Huskar is a strength hero who is primarily played mid. He is a very strong lane harasser who can quickly get out of control if he has a strong early game. While not a strong late game carry, huskar can take over the mid game and prevent the enemy cores from coming online while allowing his own carry to farm safely. Look to end the game before 40 minutes and play around his item and Rosh timings and you will have a very strong new hero in your arsenal.
Emerging from the throes of the sacred Nothl Realm, Huskar opened his eyes to see the prodigal shadow priest Dazzle working a deep incantation over him. Against the ancient rites of the Dezun Order, Huskar’s spirit had been saved from eternity, but like all who encounter the Nothl he found himself irrevocably changed. No longer at the mercy of a mortal body, his very lifeblood became a source of incredible power; every drop spilled was returned tenfold with a fierce, burning energy. However this newfound gift infuriated Huskar, for in his rescue from the Nothl, Dazzle had denied him a place among the gods. He had been denied his own holy sacrifice.
In time the elders of the order sought to expand their influence and Huskar, they agreed, would be a formidable tool in their campaign. Yet becoming a mere weapon for the order that denied him his birthright only upset him further. As the first embers of war appeared on the horizon, he fled his ancestral home to find new allies, all the while seeking a cause worthy of unleashing the power his total sacrifice could bring.
Inner Fire can be used in a variety of ways either to save yourself or teammates from a strong right-clicker on the enemy or team, or can also be used offensively as a way to knock the enemy back under your own tower or towards your enemies. An example of this would be during the early laning stage. Let’s say you are laning against Sniper and his creeps are pushing under your tower. You are both level 6. Sniper gets out of position and is too far under your tower and is in range of your ultimate. You case your ultimate life break on Sniper. The slow from life-break allows you to walk in front of Sniper easily, and then you can press Q- Inner Fire and knock sniper back under your tower.
- Strong spell which knocks enemies back a distance of 400 and also applies a disarm
- Strong against right click heroes who do not have a way to dispel or do not have their BKB yet
- Can be used offensively to set up kills and push enemies closer to your team
- Can be used defensively as an escape or to save your allies from a chasing enemy or right click hero
Huskar’s signature ability which makes Huskar Huskar. While there have been quite a few changes to Huskar’s kit over the years, burning spear has remained largely untouched and like Pudge’s hook is the ability which defines him the most. Burning spear is one of the strongest damage over time spells in the entire game and can be incredibly annoying to play against. While most heroes can shrug off a level 1 burning spear, once this ability is leveled up to 2 or 3 it is very hard to ignore. 1 attack from a level 3 burning spear does 120 damage simply from the damage over time. Adding in his attack damage it is closer to 185 to 190 at that stage in the game. There are very few heroes that can go toe to toe against Huskar after he has some levels and early game items such as a couple Bracers.
- Strong damage over time ability which allows Huskar to harass enemies out of lane
- Does damage to Huskar as well so be cautious especially at early levels that you are only using on enemy heroes and not on creeps
- If you use this in lane and do not have it set to auto-attack it will not draw creep aggro allowing you to walk up and harass the enemy hero while not taking any damage from creeps
Berserker’s Blood provides an insane amount of regeneration to Huskar which is based off his strength and missing health. The more strength and health you have the more regen you will have which is why Armlet is a core item on Huskar and also why strength items such as Satanic and Heaven’s Halberd are such good items on him. Playing Huskar to his full potential means going into fights at low health and effectively using Armlet and Berkserker’s Blood ability. While most heroes you will want to keep at full HP pretty much all the time, Huskar is at his best when he is at low health usually under half HP as he will have a massive attack speed boost and hp regen. This also baits opposing players into chasing Huskar as they see him with a low HP pool and think he is an easy kill only to find that early and mid game he is capable of soloing multiple heroes and can live to tell the tale.This playstyle takes time to get used to and you will likely need a few games or possibly a lot of games under your belt until you know how to effectively use this ability.
