This is your comprehensive guide for building a tactical battlemaster Barbarian who expertly targets his enemies with debuffs then send them into oblivion. Welcome to our Death Blow Endgame build. This build focuses delivering the 1-2-3 punch to enemies with a devastating Death Blow strike that crushes the hordes of hell, while you tactically cut down any enemy that stands before you.
Our guide will cover all basic mechanics and deep dive into the optimal setup for skills, Paragon and gear for the build.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Amazing Single Target DPS
- Death Blow renews cooldown on kills
- Big Critical hits
- Good surviviability
- Has trouble with large packs of enemies
- Positioning is key
To see how this build compares to the other builds on our site, you can check out our build tier lists.
This build has several Legendary Aspects and a single Unique requirement for the build to function properly. The Legendary Aspects you will need the following at a minimum to make the build work at its most basic level. These Aspects are all non-codex, which means you will need to find them on a Legendary Item then imprint them onto specific gear.
To even begin this build, we recommend you have these four Aspects ready for imprinting at a minimum. For the build it become fully functional, we recommend you have all the Legendary Aspects listed further in this guide for the build to work optimally. We also use the Unique – Ancients’ Oath for the bonuses to Steel Grasp skill, while this build could be played without the Unique 2-handed Axe, it would not be as effective.
Season of the Malignant
Season 1 Patch Updates
Below is a list of specific changes from the Season 1 Patch Update that affect this build. If any of these changes create significant issues within the build, they will be discussed in more detail under their relevant sections.
- Violent Double Swing Vulnerable duration increased from 1 to 2 seconds.
- Enhanced Death Blow’s damage bonus to Bosses increased from 100% to 150%.
- Aspect of the Iron Warrior Damage Reduction increased from 15-25% to 18-28%.
- Aspect of Disobedience maximum stacks reduced from 100 to 60, reducing maximum Bonus Armor % from 25-50% to 15-30%.
- Hamstring now only Slows Healthy enemies, and Slow amount increased from 10/20/30% to 20/40/60%.
- Weapon Master’s Aspect Lucky Hit Chance increased from 32-50% to 37%-55%.
- Cooldown Reduction: Reduced by ~30% on gear slots.
- Significant reductions to Vulnerable and Critical Strike Damage values (needs to be tested more).
The second major update for Season 1, Patch 1.1.1 released on August 8th 2023, brings some positive changes to Barbarian. This includes adjustments to Basic Generator Skills, Key passives, skill passives and Legendary Aspects. The changes that directly affect this build are listed below.
- Lunging Strike – Fury gained increased from 10 to 12.
- Double Swing -Damage increased from 40% to 50%.
- Aggressive Resistance – Damage reduction increased from 3% to 4%.
- Unconstrained – Berserking damage bonus increased from 25% to 35
None of these changes are build-breaking and we still have full confidence in this build.
The theme for Season 1 introduces a new form of legendary gem called Malignant Hearts. There are three types of hearts that need to be socketed into matching colored sockets on all equipped jewelry and one type of heart that can be placed into any socket. For more information about the Malignant Hearts theme for Season 1 check out our Malignant Hearts guide.
Listed below are the Malignant Hearts that are useful for this build, ranked by importance. Stats displayed reflect what a level 20 character would receive as a drop. Note that this list is based on our early opinions on the Malignant Hearts, and we will update it as and when it is necessary.
Please note that since this written build guide is ever-evolving and videos cannot easily be updated, the below video should serve as more of a guideline, where as the written guide will always have the most accurate information.
