Comprehensive Barbarian Guide 2.0

Comprehensive Diablo 3 Barbarian Guide 2.0 submitted by Daith. 

Hello again Brothers and Sisters of Arreat! I have had numerous requests to revamp my original guide to include all skills and runes, so here by popular demand is my complete Barbarian guide which will carry you To Inferno and Beyond! Welcome and enjoy!

alt Part I: Introduction to the Barbarian

alt Part II: Barbarian Tactics

alt Part III: Attributes

alt Part IV: Skills and Runes

alt Part V: Itemization

alt Part VI: Followers

alt Part VII: Builds

alt Part VIII: Weapon Choices

alt Part IX: Miscellaneous

I. Introduction to the Barbarian

In short, Barbarians the masters of Melee combat. Currently, the melee community is catching a lot of flak in Diablo 3 because of the insane difficulty level of Inferno and the spike damage that Melee take. This is an issue that Blizzard is working to fix in the near future. 

So why play a Barbarian? This is the true challenge of the hardcore Diablo fan! The only returning Hero from Diablo 2 and the nostalgic feel it carries with it is only the beginning of the reward for playing this class. 

II. Barbarian Tactics

The key to playing a solid Barbarian lies in a balance of offense and defense. Barbarians are incredibly gear dependent. Upon reaching Inferno difficulty, you will be going out of your way to increase to your defense as much as you can. Over time, as your gear quality increases, you will be able to start incorporating more offensive stats and skills into your build. Also, never fall into a "Static" build from Act to Act in Inferno, because you will be switching many things up in order to survive. However, never switch out skills in the middle of an Act. I cannot stress this enough, but the most important thing to playing a Barbarian is PATIENCE! You will not breeze through enemies like a Wizard or a Demon Hunter, nor will you live as long. Your power lies in perseverance and slow, steady improvement. 

You will be doing a LOT of farming as a Barbarian, so prepare yourself for repetition. Also, it is crucial for you to maintain 5 stacks of Nephalem Valor at all times in Inferno. (Nephalem Valor is a stacking buff at level 60 that increases your magic and gold find by 15% per stack and the number of items that bosses drop) 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. The following is a list of what to aim for as you progress through each Act:

Act I- 30k Health, 12k Damage, 300 Unbuffed All Resist, 8k Armor
Act II- 40k Health, 20k Damage, 450 Unbuffed All Resist, 9.5k Armor
Act III- 45k Health, 22k Damage, 500 Unbuffed All Resist, 10k Armor
Act IV- 50k Health, 25k Damage, 550 Unbuffed All Resist, 11k Armor

III. Attributes

Strength- The core of the Barbarian. Each point adds 1% to your damage and one point of Armor. Strength is necessary to your survival and should be present on every piece of gear you obtain! You will likely put Vitality before Strength in terms of importance because of the difficulty level of Inferno until it becomes easier for you.

Dexterity- It takes about 20 points of Dexterity to give you 1% Dodge chance at level 60, prior to diminishing returns. There are some who would argue that stacking Dexterity as a Barbarian will increase your survivability. I have done some testing with this trait and I have concluded that the benefit is not worth what is sacrificed. If you obtain a great piece of gear that just happens to have dexterity on it in addition to all of the other stats, great, but otherwise, don't go out of your way to build up on this attribute.

Intelligence- This gives you a minuscule boost to all of your resistances. At level 60 it takes about 10 Intelligence to boost all of your resistances by 1 point. This is not an attribute you ever want to go out of your way to build up.

Vitality- Of course, the other core component of a successful Barbarian. This attribute will determine just how much punishment you can take. Upon reaching the later parts of Hell and Inferno, it is vital to stack Vitality as much as you can. Once you find yourself able to survive against even the toughest foes in Inferno, you can sacrifice points in Vitality for more offensive stats.

**Ideally, you want to taper out to a 1:1 Ratio of Strength to Vitality, but until then, always focus on Vitality first!

IV. Skills and Runes

This is where the success or failure of your Barbarian is measured. As gear-dependent as Barbarians are, without the proper build, you will be doomed to failure. Here, we will look at all of the skills and runes currently available and evaluate the uses of each.

