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Barbarian Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 8)

Last updated on Oct 19, 2016 at 09:00 by Deadset 14 comments

Table of Contents

The purpose of the beginner Barbarian guide is to provide you with a build and item recommendations that will reliably carry you from leveling, through the pre-Torment difficulties and get you into low Torment farming, without requiring specific legendary or set bonuses. The guide also includes a section for Season 8 Barbarians, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.

1. About the Author

This build is presented to you by Deadset, one of the very few professional Diablo 3 players. Deadset regularly publishes video guides on Youtube, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

2. Video Guide

The following video guide was created to accompany the present written guide and demonstrate how to play the build in-game.

3. Why choose the Barbarian?

Choose the Barbarian if you want to experience the brutality of melee combat in its full, blood-drenched glory. The Barbarian deals in charging, slicing and smashing demons to a pulp — enraged with maddening frenzy, but standing strong and unrelenting through mighty war cries. You will build up your energies by rampaging around in combat, leaping and shouting, and channel the built up Fury into massive, sweeping strikes. The Barbarian is the epitomy of a ruthless brawler in Diablo 3.

4. Leveling and Fresh 70 Build

4.1. Beginner Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Rend Icon Rend Bloodbath Bloodbath Right Mouse Button Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind Wind Shear Wind Shear 1 Ground Stomp Icon Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash 2 Leap Icon Leap Iron Impact Iron Impact 3 War Cry Icon War Cry Charge! Charge! 4 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity
Passive Skills

Note that while the skills and runes recommended in the build are specifically chosen to be available at an early level and remain a solid pick throughout the leveling and early character progression, you will have to temporarily work with other skills as the build gradually unlocks. To familiarize yourself with the class, experimentation is strongly encouraged. If you are unsure of how to slot more than one skill from the same skill tree, enable Elective Mode under Gameplay Options.

4.2. Rotation

The build revolves around the DoT superiority of Rend Rend, capable of tagging multiple enemies with a lethal effect while allowing you to move on, increasing leveling and early farming efficiency. To further increase its potency, you will seek out big packs with either Leap Leap or Furious Charge Furious Charge, and draw a crowd towards the carnage with Ground Stomp Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash. Buff up regularly with War Cry War Cry, and activate Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker whenever you engage elites or a large fight ensues.

