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Bristleback minimap icon.png Bristleback is a durable brawling hero that can wreak havoc in fights with his ability to reduce any damage he receives on his back and sides via Bristleback, along side his low cooldown abilities that become more potent as they stack onto enemies. Quill Spray is Bristleback's defining ability, affecting an area around him with damage that stacks upon multiple instances making it become a lethal nuke. Bristleback has no trouble chasing enemies as his ultimate, Warpath gives a speed boost every time he uses his abilities. Combined with Viscous Nasal Goo, this allows Bristleback to quickly catch up to his opponent. Under the right circumstances, Bristleback can easily become a formidable opponent that clears the way for his team and fights anyone who comes too close.
Pros Cons
  • Very durable.
  • High physical damage.
  • Versatile itemization.
  • Can slow fleeing enemies.
  • Vulnerable if enemy can break his passives.
  • Lacks a hard disable.
  • Mana problems early on.

Ability Builds[]

Generic Bristleback
Quill Spray icon.pngBristleback ability icon.pngViscous Nasal Goo icon.pngQuill Spray icon.pngQuill Spray icon.pngWarpath icon.pngQuill Spray icon.pngBristleback ability icon.pngBristleback ability icon.pngTalent icon.pngBristleback ability icon.pngWarpath icon.pngViscous Nasal Goo icon.pngViscous Nasal Goo icon.pngTalent icon.pngViscous Nasal Goo icon.pngUnknown icon.pngWarpath icon.pngTalent icon.pngTalent icon.png


Hero Talents
+24 Warpath Damage Per Stack2513% Spell Lifesteal
+20 Quill Stack Damage20+20 Health Regen
+20 Attack Speed15+200 Health
+2 Mana Regen10+15 Damage
  • This attack damage talent is added as bonus attack damage.
    • Does not benefit illusions and is not affected by most percentage-based damage increasing or reducing effects.
  • The health talent increases maximum health capacity, and keeps the current health percentage.
  • The spell lifesteal talent stacks additively with other sources of spell lifesteal.

Tips & Tactics[]


  • Bristleback is most often played in the offlane due to his innate tankiness, and ability to constantly pressure the enemy with his low cooldown abilties.
  • Mana is a necessity to make use of Bristleback's kit. In order to make use of it, Bristleback needs at least one item that offers mana regen such as Medallion of Courage icon.png Medallion of Courage, or Echo Sabre icon.png Echo Sabre.
  • Bristleback's lack of disables can allow enemies to teleport away rather than try and fight him.
  • Heroes that can force Bristleback to face them like Legion Commander minimap icon.png Legion Commander and Axe minimap icon.png Axe allow their teammates to deal damage unreduced by Bristleback, thus negating the primary source of Bristleback's durability.


Viscous Nasal Goo[]

  • Viscous Nasal Goo's cooldown is lower than Quill Spray, so in order to get as many Warpath stacks as possible, it is important to make use of this ability.
  • Viscous Nasal Goo can be used as an easy way to activate an enemy's Linken's Sphere icon.png Linken's Sphere.
    • If Bristleback has Aghanim's Scepter icon.png Aghanim's Scepter, Viscous Nasal Goo becomes an area-of-effect spell, similar to Quill Spray, leaving him with no innate skills to target an enemy to counter a Linken Sphere.
  • While great at allowing Bristleback to catch up to enemies, it should be noted that Viscous Nasal Goo does not stun enemies, allowing them to safely teleport away from Bristleback if he's alone.
  • The armor reduction from the ability works great with physical attackers like Sven minimap icon.png Sven or Shadow Fiend minimap icon.png Shadow Fiend.

Quill Spray[]

  • Quill Spray can be used to secure last hits, whether from range or timing it with your regular attack.
  • Quill Spray dissuades enemies from staying too close to Bristleback as it's damage is quickly amplified by the number of stacks they're affected by.
  • While a great source of damage, be careful not to overuse Quill Spray as enemies can also benefit from excessive use of the spell to gain Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand charges.
  • Quill Spray deals physical damage, meaning armor reducing abilities such as Viscous Nasal Goo or Medallion of Courage further amplify damage inflicted.
  • Quill Spray can affect enemies hidden by the fog of war, allowing Bristleback to still apply damage to enemies trying to hide from vision.


  • Use your passive ability Bristleback to your advantage; anticipate enemy attacks and turn your back on them, so that you can reduce as much damage as you can.
    • Note that you should not turn your back towards projectiles flying towards you, but rather the original source of the damage.
    • To reduce damage over time spells, turn your back towards the unit that cast the spell. If the unit has died, turn away from the unit's corpse.
    • An early point in this ability during the laning stage can help Bristleback stay in lane longer and potentially be left alone to gain an experience advantage.
  • Works fully against towers allowing Bristleback the opportunity to dive towers earlier than most heroes.
  • Damage reduced from Bristleback is done so after reductions from armor or magic resistance.


