Items - Lifesteal build
Getting a gauntlet gives you some extra hit points and damage, likewise with the three branches (which later build into a magic wand). I usually take two tangos - you need some regen, but I find a healing salve takes you out of the action too much (you have to stand back to avoid getting hit and losing its healing effect). Plus, the husk works best when he's not at full health due to Berserker's Blood; tangos allow you to maintain the balance a bit.
After these, add boots, complete your wand and get some blades of attack for some extra last-hitting power. The last two will build into phase boots.
Get your phase boots and start working towards the Helm of the Dominator. The Helm makes you tankier as it gives both lifesteal and armor, but it also gives you a tidy damage boost. (You'll probably reach level 6 and get your Lifebreak ability before you get the mask/helm, so you may want to consider a gank even before getting them).
Why phase boots over power treads? Because damage is so important for Huskar I normally opt for phase boots; they give significantly more damage and the speed boost can come in very handy for chasing down fleeing enemies (and for fleeing yourself, if you happen to find yourself in that situation!). The attack speed boost provided by power treads is insignificant once you're at low health, due to Berserker's Blood; however, they are still a legitmate option for the strength bonus they provide (which gives damage and a bit more tankiness).
Town Portal Scroll
I can't stress how important it is that you carry at least one TP scroll at all times after you've got your basic items. This isn't specific to Huskar by any means, but I've been in too many pub games recently where people don't carry them. What should
happen when the enemy starts diving one of your towers is that the whole team teleports there and proceeds to kick arse. But even if your team doesn't play along, carry a scroll; when you see the enemy creep wave getting close to one of your towers with no-one else there, teleport and claim the farm for yourself. The scroll will pay itself off in no time. I try to make sure I always have two (so I'm never caught without). Rant over.
I previously wrote this off as not worth it, but the fact is that this item is the most cost effective damage item for a strength hero, and it comes with an array of benefits which are all good for Huskar - armor, health regeneration, damage, and a little attack speed (useful mainly when your health level is high). That's without even going into the benefit of the Unholy Strength active - the extra health you get after toggling the armlet on really helps make up for the self-damaage inflicted by Life Break.
Once you have your core items, it's time to start building some damage
- in this regard Crystalys is amazingly cheap considering the benefit it gives you (the damage bonus isn't that great, but the crit increases your overal damage output considerably).
Although Urn of Shadows is an oft recommended item for Huskar, I normally skip it. Once you've got lifesteal and a couple of points in Inner Vitality, there's really no need for it; the gold is better put towards your Crystalys.
There are a wide variety of situational items which are viable on huskar.
Black King Bar
and Linken's Sphere
will both provide you with protection from stun and annoying debuffs. Huskar in his prime modus operandi is normally meting out large amounts of damage at high-speed and recouping health via lifesteal, so getting chain-stunned is one of the few ways in which he can easily die. If the enemy team has more than a modicum of stun, you'll want one of these items. Usually you'd go for BKB as it gives longer lasting protection, slightly more damage, and is somewhat cheaper; Linken's gives you HP and mana regeneration which Huskar doesn't normally need - the one reason you might consider getting it is that it blocks certain abilities that a BKB won't (Bane's ultimate in particular; Linken's also protects against Spirit Breaker's charge).
gives physical evasion which greatly improves Huskar's survivability, as well as handy strength and damage bonuses, a mildly useful passive (Lesser Maim) and a good active (Disarm). Because of the evasion and strength bonus, it might be worthwhile going for this even before Crystalys (build Sange first, then add the Talisman of Evasion). Get it if you have an enemy (such as Lifestealer or Ursa) that can really hurt you with right-click attacks. An alternative would be Butterfly
which gives somewhat better evasion, but which gives you less additional damage (with a high attack speed boost which is somewhat wasted on Huskar) and lacks main/disarm.
should be pretty obvious - grab it if you're getting focussed in team fights, if you want to initiate teamfights, or if you want to gank someone who can deal a lot of physical damage back at you (eg Ursa). Be wary that it is rendered useless by Black King Bar.
Smoke of Deceit
can be used for ganking in cases where you suspect the enemy has wards. The 100 gold is well worth it.
is relatively cheap, gives you temporary protection from physical attacks, though it prevents you from attacking also - so it's really an escape item. It also provides a small stats benefit. Consider it if you need short-duration complete protection from physical attacks for some reason (e.g. it protects you from Juggernaut's ultimate).
