Hello there, and welcome to my guide to Lycan! This is my first time writing a hero guide, and I hope I'm able to make everything in the guide clear. I am by no means a professional player, however I do feel that I have a good understanding of this hero in his current state, and I wanted to share the knowledge I have of this hero.
I wanted to write this guide because a lot of the guides I find on Lycan are from well over a year ago, and Lycan has gone through some drastic changes that have changed the way he needs to be played in that time, namely the massive health reduction that his summoned Wolves recieved, making the early game stage much more difficult for him. He is also one of my favourite heroes because of how fun to use he is during the late stages of the game, and it saddens me to see him as underused as he is, and even though it's wishful thinking, I hope this guide gets people to try this hero out.
Lycan is a Strength based hard carry who becomes a huge threat in the late game because of his extremely high damage output, his amazing pushing ability and his item build gives him a surprising amount of durability for what he has to do in a team fight. Much like heroes such as Medusa and Spectre, his amazing late game potential is balanced out by Lycan being very weak in the early stages of the game, since he won't have access to all of his skills, which are all needed before he can start dealing huge amounts of damage, and he won't have Shapeshift whenever he needs it, which causes problems because of how reliant he is on this skill.
Lycan can be played as both a laner and a jungler depending on the team composition, though both can be somewhat difficult for him depending on the situations that either of these can place him in. You will generally get the same set of items and level your skills in the same way once you know what your role on the team is and where you're being placed at the start of the game, with a few exceptions depending on factors such as if you decide to give yourself a bit of utility use in the laning phase, how your other teammates are doing and what heroes you are put against.
- Very high DPS in the late game.
- Somewhat hard to kill thanks to his amazing mobility and decent durability.
- One of the best heroes in a 1v1 situation in the late game.
- Has good jungling capabilties if the right camps spawn.
- One of the best chasers in the game with Shapeshift.
- Very strong pusher.
- Depending on your item build, you can take on Roshan solo in little over 10 minutes.
- Extremely weak early game, and requires babysitting during this phase.
- His jungle route can be made somewhat difficult if the wrong camps spawn which can put him behind everyone else on level progression.
- Struggles to make a comeback if he is given a rough start.
- Very item dependant.
- Relies on Shapeshift both to fight and to escape, which can cause problems early game when it's cooldown is considerable.
- Completely lacks any sort of presence when put in a dual lane.
- Can't deal with constant pressure tactics in the early game because of his Shapeshift reliance.
Lycan should be picked if your team needs a hard carry and if your team has heroes who will be able to handle most of the fighting early game, and already have a lot of crowd control heroes, since Lycan doesn't have any form of it himself. Lycan is a particularly good choice if your team has a lot of pushing power, as his abilities allow him to fit into that sort of composition nicely, and will be able to make the strategy a lot more dangerous. He is also a good choice against teams that primarily rely on slows, as Shapeshift will make him immune to their main threat. If you are playing him in lane, you will need a support hero who has a reliable stun and decent harassing ability to lane with you, as you are completely lacking in lane control. If you are playing him as a jungler, like with any jungler, you will need a hero that can handle being in a lane alone.
Crystal Maiden is a good team mate for Lycan to have around for several reasons. Her Arcane Aura gives you increased Mana regeneration from across the map, which will help with potential mana problems that Lycan can have later in the game, and if she takes a point in it early, it can even help speed up the jungling process by allowing you to summon your wolves more frequently. Her Frostbite stops foes from being able to move, which means Lycan won't have to worry about having to lose time chasing a hero. Her Crystal Nova also slows heroes down in an area, allowing Lycan to easily get in on multiple heroes in a team fight.
Beastmaster is a very good choice as an ally for Lycan because he greatly increases Lycan's combat potential. His Inner Beast aura allows Lycan and his Wolves to attack even quicker than before, which greatly benefits his DPS. Primal Roar is a quick and long lasting stun which gives Lycan more than enough time to take out whoever it targets, allowing problematic heroes to be singled out and killed before they can do anything about it. An added bonus is that Beastmaster is also capable of solo laning, which means Lycan will be able to jungle instead of having to go in lane. Beastmaster's Greater Boar also applies a slow to targets hit by it's attacks, which can make chasing enemy heroes down with Lycan easier too.
Dazzle's ability to reduce enemy heroes' armor in a large area with Weave is a huge benefit to Lycan, since the armour reduction will allow him to tear through heroes extremely quickly, meaning he can switch targets a lot quicker and get a lot of kills, potentially accelerating his farm greatly. Even if that doesn't work out, Dazzle's Shallow Grave in combination with Shapeshift means that you will nearly always be able to escape a bad situation. His Poison Touch's ability to slow enemies down also allows Lycan to have an easier time chasing heroes, meaning less Shapeshift time is wasted trying to catch up to the fleeing hero.
Ogre Magi is a useful ally for Lycan because, like Beastmaster, he can make Lycan's fighting experience much easier than it otherwise would be. Ogre Magi's Fireblast is a very good stun that, if the user is lucky, can lock down an opponent for a very long time and soften them up for Lycan. His Bloodlust skill is also extremely deadly when used on Lycan, as it shoots his damage potential up drastically, and if it multicasts, then Lycan's summoned wolves and, if he has them, his Necronomicon creeps will all recieve the benefits too, which can lead to some very easy kills.
