Home, Hearth & Heroes
My Builds My Blog My Tiers
Created October 13, 2019

Wrath of the Lich King

You can find me streaming on Twitch. For a free coaching session, hit up my Discord, and for more content, my Youtube.

This guide has a companion video example here!

And another one here!

Welcome back to Carry Class! Today, we’re going to arm you with one of the most potent engages in the game, and thoroughly break down why Arthas ranks among the best SL carries in the main tank arsenal. We’ll explore his impact on macro, his unique interplay between map control and hero kills, and the numerous rewards to his high-ceiling playstyle. Let’s begin! 

Unholy Armoury  

As we reviewed previously, Arthas is an incredibly versatile threat. He harbours two unique tools enabling this: Icebound Fortitude (IBF) for defence, and Howling Blast for everything else. 

The prior is Arthas’ strongest button, bar none, forming the backbone of his survivability. With it, you can brush off enemy engages and endure otherwise-lethal CC trains; Stukov’s Virulent, Uther’s Benediction, Diablo’s Domination – anything and everything that combos durations is rendered incredibly ineffective. This power comes at a cost, of course, and that barrier to entry is your skill. IBF is a predictive ability; like Sanctification, you need to be aware of the threats before they’re allowed to land. As always in the tank v tank matchup, a strong knowledge of the opposing tank’s function will make it far easier for you to predict. 

The latter, Howling Blast, is the single largest AoE CC on a main tank. Stacking Frost Presence is your biggest goal in a game; you can easily have it done by ten if you focus on using your E only on waves, and traiting off cooldown. 

With your quest complete, you have the single most versatile CC on a main tank in the game. I often say in order for a hero to tank, it must excel at three of the following: Scout, Sponge, Sustain, Damage, Peel, Engage, Escape. Howling Blast can be used for four of those, often simultaneously, thanks to it’s colossal area of effect. 

Howling Blast is your battlefield control. It’s your playmaker off a flank, your saviour on the retreat, and your second wind in the siege. It’s versatility is limited only by your creativity; use it to halt an approaching tank, predict an enemy flanker, and freeze a faraway support. Angled correctly, you’ll do all three.  

Abuse heroes that need to group! Stukov and Auriel, Deckard and Morales – supports are your first avenue for free stacks. Look to root their regen globe, or walk just out of vision and throw a root behind you. Practice stacking! 

Evil Queen 

Alright, here’s where we expand our world view. The carry ult on Arthas isn’t Army, it’s Sindragosa. I’ll say that again: you have a significantly better chance of winning by correctly utilising Sindragosa. 

Sindragosa is an extremely powerful macro-based ultimate. It abuses vision knowledge and rotational understanding to bait the enemy into a false sense of security; it abuses typical SL behaviour to the extreme, by punishing universal patterns of retreat and anti-siege. 

Let me put it this way; if your opponent ever stands by their fort, they die. Cleanse saves one target; Sindragosa hits half a lane. Heroes clump, heroes die. If you don’t believe me, see examples herehereherehere, and here 

Sindragosa has power in four capacities. Before any of that, though, we’ll break down it’s bare functions.  

Sindragosa slows enemy heroes by 60% for 3.5 seconds, and disables non-heroes and structures for 20. Additionally, it has a maximum range far exceeding heroic vision range. 

What this effectively means, is if you clear the oppositions’ wave, you can ult with clear vision of them – and they won’t see it coming until it’s on top of them. Understand? Macro based heroic. 

Now we’ll break down the strengths. Firstly, Sindragosa preys on rudimentary HoTS psychology: “buildings are safety” is a (bad) habit built into learning the game, and tower dives - when successful - benefit from an enormous element of surprise. Players don’t consciously position for evasion within their zones of safety, because barring exceptional play, that notion is rarely challenged. Sindragosa relishes that. 

Secondly, Sindragosa enables incredible pushes. I’ve discussed in Storm League 103 how ranged minions do triple damage to buildings; added on top of any Zerg wave, Cavalry charge or Dragon Knight push, Sindragosa increases the sieging potential of your belligerent mob tenfold.  

