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Community Guide to Bristleback (Offlane)

June 11, 2021 by Hades4u
Comments: 0    |    Views: 86943    |   


DotA2 Hero: Bristleback

Hero Skills

Viscous Nasal Goo

4 13 14 16

Quill Spray

1 3 5 7


2 8 9 11


6 12


10 15 18

Hero Talents

+18 Warpath Damage Per Stack
+12% Spell Lifesteal
+20 Quill Stack Damage
+25 Health Regen
+250 Viscous Nasal Goo Cast Range
+8%/ +4% Bristleback Back/ Side Damage Reduction
+1.5 Mana Regen
+20 Damage

Community Guide to Bristleback (Offlane)

June 11, 2021


Hey everyone, welcome to this community Bristleback guide. In this guide, we'll be going over all the essential info you'll need to get started with Bristle. This guide is aimed at lower level play or for players unfamiliar with the hero.

This guide was written with contributions from community members like you! Thank you to the following DOTAFire members for contributing to this guide:

Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions if you have feedback on the guide. Without further ado, let's get started!



Viscous Nasal Goo - Can be used multiple times while chasing and during fights due to its low cooldown and mana cost. Use it as much as possible when you’re fighting enemies to reduce their movement speed and armor, increasing the physical damage they take while reducing their mobility.

Can be very strong in the early game as it stacks and it also amplifies the damage dealt by Quill Spray, since it deals physical damage which is affected by armor. Can also be used to farm larger creeps faster (e.g. big neutrals and ancients).

Make sure to check what enemies have Magic Stick or Magic Wand during the early game. Using Viscous Nasal Goo too often might give them free charges that will keep them stocked on mana and health. In these cases, try to only use the ability when you’re fighting, not so much when you’re harassing.

Great at removing the Spell Block shield of Linken’s Sphere, since it’s a cheap ability to use with a low cooldown. Cannot be used on magic immune enemies, but its effects will persist even if targets already affected will turn magic immune.
Can be used together with Quill Spray to quickly get Warpath stacks up to boost your movement speed and attack damage.

Upgradable by Aghanim’s Scepter, making it an area ability that affects all enemies in range. Strong against enemies with high armor and weak escape.

Quill Spray - Deals high amounts of physical damage that becomes stronger with every stack. Very strong throughout all stages of the game. Makes Bristleback a very stressful hero to deal with, especially when ahead.

Same point as with Viscous Nasal Goo, make sure to check which enemies have Magic Stick or Magic Wand and cast Quill Spray accordingly. Don’t give them free charges!

Pierces spell immunity, allowing him to be a threat to heroes like Lifestealer and Black King Bar carriers. Bristleback can never be ignored in a fight!

Damage is increased by armor reduction from Viscous Nasal Goo and other reduction abilities and items (e.g. Solar Crest, Assault Cuirass).

Bristleback - Makes Bristleback one of the most durable heroes that also retaliate by releasing quills based on damage received. This passive is only effective when you’re hit from the sides or rear, so make sure to not face your enemies when you’re focused.

The main counters to this ability are heroes that can force you to face them (e.g. Axe, Legion Commander) and abilities and items that apply Break (the effect that disables passives), rendering this passive useless for a few seconds.

This passive will make you feel very strong, make sure to play safely and to not overextend. It’s easy to push Bristleback too far when you notice how little damage he’s taking, but don’t let yourself be taken by the wave!

Warpath - More physical damage and movement speed. This passive will activate itself whenever you cast an ability, meaning in most fights you’ll reach maximum stacks naturally. Whenever you expect a fight to happen, you can prepare your stacks ahead of time and maybe use Viscous Nasal Goo and Quill Spray a few times to get your stacks to max and be prepared.

Can also be disabled by Break effect just like Bristleback, meaning you won’t gain any new charges, but the existing ones will still provide their bonuses.

Aghanim's Scepter allows you to keep up maximum charges on your ultimate constantly, as you no longer need a target to cast Viscous Nasal Goo on.

