Frenzy HotNS Barbarian Skills and Runes

Last updated on Jan 08, 2024 at 09:00 by Deadset 33 comments

On this page, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing Frenzy HotNS Barbarian in Diablo 3. Updated for Patch 2.7.7 and Season 30.

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Frenzy Icon Frenzy Berserk Berserk Right Mouse Button Furious Charge Icon Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault 1 War Cry Icon War Cry Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning 2 Threatening Shout Icon Threatening Shout Falter Falter 3 Battle Rage Icon Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed 4 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity
Passive Skills


Due to the mechanics of Frenzy Frenzy — a heavy single target-oriented skill, even with the added AoE supplements from Bastion's Revered Bastion's Revered — the playstyle boils down to swift movements across a Rift with Furious Charge Furious Charge, finding Elite enemies and high priority trash packs, mowing them down and moving on, leaving stragglers behind. Keep in mind the requirements of Merciless Assault Merciless Assault and always aim for roughly three enemies or more to obtain an instant reset of its cooldown. You should also try and maintain your Frenzy Frenzy stacks, so you do not have to build them up from scratch at every fight — easily achievable with a quick swing at a random enemy in between Furious Charge Furious Charges. When you stumble upon desirable targets as described above, apply the Threatening Shout Threatening Shout Falter Falter debuff and focus the prioritized enemies with Frenzy Frenzy. While this build cannot keep up Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker at all times, with a decent amount of cooldown reduction you should have it available at every significant fight. Last but not least, keep up your passive buffs — War Cry War Cry and Battle Rage Battle Rage — active at all times for a massive increase to both survivability and damage, respectively.


Skills and Runes

The main focus and namesake of the build is Frenzy Frenzy; one of the staple Barbarian generator skills, elevated to a damage dealer through a combination of the Horde of the Ninety Savages set powers and dedicated legendary items like Oathkeeper Oathkeeper, The Undisputed Champion The Undisputed Champion and the cubed Bastion's Revered Bastion's Revered. Note that for the sake of example, we have selected the rune Berserk Berserk, but due to the legendary belt's powers you obtain the powers of all the runes, and can theoretically alter it to any element of your choosing since they all share the same 0.75% proc coefficient. Take special note of the powers of the lightning rune, Smite Smite — its Stun proc will regularly trigger the damage amplification powers of your 2-piece set bonus. Lastly, to better inform your gearing, you should know that while the the 15% attack speed per Frenzy Frenzy stack is additive with itself, it is a separate multiplier in your attack speed calculation, making attack speed rolls on gear desirable (there are no diminishing returns.)

As discussed in the rotation section above, you will be strictly using Furious Charge Furious Charge for mobility; and quite often at that. You will combine your reasonable cooldown reduction rolls on gear with the self-sufficient CD reset mechanics of the Merciless Assault Merciless Assault rune. In most circumstances, this will allow you limitless mobility to seek out a favorable fight. If you decide to go all-out on DPS and alter this build to use Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint instead of our basic suggested setup, you will also need a spender in this build — thus, alter this skill slot to Rend Rend.

Note the mechanics of the 2-piece Horde of the Ninety Savages set bonus: doubling the effectiveness of Shouts. This effect covers all three skills in your Tactics category: War Cry War Cry, Threatening Shout Threatening Shout and Battle Rage Battle Rage. Considering how powerful even their base bonuses are, implementing them in a HotNS build is a no-brainer.

  • War Cry War Cry is a staple defensive buff of Barbarians, providing a substantial armor buff as a base effect, and adding a massive Dodge chance increase via the Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning rune. The rune's bonus scales excellently with the set, all but enforcing it as mandatory for the survival it provides. The skill's duration long exceeds its modest cooldown, but do not neglect to reapply it at regular intervals.
  • The default defensive role of Threatening Shout Threatening Shout is flipped into a 25% additive damage buff against affected enemies in a 25-yard radius, matching the needs of a close combat spec like the Frenzy Barbarian perfectly. With its generous 6-second duration and the Cooldown Reduction you will have to spread on gear anyway, you can reasonably achieve permanent uptime of the damage bonuses.
  • Battle Rage Battle Rage is a staple of the class, bumping up both damage and Crit Chance. While its 2-minute duration can catch you off guard, never allow Battle Rage Battle Rage to drop — it is a solid source of damage, especially with the AoE-oriented Bloodshed Bloodshed rune.

Sporting significantly less uptime — around 40% even in highly optimized gear setups — Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker is nevertheless included for the incomparable stat buffs it provides, along with the humongous damage increase of the Insanity Insanity rune. In general, limit the use of this skill to elite engagements; ideally, activate it the moment you reach the cycle of Convention of Elements Convention of Elements that matches your Frenzy Frenzy rune, as this will result in two full burst cycles of the ring while under the effect of Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity (see this build's gear page for more information).

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



Rampage Rampage is a staple in Barbarian endgame builds, as they often emphasize swift movement from battle to battle, seeking and creating additional density through skills and trash killing efficiency. The Frenzy Barbarian is no exception. With the potential to stack up to 25% additional Strength, increasing your damage and toughness substantially, it is important to learn to keep this passive up. Always being on the move towards bigger fights, where killing trash enemies will feed your stacks, is crucial.

In a pure generator build such as this one, Berserker Rage Berserker Rage has virtually permanent uptime and provides a substantial 25% damage increase.

Lacking the Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker-resetting powers of the Immortal King set or a reasonable way to implement Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, the HotNS Frenzy Barb employs other tactics to lower this crucial cooldown — the inclusion of Boon of Bul-Kathos Boon of Bul-Kathos plays a major part, shaving 30 seconds off the standard 2-minute cooldown.

You have a degree of freedom when picking out your final passive slot. A general recommendation is to take Ruthless Ruthless, which adds a 40% damage multiplier against enemies below 30% health — saving you critical time during fights against foes with high health pools, especially Rift Guardians. Another safer option for this slot is Nerves of Steel Nerves of Steel, the Barbarian version of the standard cheat death passive. As a melee spec that tackles sources of damage spikes (Electrified, Fire Chains) on a regular basis, a fail-safe on a 60-second cooldown is never a bad choice.



  • 08 Jan. 2024: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 30.
  • 13 Sep. 2023: Added Season 29 Paragon Cap and Gearing recommendations.
  • 22 Feb. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 28.
  • 26 Aug. 2022: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 27.
  • 10 Apr. 2022: Guide reviewed for Season 26.
  • 09 Dec. 2021: Reviewed for Season 25.
  • 22 Jul. 2021: Rune and passive recommendations revised.
  • 06 Apr. 2021: Additional passive clarifications and choices.
  • 28 Mar. 2021: Revised passive recommendations.
  • 18 Nov. 2020: Revised Frenzy rune recommendation to fit itemization choices.
  • 30 Jun. 2020: No changes required for Season 21.
  • 07 Mar. 2020: Revised active skill rune recommendations and some additional passive alternatives.
  • 06 Mar. 2020: Guide added.
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