Update 10/14: PTR Patch Notes for 2.6.7 have gone live and include a number of Barbarian buffs, many of which are take directly from this proposal! We're thrilled to test them in the near future and look forward to discussing the results!
Update 7/3: Since the release of this proposal, we’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from the larger Diablo III community. However, one of the most pertinent criticisms was that we failed to address how the Barbarian class ranks in terms of power relative to other classes, and how Barbarians fit into group play dynamics. A thorough analysis revealed that the problem is much worse than anticipated: Due to gimmicky and broken game mechanics, Barbarians have the lowest damage potential of all classes, and have absolutely no current options for participating in group play as anything other than zero-DPS (zDPS) support roles. In short, Barbarians are, on average, 4.1 Greater Rifts behind other classes and thus the weakest class in the game.
To close that gap, our builds needs to deal 2x as much damage above and beyond what is proposed for our intra-class buffs (those suggested in the original proposal). There are exceptions, particularly with regards to specific skills, items, and doubly so with regards to opening additional group play roles to Barbarians, but those are addressed separately in relevant sections.
Additional information on this problem and its solution are contained below in relevant sections. For clarity, updated text will be marked in blue color throughout the proposal.
Patch 2.6.5 and Season 17, the Season of Nightmares, allowed players to take fun, interesting, and powerful Legacy of Nightmares (LoN) builds to the next level. In addition, the patch’s updates to various supporting legendaries increased parity between builds, and helped more builds attain a “viable” status. Unfortunately, Barbarians were left out of the loop. Barbs have, for quite some time, suffered from a lack of powerful supporting legendaries, and without updates to any of our items, the Season of Nightmares was very lackluster. This highlights several core problems with the class--broken sets, weak supporting legendaries, and few options for LoN builds.
When this issue was raised on the Battle.net forum, Community Manager Nevalistis reassured us that the Diablo III development team was aware of the issue and that they would be taking a closer look at Barbs in the future. And while that’s good news, many loyal Barbarians have concerns; we have, as a community, come to feel that many of our core complaints have gone unaddressed. But rather than focus on negativity, a community effort was made to generate focused feedback on the Barbarian class: where are we weak? What do we lack? And how can these problems be addressed?
This proposal answers those questions by addressing the Barbarian class's core problems through buffs and overhauls. If you’re eager to skip directly to our item proposals, skip down to Proposal Lists 1 and 2. If you need a quick refresher on build terms and compositions, here are our class’s five major builds (capable of GR 125+):
Early on, we identified several core problems with the Barbarian class:
1. Certain sets and items are broken. As a result, some parts of sets and builds are completely ignored or useless.
2. Many supporting legendaries are outdated and weak. As a result, many “best-in-slot” item slots are dominated by generic cross-class items as opposed to class-specific items, and our LoN and primary-skill builds are weak.
Problem 1: Broken Sets and Skills
Though all of our sets have been buffed over time, certain problematic aspects of their design have not been addressed. Let’s discuss some of these issues.
Wrath of the Wastes, Rend, and Whirlwind
Since Diablo II, Whirlwind has been one of--if not the--most popular Barbarian builds. But it’s a well known fact that this classic build, referred to as Zodiac Whirlwind (Zodiac WW), suffers from several key problems.
Immortal King’s Call and Hammer of the Ancients
Many players feel the iconic IK HOTA build is lackluster in dealing damage. This is only emphasized by the fact that it has for some time been overshadowed by the R6 HOTA build. And because the two builds share key items, many worry that buffing IK HOTA will result in a buff to R6 HOTA.
Might of the Earth, Earthquake, Avalanche, and Seismic Slam
Though one of our most popular and versatile sets, the various builds that revolve around this set suffer from two key problems:
Generators, Passives, and Supporting Legendaries
Much of the frustration felt by the Barbarian community with regards to the Season of Nightmares stems from the fact that many of our supporting legendaries are outdated. So, too, are many of our passive skills. As a result, Barbarians have no viable generator builds.
Problem 2: Outdated Supporting Legendaries
Simply put, many of our supporting legendaries are outdated due to power creep. In addition, many of our item slots are taken up with generic, cross-class items that fail to create meaningful or interesting synergy between our sets and skills. Rather than equip class-specific Mighty Weapons, for example, several of our builds opt for Istvan’s Paired Blades, and while Ancient Parthan Defenders find their way into several of our major builds, the Vambraces of Sescheron and Bul-Kathos’s Wedding Band are automatically salvaged at the blacksmith.
Problem 3: Cross-Class Damage Potential, Broken Mechanics, & Group Play
Despite some remarkable solo clears, Barbarians have the lowest global power potential (the ability to clear a GR at a given Paragon range) of all classes. Before we examine global leaderboard data, it’s important to address one of the reasons this has flown under the radar for so long: broken or gimmicky game mechanics.
Wall-Charging and the “Bug” Pack
Our strongest builds, R6 HOTA and Vile Charge, have both cleared GR 131. However, those clears--and every Barb clear above 131--has relied on one, sometimes two gimmicky, potentially broken game mechanics: wall-charging and the “bug” pack.
Wall-charging is a tactic used in builds that employ Furious Charge. Through subtle interaction with map terrain, the player may infinitely charge against a wall or obstacle to exploit the damage bonus of Endless Walk set or to spam Furious Charge at a rate that would not otherwise be possible.
Meanwhile, the “bug” pack, as it has come to be called, is a specific elite monster with the Illusionist affix. Careful manipulation of the monster allows a near-infinite number of additional monsters to be spawned, and under the right circumstances, a player can clear a Greater Rift on the first floor, by fighting this one elite pack, in record time.
These gimmicky, potentially broken game mechanics have obfuscated the relatively weak power potential of Barbarians by propelling builds that can capitalize on them to heights not otherwise attainable. In our best estimation, these tactics have granted between 2 and 5 Greater Rifts of potential to two of our builds.
A Global Comparison
While a reliance on wall-charging and the “bug” pack obfuscate our solo potential behind gimmicky, broken mechanics, a global comparison reveals the true scope of the situation. Here are the averages of the top 10 GR clears by class for all three servers:
Class / NA / EU / AS / Average
Barb: 125.7 / 127.7 / 126.8 / 126.7
Cru: 130.0 / 132.1 / 129.7 / 130.6
DH: 129.0 / 131.2 / 129.9 / 130.0
Monk: 125.4 / 129.3 / 127.6 / 127.4
Nec: 130.8 / 135.3 / 131.2 / 132.4
WD: 130.2 / 132.2 / 129.8 / 130.7
Wiz: 136.0 / 138.9 / 138.3 / 137.7
Worldwide average for all classes is 130.8, which means Barbarians are 4.1 tiers behind the average for other classes. Every other class, except Monk, nearly meets or exceeds this average, and while we certainly advocate for Monk buffs as well, our focus remains on Barbarians.