This ties into Sindragosa’s third benefit: snowballing. At level ten, you should be prepared to immediately cast your ult, ideally on a retreating opponent, and always out of vision. This first successful engage will put you in the match’s driver seat, ensuring that after 100 seconds, you’re still in control of the game. Push a wave, press R – and all the impetus is firmly on the opponents shoulders if they want to save the game. Every Sindragosa cast benefits from previous successes, and this out of control snowball allows you to destroy enemy morale and force them into passivity. 

I’ll take a short pause here to note that the majority of SL players are adept while ahead, and awful when behind. Playing from behind requires discipline and spontaneity – both in equal measure. You need to soak until you’re at even talents, then aggressively force a fight before the opponent escapes to the next talent tier. Alternatively, if you’re too far behind, you need to execute an isolation, a party bush, or a 1 for 1 trade. In SL, you want to be ahead as soon as possible, to provide your opponents with as many opportunities to fumble and panic as they can apply. 

Fourthly, Sindragosa allows you to exploit the frontal flank. Generally, a team’s wall sits front and center on the action – whether thst be a Garrosh, Johanna, Mal’Ganis, or what have you. The primary purpose of this hero is to provide vision, identifying incoming threats and vastly increasing the team’s required reaction speed. But Sindragosa doesn’t obey that paradigm, because it can be cast from far outside of vision. In fact, you can cast Sindragosa at near maximum distance, mount up, and arrive on the enemy team only split seconds behind your dragon (keep in mind the cast time). At this point, you have the option to simply go through the tank or isolate them – context dependant, you’ll always have the capacity for kills. You only need to recognise it. 

Sindragosa isn’t limited to the lane, of course; as some of the examples above showed, it can also be utilised on the flank, or simply in a choke. Kills are kills after all, and often times the space created through those kills allows a boss or objective in and of itself. 

Really, what I’m saying is Sindragosa has broad applications. Like a Void Prison or a Warden’s Cage, it’s a colossal playmaker that puts the onus of execution firmly in your hands. This is an ultimate that flexes on the opposition, and allows you to demonstrate your creativity and capability. As I’ve said before, Arthas is a high skill-ceiling tank, with tools that can be sharpened again and again. This is a tank to come back to with fresh knowledge or a new perspective, that above all encourages a healthy abuse of vision and simply clearing the wave. Let’s expand on that, shall we? 

Frosty Fundamentals 

As I’ve parroted in Storm League 103, the most fundamental unit in HoTS is the wave. Arthas provides a myriad of mini-games to occupy your attention in rotations and throughout early stages. Firstly, primarily, is your mana management. More than any other hero in the tank arsenal, Arthas rewards good mana usage. You need to spam your W to get your quest complete, but you don’t need to use your Q or have your E permanently up. Your trait comes a big way in assisting with this, as it pays for a little under three seconds of E usage. You can clear a wave with two autos to each backline minion, an empowered auto to a melee, and about 6 seconds of aura usage. Throw in a W for a stack, and Arthas spends around a hundred mana per wave, sans globe. Tapping early for mana and bodying opponents off their globes will also go a long way in keeping you on the map – while you’ll start by having to back frequently, you’ll soon learn that you don’t need your E up nearly as often as you think. Additionally, once you see the world through the lens of Mana Management, your staying power on all heroes will increase monumentally. 

One of the big secrets in HoTS is using your abilities for effect, not because you can; you can achieve just as much with steady autos and movement than with flashy spells and teleports. This is especially true for tanks, who’s abilities often encompass enabling teammates, rather than themselves. This value recognition is genuinely the biggest difference between a good and bad player. 

Finally, Arthas thrives off of protracted engagements; in the land of no cooldowns, the Lich King reigns supreme. Your E finishes opponents that have foolishly burnt all their abilities; you’ll frequently see a Ming or ETC panic when they realise there’s no escaping you. Once again, resource management is paramount; use your mana wisely, amd you’ll always have the last laugh. 

Positive Trades & Frigid Blades 

There are a few more weapons available to an Arthas, and some of them will likely come as controversial. Try to keep an open mind; each set of talents makes up an entirely different hero, often one you’ve never actually interacted with before. Try things out before passing judgement, and your capabilities will rise dramatically.