Bash- Solid Single-target damage, knockback can be both useful and annoying. A Clobber rune will give this skill some utility with a semi-reliable stun. Onslaught adds even more single target damage to this ability. Punish can be useful if you find yourself using other Barbarian skills such as Revenge. Instigation is great for Fury-spender-heavy Barbarians. Pulverize adds a non-reliable AoE effect that does very little damage. Of the three Fury builders, Bash is the least useful. Consider Bash if you have a lot of attack speed from your gear. Recommended Rune: Clobber or Onslaught

Cleave- This was my favorite Fury builder to use while leveling up, but I have since left it behind. Cleave does some very reliable AoE damage and has some solid runes to boot. Rupture is great for clearing out groups while leveling up. Reaping Swing generates a ton of Fury for your spenders. Scattering Blast adds a knockback ability, which can have its uses in later difficulties. Broad Sweep adds a solid chunk of damage. Gathering Storm is great in areas with a lot of fast-moving fleeing mobs. Attack speed on several pieces of your gear benefits Cleave greatly. Recommended Rune: Broad Sweep

Frenzy- Frenzy is currently the most powerful of the Fury builders. Against single target foes, the amount of damage this ability ramps up to is unfathomable. Sidearm is an incredible skill which adds a heavy AoE proc, but can sometimes be unreliable. Triumph is good for leveling up, but loses much of it's benefit in Inferno. Vanguard has many uses as avoiding rare mob effects becomes crucial in later difficulties. Smite can provide further Crowd Control, but is often unreliable. Maniac adds a static damage buff across the board. While Frenzy already gives a huge boost to your attack speed, this is amplified even further by 2-3 pieces of attack speed gear. Recommended Rune: Sidearm or Maniac

Hammer of the Ancients- A high-damage Fury dump with a small AoE radius. Rolling Thunder expands the AoE range by a considerable amount making it a weaker version of Seismic Slam. Smash is best treated as a high damage single-target strike. The Devil's Anvil can have it's uses in packs of fast-moving mobs. Thunderstrike is decent in Nightmare and Hell difficulties, but loses it's usefulness in Inferno. Birthright is beneficial for the farming Barbarian in pursuit of more loot.Recommended Rune: Smash or Birthright

Rend- This ability does a solid amount of damage over a short time, but feels a little lackluster overall. Ravage increases the radius by a decent amount. Blood Lust is almost entirely useless in Inferno mode because of the nerf to Life Steal. (20% of the listed life steal, so 9% becomes 1.8% in Inferno) Lacerate adds a solid damage boost. Mutilate forces your enemies to bleed for a longer period of time. Bloodbath is a solid damage skill, but isn't very useful in Inferno. Recommended Rune: Lacerate

Seismic Slam- This is a great long-range skill for taking out those annoying back-line casters and runners. It is also my favorite of the core Fury-spenders. Stagger gives you a reliable AoE stun. Stattered ground gives knockback which can have uses in later difficulties. Rumble adds a minimal AoE damage boost. Strength from earth makes this ability far easier to spam. Cracking Rift is a massive damage boost and is very useful in straight hallways and against many lined up enemies.Recommended Rune: Cracking Rift

Whirlwind- This ability does decent damage, but is very Fury heavy and limits your versatility. Dust Devils gives some further AoE damage comparable to Sidearm. Hurricane gives you some of your overall versatility back. Blood Funnel is great if you have stacked high Critical Hit Chance. Wind Shear allows you to use this ability with more stability and frequency. Volcanic Eruption gives a heavy damage boost to Whirlwind. Recommended Rune: Blood Funnel or Volcanic Eruption

Ground Stomp- This is a great ability for leveling and keeps much of it's usefulness into Inferno. Deafening Crash is great for keeping runners from doing what they do. Wrenching Smash is great for setting up a combo attack. Trembling Stomp adds a marginal amount of damage to the skill. Foot of the Mountain has it's uses in Fury-heavy builds. Avalanche adds Knockback and a small amount of damage. Recommended Rune: Wrenching Smash

Leap- A great mobility skill with several defensive rune choices. Iron Impact gives you a massive defense boost for a few seconds, which is very handy in later difficulties. Launch is more useful for escaping than engaging. Toppling Impact grants further Knockback for the skill. Call of Arreat is great for initiating fights, but is usually overkill if you have Ground Stomp + Wrenching Smash. Death from above is a solid, reliable AoE stun and is useful in all difficulties. Recommended Rune: Iron Impact or Death from Above

Sprint- Sprint is great for initiating fights or escaping bad situations. Rush gives a solid boost to your Dodge %, but is still unreliable. Run like the win does a small amount of damage to enemies that chase you. Marathon further boosts the duration and speed of the ability. Gangway is great for getting out of a situation where you are cornered by several large enemies and must ignore unit collision to escape. Forced March is very useful in Co-op games when everyone needs to avoid a major attack.

