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Barbarian Whirlwind Build with Bul-Kathos's Oath and Wrath of the Wastes. (Patch 2.5 / Season 10)

Last updated on Mar 28, 2016 at 13:22 by Deadset 137 comments

Table of Contents

This end game Barbarian build elevates the power of the Wrath of the Wastes setto the next level with synergistic weapon sets — either the agile and adaptable Bul-Kathos's Oath, or the tankier, safer Istvan's Paired Blades. The build is available in both solo progression and speedfarming variations, explained in that order.

The build requires the following set pieces:

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. Builds

Solo Progression Speedruns
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Ground Stomp Icon Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash Right Mouse Button Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind Blood Funnel Blood Funnel 1 Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain Ignorance is Bliss Ignorance is Bliss 2 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity 3 Battle Rage Icon Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed 4 War Cry Icon War Cry Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Furious Charge Icon Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault Right Mouse Button Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind Blood Funnel Blood Funnel 1 Sprint Icon Sprint Marathon Marathon 2 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity 3 Battle Rage Icon Battle Rage Ferocity Ferocity 4 War Cry Icon War Cry Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)

3. Rotation

With a playstyle distilled to its simplest essence, the build opens runs with Whirlwind Whirlwind and rarely, if ever, stops until the run is complete. The Whirlwind Barb thrives in density — either natural, or built up through Ground Stomp Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash — where the combination of his gemming and Kanai's Cube options will reset vital cooldowns like Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker and Ignore Pain Ignore Pain. Once a pack thins out and only a few monsters are left standing, make a judgment call — finish off mobs with less threatening affixes, or try to draw them into the next big fight. When properly optimized in both stats and gameplay, you should be able to re-activate Ignore Pain Ignore Pain and Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker as soon as they come off cooldown. Do not neglect to refresh helpful buffs like Battle Rage Battle Rage and War Cry War Cry as necessary.

4. Skills, Runes and Passives

Whirlwind Whirlwind is the focus of the build, taking on the roles of a primary damage dealer and a movement tool at once. The 6-piece bonus of Wrath of the Wastes set provides you with the Dust Devils Dust Devils rune for free and vastly increases Whirlwind Whirlwind damage, elevating this signature skill to one of the highest damaging spenders in the Barbarian arsenal. Unmatched in maneuverability by ignoring enemy collision, this low cost spender also increases your survivability through the healing Blood Funnel Blood Funnel rune and the Wastes 4-piece set bonus. Note that in an Istvan's Paired Blades set variation you will not be able to maintain Fury costs if you do not use the Wind Shear Wind Shear rune instead. Your two rune variants are of the Physical and Lightning elemental variety, so you will need to adjust gear rolls accordingly.

Ignore Pain Ignore Pain is one of the most versatile damage reduction tools in the Barbarian arsenal; it instantaneously cuts incoming damage in half and makes you immune to crowd control as a base effect, but also gains powerful healing side properties from the Ignorance is Bliss Ignorance is Bliss rune. Considering Ignore Pain Ignore Pain is a major factor of your survival, you will be wearing Pride of Cassius Pride of Cassius and optimizing stats to reach its permanent uptime in high Greater Rifts. When speedfarming however, you can safely swap this defensive slot into the movement speed staple Sprint Sprint Marathon Marathon.

Another major cooldown consideration — even more impactful than Ignore Pain Ignore Pain — is Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker. A signature barbarian steroid, Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker grants Crit Chance, Attack and Movement Speed, Dodge Chance and brings a major damage increase through the Insanity Insanity rune. Getting to as close to permanent uptime of this skill as possible will be one of your major goals, influencing itemization, passives and Cube options.