Initiating heroes that can lock a hero in place work very well with Lycan, as a hero being able to do this lets Lycan to run into a fight or a gank safely and gives him a good amount of time to unload damage onto a hero before they get the chance to retaliate. Storm Spirit, Nyx Assassin and Puck are all great examples of heroes that can do this job perfectly. Puck in particular is good as it can lock down multiple heroes with it's Dream Coil, allowing Lycan to potentially get multiple kills if he manages to chew through one hero quick enough.
Naga Siren can be a very useful ally if she is playing as a support hero. Her ability to lock a hero in place for 5 seconds with her Ensnare and reduce their armor with her Rip Tide sets up what is basically a guaranteed kill if no one else is around to save the trapped hero, and because of this both of them make a very good roaming pair. They are also an excellent split pushing pair, as both of them have very good pushing power, and they can always get out if the enemy team tries to set up a gank with a combination of Shapeshift and Song of the Siren.
Vengeful Spirit is a very good partner for Lycan, especially if he is put in lane because she allows him to be somewhat aggressive and get him out of danger if things start going badly. Her Magic Missile is a very good stun which can very effectively set up a kill or allow Lycan to escape a bad situation, and if that isn't enough then her Nether Swap will be there to get you into a better position. Her Wave of Terror's long lasting armor reduction and the bonus damage that her Vengeance Aura gives also allows Lycan to dish out a lot of damage if she can stay near him.
Venomancer and Jakiro are also both very good lane partners for Lycan. Both of them have very good harassing potential, which gives Lycan safe space to farm that he couldn't create himself in lane. Both of them also have uses to Lycan throughout the game, as their multitude of slows and in Jakiro's case, AoE stun, allow Lycan to easily get in on a fight and turn it into a kill or escape.
If you're against a team that doesn't know how to deal with Broodmother, then putting Lycan on the same team as Broodmother is going to make things even scarier for them. Because Lycan's Howl gives each one of Broodmother's Spiderlings 20 extra damage, and because of how quickly Brood can get a massive number of them, Broodmother becomes an extremely dangerous split pusher. Like Beastmaster, Brood can also solo lane which allows Lycan to use the jungle.
Bane is also worth a mention, mostly for his Fiend's Grip because anyone unfortunate enough to get caught by it is basically a free kill for Lycan. His Enfeeble also makes right click wars a lot easier for Lycan, or even allow him to win fights that he would otherwise get killed in.
In general, crowd control is a very solid way to deal with Lycan, as it severely limits or just stops his mobility, which neuters his capabilities in a fight. As mentioned earlier in the guide, getting a Black King Bar alleviates this issue for the most part, which is why it is essential to get one against a team with a lot of crowd control options. Armor reducing spells and items are another thing that Lycan struggles to deal with, as his armor is somewhat low before he is fully farmed because of him being a Strength hero.
Axe is a very good counter for Lycan because he manages to work Lycan's DPS to his advantage. Because of how quickly Lycan attacks, he is going to trigger Axe's Counter Helix a lot of times, even more so if your wolves are attacking him too, and because Blademail is a common item choice on Axe, your Vladmir's Offering won't be able to save you. You don't even have the choice of running away either, since Axe can just use Berserker's Call to force you back to him. Your chances of taking out Axe in a situation like this is pretty slim too, since he is a very durable hero normally, and Heart of Tarrasque is another common item choice on him, lowering your chances even further.
Naga Siren is a problematic hero for Lycan to go against for the same reason that she works well with Lycan. She can use Ensnare and Song of the Siren to lock Lycan down for a maximum time of 12 seconds, allowing her to run down most of your Shapeshift time without you being able to do anything about it, and she'll be able to tear through you pretty easily when that is done since you will be stuck in human form. BKB won't be able to save you against her either, since Ensnare can go through BKB, and Song of the Siren allows the enemy team to focus you down during the song if you have BKB active.
Bane too is also a pain for Lycan because of the same abilities that make him a good ally for Lycan. Enfeeble makes Lycan's only way of dealing damage a lot less effective. Fiend's Grip is also a very problematic disable for Lycan as it goes through BKB, lasts for a long time, and makes him extremely easy to focus down and kill.
Phantom Assassin and Faceless Void can both be very problematic for Lycan, since both of them have passive abilities that give Physical attacks a chance to do no damage, which Lycan is completely reliant on, since he has no other forms of attacking. Enchantress's Untouchable makes her a good choice to pick against Lycan too, since it also greatly lowers a physical attacker's capabilities.
Shadow Demon's ability to remove positive buffs, which Feral Impulse counts as, and his early game power cause huge problems for Lycan. Like Axe, he too can turn your high damage against you by creating two illusions of you, which at later stages in the game can be very difficult to deal with because of how hard they will be hitting.