Ignore Pain- Ignore Pain is another staple skill that is invaluable in Inferno. Until you reach a certain level of gear, you will often rely on this skill in order to survive against Elites/Champions. Bravado adds a knockback and a little damage to the skill. Iron Hide is great for prolonging the damage reduction of Ignore Pain. Ignorance is Bliss is good through Hell mode, but loses some of it's use in Inferno. (20% down to 8% in Inferno) Mob rule is another great rune choice for cooperative play. Contempt for Weakness can add a bit of burst damage against enemies hitting you, but there are far better choices. Recommended Rune: Iron Hide or Ignorance is Bliss

Ancient Spear- Ancient Spear has it's uses but it is primarily a PvP skill. Grappling Hooks increases the likelihood that you will hit a single target, or allows you to pull an entire group off of an ally. Skirmish is decent for boosting your Fury. Dread Spear will return a solid chunk of life. Harpoon is comparable to Grappling hooks, but better for dungeons and caves. Rage Filp is good for adding a solid chunk of damage to Ancient Spear. Recommended Rune: Grappling Hooks or Harpoon

Revenge- Another core skill of the Barbarian that is necessary for survival in later difficulties. The ability to heal a percentage of your maximum health far outweighs Life Steal and Life on Hit. Vengeance is Mine is good at early level, but will be replaced quickly. Best Served Cold will carry you to very high levels and boosts your damage considerably. Retribution adds a little more damage, but other runes are far better. Grudge gives the situational knockback. Provocation increases the frequency that you can use Revenge. Recommended Rune: Best Served Cold or Provocation

Furious Charge- A solid movement skill with high damage output and great sustainability from runes. Battering Ram boosts the damage output by a considerable amount. Merciless Assault will allow you to repeatedly use this skill to get in and out of tight spots. Stamina is great for Fury heavy builds. Bull Rush is useful, but unreliable. Dreadnought gives a massive sustainability boost, even in Inferno. Recommended Rune: Dreadnought

Overpower- Overpower deals some solid AoE damage, but with a smaller radius than Revenge. Storm of Steel is an unreliable addition to the AoE radius that does a small amount of damage. Killing spree is great, especially if you are a Critical Hit reliant Barbarian. Crushing Advance reflects some damage back at the attacker, but this is usually a minuscule amount. Momentum generates a ton of Fury. Revel is worth considering as an alternative to the Revenge skill. Recommended Rune: Revel or Killing Spree

Weapon Throw- Weapon Throw does a heavy amount of damage at range, which can be a saving grace in later difficulties. Mighty Throw boosts the damage by a decent amount. Ricochet is great for taking on groups of enemies at a time. Throwing Hammer is an unreliable stun at best. Stupefy can be fun, but is not a very practical choice. Dread Bomb does heavy damage, but the skill cannot be chained due to the use of all Fury. Recommended Rune: Ricochet or Mighty Throw

Threatening Shout- This ability can be very useful in Inferno mode, particularly during Cooperative play. Being able to reduce the outgoing damage of everything around you will boost not only your own survival, but your group's as well. Intimidate adds a useful slow debuff for runners. Falter further reduces the damage output of enemies and is particularly useful against swarms of fast-hitting mobs. Grim Harvest is a great addition to any loot farming Barbarian's repertoire. Demoralize is great for team-play. Terrify adds further AoE CC, but is very unreliable. Recommended Rune: Falter

Battle Rage- Boosts your overall damage output by a massive amount and is easy to maintain at all times. Marauder's Rage further increases the damage bonus by a heavy amount. Ferocity will allow you to maintain the buff for longer. Swords to Ploughshares has very little benefit for the player and is completely unreliable. Into the Fray will allow you to generate a significant amount of Fury on Critical Hits. Bloodshed deals some decent damage as AoE. Recommended Rune: Marauder's Rage

War Cry- War Cry is another core skill for nearly every Barbarian build. This ability buffs not only you, but your allies as well. Hardened Wrath grants a larger bonus to your team's Armor. Charge! generates a massive amount of Fury. Invigorate will grant more maximum Life and Life Regeneration. Veteran's Warning gives a decent boost to your Dodge rating. Impunity is easily the best choice until all of your Resistances are about 750 unbuffed. Rune Recommendation: Impunity or Invigorate

Earthquake- This skill deals a massive amount of damage in a close AoE area. It loses much of it's usefulness against highly mobile enemies and ranged foes. Giant's Stride Is decent for enemies who pursue you. Chilling Earth adds a useful slow effect which helps correct the issue presented by fast enemies. The Mountain's Call reduces the cooldown by a large amount. Aftershocks is a counter-productive rune for the build as it knocks some enemies out of the damage area. Path of Fire is great for pursuing other foes. Recommended Rune: Chilling Earth or The Mountain's Call

