I'll start off by saying that this is my first guide, but I've been building and playing Leshrac this awesome and much more fun way for years. I have been playing mostly DotA 2 lately, and still using this build pretty much whenever I play Leshrac.
Leshrac is a squishy Intelligence hero with powerful damaging AOEs and a penchant for using up all his mana in seconds. This guide is about transforming him into a difficult to kill hero who has one goal in life: bring the enemy team or their towers into Diabolic Edict range and brutally rape them.
-Can usually bring down a tower in 30 seconds or less
-Insane AOE damage that is only (partially) stopped by silences
-Melee heroes worst nightmare since he can move while letting his AOEs damage them.
-Decent base armor and agility gain for decent armor throughout the game
-AOEs are short range and he has only a small AOE stun with long cast time to disable with.
-Is dependent on items to increase survivability and fix early game mana problems.
-Ultimate is disabled by silence
-Terrible starting strength and strength gain
If your not sure what Leshrac's (hereafter referred to as "Lesh") abilities are or what they do you should check playdota.com's hero page.
THE TANKLESH SKILL BUILD:
I'll start with the skill build since it is one of the most different (from other Lesh builds) and important parts of playing the TankLesh. The key difference between the this skill build and many others that max Diabolic is that you only take ONE level of Split Earth. You have to be able to land the small AOE of the level one stun. The trade off is more stats, by level 11 you will have 4 levels of attribute bonus, giving you +152 HP, +104 MP, and +~1 armor. It is not as dynamic as other skill builds or the item build, which we will get to in a minute.
Level 1 - Split Earth - Stun is essential and should be taken first. Kills trees.
Level 2 - Diabolic Edict - This will be your core ability
Level 3 - Diabolic Edict - Now does 100 mixed damage/second
Level 4 - Stats - Makes you more tanky and gives you more mana
Level 5 - Diabolic Edict - Now starts dealing serious damage 150 dmg/s
Level 6 - Pulse Nova - Its your ulti and other AOE damage abil
(OR you can take stats here if you want more survivability and mana)
Level 7 - Diabolic Edict - Of course this gets maxed first
Level 8 - Stats - Your Ultimate takes tons of mana
Level 9 - Stats
Level 10 - Stats OR Pulse Nova
Level 11 - Pulse Nova - More damage faster
Level 12 - Stats
Note that you do not ever skill Lightning Storm. Lightning Storm drains too much mana for Lesh to cast it without building mana items, and TankLesh needs survivability items and lots of them. I recommend stats over Lighting Storm all game.
About Diabolic Edict:
Diabolic Edict is the centerpiece of the TankLesh build, early game it is your damage and gives you the ability to decimate a tower faster than any other hero. There are some things to remember about Diabolic Edict however:
-It deals mixed damage, meaning it is reduced by armor and magic resist meaning it scales terribly into late game.
-It hits random targets in a 500 range AOE, so to kill one hero you need to carefully try to get them alone in the AOE.
-It hits invisible and out of sight targets, juking around trees and using fog of war will be your friend if someone tries to (foolishly) chase you at close range.
-Since it does mixed damage it passes through magic immunity, notably Juggernaut's Blade Fury and Naix's Rage. Generally by the time a hero has a BKB Diabolic Edict won't be as devastating as it is early.
-It is disabled by NOTHING, once you start it nothing can stop it not silence, not stun, not Black Hole, not even killing the TankLesh.
-It hits towers and hits them hard.
About Pulse Nova:
Pulse Nova is Lesh's ultimate and the other part of TankLesh's AOE damage "combo". It's a toggle ability and drains a serious amount of mana, use it very sparingly. Unlike Diabolic Edict however, it hits all targets in its 400 range AOE every second. I recommend saving it for only the most critical battles if you level it early, it just drains too much mana to be worth using as a farming tool until later.
THE ITEM BUILD:
Unfortunately, due to Lesh's weak starting strength, low strength gain, and near total lack of defensive abilities, making him difficult to kill usually requires a decent amount gold. However the exact items you should buy will vary greatly depending on the enemy team, your allies, and other in game dynamic factors that you should consider when buying items.
THE STARTING ITEMS:
2x Gauntlets of Strength, 2-1x Tangoes, 1-2x Salves
You can be flexible, but for the non-consummables I'd stick to:
Gauntlet(s) of Strength - for Bracers or Urn later
Iron Branches - for Magic Wand and/or Mek later
Circlet of Nobilty - for Bracers or Null later
Magic Stick - for Magic Wand later
Mantle - for Null later
For lanes that are safer go for more Int and mana regeneration.
For lanes that are dangerous, go more Str and health regeneration.
Starting items can vary depending on a few things, namely which items you plan on getting in what I will call the "beyond starting items" stage. Feel free to replace the Gauntlets with some combination of Circlets or Branches if you expect to use more mana or need more last hit damage.
THE BEYOND STARTING ITEMS ITEMS:
Upgrade Branches into Wand, or possibly Mek items if you are going for that.
Upgrade Gauntlets into Bracers, or possible Urn or Drums.