Our conclusion is this: Even with broken, gimmicky mechanics masking our weak damage potential, the gap between Barbarians and the average of other classes is 4.1 GR tiers. Without additional buffs, the Barbarian class will continue to be the weakest class in Diablo III.
Barbarians have long had a love-hate relationship with group play. On the one hand, we enjoy being an essential part of every group composition as a zDPS support character. This allows us access to the numerous benefits of group play, and demand for skilled zDPS Barbarians is always high. On the other hand, we have never been able to play anything aside from zDPS support since our class deals such low damage when compared to every other class. And while some players enjoy the nuances of zDPS play, many find it restrictive or antithetical to the Barbarian archetype.
As a point of concern for the community, it should be noted that, with the exception of Season 16’s Grandeur buff, Barbarians have never, in any other Season or Era, had the power to act as a viable or efficient DPS character in any group composition.
With problems identified, we began a successful community discussion focused on the following goals:
Increase parity between Barbarians and other classes and support more diverse group play options
The following lists of proposals are the result. List 1 buffs our builds and supporting legendaries, addressing problems 2 and 3. However, it does not address the problem of broken sets and skills. To do that, we offer List 2, which suggests larger, more radical fixes, some of which include item and set overhauls. This list represents what the class truly needs in order to address its core problems.
In other words, we very much want the kinds of changes contained in List 2. But if that’s not in the cards, we need the changes in List 1.
It should be noted that we’re not asking for both lists--just one or the other (preferably, List 2). It should also be noted that some of the problems faced by the Barbarian class can only be addressed through changes of the sort suggested in List 2.
Each List contains two sets of suggested changes. The first, older suggestions are meant to increase intra-class parity between Barbarian builds. They do not address the problem of comparing Barbarians to other classes. The second, newer suggestions represent the buffs needed to increase inter-class parity and bridge the 4.1 GR tier gap (2x damage) between Barbarians and other classes. They are not meant to be stacked with the older suggested buffs; only one or the other of the suggested buffs should be implemented.
Priorities of Buffs
With all the info presented here, we felt it important to offer a concise summary of how to read our buffs according to priorities
Priority 1: All buffs in blue text. These will grant us immediate intra- and cross-class parity.
Priority 2: List 2 supporting legendaries. These are almost, perhaps more important than the buffs in blue numbers as these will fix the problems with our sets, skills, and builds.
Priority 3: List 1 buffs in blue. If we can't get stuff fixed, we can at least be as powerful as other classes on average.
Evaluating Builds and Needed Buffs
Before we get into the lists proper, here is a brief overview of the methodology used to derive buffs. To create a baseline, we began by examining the highest clears of all our major builds (builds that can do GR 125 or higher). Here they are in order from highest to lowest.
While it’s fair to believe that there will be higher clears for each build, particularly in non-Season where Paragon is much higher, we can use this data as a baseline to assess how much of a buff each build needs to remain competitive with R6-HOTA.
The next question was: How competitive should these builds be with each other?
Our strongest build, R6 HOTA, is arguably the most difficult of our major builds to play, and certainly one of the most demanding in terms of gear requirements. Both it and Zodiac WW require stacking multiple crucial stat rolls on items, careful cooldown management, and very specific conditions in order to deal damage. In contrast, Vile Charge, IK HOTA, and the Fire and Physical EQ builds are relatively easy to gear. They’re also fairly easy to play, requiring little in the way of cooldown management, and are very consistent in their damage output. As such, it made sense to propose buffs around certain guiding principles:
In other words, while our most demanding builds should offer the most bang for the buck, the gap between builds can be narrowed so that all of our builds feel rewarding, powerful, and fun.
We believe that builds which share R6 HOTA’s complexity and demanding requirements should be within 1-2 GRs of R6-HOTA, while less demanding, simpler builds should be within 2-3 GRs. As such, here are our needed buffs per build:
A great many factors go into these estimates, some of which cannot be quantified. For example, Zodiac WW and Vile Charge have to heavily “fish” for specific maps with specific mob types, and the latter build is entirely unable to fight certain Rift Guardians. That said, we’ve done our best to include such factors in our proposals, and many of our proposed buffs are intended to ease frustrations unique to builds.
To evaluate what kind of buffs are needed to bring Barbarians into relative parity with other classes, we examined the data presented in the previous sections and calculated how much additional damage needs to be added to our builds.
To close the 4.1 tier gap, Barbarians need to deal 2x more damage above and beyond the initial proposed buffs. We have offered the new goal numbers in blue wherever an item requires an additional buff to achieve cross-class parity. This amount is represented in blue text and is not additive with previous buff numbers. For example, in List 1, we recommend increasing Skull Grasp’s multiplier from 400% to 600%. This would increase intra-class parity between Whirlwind and other Barbarian builds. But to close the 4.1 tier gap we have with other classes, Skull Grasp would need to be increased to 1300%, not 1900%.
With that in mind, here is a revised list of needed buffs by build:
To achieve intra-class parity, Zodiac WW needs +2 GRs
To achieve intra-class parity, Fire and Physical EQ need +2 and +3 GRs
To achieve intra-class parity, IK HOTA needs +3 GRs
To achieve intra-class parity, R6 HOTA needs +0 GRs
To achieve intra-class parity, Vile Charge needs +0 GRs
Options for Group Play
Since Barbarians are already guaranteed spots as zDPS in groups, trying to diversify the roles available to our class is tricky. To that end, we focus on buffing specific builds and corresponding items to help Barbarians fulfill two possible roles in group play: Rift Guardian Killer (RGK) or trash-burner (TB).
In group play, RGKs are responsible for killing elites and the Rift Guardian and focus all of their damage output onto single targets. Many successful RGK builds require precision timing while juggling complex interactions between items. TBs, on the other hand, are responsible for killing the vast majority of monsters in a rift--the trash, so to speak. They deal large, consistent volumes of damage over broad areas, but fail to deal any meaningful damage to single targets such as elites and Rift Guardians.
