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Captain of the Lich King

Created by caspian on 2007-12-30
Last modified: -
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This is a strategy outlook at the Lich after Icefrog gave him many buffs in the recent versions. Previously I believe many people felt the Lich is a weak hero; now with the many buffs to him we can see more playability with the captain of the Lich King!

Kel`Thuzad - Lich

Range: | Move Speed: 315
Primary: INT
Str: 18 + 1.55 | Agi: 15 + 2.0 | Int: 18 + 3.25
Damage: 42 - 51 | HP: 492 | Mana: 234
HP Regen: 0.79 | Mana Regen: 0.73
Attack Speed: 0.68 | Armor: 1
Frost Nova
Frost Nova (V)
Blasts enemy units around a target enemy unit with a wave of damaging frost that slows movement and attack rates for 4 seconds.
Level 1 - Deals 50 to the target damage and 75 AoE damage.
Level 2 - Deals 100 to the target damage and 100 AoE damage.
Level 3 - Deals 150 to the target damage and 125 AoE damage.
Level 4 - Deals 200 to the target damage and 150 AoE damage.
Damage type: magical
Frost slows movement speed by 30% and attack speed by 20%.
Casting range: 600
Area of Effect: 200
Mana Cost: 125/150/170/190
Cooldown: 9.25/9.25/9.25/8 seconds
Comment: This is the Lich's basic damage spell (nuke), and in the game called DoTA it makes sense to level up nuke spells as quickly as possible. By level 7 you can raise this to level 4, making it a very painful spell against your enemies and, used together with Dark Ritual, makes the Lich a powerhouse nuker and harasser. To use this spell the Lich has to select a target, which will receive 325 spell damage (not yet factoring in magic resistance) while enemy units near the target will be damaged for 150 spell damage as well. You as the Lich receive this nuking power at level 7. Note that the cooldown for Frost Nova is 9.25 seconds.

Frost Armor
Frost Armor (F)
Creates a shield of frost around a target friendly unit. The shield adds armor and slows attacking melee units for 2 seconds. Lasts 40 seconds.
Level 1 - Adds 3 armor.
Level 2 - Adds 5 armor.
Level 3 - Adds 7 armor.
Level 4 - Adds 9 armor.
Frost slows movement speed by 30% and attack speed by 20%.
If autocast is activated, the Lich will cast this spell on nearby allies who are attacked.
Casting range: 800
Mana Cost: 50
Cooldown: 5 Seconds
Comment: The recent buffs to the Lich increased the armor provided to 3/6/9/12 that lasts for 40 seconds (not 25), making it much more imbalanced as the Lich is now able to give free sets of Dragon (Knight) armor to everyone, abusing the duration. Great as this spell is, the Lich only learns it after he has maxed out his other 2 skills. If there are many melee enemy heroes that deal little attack damage (eg caster earthshaker, ogre magi), it may be useful to take just 1 level of this spell to provide the slow effect. Otherwise learn this skill fully to provide a reduction of attack damage, very useful against "late-game" heroes who depend on attack damage. More about this spell later.
Dark Ritual
Dark Ritual (D)
Sacrifices a target friendly unit to convert its hit points into mana.
Level 1 - Converts 15% of the current HP of the creep to mana.
Level 2 - Converts 30% of the current HP of the creep to mana.
Level 3 - Converts 45% of the current HP of the creep to mana.
Level 4 - Converts 60% of the current HP of the creep to mana.
Enemy heroes get no experience from creeps killed with Dark Ritual.
Casting range: 400
Mana Cost: 25
Cooldown: 35/30/25/20 Seconds
Comment: The spell which makes the Lich fearsome as a nuker, it is used in conjunction with Frost Nova to repeatedly bombard the Sentinel with ice blasts. This spell requires you to sacrifice a friendly creep to regain mana based on its remaining hit points. Therefore it is best to select a full-HP Ghoul (scourge melee creep) and kill it preferably before it is doing battle so that you can regain as much mana as possible. We will discuss more aspects of this spell later on.
Chain Frost
Chain Frost (C)
Releases a jumping breath of frost that jumps 7 times.
Level 1 - Deals 280 (370*) damage per jump.
Level 2 - Deals 370 (460*) damage per jump.
Level 3 - Deals 460 (550*) damage per jump.
Damage type: magical
Frost slows movement speed by 30% and attack speed by 20%.
The first target of this skill is ministuned.
Casting range: 750 (850*)
Bouncing Distance: 600
Can be improved by Aghanim's Scepter (* shows the improved values).
Mana Cost: 200/325/500
Cooldown: 145/115/60
Comment: This is probably what the Lich is most well-known for. The timing of this powerful spell is what makes or breaks the Lich. Due to various buffs on the Lich, level 3 Chain Frost now has a cooldown of 60 seconds (not 95). Therefore it is easily abusable late-game and probably only a few other ultimate spells like Laguna Blade and Finger of Death can match its cooldown. With Aghanim's Scepter, Chain Frost deals 550 damage per bounce and leashes out 8 bounces instead 7, and improves cast range from 750 to 850. We will discuss more on this spell to maximise its power.
Skill Build