- Provides a massive amount of HP regen and attack speed
- This ability becomes stronger the more strength and HP Huskar has which makes building strength items such as Armlet and Heaven’s Halberd so good
- Can be used aggressively early game to farm the jungle quickly
Life break is a low cooldown ultimate and is Huskar’s only mobility and gap close ability. If there is a main weakness on Huskar it is that he is very slow and has difficulty getting on top of opposing heroes. While life break is not the longest range gap closer it is quite effective against melee heroes who need come up to the creep wave to attack. Life break does damage not only to the opposing hero but also to Huskar as well. It applies a very strong slow which allows Huskar to get in a quite a few auto attacks before the enemy is able to escape. Huskar can solo kill most supports early and mid game simply by using life break, auto attacking as much as possible and then when the slow is about to end you can use inner fire to finish them off.
- Huskar’s only gap closing ability allowing hip to leap onto an enemy while damaging them and applying a strong slow
- This ability also damages Huskar which can work to your advantage as it will make Huskar attack more quickly allowing you to get in a lot of burning spear attacks
- If upgraded to a scepter increases cast range while also applying a strong taunt onto the enemy hero forcing them to attack Huskar
Level 10: The option here is to add 2 seconds to the slow of your ultimate life break or to add one second to the inner fire disarm. This ability will be game dependent as to what you pick. If you are against a lot of enemy right click heroes the added 1 second disarm arm will be the better choice. However if you are against an enemy team which is primarily magic focused the disarm will do little good and you will be better off getting the added 2 second slow to your life break. In addition if the enemy team has a lot of squishy support heroes the extra 2 seconds on the life slow can make it so you are all but guaranteed a kill on them if you are able to get your ultimate off.
Level 15: Very rarely do I think the extra 5 DPS on burning spears is worth it here. The extra 15% lifesteal may not sound like a lot but it can make Huskar’s mid game absolutely insane as most enemy heroes will not have their BKBs online yet or their core items which will allow you to get into the middle of a fight against multiple enemy heroes and so long as you are right clicking them you stand a good chance of surviving with the insane amount of regen from your passive and the lifesteal. The extra 5 damage just isn’t worth it in the vast majority of games.
Level 20: Once again this is a pretty clear winner in that the extra 30% Berserker’s Blood regen is simply too good to pass up. At this stage in the game you should have your BKB and will have satanic completed or should be getting close to having it done. Add this all together and you become incredibly difficulty to kill and it will allow you to soak up a ton of damage and take most of the enemy teams focus on your-self allowing your carry to do what they do best and start to carry the game. You should remember that Huskar is not a great late game carry and at this point in the game you will no longer be the main damage dealer and your role will shift from the absolute wrecker you were in the early and mid game to more of a tanky damage soaker while your carry starts to shine. A good Huskar game will have you completely dominating for the first 25 minutes or so while your carry is able to farm relatively unscathed. Your team has pushed in multiple towers and have gotten two roshes so far and the enemy cores do not have much farm as you have been very active in taking objectives and pushing them closer and closer to their base. Your team should have a gold and XP lead and at this point in the game your carry needs to come on line and close the game out.
Level 25: Burning spears pure damage is a clear winner in the vast majority of games and almost exclusively should be your go to pick. Once you are level 25 the opposing team will have BKBs on their cores and will also have magic aura defensive items such as Pipe of Insight which will negate a large majority of the damage from your burning spears. Changing the damage to pure damage gives Huskar the needed boost to keep him relevant in the late game as the harder carries start taking over the game.
Three Gauntlets of Strength and one circlet: These are my go to starting items as I will build this into three bracers which makes Huskar very tanky in the early game.
How to Play Huskar
How you play Huskar will depend greatly on the stage of the game. Huskar can be quite weak for the first two levels of the laning phase depending on who you are against. Once he hits level 3 and on he becomes much stronger. Once Huskar gets his Armlet he is one of the strongest heroes in the game and should become very active on the map taking Rosh, pushing towers, and being a major thorn in the enemies side. While it is ok to farm the jungle and lane creeps when you are not taking objectives or killing enemies your primary focus should be on being aggressive and forcing the enemy further back into their jungle. Slowly take away their farming areas so your team will have a gold and XP advantage.