4.3. Skills, Runes and Passives

The basis of every build lies in its chosen damage dealing skills. As they invariably require resource or cooldown management mechanics of some sort, and such are scarce for low level and less geared characters, you will focus on fewer damage dealing abilities early on. The typical early game build will feature a dominant damage dealer, a mobility skill, buffs and/or shields, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Damage dealing ability: Making his own twist of the hit-and-move strategies of power leveling, the Barbarian acquires a powerful DoT in the form of Rend Rend as early as level 5. You will enlarge its radius soon after, taking the Ravage Ravage rune at level 11, and stick with it for a significant portion of your leveling. During the final stretch, and especially once you hit max level, it is recommended to switch to the powerful Bloodbath Bloodbath rune, basically triggering several Rend Rends at the cost of one.
  • Slot 2 — Generator: Since Fury does not replenish on its own and Rend Rend can be a costly ability in the thick of battle, you will need to add some form of resource generation to the build. Early on, primary skills can fulfill the purpose — either AoE like Cleave Cleave (level 3) with Rupture Rupture (level 9), or ranged like Weapon Throw Weapon Throw (level 17) with Ricochet Ricochet (level 25). Midway through leveling, you will gain the Wind Shear Wind Shear rune for Whirlwind Whirlwind, making the spender almost self-sufficient. If you are confident in handling the Barbarian resources at that point, you should add Whirlwind Whirlwind in to significantly boost your damage and improve combat mobility (as channeling the skill removes enemy collision).
  • Slot 3 — Mobility skill: You have two significant options for the role, each bringing its own benefits to the build. Leap Leap is available at level 8, and following the gambling trick outlined in the gearing section, will essentially be tripled by Lut Socks Lut Socks from the earliest character progression stages. This will significantly increase its utility with the Iron Impact Iron Impact rune (level 14), allows it to cover much great distances and makes it generate 45 Fury. If the gambling strat does not work out due to RNG, or you simply choose not to follow it, you still have a great movement tool in the form of Sprint Sprint (level 16), further improved by the Marathon Marathon rune at level 38.
  • Slot 4 — Utility: You can make a definite improvement to your AoE efficiency with Rend Rend by adding Ground Stomp Ground Stomp to the build as early as level 4. As if the base stun effect does not disable monsters enough, you will be improving it with the pull effect of the Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash rune at the tender level 18, and keeping it throughout the leveling process. The Fury generation aspect is simply gravy on top.
  • Slots 5 and 6 — Buffs: While you can use the protective Threatening Shout Threatening Shout nearly at the start (level 14), it is recommended that you swap it for War Cry War Cry when it becomes available at level 28. The latter has a larger radius of the party-wide buff, synergizes better with farming-oriented legendary effects like Chilanik's Chain Chilanik's Chain, and has a generous restorative rune in the form of Charge! Charge!, unlocking at level 35. Your final active skill slot will be reserved for the trademark Barbarian self-buff, Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker, arriving mid-leveling at level 30. Its strongest rune, Insanity Insanity, comes shortly thereafter (level 40) and will remain with you well into the endgame.
  • Passives: Some of the strongest passive options for Barbarians will unlock very early on, adding nicely to a beginner build. Ruthless Ruthless opens up at level 10, and adds a whopping 40% multiplicative damage increase vs. injured enemies — ensuring Rend Rend will finish them off in due time. Nerves of Steel Nerves of Steel comes shortly thereafter at level 13, adding a cheat death failsafe to this head on, in-your-face build. Arguably the most utility-packed defensive passive, Superstition Superstition arrives at the level 30 junction, and adds surprisingly effective, combat-based resource gain on top of its obvious damage mitigation. Unlocking last (level 68), but likely staying forever in your passive selection, Rampage Rampage directly influences damage and toughness by scaling your Strength.

4.4. Gear and Stats Priorities

As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are impossible. During leveling finding upgrades is frequent, so your gear will be swapped in and out within the span of a few minutes. Following the in-game comparison system and the stat priorities outlined in the tables below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.

Note that skill damage and elemental damage recommendations only apply if the majority of your damage is done through that skill or element. For alt characters however, sockets take priority above all other attributes, since you can slot high level gems and benefit massively from their stat increase. For the purposes of an alt character, leveling a Gem of Ease Gem of Ease to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.

5. Season 8 Starter Build

5.1. Haedrig's Gift

Completion of certain seasonal chapters (II, III and IV in Season 8) yields Haedrig's Gifts, a cache-like reward that drops two pieces of a fixed class-specific set. With the completion of these chapters, you will have a full 6 piece set bonus available to you, skyrocketing your character power well into the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching max level. The Season 8 Haedrig's Gift for Barbarians is Immortal King's Call set.

5.2. Immortal King's Call Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Furious Charge Icon Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault Right Mouse Button Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind Dust Devils Dust Devils 1 Battle Rage Icon Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed 2 Sprint Icon Sprint Marathon Marathon 3 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity 4 Call of the Ancients Icon Call of the Ancients Ancients' Fury Ancients' Fury
Passive Skills

The Immortal King's Call starter build shares some common traits with the leveling build; mainly, it still leans on Whirlwind Whirlwind due to its efficiency in both dealing damage and navigating through enemies, setting an unrelenting farming pace that is very comfortable for Barbarians. You will not need the Fury crutch of Wind Shear Wind Shear because Immortal King builds get many convenient tools for Fury management; as such, you are free to emphasize on your damage with the Dust Devils Dust Devils rune, or enhance your health sustain with Blood Funnel Blood Funnel. You will also be keeping the massive Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity buff, but will also take Call of the Ancients Call of the Ancients from the same category, as both skills combined multiply your damage and are made virtually permanent with the Immortal King set. Early on, you should take Ancients' Fury Ancients' Fury to trivialize resource management, but when you acquire the rune for free from Fury of the Ancients Fury of the Ancients shoulders (discussed in the gearing section), immediately swap to Together as One Together as One for a huge spike of Toughness. The remainder of your build will mostly consist of utility buffs, with Sprint Sprint Marathon Marathon boosting your Rift clear speed, and Battle Rage Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed — your overall damage. It is advisable to take Furious Charge Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault as your final skill; a multi-function powerhouse, this skill and rune will solidify your mobility, will provide emergency Fury when needed, and will count as a proc for the generator requirement of Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint. Nevertheless, if you do not feel comfortable with Furious Charge Furious Charge, you can always default to strong and long lasting buffs like War Cry War Cry Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning. In the passives, you can make an offensive overhaul into the damage-oriented triad of Ruthless Ruthless, Rampage Rampage and Berserker Rage Berserker Rage, finishing the four slots off with Weapons Master Weapons Master for carefree resource management (note that the freely gifted Immortal King's Boulder Breaker Immortal King's Boulder Breaker is a Mighty Weapon for the purposes of the passive).