Battle Rage Battle Rage is another Barbarian mainstay, boosting both damage and Crit Chance. While it can be considered a fire-and-forget skill with its impressive 2-minute duration, never neglect to activate and keep it up — it is a solid source of DPS, even more so with the Bloodshed Bloodshed rune. The Istvan's Paired Blades build variant alternates the rune to Swords to Ploughshares Swords to Ploughshares to match the lost sustain from Blood Funnel Blood Funnel. Last but not least, when farming regular rifts, you can switch this rune out for Ferocity Ferocity's movement speed increase.

War Cry War Cry is a two-in-one utility skill that brings extra Toughness with the Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning rune. Once activated, the buff lasts for three times the cooldown of the skill — but situations will arise when you need it for the Fury generation, so War Cry War Cry is not as passive as it first seems. This is even more pronounced in speedruns, where activating War Cry War Cry will trigger a party-wide movespeed buff from the cubed Chilanik's Chain Chilanik's Chain.

Whirlwind Barbarians have grown to favor strong, short range crowd control in the face of Ground Stomp Ground Stomp, augmented with the pulling aspect of the Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash rune. Naturally, in less threatening content the value of this pull diminishes, so replace this skill with Furious Charge Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault for additional mobility and a proc for Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint.

This concludes the overview of the active skills, now let us look through the passives.

While Boon of Bul-Kathos Boon of Bul-Kathos has threefold utility, the Whirlwind Barbarian narrows it down to its single most powerful bonus — lowering the cooldown of Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker by half a minute. Working in conjunction with Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac to bring you permanent uptime of your ubiquitous Berserker steroid, this passive is considered mandatory for the playstyle.

A hurricane of steel both armed and agile, the Whirlwind Barbarian uses the Rampage Rampage passive to great efficiency. With the potential to stack up to 25% additional Strength, increasing your DPS and Toughness substantially, it is important to learn to keep this passive up. Always being on the move towards bigger fights, where killing minor enemies will feed your stacks, is crucial.

An amplifier taken to compensate your greatest weakness, Ruthless Ruthless makes a tight fit for the troublesome one-on-one fights, where this AoE-oriented build struggles. Once you bring your target below 30% health, your damage skyrockets with an additional 40%, ensuring the mortal blow will be dealt in a reasonable time.

Your final passive slot is flexible, with a number of viable and useful options. A second life is never a bad option, making Nerves of Steel Nerves of Steel an attractive pickup. If you feel the need for additional damage, you can take Brawler Brawler and gamble on densely packed rifts. Finally, during Torment farm you can adopt the movespeed-focused Pound of Flesh Pound of Flesh to further speed up your clears.

5. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives

The build incorporates the complete Wrath of the Wastes set, taking all six pieces available and leaving the jewelry to pure offense with Convention of Elements Convention of Elements and Skull Grasp Skull Grasp. Rolls-wise, this build aims for a general CDR goal of 44%+, achievable by rolling maximum Cooldown Reduction on both weapons, Pauldrons of the Wastes Pauldrons of the Wastes, one ring of your choice, a Flawless Royal Diamond Flawless Royal Diamond in Helm of the Wastes Helm of the Wastes, and Paragon Points. Whirlwind Barbs also benefit greatly from Area Damage, aiming to obtain it as a fourth main stat on Pauldrons of the Wastes Pauldrons of the Wastes, your other non-CDR ring, and both weapons. Whirlwind skill % should be rolled on both Helm of the Wastes Helm of the Wastes and Sabaton of the Wastes Sabaton of the Wastes. Strength, both Crit stats and Area Damage are preferred on the Gauntlet of the Wastes Gauntlet of the Wastes. Cuirass of the Wastes Cuirass of the Wastes and Tasset of the Wastes Tasset of the Wastes are best left to pure toughness stats.

