The Lich King
Arthas is a potent tank and ganker that is restricted only by his lack of mobility, relying on slowing enemies instead of speeding himself up. Given the time and space, Arthas is entirely self-sustaining – with a trait that restores mana and a self-heal, he can theoretically stay on the field forever. In a fight, this means that the Lich King can keep going as long as he gets pockets of fresh air. With his constant AoE and persistence, he slowly shapes battles into victories.
With a root, stacking slow, and reasonable burst from Death Coil and his trait, Arthas is an excellent laner and early game roamer. With the help of allies, overextended enemies are a breeze to pick off, and even well-positioned ones aren’t out of reach. Arthas scales well into the late game, as well; his increasing persistence and endless Frozen Tempest makes his presence felt even after DPS carries take over the game.
Frostmourne Hungers (D)
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Activate to make your next Basic Attack strike immediately, do 100% increased damage, and restore 30 Mana.
If you want to master Arthas, developing an early sensibility about his talent is the first step. With no cost other than a cooldown, Frostmourne Hungers should be used as often as possible for max damage output and mana replenishment. When activated, Arthas’s next auto attack will hit instantly, so timing comes into play when using this talent – try to use it right after an auto-attack or to cut the end of an animation short.
Death Coil (Q)
Cooldown: 9 seconds
Deals 360 (94 + 14 per level) damage to target enemy.Can be self-cast to heal for 522 (104 + 22 per level) Health.
Death Coil’s versatility makes it pretty awesome. Using it as a self-heal in conjunction with Frostmourne Hungers can keep Arthas sustained indefinitely. That it can also be a ranged nuke is awesome, allowing Arthas to snag those distant kills that just might have evaded him otherwise. While not necessarily a powerhouse, Death Coil pulls its weight from the lane to the end-game.
Howling Blast (W)
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Root enemies within the target area for 1.5 seconds and deals 150 (36 + 6 per level) damage.
This AoE root bolsters Arthas’s utility and early-game menace. Learning to land it consistently is another facet of strong Arthas play. This should be used to secure early kills, win lanes, and restrict movement in the later stages of the game.
Frozen Tempest (E)
Mana: 15 per second
Deals 106 (30 + 4 per level) damage per second to nearby enemies. Slows enemy Move Speed by 6% per second, stacking up to 30%.
Frozen Tempest is the ability that makes Arthas tick. It’s what gives him such insane creep clearing, chasing, and bruising capabilities. Though it takes 5 seconds of contact to work up to the full slow, it’s constant AoE output works wonders in ganks and skirmishes alike. This ability does, however, wear on Arthas’s mana pool, making efficient use of it and Frostmourne Hungers crucial to his usefulness.
Army of the Dead (R)
Cooldown: 100 seconds
Summons Ghouls that last 15 seconds. Sacrifice Ghouls to heal for 584 (128 + 24 per level) Health.
This is Arthas’s teamfighting heroic. The ghouls he summons are great at creating chaos in a fight and at dealing incremental damage. Even more than that, being able to ‘eat’ them one by one to restore health is absolutely nuts, especially on top of the sustain Arthas already has already with Death Coil and the talent Rune Tap (assuming you take it).
That said, this is not a particularly flashy heroic; it will not turn the tide of fights single-handedly. While the boons provided by Army of the Dead are welcome additions to Arthas’s kit, they do not define him as a hero.
Cooldown: 80 seconds
Deals 450 (165 + 15 per level) damage and slows enemies by 60% for 2 seconds. Also disables Minions for 10 seconds and Structures for 20 seconds.
Arthas’s push- and initiation-oriented heroic, this ability certainly takes the cake for being the most epic. It turns out that summoning a colossal frost wyrm is actually pretty cool.
Functionally, Summon Sindragosa operates much differently from its counterpart heroic. Arthas is bereft of movement skills, which forces him to blunder into most initiation attempts with his root and AoE. Sindragosa supplements this by letting him start the fight from afar, slowing and damaging enemies before the skirmish starts in earnest.
Great in ganking lineups with teammates like Kerrigan and Tyrande, this is Arthas’s more proactive heroic. With its ability to shut down minions and structures in a long line, it is also great for getting a strong push in, even if you just Sindragosa and let your minions and mercenaries do the work.
Level 1 Talents
Recommended: Regeneration Master or Block
Arthas is, first and foremost, a tank. Unless you’re in a double warrior comp, and sometimes even then, the Lich King is going to be taking damage on the front line. His first tier of talents allows him to mitigate this damage from the get-go, but leaves you with a decision.
If the opponents look to have overwhelming attack damage, say through a Sgt. Hammer and Illidan, then Block is probably your best bet; otherwise Regneration Master will do more over the course of a game, especially given Arthas’s proclivity to lane-hopping. He tends to see more Regen Globes than most heroes.
