Hello, this is OldKainen again! Welcome to my guide: Ymir, the Tusk!
Tusk is a fun, simple hero, able to change the flow of the game with his combos! He's usually played in the #3 and #4 positions, but can be a #2 or #5 position too.
The objective here is to show how he can be effective in different ways, through his combos, items and strategies!
Tusk is a quite flexible hero, being able to play in almost any role. He usually goes to a position #3, grabbing some items to boost his ganking and initiation capabilities. He can be a support in a Trilane, in a dual lane or even go solo mid. Ymir isn't a hard carry, although he has good potential to semi-carry, due to his good damage output with his Walrus Punch. Remember: if you are carrying your team with Tusk, end the game as soon as possible, if you don't, the enemy carry will become a lot stronger than you.
Get him anytime you want to grab some early kills and needs a roaming hero to put the other lanes under pressure. Tusk has a nice set of skills to do it, and can even hold the game a little if are doing a Turtle strategy (4 protects 1).
Tusk skillset consists of four active skills: Q ( Ice Shards), W ( Snowball), E (Frozen Sigil) and hisUltimate ( Walrus Punch). He isn't a hero that's easy to learn, mostly because of Ice Shards - an skillshot (since 6.82) - and Snowball - that requires good positioning, timing and fast fingers to make good use. His abilities are for ganking and teamfighting purposes, and that's what Tusk has to do in a match.
With an incredible setup for big teamfight skills in Snowball, a very decent trap power in Ice Shards, a multi-utility mobile ward with Frozen Sigil and one of the most fun and rewarding ultimates of the game, Walrus Punch, our fighter packs quite a punch (haha!) with his good health pool and decent armor gain.
Tusk compresses 5 shards of ice into a ball of frozen energy that damages all enemies it comes in contact with. When the ball reaches its target destination the shards are released, creating a barrier that lasts for 7 seconds.
Ice Shards is your first skill and your primary nuke. It's effect is quite unique - after reaches its target destination, the shards open, partially trapping the anyone inside the shards during 7 seconds. The shards are impassible terrain, so the opponents caught have to get around it to escape, giving you and your allies some time to follow up with stuns and nukes, including your own Snowball. Is also good to point that the shards give brief vision, so you can use the skill to locate an enemy that like to hide in the trees, like Nature's Prophet, Broodmother or any other pusher hero.
The main problem here is that before 6.82, Ice Shards effect was released when the shards hit the enemy, but this doesn't happen now - it opens where you cast it, so it can open in 100 distance from you to 1800, it's up to you to choose.
Tusk begins rolling into a snowball, allies within a 400 radius can be added to the snowball by right-clicking on them, even while the Snowball is moving. Once launched, any enemies caught in the snowball's path will be stunned and take damage. Each allied Hero in the snowball will add to its damage.
Snowball is the second skill of Tusk and like his first ability, it is quite unorthodox too. It's mechanics were changed in 6.81 and it's a little complicated to understand how it works unless you go and play with him.
Well, when you activate it, Tuskwill start charging an snowball, getting any unit under his control. Allied heroes can jump on the Snowball anytime by clicking on it (you can add them too) (except Illusions). Allied heroes within 350 radius can be manually added to the snowball, adding damage to it. Snowball can be released pressing W again or waiting the charge time.
The Snowball travels at 675 speed. The radius of the ball increases as it travels, damaging and stunning any enemy on it's path until it reaches it's target or travel 3 seconds. It's max damage can be 160 / 240 / 320 / 400, but the damage is the least thing you want in a teamfight: Snowball best use is to protect teammates and stun enemies.
The one of the best thing Snowball provides is the iniation possibility: being able to put allies in the middle of the enemy team, so they can land their skills. Of course, it only works with heroes that have skills cast through his position like Hoof Stomp, Slithereen Crush or even powerful skills like Black Hole, Reverse Polarity or Ravage! So, pay attention when using it, because there's no meaning in dragging an allied Lion into the middle of the enemy team - he does his job from distance and he's a squishy hero, so it would make him die there.
