Due to the recent buffs in the 6.79 patch, I'm deciding to renew this Bristleback build.
If you haven't seen the patch changes, basically his Warpath now stacks for longer duration and has slight increased number of stacks as well. His casting animation for Viscous Nasal Goo and his attack animation is also improved, meaning he can alternate between attacking and spamming spells a bit faster now.
Here is a link to the changes:
This new patch doesn't change Bristleback's defensive capabilities much, but substantially improves his damage output in teamfights and chases, making him a more scary hero in all stages of the game.
My Impression of Bristleback before/after patch:
Whenever I try to build semi-carry on Bristleback I always feel good about it. I mean his ult gives him so much damage, and he's so tanky, so naturally he should be a beast in battle right? However His main drawbacks are that his casting animation is way, way slow, and quite often I don't get to right-click very much. And before long, the enemy team turns the fight around, and I have to turn my back and go on defensive again, and again, and again. I really like this new buff cause it makes Bristleback's carry play a lot lot smoother and legitimate, at least in the pub scene. I still don't think he's good enough for the competitive scene just yet, but time will tell.
Let me know in the comments if you like this new build (it's mostly the same, but semi-carry build is just more viable now). I mean this patch is still quite new, so take some time to get use to it, and lemme know in the comments if this works! :)
Viscous Nasal Goo is your chase tool. Use it to catch up to enemies. It's casting animation is also a bit better than before, so spamming your Q and auto-attacking is much more efficient, and allows you do deal substantial right-click damage in conjunction with Warpath.
Quill Spray is still the same skill to pre-6.79 patch. Still a powerful harrass tool/damage potential early game. get 2-3 levels of this by level 5 depending on whether you want a bit more harrass damage output, or you want to be a bit more tanky with Bristleback. Max this either by level 7, or after Bristleback (so level 10).
Bristleback is a passive ability that reduces physical and magical damage taken from your sides and your back. It's an ability that makes you extremely tanky, and scales very well into the late game due to its percentile mechanism. Quite often you'll need HP items in conjunction with this skill because it will give you more Effective HP. This skill is exactly the same as pre-patch so I won't say too much about it.
Warpath is now a much more powerful ult with the recent buffs to Bristleback. The increased duration means that in a chase scenario/extended teamfight, you can retain your damage for much longer (from +100 early on to +210 late game). This basically means you're gonna hit like a f***ing truck. It's almost like getting an extremely fast Desolator or Armlet. Plus with the improved attack and casting animation of your Goo, Bristleback becomes a viable semi-carry candidate (more so than before).
The laning phase is very similar for Bristleback, although the offlane position is substantially more viable because it's much easier to contest enemy pulls and maintain good starting creep equilibrium. Remember that if an enemy does pull, you can sap half the exp just by standing around the neutral camp (dont actually have to last hit them).
Bristleback still excels in dual lanes or trilanes. His Viscous Nasal Goo is a cheap and effective slow that can help score many early kills with the help of an ally. He's somewhat item dependent, so unless you're laning with a hard carry, you should be grabbing those last hits.
A few stacks of Quill Spray can force an enemy out of lane in a hurry, and can prelude to potential kills if they're not careful, so use it to harrass and get some last hits. Just keep an eye on your mana.
I would normally get 3 levels of Quill Spray by level 5 to give me awesome harrass and damage output, but if the lane matchup is going rough, or they have quite aggressive heroes, then early levels into Bristleback should not be overlooked.
If you're going for first blood, then getting 1 level of Viscous Nasal Goo early on is more than enough, until you max out Bristleback and Quill Spray.
Aim to grab your Power Treads ASAP. Also, a quick Magic Stick or Town Portal Scroll can be handy in certain situations.
Bristleback is a very simple skill at first glance, but it takes a bit of practice and experience to master it. The key question you have to ask yourself is - If I fight, will they kill me first, or will I kill them first?.
For example, if a lion and alchemist is chasing after you, you know they have 3 nukes and they can chain stun you, if you choose to fight, Bristleback would not block any damage for you, therefore you will most likely die even at full health. If you simply ran, Bristleback will block 40% of impale, unstable concoction, and finger of death, so you have a slight chance of surviving.
If however you know their skills are on cooldown, because they just used it on your team mate, then you know they dont have enough damage output to kill you, this is when you should turn around and spam Goo and Spray and hit them cause your ult hurts like a b****.
Knowing when to turn and when to fight separates the good Bristleback players from the bad.
Once you hit level 6-7 ish, your right-click damage is something to be afraid of, however Bristleback has small strength gains and is still prone to CC, so don't play too over aggressively until you get some HP items (drums or sange is great).
Chase down kills are now much easier thanks to the improved attacking/casting animation, so frequent ganking and catching enemies out of position, and in the meantime helping out your team to tank etc should be high priority.
Quill Spray and Warpath damage means you can jungle like a freaking boss (especially stacked camps). Make sure you keep your farm up when you're playing the carry/semi-carry position. Conserve a bit of mana if you know there's gonna be an up-coming teamfight, cause you will need to spam your spells to get that Warpath damage out.
If the enemy team focus 4-5 heroes on you, you should simply TURN YOUR BACK and wait for back up. You survive MUCH, MUCH longer with your back turned. Try and position your hero so that your back is always facing the main damage source. Once they blow all their skills on you, and you're still alive (or backup has arrived), THEN you can turn around and start slapping them with your Warpath damage.