Doubling the mana return on Frostmourne Hungers does not do as much for Arthas as do either of his survivability talents, barring in some very specific builds. Reducing the cooldown of Howling Blast by 25% certainly lends the Lich King more CC, but it deprives him of the tankiness he typically needs. That said, Frost Presence can be a reasonable choice in certain ganking compositions, especially when teamed with a Jaina.
Level 4 Talents
Arthas has an incredible early-game presence – harnessing every ounce of his early game can lead to some quick snowballs. While its damage increase isn’t too substantial, Destruction is the only talent in this tier that grants extra damage, and is often picked up as a result.
Superiority is a less popular pick, but it can be a massive boon to Arthas’s jungling capabilities. This talent is especially useful on maps with NPC-based objectives, like Sky Temple or Garden of Terror. This also reduces damage from minions and structures to a pittance, so Arthas cross over from solo-pushing to a teamfight without worrying about his health.
Frozen Wastes, at the competitive level, should almost never be selected, as it does literally nothing to supplement Arthas’s role besides help him stretch his mana. That said, this talent is very user friendly and is probably a good pickup for your first couple of games with him, when you’re still getting used to managing Frozen Tempest.
Level 7 Talents
Recommended: Rune Tap
It’s hard to advise anything besides Rune Tap here. I love playing Frostmourne Hungers builds, but even in those this huge source of self sustain can’t be passed up. This talent helps in duels, in teamfights, up against mercenaries and bosses… Pretty much any time Arthas attacks something at least thrice, he’s getting value up the A(rthas) out of this talent.
As for the rest: Arthas already has amazing wave clearing abilities, making Death Touch useless; his AoE is already incredible, so Obliterate doesn’t really do much for him; Frost Strike is actually a really strong talent, and adds a lot to Arthas’s pursuit and CC capabilities, but it is trounced by Rune Tap the majority of the time.
Level 10 Heroics
This is one of the few heroes whose heroic abilities are actually difficult to choose between. As each is chosen about 50% of the time, there is no communal consensus about Arthas’s heroics, although you may encounter someone who will pull hard for one side or another. When an Arthas hits level 10, his choice of heroic will be largely informed by the situation at hand and personal preference.
Generally speaking, Army of the Damned is a strong pick on bigger maps and against teams with high sustained damage. The sustain it can provide Arthas is ludicrous, and the ghouls themselves aren’t pushovers. On maps like Sky Temple or the Haunted Mines, where a topped-off health bar is a huge boon when contesting objectives, Army of the Damned can do some serious work.
At the highest level of play, however, Arthas is generally chosen as part of a ‘pick’ lineup, or one that looks to make use of strong early game heroes to get easy kills and snowball into victory. When paired with the likes of Kerrigan or Jaina or The Butcher, who are also components of a pick lineup, Sindragosa is the preferred heroic. It grants Arthas much more range and initiation than he usually has, and can help him start fights and seal down fleeing enemies. Its use in a push shouldn’t be underestimated, either.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Biting Cold, Relentless, or Spell Shield
The choice here again depends on the current game. Biting Cold is quite the talent, as it boosts your AoE damage considerably, and is oft picked up as a result. However, if Arthas is having trouble staying alive in fights Relentless or Spell Shield can alleviate the CC durations or ability damage, respectively. Picking up Trail of Frost, while it provides nice utility, is generally ill-advised compared to these other three talents.
Level 16 Talents
As a game creeps towards its zenith, respawn timers start to soar and not dying becomes a priority. As this is the case, Stoneskin is highly recommended, as it can pull Arthas through a bout of focus-fire that he otherwise might not have been able to endure. Especially with a health pool like Arthas’s, Stoneskin can negate a lot of damage. Seriously.
That said, Frostmourne Feeds is sorely tempting to pick up, especially when Arthas has talented towards his trait. Hitting twice deals reasonable damage and doubles your mana yield, and is really satisfying to boot. Immortal Coil is also awesome, as it allows you to use Death Coil purely offensively and still reap benefits from it. In any given quick match game, opting not to choose something other than Stoneskin is a fine choice, especially if the enemy team isn’t posing much of a threat.
Level 20 Talents
Recommended: Hardened Shield
Hardened shield makes any tank a force to be reckoned. If used at the start of a fight, it can offset the initial burst of enemy CC and damage, often wasting a few heroics in the process. In conjunction with Stoneskin, it makes Arthas nigh unkillable as long as he has team support.
If Hardened Shield doesn’t speak to you, buffing whichever heroic you took is another viable option – Sindragosa is actually made pretty fearsome by Absolute Zero. While Rewind is an awesome ability, it generally doesn’t pull its weight on Arthas, as he doesn’t have impactful enough of abilities to warrant casting them twice. With only two abilities on cooldown and nary a stun to be seen, Rewind can be safely circumvented.