Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian Leveling Build Guide for Diablo 4 (Season 1)

A Solid Leveling guide for taking your Barbarian to 50.




Updated: Posted:

FrenzyHammer of the AncientsDeath BlowRallying CryLeapWrath of the Berserker

General Leveling Tips

To find out more general information about leveling as a Barbarian in Diablo 4, you can check out our main Barbarian Leveling guide. You can also go to our Barbarian Builds page for a list of other leveling and endgame Barbarian builds for you to choose from.

In regard to leveling up on the seasonal realm, you might also want to check out our season checklist, as it will give you some useful tips and tricks for Season 1 of Diablo 4. Don’t miss this chance to make the most out of your leveling journey!

Season Checklist

Build Introduction

This build focuses on using Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients against packs of enemies, followed up with a devastating Death BlowDeath Blow to finish them off. To keep our damage up, we maintain a state of Berserking, and primarily rely on two skills to stack our damage up against our foes.

We will also be triggering an enhancement for even more damage to our Bleeds through the Key Passive Walking ArsenalWalking Arsenal.

Now that we understand our two most basic skills, we can look deeper into how we will be allocating our skill points as we journey from Level 1 to Level 50.

Season of the Malignant

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 the limited pool of Malignant Heart drops until World Tier 3 is unlocked. All other heart option become available in World Tier 3, so if you do not find one of these right away – do not worry. Malignant Hearts are primarily farm in the endgame.

  1. Caged Heart of the Malignant PactCaged Heart of the Malignant Pact
  2. Caged Heart of the PicanaCaged Heart of the Picana
  3. Caged Heart of DeterminationCaged Heart of Determination

Allocation of Skill points

Your first 20 skill points are used to acquire all of your skills, filling in passive points only as needed to get to the next tier. The allocation of these points is listed below.

Skill Point AllocationAllocation
2Enhanced FrenzyEnhanced Frenzy
3Combat FrenzyCombat Frenzy
4Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients
5Enhanced Hammer of the AncientsEnhanced Hammer of the Ancients
6Furious Hammer of the AncientsFurious Hammer of the Ancients
7Rallying CryRallying Cry
8Enhanced Rallying CryEnhanced Rallying Cry
9Tactical Rallying CryTactical Rallying Cry
10Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients Level 2
11Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients Level 3
13Enhanced LeapEnhanced Leap
14Power LeapPower Leap
15Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients Level 4
16Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients Level 5
17Death BlowDeath Blow
18Enhanced Death BlowEnhanced Death Blow
19Warrior's Death BlowWarrior’s Death Blow
20Death BlowDeath Blow Level 2
21Wrath of the BerserkerWrath of the Berserker
22Prime Wrath of the BerserkerPrime Wrath of the Berserker
23Supreme Wrath of the BerserkerSupreme Wrath of the Berserker
24Death BlowDeath Blow Level 3
25Death BlowDeath Blow Level 4
26Death BlowDeath Blow Level 5

As you can see in the table above, all of our skills are obtained within the first 26 points. This completes our entire skill bar relatively quickly. If you are making a Seasonal Character, you already start with 10 skill points, so it is even faster.

Your complete skill bar will look like this:

HotA Leveling Skill Bar (Placement of skills is completely optional)
Hammer of the Ancients Hammer of the Ancients Frenzy Frenzy Rallying Cry Rallying Cry Death Blow Death Blow Leap Leap Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker

Now that you are ready to fight the hordes of hell with all your skills filled out, we can fill in your passive points with each level up. As for which passives to take once you have completed your skill load-out and Key Passive, we recommend the following ranked by importance.

  1. HamstringHamstring to Level 1
  2. Pit FighterPit Fighter to Level 3
  3. Slaying StrikeSlaying Strike to Level 3
  4. Expose VulnerabilityExpose Vulnerability to Level 3
  5. Walking ArsenalWalking Arsenal Key Passive
  6. No MercyNo Mercy to Level 3
  7. Aggressive ResistanceAggressive Resistance to Level 1
  8. Prolific FuryProlific Fury to Level 1
  9. Thick SkinThick Skin to Level 3
  10. Defensive StanceDefensive Stance to Level 3
  11. CounteroffensiveCounteroffensive to Level 3
  12. Tempered FuryTempered Fury to Level 1
  13. Furious ImpulseFurious Impulse to Level 3

Skill Tree

Here is the completed skill tree for the build:

Skill Clusters

Let’s review each cluster in the Skill Tree and discuss our reasons behind each passive and skill choice, so we have a good understanding of the build before we transition into the Shout HotA Endgame Build or Berserking HotA Endgame Build. Keep in mind, if you are leveling a new seasonal character, you will have some additional skill points to spend at the beginning.