At level four, we have a number of options. Firstly, and familiarly, is Frozen Wastes, the E quest. At 150 ticks of heroic damage, you’re rewarded with additional duration on your aura effect – after the target exits the aura. 

The thing is, this is only useful into heroes that are going to quickly enter and exit your zone of control. Heroes like ETC, Greymane, and Illidsn are the main ones you’ll actually find value out of, as most anything else should just die without exiting your reach or be saved regardless of the talent. 

For this reason, I’d actually recommend Icy Talons (ty Barcode); I was recently made aware that this talent enormously suits a proactive tank playstyle. It offers you one of the core requirements of a tank, threat, and more importantly allows you to kill things virtually unassisted. Arthas is an infinitely stronger hero when he can actually kill unassisted, and this talent is brilliant for baiting unwary opponents, such as Johanna’s with Iron Skin up or Diablo’s charging in. 

Deathlord is a tech option for Tracer, Genji, or any other squishy flanker. It pairs nicely with the best 16 talent, too. 

At thirteen, we acquire armour reduction on howling blast; at this point, any tank becomes fair game, and ETC/Garrosh players tremble. Armour is vastly more effective at higher numbers, and the inverse is just as true. 

At sixteen, we acquire Embrace Death, vastly increasing the power of your Q if you're missing any health (you will be). At around 10%, it’s a 1k burst heal, effectively turning your Q into a panic button and allowing you to heavily bait overextended opponents. It also provides significant burst to close a fleeing enemy. 

At twenty, upgrade your ult, cast it from even further away, and catch the enemy team blindsided. Alternatively, pick up Anti-Magic Shield to heal off of Jaina’s burst or Malthael’s Last Rites – this talent blocks percentage damage too. 

Talents are detailed further here!

Icy Fortitude 

There are a few more weapons available to an Arthas, and some of them will likely come as controversial. Try to keep an open mind; each set of talents makes up an entirely different hero, often one you’ve never actually interacted with before. Try things out before passing judgement, and your capabilities will rise dramatically.

Approaching level 10, examine areas on the map with a fort but not a gate. These will be your primary ambush points. Ensure your waves are pushed and prepared, and look to force aggressively when the opportunity presents itself. Ping your dragon’s destination five times! 

Post thirteen, look to exclusively play the flank or bush. An unexpected root can gain valuable cooldowns or defensives, powering the strength of your Sindragosa. A Malfurion burning Nature’s Cure kills his entire team! 

Additionally, post thirteen, root the tank and the team behind him, and just bonk the tank. A big part of winning late-game fights is winning cooldowns by scaring opponents; I find enemy supports to be especially paranoid of their team inting. 

Helm of Domination

One last point we'll go over before closing out is how to pick Arthas. After all, it's of no use to you if your first game on this hero is a runaway-stomp in the opponents favour.

That being said, let's break Arthas down into his weaknesses: first and foremost, Arthas is an immobile tank. He only goes faster than other heroes because they're moving slowly; if the enemy can accelerate, you're in trouble. Top of the list are Lucio and Tyrael (Swift Retribution makes Smite a 45% MS buff), both of which will give you a miserable time hitting your skillshots or applying your aura.. At the higher end, Lucio becomes a target rather than a nuisance, because any hero that's taped to terrain becomes a relatively easy target, but that doesn't change his inherent power. Additionally, watch out for Yrel; her level 4 removes slows and roots and grants significant movespeed on a short 20s cooldown. Cleanse will do the same, but netting a 60s CD for your  You won't be a threat to her team until you acquire your AoE root, since she'll save any single target you can catch while with her team. Fortunately, she's often in the offlane, where she cannot save in this manner.

An additional consideration with immobile tanks is Displacement effects. Telekinesis, Diablo's combo, or Garrosh's Wrecking Ball are all capable of pulling you too far from your team and directly into a 100-0. While you have IBF, it won't save you from silences (Discord Strike/Warlord's Challenge), and it won't help you if you're stranded far from your team. We've all been the tank surrounded by angry swordsmen while the team watches and exits; there's very little most compositions can do to help you in this situation - so don't get in it.