Despite the fact that Barbarians already have reserved spots in groups, we believe it’s possible for Barbarians to play multiple roles. This is not unprecedented as the Necromancer class occupies three of the four roles in group speed runs (typically called “Rat Runs”). Buffs intended to promote this diversity in group play are noted throughout the lists below.
Please note that none of these options are intended to displace the current group meta. We recognize that it would be unfair for Barbs to occupy multiple spots in every group at all levels of group play. As such, our group play suggestions position various builds as “off-meta”--less efficient and powerful (but fun) alternatives to the current meta.
Proposal List 1
This list represents the bare-bones buffs needed to various items to achieve the desired parity between builds, and to increase build diversity for LoN and primary skill builds.
Wrath of the Wastes and Whirlwind:
Skull Grasp bonus increased from +400% to +600%
To achieve cross-class parity, Skull Grasp bonus increased from 300-400% to 1000-1300%.
Wrath of the Wastes (4) mitigation increased from 50% to 60%
Might of the Earth:
Girdle of Giants bonus increased from +250% to +400%
To achieve cross-class parity, Girdle of Giants bonus increased from 200-250% to 700-900%.
Fury of the Vanished Peak bonus increased from +500% to +600%
To achieve cross-class parity, Fury of the Vanished Peak bonus increased from 400-500% to 1000-1300%.
Bastion's Revered bonus increased from 10 stacks to 20
Primary Skill Builds:
Oathkeeper damage buff increased from +200% to +1000%
To achieve cross-class parity and enable group play option as RGK, Oathkeeper bonus increased from 150-200% to 3000-4000%.
Dishonored Legacy damage increased from +400% to +1000%
To achieve cross-class parity, Dishonored Legacy bonus increased from 300-400% to 3000-4000%.
Blade of the Warlord damage increased from +500% to +1000%
To achieve cross-class parity, Blade of the Warlord bonus increased from 400-500% to 3000-4000%.
Arreat's Law extra Fury generated increased from 20 to 30
Weapon Throw and Boulder Toss:
The Three Hundredth Spear bonus increased from +60% to +800%
To achieve cross-class parity, The Three Hundredth Spear bonus increased from 45-60% to 2000-2600%.
Skular's Salvation bonus increased from +100% / +150% to +150% / +275%
Proposal List 2
The changes requested in this list are considerably more complicated. They do, however, address and fix the core problems with the class--namely a lack of supporting legendaries and broken or useless skills. For a detailed breakdown of the math and reasoning behind these List 2 proposals, scroll down to Detailed Explanations.
Wrath of the Wastes, Whirlwind, and Rend:
Wrath of the Wastes (6): Whirlwind gains the effect of the Dust Devils rune. All Whirlwind and Rend damage is increased by 10,000%.
Ambo’s Pride new legendary affix: “Rend deals 40-50% increased damage for every Rended enemy within 25 yards. Maximum 20 enemies.”
To achieve cross-class parity and enable group play option as TB, Ambo’s Pride bonus increased from 40-50% per enemy (1000% max) to 80-100% per enemy (2000% max).
Skull Grasp: To achieve cross-class parity, Skull Grasp bonus increased from 300-400% to 750-1000%.
Mortick’s Brace bracers reintroduced to the game. Affix: “Wrath of the Berserker gains the effect of every rune.”
Lamentation new legendary affix: “Gain 8-10% damage reduction for every enemy affected by Rend within 25 yards."
War of the Dead new legendary affix: “Rend no longer costs Fury.”
Legacy of Raekor & Vile Charge
To achieve cross-class parity and enable group play option as TB, Standoff bonus increased from 400-500% to 850-1100%.
Immortal King’s Call & Hammer of the Ancients:
Remorseless new legendary affix: “For every second that Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker are both active, Hammer of the Ancients deals 7-10% increased damage for 2 seconds. Stacks up to 15 times.”
Gavel of Judgment: To achieve cross-class parity, Gavel of Judgment bonus increased from 600-800% to 1300-1700%.
Might of the Earth:
Skular’s Salvation: “Increase the damage of Ancient Spear - Boulder Toss by 400%. When your Boulder Toss hits 5 or fewer enemies, the damage is increased by 650-800%.”
To achieve cross-class parity and enable group play option as RGK, Skular’s Salvation bonus increased from 100% / 120-150% to 800% / 1100-1400%.
Fury of the Vanished Peak: To achieve cross-class parity, Fury of the Vanished Peak bonus increased from 400-500% to 1300-1700%.
Bracers of Destruction: “Seismic Slam deals 400-500% increased damage to the first 10 enemies it hits.”
Girdle of Giants: “Seismic Slam increases Earthquake damage by 250-300% for 3 seconds”.
To achieve cross-class parity, Girdle of Giants bonus increased from 200-250% to 400-500%.
Blade of the Tribes: Additive damage bonus to Earthquake increased from +150-200% to +200-300%. In addition, this item should acquire an additional Primary slot, that gives an additive +200-300% bonus to Avalanche damage. Legendary affix remains “War Cry and Threatening Shout cause an Avalanche and Earthquake”.
To achieve cross-class parity, Blade of the Tribes Earthquake bonus increased from 150-200% to 400-500%, and Avalanche bonus increased to 400-500%.
Dread Iron new legendary affix: “Ground Stomp causes an Avalanche and reduces the cooldowns of Leap, Ground Stomp, and Avalanche by 6 seconds, for 10 seconds. Avalanche damage increased by 700-800%”.
To achieve cross-class parity, Dread Iron Avalanche bonus increased to 1000-1300%.
Sledge of Athskeleng new legendary affix: “Battle Rage gains the effect of the Swords to Ploughshares and Bloodshed runes.”
Bul-Kathos’s Wedding Band new legendary affix: “While Wrath of the Berserker is inactive and on cooldown, your Critical Hit Chance is increased by 50% and your Critical Hit Damage by 100%.”
Fjord Cutter new legendary affix: “Seismic Slam attacks 75% faster and deals 100% increased damage to Chilled or Slowed enemies.”
To achieve cross-class parity, Fjord Cutter bonus increased to 250-300%.
Fury of the Ancients: “Call of the Ancients gains the effect of the Ancients' Fury rune and your Ancients attack 100% faster.”