Bounty Hunter and Clinkz can be problematic to go against if you are jungling, as they can sneak into the jungle undetected thanks to their Shadow Walk and Wind Walk respectively, and take you out pretty easily since you will most likely not be at a decent amount of health when they come to get you, and you might not be at the point where you can outdamage them either. Bloodseeker is also an annoying hero to have to face if you are jungling, as your HP will be pretty low at some points in the early stages of jungling, and a Bloodseeker being on the enemy team will make that fact visible to the entire enemy team no matter where the Bloodseeker is.
*Any figures given in this section will be for the maximum level of the skill.
Summon Wolves - Summon Wolves, well, summons 2 Lycan Wolves that you have full control over. These Wolves have 320 Hit Points each and have a movement speed of 460. They deal 43-49 damage with their attacks, which like Lycan, use melee attacks, and have a base attack time of 1.1 seconds. When 2 skill points are put into Summon Wolves, they gain Critical Strike, which gives them a 30% chance to deal 1.7 times their normal damage. When Summon Wolves has 3 skill points put into it, they become permanently invisible when they aren't attacking. When the skill has all 4 skill points put into it, the wolves gain a permenant 15 HP regen per second. The wolves last for 55 seconds if they are not killed in that time.
This skill is important to Lycan for multiple reasons. Having them attack with him increases his damage output, which allows him to push through creep waves and towers very quickly, allows him to deal damage to enemy heroes faster, and also makes jungling at level 1 possible. Once they get the invisibility, they can also be used to scout enemy terrain to get information on their positioning or moves they're setting up, and even if they do notice, you can just summon a new pair anyway. If you get Summon Wolves as your first skill, before the game starts, you should send one wolf to each rune spot on the river. Doing this allows your mid laning hero to know where the first rune is immediately, and if they plan to control the runes, it helps them immensely. What is also great about the wolves is that they get the benefits from any Aura based items that Lycan gets, such as Vladmir's Offering and Assault Cuirass. Each summoning of them does cost 145 mana though, so they can't be spammed too much if you don't want to have mana issues.
Howl - Howl grants you, all of the heroes on your team, and any summoned units under anyone on your team's control bonus damage for 12 seconds. You and your team mates get 50 bonus damage, and summoned units get 20 bonus damage. Howl has a global radius.
Howl is an ability that can be utilized in many ways thanks to it's global radius, and it's low mana cost allows you to take advantage of all of them. It allows you and your team mates to take towers in seconds if enough of you are attacking one, and you can take them pretty quickly even if you're on your own as long as you have your wolves with you. You can use it to boost your team's damage output in a fight, and you can even do this for fights that break out away from you because of the global radius. You can also use it for ganking in combination with Shapeshift, since it will allow you to tear through a lone foe before anyone can get there to help them. Just be careful about when you use it. The enemy team can hear the Howl too, and that can act as a tell that your team is about to initiate a fight with them and can give them time to position themselves.
Feral Impulse - Feral Impulse is a passive aura that gives Lycan and any of his summons, meaning it affects both your Wolves and the creeps summoned from the Necronomicon, 30% and bonus damage and attack speed within a 900 Radius.
This skill is usually levelled up along with Summon Wolves, and is usually the second skill of yours that will be maxed out. This skill is extremely helpful to have early since it gives you better last hitting power in lane and gives you decent DPS even during the early phases of the match, which helps both in allowing you to farm at an increased rate, and also gives you more combat ability in the early game.
Shapeshift - Shapeshift changes Lycan's appearance and gives him several very useful buffs. It causes Lycan and any summoned units under his control 522 movement speed and an immunity to slows. It gives your base attack time a small boost from 1.7 seconds to 1.5 seconds per attack, and gives your attacks a 30% chance to get Critical Strike, which causes them to do 1.7 times their normal damage. It gives you 1 more point in Armor and gives you maximum night vision.
This skill is the core of Lycan's gameplay, and it is what makes him such a huge threat later in the game. The increased movement speed makes it both an excellent tool for combat because of the amazing mobility it grants you, and also an excellent escape tool since only a handful of heroes would be able to do anything about you trying to run away at that speed. The attack speed increase along with the Critical Strike increases your DPS immensely, and in combination with the Summoned Wolves and Howl, you can tear through some heroes before they can do anything about it. The bonus armor gives you slightly increased longevity and also gives you a small window more time to decide whether the fight is worth sticking around for or not then usual.
So with all of these crazy buffs, there has to be some sort of downside to it, right? In a sense, yes. The down side is that you are completely reliant on this skill, and you can't accomplish much without it. Before Level 16, you constantly have to be able to assess whether a situation you're presented with is worth using this skill for, since you'll be left useless for a while once you've used it. It should mainly be saved for fighting and escapes, but if your team absolutely needs a tower to be pushed quickly, that is an acceptable use of it too. Once you reach Level 16 however, it is basically on a 20 second cooldown, so it's just a matter of hiding yourself away for those 20 seconds before you can go out without a care in the world again.