Call of the Ancients- Call of the Ancients can be very useful against larger groups of enemies, as well as Elites and Champions. The Council Rises boosts the damage and survival of each of the Ancients. Duty to the Clan boosts the duration by a decent amount. Korlic's Might, Madawc's Madness, and Talic's Anger each grant one of the ancients an additional, high-damage skill.Recommended Rune: The Council Rises or Duty to the Clan

Wrath of the Berserker- An incredible skill that turns you into a true beast for a short time. Arreat's Wail adds a massive damage AoE burst upon activation. Insanity essentially doubles your damage for the duration of the effect. Slaughter adds a high-damage AoE proc and is great for Critical Hit builds. Striding Giant makes you very difficult to hit for the duration. Thrive on Chaos can extend the duration by a massive amount based on your Fury generation. Recommended Rune: Insanity


Pound of Flesh- Good for leveling up, but provides little to no benefit in later difficulties.

Ruthless- Increases your damage output by a large amount and great for pairing with Critical Hit bases skills and gear.

Nerves of Steel- A great defensive passive that gives you far more survivability in Inferno.

Weapons Master- Add's a decent damage-based benefit based on your weapon type. Consider which weapon you are currently using before taking this passive.

Berserker Rage- Increases your damage by a significant amount. Very useful for builds that have few or no Fury-spenders and are at maximum fury 80% of the time.

Inspiring Presence- A beneficial skill primarily because all Barbarian build tend to include at least one Shout. 

Bloodthirst- Great for leveling, but entirely useless in Inferno. (3% Life Steal reduced to 0.6% in Inferno)

Animosity- Also great if you are using a Fury-spender heavy build.

Superstition- A useful ability if you find yourself unable to avoid most Elite/Champion elemental mechanics. Otherwise, most damage in Inferno is Physical.

Tough as Nails- Another great skill for survival in inferno, and grants the additional benefit of extra Thorns damage. Tough as nails provides more of a benefit than Nerves of Steel in most scenarios.

No Escape- This is great for a Critical heavy throwing Barbarian. Allows for many chain throws at the safety of range.

Relentless- An extremely useful skill that has saved me countless times in Inferno. Until spike damage is fixed, this is one of the major skills for survival in Inferno.

Brawler- A very good skill if you wish to farm basic enemies and Elite/Champion packs, but provides no benefit against single targets and many ranged/fleeing foes.

Juggernaut- Useful for PvP or if you find yourself having trouble against CC heavy Elites/Champions (Jailer, Nightmarish, etc.)

Unforgiving- Only useful if you are using a very Fury-heavy build. This pairs well with Berserker Rage.

Boon of Bul-Kathos- Can be useful if you find yourself using 2 of these 3 abilities in your build. Otherwise, there are much better options available.

V. Itemization

Now that we have the core attributes and skills 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 other items in that slot. These stats are the primary core of the Barbarian and you should try to have them on nearly every item:

Primary Stats
Strength- Vital for increasing your damage output and Armor.
Vitality- Stack Vitality until Survival is no longer an issue, then focus on Strength.
All Resistance- The most important item attribute! Stack until you reach about 500- 550 unbuffed. (After this the Diminishing returns are too much to be worth stacking more)
Armor- Very important for reducing most damage sources throughout Inferno.

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)

Secondary Stats
Weapon- Attack Speed, Critical Hit Damage, Life Steal
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, Life Steal
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

Tertiary Stats
Has Sockets (Helm is most important)
Physical Resistance
Fire Resistance
Life on Hit
Life Regeneration
Magic Find
Chance on Hit Procs (ex. Freeze, Stun, etc.)

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 when you reach Inferno 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."

Helm: Amethyst or Topaz
Weapon: Emerald
Other: Amethyst or Ruby (Based on which is needed)

VI. Followers

Templar- Useful as another front-line fighter with many life-saving abilities for the player.
Scoundrel- Solid damage and CC abilities.
Enchantress- Very high damage output at range, great player buffs.
Recommended builds:!0011!1010

VII. Builds

Core Build:!ZbV!accacZ
Leveling Build:!ZcV!aZZZab 
Mobile Tank:!beV!accZac
Throwing Build:!ZVf!YacZac

VIII. Weapon Choices

So what is the difference between dual-wielding Barbarians, Two-handed Barbarians, and Sword-and-Board Barbarians? Simply put, the biggest single-target hits will come from two-handed Barbarians, the most sustained overall DPS will come from two one-handed weapons, and the highest survivability will come from Sword and Board Barbarians.

IX. Miscellaneous

- Learn what to expect from each enemy type you encounter to be prepared when you come across a Champion/Elite version.

- Troublesome Monster affixes include Arcane Enchanted, Shielding, Fire Chains, and Invulnerable Minions