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items (though it can benefit from synergistic legendaries like Mantle of Channeling Mantle of Channeling or Hexing Pants of Mr. Yan Hexing Pants of Mr. Yan). In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

6. Other Set Starter Builds

While you get a fixed free set at the start of every Season, it is not unreasonable to assume you will attain other sets in quick succession. If you are interested in switching around your playstyle, take a look at the beginner points for other sets below, and note to which endgame builds they point you after.

6.1. Wrath of the Wastes Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Rend Icon Rend Bloodbath Bloodbath Right Mouse Button Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind Wind Shear Wind Shear 1 Battle Rage Icon Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed 2 Sprint Icon Sprint Marathon Marathon 3 War Cry Icon War Cry Charge! Charge! 4 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity
Passive Skills

The Wrath of the Wastes starter build will be fairly similar to the leveling and fresh 70 build, keeping its rotation and general strategy with minor adjustments. Empowered by the Wrath of the Wastes 2-piece bonus, Rend Rend will no longer require the crowd control of Ground Stomp Ground Stomp to be devastatingly effective; the slot will transition to the staple damage buff of Battle Rage Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed. You will also be swapping out (or staying with, depending on your leveling approach) Leap Leap for Sprint Sprint Marathon Marathon, as the 4-piece Wrath of the Wastes set puts a much larger emphasis on Whirlwind Whirlwinding for overall damage reduction, and Sprint Sprint does not interrupt channeling. The focus on ceaseless Whirlwind Whirlwinding will also make Fury regeneration passives like Unforgiving Unforgiving (weapon agnostic) and Weapons Master Weapons Master (stronger, but weapon-specific) more attractive, often taking the place of the Nerves of Steel Nerves of Steel cheat death.

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items. In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

7. Gear To Look For

Certain items can be targeted through the completion of bounties or boss kills. The following is a list of such items, in order of importance for the class.

  • Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur is a legendary from Act I caches that reduces the number of set items required for set bonuses by one. While it might not be immediately useful, obtaining powerful bonuses (such as the 4- and 6- piece set bonuses of the Immortal King set) as early as possible for a huge spike in character power is an opportunity you should not pass up. Doing bounties will be inevitable for crafting materials anyway, so optimize your farming time and get this ring as soon as possible.
  • Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are meant to assist classes and builds with resource management problems. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Fury reserves when you get healed by a health globe — an easy trigger if you keep an eye on the battlefield. Note that these bracers are craftable, and the plan for their creation drops when you kill the Act V boss Malthael on any difficulty. Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are reasonably attractive to Barbarians, as they frequently suffer from resource issues in the early game, before they acquire items like Fury of the Ancients Fury of the Ancients or Bul-Kathos's Oath set.
  • Avarice Band Avarice Band is an Act III cache legendary ring that extends your pickup radius by up to 30 yards as you pick up gold. This unassuming bonus has the potential to turn in the strongest source of defense during normal rifts due to its synergy with Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
  • Illusory Boots Illusory Boots are an Act II cache legendary item that removes enemy collision — a staple of support builds in Greater Rifts, as their precise positioning for party-wide buffs and enemy disables dictates the course of Greater Rift progress. Barbarians have been staple supports for many patches now, with several party-wide damage buffs and plenty of damage reduction to add to the group, making Illusory Boots Illusory Boots reasonably attractive to the class.
  • Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship are an Act II cache legendary that extends the duration of Shrines to 10 minutes, a very decent farming effect that is usually stored in Kanai's Cube. The combined power of Empowered Shrines (doubled resource gain, halved cooldowns), Frenzied Shrines (25% Attack Speed) and Fleeting Shrines (25% increase to Movement Speed and 20-yard pickup radius), often refreshing before their 10-minute duration, is a huge buff during normal rifts. Barbarians are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs are often flexible enough to fit the item in.
  • Envious Blade Envious Blade is an Act II cache dagger with one of the most powerful speedfarming bonuses in the game — a guaranteed Critical Hit against enemies at full health. A well equipped character using this dagger can oneshot entire screens of enemies in a suitable farming difficulty. While class-specific legendaries are generally considered more important to Barbarian builds, Envious Blade Envious Blade is not completely out of the question as a Cube effect for the weapon slot.
  • Pride's Fall Pride's Fall is a helm obtained through Act III cache bounties, whose legendary effect reduces resource costs by 30% after not taking damage for 5 seconds. Almost never fighting at a range that can abuse this power, Barbarians do not consider farming Pride's Fall Pride's Fall a priority.

