HotA Barbarian Skills and Runes

Last updated on Jun 14, 2018 at 11:34 by Deadset 103 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

Below, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing HotA Barbarian in Diablo 3. Updated for patch 2.6.1 and Season 15.

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

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Furious Charge Icon Furious Charge Merciless Assault Merciless Assault Right Mouse Button Hammer of the Ancients Icon Hammer of the Ancients Smash Smash 1 Battle Rage Icon Battle Rage Bloodshed Bloodshed 2 War Cry Icon War Cry Veteran's Warning Veteran's Warning 3 Wrath of the Berserker Icon Wrath of the Berserker Insanity Insanity 4 Call of the Ancients Icon Call of the Ancients Together as One Together as One
Passive Skills

1. Rotation

Activate Call of the Ancients Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker as soon as you start a run, and keep both skills up throughout the rift — a task made infinitely easier with the Immortal King set bonus. Remember that Wrath of the Berserker needs to be cast on cooldown, but only resummon Call of the Ancients Call of the Ancients when one or more of them die off. Once you find an area suitably dense with enemies, begin your Hammer of the Ancients Hammer of the Ancients assault, only stopping to refresh your Band of Might Band of Might bonus with a Furious Charge Furious Charge. Furious Charge Furious Charge will also be used for mobility, finding new fights or dodging dangerous situations in this otherwise static, methodical playstyle. On the buff side, keep Battle Rage Battle Rage up at all times and let out a War Cry War Cry as often as you can.

2. Skills, Runes and Passives

Your primary damage dealer is the namesake of the build, Hammer of the Ancients Hammer of the Ancients. Considered as a beginner build staple for a long time, it becomes an endgame viable spender through the Bracers of the First Men Bracers of the First Men, skyrocketing its damage and increasing its attack speed by 50%. The rune of choice is Smash Smash, as its higher base damage trumps the utility bonuses of the other options.

While it is certainly not the focus of the build, both spec and gear-wise, Furious Charge Furious Charge brings great utility to the deliberate pace of this build. Akin to a Swiss knife, it brings mobility, Fury generation, and a proc for Band of Might Band of Might. The rune of choice is Merciless Assault Merciless Assault; the dissonance of elemental damage with the rest of the build is not a concern, as the self-sufficient cooldown reset is what you are truly after — hitting 5 or more enemies will instantly reset Furious Charge Furious Charge.

The Immortal King set bonuses allow for the permanent uptime of two hallmark, long-cooldown Barbarian skills: Call of the Ancients Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker.

  • The 2-piece bonus removes the duration of Call of the Ancients Call of the Ancients, allowing you to benefit from the trio of warriors until they are killed. Sturdy as they are, powerful affixes and bad fights can result in one or more of them falling in battle — so keep an eye on their counter and resummon immediately. The 4-piece IK bonus assists you with the cooldown reset for a reason — the chosen rune Together as One Together as One is the foundation of your toughness, while the Ancients' Fury Ancients' Fury rune (acquired from the worn Fury of the Ancients Fury of the Ancients) is the basis of Fury management.
  • No superlatives should be spared when talking about Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker, especially when paired with the damage amplifier of the Insanity Insanity rune. For the sake of brevity, this is the single most powerful self-buff of Barbarians, providing you with significant amounts of Dodge, Crit Chance, Attack and Movement Speed. Easily reaching permanency through the Immortal King 4-piece bonus, this skill is a fixture to the build.

On the topic of buffs, two additional skills round out the category — the offensive Battle Rage Battle Rage and the defensive War Cry War Cry.

  • 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. As this build is limited in sources of healing, you can consider spamming Battle Rage Battle Rage out of combat to heal up through Life per Fury Spent on gear.
  • 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 concludes the overview of the Active Skills, now let us look through the Passives.

Able to burst and hop between targets better than many Barbarian builds, the HotA Barb is a natural adopter of the Rampage Rampage passive. Learning to maximize this passive is important, as it is a true multiplier with the potential to net you 25% additional Strength, increasing DPS and Toughness substantially. Staying at or near the cap can only be achieved if you stay vigilant and on the move, aiming to get in bigger fights, where killing minor enemies will feed your stacks.

While the build is resource intensive, you quickly regain what was lost — your weapon will refund Fury, your ancients will give Fury per hit, and both War Cry War Cry and Furious Charge Furious Charge are generators. The result is a fairly stable resource pool, allowing you to take full advantage of the additive damage increase of Berserker Rage Berserker Rage.

Hardly lacking single target damage, the HotA Barb still incorporates Ruthless Ruthless — a testament to the quality of the passive. Once you hammer your target below 30% health, your damage spikes with a 40% multiplier, allowing you to tear down your target even quicker.

Your final passive slot is flexible, with a number of viable and useful options. As the build is prone to getting spiked in damage, is not as fluid as the Whirlwind Barb, and suffers for sources of healing, Relentless Relentless can be a nice fit — allowing you to stand your ground and regain health. 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.

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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