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19 Votes

Bristleback is back to counter backstabers!

January 16, 2014 by Wulfstan
Comments: 16    |    Views: 91574    |   

Build 1
Build 2

The average day of Bristleback

DotA2 Hero: Bristleback

Hero Skills

Viscous Nasal Goo

1 8 9 10

Quill Spray

2 3 5 7


4 12 13 14


6 11 16


15 17 18

Bristleback is back to counter backstabers!

January 16, 2014


Hello,welcome to my guide to Bristleback.

Bristleback is one of the heroes that work more strangely. Bristleback is a strange hybrid of a tank and a ganker. He's very strange in that it depends entirely what direction he's facing what role he is. He actually has potential to transition into a Semi-Carry or possibly even a full Carry.

Bristleback's role

Bristleback is a rare gem,he can tank and gank.He can also transition into a semi-carry or a full time carry if given the farm and time to farm up the necesarry items.

As a ganker,late game he will be the one who will take a lot of punishment,so be prepared for this!
As a carry though,he will have an unique gameplay style that involves being straight out in the heat of battle.

Pros and Cons

  • Highest INT growth from all the STR heroes
  • Spammable spells
  • Amasing ultimate,that gives him versatility
  • His passive makes him the hardest hero to gank
  • Above average movement speed
  • Makes Riki look like a harmless hen(quill)

  • One of the lowest STR gain for a STR hero
  • Skill spamming drains his mana fast
  • Bristleback is not Bristleface
  • Unreliable disables
  • Countered to some extent by Magic Stick
  • Strange casting animations


The cooldown makes the skill at being only 1.5 sec. The cast range is very large, the mana cost is a cheap 30, and it reduces your opponents armor by 2 and slows for 20%. With a 5 second duration, we are just getting started. The Snot can be stacked up to 5 times adding 12% slow for each stack. People will be crawling away from you once you have snot'd them to death.


One of my favorite spells in the game, this is what gives our little pig his spikes, essentially making him a Porcupine. Like Goo, the mana cost is a cheap 30, with a short 3 second cd. It's AOE of about 600 is perfect. The damage starts out at 80 but it also stacks additively with each successive Spray. It's also Physical damage so it works perfectly with the armor reduction of Goo. The damage is instant, making it an awesome last hitting tool.


This is where Rigwarl gets his name. Bristleback is his name sake and a heck of a passive. All damage Bristleback receives from his back will be reduced by 40%. That's right 40%. If it's a spell, physical attack, doesn't matter. This makes Bristleback an insane tank and people can go chasing him through the woods for hours. The reduction acts like a pseudo heal in that it actually heals you for the amount you would block before taking the damage. Because of this you can survive certain abilities you otherwise would not. Also, for every 250 damage you take on your back, you automatically release a quill spray that doesn't obey your normal cooldown or mana costs. Awesome! Bristleback is also protected on his sides and reduces all damage there by 20%. And how much is all this going to cost you? Nothing, it's free! Yay for passives.


Every time you cast a spell(which given your costs and cooldowns is constantly) Bristleback charges up his body giving him 30 damage and 20% Movespeed. With each additional stack up to 5 times he gains 3% more MS and 20 more damage. Yay! The dust arround his feet is pretty neat and you have a 10 sec duration to keep the stacks going giving you ample time to keep Warpath up. Plus, it's a passive and costs nothing!




Stout Shield and Quelling Blade both are good starting items depending on what you would be doing on the lane. Quelling Blade is good if you would want to farm,and go for a quick Radiance.

The Stout Shield makes for a good startup to build a Vanguard.It also allows you to go agressive on the lane and tank a lot due to the damage reduction and Bristleback.


This item is what makes Bristleback a beast through the early and mid game.The mana regeneration combined with the abililty to reduce enemies armor,and with the armor reduction from Viscous Nasal Goo makes Quill Spray an extreme nuke in the early game,making this item choice undisputed.

Not much to say here,but if you are facing a lot of physical DPS(such as Phantom Assassin or Faceless Void),you are better off picking up this one.The damage reduction works really well with Bristleback,as I have mentionned,it is a pseudo-heal,so it makes you survive certain attacks that you wouldn't otherwise.


This item is what makes Bristleback a beast through the early and mid game.The mana regeneration combined with the abililty to reduce enemies armor,and with the armor reduction from Viscous Nasal Goo makes Quill Spray an extreme nuke in the early game,making this item choice undisputed.

This is your alternative to Vanguard when facing a lot of magic damage.The regen coupled with the 30% magic resistance will make sure that every spell you eat will only leave you scrathed. Bristleback also reduces magic damage received to your back,so when you're facing Lina or Lion,treat them with your back!


Cheap,easy to build and cost effective.Everything that every hero loves packed in one item.However,Bristleback loves this more than anyone,because it synergises with Warpath perfectly.It also boosts the porcupine's mana pool,which is nothing to brag about in the early game,as the spammage of your skills make good use of it.The attack speed is also beneficial.

