Build: Arthas Example Build Name
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June 10, 2015

Hero Analysis: Arthas

Welcome to this week’s hero analysis – a weekly series of articles in which we look at everything we know about a current hero. Through the analysis, a better understanding of the playstyle and strategies available for each hero is achieved. Alongside this, Blizzard’s design can clearly be seen in their decisions with the whole hero. As a whole, the information in this article is largely speculative – any of it can change as Blizzard will continue to modify many aspects of the game moving towards the game’s release.

This week, we look at Arthas – a warrior type hero from the Warcraft franchise. Focused heavily on applying many slows while dealing decent AoE damage – Arthas can easily keep multiple enemies snared while dealing decent consistent damage. Alongside this, Arthas capitalizes on the advantages of kills during fights – turning enemy heroes into ghostly allies to further push towards victory, becoming a snowball of powerful units and immense snaring capability. If Arthas can properly gain an advantage, he is unlikely to lose said advantage during the same teamfight – that is where Arthas shines as a hero, taking and keeping advantages. Players need to know where to push an advantage even if the situation seems risky – it’s important to push advantages carefully especially with abilities such as Arthas’s.


Arthas’s ability set has a heavy focus on many slows as well as burst and consistent AoE damage. With this in mind, he would fit perfectly in a team with powerful AoE stuns as well AoE damage fields. Due to the lack of a full stun, Arthas might have a hard time dealing with enemies with strong movement abilities.

Heroic Trait

Although last hitting is not present within Heroes of the Storm, Arthas’s heroic ability shows a concept similar to it – enemies that die shortly after Arthas hits them with an auto attack will come back as a ghost to serve Arthas. This puts emphasis on team focus when it comes done to damage. The ideal situation will have a team burst down targets that Arthas just attacked in order to gain an extra unit to damage enemies. Against heroes with heavily auto attack damage, this can be extremely powerful – allowing Arthas to take advantage of the death of an enemy and further destroy the remaining enemies during the subsequent fight/siege. It’s important to note that this is what makes Arthas the powerful snowballer, players need to understand exactly how much they can abuse the extra ghost’s damage within fights and sieges – perhaps pushing on within a fight even riskier situations. Another thing to note is the idea of maximizing the use of this heroic passive. Ideally, no heroes should die without this effect on them in order to spawn a ghost – this requires some good awareness of allied actions on Arthas’s part, a skillful player should have no issue in hitting every enemy at least once right before they die. This ability has some very simple uses but a skillful player can make this ability truly shine in teamfight situations.

First Ability

Arthas’s first ability is a melee damage ability that slows targets hit and dealing extra damage. It also has a bonus effect if the target dies while still slowed – exploding dealing damage in an area around the dying target. Due to its bonus damage and slowing effect, this is a very effective ability in ganking and keeping enemies within reachable range while dealing good amounts of damage. Players should be aware though that Arthas lacks any mobility abilities, let alone gap-closers, with his basic abilities – this slow is extremely important to utilize effectively in order to ensure enemies don’t get away too easily. Its extra on death trigger has some interesting implications in regards to using it – it becomes a bit of a balancing act in using it for different situations. In some situations, Arthas may want to use it in order to slow enemies with little chance of killing them, completely forgoing the possibility of extra damage. But in other situations, Arthas may want to save it until he can nearly kill the enemy with this ability – to maximize on the damage it can possibly do in the shortest amount of time but using it this way wastes the slowing effect of this ability. Arthas players need to be very aware of the multiple situations this ability can be used in and saving it for the right time to use instead of wasting it and possibly not having this ability when it is truly needed then. Situational awareness can make this ability extremely versatile even though at first it seems like a very simple ability to use – which it is but only at a basic level.

Second Ability

Arthas’s second ability is his long range damage/snare ability – slowing and damaging enemies in the target area. Players need to use this ability carefully as to note waste it – it is Arthas’s only ranged ability in his base set. If need be, Arthas will need to use this to help close the distance between him and enemy targets – wasting it earlier can allow enemies to more easily escape from Arthas. Alongside its chasing capabilities, the extra AoE damage can work well with his first ability to do a large amount of AoE damage surrounding a dying target by using the first ability followed by this ability – killing the target with the extra damage, triggering the secondary effect from the first ability. This situational usage looks towards more burst damage than capitalizing on the slowing effect of this ability. This ability is pretty simple in usage and functionality. Players only need to correctly manage the usage of this ability – if the cooldown is too long, then the choice between initiating a fight or saving it to finish off runners is something that needs to be thought of before every fight. Generally, this ability is very simple without much to write home about.