Skill Tree Points and Skill Bar
Follow the points allocated in the image above for the complete 58 point build. The additional 10 skill points are completed using the Renown system.
|Lunging Strike Level 1, Enhanced Lunging Strike||Basic Skill|
|Double Swing Level 5, Enhanced Double Swing, Furious Double Swing||Core Skill|
|Rallying Cry Level 1, Enhanced Rallying Cry, Strategic Rallying Cry, Challenging Shout Level 1, Imposing Presence Level 1, Martial Vigor Level 3||Defensive Skill|
|War Cry Level 1, Enhanced War Cry, Power War Cry, Booming Voice Level 3, Guttural Yell Level 3, Aggressive Resistance Level 3, Prolific Fury Level 3||Brawling Skill|
|Death Blow Level 5, Enhanced Death Blow, Warrior’s Death Blow, Steel Grasp Level 1, Enhanced Steel Grasp, Warrior’s Steel Grasp, Thick Skin Level 1, Defensive Stance Level 2, Counteroffensive Level 3, Pit Fighter Level 3, No Mercy Level 3||Weapon Mastery Skill|
|Heavy Handed Level 3||Ultimate Skill|
Weapon Expertise – The Barbarian Specialization
For the Death Blow build, we will be focusing on the Technique of a Two-Handed Axe. This boosts our Vulnerable damage, increasing our overall damage with Death Blow, so we can continually renew the Cooldown.
We recommend using these Legendary nodes and Rare Glyphs to truly take this build into the endgame. Note that each Rare Glyph’s information listed below is for the Level 21 version.
|Exploit||– For every 5 Dexterity purchased within range, you deal + [3.85%] increased damage to Vulnerable targets.|
– Additional Bonus unlocked after 25 Dexterity points are purchased in the glyph’s range: When an enemy is damaged by you, they become Vulnerable for 3 seconds. This cannot happen more than once every 20 seconds per enemy.
|Territorial||– For every 5 Dexterity purchased within range, you deal +[9.6]% increased damage to Close targets.|
– Additional Bonus unlocked after 25 Dexterity points are purchased in the glyph’s range: You gain 10% Damage Reduction against Close enemies.
|Ambidextrous||– Grants +% to all Magic Nodes within range. |
– Additional Bonus unlocked after 40 Strength points are purchased in the glyph’s range: You deal +% increased damage while wielding One-handed weapons.
|Marshal||– Grants +[125%] bonus to all Magic nodes within range.|
– Additional Bonus unlocked after 40 Strength points are purchased in the glyph’s range: After casting a Shout Skill, the active Cooldown of every other Shout Skill is reduced by 1.2 seconds.
|Wrath||For every 5 Dexterity purchased within range, Core Skills deal + [7.2%] increased Critical Strike Damage.|
Additional Bonus unlocked after 25 Dexterity points are purchased in the glyph’s range: Skill that Critical Strike generate 3 Fury.
|Mortal Draw||– For every 5 Dexterity purchased within range, Skill that Swap to a different weapon deal + [16.5%] increased damage.|
– Additional Bonus unlocked after 25 Dexterity points are purchased in the glyph’s range: Swapping weapons has a 18% chance to cause the Skill’s damage to Critically Strike.
|Weapon Master||– Paragon nodes within range gain +% bonus to their Physical damage and Damage Reduction modifiers.|
– Additional Bonus unlocked after 25 Dexterity points are purchased in the glyph’s range: Hitting with a Weapon Mastery Skill reduces the active Cooldown of another random Weapon Mastery Skill by 2 seconds.
Let’s break down each of these beneficial nodes and where our paragon points are positioned in each of the paragon boards we use. This part of the build is presented in order of importance – so if you do not have enough paragon points for use in your paragon tree, just slowly work towards each step.
- Take the pathway up the right hand side of the board towards the open Glyph slot.
- Along route pick up the Rare Node Brawn, this will boost our flat damage and offer us an increase to Maximum Life.
- Insert the Glyph Weapon Master, and take the Dexterity nodes shown to get the bonus. This will help us with our Weapon Mastery skills, but also gives us bonus Physical Damage.
- Inside the Gylph radius we will take both Rare Nodes, Iron Strength and Raw Power.
- Finally, path towards the connection point at the top of the board and attach our next paragon board Decimator.