Skill Build:

1. Dark Ritual
2. Frost Nova
3. Frost Nova
4. Dark Ritual
5. Frost Nova
6. Chain Frost
7. Frost Nova
8. Dark Ritual
9. Dark Ritual
10. Frost Armor
11. Chain Frost
12. Frost Armor
13. Frost Armor
14. Frost Armor
15. Stats
16. Chain Frost
17. Stats
18. Stats
19. Stats
20. Stats
21. Stats
22. Stats
23. Stats
24. Stats
25. Stats
Item Build

Item Build:

1.View Details for Boots of Travel
Boots of Travel
100 Movement Speed

Active: Teleport
- Teleports you to an allied non-hero unit or building
- Casting time: 3 seconds
- Manacost: 75 mana
- Cooldown: 60 seconds
- Shares cooldown with Scroll of Town Portal

Note: Movement speed bonus does not stack with Boots of Travel, Phase Boots, Power Treads, Tranquil Boots or Boots of Speed.
Double clicking teleports you to your fountain.
Boots of Speed + Boots of Travel Recipe Scroll
Comparing with Power Treads, this is still better because the teleport ability is extremely important in this build. Teleporting to a place of ambush, for example, can very well save your allies or deal the power of death to the accursed Sentinel.
2.View Details for Mekansm
5 All Attributes
5 Armor
Passive: Mekansm Aura
4 HP regeneration. 500 AoE
Active: Heal
Heals 250 HP and gives +2 armor in 750 AoE. Armor bonus lasts 25 seconds. Doesn't affect units that have been healed by any Restore in the last 25 seconds. 150 manacost. 45 seconds cooldown.
Headdress of Rejuvenation + Netherezim Buckler + Mekansm Recipe Scroll
This is what distinguishes other heroes from the Captain of the Lich King. As Dark Ritual always gives the Lich extra mana, he can use it to give life to his allies while dealing damage, thus extending the gap between his Scourge armies and the Sentinel. It is also very useful on creeps because the extra life and the armor bonus keeps them in the battlefield longer especially when attacking towers.
3.View Details for Soul Booster
Soul Booster
450 HP
400 Mana
4 HP Regeneration
100% Mana Regeneration
Energy Booster + Point Booster + Vitality Booster
Another powerful item, it makes the Captain's mana virtually inexhaustible. The extra hit points is also important as the Lich, being the buffed hero that he is, is still low on bulk hit points. This leads to our next item.
4.View Details for Aghanim`s Scepter
Aghanim`s Scepter
10 All Attributes
200 HP
150 Mana
Passive: Ultimate Upgrade
Upgrades the ultimate of Earthshaker, Pandaren Brewmaster, Stone Giant, Clockwerk Goblin, Sacred Warrior, Sand King, Spiritbreaker, Axe, Doom Bringer, Lord of Avernus, Night Stalker, Butcher, Undying, Juggernaut, Moon Rider, Faceless Void, Lightning Revenant, Vengeful Spirit, Venomancer, Netherdrake, Crystal Maiden, Enchantress, Faerie Dragon, Holy Knight, Prophet, Lord of Olympia, Slayer, Windrunner, Goblin Techies, Invoker, Shadow Priest, Shadow Shaman, Tormented Soul, Twin Head Dragon, Witch Doctor, Bane Elemental, Demon Witch, Lich, Necrolyte, Oblivion, Obsidian Destroyer, Queen of Pain, and Warlock.
Point Booster + 1 each of Ogre Axe, Blade of Alacrity and Staff of Wizardry + Aghanim's Scepter Recipe Scroll
As of version 6.51, Chain Frost by itself bounces up to 7 times. This item extends it to a grand total of 8 times, increasing each bounce's damage to 550 and extends Chain Frost's cast range to 850, which is 50% further than the attack range of most ranged heroes. This wizard's scepter will be the greatest item yet the Captain can ever get.
5.View Details for Ring of Basilius
Ring of Basilius
6 Damage
1 armor
Passive: Mana Aura
0.65 Mana Regeneration. 900 AoE
Passive: Armor Aura
2 armor. 900 AoE. Doesn't stack with armor auras from Assault Cuirass, Ring of Basilius, or Vladmir's Offering.
Note: Clicking the item will toggle whether Armor Aura affects heroes and units, or just heroes. Can be disassembled.
Ring of Protection + Sobi Mask
This item will be in the list of optional items. If your ally has already gotten this item, you may skip it. The reason why this would be recommended on the Lich is because its Devotion Aura (+3 armor aura) greatly prolongs creeps' life, which is very useful for
6. Kelens Dagger of Escape
Now called Kelen's Dagger, this optional item is still useful to get the Captain into position to unleash the death within him. For many people, 750 range (cast range of Chain Frost without the scepter) may still not be enough to get into range, so this item helps a lot in doing that. Of course, if you are a master of dodging attacks you may also use it to escape. The power of this item is only limited by your own creativity.
Skill Build