Upgrade Circlets into Bracers or Nulls.
There are a few items that fall between core items and starting items that TankLesh could build. Mekansm, Urn, and Drums are the ones that come to mind. Judge the game and your expected gold income before deciding to either go for one of those items or skip them and head to core items.
Now on the the BOOTS:
- Power Treads(Str), I've really debated between whether Phase Boots (movespeed for keeping heroes in your AOEs) or Power Treads are better on Lesh. I've decided that straight up survivability (the +8 Strength) is almost always more beneficial. The attack speed is mostly wasted, but if you have 2x Bracers TankLesh's auto-attack DPS becomes relevant and is helpful in killing towers.
- Other Possible Boots, all of the upgraded boots are useful to Lesh. However, the two clear winners for TankLesh are the previously mentioned Power Treads (Str) and Phase Boots. If you need to chase people and you think Phase Boots will let you catch up to them, then Phase Boots can better than Power Treads. The other boots I would only purchase in unusual situations:
Mana Boots: Enemy team has very low damage early/mid game and are all very slow. Get mana boots to crush them with you ultimate longer. Also, if you have no survivability problems and the enemy team has something like Invoker and your allies desperately need mana in fights.
Tranquil Boots: Enemy team has physical damage that even Lesh's high base armor is not enough to mitigate, and you need regen in lane.
Boots of Travel: Late game upgrade/replacement for split pushing.- Boots and . . ., Sometimes you'll be in a position to head straight for a core item by buying one of their useful build-up items and can skip treads. This is a good option if you find yourself with 1200 gold and are either dominating the game with no problems or already have some good early game (Bracers/Urn/Magic Wand) items.
THE CORE ITEMS:
I'll list the options from the best and my recommended to the less good items, since there are quite a few possible core items for TankLesh:
I highly recommend looking for 1-2 Core Items that have either Ogre Axe, Vitality Booster, or Point Booster as some of their components. Try to buy up two of those items early to gain some cheap suvivability while you build up the core item. For example, Ogre Axe and Point Booster while going for Aghanim's or Vitality and Point Booster while going for Bloodstone. You can ever go 2x Vitality Booster + 1x Point Booster while going for Bloodstone and a Heart later, or some other combination of core items that let you mass HP+ items.
Bloodstone - This item also lets you buy a Ring of Health, Point Booster, or Vitality booster to give you a survivability boost early game. I prefer this core item on TankLesh, it lets you buy a Vitality/Point Booster early and its health and mana regeneration are great for TankLesh.
Aghanim's Scepter - You can buy up the Ogre Axe or Point Booster for an immediate survivability boost. It makes your ultimate do more damage for less mana and its +Int and +Mana help you mana problems. I slightly prefer Bloodstone to this item, as the Bloodstone gives 10 more health and significantly more mana and health regen. But Aghanim's costs less and increases TankLesh's AOE DPS, while gives the same amount of health and more armor then Bloodstone.
Blade Mail - You can build its pieces easily and the armor does offer some survivability, but overall this item gives much less survivability than other choices. However the Damage Return ability can easily make up for it, allowing you to deal even more damage to enemy teams or forcing them to flee from you AOEs. The +32 attack damage it gives you can add up surprisingly well with Treads and Bracers to give you decent auto-attack DPS. Very good if you can get it early and have enough HP from starting items and/or level advantage to survive.
Kelen's Dagger (Blink Dagger) - If your team needs an initiator and you think you have enough survivability to handle blinking into the enemy team, this item can be hilarious. Also a good extension item after getting your first core item. A situational item.
Heart of the Tarrasque - This is THE tank item that will transform you from a squishy or medium-HP hero to full tank, oh-sh*t-we-can't-kill-that level of awesomeness. Unfortunately does nothing for you mana problems and is very expensive. Note this item is also a great extension item after you get your first core item. An expensive item for when you need lots of survivability.
Ghost Scepter - Very useful against teams that are relying on auto-attackers for most of their damage. Bear in mind this will also make you an easy kill if the enemy team has high magic damage spells. Doesn't cost a lot either and can be a good extension item for when auto-attackers are getting dangerous. Situational.
Veil of Discord - I haven't used this item much, but it is kind of in the same boat as Blade Mail. It gives +5 armor but other than that it gives little survivability. However, TankLesh's AOEs deal magic damage or are affected by magic resistance so the damage increase is handy. Also helps with mana problems. Situational, very good if you have magic damage dealers on your team. Might be better to just get them to buy this though.
Force Staff - This item can help you close with enemy teams, gives a small amount of mana, and doesn't cost much. However, a blink dagger gives better initiation and as much survivability. Still can be an good choice for the ability to help allies and give you more mana.
Necronomicon - A fun item, but it doesn't give that much survivability. Very useful for pushing however, but you have a hard enough time chasing enemies yourself, letting the summons auto-attack enemies will probably require support from allies. Situational item, useful in push strategies.
Guinsoo's Scythe of Vyse - Always a useful item, but it unfortunately doesn't give much survivability and is very expensive. It does give plenty of mana. It is a good extension item.