Is the damage too much for your team to handle?This is the answer for everyone,returning damage to its owner. Blade Mail is a heck of an item,that works well against a lot of bursty heroes or heroes that tend to be overagressive( Axe).However,you only return the amount of damage you took,so when you active Blade Mail,make sure you are face to face with your enemy!

Rod of Atos might just be the thing betwen a Vanguard and getting some mana.Usually this item is gotten if Bristleback doesn't face a lot of physical damage dealers but still needs a bit of extra HP.It also gives an extra disable for those slippery enemies that tend to escape due to invisiblity or just a massive burst of speed (looking at you Dark Seer / Weaver !)

Is the magic damage rate getting critical?Time to upgrade that Hood of Defiance into an Pipe of Insight.Providing your allies with a 400 magic damage barrier,this will make sure that nobody succumbs to that Queen of Pain or Sand Kingagain.


Assault Cuirass is one of the best pushing items that also benefints the entire team.The mixup of auras benefit both taking down structures and enhancing allies attack speed. Bristleback is extremly tanky due to this,and he can take a lot of punishment to this.

Eye of Skadi is an offensive alternative to Heart of Tarrasque,as it gives a hefty amounts of stats that balance out really much. Bristleback makes good use of all the stats Skadi provides,and the slow combined with the viscous nazal goo will make every enemy crawl in front of you.

Do you need pure tankability,the power to take on any fed carry and still back out alive?Well Heart of Tarrasque is the item made for you,as it gives 1k HP and 40 damage.The 2% regen will keep you alive while juking in the woods, as Bristleback will protect your back.

Is Doom dooming your back each time?With this you will be laughing to single targetted spells and to every assassination atempt by weak carries.Though beware,as weak abilities like Stifling Dagger might render your purchase useless.

Does the enemy have any attack speed reliant carries like Lifestealer,outworld devourer or Tiny?If the answer is yes,you might want to pick up Shiva's Guard.The reduced attack speed combined with the extra armor makes the physical DPS that heads for you,greatly diminished.

Who doesn't love disables? Scythe of Vyse gives you the ability to hex an enemy for 3.5 seconds.The hex removes any bonus the enemy might have(including dodge/evasion),so it might be useful against carries with a Butterfly or innate dodge abilities.The mana geren does not hurt either,and the stats are a welcome bonus.


Power Treads are usually picked up early in the game for a boost of DPS.They are usually good against weak,with no escape mechanism carries that cannot escape the snot rain.They also give some rather amasing stats that early in the game.

The ultimate movement speed boosters, Boots of Travel do not give anything special except 100 movement speed and the ability to teleport to any allied unit.Extremly good for late-game pushes,or just escaping enemies with the added boost.

The Elder Hog

The "Elder Hog" is summarising up the old school build of Bristleback,that involved farming an outright Radiance,making you a real menace in teamfights.If you have absolutely no idea of how to get attention in teamfights,then this is the perfect idea early game. Bristleback was regarded really well in the old meta,before the nerf hammer made bacon out of him.

Its a lose-lose situation for the enemies.IF they focus your carry early,the Radiance will wipe them out,and you can have real impact later in the game,as Radiance also bolsters your farm.If they focus you early,your carry will wipe out the enemy team and carry you late game.

The item choices are not that different,but there are a few "odd ones" that you might not like,but used to work in the really old meta that revolved arround mid-late fights,fights where everyone needed to be preparted at least with its bare necesities:


The armlet is one of the best DPS alternatives to STR carries,as it gives cheap damage.Literally the most cost efficient item in the game,as this would help you a lot.Armlet toggling also works really well due to Bristleback,because each time you take 250 damage to the back,you release a Quill Spray that stacks up with the current stack of Quill Spray,so you can get free Quill Sprays just by juking the enemy team.

In the old days, Battle Fury was regarded as cheap damage,that also gave survivability.It wasn't really taken up as a farming tool,but more as a augmeting item on most of heroes,that reduced their handicap(for example Bounty Hunter).

Daedalus was an awesome extension on Bristleback,because the old Warpath used to give way more damage,and it was easier to keep the Warpath stacks up.

Friends and Foes

Friends of Bristleback:

Autoattackers that benefit from the armor reduction Bristleback provides are Bristleback's best friends.They can deal way more damage,their DPS being improved drastically.Notice that each carry listed has another disable ability that augments the snot,while Bristleback takes on the front line.


Enemies of Bristleback:
Two words:Mana burners.They hamper Bristleback's capability a lot,and his usefulness drops drastically without mana in any fight.Sure he can still tank with Bristleback,but its not that effective without dealing damage anymore.

The end

I know that not everyone will agree to my Bristleback build,but it tends to work for me.And if someone dares to pick against Bristleback,make sure he rests in pieces.

EDIT:I'd like to thank Wisdomseyes1 for telling me how to code Bristleback's name,and probably Doom's too.

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