As a final, but extremely important note on general stat distribution: crowd control secondary stats are vital for the build in highest endgame progression as means to proc Ancient Parthan Defenders Ancient Parthan Defenders. Hard crowd control (stun and freeze) will proc APDs, while soft (chill, slow, blind, etc.) will not; Chance to Stun is a possible roll on gloves, while Chance to Freeze can be rolled on belt; both can roll on weapons. When you obtain several (or all) of these secondary stats, you can take great advantage of Ancient Parthan Defenders Ancient Parthan Defenders' scaling damage reduction. Otherwise, stick to the additive damage increase of Strongarm Bracers Strongarm Bracers, triggered by Wrenching Smash Wrenching Smash or Furious Charge Furious Charge in their respective build variants.

Using all six available set pieces to obtain the full Wrath of the Wastes bonus allows you to devote jewelry to pure offense. Both rings will ideally feature Crit Chance, Crit Damage and an open Socket, and you will split CDR and Area Damage between the two as the fourth primary stat roll. Your first ring slot will be taken by the elemental damage boost of Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, whose rotation of elemental bonuses you will need to learn and time to maximize the benefits of the short-lived elemental damage cycles. Your second ring will be the 2.4.1-revised Skull Grasp Skull Grasp, bringing up to 300% multiplicative damage increase to Whirlwind Whirlwind. Note that in speedfarming, the Cube jewelry slot will be free of the Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac requirement, allowing you to cube Skull Grasp Skull Grasp and wear Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint — the strongest DPS jewelry in the game.

To complete the jewelry, you have a number of options for the amulet slot. A crafted Hellfire Amulet Hellfire Amulet with good rolls and a solid fifth passive (Nerves of Steel Nerves of Steel, Animosity Animosity, Brawler Brawler) is easily the best, and only rivaled by immunity amulets like Mara's Kaleidoscope Mara's Kaleidoscope and Xephirian Amulet Xephirian Amulet. A perfect roll would include both Crit stats, elemental damage and an open Socket.

Pride of Cassius Pride of Cassius is considered the go-to belt for Greater Rift pushing; the only defensive option for the slot, it can more than double the duration of your Ignore Pain Ignore Pain activations. To make matters slightly more difficult, the unique property of Pride of Cassius Pride of Cassius has a range instead of being fixed, and you should actively seek and gamble for the highest 6-second extension to ease the strain on your Cooldown Reduction. Note that the ideal Pride of Cassius Pride of Cassius will also feature Chance to Freeze in its secondary stats, making it even harder to perfect. In speedfarming, replace this belt with Chilanik's Chain Chilanik's Chain to enjoy a significant, party-wide movement speed buff every time you use War Cry War Cry.

You have two weapon sets with comparable performance for Greater Rift progression. The Bul-Kathos's Oath set, Bul-Kathos's Solemn Vow Bul-Kathos's Solemn Vow and Bul-Kathos's Warrior Blood Bul-Kathos's Warrior Blood, result in a much more mobile playstyle, unmatched in resource stability and fluid performance (which also makes it the recommended set for speedruns). The Istvan's Paired Blades set, Little Rogue Little Rogue and The Slanderer The Slanderer, offer significantly more toughness and a slower pace. Both have extremely comparable performance in Greater Rifts, so you can choose a playstyle to your liking for leaderboard progression.

Slot Pieces Stat Priority
Head
  1. Socket
  2. Strength
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Whirlwind Whirlwind %
  5. Vitality
Shoulders
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Area Damage
Torso
  1. 3 Sockets
  2. Strength
  3. Vitality
  4. Reduced Damage from Elites
  5. All Resistance
Wrists
  1. Strength
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Physical or Lightning Damage
  4. Vitality
  5. Attack Speed (if Lacuni Prowlers Lacuni Prowlers)
Hands
  1. Strength
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Area Damage
  5. Chance to Freeze (Secodary Stat)
Waist
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life per Fury Spent
  5. Chance to Freeze (Secondary Stat)
Legs
  1. 2 Sockets
  2. Strength
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  5. Armor
Feet
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Whirlwind Whirlwind %
  5. Movement Speed
Amulet
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Damage
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Physical or Lightning Damage
  5. Strength
Ring #1
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Cooldown Reduction (one one ring)
  5. Area Damage (on the other ring)
Ring #2
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Cooldown Reduction (one one ring)
  5. Area Damage (on the other ring)
Weapon #1
  1. Socket (preferably from Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift)
  2. Weapon Damage
  3. Strength
  4. Cooldown Reduction
  5. Area Damage
  6. % Weapon Damage
Weapon #2
  1. Socket (preferably from Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift)
  2. Weapon Damage
  3. Strength
  4. Cooldown Reduction
  5. Area Damage
  6. % Weapon Damage