Later in game you will mostly not require any boots as the movement speed from this passive will be sufficient and the slot can be utilized for another core item.

Max Priority


You want to max Quill Spray first as it’s your main source of damage and it can also be used to farm faster. The next ability you’re going to focus on is Bristleback, since every extra point will make you harder to kill and increase your Quill Spray’s damage output. Even though you’re going to max out Viscous Nasal Goo last, you can place an early point in it for chasing situations and also to deal with armored targets. Always place a point into your ultimate when you can!


+2 Mana Regen - Will grant +120 mana regeneration per minute and Bristleback really needs it in order to spam his abilities. The movement speed is also good, but it cannot match the usefulness of the bonus mana regeneration.

+200 Health - Bonus health is always good to increase your durability! Since you’re also going to have a lot of armor later on, this bonus health will tank way more than 200 damage.

+20 Quill Spray Stack Damage - Your health regeneration will already be good enough and the bonus damage for Quill Spray stacks is too good to ignore. When enemies are going to focus you in fights, you’ll be releasing quills everywhere and with every single hit, you’ll be benefiting from this bonus damage. Good pick!

13% Spell Lifesteal - The spell life steal will be a total game changer. It’s going to make you an even bigger threat to your enemies, as you’ll be regenerating health from all the damage dealt by your abilities. Great talent to be coupled with Octarine Core, as the spell life steal will stack and Quill Spray’s cooldown will also be reduced. +24 Warpath stack damage is your choice when going into the carry build, as this will pump your damage up to scary numbers.


Starting Items

As a close-range melee hero, you absolutely need regeneration to sustain in lane and trade hits. Your starting damage is rather mediocre, so you’ll want Quelling Blade to last-hit and finish up your starters with Ring of Protection. Alternatively, if you expect to face dangerous lane opponents, you might consider buying Headdress or Buckler first to survive the harass. Get Buckler if you face high physical damage, while Headdress is more of a general sustain option which builds in Pipe of Insight later on to protect you from magical damage.

Boots Choice


Armor, an ability to chase or escape is what every melee hero desires, and Phase Boots give all of that, so you should consider picking them up in most situations. Power threads is a more damage-focused option with the added benefit of thread-switching for effectiveness. Arcane Boots should be considered either if you face mana burns in lane, or plan on disassembling them into a fast Lotus Orb.

Early Game

Soul Ring - fantastic on Bristleback. It gives you a nice chunk of health you lack early on, and gives you the opportunity to freely cast spells while its buff is active. You can use 3 Quill Sprays and 3 Viscous Nasal Goos as early as level 4, and have it entirely covered by Soul Ring’s mana bonus. Try to work around its cooldown and apply pressure every time it’s up.

Phase Boots - your main choice, since you rely on sticking to your targets, and Bristleback needs every bit of durability he can get.

Magic Wand - pretty self-explanatory - if you see an enemy casting a lot of spells in lane, immediately ship out a Magic Stick and upgrade it a bit later. If you are absolutely certain that you will lane against a spamming hero (e.g. Phantom Assassin, Skywrath Mage), you can even buy a Magic Stick as your staring item with regen.

Ring of Health - greatly improves your lane sustain, and you will need it for both choices of your next item.


Vanguard - increases your durability and resistance to basic attacks. Can be upgraded later into Crimson Guard or Abyssal Blade as you see fit.

Hood of Defiance - increases your resistance to magical damage. Also provides you with an active ability that grants you a shield that absorbs a set amount of magical damage. Can be upgraded to Pipe of Insight to help your team survive magical attacks.

Situational - Survivability

Bristleback has 2 distinct builds depending on what role he decides to take on. He can either be a tanky utility frontliner for your team, or a strong damage-dealer, depending on which items you buy. Of course, you can combine various items to create a hybrid build, balancing out your durability and decent damage output.

A logical update to your Vanguard and Hood of Defiance. This greatly bulks you and your team up and the actives allow you to really turn fights around. Crimson Guard is notable in that it can completely negate weak instances of damage, like those of summoned units and things like Witch Doctor's Death Ward, and make your towers/barracks nigh invincible, as it also affects structures.