Finally, heavy disengage will counter your Sindragosa. Malfurion's Nature's Cure, Faltad's Gust, Medivh's Literally Everything Portal - all of these will significantly hamper your ability to kill the enemy team. Alternatively, if you're winning Sound Barrier or Divine Shield, you can count your push as a victory, since you netted both defensive ultimates and structures with your 100s CD. The same goes if you can get a Tranquility or a Void Prison or what have you; often, when you're "countered" in the draft, your ability to get out valuable enemy cooldowns is how you overcome the inherent disadvantage.

Another thing to note is that Arthas' ultimate is only used a few times per game; that's as often as you're going to be able to use it given that you exist on a 100s CD. That's fine, but it means that your ultimate casts need to land. That's a lot of pressure whilst learning a hero; my number one tip is to use forts as a guiding point, especially when gates down, and take the ultimate off quickcast so you can see the area of effect and plan far ahead. Additionally, when you see or intuitively feel a good ultimate, trust your gut and slam R; even if it turns out to be poor, the knowledge you gain will be significant for your personal improvement. If it's good, then you're learning how to R!

Otherwise, for drafting, you're always, always, always at an advantage if you can pick your hero late; the enemy has significantly less opportunity to counter-pick or play around you that way. Make sure you tell your team "main tank Arthas" so you don't get a second main tank; I often pick late solely so my team doesn't troll draft in this manner (I can't play offlane to save my life). While you won't always have this luxury, you should try to pick middle-to-late whenever possible.

Otherwise, the same things that cause Garrosh problems will cause you problems; Ana's Grenade, Malthael's Last Rites, Tychus' Bigger They Are (though he'd better take something else into Garrosh) - all of these affect you just as they would any other tank. Respect the opponent correctly, and you'll be able to play more and more aggressive without the enemy being able to retaliate. Learn your limits and respect them with a capital R.

Tips and Tricks; Bits and Baubles

You need to lead the root slightly; look for reasons for the opponent to group, such as an AoE heal or a regeneration globe. It is imperative you stack your root quickly; the earlier you complete it, the further ahead you are.

If you hit the precise center of the root on a medium or larger hero near you, you can't miss. Prioritise larger hitboxes while stacking, too.

Once your quest is complete, always aim far behind heroes you want to root; it's harder for them to predict the dodge, and you'll accidentally root other opponents.

Set Summon Sindragosa to Quickcast->Off. The targeting reticle is incredibly useful.

Always cast Sindragosa from outside vision, or your opponents WILL sidestep it.

Predict where your opponents are based off where their waves are when they're behind the gate; use the minimap to figure out where their wave is, based off of yours, as they mirror each other.

Bind IBF to an easy to hit key like F, so you can smash it when you're threatened.

Your trait resets your auto attack animation; whenever possible, AA->D->Immediate AA, instead of just D->AA.

Learn how much E damage it takes for each backline minion to die to one or two auto attacks; use the prior in a rush, and the latter when you have time to spare. Kill only the archers, mount up, wait for your ranged creeps to kill the enemy melees, and rotate out. This is the fastest way to solo clear. Make sure you use your trait empowered auto attack on a melee minion, else you'll waste the damage.

Use the tip of your E on the enemy tank when an engage has yet to start; they'll feel compelled to hurry up and act, increasing the odds of a misstep. 

While dancing with the enemy tank, you can turn around and walk directly into your team, then root behind you; tanks instinctively want to go to where you used to be, so this trick often baits enemies into moving in a predictable fashion.

Targets are easier to hit if they're adjacent terrain, as they can't maneuver as easily.


If you enjoy my content, or would like to enquire about coaching (first session free!) you can find me on TwitchTwitter, Discord, and Youtube!
Frost Presence
Quest: Root enemy Heroes with Howling Blast. Reward: After rooting 5 Heroes, Howling Blast's cooldown is reduced by 2 seconds. Reward: After rooting 10 Heroes, Howling Blast's range is increased by 30%. Reward: After rooting 20 Heroes, Howling Blast also roots enemies in its path.
The only talent for an engage-focused Arthas is Frost Presence. The sheer stopping power of the enormous AoE Root defines Arthas' tanking capabilities. Stacking your trait or blocking physical autos comes secondary to improving your CC by an order of magnitude.
Icy Talons
Gain 3% Attack Speed for 1.5 seconds every time a Hero is damaged by Frozen Tempest, to a maximum of 60%.
Frozen Wastes is a lot more niche than it appears, being strong into engage->disengage pattern heroes such as ETC, Illidan, Greymane, and Diablo. The mana reduction is nice, but mana management is more valuable.