Legacy of Nightmares / Primary Skill Builds:
Saffron Wrap new legendary affix: "The damage of your Primary skills is increased by 45-50% for each enemy hit by Overpower, for 10 seconds. Max 20 enemies."
Skull of Resonance new legendary affix: "Your damage taken is reduced by the percentage of your life healed by Revenge, for 10 seconds. Max 10 enemies."
Madawc’s Sorrow new legendary affix: “Revenge deals damage equal to that dealt by your Primary skills during the last 15-20 seconds.”
Oathkeeper: “Your Primary skills attack 50% faster and deal 400-500% increased damage.”
To achieve cross-class parity, and enable group play option as RGK, Oathkeeper bonus increased to 800-1000%.
Bastion’s Revered: “Frenzy now stacks up to 20 times.”
Blade of the Warlord: “Bash consumes up to 40 Fury to deal up to 600-700% increased damage.”
To achieve cross-class parity, Blade of the Warlord bonus increased to 1100-1400%.
Dishonored Legacy: “Cleave deals up to 600-700% increased damage based on percentage of missing Fury.”
To achieve cross-class parity, Dishonored Legacy bonus increased to 1100-1400%.
The Undisputed Champion: “Frenzy gains the effect of every rune and deals 150-200% increased damage.”
To achieve cross-class parity, The Undisputed Champion bonus increased to 400-550%.
Arreat’s Law: “Weapon Throw generates up to 25-30 additional Fury based on how far away the enemy hit is. Maximum benefit when the enemy hit is 20 or more yards away.”
The Three Hundredth Spear new legendary affix: "Every enemy hit by Ancient Spear increases the attack speed of Weapon Throw by 10% for 5 seconds. Weapon Throw damage increased by 700%."
To achieve cross-class parity, The Three Hundredth Spear bonus increased to 1100-1400%.
Buffs to Passive Skills
Many of our passive skills also need attention. Much of the problem comes from the fact that our major end-game content, Greater Rifts, requires 17% more damage per additional GR level while only needing 2.3% more toughness.The result is that we often choose a mediocre offensive passive over an excellent defensive passive. To make matters worse, these defensive passives compete with a single Legendary gem, Esoteric Alteration, to provide defense. Therefore, our defensive passives should be buffed to the point that they are at least semi-competitive with Esoteric. The alternative is continued disuse.
Here are our suggestions:
Tough as Nails: “Increase Armor by 50%. Increase thorns by 800%.”
Juggernaut: “The duration of control-impairing effects on you are reduced by 80%. In addition, whenever a Stun, Freeze, Fear, or Immobilize are cast on you, you recover 40% of your maximum life.”
Sword and Board: “While wielding a shield, reduce all damage taken and Fury costs by 50%.”
Superstition: “Reduce all non-physical damage by 50%. When you take damage from a ranged or elemental attack, you gain 5 Fury.”
Relentless: “While below 50% life, all skills cost 50% less Fury, Life per Fury Spent is doubled, and all damage taken is reduced by 50%.”
Pound of Flesh: “When you are healed by a health globe, gain 4% life regeneration per second and 6% increased movement speed for 15 seconds. This bonus stacks up to 10 times.”
Inspiring Presence: “The duration of your shouts is doubled. After using a shout you and all allies within 100 yards regenerate 10% of your maximum Life per second for 120 seconds.”
Unforgiving: “You no longer degenerate Fury. Instead, you generate 10 Fury per second.”
No Escape: “Increase the damage of Weapon Throw, Seismic Slam, Ancient Spear, and Avalanche by 50% against enemies more than 15 yards away from you.”
In this section, we offer detailed explanations and breakdowns of the proposed buffs contained in List 2 above.
Damage of Rend and Whirlwind in the Wrath of the Wastes Set
Let's look at some numbers for how much damage Rend does in the WW set.
Rend deals 1100% weapon damage over 5 seconds, or 220% weapon dmg/sec.
Wastes (2) increases this to 1320% weapon dmg/sec.
Wastes (4) triples this, to 3960% weapon dmg/sec.
So 2105 damage (1H weapon) * 39.6 = 83k dps
Or 3633 damage (2H weapon) * 39.6 = 144k dps
Meanwhile, Whirlwind deals 340% weapon damage per hit, and Dust Devils deal 180% weapon damage per hit.
Wastes (6) increases all Whirlwind damage by 10,000%, i.e. to 10,100% total.
So Whirlwind is dealing 34,340% weapon damage per hit, and Dust Devils is dealing 18,180% weapon damage per hit.
The Skull Grasp ring increases Whirlwind damage by 400% (5x)
So Whirlwind is now dealing 171,700% weapon damage per hit, and Dust Devils is dealing 90,900% weapon damage per hit.
So WW deals 2105 (1H weapon) * 1717 = 3.6 million damage per hit
And DD deals 2105 (1H weapon) * 909 = 1.9 million damage per hit
And unlike Rend, WW scales significantly with attack speed. WW itself and DD have different breakpoints, but it’s very common that when pushing a GR, you'll be hitting with both WW and DD about 4x/sec, due to the significant attack speed buff you get from Pain Enhancer. (3.6M + 1.9M) * 4 = 22M dps
22M / 83k = 265 , and 22m / 144k = 153. In other words, assuming dual wielding 1H weapons, Whirlwind does around 265 times as much damage as Rend in the Wastes set. If you were to use a 2H weapon to try to get more Rend damage, you would still be doing only 1/153rd as much damage as you would if you just stuck with WW and dual wielding.
The first step towards a solution is to make the Wastes (6) 10,000% bonus apply to Rend as well.
If Rend gets the Wastes (6) 10000% bonus, the ratio of Rend:WW damage would be 1:2.65, (8.4m dps vs 22m dps).
These numbers still don't take into account the way WW interacts with Bloodshed in high density, which Rend cannot do since it can neither crit nor take advantage of attack speed. In those high density "pushing" circumstances, your WW and every one of your Dust Devils can hit enormous numbers of targets, and each critical hit on these targets is reflected in your Bloodshed damage. In these circumstances, even with Rend added to Wastes (6), Rend's damage contribution might be as low as 5% of your total.
So, in order to get used in high GR pushes, we need a legendary that buffs Rend's damage further. The 1H Mighty Weapon Ambo’s Pride, which currently lacks a special ability, should acquire the affix: “Rend deals 40-50% increased damage for every Rended enemy within 25 yards. Maximum 20 enemies” (80-100% for cross-class parity).