A few notes regarding Ghost Sceptre specifically:
- Heaven's Halberd with it's active Disarm may be a better alternative if you can afford it, but is arguably less reliable (it won't go through magic immunity and only affects a single target, though of course it also grants some evasion)
- Using your ultimate or a BKB dispels ethereal form.
- The Sceptre can be buildt into Ethereal Blade, which gives you the interesting possibility of using EB on your opponent before ulting them, thus dealing 40% more damage with your ult - which will seriously hurt your opponent unless they have a high magic resistance (but will generally not kill them). Unlike with the Sceptre, your ult won't dispel the ethereal form granted by EB, so you and your opponent will be unable to attack each other for a little while afterwards.
Late Game Items
builds from the crystalys and massively increases your damage output. It should often be your first late game item; it's the most cost-effective damage-only item, other than the Divine Rapier (which is too risky to get).
Monkey King Bar
is a good alternative (and addition) to Daedalus if your opponents have evasion (eg Phantom Assassin, or anyone who's built a Butterfly or Halberd).
increases your lifesteal dramatically (to 25% from 15%), and its active further briefly increases it to 200%. Also the strength bonus gives you more HP and damage. This is an obvious choice for Huskar, though I'd still normally aim for Daedalus first.
is another high-damage item with a situationally useful passive and active (a short-range 2 second stun that goes through magic immunity). Only get it if the situation demands, seeing as it's expensive if you only need the damage. (Note that the passive bash procs only with 10% chance on ranged heroes, but Huskar's high attack speed gives you plenty of chance that it will proc).
is useful for its armor bonus to you and negative to your enemy. The attack speed aura is not so great for Huskar, but it will help your team, assuming none of them also have a Cuirass.
Heart of Tarrasque
gives you damage (via its strength bonus) and a ton of HP and regen.
Boots of Travel
are mainly useful for freeing up one more slot in your inventory, since with these boots you'll no longer need to carry Town Portal scrolls.
might seem like an odd choice, but it's a perfectly good alternative to the Assault Cuirass for Huskar. In particular, the passive aura which reduces the attack speed of your enemies is good for survivability. Get it if another team member has the Cuirass, or if you really need more defence against right-click attacks.
Playstyle and Mechanics
As the skill build above shows, I put a couple of early points in Burning Spear; it's an incredibly powerful harassment capability. Push your opponent(s) out of lane as much as possible and farm, farm, farm your items. Opponent harasses you? Punish them with Burning Spear. Opponent moves in for last hit? Punish them with Burning Spear. Opponent moves in for deny? Punish with the spear. I'm sure you get the drift.
In a gank, the procedure is:
- Use Inner Vitality on yourself (even if you are at full health, the effect continues for the duration of the ability), and then immediately:
- Life Break your opponent.
- Activate any pertinent items - BKB, blade mail, halberd etc.
- Throw at least a few burning spears at them.
- Continue to throw spears at them until they die. With the lifesteal build, toggle burning spears off if you need to recoup health (this isn't necessary since 6.81, as burning spears are no longer a unique attack modifier, meaning they work with lifesteal! There's hardly any reason to turn them off at all now).
- Use your magic wand, or toggle your armlet, if your health gets dangerously low.
Prior to 6.81, burning Spears was a unique attack modifier which didn't stack with lifesteal (furthermore, it slightly depletes your own health). This is no longer true, so once you have lifesteal, there's hardly any reason to turn the burning spears off.
Note that you can activate your BKB before Life Break in order to prevent yourself from taking any damage from it. However, you then won't get the benefit of improved attack speed from Berserker's Blood, so this is a situational move: do it if you really need to tank some damage rather than just make a single quick kill, e.g. if you are the initiator in a large team fight.
The Berserker's Blood passive gives you protection from your own ultimate if your health is already low, so don't let low health stop you from using your ult.
If you're in a team fight but have another initiator, you may wish to hold off on using your ult. Instead, contribute to the fight by throwing burning spears from a distance, and healing any ally that needs it with your Inner Vitality. You can then use your ult to prevent a fleeing enemy from escaping, or as a slow to allow teammates to escape should the fight be going badly.
One further thing to note is that Life Break slow goes through magic immunity. Have an ally being torn up by enraged Lifestealer? ult him in the face and then you can both run away (that is, before you turn around and disarm him with your halberd and tear him down with burning spears!).