DncingBear's guide to Bristle ownage
Been playing bristle straight up all the time, here's how to build him
Item Choices and Laning
you can choose to either start with stout or ring of protection. If you think your lane is going to hard, you should start with ring to make a basi asap, so you can sustain your manapool for lasthitting/harrassing with quills. Stout is most ideal, because it increases your overall EHP more than ring of protection, but basi is core, and if you dont want to use the courier early, you can also choose to go for ring of protection instead of stout.
Now head yourself to the safe-lane, or mid if you'r feeling confident with the hero. Bristle has a really good attack animation, and quills are really useful for lasthitting/harrassing. If I'm soloing mid with bristle, I usually hit the creeps so they dont die, but a quill is gonna get me the lasthit, and harrass. That way I'm not getting my lasthits denied, and I'm zoning the enemy mid out.
Hardlane is highly recommended if you have a kotl, use quills for lasthits and zoning the enemy carry out. You might want a +1 on your lane if you'r against a tryhardstack(propably trilaning). Always get stout for mid/hardlane.
You should aim to have your treads, urn, basi and drum by the 15-16 minute mark. This core build is gonna sustain your manage for spamming quills, and urn-charges can heal you up when you drop low. DON'T farm up big items on bristle. He doesnt farm fast enough, and his main source of damage comes from quills, which are gonna fade off past the 25-30 minute mark. By this time, most of your damage is gonna come from right-clicks when warpath is stacked up, but keep in mind, you are not gonna be able to get a lot of right-clicks off. Bristle's str gain is rather low, and you are susceptible to getting bursted down if you'r facing your enemy. In a fight, you want to stand a bit on the outskirts(while still in the fray of the battle) and just spam your snot and quills. If your enemy gets annoyed with you and wants to focus you, you turn your back and pray that your team is gonna deal a lot of damage. If they dont focus you, look for an angle to run in and hit a soft target, or anyone with snot stacked on them.
You can opt to get more points in bristleback, if you are feeling too soft, but ideally you want to get your snot to rank 3 so every stack gives -2 armor. You should allways get 1 level in bristleback tho, the reduction from level 1 is quite significant, and it lets out some extra quills. Skill him according to what you need! If you are afraid of dieing too fast, get more points in bristleback, if you are afraid to get kited, get points in snot.
The core-build for bristle is basi, urn, treads and drum. This build will give you a healthy stat boost, putting you at around 2k health, while sustaining your mana with bristle's great int-gain. Also the urn lets you heal up after a fight, and can be used offensively as well, for some extra damage when you're chasing. Oh and mana regen+str is great. Halberd is one of the best items to get when you'r transitioning into the late-game. The 25% evasion forces the enemy carry to buy mkb, and the disarm forces him to buy bkb. If you get really farmed a heart is not a bad choice, AC is gonna increase your quill dps and give you some armor. Armor is not the most cost-efficient stat to get on bristle because of how bristleback works(reduction before armor) but it isn't bad to pump up your armor a bit, and the +as and -armor can increase your own carry's dps a lot, but most of the time you are better off getting a heart over ac(provided halberd is already bought/not needed). If you are getting kited a lot you can pick up a blink dagger or force staff or atos, whatever the situation is best for. The main point of bristle is to be too hard to focus down, and too dangerous/annoying to leave alone.