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Frenzy Thorns Barbarian Skills and Runes

Last updated on Jun 26, 2017 at 11:34 by Deadset

Table of Contents

General Information

Below, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing Frenzy Thorns Barbarian in Diablo 3. Updated for patch 2.6 and Season 11.

The other pages of our Frenzy Thorns Barbarian guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Frenzy Icon Frenzy Maniac Maniac Right Mouse Button Furious Charge Icon Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault 1 Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain Iron Hide Iron Hide 2 Threatening Shout Icon Threatening Shout Falter Falter 3 War Cry Icon War Cry Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning 4 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity
Passive Skills

1. Rotation

The playstyle of the build focuses heavily on seeking out and assassinating priority targets like elites and champion packs, skipping even substantial groups of small enemies due to its lacking AoE damage. This mobility is achieved largely through the combination of Illusory Boots Illusory Boots and Furious Charge Furious Charge, and you should aim to reset the cooldown of the latter by charging multiple enemies and taking advantage of the Merciless Assault Merciless Assault effect. Once you find a suitable target — the aforementioned elites — debuff it with Threatening Shout Threatening Shout Falter Falter and start mowing it down with Frenzy Frenzy. Ideally you will have the Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker steroid available for any significant fight. Lastly, apply Ignore Pain Ignore Pain on cooldown (achieving its permanent uptime through gear and stat rolls) and refresh War Cry War Cry as often as you need to maintain its Toughness buff.

2. Skills, Runes and Passives

Similarly to an Invoker Thorns Crusader, you will be applying your Thorns damage through a primary attack; unlike the Crusader spec, you do not require a set bonus to skyrocket your attack speed — Oathkeeper Oathkeeper will take care of that. Your primary concern will be to apply attacks as quickly as possible, and no other Barbarian primary does that better than Frenzy Frenzy and its attack speed stacking mechanic, further enhanced by the cubed Bastion's Revered Bastion's Revered. The preferred rune for progression is Maniac Maniac for its additive increase to your overall damage.

As previously mentioned in the gameplay overview, Furious Charge Furious Charge is included in the build strictly for mobility purposes; allowing you to skip trash packs in search for higher impact enemies to fight. Despite your high cooldown reduction on gear, it is still advisable to take the rune Merciless Assault Merciless Assault for its reset mechanic, and aiming to hit at least 2-3 enemies to always have a Furious Charge Furious Charge available.

The remainder of your active skills are split into two rough categories — damage increasing and damage reducing buffs.

The first category includes Threatening Shout Threatening Shout Falter Falter and Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity. 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, perfectly suitable to a melee spec like the Frenzy Barb. With its generous 6-second duration and the focus of the spec into Cooldown Reduction, you will easily achieve permanent uptime of the buff. Sporting significantly less uptime — around 60% 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 a Physical cycle of the cubed Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, as this will result in two full Physical cycles of the ring while under the effect of Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity.

The second category consists of the survivability staples War Cry War Cry and Ignore Pain Ignore Pain. War Cry War Cry is a bread-and-butter background buff, increasing your Toughness the most by balancing your high Armor and All Resist with a smattering of Dodge chance from the Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning rune. The buff duration long exceeds its modest cooldown, so do not be lulled and let it fall off — it costs nothing to reapply it at regular intervals. In speedruns, War Cry War Cry will also add to your (and your group's) movement speed via a worn Chilanik's Chain Chilanik's Chain. In progression however, you will be wearing Pride of Cassius Pride of Cassius — and for a good reason; Ignore Pain Ignore Pain will be the basis of your survivability by cutting incoming damage in half and making you immune to crowd control. Permanent uptime of Ignore Pain Ignore Pain is crucial, so the general recommendation is the long-lasting Iron Hide Iron Hide rune, as it demands the least from your gear with its 57% CDR breakpoint. Once fully optimized and past the 63% barrier, you can swap to any rune you fancy — the group-oriented Mob Rule Mob Rule, the speed boosting Bravado Bravado, or the burst heal of Contempt for Weakness Contempt for Weakness.

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

The Barbarian answer to Crusader's Iron Maiden Iron Maiden, Tough as Nails Tough as Nails doubles your Thorns damage — a natural inclusion to a Thorns-based setup. Its Toughness angle is not to be underestimated either, as it boosts your Armor by 25%.

Lacking the Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker-resetting powers of the Immortal King set, the Frenzy Thorns 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.

In a spec that runs no spenders and plenty of generators, including a primary skill and several cooldowns, Berserker Rage Berserker Rage has a virtually permanent uptime, and provides a substantial 25% damage increase.

You have a degree of freedom when picking out your final passive slot. A general recommendation is to take 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. If you feel your toughness is optimized and your life is not threatened, Ruthless Ruthless is one of the best damage-oriented choices you have available; it highlights the build's single target strengths by increasing your damage multiplicatively by 40% during the last third of your enemies' health. Ideally you will not have to choose between Nerves of Steel Nerves of Steel and Ruthless Ruthless, as you will take one of them on a Hellfire Amulet of Strength Hellfire Amulet of Strength.

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 and streams on Twitch, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

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