Third Ability

Arthas’s third ability is a constant PBAOE damage that is centred around him. When toggled on, enemies near him will take damage and his mana will get drained. This is an extremely effective ability when considering Arthas’s ability set filled with slows – enemies can easily be kept up to with consistent damage from this ability. Maintaining this damage on one target is easy, the skill comes in with hitting multiple enemy heroes with the damage consistently. Arthas needs to watch his positioning carefully to make the most out of the mana he’s spending – enemies will naturally attempt to run away from the damage. Avoiding this ability is quite easy if Arthas wants to also add in extra auto-attacks to maximize damage – but with proper management of his other abilities and their slows Arthas could ideally keep enemies within reach unless they have strong movement abilities. But due to the general prevalence of movement abilities within many of the heroes – the usage of this ability might be more for forcing out those abilities as well as forcing unfavorable positions from enemies. Arthas needs to manage the mana upkeep of this ability – toggling it on and off right when its necessary and not wasting any mana at all – its likely that this ability can pretty easily drain all of Arthas’s mana if it is improperly managed. But there is great synergy for damage with allies that have strong AoE disables that can keep many enemies in place – possibilities for team synergy needs to be kept in mind if this ability is meant to do quite a bit of damage.

Heroic Abilities

There are two different roles that Arthas can take with each heroic ability that he has – one that focuses more on pushing with an overwhelming force or powerful AoE damage and slowing during teamfights. Both of these choices are role defining.

First Heroic Ability

Summon the iconic Sindragosa to deal heavy AoE damage and slow enemies in a rectangular area as she flies over. This heroic ability is immensely strong within teamfights – the extra slow not only extremely potent in snaring many enemies, the heavy AoE damage is always welcomed during teamfights. It should be noted, however, that it has a slight delay between cast and Sindragosa actually beginning to fly over – to ensure that this ability hits the most desired targets, using it with ally’s stuns and immobilize is important as well as Arthas’s own slowing abilities to making simply running out of the path harder. This ability is strong but it is balanced in its difficulty to hit multiple enemy targets. Teamwork and good timing is very much needed to ensure its most effective use. Although, it should be mentioned that due to large area Sindragosa’s breath covers – using it simply to force positioning out of enemies can still be using. Sending it down a choke point can force enemies to run directly into Arthas’s team or forcing them to run another path other than the choke point – it does not need to directly hit anyone but it does deter enemies from running paths that Arthas does not want. A little bit of creativity and teamwork can make this ability truly shine in its usage.

Second Heroic Ability

Arthas’s second choice of heroic ability summons a small undead army with basic auto attacks. This ability does not have the same explosive quality as his other choice – in fact its teamfight effectiveness is rather low due to the mass of AoEs that come within teamfights. The only real use within teamfights is to cause chaos with movement and extra units. This ability shines when Arthas is pushing against a tower or a town. The extra units can help tank off more shots from defensive structures as well as add more damage on buildings. In combination with Arthas’s ghost creation passive – Arthas can very effectively push down a town after a teamfight with a few ghosts and this heroic ability. Once again it’s all about pushing advantages with Arthas. But players should be wary when choosing this heroic ability – powerful AoE damage from the enemy team can easily nullify all usefulness of this heroic. Choosing this ability requires that the enemy be incapable in dealing with a lot of little units – if they can quickly wipe out many units bunched up then this ability is absolutely useless. Overall this ability looks away from the teamfight aspect of Arthas focusing more on his ability to push effectively if his team has an advantage.


Arthas is a powerful teamfighter but he is also an extremely effective pusher. During fights, his slows and AoE damage can allow him to put out both consistent and burst ability damage to many enemy targets if he times it right. Alongside this, the fact that his damage is so consistent, it forces enemies to take certain positions or use mobility abilities in efforts to avoid the brunch of the damage – Arthas controls the battlefield through his damage. Within fights, Arthas looks to gain any advantage possible – then with said advantage continual to snowball and become stronger as more and more enemies die. Arthas may not start a fight strong but he quickly becomes a formidable foe if anyone falls to his hand. Outside of teamfights, his AoE damage and extra units can be a great asset to pushing and destroying towns – Arthas can easily transition from teamfights to sieging, especially with this ghosts. His constant AoE damage helps him wipe out waves of creeps while his extra units can help soak up damage from defensive buildings. All in all, Arthas can play two important roles within a team – specializing in either is a valid option and players should adapt their build according to the team’s needs as well as the enemy’s capabilities. Blizzard has done a good job in creating a hero with multiple options in terms of roles and playstyles – hopefully, the additions of traits will further this idea of options within games. Rigidity within hero builds is something Blizzard definitely wants to go against but the balance between the effectiveness of each build will be the greatest challenge that Blizzard will face in going towards this goal of hero flexibility.

Thank you for reading this week’s hero analysis, please join us next week where we will once again take an in-depth look at another hero. If you have any comments, feel free to post them in any way you want – we’ll be sure to read and respond to each one.

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