Snowballcan also be used to protect your allies from damage, keeping them invulnerable for 3 seconds (You'll want to protect them from DPS and heavy nukes, using it all the time isn't a good idea). However, it can potentialy backfire, especially if you grab all your team, opening the opportunity for a hero with an AoE Stun/Damage to destroy everyone without a fightback chance.
Some might say this ability is pretty gimmick, but it can provide a lot of utility. Frozen Sigil is usually the last skill to be maxed and it's usefulness it's better seen in the midgame, so that's better. The Sigil main use is to buy time - by ******ing chasing enemies, slowing enemies attacking a tower, but it can also be used to scouting purposes.
It's decent speed (310) mean it will always be behind you after getting Boots of Speed and therefore, anyone chasing you will be caught by the slowing aura of the Sigil. However, any hero with mobility skills (like the ones I said in Ice Shards chapter) can close the gap made by the Sigil. Another thing to point out, is the Sigil attack speed slow, which can be quite useful against Roshan, so remember to use it!
After being summoned, the Frozen Sigil will follow Tusk, so you have to give it a command. The Sigil dies after 30 seconds, or after being hit by 3 / 3 / 4 / 4 Hero Attacks (or 12 / 12 / 16 / 16 attacks from other units). Summon it in every big clash you enter, as the enemies will have to focus the Sigil down to get rid of the slow. Be careful, however, the Sigil offers a high bounty (topping at 120 Gold at Level 4)!
Ah, the mighty Walrus Punch. Tusk's ultimate is quite simple and funny: Ymir prepares his punch, making his next attack against a regular unit (doesn't work on structures) to be guaranteed to hit and crit (350%), throwing the enemy in the air during 1 second, and slowing him when he falls.
The slow scales with level, increasing the duration (3 / 4 / 5), with the cooldown decreasing (20 / 16 / 12) and the mana cost increasing (50 / 75 / 100). The mana cost is negligible and the slow is quite useful is the target survives (especially if combined with Orb of Venom, further increasing the effect).
Most part of the item build of Tuskrevolves around his ultimate, you will see. Due to its low cooldown and damage scaling, we want to have Walrus Punch off cooldown for ganks and teamfights. It can be compared to some extent to Assassinate, Sniper's Ultimate: low cooldown, able to take a big portion of enemies' health. The difference is that Walrus Punchstill scales after level 16, as it deals damage by your physical damage and its mana cost is quite low.
Well, the use of it is quite simple - it's (mostly) a kiting tool. You can easily send away an enemy that just blinked into your team - throwing him back 900 units, damaging and slowing him. A carry is chasing you or a nearby friend? You can Punch him and Kick him back!
It can also be used to setup a 4vs5 situation, but it will require a lot of skill. You have to position yourself properly to kick the enemy into your team, and escape as well (otherwise you are going to setup a 4v4!). This can be made easier by a combination of Blink Dagger and Snowball, but you will need to train a lot to do this properly!
Lastly, remember that Walrus Kick damage isn't quite big, so if you want to finish a hero, Walrus Punch is still a better option.
Well, this is it. There isn't much to explain, Tusk is ganker and therefore he needs his ganking abilities maxed as soon as possible. As stated above, if you need the lockdown of Snowball more than the damage and the partial trap of Ice Shards, be free to max it before.
Level 1 Fighter
Frozen SigilFrozen SigilFrozen SigilFrozen Sigil
This an skillbuild focused on level 1 fights over the Bounty Runes. You will probably prefer Snowball over Ice Shards because with the team by your side, you can deal 160 damage (+0.5 stun) to someone and your mates will be able to nuke him down with their other skills. This isn't mandatory for fights at level 1, as you can use Ice Shards to gain terrain advantage over enemies, but most of the time, Snowball works better.
Frozen SigilFrozen SigilFrozen SigilFrozen Sigil
This is an option if you want to have Frozen Sigil in the early game. Usually, you'll want it when you're on a team that have to fight in the early game. Can be useful for tri-lanes as well.
When talking about Tusk and his role you have to understand that his a ganker, initiator and a "semi-support". He's able to create space and hold the game on his own a little, so the carry can farm without problems. Getting him items that boost his physical damage (and the team physical damage) are good, as it boost his Walrus Punch power too!
In the professional scene Tusk is a very rare pickup. In the rare participations I could find, his playstyle isn't different from what I present here: nukes maxed first, items to boost his ultimate and ganking power.