With 20 affected enemies, you would have +1000% damage to Rend, or in other words, Rend would be doing 11x damage. If Rend previously did 5% of your total damage in high density, it would now be doing about 37% of your total damage. This would also be about 50% more total damage than the Wastes build was doing previously, using WW alone. This is enough to move the build forward +2 GRs.
Another positive effect of this change is that it would be easier for the build to thrive in lower density, which has been a consistent problem. When fighting a 5 member blue pack, for instance, Rend would have a +250% bonus and would be doing about 73% of our total damage. In other words, Rend would be moderately useful in high density, and extremely useful in low density. This would be a positive change from the current situation, in which Rend is one of the least useful Barbarian skills.
Durability of the Wrath of the Wastes Set
Another problem that Wrath of the Wastes faces is its lack of toughness outside of massive density. To improve the build’s defensive capabilities, we suggest the following two changes:
First, re-add the Mortick’s Brace bracers to the game (legendary affix: “Wrath of the Berserker gains the effect of every rune”). While this item was once overpowered, this is no longer the case. MOTE builds would not use them because of low WOTB uptime. R6 HOTA could conceivably use them, but this would be, at best, a modest improvement over Aquila Cuirass in the cube. The same goes for IK HOTA (and high pushes with both these builds have dropped Aquilla for Magefist, anyway).
WW, however, would benefit from these bracers. Equipping them would allow you to drop the Pride of Cassius belt, since the 50% mitigation you get from the Striding Giant rune and the LPFS you get from the Thrive on Chaos rune are the same benefits you get from Ignore Pain’s Ignorance is Bliss rune.
Second, add a new legendary affix on the Lamentation belt: "Gain 8-10% damage reduction for every enemy affected by Rend within 25 yards." (note: this number should be compounded multiplicatively, i.e. 10% with 1 enemy, 19% with 2 enemies, 65% with 10 enemies, etc.) This effect would replace the need for Parthans and hard to obtain secondary rolls on belt, and would be easier to use, particularly in low density. It would also prioritize Rend, a skill that always seemed like it was meant to be an actual part of playing the Wastes set.
Just Like Old Times: A Two-Handed Rend Build
In addition to fixing the functionality of Rend within a dual-wielding WW build, we also wanted to make sure that an old classic, the two-handed Rend build, once more became a viable option. We suggest the following buff:
War of the Dead gains the legendary affix: “Rend no longer costs Fury.”
Playing WW without the Bul-Kathos blades is challenging from a standpoint of Fury generation. You are essentially required to take the Wind Shear rune, and even then, the need to repeatedly cast Rend can quickly deplete your Fury. This affix allows us to set that worry aside.
Note that we recognize Blizzard’s tradition of avoiding crafted items that are overly powerful. We feel that this affix conforms to that tradition, while still enabling a style of gameplay that many Barbarians have been hoping to see.
Buffing IK HOTA Without Buffing R6 HOTA or Vile Charge
IK HOTA and R6 HOTA are very similar builds. Other than the 6 set pieces themselves, both builds use Istvan’s Blades, Endless Walk, Convention of Elements, Gavel of Judgement, Bracers of the First Men, Band of Might, and either Aquila Cuirass or Magefist.
The only notable difference is that IK takes the Fury of the Ancients shoulders, while R6 takes the Pride of Cassius belt. We want to buff IK HOTA +3 GRs. How can we do that without buffing either R6 or VC? Any increase to the damage of IK(6) will push VC forward, while any buff to Istvan’s, Gavel, or Bracers OTFM will also augment R6 HOTA.
The solution comes in the form of a new legendary affix for the 1-handed mighty weapon Remorseless: “For every second that Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker are both active, Hammer of the Ancients deals 7-10% increased damage for 2 seconds. Stacks up to 15 times.” Note that each stack should refresh all previous stacks, as is the case with Taeguk, for instance.
This change will not buff VC, because it does not affect the IK (6) bonus, and will not buff R6, because that set is unable to maintain 100% uptime on Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients.
The amount of the buff to Remorseless was determined as follows:
To gain 3 GRs, you need +60% damage. If you started at 100 damage, you need to get to 160. Losing Istvan’s blades costs you 30% damage from damage %, and 30% more from attack speed, so that drops your damage to 59. (100 / 1.3 = 77 , 77 / 1.3 = 59)
In our off-hand, we can carry Burning Axe of Sankis, Pig Sticker, or Sun Keeper, each of which will add about 14% to our damage. Remorseless would then increase this by +150%. (59 * 1.14 = 67 , 67 * 2.50 = 167.5) So we have achieved the +60% net damage we needed, without buffing either R6 or VC.
Boulder Toss is Bad
At the present moment, Ancient Spear: Boulder Toss is much less damaging than its main competition, Seismic Slam: Rumble.
If you’ve got +50 max Fury from paragon, +24 from a 2H mighty weapon, and +12 from a mighty belt, you have 186 total Fury.
Assuming you’ve got 10% RCR in paragon, dumping this Fury with BT does
((186 - 22.5) * 20) + 500 = 3770% weapon damage.
With SS:Rumble, if you’re using Fury of the Vanished Peak, you’re doing
((186-13.5) * 15 * 2) + 620 = 5795% weapon damage.
There are also significantly higher item multipliers for SS: Rumble. Fury of the Vanished Peak gives 6x damage, as does Bracers of Destruction (to the first 5 targets).
5795 *6 *6 = 208,620% weapon damage. This is 55 times the damage of Boulder Toss when it is unbuffed by items.
Currently, the text on Skular’s Salvation reads “Increase the damage of Ancient Spear - Boulder Toss by 100%. When your Boulder Toss hits 5 or fewer enemies, the damage is increased by 120-150%.” This corresponds to a total of +400% damage against groups of 5 or fewer enemies.
In order to make BT relevant again, the damage buff on Skular’s should be increased to +400% / +650-800% (800% / 1100-1400% for cross-class parity).
3770 * 5 * 9 = 169,650% weapon damage, against groups of less than 5 enemies. This is still less than the damage dealt by a buffed SS: Rumble, but requires only one item slot (bracers), and would allow BT to deal a modest amount of damage.
Tweaking Leapquake, Buffing Avalanche
The current (6/12/19) highest clears for Leapquake are 127 for Fire, and 126 for Physical. Both of these, however, were done with between 5000 and 6000 paragon, as compared to the highest VC clear, 131, done with around 9000 paragon. We predict that Fire would be able to clear 130 at this paragon range, and Physical 129-130. We would like to move Fire up +2 GRs, and Physical +2-3.
