Our complete Kael'thas guide has everything you need to know about playing this Hero, with the latest builds, tips, map advice and counters.
If you consider yourself a big fan of Jaina but you prefer your mages to pack a fiery flavour instead, then Kael'thas is an oustanding choice of Hero for you. Just keep in mind that he's a little trickier to play than his arcane cousin, and so is more suited to players with a little experience under their belts. For that reason we've put together a Kael'thas guide that's packed with build advice and strategy tips, and should get you up to speed a little faster.
Just as it is with Jaina, it's important to keep your distance from the enemy at all times during an engagement, but as long as Kael'thas is alive he's capable of chaining together some incredible sources of damage output. With that in mind, another trait that he shares with his sister in the arcane arts is a tendency to burn through Mana extremly quickly, and particularly in the early game. For this reason, it's extremely important that you manage your usage of Abilities carefully, and make sure you're picking the right tool for the right job at hand.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the basics of using Kael'thas' abilities in combat, outline an exceptionally powerful and dependable build to get the most out of this Hero, and then finish up with some tips that will help you get closer to reaching this character's impressively high skill ceiling.
Editor's note - June update: We've made quite a few changes to our Kael'thas guide this month. First of all we've updated a lot of the ability information to reflect the latest balancing patch. We've also fleshed out our tips section quite a bit, and also included some map-specific adice. Watch this space for more updates in this area.
The best Kael'thas Talent build - June 2016
The good news about Kael'thas is that while he can be quite a tricky character to master, there's one very consistent Talent build that you'll want to take advantage of. This will at least leave you free to focus all of your attention on getting to grips with his combat.
Kael'thas standard build
Level 1 - Mana Addict - Increases your maximum Mana by 15 when you pick up a Regeneration Globe. Once you've gathered 25 Regeneration Globes, you can also activate Arcane Barrier to gain a Shield equal to 100% of your maximum Mana for 4 seconds. Cooldown: 45 seconds.
Level 4 - Nether Wind - Increases Gravity Lapse's range by 30%. When Gravity Lapse hits an enemy Hero, refund 80 Mana.
Level 7 - Gravity Crush - Gravity Lapse causes enemies to take 30% additional damage from Kael'thas for 4 seconds.
Level 10 - Phoenix - Launch a Phoenix to an area, dealing 171 damage to enemies along the way. The Phoenix persists for 7 seconds, attacking enemies for 171 damage and splashing for 50%. Mana: 80, Cooldown: 60 seconds.
Level 13 - Pyromaniac - Each time Living Bomb deals periodic damage, your Basic Ability cooldowns are refreshed by 1 second.
Level 16 - Sun King's Fury - Your Basic Attacks do 417 bonus damage to enemies affected by Living Bomb.
Level 20 - Master of Flames - Living Bomb's spread from explosions can now also spread Living Bomb.
Kael'thas tips and strategy advice - June 2016
Your mobility is poor, yet you have some of the most devastating damage in the game, so how best to play Kael'thas in a fight? For a start, stay as far away as you can from the enemy pack, then activate Verdant Spheres before dropping Living Bomb on a victim.
Prior to this, during the laning phase, you can use Verdant Spheres to boost up your damage output as you clear the path ahead. Just watch your Mana at all times in the early-game, as Kael'thas can run out extremely quickly, and you can easily end up spending more time back at base than out in the field.
Getting more out of Kael'thas will take quite some practise as he only really shines in experienced hands. To help you master this Hero a little faster, here are some very useful combat tips.
- Kael'thas becomes increasingly powerful as each match wears on, so you need to play things a little cautiously early on due to this Hero's rather low HP and middling mobility.
- During the early game, concentrate on lane-clearing by using your Flamestrike ability. Your combat against Heroes doesn't really come into its own until you have unlocked Sun King's Fury and can start spreading Living Bomb mayhem around.
- If you've picked Pyroblast, avoid using it at the end of a fight when the enemy is likely to flee. It moves very slowly, and is better used earlier on when there's a greater chance of it landing correctly.
- Verdant Spheres can be combined with Flamestrike to strip down a pack of marauding minions.
- Make sure you collect those Regeneration Globes so as to feed Mana Addict.
Battlefield of Eternity
- Your strengths on this map only really become apparent once you reach the later stages of the game, so partner up with someone early on and stay well back. You have both low health and rather average mobility, and so you shouldn't feel confident breaking away from the pack until you have a fair few talents under your belt.
- Again, try to remain buddied up with someone when playing Kael'thas on Blackheart's Bay. The only exception to this is when a Doubloon chest pops. You are capable of taking these down incredibly quickly, so don't be afraid to get in there, grab the coins, and then get out again sharp.
Fightin' Cowboy's videos helped us out a huge amount while we were learning the game. The builds have changed with balance patches and shifting metagames, but the broad principles remain the same.
Kael'thas Abilities, Heroic Abilities and Traits - June 2016
Her'es a quick run through all of Kael'thas' combat Abilities. Try to fire off Flamestrike and Living Bomb when you have Verdant Spheres active to take some of the sting out of its Mana cost. You also want to make sure you always have at least enough Mana left in the tank to get Gravity Lapse off - it's your only real means of escape (prior to Bolt of a Storm) if a fight turns bad.
Flamestrike (Q)- After 1 second deal 702 (333 + 4% per level) damage in an area. Verdant Spheres increases the radius by 50%. Mana: 70, Cooldown: 7 seconds.
Living Bomb (W)- Deal 553 (263 + 4% per level) damage over 3 seconds to an enemy, then they explode dealing 303 (144 + 4% per level) damage to all nearby enemies. Other Heroes damaged by this explosion are also affected by Living Bomb, though the secondary explosion cannot spread. Verdant Spheres makes this Ability cost no Mana and have no cooldown. Mana: 50, Cooldown: 10 seconds.
Gravity Lapse (E)- Stun the first enemy hit for 1 second. Verdant Spheres causes Gravity Lapse to stun the first 3 enemies hit and increases the stun duration by 50%. Mana: 80, Cooldown: 12 seconds.
Pyroblast (R)- After 2 seconds, cast a slow-moving fireball that deals 2150 (851 + 4% per level) damage to an enemy Hero and 1075 (426 + 4% per level) damage to enemies nearby. Cost: 80 Mana, Cooldown: 50 seconds.
Phoenix (R)- Launch a Phoenix to an area, dealing 171 (82 + 4% per level) damage to enemies along the way. The Phoenix persists for 7 seconds, attacking enemies for 171 (82 + 4% per level) damage and splashing for 50%. Mana: 80, Cooldown: 60 seconds.
Verdant Spheres (D)- Activate to make your next Basic Ability more powerful. Cooldown: 6 seconds
Kael'thas counters and match-ups - June 2016
Certain Heroes pose a particular threat to Kael'thas, but he's likewise capable of destroying certain other characters. There are also a handful of Heroes who make particularly good partners for Kael'thas.
While opinions vary on how these match-ups stand in any given month, we like to reference HeroesCounters for a community-sourced appraisal of things. Here's how things currently shape up for Kael'thas - check the site directly for the very latest picture of things.
- Strong against- The Lost Vikings, Gazlowe, Sgt. Hammer, Kharazim, Xul
- Weak against- Tyrael, Nova, Zeratul, Kerrigan, The Butcher
- Teams well with- ETC, Johanna, Muradin, Jaina, Malfurion
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