Decimator (2nd Board)
- Path towards the open Glyph slots and pick up the Rare Node Destroyer along the way.
- Now go straight to the open Glyph slot and insert Marshal. This Glyph will boost the Rare Nodes in our Glyph radius and help with our Shouts Cooldowns. It is Strength based so be sure to take the Strength nodes shown above.
- Next we will take both Rare Nodes inside the Glyph radius, Demolish and Arrogance, both of these nodes will give us advantages against Vulnerable enemies. Be sure to take the correct Magic Nodes.
- Head towards the right hand side of the board and pick up the Rare Node Pillage, this node will give us another increase in damage to Vulnerable Enemies.
- Complete both pathways to the connection points shown in the image above.
- Finally, use the top connection point to attach the next paragon board Flawless Technique.
Carnage (3rd Board)
- Take the pathway towards the Glyph slot and insert Ambidextrous into the Glyph slot. This Glyph will boost the Magic Nodes within the radius and grants us more One-handed weapon damage.
- Inside the Glyph radius take both Rare Nodes, Brash and Fierce, these Nodes will grant you an increased Berserking Damage and give you an increased Damage Reduction for Vulnerable Enemies.
- Now path towards the top connection point, branching off to pick up the Rare Node Enraged.
- Complete the path upwards to the attachment point and attach the next board, Flawless Technique.
Flawless Technique (4th Board)
- Head up towards the Open Glyph slot and pick up Rare Node Havoc, this will give us increases to both our Critical Strike Damage and Physical Damage.
- . Insert Mortal Draw into the slot and take the needed Dexterity to ensure its bonus.
- Now take both Rare Nodes inside the Glyph radius, Brash and Heavy Blows. These will help our defenses against Close Enemies and our offensive Critical Strike Damage with 1-handed weapons.
- Now go back to the Decimator paragon board and take the path up to the connection point. Attach the Weapons Master paragon board.
Weapons Master (5th Board)
- Follow the pathway to the center of the board and take the Rare Node Brute. This Node will increase our Physical Damage and Attack Speed.
- Now go back and insert Territorial into the open Glyph slot. This Glyph will increase our offenses and defenses to Close Enemies.
- Be sure to take the correct nodes in the image above, including the Dexterity for the bonus.
- Lastly, move towards the connection point at left hand side of the Paragon Board and attach our the board Bone Breaker.
Bone Breaker (6th Board)
- Select the Nodes towards the open Glyph slot and insert Exploit, this will increase our damage to Vulnerable Enemies. Be sure to take the needed Dexterity Nodes within the Glyph Radius.
- Lastly, take the Rare Node Vigor for the Damage Reduction against Healthy Enemies and a small damage increase.
- Now head to the bottom of the board and attach our final paragon board Warbringer.
Warbringer (7th board)
- Select the nodes towards the open Glyph slot, and insert Wrath for the boost to Critical Strike and Fury gains on Critical Strikes.
- Take the need Dexterity nodes to boost your damage output.
- Lastly, take the Rare Node Raw Power, this will increase our Physical Damage.
- This completes the paragon tree for this build.
Paragon board images courtesy of d4builds.gg.
Build Mechanics and Playstyle
The playstyle for this build is a simple three step rotation. This rotation will prep enemies with debuffs and put our character into Berserking, then unleash a Death Blow strike to wipe out a line of enemies. Doing this rotation correctly should also trigger a Berserking state, which is buffed by our Key Passive Unconstrained for added damage. Let’s look at the rotation a bit closer.
- Steel Grasp – Pulls everything towards us and groups enemies up for easy skill hits with both Double Swing and Death Blow.
- Double Swing – This skill is our Vulnerability trigger. We will use this to ensure a fresh stack of Vulnerability is applied to the enemy before we finish them off with a Death Blow. When we spam this skill in combination of our great Fury generation, it triggers our Aspects to amplify our attacks.