Three changes will enable Leapquake to push forward the required amount.
Bracers of Destruction should have its enemy cap raised from 5 to 10. The affix should read “Seismic Slam deals 400-500% increased damage to the first 10 enemies it hits.” The additional enemies hit by the large amount of damage coming from Rumble, and ensuing Area Damage procs, should push Physical Leapquake forward +1 GR.
Girdle of Giants should have its damage bonus to Earthquake after using SS increased from 200-250% to 250-300%. The affix should read “Seismic Slam increases Earthquake damage by 250-300% for 3 seconds” (400-500% for cross-class parity). This should move both Fire and Physical leapquake forward +1 GR.
Blade of the Tribes should have its additive damage bonus to Earthquake increased from +150-200% to +200-300%. In addition, this item should acquire an additional Primary slot, that gives a +200-300% bonus to Avalanche damage (400-500%, to both EQ and AV, for cross class parity). This will move both Fire and Physical Leapquake forward +1 GR. These damage bonuses should remain additive, as making them multiplicative will significantly overshoot our +2-3 GR target. The legendary affix on the item, which causes an Earthquake and Avalanche when casting Threatening Shout or War Cry, should remain unchanged.
The reason for adding Avalanche damage to Blade of the Tribes is that, in current gameplay, Avalanche does very little damage in any configuration. What we would like to see is a MOTE build, comparable in damage to Leapquake, that deals its damage primarily via Avalanche.
Let’s break down the damage of Earthquake and Avalanche during the course of a greater rift.
In a Leapquake build, you cause Earthquakes by Leaping, which triggers them via MOTE(4), by using Threatening Shout or War Cry, which triggers them via Blade of the Tribes, or by hard-casting Earthquake itself.
Each cycle of 3 Leaps + 1 Seismic Slam takes about 3 seconds. In a greater rift, you have 900 seconds (15 minutes) before you fail the rift. This means you have the opportunity to create a maximum of 900 Earthquakes via Leap, per greater rift.
War Cry has a cooldown of 20 seconds, and Threatening Shout 10 seconds. It is usual to run Leapquake with about 33.3% Cooldown Reduction, and this reduces those cooldowns to 13.33 seconds, and 6.66 seconds, respectively. This means that you can cast War Cry 67 times per rift (67 Earthquakes), and Threatening Shout 135 times (135 Earthquakes).
Earthquake has a cooldown of 60 seconds, often reduced by the Boon of Bul Kathos passive to 45 seconds, and then by Cooldown Reduction to 30 seconds. This amount is further reduced every time you dump Fury via Rumble, by the effect of MOTE(2). Roughly speaking, you can hard-cast Earthquake about 100 times per rift.
900 + 67 + 135 + 100 = 1202 Earthquakes, per rift. If we’re using the Molten Fury rune, each of these deals 6000% weapon damage over 8 seconds.
6000% * 1202 = 7,212,000% weapon damage, via Earthquake, per rift.
Using our new, improved Girdle of Giants gives +300% damage. 7.2m * 4 = 28.8m
In addition to the new, improved +300% EQ dibs bonus on Blade of the Tribes, it is fairly regular to also have +25% from TS:Falter. 28.8m * 4.25 = 122.4 million % weapon damage, per rift.
You can generate Avalanches by using the Dread Iron belt, which causes an Avalanche when you use Ground Stomp, by TS + VC via Blade of the Tribes, and by hard-casting Avalanche.
You can Ground Stomp once per cycle of 3 Leaps (300 times per rift).
You can Threatening Shout 135 times per rift.
You can War Cry 67 times per rift.
You can hard-cast Avalanche about 150 times per rift.
300 + 135 + 67 + 150 = 652 total Avalanches, per rift.
Avalanche’s most damaging rune is Snow Capped Mountain (Volcano does not deal its damage as an aoe), which does 2800% weapon damage per cast. 2800% * 652 = 1,825,600% weapon damage, per rift.
Our new Blade of the Tribes buffs Avalanche, as does TS:Falter. 1.8m * 4.25 = 7.65m
This is clearly far short of the 122 million % weapon damage you can do with Molten Fury. In order to be viable, Dread Iron needs to acquire a larger, multiplicative damage bonus to Avalanche, as well as a new legendary affix that enables us to cast Avalanche more frequently than we can now. The affix should be: “Ground Stomp causes an Avalanche and reduces the cooldowns of Leap, Ground Stomp, and Avalanche by 6 seconds, for 10 seconds. Avalanche damage increased by 700-800%” (1000-1300% for cross-class parity). (This cooldown reduction functions like In-Geom, lowering the base cooldown of the skill.)
+800% damage will greatly increase the damage dealt by Avalanche during a rift. The new legendary affix will further increase this by allowing for a higher number of Avalanches to be cast. In addition, the Lut Socks boots will not need to be taken, because of Dread Iron’s new cooldown effect, thus you will be able to equip Girdle of Giants in the cube. So in addition to causing significant Avalanche damage, you will also be causing a considerable amount of Earthquake damage.
The cycle Leap - Avalanche - Ground Stomp - Seismic Slam - Leap - Ground Stomp - Seismic Slam takes about 4.3 seconds, and could be performed about 209 times per rift, each time generating 3 Avalanches and 2 Earthquakes. That’s 627 Avalanches, 418 Earthquakes, over the course of the rift. In addition, Threatening Shout will add another 135 of each, and War Cry another 67 of each, for a total of 829 Avalanches, 620 Earthquakes.
Those 829 Avalanches will deal 829 * 2800% * 4.25 * 9 = 89 million % weapon damage per rift.
The 620 Earthquakes will deal 620 * 4800% * 4.25 * 4 = 50 million % weapon damage per rift. Note the lower damage amount for Earthquake (4800% vs 6000% for Molten Fury) due to the fact that you will probably not include the skill on the bar, and will thus be using the base rune.
This adds up to a total of 139 million % weapon damage per rift, slightly more than was dealt with a Molten Fury Leapquake build, though it should be noted that the actual damage dealt will be affected by the probable fact that either Avalanche or Earthquake will not receive a full +40% elemental bonus from rolls on bracers and amulet. The actual damage dealt should be very close to that of Leapquake.