6. Paragon Points

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

7. Gems

Pain Enhancer Pain Enhancer benefits from the density-dependent, AoE nature of the build, along with the Crit bonuses from Battle Rage Battle Rage and Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker. With this gem's help, you will reach the 6 Dust Devils Dust Devils breakpoint without overcommitting to Attack Speed on gear, which frees up valuable space for Area Damage rolls.

Taeguk Taeguk is a rare hybrid of defense and offense among the legendary gem options, and continued Whirlwind Whirlwind channeling will ensure that your stacks remain capped. While it comes naturally to the build, it is good to keep in mind to never stop Whirlwinding, as dropping the Taeguk stacks and building them up from scratch is a significant loss of DPS and Toughness.

Introduced in Season 4, Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken occupies the third and final jewelry socket. Building up your damage multiplicatively in prolonged fights and with a level 25 bonus specifically targeting Rift Guardians, this gem is designed to assist AoE heavy builds in their struggle against single target, high HP enemies. The Whirlwind Barb is a prime example of such a build, and Bane of the Stricken is considered mandatory in GR progression. In normal rifts where health numbers are much more tame, you should swap this gem out for the overall damage increase and elite protection of Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful.

Slot Gems
Jewelry
Helm
Torso and Pants
Weapon

8. Kanai's Cube

Cubing the The Furnace The Furnace provides you with an incomparable source of bonus elite damage, significantly shortening fights with champion packs and Rift Guardians — arguably the most dangerous fights in Greater Rifts. In speedfarming, where you lose Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac for the all-out offensive combo of the worn Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint and the cubed Skull Grasp Skull Grasp, you should make up the cooldown reduction loss with an In-geom In-geom.

Whirlwind Barbarians naturally expose themselves to danger in the thick of the fight, so the addition of Mantle of Channeling Mantle of Channeling in the armor cube slot is natural. This legendary shoulder increases your damage during Whirlwind Whirlwind channeling by 25%, while simultaneously reducing damage taken by the same amount.

Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac is a powerful option for Barbarians to cube in the jewelry slot, making this cooldown-heavy build much easier to manage. Benefiting greatly from the attack speed inherent to dual wielding, as well as the Bul-Kathos and Istvan sets, it allows for permanent uptime of crucial abilities like Ignore Pain Ignore Pain and Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker. Note that this jewelry slot is interchangeable between the three major rings for the build, and you can also cube Convention of Elements Convention of Elements or Skull Grasp Skull Grasp depending on your worst rolled item; Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac is generally preferred for the Cube slot due to its natural inability to roll both Crit Chance and Crit Damage. Finally, during speedfarming your equipped jewelry slots will be occupied by Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint, necessitating that you cube Skull Grasp Skull Grasp for the jewelry slot.

9. 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.

10. ChangeLog

  • 28 Mar. 2017: Slight changes to skill selection; added Istvan's set variant.
  • 05 Jan. 2017: Minor revision to the GR progression build skill selection.
  • 21 Oct. 2016: No changes needed for Season 8.
  • 26 Jul. 2016: Updated the guide for Patch 2.4.2 and included variations for both high GRs and speedruns.
  • 18 Apr. 2016: Revised the build to reflect skill, itemization and Cube changes in Patch 2.4.1.
  • 13 Jan. 2016: The build remains unchanged with Patch 2.4, but it is still viable.
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