Rod of Atos - I don't know much about this item since it's new, but it's not that expensive and gives mana and HP. The cast range on its slow is pretty big, good for setting up Split Earth and getting in range for it.
THE EXTENSION ITEMS:
I consider extension items to be anything after the first core item, many items listed under core items are good extension items for example:
Aghanim's Scepter - The damage always helps
Blade Mail - Damage Return gets better with the enemy team's DPS.
Kelen's Dagger - Blink is fun
Heart of the Tarrasque - As the game goes you will need the HP
Scythe of Vyse - Disables are always helpful and so is mana
Ghost Scepter - Be immune to auto-attackers
Veil of Discord - The more damage you deal the better
Some item's are really better only after getting a core item or just aren't good enough to be core, those items are:
Shiva's Guard - This item's massive armor buff is great versus physical damage heroes or teams and is much better once you have a decent amount of HP. It gives tons of mana and an AOE slow/nuke.
Linken's Sphere - This item is expensive and gives mediocre survivability, but it is invaluable against certain powerful single target spells, especially ones that silence you (Doom).
There are plenty of other items that can qualify as extension items, but there are also some items that are just unusually bad on TankLesh and are REJECTED:
Black King Bar - Yea that's right, BKB is a rejected item for TankLesh. At first glance this item might seem like a good choice on TankLesh, after all it prevents all magic damage and most disables. The reason this item is a waste on TankLesh is because one of his strengths is that his AOEs are very hard to disable naturally, only silence will stop them. The only time I would recommend this item is if the enemy team has a very large amount of magic damage or magic damage that will scale into late game somehow (Obsidian Destroyer). If the enemy team has so many silences that you need a BKB to get through them then do not play TankLesh.
Vanguard - Another item that at first glance seems to be decent, but the damage reduction is cut in half for ranged heroes, it doesn't give that much HP, and does nothing for you mana problems. It would be better to go RoH and Vitality Booster into a Bloodstone than into this.
Soul Ring - This item might seem good for fixing TankLesh's mana problems, but it isn't and it hurts survivability at the only point in the game when it would be useful: the early game. Later on its long cooldown makes it relatively useless and losing 150 HP on TankLesh would only be a good idea if you have Heart.
HOW TO PLAY TANKLESH:
The Early Game:
Well I should warn you that I don't have a lot of competitive experience and have never tried the TankLesh build in a competitive game (although I'm sure it would dominate).
That being said, there are a quite few options for laning with TankLesh.
Mid Solo - This is a pretty good choice since you can farm and level while being relatively safe from ganks. Unfortunately you lack a good harass since you're TankLesh. However, a mid solo TankLesh is very good against melee heroes who try to mid solo. Harass them with auto-attacks and try to land a stun + Diabolic Edict to either force them out of lane or kill them.
Safe Lane - TankLesh is actually better in some type of side lane than in mid lane in my opinion, mainly because he can get closer to his enemies using trees and juke in trees while Diabolic continues to damage enemies. You should be able to solo in the safe (Sent Bot/Scourge Top) relatively easily. The more melee heroes fighting you in lane the better, harass them and try to get them to stand in Diabolic if at all possible. Against a very dangerous (tri?) lane play conservatively until level 3 or 5 and then start being more aggressive, especially by moving in and out of trees. If an enemy hero wanders too close to you in the forest or even just in the lane, Diabolic and stun them. Diabolic Edict does massive damage to lone targets early game, it can be very easy to get a kill This is especially true if an enemy hero wanders into you inside the forest where there are no creeps to absorb Diabolic and you can stun and juke to make it almost impossible for them to fight back.
Dangerous Lane - TankLesh lacks a good escape and won't have any long range harass combined with being squishy early game make going to the dangerous lane (Sent Top/Scourge Bot) well, dangerous. If you have support it isn't too bad though. I do not recommend trying to solo the dangerous lane if your going to be outnumbered unless the lane opponents are melee. Other than that it's pretty much the same as the safe lane, except be more watchful for ganks.
Support (Any Lane) - Supporting and trying to play TankLesh is a tough task, but if there is another support who will absorb the cost of warding and courier a bit, you can do it. Support Lesh is already great ganker and if you can gain a good amount of gold from successful ganks, then transitioning to the TankLesh build is much easier. I only recommend support TankLesh if you team lacks AOE damage and needs it or has a good ability/hero that increases Lesh's survivability (Dazzle, Omniknight, etc.).
Ganking and Counter-Ganking:
Having an ally to help disable and keep people in Diabolic makes TankLesh much more dangerous, although due to his low range and weak disables TankLesh is not that good at ganking alone. With support, TankLesh can be useful in ganks since he does so much damage early game.
Due to his high damage he doesn't have a hard time killing heroes, IF you can get close to them. Remember Diabolic hits enemies when they are out of sight as long as they are within 500 AOE of Lesh. You can also target your stun without seeing the enemy, allowing you to fight back against enemies when there is no line of sight.