Gives you a significant boost of armor and grants some of it to your allies as well, making it a great pickup against physical damage-oriented teams. Also reduces armor of buildings, meaning it's strong when pushing the enemy structures.

Bristleback lives off spamming his spells and sticking to the targets. Enemy debuffs can severely hinder your potential in fights, and the most annoying of them - slows and silences - tend to be rather long, but also dispellable. Lotus Orb's active can remove them in a pinch, and as Bristleback constantly finds himself in the thick of things, also potentially reflect a number of spells back onto the enemies. Additionally, Lotus Orb gives you much desirable stats, such as decent armor, mana and regen to keep you up and running.

Bristleback is a strength hero and greatly benefits by the strength provided by Heaven's Halberd. The evasion provides Bristleback with even greater survivability and the active skill makes auto attackers useless due to the undispellable disarm debuff it places upon the targets. Even if the disarn is undispellable, it does not pierce immunity that is why you should use it before the enemy becomes spell immune using black king bar or spells such as rage, blade fury, etc.

Medallion of Courage is one of the most efficient items in the game. For barely over 1000 gold you get a good armor boost, some much needed mana regen, and the active, which can serve a multitude of purposes. You can use it on the enemies you focus down, shredding their armor together with Viscous Nasal Goo, on the allies under attack, and even on creeps that the tower targets when you are pushing, making the wave last much longer. Solar Crest gathers it all and takes it on a whole new level with much more significant armor buff/debuff, and also a massive attack speed debuff/steroid, which can make your carry an absolute beast or cripple an enemy's ability to fight back.

Since Bristleback is the team's primary tank, Heart of Tarrasque is a major late-game choice that makes Bristleback almost unkillable when combined with his passive and the strength and health provided by Heart of Tarrasque. The passive allows Bristleback to quickly heal himself.

A strong luxury option if you want to know what invincibility feels like. Spell lifesteal works on the Quill Spray released by Bristleback, so after a few stacks you will be quite literally healing back more health than you lose. Be vary of the breaks and healing reduction, as those can disrupt your plans, and be ready to dispel it if possible. Cooldown reduction takes you to new heights of spamming spells, and an ocean of mana Octarine Core provides ensures that you won't ever run out of it again.

Yet another armor option with some additional utility. Shiva's Guard should be considered if you experience mana issues as well, or you need to slow down pushes. The aura greatly decreases the speed at which enemies can damage your structures, and in combination with Crimson Guard can make them almost invulnerable, giving you and your team plenty of time to fend off the attackers.

Situational - Damage

While providing solid defenses, also serves as an offensive option thanks to the sizable attack speed buff and armor reduction, which is especially important for a hero who deals exclusively physical damage. More so, it also greatly increases your pushing speed, buffing all allied units with attack speed and armor, including creeps, while also lowering enemy towers' armor.

A well-rounded and affordable item which trades a useful ability for overall great stat bonuses. It provides a nice boost to both your survivability and damage output, and the movement speed actually allows you to use Sange and Yasha as a boots replacement in the late-game.

An offensive upgrade to your Vanguard. Abyssal Blade provides you with a channeling breaker you lack, and makes locking down targets that much easier.

A replacement for Heart of Tarrasque for a damage-dealing Bristleback. A massive status resistance bonus lets you almost shrug off enemy crowd control (especially combined with one of Sange items), and the active can quickly bring you back to full health thanks to the damage boost from your ultimate.

Often you may find yourself getting interrupted with various enemy abilities. Black King Bar allows you to stay in battle and take down as many enemies as possible while it is active. In rare cases you might get away with skipping Black King Bar, if you have high status resistance via Sange and Yasha and Satanic, but it's still highly recommended to buy unless the enemy team has strong magic immunity piercing spells or you don't feel really threatened at all.