Vladmir's Offering - Vladmir's Offering is the most important item in Lycan's item build and it's the item that you should complete first in nearly every situation with Lycan. The Lifesteal and bonus Armor given by it greatly improve Lycan's survivability, and the former in combination with his high DPS allows him to stay in fights for a long time. The mana regen is also helpful since, while you do have enough mana to do everything you need to do, Lycan's mana pool isn't particularly large, and the mana regen that Vladmir's Offering gives reduces your chances of having mana problems. The reason that Vladmir's Offering is chosen over other Lifesteal items such as Helm of the Dominator or Mask of Madness is because Vladmir's Offering is an Aura item, meaning that it's benefits are also recieved by your wolves, and this helps with the fact that they can't survive long against enemy heroes because of their naturally low durability.
Medallion of Courage - Medallion is a nice item to get if you want to contribute more to your team at an earlier point in the game. The active gives you nearly as much armor reduction on a selected target than a Desolator would, which can lead to much easier kill attempts in the earlier stages of the game. Getting a Medallion will also allow you to solo kill Roshan at a much earlier point, which can give you a nice boost in experience gain and gives your whole team bonus gold, which can be really useful to your team in the earlier portions of the game.
Power Treads - Power Treads are chosen over the other boots in most situations, since the stat boosts given by Power Treads benefit Lycan far more than the other boot upgrades do. The Strength setting is generally the setting you will want to keep it on, since the bonus damage and health are going to help Lycan more in a fighting situation than the bonuses from the other settings. You can switch to Agility if you want to push a bit quicker, but even then, the bonus health can save you if you get ganked.
Black King Bar - Black King Bar allows you to run into a teamfight without much to worry about when it's active, since the magic immunity will allow you to completely ignore most of the attacks that will pose the most problems to you in a team fight, disables and stuns. Unless you're dedicated to pushing, you should try to get this item as quickly as possible against teams with a lot of crowd control, nukers and disablers on their team, since it will allow you to fight much more effectively at an earlier point in the game against that kind of team composition. Conversely, if you're against a team that mostly relies on physical damage, you can save getting this item until after another one of your core items, or skip it entirely if you don't feel that magic immunity would do much for you. Just be wary of the lowering duration that occurs on each use. It can sometimes be a wise choice to buy a second Black King Bar in games that go on for long enough.
Skull Basher - Skull Basher is a very nice item to have because it allows you to lock down enemy heroes on your own if luck is on your side, allowing you to secure kills much easier than before you had it. It also allows you to stop channeling spells and the stun can allow you to win damage races that you would otherwise lose.
Assault Cuirass - Assault Cuirass is another great item on Lycan because, like Vladmir's Offering, everything it does is excellent to have on Lycan. It really ramps up his DPS because of the increased attack speed and the armor reduction aura, meaning you can tear through both enemy heroes and towers much faster than before with this item. The increased armor also greatly increases your survivability and allows you to take a lot more punishment before you're forced out of a fight. Also, like with Vladmir's Offering, Assault Cuirass is an Aura item, meaning your wolves and your team mates also recieve the benefits from this item.
Necronomicon - Necronomicon is a great utility item in certain situations, and it is definitely a worthwhile item choice on Lycan for several reasons. Since the Necronomicon creeps are summoned units under Lycan's control, they recieve the benefits of Feral Impulse, which means they can deal more damage than they could on most other heroes. Necronomicon is a very good pick in games where you're split pushing a lot, as with you, your summoned wolves and the necronomicon creeps pushing with a Howl boost, you can take towers down in seconds. If you manage to fully upgrade it, the true sight on the melee creep can make you good at dealing with invisibility based heroes, as most of them are squishy enough for you to tear through before they can get away. The attack and movement speed aura on the fully upgraded ranged creep is also useful to have on Lycan, as it gives him a slight boost to his damage output and more mobility when he is out of Shapeshift.
Abyssal Blade - If you got Skull Basher, there's no harm in upgrading it, especially when the upgrade is as good as this one. The 100 bonus damage really boosts Lycan's damage output, and if you get this and your Assault Cuirass, you will be able to tear through enemy heroes in no time at all. The stun that comes with it is also extremely handy to have. Even if it's not the best stun out there, it gives you some form of crowd control in a team fight, and it can be used to prevent escapes or even help you escape in a 1v1 situation, both of which it is very good for because of how long the stun lasts.
Desolator - Desolator is a solid choice in situations where you need raw damage in a fight or if you need to push extremely quickly. If there is an enemy hero who needs to take a lot of damage before they can be taken down, or a hero like you who can survive for a long time in a fighting situation through Lifesteal or through natural tanking ability, you need to be able to kill them before they can kill you, and in that case, the armor reduction that Desolator will greatly help your cause, since both you and your team mates will be able to take advantage of the armor reduction that Desolator brings. It also allows you to push through towers even quicker than before, to the point where you can outdamage backdoor recovery with just you and your wolves if you have your other items too.
Boots of Travel - Boots of Travel are a good choice on Lycan for the same reason that they're good on most other split pushers. They give him very good mobility and a lot of map presence, and it basically allows you to play a pseudo Nature's Prophet style of pushing, which will force the enemy team to constantly have to choose between giving up pushes and fights to defend or letting you have your way with a tower and/or barracks.