Early Game:

The Lich's items in this stage is a little restricted. Because we know that the Lich will be building the Mekansm, it is better to quickly rush for this item since its power will diminish as the time goes.

Therefore, I recommend the following items be taken at this stage:

Ironwood Branch 2 of them

Ring of Regeneration

Ancient Tango of Essifation as necessary

Animal Courier if nobody else is buying it. (I assume that everyone can use the animal courier)

Buy a combination of these items up to the budget you are allowed, ie 500 gold.

The animal courier is bought by heroes that are not item-dependent to be strong late-game (aka carry heroes). The Lich fits this requirement, but other heroes may also fit, like Rotund`jere - The Necrolyte Pugna - The OblivionKrobelus - The Death ProphetChen - The Holy KnightJakiro - The Twin Head DragonShendelzare Silkwood - The Vengeful Spiritetc. If some of such heroes exist in your line-up, you should share the burden of buying the courier and observer wards (discussed later).

However, if another hero plans to build the Mekansm you may skip the above items and go for a more general early-game item build. Refer here for more explanations.

In retrospect, let us recall the early-game skill build:

1. Dark Ritual

2. Frost Nova

3. FN

4. DR

5. FN

6. Chain Frost

7. FN

Now as you know, Dark Ritual is a mana-replenishing spell, it eliminates the need for the Lich to depend on mana regeneration items like Empty BottleLesser Clarity Potion, therefore the Lich can function well in all lanes without having to regenerate from the runes all the time. As a rule of thumb however, it is better if the Lich goes to the middle lane or the bottom Scourge lane (Sentinel top lane). And it is excellent if the Lich can be paired up with another "nuker" hero so as to establish what is called "lane dominance" whereby you and your ally constantly prevent the enemy heroes in your lane from farming up gold.

At the very beginning, the Lich learns 1 level of Dark Ritual. As soon as the 1st creep wave emerges (at 1:30 for -ap mode, 3:00 -xl mode) we kill an allied creep (Ghoul/Treant) using the Dark Ritual. You may ask, why? This is because killing an allied creep this way amounts to a full denial of experience from killing that creep. The enemy heroes which will come to your lane will not have any experience at all from that creep because it is already gone from the game! Therefore the Dark Ritual also serves as an experience denying spell. It is also important, as I said, to cast this on a full-HP Ghoul/Treant.

At level 3 you can afford to a be a little more aggresive. At this point the Lich would have learned Frost Nova 2 which is more powerful than FN1. If you have full mana/nearly full, don't waste your natural mana regeneration, blast the enemy heroes with a FN, especially low-HP heroes. At level 4 DR would be upgraded to level 2, and you will find that everytime DR is used your mana is replenished much more (550 x 30% = 165). So spamming FN would be easier when you do not forget to cast DR everytime the Lich can use it.

When the Lich reaches level 5, FN is upgraded to level 3. This removes quite a bit of hp from enemy heroes when you blast them. At level 6, Chain Frost can be learned, and if you have been nuking the enemy often, they may either retreat to base early or stay around with mediocre HP. If the latter happens then look for an opportunity to cast a double nuke on them causing them severe damage, hopefully netting you a kill.