Cost: 475 gold + 120 gold (Courier)
This is a good starting set for Tusk support #4. Two clarities ensure you can spam your skills with some freedom, creating space for your team. Branches can give cheap stats and build into Magic Wand. Animal Courier for the team. If some already bought the courier, get a set of Observer Wards.
Cost: 610 gold
This option suits better both supports (#4 and #5). It is a bit more costly, but you get +3 to all stats, wards and health / mana regen ensured for the first minutes. You can trade the Circlet for a Gauntlets of Strength if not going Bracer but Urn of Shadows. If needed, drop the Circlet and get a courier plus an extra branch.
Cost: 300 gold
This is an optimal start for Bottle rushing Tusk. The 325 gold spared ensure you can get the Bottle after a few last hits, especially if you get the starting Bounty Rune. Of course, this start suits position #2 and #3, you aren't going to get these items as a support Tusk.
This are the usual items for Tusk early game. In the first line above, these are mandatory items, you'll get them almost every match. In the second line, secondary choices and other options depending your situation in the match.
Bracer is a nice little item, providing minor all-round stats and damage and builds out in Drum of Endurance, a common and good choice for the utility puncher.
Medallion of Courage is one of favorite items and one of the most overlooked items of DotA2. The -7 armor debuff you can use to boost your Walrus Punch is game breaking in the first minutes of game and even in the midgame it is notable. You can also target and allied hero with it and boost their armor by 7 (remember you lose your 7 armor. The mana regen is also pretty good, specially because we want our mana pool topped up. This item is usually a good choice for any build, including the core Tusk (#2 / #3).
Orb of Venom is a very cost efficient item for melee gankers as the slow it provides helps a lot, especially when combined with other slows (including your Frozen Sigil and Walrus Punch). You can skip it if you doing fine, but if your enemies are constantly escaping your ganks with low health, seriously consider it.
Urn of Shadows is somewhat similar in terms of stats, but with Strength instead of Armor. Since you are a ganker, collecting charges is easy for you, but we usually leave this for another teammate, because Medallion of Courage gives us everything we need and stacking low-cost items in the inventory isn't good for a usual #4. Don't forget to use the active as an offensive tool, if you get it!
Magic Wand s an optional extension from the Iron Branch(s) you got at the start. Providing a max burst heal of +255 HP/Mana, it can be a lifesaver, especially on a hero who face risks like Tusk. It is always a good option against spamming heroes too, like your rival Bristleback or Zeus, as they are going to charge your wand really fast.
Bottle is a mandatory option for mid Tusk, keeping your hero full on health and mana. Don't forget to spam it if you are regenerating at the fountain to accelerate the process. You can also share charges for your mates. Collecting runes is also part of your objectives if you get it, as you can use them quite effectively. Check out the runes section for more information.
The wards are mandatory for both kind of supports Tusk can play. Usually, the #5 has to get the Sentry Wards too, but you won't be to properly de-ward because you are a melee hero, so ask your mates for help or leave the job to another support. Get the Observer Wards everytime you can, they give a lot of map control for your team, and since you are a ganker, constant vision of the enemies' movement give you quite the advantage.
Smoke of Deceit is a ganker item in its essence, letting you (and your team) cross the enemy wards without being detected. If the enemies' warding is good, this is item will help you out to push them back even with all the wards they can place to counter your movement.
Cost: 75x gold
Do I have to say something about this item? Always keep at least one of it during the game, unless you have Boots of Travel. A TP can do a lot of things: escape a stunless gank, reach the other side of the map, setup a gank... I can stay here all day talking about it.
General Core Items:
Power Treads are the most common option for all kinds of Tusks, be it support, offlane or mid. Tread Switching is a good way to work around Ymir's mana problem and can make him tankier when needed.
A natural upgrade from the great Medallion, the Solar Crest is an amazing item for Tusk. Giving armor, evasion (a big increase in the Physical EHP) and a powerful active - it allows you to reduce armor (by -10) and blind (by 30%) the enemy. OR, you can give the Crest boosts temporarily to your ally. Good on all games.