Satanic - Satanic is a solid item choice for situations where your survival is integral to your team's success. Satanic's passive lifesteal actually stacks with the lifesteal given by your Vladmir's Offering since Satanic is an orb effect and Vladmir's Offering is an aura, giving you 41% of the damage you deal back as health, which will make you very hard to take down due to how much damage you deal and how quickly you do it late game, which is boosted even further thanks to the bonus strength and damage that comes with Satanic. Unholy Rage makes Lycan pretty much unkillable while it's active unless the enemy manages to chainstun you into oblivion, since you will get nearly all of the damage you deal back as health, allowing you to take ridiculous amounts of punishment if you manage to get in on someone.
Heart of Tarrasque - Heart of a Tarrasque is a nice middle ground between Desolator and Satanic, and is probably the best choice of the 3 in games where you never have time to farm your health back to a decent amount after a fight, as well as needing pure durability over durability given through lifesteal. The bonus HP and strength it gives grants you a nice combination of survivability and damage, and this combination can save you in some situations that other item choices may not have saved you in.
Heaven's Halberd - Heaven's Halberd is a very good choice if your team is struggling to deal with an opposing right click hero and you're unable to deal with them yourself. It's disarming ability can turn around a game if you're able to land the disarm on the right hero and you and your team are able to exploit that, and in 1v1 situations it can make right click wars incredibly easy for you. The chance of slowing your opponent in combination with the chance to bash your opponent with Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade, if you pick them up, makes it very hard for anyone to be able to escape your grasp once you land a hit on them, making you very good at picking off unsuspecting heroes.
Monkey King Bar - Monkey King Bar is an essential pickup if you're against an evasion based hero or a hero that is going to be getting a Butterfly, as it means that those heroes won't be given an easy time against Lycan that could've been avoided. If you are getting this item, you should skip getting Skull Basher and Abyssal Blade and get this item instead at the same point that you would start working on the Skull Basher. It isn't useful outside of dealing with evasion, as Skull Basher/Abyssal Blade will give you all of the benefits that Monkey King Bar gives but better outside of the True Strike.
The aim of the pushing build is to take advantage of Lycan's extremely strong pushing capabilities, forgoing items like Skull Basher and passing up on items like Black King Bar until later stages on the game to get items to increase his pushing power, like Necronomicon and Desolator, at a sooner point.
If you're not jungling, it is usually best to get an early point in Howl at some point, as Howl is a very important part in taking towers quickly as Lycan, and being able to push a tower quickly as soon as you are given the chance to is not a thing you want to pass up on. You usually only need one point in it, as the opportunities where it will be useful in the early game aside from pushiong towers will be infrequent. Aside from this exception, his skill build is the same as the DPS build. Summon Wolves is the first skill you max out, then Feral Impulse and lastly Howl.
Vladmir's Offering, as always, is a must have on this set, as the lifesteal and armor aura will keep your creeps alive for longer, allowing you to push more consistently than without it. Medallion of Courage is a good choice on this build, as it is a very cheap damage item that will tide you over until you've made enough progress in your build to start getting better damage items. It will also let you take on Roshan at an earlier point in the game, which I feel is important on the pushing build, as having 2 points in Shapeshift earlier on will allow you to push towers somewhat frequently with little fear of actually getting caught out and killed. Your Boots of choice depend on how well you're doing. If your gold per minute at the time of making the choice is good, you should be able to get Power Treads without it halting your progress too much. If it still needs improving, keep your Boots at base level and forgo upgrading them until you've got your Necronomicon 3, at which point it would probably be a smarter idea to upgrade to Boots of Travel instead. Your next item should be Necronomicon. Necronomicon is picked up because the Necronomicon creeps with the buffs that Lycan gives can melt towers in no time at all, and also give him a very good overall DPS boost. From here, you can either go Desolator to ravage any building you come across as well as give you a substantial damage boost, Black King Bar to make team fighting easier and avoid possible ganks or Assault Cuirass for even stronger aura based pushing.
The DPS build is used to take advantage of Lycan's incredible physical damage output, building items to help him get in on fights safely and right click people to death. With this build, you're building him as a right click hero who is a very strong pusher in the late game as opposed to being a pushing hero who is a very strong right clicker in the late game that the pushing build goes for.
With this build, you level up Summon Wolves and Feral Impulse alternatively and getting Shapeshift when you can, and then getting points in Howl after the first 2 skills are fully levelled. Summon Wolves and Feral Impulse are maxed first because you need both of these fully levelled as well as one point in Howl to fight effectively, which is the aim of this build.