In pretty much every game you will level up your burning spears first. Use this to harass the enemy mid hero but be care-full about your own health as well. In most match-ups you won’t be able to freely use burning spears at level 1 as it will do too much damage to yourself. Instead wait until you get one point in your passive at level 2 to allow you to heal up from your burning spear attacks. Try to aggro the creeps so you are uphill and the enemy is forced to be downhill trying to attack uphill. If you are in favorable lane matchups such as being against templar assassin or ember spirit, play very aggressively early on and kill them or push them out of the lane. Those two heroes in particular should not even be able to come to the lane after level 3 if you are playing well. Huskar does very well in most lane matchups with the notable exception being against viper. A good viper player will make so you aren’t even able to walk up and take a last hit. In tough lane matchups try your best to stay in the lane and soak xp until you are level 3 or 4. At that point you can leave the lane and go jungle if you must.
early game/armlet timing
Your early game should be focused on dominating the laning phase and getting three bracers- then into strength treads- and finally into your armlet. I would recommend this as your go to starting item progression until you get experience with the hero. At that point you can experiment. There are certain games where only getting one or two bracers will be enough and even times where you can skip the bracers and rush an armlet. They are very specific matchups however and you should just go the standard bracers into power treads into armlet until you have quite a few games under your belt at which time you can experiment.
Armlet timing: once you have your armlet you are one of the strongest heroes in Dota as it is one of the biggest power spikes in the whole game. You can solo almost every hero at this point and can often go 1v3 in many situations. This is when you need to get aggressive and start pushing lanes, taking towers, taking rosh, and making it so the enemy carry is unable to farm. You can rosh with three bracers, armlet, and power treads quite easily if you know how to armlet toggle with your Q. Wait until you are low health 150 to 200 hp- then press your inner fire- Q spell. Toggle off your armlet which will take you to 1 hp- rosh will be blinded by your spell and unable to attack you. Then quickly toggle armlet on again and you will be able to continue taking down rosh. This takes some practice to perform so you might want to try it in a bot game first before you try it in a live game.
It is difficult to define when early game ends and mid game begins for Huskar. Some could argue his mid game begins as soon as he gets his armlet. At this point most heroes are still considered in the early game and just transitioning out of their laning phase. Let’s use the standard mid game definition of following the laning phase where one or more of the tier one towers are gone on one or both sides. The offlaners and position 4 heroes are starting to roam and gank at this stage of the game. The mid game is when Huskar is the strongest and where you will win or lose the game. Secure rosh and then push towers relentlessly with your team. The mid game with Huskar is all about taking away as much space as possible from the enemy. Your team should be following you and invading the enemy jungle, getting vision up, and pushing the enemy team behind their towers and eventually into their base while your team secures that whole area. The reason this works so well with Huskar is that his mid game is one of the strongest in the game combined with the fact he is able to secure an early rosh making him even more unkillable. This can work very well if you are playing with friends or are in a stack, however can be challenging in pub or solo ranked games as your team won’t always want to listen and follow you. It is ok for your hard carry to continue farming however they should join during big team fights or if your team is making a big push. That said the rest of the team- Hard support, support, and your offlaner should be sticking on you like white on rice during the mid game. It can be difficult to get everyone coordinated but do your best to communicate with the team on whatever objectives you are aiming at. Be nice and hopefully they will listen. In summary during the mid game you should be aggressively taking objectives, pushing towers, taking rosh, and securing as much of the enemy jungle as possible.
- Be aggressive after you get armlet
- Push towers/lanes, take an early rosh, and take as much of the enemy jungle as possible
- Communicate with your team so they will follow you and not afk farm jungles or wander around
- Try to have your supports put up vision in the enemy jungle and take over that area-they shouldn’t be warding on your side of the map if the game is going well
Late game can be a tricky spot for Huskar. It is never good for a Huskar game if it makes it to the late game which we can define as typically post 35 to 40 minutes. At this point in the game if the game is going well for Huskar your team will already have taken at least one rax and hopefully two and you will have a large gold and xp advantage on the enemy allowing you to close the game out. The problem with Huskar at this stage in the game is harder carries will start to outscale him and the enemy supports will have items to negate Huskar such as ghost scepter, force staffs, and glimmer capes. It is likely that the enemy position 4 or 5 will have a spirit vessel as well which can be devastating to Huskar if his BKB is not up. During the late game you will no longer be an unkillable god but should still try and soak as much damage as you can. Try to go on the enemy supports and soak up as much damage as possible. Pop your BKB when you are getting low on HP, and use satanic if you have it to quickly get your health back. Your own carry should do well at this stage if the game was going well as they should have had free farm or close to it and should be able to clean up the enemy heroes as you are taking soaking up the majority of damage and spells from the enemies. Whereas in the mid game you were able to be an unstoppable force and solo kill or even 1v3 some team fights you now should act as a damage soaker/initiator to distract the enemy team while your hard carry starts to take over the game.