- Death Blow – This is our killing attack. Death Blow will be charged up by several different Aspects on our equipment (like when we spend enough Fury using Double Swing), Berserking and our Key Passive Unconstrained. When all of these elements line up, Death Blow can easily one shot elite mobs. One important Aspect to keep in mind is the Weapon Master’s Aspect. This Aspect allows us to have two charges of Death Blow. This makes resetting the Cooldown on Death Blow so much easier, as you have two opportunities to get a kill.
The hardest part of this build is getting to know your rotations and which skills need to be used to renew the buffs for Death Blow. However, once you understand the process, the playstyle will feel smoother and you will be able to control your bursts of power. Let’s take a look at the defensive layers that will be keeping us alive while we cut mobs in half.
Challenging Shout is going to give us the Damage Reduction we need to stay close to our enemies and survive while we cut them down with Death Blow. When you combine this Shout with a basic skill attack we are going to be able to maintain a very high Damage Reduction for those moments when you are in trouble.
War Cry is our boost for a huge damage increase, increasing based on how many Enemies are surrounding us. This synergizes well with Steel Grasp, as it is going to pull everything over to you. This will also trigger a Berserking state and keep our Fury building.
Rallying Cry is another source of Unstoppable we can depend on, but it also grants us Fortification. While the Shout is active we will gain Fortify every single second to help offset the damage we will be taking from the enemies around us.
Gear Choice and Stat Priority
As you begin to farm in World Tier 3 and 4, Rare and Legendary item drops will begin to appear with some regularity depending on your luck. We recommend saving the targeted Legendary items that have the needed Legendary aspects listed below. We also recommended to keep multiple copies of the build’s Aspects in your Stash for future upgrades.
As for the Rare items, you will need to inspect each one for targeted affixes for use in each specific slot and do your best to match the recommended rolls. We have listed our targeted affixes in order of importance. Check the chart below and make note of what affixes you are searching for when you see a Rare gear piece drop.
|Gear Slot||Targeted Affixes|
|Helm||1. Cooldown Reduction|
2. Ranks of Death Blow
3. Total Armor
5. Damage while Berserking
|Chest||1. Damage Reduction|
2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
3. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
4. Total Armor
5. Rank up Rallying Cry
|Gloves||1. Critical Strike Chance|
2. Ranks of Double Swing
3. Attack Speed
5. Critical Strike Chance Against Injured Enemies
|Pants||1. Damage Reduction|
2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
3. Damage Reduction while Injured
4. Total Armor
5. Maximum Life
|Boots||1. Movement Speed|
2. Damage Reduction while Injured
3. Fury Cost Reduction
5. Movement Speed for 4 seconds After Killing an Elite
|Amulet||1. Cooldown Reduction |
2. Rank Up Heavy Handed
3. Rank Up of All Weapon Mastery Skills
4. Damage Reduction while Injured
5. Movement Speed
6. Fury Cost Reduction
|Rings||1. Vulnerable Damage|
2. Critical Strike Chance
3. Critical Strike Damage
4. Maximum Life
|Weapons||1. Vulnerable Damage|
2. Critical Strike Damage
4. Damage to Close Enemies
5. Damage to Bleeding Enemies
6. All Stats
Please note that these affixes are the recommended picks for this Death Blow build, but that is simply our opinion. Other affixes could certainly work instead of the ones listed above, but may not be optimal. Also, there are several very specific affixes that are required to make the build work, they are as follows:
- Damage While Berserking
- Rank ups to selected Skills
- Berserking Duration
A final point on acquiring the right Affixes and Legendary Aspects, use your Obols to target farm them. Obols are awarded from many different activities in the game, you will always stockpiling them until you hit your maximum. Instead of just randomly spending them on a random pick, use them to target what you might be missing from this build. It is a great way to target a specific slot of loot and find what you need.
If you are interested in checking out a new tool for gambling Obols check out this link below from Icy Veins.Obol Gambling Optimization Tool
Below you will find the optimal setup for Legendary Aspects for the Death Blow build. Each aspect is listed with its matching gear slot. Do your best to keep each aspect in the slot it was posted with.