Like with the previous build, Vladmir's Offering is essential as the lifesteal and armor greatly increase both you and your wolves' durability in a fight. Power Treads are the Boots of choice for the bonus attack speed and Strength. Black King Bar is the next item you should get in most cases, as you need it to get in on fights safely against teams with lots of disables and crowd control, and you're not going to be doing much damage if you can't even get in on the enemy heroes. Skull Basher is usually a good pickup on this build, as the ability to lock someone down and claw their faces in for free is a valuable asset on this build. After this, you can go for either Assault Cuirass to boost your team's damage output as well as your own attack speed, or get Abyssal Blade to give your team another stun and make your solo killing power a lot greater. After this, Necronomicon is usually a good pickup, as the Necronomicon creeps greatly increase Lycan's overall DPS, and with all of the previous items' benefits on them as well as Howl and Feral Impulse, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Before going into the jungle route for Lycan, I would recommend that you at least have some experience with how to jungle as another hero. Lycan's jungling route is more difficult than most other junglers, since what you have to do and how long it will take is entirely dependant on what camps spawn in the first 2 minutes, and if someone comes to gank you, you are extremely easy to take down in comparison to other junglers due to the amount of damage tanking you have to do in the early phases of the process. If you don't know the camp locations as of 6.79, here is a map showing where each of the camps are in the current patch. This part of the guide will also make reference to various different medium jungle camps. If you are unsure of what different medium jungle camps there are, you can view them here.
For now I don't have a video of the jungle route because the only video recording software I have isn't working correctly, but I will try to get one up as soon as I can.
Credit to my good friend Ninja for recording, editing and uploading this for me.
The main Jungle route
There are a lot of different sets of items you can get for the start of the jungle route, and it is worth experimenting to find the item set that works best for you. The starting item set that I have had the most success with is a Quelling Blade, a Stout Shield and a Tango. Getting a Quelling Blade is helpful for several reasons. The extra damage that it gives allows you to take out camps in a shorter span of time, meaning you won't have to endure as much damage from them as you otherwise would, and the ability to cut down trees allows you to reduce the travel time from camp to camp, which is especially handy in the Radiant Jungle. The Stout Shield is also extrememly important, because you will be tanking most of the damage for your wolves until you get Vladmir's Offering, and the Stout Shield drastically reduces the amount of damage you take in the jungle, meaning you won't have to spend nearly as much money on health regen items and can even allow you to not have to leave the jungle before you get the farm that you need if no one comes in to try and kill you.
Unlike most junglers, you don't start the game by going to the jungle. Instead, you wait in the fountain until the pre-game countdown reaches 0:02. When the countdown reaches that point, summon your wolves and make your way to the easy camp in your side's jungle. Once you reach it, send Lycan into the camp first followed by the wolves, so Lycan is the one tanking the damage. It is essential that you clear this camp and get out of it before the 1:00 mark so the camp respawns at that point. If you don't feel like this will be possible, try and pull the remaining creeps out of the camp at around the 0:53 mark so that the remaining creeps will be out of the camp at the 1:00 mark. Once you have cleared the first easy camp, you should take down the now respawned easy camp again, once again getting Lycan to tank the damage and have the wolves attack from the back so they don't take damage. After you take down this camp for the second time, you should get your level 2.
Once you have taken the easy camp twice, you should move on to your first medium camp. This is the point of the jungle route that will determine how easy or hard of a time you will have jungling. If a Satyr or Golem camp spawns then the jungling will be pretty easy. Just use a Tango, tank the damage for your wolves and they'll go down easily. If an Ogre or Wolf Camp spawns and neither of the other 2 camps do, as before, use a Tango and tank the damage for your wolves and the jungle route will still be doable, you will just be on lower health than you would be if the Satyr or Golem camps were available. If the first medium camp you come by isn't a Satyr or Golem camp, it is worth checking the second one to see if either of them have spawned there, because either of them being your first medium camp makes the route a lot easier.
However, if your only choice is a Centaur camp, things get a bit more problematic. This is because they deal too much damage for you to be able to safely take at this stage in farming, and the large centaur has an AoE Stun that it uses when 3 non-neutral units are within a certain radius of it, like Lycan and his two wolves. Bring in one wolf and Lycan to the camp. Get the wolf to tank the damage, and get both you and the wolf to attack the small centaur. Once that wolf is dead, walk Lycan out of the camp, bring in the other wolf, and get it to do the same. By the time the second wolf is dead, the small centaur should be dead. After this, go and take the easy camp again when it respawns, preferably without using another set of wolves. When this is done, go back to the camp with the lone large centaur, and resummon your wolves outside of the camp. Bring Lycan and one wolf into the camp again, and this time, have Lycan tank the damage until he has around 200 health. When he reaches this point, use a Tango and have the wolf tank the damage until it dies. Then bring the other wolf into the camp, and have Lycan and the wolf attack the centaur until it dies. Whether you want Lycan or the wolf to tank the damage at this point comes down to how much health you feel confident having when this is done. After this you can proceed with the jungle route as normal.
Once the first Medium Camp is taken down, go back to the easy camp when it respawns and take it down again. After that, go and take out another medium camp. Once you reach this point, any of the medium camps are beatable, but as before, Centaur camps are the hardest ones to take down and the rest of the camps are pretty easy to do. Once you have taken your second medium camp, buy a Ring of Basillius, a Tango and a Clarity. Use the Clarity when you don't have enough Mana to summon another pair of wolves and let it run it's full duration before taking another camp.