Barb-Specific Alternatives for Fire Leapquake
For a long time now, many Fire Leapquake players have relied upon two general-purpose items: Convention of Elements and The Furnace. We wanted to provide some alternatives to these, and to do this we looked at two items that are not currently Barb-specific, but probably should be: Sledge of Athskeleng and Bul-Kathos’s Wedding Band. Both items seem custom-cut to fit a Barbarian.
To compete with The Furnace, Sledge of Athskeleng should acquire the affix: “Battle Rage gains the effects of the Swords to Ploughshares and Bloodshed runes.” (Which fits very well with the flavor text of the item). This will allow the simultaneous use of Swords to Ploughshares, Bloodshed, and Into the Fray, each of which is an excellent rune. In particular, the CHC-increasing effect of Into the Fray and the CHD-based explosions of Bloodshed will pair together to create a significant damage boost while fighting in density. This comes at the cost (due to the loss of Furnace) of a significant amount of damage to elites and Rift Guardians. We believe that this item will be a good alternative and contrast to The Furnace, while not being overwhelmingly more powerful.
As a replacement for Convention of Elements or Focus and Restraint, Bul-Kathos’s Wedding Band should gain the affix: “While Wrath of the Berserker is inactive and on cooldown, your Critical Hit Chance is increased by 50% and your Critical Hit Damage by 100%.” This will allow Fire Leapquake to deal similar amounts of damage while WOTB:Insanity is active or inactive.
With optimum gearing, a Leapquake Barb has a maximum CHC of 57%, and a maximum CHD of +480%. In other words, if you were to hit 1000 times, 430 of your hits would deal 1x damage, while 570 would deal 5.8x damage, for a total of 3736x damage. Using CoE increases your average damage over the course of a rift by about 77%, due to the synchronization of CoE Fire cycles and WOTB:Insanity. 3736x * 1.77 = 6613x
BK’s Wedding Band would allow the player to have 100% CHC and +580% while Insanity is inactive and on cooldown, which would be approximately 75% of the time. During that time, if you were to hit 1000 times, all 1000 would deal 6.8x damage, for 6800x total. The remaining 25% of the time, while Insanity was active, you would deal 3736x * 1.5 = 5604x. (6800 * .75) + (5604 * .25) = 6501x. So, this item would be very comparable in damage to CoE and Focus and Restraint, while enabling a different and interesting style of gameplay.
Creating a Pure Seismic Slam Build
One of the most popular MOTE builds of Season 16, in which the Ring of Royal Grandeur power came free to everybody, was MOTE6 + IK2, aka Pro-Slam. This build uses Leap only for mobility and toughness, equips the Fury of the Ancients shoulders and 2 pieces of the Immortal King set, and uses Call of the Ancients to boost Fury generation. All damage dealt is via Seismic Slam, using the Permafrost rune. Istvan’s Blades are used for added damage and attack speed.
This build is a great deal of fun to play, and we wanted to increase its power to be close in parity to Leapquake. Non-Season players of comparable paragon (between 2000 and 2500), gearing, and skill have cleared 122 with Leapquake, and 116 with Pro-Slam.
Due to our other changes, Leapquake will be getting +2-3 GRs. We are thus trying to get roughly +8 GRs for Pro-Slam. If the cap on Bracers of Destruction is increased from 5 enemies to 10, as we have recommended, this will move the build +2 GRs. (While Physical Leapquake only moved +1 GR, it deals only a portion of its damage via SS. This build deals 100% of its damage via SS, and will benefit more from the raised cap on the bracers.) From there, we need +6 GRs, which means adding about +150% damage.
To do this we would like to displace Istvan’s Blades, replacing them with the Fjord Cutter mighty weapon, enhanced with a new legendary affix: “Seismic Slam attacks 75% faster and deals 100% increased damage to Chilled or Slowed enemies” (250-300% for cross-class parity).
Losing Istvan’s Blades costs you 30% damage from damage %, and 30% more from attack speed, so if you started at 100 damage, that drops your damage to 59. From here we need to get to roughly 250. Adding 75% attack speed will bring us to 103. Adding +100% damage will bring us to 206.
In our off-hand, we can carry Azurewrath, Pig Sticker, or Sun Keeper, each of which will add about 14% to our damage.
206 * 1.14 = 235. This is fairly close to the 250 we were aiming for. It is certainly enough to move the build up +5 GRs, possibly +6, and as the build is relatively young and untested, it may have even more potential than we yet recognize.
In the current version of the build, the amount of Fury generated by the Ancients can be increased by “snapshotting” them, recasting Call of the Ancients when your attack speed is increased by Istvan’s Blades. As this will no longer be possible, and as the suggested +75% attack speed on Fjord Cutter significantly exceeds the +30% on Istvan’s, a change should be made:
The Fury of the Ancients shoulders should acquire the modified legendary affix: “Call of the Ancients gains the effect of the Ancients' Fury rune and your Ancients attack 100% faster.”
This will significantly increase the amount of Fury generated by the Ancients. With these changes to Fjord Cutter and Fury of the Ancients, Pro-Slam, already one of the most popular builds in the community, will finally become a competitive and distinctive build.
Enabling Legacy of Nightmares Primary Builds
It is a frequent occurrence, when perusing the Barbarian forums, to see one player or another lamenting the fact that our class’ Primary skills are not used in any major build. This is due to the fact that these skills are not useful either in terms of their Fury-generating capabilities or their damage-dealing ability. The closest thing we have to a Primary skill build is Frenzy Thorns, which we believe can currently clear around GR 105, at high paragon. Yet this build essentially only uses the high attack speed of the Frenzy skill as a delivery mechanism to carry a “payload” of thorns damage. We believe that this situation can, and should, be addressed.
Our testing indicates that Primary skill builds can currently clear around GR 95 at medium paragon (around 2500), and around GR 100 at high paragon. We would like to move these builds up around +25 GRs, so that they can clear into the 120’s. This means we need about 50x as much damage as we have currently.
We began this process by looking at three legendary items (Saffron Wrap, Madawc’s Sorrow, and Skull of Resonance) and two skills (Overpower and Revenge) that are almost never used.
Overpower’s buff from Saffron Wrap (+50% per enemy hit, +1000%, max) is woefully inadequate, as even in high density it does a tiny fraction of the damage achievable with other skills such as HOTA.