Huskar does well in many matchups however has some hard counters which can make for a very rough game. The main counters to Huskar are those that can negate his passive or who have a lot of burst damage. Ancient Apparition, Necrophos, and Viper are all strong counters to Huskar. A BKB is core in just about all matchups with Huskar however it is an absolute necessity against lineups that have one of those heroes.
Ancient Apparition: Ancient Apparition’s ultimate negates all healing and will instantly kill heroes when they are below a certain health threshold. This counter’s Huskar’s playstyle completely. Ancient apparition being a support is mostly picked early so it is rare you will run into a last pick AA pick. If you see the enemy with AA on their team just don’t pick Huskar- it really is that strong of a counter to you.
Necrophos: Necrophos is actually a pretty easy laning phase if you are mid against Necro- however once Necro hits level 6 you have to be aware of where Necro is at all times as Huskar likes to play with his HP at half or below almost all the time. All it takes is for Necro to press R on you and you are dead. A BKB is a must against Necro. I would advise you to allow your team to deal with necro while you focus on the enemy supports. Just leave Necro alone in team fights and stay out of range of his ultimate at all times.
Viper: Viper is one of the hardest mid matchups for Huskar and a good Viper will completely dominate you and push you out of the lane. The reason Viper is so good against Huskar is that Viper’s W disables Huskar’s passive so he can not heal or gain any attack damage. Stay out of Viper’s W at all times and similar to Necro you would be best to largely ignore Viper and focus on the enemy supports. Once you have killed them and have a number’s advantage you can turn on Viper with the rest of your team.
Other counters to Huskar are basically any hero which naturally builds a spirit vessel and has a way of gap closing/initiating on Huskar. Spirit vessel can ruin games for Huskar as it negates a large part of the healing via your passive. At Legend and above most teams are smart enough that a spirit vessel will be a core item against Huskar so you must expect this in those games. Again BKB is core against this item. At lower MMR games Archon and below it will be less common that the enemy team will be proactively buying a spirit vessel which makes the games so much easier. I can not understate how power this item is against Huskar. So, if you are against a Huskar- you better make sure someone on your team is building a spirit vessel. It is that good against him.
Who huskar counters
Huskar is very strong in certain matchups and if you have last pick and know that the enemy mid is an ember spirit or templar assassin it can outright win you the game. For example Huskar against Templar Assassin is so heavily in your favor that you will have such a large gold and xp advantage over the enemy mid that you can snowball and get out of control before the enemy team can catch up.
Some typical heroes Huskar counters include- Templar Assassin- this is because your burning spears tears through her refraction charges. Ember spirit- Ember is a melee mid hero who you can burning spear to death in the laning phase. Ember also likes to use his ultimate as an escape however if he has 4 or 5 burning spear procs on him this many times won’t save him. Huskar is also quite good against very hard carries such as Anti-mage. The reason for this is that Huskar is so dominate in the mid game that he can take over the enemies jungle leaving little to no space for the enemy carries to farm. If a super hard carry such as Anti-mage is unable to farm they will lose the game.
To summarize Huskar is a very strong hero when in the right hands and is highly match-up dependent. He is a very strong last pick against some mid heroes such as ember spirit or templar assassin and can practically win you the game just on that pick. He also does very well against enemy teams who pick greedy lineups which require a lot of farm and are generally weaker early/mid game as Huskar dominates those stages of the game and can leave them with no space to farm. Conversely Huskar can be shut down completely by certain lineups or heroes such as Ancient apparition/viper/necrophos.
Huskar is a high risk high reward hero to play which can be devastating in the right hands however takes quite a few games to get used to his playstyle and being comfortable playing at low health levels. He is suited to players who enjoy heroes that are active during the early and mid game and like to be in the middle of the fight. Look to end the game before 35/40 minutes as Huskar will be outscaled by harder carries and the enemy team will have items online which negate many of his strengths.