After this, the jungle camp is straight forward. Rotate between the easy and medium camps until you get your Morbid Mask. Once you get this, you can begin taking on the hard camps, meaning you can just kill whatever camps are up until you finish your Vladmir's Offering. When you have this, you can jungle for as long as you need to with no worries, as your wolves can tank all of the damage from any camp and be able to survive against most of them, and you will be able to solo most camps too. Once you've been able to recover all of your health, you can do one of several things. If your team doesn't need you yet, you can simply get back to jungling, try to co-ordinate a gank with the heroes in the mid lane or the lane next to the jungle, or go and help the hero who was solo laning. Which you do should be down to what your team wants though.
Going for the early Roshan Kill
If you continue jungling after you get your Vladmir's Offering, one thing you can do is try to get an early Roshan kill. You can do this as soon as you reach level 7 and have Vladmir's Offering, because of the Wolves' HP regen allowing them to tank a majority of the damage. However, if you want to make the Roshan killing faster at the cost of starting it a few minutes later, you can get a Medallion of Courage. Because Jungling is very easy once you get your Vladmir's Offering, this will only take 3-4 minutes, as Medallion of Courage is not worth a lot of gold. You will also want to get a Smoke of Deciet, as you will otherwise have no way of getting into Roshan undetected if the enemy team has the bottom rune warded. You are going to want full health and mana before going to fight Roshan, as you are going to be tanking a bit of damage from Roshan, and you might need to summon multiple sets of wolves or use Shapeshift to get away safely if the enemy team comes to stop you or once Roshan has been killed, so it can be worth going back to the fountain before fighting Roshan.
Once you have your items and have regenerated your health and mana, use your Smoke of Deciet while you are still in the jungle, and walk into Roshan's den. Once inside, summon your wolves and start attacking Roshan. Have the Wolves tank the hits, as their HP regen will allow them to survive and come back in to do damage quickly if you can avoid Roshan killing them, and only have Lycan tank the damage if both of the wolves are low and need time to recover. If you have it, be sure to continuously use your Medallion of Courage on him whenever it's off cooldown, as it will speed up the process of killing him. If you are struggling to kill him and he is somewhat low on health, it's worth using Shapeshift to finish him off, but you do need to leave yourself enough time to run away from the area once Roshan is dead too. If you have Howl then do not use it during this process. If the enemy team hears a Howl from nowhere they could get suspicious and make their way to Roshan to kill you and steal your Aegis. Once Roshan is dead, grab the Aegis and get out of the area immediately. Once you have the Aegis, you can start roaming around to get kills and push lanes.
While a lot of other sources will tell you that he is only capable of jungling, Lycan can be used in the lanes at the start, but only situationally. While doing this is a somewhat less safe method of getting farm, it allows Lycan to be used on more teams, since you won't have to rely on someone being able to go solo against 2 heroes in a lane. Doing this does have it's down sides though, especially with a dual lane setup.
The main problem that Lycan faces in a dual lane is that he has absolutely no form of lane presence or even escaping at the start, so you have to lane completely passively to the enemy until your mid lane hero comes to set up a gank on your lane, or until you reach Level 6 if the enemy heroes are playing poorly enough and you feel confident that you can get a kill from an initiation. As a result of your weakness in lane, you also have to take the safe lane. Putting Lycan out of the safety range of the tower is extremely risky, since one initiation from the enemy could very easily lead to Lycan getting killed without the tower protecting him because of how weak he is at the start.
The way you have to play Lycan in a dual lane varies depending on the skill build you use. If you use the standard skill build, the build focusing on Summon Wolves and Feral Impulse first, you just have to try and get as many last hits as possible while completely ignoring the enemy heroes. With this skill build, Morbid Mask is the first item you should get, and from there you can either get Boots of Speed if you're having a hard time in the lane and the extra mobility will benefit you, or finish Vladmir's Offering, starting with a Ring of Basillius and then getting the final parts. Just be aware of the fact that having Vladmir's Offering will push the lane away from your tower, since your lane creeps will recieve the benefits from it too.
However, you can use a different build where you take a point in Howl before anything else, which gives you a new role at the start of the game. With this build, you use Howl to help your team mates get last hits if they're struggling to get them because of a difficult laning opposition, and you can also use it to help your team mates get a kill after an initiation. This tactic is difficult to use effectively without communication, so it isn't worth using unless your team mates are communicating with you. With this build, you get Ring of Basilius first, followed by Morbid Mask, and after this, like with the previous build, you either get Boots of Speed or finish Vladmir's Offering depending on which item would benefit you more in that lane.
With both builds, you should not use your Wolves during the laning phase unless the enemy heroes try to get a kill on you or your lane partner. This is because using them in any other situation will either cause the lane to push further away from your tower, or you just wasted 145 mana when you could do whatever you were going to do without them. If they get killed before their duration runs out, which is very likely due to how little health they have at the start and how long they last, they also give the enemy gold and experience that they otherwise wouldn't have got, and they are very easy to take down until you put 4 points into the skill. They are needed if the enemy heroes do try to go for a kill early though, since having them around will increase the amount of damage you can do, they can potentially serve as a distraction depending on if the enemy heroes choose to acknowledge them or not, and can possibly even get you a posthumous kill if you weakened your attacker enough. Their very good movement speed, which is even faster than any hero with Boots of Speed, means they can also chase down foes that decide to flee too.