The spell Chain Frost makes or breaks the Lich. Due to the random nature of its bounces it takes a little estimating to make it bounce at least twice on your intended target. In general there are 3 conditions for a perfect Chain Frost:

  1. 2 heroes together and alone without creeps
  2. 1 hero with at most 2 creeps
  3. 1 hero about to die from 2 successive level 4 nuke spells, ie about 400 hp.

Many Lich users hesitate casting this spell because they want perfect bounces by only having 2 heroes around, no more, no less. This is restrictive. You have a double nuke, ie FN and CF, and if you have been paired with another nuker hero like Zeus or the Tormented Soul it is extremely easy to kill heroes at this stage. All you need is watch out for conditions 2 and 3, especially condition 3. The Lich can easily finish off 400-hp heroes at level 7 just by casting FN 4 and then a CF 1. CF doesn't have to bounce as it would have already killed the target without further bounces. Estimation is important, but not hesitation.


The 1st bounce of CF has a ministun. Therefore if really needed it can stop channelling spells like Teleport, Death Ward, etc.

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281 By skullguy 2009-06-17

To:luimen_xiii i alrdy knew that but is not working anymore but the effect is get money for free

280 By espadaknight 2009-05-31

by denying ur frist creep, its easier to creep pull. soo i kinda agee with him. and if u keep repeatin this, u can level up faster as in very very early game, no one likes to get hit by tower so u gain extra xp, extra golds and most of all, u can under level ur opponent

279 By clarence_94 2009-05-31

How about Eye Of Skadi for Lich?

278 By luimen_xiii 2009-05-27

hey... guys... someone told me that there are bugs on lich in the 6.59d map though I dont know how to do it
all I know is you have to type -ms then press the space bar. then i dont know what happens after that... do some of you guys know about it? pls tell me... thx in advance ^ ^

277 By Lethoz 2009-05-23

@Noodles_n_Wors - 276

Dont Worry, We'll tell you when you get older


(By Casting Dark Ritual at one of your Melee creeps before you clash with the other wave you'll prevent the enemy hero from getting all the EXP and Possible Gold he was Suppose to get Early on (By Repeating when CD is Over) Mainly its a Endless Source of Mana but Early Game you can use it as a None EXP Deny, This Works best in the Middle Lane and Since your Ranged you're the best Qualified)

276 By Noodles_n_Wors 2009-05-22

Deny ur 1st creep?! What the hell. U lose pushing power, dnt get mana + you can just as easily attack deny :/

275 By harriscute12 2009-05-09

plss give me a good line up for lich

274 By mametchi 2009-05-09


273 By EmberX 2009-05-05

lich is one of the best hero :D good guide but if you want to update this guide it would be much appreciated because this guide seems to be old. because now you can make bloodstone insted of soul booster :D and you may choose between phase boots and travel and last due to a huge mana pool you may also use refresher orb :D

272 By lurion 2009-04-30

271 By Altoul 2009-04-29

Lich is maybe the most powerful inte hero to my mind.

270 By EKOunited 2009-04-23

269 By freeday 2009-04-20 you feel lich is a strong hero?????

268 By HepatitisB|TWinsane 2009-04-18

to kill one hero if not finish off with frost nova

267 By HepatitisB|TWinsane 2009-04-18

my brother got 25 to 30 kills yesterday with lich. i suggest you use heart of tarrasque to get good health and when level 6 use ulti when there are 3 creeps left.

266 By Lethoz 2009-04-06

Kelens Dagger of Escape is used in many different situations, Escaping with Low HP or From ganks, Catch up with Fleeing Heroes and Suprise enemies by Teleporting Close to them and cast Chain Frost for maximum effect

265 By Anda92 2009-04-04

I'd go for the max armor with lich :) hes + 12 bonus and get some other hero , like treeant protector , i had in first 6 levels like 60 armor or so :) the tower hit me like 1 hp at the time. so did the physical heroes :D

264 By PCad 2009-03-31

what's with the dagger?

263 By Vatiz 2009-03-27

@Witch Doc

Making Bloodstone Requires you to Kill Steal and Since the Lich isnt "Designed" to be a Hero Killer but is more of an Offensive Support, Which Means your Not the Hero that needs to kill that much.
-Aghanims Scepter-

Your Getting Refresher 95% of the Time Because of your Ultimate, the Chain Frost, which only has a cooldown of 60sec, Do i Really need to say more.

Linken? the lich isnt the type to harass and doesnt suffer from Stun/Disable and Nuke that Much

262 By Witch Doc 2009-03-26

will i make soul booster to bloodstone?
and shouldn't i put linken's or refresher's