Instead, Overpower can provide some much-needed utility by having Saffron Wrap increase the damage output of primary skill builds: "The damage of your Primary skills is increased by 45-50% for each enemy hit by Overpower, for 10 seconds. Max 20 enemies." This change would increase the damage of your Primary skills, in density, by up to +1000% , or 11x your base damage.
Note: the proc coefficient of Overpower’s ability to reduce cooldown when scoring a critical hit should also be increased. Currently, it rarely triggers.
Our next two changes affect the Revenge skill, which, though fondly remembered, has seen no use since the days of Vanilla D3.
The first is defensive, seeing Skull of Resonance gain the new legendary affix: "Your damage taken is reduced by the percentage of your life healed by Revenge, for 10 seconds. Max 10 enemies." During our testing, Primary builds had significant problems not only with dealing damage, but also with mitigation. This new legendary affix would allow players to have a significantly easier time surviving in density. When using the Blood Law rune, Revenge can heal 6% of your life per enemy hit. This means Skull of Resonance would reduce your damage taken by up to 60%.
The second change is offensive, and involves Madawc’s Sorrow acquiring the new legendary affix: “Revenge deals damage equal to that dealt by your Primary skills during the last 15-20 seconds.” Another issue facing most Primary skill builds is that they have a difficult time dealing damage to more than one target at a time. This new affix allows Revenge to deal significant AoE damage. Using Revenge periodically will approximately double (+100%) your overall damage dealt to a single target, with a much larger increase, by percentage, against groups of enemies.
So, with Saffron Wrap giving us 11x damage, and Madawc’s Sorrow giving us 2x damage, we are now doing 22x our base damage. Our remaining changes focus on items that buff individual Primary skills.
We suggest the following modifications:
Oathkeeper’s affix should be changed to “Your Primary skills attack 50% faster and deal 400-500% increased damage” (800-1000% for cross-class parity). This increase from +200% max to +500% max will double your Primary skill damage again (600 / 300 = 2), moving us from 22x base damage to 44x.
Bastion’s Revered’s affix should be changed to “Frenzy now stacks up to 20 times.” The resulting increase in attack speed should increase the damage of Frenzy builds using this item (including Frenzy Thorns) by about 60%.
Blade of the Warlord’s affix should be changed to “Bash consumes up to 40 Fury to deal up to 600-700% increased damage” (1100-1400% for cross-class parity). This corresponds to a 33% increase in damage (800 / 600 = 1.33).
Dishonored Legacy’s affix should be changed to: “Cleave deals up to 600-700% increased damage based on percentage of missing Fury” (1100-1400% for cross-class parity). This corresponds to a 60% increase in damage (800 / 500 = 1.6).
The Undisputed Champion’s affix should be changed to: “Frenzy gains the effect of every rune and deals 150-200% increased damage” (400-550% for cross-class parity). This will give Frenzy an increase in damage, keeping it competitive with Bash and Cleave.
Arreat’s Law’s affix should be changed to: “Weapon Throw generates up to 25-30 additional Fury based on how far away the enemy hit is. Maximum benefit when the enemy hit is 20 or more yards away.” This will enable a Weapon Throw build to build up Fury more quickly.
The Three Hundredth Spear’s affix should be changed to "Every enemy hit by Ancient Spear increases the attack speed of Weapon Throw by 10% for 5 seconds. Weapon Throw damage increased by 700%" (1100-1400% for cross-class parity). This change will allow Weapon Throw to not only deal more damage, but also build up Fury much more quickly, via increased attack speed, which allows for extra damage dealt via Boulder Toss, which dumps Fury.
Collectively, these changes will allow for a wide variety of Primary skill builds to be played at a level far beyond what they are currently capable of. After implementing these changes, Primary builds should deal 50x-60x their current damage, moving them up 25-26 GR levels.
Diversifying Group Play Options
The lists above highlight several items that, if adjusted accordingly, would allow Barbarians to play as RGKs and TBs in off-meta groups. In making these suggestions, we calculated which skills and builds would be most capable in these roles.
IK Frenzy RGK
Frenzy is the ideal skill for focused single-target damage. With a heavily buffed Oathkeeper and The Undisputed Champion from List 2, a Frenzy build based around Immortal King’s Call would be able to deal significant damage to RGs and elites. Though not ideal for speed runs, this build could excel at higher GR clears normally used to level gems.
Boulder Toss RGK
Another excellent candidate for dealing significant single-target damage is Ancient Spear: Boulder Toss. Long brushed aside due to its outdated supporting legendaries, our proposed buffs to Skular’s Salvation from List 2 could, when coupled with the Legacy of Raekor set, offer a unique RGK build that excels at speed clears.
Frenzy Thorns RGK
A community favorite, Frenzy Thorns fell into disuse due to the lack of available Thorns damage. Our proposed buffs to Tough as Nails from List 2 would allow this beloved Legacy of Nightmares build to shine once more. While not suited to speed clears, this build could fulfill a similar role to the IK-based Frenzy RGK build above while also providing additional LoN options for Barbarians.
With our proposed buffs to Wrath of the Wastes, Lamentation, Ambo’s Pride, and War of the Dead from List 2, a Rend build based on killing large groups of trash monsters could be very viable for slower, tougher group play. These items could also be paired with the Legacy of Nightmares set for a fun, powerful build focused on bleeding large groups of monsters.
Vile Charge TB
Our buff to Standoff from either list would restore Vile Charge as a mid-tier option similar to what some groups used during Season 16. With little adjustment needed to shift from group play to solo, Vile Charge is a versatile, unique, and powerful build that is ideal for group speed clears.
About the Authors and Acknowledgements
A longstanding member of the Barbarian community, Free has been active on the forums and in-game since Diablo III’s launch in 2012. As the author of five definitive Barbarian guides, he continues to assist community members on the Battle.net Barbarian forums, as well as other sites such as Reddit and Diablofans. In the past, Free has led successful community efforts to advocate for various Barbarian causes and continues to do so in order to try to make his community’s class better with every patch.
Rage has been a player since the launch of vanilla D3, and a contributor on the forums for a shorter time. He focuses on Leapquake, IK HOTA, and detailed explanations of the math underlying the gameplay. If you’ve gone to the Barb forum looking for answers, and been delivered a giant wall of text and numbers, you know who to blame!
The authors would like to thank the members of the Battle.net Barbarian community for their input and support. Several of the ideas presented here came from community veterans, and this project would surely have been worse were it not for their creativity.