero

Threat 

Illidan: His mobility and evades make him a challenge for Kael'Thas. His damage and if he uses an elite will also leave you in trouble. If you miss your Gravity Lapse, it's as good as over. 

9/10

Kerrigan: Staying out of her range is important because if she catches you with Primal Grasp > Impaling Blades you're going to take a huge amount of damage. 

8/10

Murky: Sounds silly, but Octograb, plus pufferfish will essentially kill you.  In a 1 v 1 Murky wins if he gets the drop on you and he can comfortably avoid your Gravity Lapse with his bubble. 

8/10

Nova: Nova loves to kill Kael'Thas.  If you are not full health and you are alone, you are in jeopardy.  Try to always stay near allies and keep your Gravity Lapse ready. 

9/10

Stitches: His hook can yank you into difficult locations.  Always try to keep minions between yourself and Stitches and save your Gravity Lapse in the event he successfully pulls you. 

7/10

The Butcher: His charge, Lamb to the Slaughter or self heal can rip you up in seconds. Even if you Gravity Lapse him, a good Butcher will have saved his Lamb to the Slaughter to ensure he can finish you off. Keep your distance!

9/10

Thrall: If he gets the drop on you with his root, you're going to take huge damage. Fortunately even if you are rooted, you can then Gravity Lapse him. Just be sure not to miss and if low, remember his Chain Lightning has good range. 

6/10

Valla: Her escape makes her tough to kill and her sustain damage can cause real problems, especially with the extended reach of Hunger Arrow. Fortunately she's squishy so if she gets caught in your Gravity Lapse, make it count and burst her down. 

7/10

Zeratul: He is much like Nova, only he kills you quicker. Be nervous if he's in the enemy team. 

9/10

 
Cho'gall: With tons of health, utility and mobility Cho'gall is going to cause you serious problems. The best you can hope for is Gravity Lapse before running away.  9/10

Tips

This list of tips and tricks are just a handful of things we think will help your Kael'Thas play and based on his playstyle, he shares many of the same tips as Jaina. We'll continue to add to the list as required and if you have any tips you'd like to share, let us know in the comments below and we'll place them here. 


1. Positioning is so important that I can't stress it enough. Stay out of the fray and be artillery. 

2. Your ultimate can turn a fight. Use it to prevent an objective being taken or to stop the enemy players marching into your base when your Towers are out of ammo. 

3. Don't roam alone unless you have to.  There are many Heroes who can make your life miserable.  

4. Always try to hit enemies with Gravity Lapse if they get too close. It's your only escape skill so don't miss it. 

5. Living Bomb should be used as often as possible during early game as it's a free poke when used with Verdant Spheres. 

6. Remember your damage spike: Arcane Power (if you took it) > Verdant Spheres > Living Bomb > Flame Strike > Living Bomb or Arcane Power (if you took it) > Verdant Spheres > Flame Strike > Living Bomb

7. Use Flame Strike to clear minion waves but be conscious that it'll quickly eat up your mana if you do it too often. 

8. During early levels, it's a good idea to roam from Top to Mid or Bottom to Mid. You'll usually be able to snag a few kills with a quick rotation of your abilities. Just pre-warn your team. 

9. Try to ensure that you use Flamestrike in a location where you think players will move to, rather than where they currently are. It takes time to practice, but you're much more likely to hit someone this way. For example, when they're running back to base aim at their gates rather than their feet.

10. Always aim for squishy targets (Valla, Jaina, Sgt Hammer) who will quickly die and spread Living Bomb to others. 


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Last Updated: Aug 12, 2016

About The Author

Burnell 1
Lover of all things MOBA, Lewis splits his time between Heroes of the Storm, Paragon and SMITE.

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