Comprehensive Diablo 3 Barbarian Guide

Comprehensive Diablo 3 Barbarian Guide submitted by Daith.

Note: Make sure to check out Version 2.0 of this guide as well.

I wrote this guide for all of the Barbarians out there who love the class, but are struggling through certain parts of the game. 

This guide is meant to carry you through Inferno and beyond! I will review the benefits and drawbacks of certain skills and I will also review the itemization system. Welcome, fellow Children of Arreat!

Most Importantly, I must stress that Barbarians are very gear-dependent! If you find yourself unable to progress through Inferno, don't hesitate to go back and farm Act IV of Hell for cash and a few item upgrades!

There is no shame in this and you must assume that the natural flow of the game is going to be repetition of each Act in Inferno until it is on farm status then you can progress to the next Act.

General Leveling as a Barbarian includes getting up close and personal with entire groups of enemies. One build I would recommend for leveling with assorted rune variants based on your level is:!ZcV!aZZZab 

This build got me through every difficulty. It uses no Fury and does immense damage! Initiate with leap, yank everything to you with Ground Stomp, and AoE like mad! Swap out Cleave for Frenzy during Bosses. Focus on Strength and Vitality and anything that increases your damage output beyond that. Start saving your pennies early though because late Hell and Inferno require you to make some major item purchases.

I must say that there IS such a thing as a cookie-cutter build in Diablo 3, simply because of the difficulty of Inferno. Some skills are just too vital to substitute for anything else. That said, the build I have used is still incredibly fun and has carried me through Inferno. (Not easily, but nonetheless) I will discuss why I chose each skill and passive as well as options for different play styles. 

NOTE: You NEVER want to switch out your skills or runes just for a specific fight because you lose all of your Nephalem Valor stacks. The goal of any build is that it is viable in all situations, whether it's trash mobs, elites, champions, or bosses.

My current build is as follows!ZbV!acbacZ

Guide continued after the page break..

NOTE: I use this as a Sword and Board build, but it is viable for any weapon setup.

Frenzy + Sidearm- This is the true core of the build. This damage output of this ability can't be matched by any other class. You will be amazed at the speed that bosses drop even in Inferno difficulty. Sidearm is an incredible skill for AoE damage and hitting those pesky back-line ranged mobs. It also does very solid damage to bosses. The only drawback of Sidearm that I have noticed is the random selection of any target within range, including destructible barrels, ashes and such. 

The other drawback can be a bit infuriating. You engage a group of enemies, watch a random axe fly off screen, finish your pack and collect the loot and as you move in the direction that the axe flew you notice a trail of gold and catch up just in time to see the Treasure Goblin go through it's portal. 

This has happened to me on several occasions and can be quite frustrating, but if you are attentive to your surroundings, you will be just fine. Some would argue that Maniac is a better rune or that Cleave + Broad Sweep is a better Fury builder, but after testing both, I strongly disagree. As mentioned before, the goal is to NEVER have to swap out your skills and Frenzy + Maniac is only good for single target fights while Cleave + Broad Sweep is only good for AoE packs. Sidearm makes clearing trash mobs incredibly easy and fast, while not sacrificing damage against a single target foe. 

Revenge + Provocation- This is a staple for any Barbarian in Inferno mode because of the high AoE damage and Life Return. Since Life Steal is nerfed to 20% in Inferno mode, you must rely on other methods for sustainability and Revenge is just the thing. (Note: As of 5/26/2012 the proc rate seems to have been slightly reduced as I am not having the constant chain proc anymore)

** Since the changes made to Revenge, this skill can be replaced by either Overpower + Revel (Much smaller AoE range), or Furious Charge + Dreadnaught to give you an escape skill as well.**

Ignore Pain + Ignorance is Bliss- Until you are in supreme gear, this skill is a MUST to survive against most Champion and Elite packs. Ignorance is Bliss is great for sustainability even with Inferno reducing it to 4% of Damage Dealt, it is still enough to restore you to full heath for it's duration. There are some options here if you don't need the sustainability. Iron Hide gives you a bit more mitigation in those crucial spots while Mob Rule is great for co-op play. Eventually, this skill can be replaced when your gear alone is enough to sustain you.

Battle Rage + Marauder's Rage- This skill gives you a brutal damage boost across the board and should be sustained at all times.

War Cry + Impunity- Another core of the Barbarian for obvious reasons. The Armor and Resistance bonuses are invaluable and this should always be kept active.

Wrath of the Berserker + Insanity- This is the Trump Card you play when you encounter and Elite or Champion pack. Not only does this more than double your damage output, but it gives you a bit of survivability with the Dodge bonus. I love this ability and even with stable enough gear for Elites and Bosses, it's still incredible to use. However, the long cooldown can be a real pain when you can't kill an Elite/Champion pack without it. This skill can also be replaced once you acquire enough gear to kill Elites without it.

Ruthless- I am a big fan of passives that give multiple benefits, and the damage from this one is too much to pass up! You will end up stacking Critical Chance and Critical damage with your gear and this will just amplify your damage further.