While Warpath offers a big increase in attack damage, Bristleback's mediocre agility gain and higher than average base attack time of 1.8 makes his attack speed desire for better. These two items provide a significant boost of it with additional perks. Mjollnir is more on the defensive side thanks to its Static Charge, which can dish out considerable damage when used on a hero who gets focused in a fight (usually Bristleback himself), and added waveclear. Bloodthorn gives you plenty of mana and mana regen for you to spam your brains out, and its active helps focus down a single target or keep a dangerous enemy hero from putting their impact in.

Keeping full stacks of Warpath is impossible without casting Viscous Nasal Goo, but you can't often find an available target to cast it on, either when you are just bolting through the map, or pushing a tower with not even enemy creeps present. Aghanim's Scepter solves this problem, and adds even more benefits with a slow and armor reduction to all enemies in a massive area. Heavily consider picking up the +5 Viscous Nasal Goo stacks talent at level 15 if you're planning on buying Aghanim's Scepter in the match.

If you have to deal with enemies who rely on healing or regen, this might be your choice. Eye of Skadi gives you a massive increase in stats across the board, and its debuff greatly helps focusing down important targets.


Early Game

Your objective in the laning stage is to be a threat to the enemy carry, denying their farm and experience as much as you can. Bristleback can be played aggressively since he’s hard to kill and he can deal a lot of damage around himself. You can use your Quill Spray to harass and secure last hits on creeps, but be aware of enemy heroes that have Magic Stick or Magic Wand, as giving them charges will keep them with bonus mana and health in reserve.

In the early game you won’t have too much mana to work with, meaning you must have a Clarity or Enchanted Mango ready at all times in your inventory to keep your mana up. Be careful how you use your abilities, only spam them when you’re chasing or fighting and it could result in a kill.

The easiest targets will be enemy supports with low armor and no escape mechanism, such as Ancient Apparition, Lion and Crystal Maiden. Remember to keep an eye on the number of stacks of Quill Spray you’ve applied on the enemies, as having 4 - 5 stacks or more could potentially result in a kill. Usually enemies will try to play defensively to allow the stacks to expire, but if you’re careful, with the right positioning, you can refresh the charges and keep the pressure going. Make the most out of your abilities!

Mid & Late Game

Reaching the mid game, you should already be pretty hard to kill and a high threat to your enemies. Try to always move around the map to help your team and pressure your enemies, while farming on the way (e.g. if you're going from top to mid, if you don't have a reason to quickly move mid, you can farm a few camps on the way there).

Even though you're tough to kill and you have the ability to kill at least an enemy before being taken down, it's best to not go alone and to not overestimate your power. It remains important to stick with your team, as power is in numbers.

Due to your admirable durability, you can dive towers more effectively than other heroes. Make sure when you're diving that the tower(s) target you instead of your teammates, as the damage will hurt them more than it would hurt you. Also - don't overextend! It might seem like you can get one more kill before finally retreating, but going too far might bring yourself and your teammates to a point of no return, and giving any kill rather than giving none is always worse.

Whenever you manage to take win a fight, make sure to capitalize on the time you have and maybe take down some towers or Roshan. Your supports can also use this time to safely remove enemy wards and plant some of their own (you can tell them this, nicely of course).

Always remember - go for objectives, put pressure on enemies and control the map, time is of the essence in DotA!

Try to always be aware of what heroes and items you're against. If you notice enemies have abilities or buy items to counter you, make sure to adapt your strategy and also your build. For example, let's say you're against a Viper that has built Rod of Atos to keep you locked down in his Nethertoxin. This will always disable your Bristleback and will make you way easier to take down. In this scenario, you can build Lotus Orb and whenever Viper tries to lock you down again with Rod of Atos, you can cast its effect on yourself and it will instantly remove the root.


Thank you for reading this Community guide to Bristleback! If you'd like to contribute to this guide, please leave me a comment in the Discussion tab with your feedback or send me a Private Message if you'd like to contribute regularly to guides like this. Everyone who contributes to one of these Community Guides will be credited in the guide.

If you liked the guide, don't forget to vote and leave me a comment with your thoughts! If you have any suggestions, criticism or other feedback, comments of all sorts are appreciated. Good luck in your Drow games!

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