The majority of the gear will be found by random chance as you farm normally, by killing monsters, opening chests, gambling at Kadala and upgrading rare items at the Cube. While the list below is not exhaustive, these are some of the pieces to seek, spend blood shards on, or upgrade yellows for — in order of priority:

8. Stat Priorities

Slot Stat Priority
  1. Strength
  2. Socket
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life %
  1. Strength
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Strength
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Elemental Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Strength
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life %
  1. Strength
  2. 2 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. Movement Speed
  4. Skill Damage
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Elemental Damage
  5. Strength
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Strength
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Strength
  3. Socket
  4. % Damage

9. Paragon Points

Slot Paragon Points
  1. Movement Speed up to 25% cap
  2. Strength
  3. Maximum Fury (personal preference)
  4. Vitality
  1. Critical Hit Chance
  2. Critical Hit Damage
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Attack Speed
  1. All Resistance
  2. Life %
  3. Armor
  4. Life Regeneration
  1. Area Damage
  2. Resource Cost Reduction
  3. Life on Hit
  4. Gold Find

10. Gems

Your armor sockets should be taken up by the highest tier Ruby gems you can afford at the time, the weapon — with your highest Emerald, while the helm can either be filled by a Diamond to reduce Cooldowns, or an Amethyst for additional Toughness. When you stumble upon jewelry with good primary stats and a socket, you should start dabbling into Legendary Gems. The Legendary Gems to consider for Barbarians are, in order of importance:

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. Note that the gem is self sufficient, proccing itself when fighting in melee range, where the Barbarian fights almost by default.
  • Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken — almost mandatory gem for Greater Rift progression, as it is designed to whittle down the scaling health numbers of monsters with a percentage-based increase on successive attacks.
  • Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band Avarice Band and Goldwrap Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
  • Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm counterpart to Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful offers a solid overall damage and survivability increase as long as your killing speed does not fall behind the timer of the gem.
  • Situational gems — Esoteric Alteration Esoteric Alteration is a defensive cornerstone in facetanking builds, protecting you against bursty elemental affixes. Boyarsky's Chip Boyarsky's Chip is a vital part of any Thorns setup, of which Barbs have an example in their Frenzy Thorns build. Taeguk Taeguk is a great addition to a channeler Barb, which you will be by using anything Whirlwind Whirlwind-related.
Slot Gems
Torso and Pants

11. Kanai's Cube

Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Barbarians should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: The Furnace The Furnace, In-geom In-geom, Bastion's Revered Bastion's Revered, Solanium Solanium, Lut Socks Lut Socks, Chilanik's Chain Chilanik's Chain, Pride of Cassius Pride of Cassius, Vile Ward Vile Ward, Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass, Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers, Band of Might Band of Might, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements and Avarice Band Avarice Band.

12. Follower

For more information regarding followers, we advise you to read our Follower Guide, which contains detailed advice for choosing the skills and the gear of your follower.

13. ChangeLog

  • 19 Oct. 2016: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 8 free set, Immortal King's Call.
  • 01 Aug. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
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