Blink Dagger is the ultimate mobility and initiator item, and the Terror from the Barrier (aka Tusk for the non-readers of the hero lore) can make good use of it with its skills. You can workout without it because you already have a gap-closer in Snowball, but it is a very good alternative for you and any other hero in the game (except those who already have a blink skill) to do your job even better.
Force Staff is a usual pickup for hard supports and it can be good on Tusk too. A boost to your mana pool, some hp regen and a proper escape mechanism by 2250 gold is nothing to laugh at, especially because gold will be a little more scarce for you in that position.
Black King Bar is a mid to late game item you will need to get 97% of the games. Tusk is an initiator, since he starts the fights, the enemy focus go to him first. BKB will waste the enemies precious seconds and skills if timed right. It also boosts your damage by +34 points, which is helpful too.
Aether Lens is an addition from 6.86 patch, an item focused on casters. It gives as much mana as Arcane Boots, more regeneration than Armlet of Mordiggian, while giving +15% magic resistance, increasing by 200 the cast range of your spells (items included) and by 8% all the damage done by spell. A cheap, all-round item that fits Tusk really well.
Vladmir's Offering is a great option for hard support Tusk, providing a non-UAM lifesteal source, mana regen, armor and damage too. It is quite useful for other melee mates in the team, especially the carries. You can get it if you aren't at position #5 too, like any other here.
Desolator is Tusk favorite's UAM, especially when combined with the amazing Medallion of Courage, getting a -14 armor on the target. Good on all kind of Tusks, but you won't able to get it as a Hard Support unless you snowball very hard (no pun intended this time, haha).
Heaven's Halberd fits well your utility role, granting a nice active, damage and evasion (who gives a decent boost in your physical EHP). The Disarm active is better when used in the enemy carry, of course, as he won't be able to dispel it unless having BKB or Manta Style. For the hard support, this a very good late-game choice, especially because it is quite cheap compared with other big items.
Arcane Boots are an optional boots for position #5 Tusk, increasing your mana pool by a great amount (and providing a mana regen source through the active). The problem with it is that you lose quite the damage you would get with Phase Boots. Still, a very legit option, but Drums + Medallion should suffice.
Drum of Endurance is a natural upgrade from an early Bracer, increasing even further the mobility of Ymir and giving a bunch of all-round stats, especially the INT increase that alleviate your casting problems. I don't recommend getting it with Armlet of Mordiggian, choose one of them only because they are mid-game oriented items. Not a core option, but certainly a good one.
Blade Mail is a very nice option that fits Tusk very well. It gives damage, armor and a mana pool boost, three things badly needed for our favorite brawler. Its active lets you counter burst damage heroes, like glass-cannons nukers ( Zeus, Lina, Skywrath Mage) or burst right-clickers ( Riki, Ursa, Sniper).
Mekansm is very good pushing item and the active will save your team life a lot of times. The problem is the high mana cost, demanding you to build more INT oriented items. Overall a good item for any support, but it suits better other supports than Tusk.
Crimson Guard is a natural extension of your Stout Shield. (A very long way to reach it, eh?)It provides a lot of damage block, armor, hp, its a big booster of your Physical Effective HP. The problem of this item is that you have to get it as earlier as possible to take the most of the bonuses and active it provides.
Armlet of Mordiggian is another good option for Tusk, but it suits better the Core Utility (#2 / #3). It provides everything we want: armor, damage and some attack speed too. The active is a great damage booster, so active the item just before throwing out a Walrus Punch. With the active on, Armlet provides a total of 475 health, 7.75 health regeneration, 5 armor, 25 attack speed and 65 (cause you are a STR hero) attack damage, which is quite a lot. Pipe of Insight is an option to deal with magical nuking, providing an AOE barrier that can tank up 400 magical damage and a resistance boost for you. It great nullifies the nukers mentioned in the Blade Mail section.
Silver Edge is another new item that can enhance Tusk's job in a match. You can use it to initiate over an unsuspected target. Become invisible, use your Walrus Punch on it and nuke it down with your usual combo! Upon attacking, you'll apply the Break effect on the target, nullifying it's passives and reducing it's damage done (including spells!) by 40%. However, it doesn't combine with the common Solar Crest, as you'll only be able to apply the armor reduction after the Punch. Also, remember that the extra 225 damage is not multiplied by the critical!