Icy Talons is the carry talent, enabling massive threat on a very sticky main tank. It also allows you to prey on hapless tanks; Johanna's with their trait active will quickly stack you, then be slowed and bonked to death. The default.

Deathlord is taken specifically to deal with a flanking Tracer, Genji, or similar squishy. It synergises enormously with the default 16.
Icebound Fortitude
Activate to gain 25 Armor, reducing damage taken by 25%, and reduce the duration of Stuns, Slows, and Roots against Arthas by 75% for 3 seconds.
Icebound Fortitude rivals heroics in sheer power. It's possibly the strongest level 7 talent in the entire game; it's incredibly overbudgeted. It's so powerful that we can actually pick Sindragosa without destroying our survivability, because it gives us the mother of all panic buttons. Neither Rune Tap nor Immortal Coil are worth discussing, or ever picking. Always, always, ALWAYS take IBF. The sole exception is the enemy team drafting literally zero applicable CC.
Summon Sindragosa
Deals 504 damage and slows enemies and non-Heroic enemies by 60% for 2 seconds. Also disables Structures for 20 seconds.
While Army has it's uses, it's more suited to a competitive setting, where Arthas exists solely as a setup, rather than setup and executioner.

Summon Sindragosa is the carry ult that dreams are made of, allowing you to practice hard engages and macro exploitation through creating large pushes, accenting bosses and objectives, and simply outthinking your opponents. Practice regularly and you'll become proficient at Stage Dive too!
Shattered Armor
Enemy Heroes hit by Howling Blast have their Armor reduced by 15 for 4 seconds.
Frost Strike and Biting Cold do not contribute meaningful burst damage; rather, they accent a sustained style. Arthas already bodies sustained fights, because when no one has any cooldowns, his E kills everything.

Take Shattered Armour to significantly threaten tanks such as Garrosh or ETC, who are reliant on armour, or simply to nuke unsuspecting opponents. The armour down is especially significant when you realise it affects everything rooted by Howling Blast - which is an AoE root once the quest is complete.
Embrace Death
Death Coil deals more damage and heals more the lower Arthas's current health is, to a maximum of 100% bonus damage and healing.
Remorseless Winter and Frostmourne Feeds both serve to improve your extended fight. You don't need to improve your extended fight, it's already strong enough. Rather, shoring up other weaknesses is a better use of this talent tier, as Embrace Death turns your Q into an excellent panic button. Near 20% HP, your self heal crits for 1k burst healing. This is especially significant since most hostile DPSes won't factor in your enormous burst heal into their mental math, and will thus be baited into committing to an unachievable kill. Also excellent in conjunction with Deathlord into a Tracer or Genji, functioning similar to Holy Shock.
Absolute Zero
Sindragosa flies twice as far. Enemy Heroes are rooted for 2 seconds, and then slowed by 60% for 3.5 seconds.
Death's Advance is excellent. It's utterly outclassed by both the ultimate upgrade and Black King Bar. You'll never have the luxury of taking it.

Absolute Zero makes Sindragosa the longest range engage in the tank arsenal, bar none; it competes with Hanzo's Dragon Arrow and upgraded Stage Dive for best (pseudo) global engage. The effect is backbreaking, and hitting 3 or more heroes is generally an instant win. Absolutely (hah!) upgrade this if your ultimate is available.

Anti-Magic Shield is one of the most broken defensives in the game, rivaling a Black King Bar from Dota 2. It grants you immunity to spell damage, INCLUDING PERCENTAGE DAMAGE. You can HEAL off Malthael's Last Rites with this; you also shrug off Minigun and Seven-Sided Strike. An excellent tech option into burst mages or % damage.
Balance Patch - 08/28/19
There are no comments for this build.