Assuming you have the right hero set up, Lycan can accomplish a whole lot more in a tri lane than he can in a dual lane. Since he would have 2 supports backing him up as opposed to just a single support, he can help with kills right from the start of the game, again, assuming he has the right heroes backing him up.
In a tri lane, your first point is put into Howl. This is because, right at the start of the game, giving 50 damage to each hero is essentially doubling their damage output at this point, and having 3 heroes attacking a single target doing this much damage can lead to very easy kills, especially if the hero you're targetting has low durability at the beginning of the game. If you have a choice of heroes to target, it is best to target the lane's disabler, as they are going to be the one who would be able to stop you from getting kills if you do try going aggressive on a hero. If both/all three heroes have disables, either pick off the hero with the least health or a hero who gets themself out of position.
Your item build during the laning stage is pretty self explanatory. Ring of Basillius should be the first item you complete, as you will need the mana regeneration it grants to be able to constantly use Howl, and Summon Wolves when it's needed. Ring of Regen is your health regeneration item of choice over Morbid Mask in this setup, since most of the time, you will be fighting on your terms rather than the enemy team's, meaning you won't need the lifesteal to survive the fight. Boots of Speed is picked up next for the same reason that you would get Boots of Speed on any other hero in lane. From here, you can get what you feel is needed in your core items first. You do not want to finish Vladmir's Offering until the laning phase is done, as getting this before it is done will push out the lane, which you don't want in the phase where you're still competing with the enemy team for last hits. It can be worth picking up the Morbid Mask if the enemy team rotates heroes to your lane and you have to deal with multiple heroes during your initiations, but the blueprint for Vladmir's should not be purchased until the laning stage is done.
Because of the very specific set up you are trying to accomplish with Lycan in a tri lane, the list of partners he can have in a tri lane isn't very diverse if you want to actually accomplish anything with this set up. Visage is pretty much an essential partner for Lycan in a tri lane. Because of the high amount of damage you'll be doing in a short amount of time because of the Howl damage, the charges on his Soul Assumption fill up very quickly, and you're going to need the damage from it to guarantee kills at the very early points in the game. The other support needs to be a hero with a disable that lasts long enough for the user to be able to attack in the duration of it. Rubick is easily the best hero for this slot, as his Telekinesis effectively disables the target for 2.5 seconds at level 1, which will usually be more than enough to get the kill if all 3 heroes are attacking, and later on he can also throw in Fade Bolt to put more damage onto the enemy hero. Heroes like Crystal Maiden and Vengeful Spirit also work, but their disables don't last nearly as long as Telekinesis' overall disable time at the start, and the Telekinesis Land's AoE stun can also stop lane partners from being able to save their team mate.
It is generally best to go with the pushing build if you're running in a tri lane. If you're running a tri lane, the whole point is to get the carry to a point where they can do what they need to at an earlier point than normal, and with the pushing build you will be able to do that job as soon as the laning stage is done, if it has been a successful lane, whereas the DPS build will probably still require more time farming before Lycan will be able to fight properly.
Team fighting with Lycan doesn't take a whole lot of thought compared to a lot of the other heroes. Summon your Wolves, wait for someone else to initiate, Howl, use Shapeshift and then go at them. Just remember that you can't initiate, you don't have a way to get in without them knowing before they can do anything in a teamfight situation, and you don't have a method of getting in without the chance of getting focused and killed, which they will do when given the chance. You have to run in when someone else has already initiated, since if you're the first to go in, you will be very easy to focus down and kill before your other team-mates can get into the fight to help you.
One thing to remember in a team fight is that if things are looking bad, you always have the option of running away. You never want to run away too early, but if 3 of your team members are already dead, chances are the fight is already lost and there isn't a point in sticking around, and unless the fight has gone on for a very long time, you will probably be able to do exactly that, so you should make sure that you always have an escape route from the fight if needs be. Once you have escaped, you can either retreat to the fountain to recover your health, or hide away in the jungle for a short while and farm your way back to health. If you plan on doing the latter, make sure that it is not obvious that this is what you are doing, because otherwise it will be very easy for the enemy team to hunt you down and finish you off.
It should be noted that if the enemy team has a Rubick, you will want Summon Wolves to be your most recently used skill before running in. Giving the enemy team a Howl buff could be catastrophic depending on the enemy team's lineup, and Shapeshift being stolen could allow Rubick to get away in a situation where he otherwise would've been an easy kill.
If you're at a point where you don't think you can team fight, whether it's due to you being under-farmed or not having the right items for who you're against, what you can do is go and push a different lane to the one where the fight is about to break out. Lycan and his wolves can push a lane very quickly, and depending on how far with the push you get, it forces the enemy team to make a choice between going to save a tower or continuing to fight your team. You can't do this all the time though, since your team may need all 5 heroes to be able to win a team fight, or you in particular may be needed to take a particular hero out of the fight, but going to push can sometimes be the better option if you're not equipped for the current fight.
Thank you for taking the time to read my Lycan guide. I hope that you enjoyed reading it and learned everything you need to know about how to play Lycan. If you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve the guide, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I'll try to answer them as soon as possible.