  • Warpath's movement speed bonus in combination with the slow of Viscous Nasal Goo makes chasing enemies incredibly easy for Bristleback. The armor reduction from Viscous Nasal Goo also amplifies the damage taken from Warpath's stacks.
  • Because Bristleback's kit centers entirely around dealing physical damage, the damage bonus from Warpath makes Bristleback's auto-attacks just as lethal as the rest of his abilities.


Starting items:

  • Tango icon.png Tango keeps Bristleback healthy in lane.
  • Enchanted Mango icon.png Enchanted Mango gives passive health regeneration and burst mana when needed.

Early game:

  • Boots of Speed icon.png Boots of Speed gives valuable movement speed.
  • Ring of Health icon.png Ring of Health helps to sustain in the lane and builds into both Vanguard icon.png Vanguard and Hood of Defiance icon.png Hood of Defiance.
  • Soul Ring icon.png Soul Ring provides you with virtually unlimited mana and synergizes well with Ring of Health icon.png Ring of Health.
  • Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand keeps Bristleback in the fight, giving him a chance to potentially use up charges twice for very large amounts of healing, and every two charges will grant him enough mana for an extra Quill Spray or Viscous Nasal Goo.

Mid game:

  • Phase Boots icon.png Phase Boots gives armor and further assists in Bristleback's ability to chase.
  • Arcane Boots icon.png Arcane Boots is a decent alternative to solve the mana issue Bristleback has in the early game. It can be disassemble later to build Lotus Orb icon.png Lotus Orb and Boots of Travel 1 icon.png Boots of Travel.
  • Vanguard icon.png Vanguard is one of a few strong early to mid-game pickups on Bristleback. It is best against teams that have a large amount of physical damage. Note that the damage block is deducted from the full attack damage, before any damage reduction (such as from armor or the Bristleback ability) takes place. It builds into a Crimson Guard icon.png Crimson Guard.
  • Hood of Defiance icon.png Hood of Defiance, as opposed to Vanguard, is a much stronger choice when the enemies rather rely on magical damage. It upgrades into a Pipe of Insight icon.png Pipe of Insight or Eternal Shroud icon.png Eternal Shroud.
  • Solar Crest icon.png Solar Crest provides survivability with armor and attributes. The mana regeneration also helps with casting spells.
  • Aghanim's Scepter icon.png Aghanim's Scepter is a strong utility item on Bristleback, turning his Viscous Nasal Goo into an AoE slow and armor reduction with high cast range and no cast point. Bristleback will get a full Warpath stack and high damage output, allowing him to run at max movement speed at all times while having his damage increased considerably.

Late game:

  • Lotus Orb icon.png Lotus Orb further bolsters defense with armor and health regeneration. Echo Shell can also dispel silences that plague Bristleback, while reflecting many targeted spells back to enemy casters. The mana and mana regeneration also help him to continuously cast Viscous Nasal Goo and Quill Spray.
  • Shiva's Guard icon.png Shiva's Guard is another large armor item, and it fixes any mana issues Bristleback can have. The active ability also gives Bristleback more presence in teamfights, damaging and slowing enemies in a huge area.
  • Heart of Tarrasque icon.png Heart of Tarrasque grants a huge amount of health and gives you significant regeneration. It helps in siege situations, where you can soak up lots of damage and then wait a short time to be back at full health. The immense health boost allows Bristleback to use the passive Quill Spray to their full potential, as he can tank significantly more, retreat to heal up and then repeat.

Situational items:

  • Blade Mail icon.png Blade Mail is a hybrid pickup of damage and defense. It is strong against teams with high amounts of burst damage, either causing the enemies to take the damage themselves as well, or forcing them to not use their burst damage, giving Bristleback some time to deal with them.
  • Heaven's Halberd icon.png Heaven's Halberd is a strong pickup if you're not the hardest carry on your team or the enemy team only has one physical damage dealer that it can be used on. The evasion, status resistance, and strength increase can add a lot to Bristleback's survivability.
  • Crimson Guard icon.png Crimson Guard is built off of a Vanguard, which is also a good item on Bristleback, and is an item any team should have if up against a physical damage heavy lineup.
  • Pipe of Insight icon.png Pipe of Insight is built off of a Hood of Defiance, which is also a good item on Bristleback, and is an item any team should have one of if there are any dangerous nukers on the enemy team.
  • Radiance (Active) icon.png Radiance is great on Bristleback if you can get it early in the game after a couple of items to tank up. This is basically a get-more-ahead item, as if you're hard to kill despite putting so much gold into an offensive item, it can be the best item to snowball the rest of the game by farming quickly and dealing massive area damage in teamfights. However, if you get this item at the cost of being tanky, this is a terrible item to pick up.
  • Octarine Core icon.png Octarine Core increases his damage output by lowering Quill Spray's cooldown time.
  • Assault Cuirass icon.png Assault Cuirass has amazing synergy with Bristleback, as it is one of the few items that can increase the damage of his Quill Spray. It also increases his and his team's tankiness against physical damage, and the attack speed greatly increases his attack damage output thanks to Warpath. It also is a great pickup if there are other carries on your team which rely on physical attacks.
  • Eternal Shroud icon.png Eternal Shroud is a good choice for Bristleback since the active gives both survivability and mana while passively giving spell lifesteal.