Late Game Items:
A direct upgrade from the Arcane Boots+ Mekansm path, the Guardian Greaves is a powerful teamfight item, regenerating instantly 250 HP + 160 Mana of nearby allies, dispelling enemy debuffs from the caster (you!) and giving a powerful protective effects when nearby allies are hurt, applying +15 Armor and HP Regen when they are below 20% of their Max health.
Boots of Travel is an item every hero in the battlefield has to get during some point of the game and they are a must during the late game. No, don't throw your TPs on the ground, grab some gold (when you reach ~1800 gold) sell your Phase Boots and get those boots. Not doing so will leave you very vulnerable to split pushing, so don't complain to your allies that you lost when your where six-slotted without this boots.
Assault Cuirass is the first armor option for our late-game and the most offensive one. It provides a lot of attack speed, something not really needed for Tusk, but it helps a lot because during the game we stacked damage for the Walrus Punch and with Cuirass we can use the damage besides the ult. If your carry already got one, get a Shiva's instead.
Scythe of Vyse, the amazing sheepstick (or pigstick, if you prefer). The amount of utility this items provides with a single-target disable is unspeakable. Turning an enemy into a low-movement punching bag for 3.5 seconds is incredible, and I'm not talking about the stats it provides yet. Very good item for any build, but suits better the supports one (as you want damage as a core).
The second armor option for the late-game, Shiva's Guard is a more defensive item than its counterpart Cuirass. The slow attacking aura plus the nuke AoE slow shows it. Provides a big boost to your mana pool as well.
What? Monkey King Bar? But Walrus Punch can't miss, isn't it? Yes, it is, but you also right-click besides your ultimate. So you can deal with those evasion bastards like a real brawler. But be careful, especially because you aren't a real carry.
Eye of Skadi is the ultimate stats item for the late-game. This item a lot times better than Tarrasque, because it provides a lot more effective HP than the red heart, plus the mana, attack speed, damage and a spell-immunity piercing slow. If you have the money to get it, do it man!
Ghost Scepter is the option for our hard support to deal with burst physical damage ( Phantom Assassin, Ursa, Juggernaut...) This item is somewhat overlooked too, don't understimate the utility the active and stats it provides.
Phase Boots is the best boots for offensive Tusk's builds, providing a boost of +24 damage and extra mobility with the Phase active.
Necronomicon is a great item. Good stats, even better active, two useful minions that increase your team pushing and that can deal with invisible heroes at level 3. A great option to deal with Techies, remember it.
Battle Fury may sound quite strange, but it fits a special situation: Illusion and minions heroes. Of course, you are getting this item in the late-game, since you aren't a farmer hero. The overall regen is quite helpful too, but this isn't an item will get every game, far from it.
The last hope item, Divine Rapier, can fit you well if you sense that your team is falling down. Get one, prepare your punch, win that teamfight and get those towers, man! This is an item you aren't going to get when winning, unless you are a douchebag that wants to throw.
Heart of Tarrasque is the big HP boost we can get AFTER getting some armor. The % Regen is also pretty nice, especially if you still have an Armlet when getting this item, so you can keep the active up most of the time. It also provides some damage, because its a STR item, you know.
Linken's Sphere isn't the most cost efficient item out there, but it helps when facing enemies with BKB piercing skills, like Beastmaster, Bane, Doom or Clockwerk, just to point some. The stats and regen are fine, but not so cost-efficient. (Skadi gives a lot more while costing almost 500 gold more).
Another useful tool for Tusk, Lotus Orb can help you to cripple enemies that will target you as you enter the battle. The more enemies with single-target disables, the more useful the Orb can be if you time it properly.
Since Tusk is good midlaner and the runes are good tools for any ganker, I'm doing a special section for those "items" here.
Bounty Rune is the most loved rune by the hard supports, and are good on anyone. Some gold and experience help everyone, especially with a hero that depends to get some fast levels, like Tusk. Remember that the starting rune effect is doubled, don't miss it!
Ah, the Rune of Double Damage. Best rune for Tusk, so far. A big boost to your ultimate damage. During the early game, your normal combo plus a boosted Walrus Punch is a guaranteed kill. Still good as the game goes late, but most part of your damage then is provided by items, which isn't doubled by the rune.