Tough as Nails- Again, a skill with two benefits. While granting a huge armor bonus, this skill actually increases your damage output by a substantial amount if you are wearing 3-4 pieces of Thorns gear doing a base 700-800 damage each. However, you will not be going out of your way to find Thorns gear during Itemization.

Nerves of Steel- Personally, I am not a big fan of this skill as it is only one benefit and doesn't grant as much armor as Tough as Nails. While it is necessary to reduce the damage you are taking when you first get to Inferno since most of it is Physical, you will eventually outgrow the benefit of this. I consider this the Optional passive slot. Consider other passives such as Weapon Master, Berserker Rage, or Relentless based on your personal preference towards offensive or defensive play.

NOT Superstition- While many may be tempted to take this skill for the static 20% reduction to all non-physical damage and a little Fury generation, I will explain why there are far better options. Throughout Inferno, 90% of the damage you will take in melee will be Physical. Also, most of the Non-Physical damage in the game can be easily avoided with movement and player skill. (i.e. Pools, Arcane Sentries, Projectiles, etc.)

Now that we have the core build established, lets take a look at the itemization and what to look for as a Barbarian. NOTE: All of the following stats are what you want to look for in RARE quality items. Many Legendary and Set Items will have unique stats that normally cannot appear on items in that slot.

These stats are the core of the Barbarian and you should try to have them on EVERY item:
Vitality (You can afford to stop stacking Vitality when you reach around 50-55K Health)
All Resistance (Does not appear on Weapons, MOST IMPORTANT CORE STAT)

Once you find an item that has all of the above stats on it, take a look at the other stats on it to determine whether it will fully benefit you as a Barbarian. NOTE: Many items in Diablo 3 have exclusive stats that only appear on specific item slots. (Ex. Life Steal appears only on Rare Weapons and Belts)

The following is a list of crucial stats that appear only on specific item slots:

Weapon- Attack Speed, Critical Hit Damage, Life on Hit
Shield- Block, Critical Hit Chance, Life %
Helm- Critical Hit Chance, Life %
Shoulders- Life %
Amulet- Attack Speed, Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage, Life %, Reduced Damage from Melee/Ranged
Chest- Life %, Reduced Damage from Elites/Melee/Ranged
Gloves- Attack Speed, Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage
Bracers- Critical Hit Chance, Reduced Damage from Melee/Ranged
Belt- Barbarian Skill Bonus: Frenzy/Revenge
Ring- Attack Speed, Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage, Life %
Pants- No Noteworthy Stats (See Inna's Glory for MANY unique beneficial stats)
Boots- Movement Speed

After some toying around with the Life Steal mechanic in Inferno, even with both a weapon and belt at 3% life steal each, I am still only getting 300-400 health back per normal swing. This concludes that Life Steal is simply not worth it in Inferno and you are better off with Life on Hit or Life Regeneration.

Other Stats to Consider:
  • Physical Resistance
  • Armor
  • Life on Hit
  • Has Sockets
  • Life Regeneration
  • Magic Find
  • Chance on Hit Procs (ex. Freeze, Stun, etc.
  • Physical Damage to Attacker
  • Crowd Control Reduction (PvP)

With the combination of these stats, you will find yourself decimating even the mightiest adversaries in Inferno. If you find an item with all of the core stats (Str, Vit, AR) in addition to slot specific stats, consider it a real treasure!

The first item you want to upgrade is your weapon! Ideally, you want something around 500-600 DPS for a 1H, and 700-800 for a 2H for Inferno Act I. After that, ALWAYS upgrade your weakest item first! "You are only as strong as your weakest link... of chainmail."

As far as gems go, you will want to focus on the following:
Helm: Amethyst
Weapon: Emerald
Other: Amethyst or Ruby based on whichever overall stat is lower between Strength and Vitality.

For followers, I have used the Enchantress with Forceful Push, Powered Armor, Erosion, and Focused Mind, and Frighteningly, she can take out entire groups in Inferno.

The following are the stats to aim for with each Act of Inferno:
Act I- 30k Health, 12k Damage, 300 Unbuffed All Resist, 8k Armor
Act II- 38k Health, 18k Damage, 450 Unbuffed All Resist, 9k Armor
Act III- 40k Health, 20k Damage, 500 Unbuffed All Resist, 9.5k Armor
Act IV- 45k Health, 22k Damage, 550 Unbuffed All Resist, 10k Armor

Thank you all for reading and I hope this helps alleviate some of the anger at the Barbarian class in the later difficulties. It is far and away the mightiest of the classes available in Diablo 3, but the Journey lies in the acquisition of those all-important items to make you invincible! It is one of the most fun, rewarding classes in all of Sanctuary!

Miscellaneous Notes:
It helps to have one item to increase your gold and health globe pickup radius. It saves you a little time and grief throughout the game.

99% of your survival rate is going to rely on you learning the abilities of each individual enemy you encounter. This will better prepare you for times when you encounter an Elite or Champion pack that has some annoying, non-listed ability that they use.