Listed below are all the best-in-slot Aspects found on Legendary items that are important for the Death Blow build. Aspects from the Codex of Power can be used if you cannot find the proper Legendary drops, but they have weaker effects. Extract Aspects from lower level Legendary items and imprint them onto better Rare items with preferred stats. The endgame itemization goal will be to imprint Aspects with the best values Ancestral Rare items with Item Power above or as close to 800, then upgrade them through the Blacksmith.
|Gear Slot||Legendary Aspect||Legendary Aspect Power|
|Helm||Eluding Aspect||Becoming Injured while Crowd Controlled grants you Unstoppable for 4 seconds. This effect has a [40-20] second Cooldown.|
|Chest||Aspect of Numbing Wrath||Each point of Fury generated while at Maximum Fury grants [X] Fortify.|
|Gloves||Aspect of Anemia||Lucky Hit: Direct damage against Bleeding enemies has up to a [20-30%] chance to Stun them for 2 seconds.|
|Pants||Aspect of Disobedience||You gain [0.25-0.50%] increased Armor for 4 seconds when you deal any form of damage, stacking up to [15.00-30.00%].|
|Boots||Weapon Master’s Aspect||Your Weapon Mastery Skills have an additional Charge. Lucky Hit: Damaging an enemy with a Weapon Mastery Skill has up to a [37-55%] chance to Stun them for 2 seconds.|
|Amulets(50% bonus)||Aspect of Limitless Rage||Each point of Fury you generate while at Maximum Fury grants your next Core Skill [1-2%] increased damage, up to [15-30%] .|
|Ring||Aspect of Echoing Fury||Your Shout Skills generate [2.0-4.0] Fury per second while active.|
|Ring||Bold Chieftain’s Aspect||Whenever you cast a Shout Skill, its Cooldown is reduced by [1.0-1.9] seconds per Nearby enemy, up to a maximum of 6 seconds.|
|Bludgeoning Weapon (200% bonus)||Accelerating Aspect||Critical Strikes with Core Skills increase your Attack Speed by [15-25]% for 5 seconds.|
|Slashing Weapon (200% bonus)||Ancients’ Oath||Steel Grasp launches 2 additional chains. Enemies hit by Steel Grasp are Slowed by [55 – 65]% for 3 seconds.|
|Dual-Wield Weapon 1||Edgemaster’s Aspect||Skills deal up to [10- 20%] increased damage based on your available Primary Resource when cast, receiving the maximum benefit while you have full Primary Resource.|
|Dual-Wield Weapon 2||Aspect of Berserk Ripping||Whenever you deal direct damage while Berserking, inflict [20-30%] of the Base damage dealt as additional Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.|
We utilize the Ancients’ Oath for this build, while it is very much optional, this Unique works quite well in this build setup.
Listed below are the best gems to socket into gear for each slot type.
- Weapon: Royal Emerald for critical strike damage to Vulnerable enemies.
- Armor: Royal Sapphire for damage reduction while Fortified.
- Jewelry: Exclusively using our Malignant Hearts for these slots.
Elixirs and Health Pots
Visit the Alchemist in any main town to craft helpful Elixirs that increase stats, and experience gain for 30 minutes. Make sure to forage plants and pick up the necessary crafting materials during your adventures; they randomly spawn around the world. Use an Elixir providing any Resistance you need most, or the Assault Elixir to increase Attack Speed.
Return to the Alchemist again when you reach Level 20, 30, 45, 60, 70, 80 and 90, to upgrade your potion. The extra healing is essential to survival.
- August 12th 2023: Updated Build for Season 1.
- August 8th 2023: Added notes about Patch 1.1.1.
- August 5th 2023: Malignant Hearts and Paragon updated for clarity.
- July 19th, 2023: Season of the Malignant section added.