The Rune of Haste is another good rune for a ganker. It lets you chase opponents with ease, so you can always secure the kill. It also increases the speed of your Snowball, as its speed is based on Tusk.
The Rune of Illusion is usually considered a bad rune for gankers, but that ain't true. It provides two illusions that deal 35% damage and since you are a melee hero, they suffer 200% damage. Well, with your normal combo, you can easily body block someone within the Ice Shards, especially if there are creeps nearby. They are a useful scouting too and with proper micro, you can make them looks like your real hero, making the enemies waste their skills on the copies. As the game goes late, you can use them to easily farm an Ancient camp for you or to tank Roshan (don't make they attack, just place them near him!).
A real gank oriented rune, the Rune of Invisibility lets you wander across the map without being detected by normal wards (Sentry ones still show you). Be careful with heroes that can detect your movement with their skills, like Phantom Assassin or Slark, however. A useful scouting tool too.
The Rune of Regeneration is more of post-gank rune, letting you recover all damage you suffered and mana used. If in lane, you can use it as a free-harass tool, active it when you are a little damaged and without full mana and cast your spells on your enemy while the rune is working. Just don't over extend your spells, otherwise smart enemies may setup a gank on you.
The way you use your skills is big part of how we can play a good Tusk. Usually in a gank, you'll want to use your three damaging skills in a correct order to do as much damage as possible to the enemy, while in a teamfight, we have to watch over the enemies positioning to see if is a good time to use Ice Shards, Snowball or both.
Ice Shards can be used to block the path of enemies that are chasing you or friends and finally, Walrus Punch is a 1-second stun that can't be blocked, if you feel like sacrificing yourself so the rest of the team can get out, it can buy precious seconds from the enemies.
Also, if you have Scepter, Walrus Kick can be even more effective, as it throws enemies away.
Usually, if in proper position, a good Ice Shards to trap you enemy, especially if he is close to creeps ensure you can follow-up with Snowball to mess him even more and then a powerful Walrus Punch, taking a big portion of their health and most likely killing them.
If your mates already started a gank, it is wise to use Snowball from the fog, as it has a huge range. Follow-up with a big Walrus Punch and if they are still alive, place a good Ice Shards, so they will have to turn back.
When invisible (by Smoke or Rune), the best start overall is with Ice Shards with Smoke (as it will dispel when getting close) and with Walrus Punch with rune, as the slow will let you damage then further with right-clicks and Ice Shards. Hold Snowball if you are facing an enemy with a stun, slow, any spell that make things hard for us, so with proper timing you can disjoint it and continue the gank.
For teamfights, Tusk use all his skills most of the time. Frozen Sigil is mandatory here, the slow cripples the enemies very hard, and they will need to focus the Sigil instead of your allies. If your team has another initiator that needs to get close to the action, put him in the Snowball and do the chaos!
Be careful when throwing an Ice Shards, as it can mess with the skills of your allies, so we usually leave it to end of the teamfight. Walrus Punchis mandatory too, we usually want to use it on the carry or in a dangerous enemy to take them out as soon as possible. With its low cooldown, especially at level 3, we can use the skill two times in the fight, making up a big advantage.
This section includes some replays of Pro-games with Tusk. After quite some time, our brawler can finally see some light in competitive matches! A guy that was at the bottom of the pick list, he's been featured as a decent option is the 6.84 meta.
Summarizing, Tusk is a ganker and initiator that can offer a lot of support and utility for your team, being able to pick the enemies off guard with his punches. The problem with Tusk is that most of the heroes offer similar points and workout in more line-ups than him, so he's almost never used in professional scene.
Well, if you got here thanks for the reading! I will continue to improve and add useful information whenever I have time to do so! Stay tuned!
If you want to make a comment or suggestion, feel free to use the comments section below! And please, if you downvoted, please do a comment and say why you did it!!
12 / January 2015 - Initial Release! 22 / May 2015 - Updated for 6.84! 18 / August 2015 - Updated with TI5 replays! 25 / September 2015 - Updated for 6.85! 17 / December 2015 - Partial update for 6.86!