Basic Skills

FrenzyFrenzy is our choice for the basic skill in this build and will be kept at Level 1. This skill is used constantly, as our Fury pool will be more challenging to keep up until we have more points to invest in our Fury Generation. The advantage of using this skill is the huge boost in Attack Speed, allowing us to recharge our Fury faster. Put a one-handed weapon on this skill.

Core Skills

Our Core skill is Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients, this is used as our main Fury spender. As we gain Fury through Berserking, Rallying CryRallying Cry, LeapLeap and FrenzyFrenzy, we will then deplete our pool by spamming Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients. Your positioning will be key during this spam attack. This may take time to feel smooth, but you want to target packs of enemies. Do your best to use it when you have groups of monsters and not waste it on small single target.

Defensive Skills

Our defensive cluster contains our only Shout skill: Rallying CryRallying Cry. This skill provides us with multiple benefits, first as an escape skill with Enhanced Rallying CryEnhanced Rallying Cry making us Unstoppable. Then we also benefit from the Tactical Rallying CryTactical Rallying Cry gives us a boost to Fury and increases our generation by 20%.

Brawling Skills

In this cluster, we acquire the skill LeapLeap which gives us a huge chunk of Fury and allows for us to use it as a movement skill to increase the pace of battle or escape a bad situation. We also take the passives listed below:

Weapon Mastery Skills

The Death BlowDeath Blow skill is used to trigger Berserking and insta-kill enemies, renewing the skill and allowing us to use it as a killing blow again.

  • Pit FighterPit Fighter – Increases offenses and defenses for Close Enemies.
  • Slaying StrikeSlaying Strike – This benefits our Death BlowDeath Blow by increasing our damage to injured enemies.
  • Expose VulnerabilityExpose Vulnerability – This allows our core skill to trigger Vulnerability on enemies.
  • No MercyNo Mercy – This increases Critical Strike Chance against enemies we HamstringHamstring.
  • HamstringHamstring – This makes Healthy enemies we bleed slow.
  • Thick SkinThick Skin – This gives us the ability to trigger Fortify and all of its benefits everything time we get hit.
  • Defensive StanceDefensive Stance – This increases our Damage Reduction while we are Fortified, which from the passive above happens every time we are hit.
  • CounteroffensiveCounteroffensive – This increases our Damage output while we are Fortified and still above 50% Life.

Ultimate Skill

For our Ultimate skill we are using Wrath of the BerserkerWrath of the Berserker. This is a great power-up for our Character to use against Elites and Bosses. This makes us Unstoppable and Berserking, including boosting damage and movement speed. While the skill has a long Cooldown, it is a great skill to use during intense moments.

Key Passive

The Key Passive Walking ArsenalWalking Arsenal, we trigger this ability by using 3 different types of weapons across our skills. We accomplish this easily by setting our skills to the following weapons:

This setup will cycle the activation on Walking ArsenalWalking Arsenal fairly often, giving us the 45% damage bonus.

Mechanics and Playstyle

The majority of your power in this leveling build comes from your Attack Speed. Using FrenzyFrenzy to quickly build Fury and then immediately dropping that Fury with Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients to lower your enemies to within a range where Death BlowDeath Blow can be used. This will reset its cooldown all the while triggering a state of Berserking. Rallying CryRallying Cry will help keep Fury generation high, and we can easily manage our enemies by using FrenzyFrenzy or offloading all of our Fury with Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients. The Ultimate ability, Wrath of the BerserkerWrath of the Berserker, is best used to take out Elite packs.

During the majority of your fights, you will also be triggering Walking ArsenalWalking Arsenal for a good damage bonus. This rotational way of playing will become important, as it prepares you for the endgame version of this build, which is played with a very similar skill set. Let’s review some other important elements we use to power ourselves up for leveling.


Berserking is a key damage booster during the leveling process. Berserking is most often triggered from usage of the skill, Warrior's Death BlowWarrior’s Death Blow. You should be using this skill by taking advantage of the killing blow mechanic to keep yourself in a state of Berserking and benefit from the increases in Fury Generation, Damage and Movement Speed. Remember, you can use Wrath of the BerserkerWrath of the Berserker to trigger Berserking as well.


The majority of our defenses come from our Legendary Aspects and Passives. See the list below:

Weapon Expertise

For the HotA Leveling build, we will be focus on using a two-handed axe for the increase to Vulnerable damage, as well as getting a head start on leveling up this skill to level 10 for the endgame.

Leveling Options

There are many options to level your character: kill monsters, do quests in each region, follow the Seasonal storyline, farm generic dungeons, participate in regional events, etc. With so many ways to get to Level 50, we have chosen some methods that will accelerate your experience gains.

Open World Activities

The open world is full of monsters and activities, you are welcome to find your own path or leveling areas but if you are looking for some great options, here are two great suggestions for this build:

The Dinidari Flats in Dry Steppes

Dinidari Flats Leveling D4 Barbarian
Dindari Flats

This area is packed with Spiders! Spiders have the unique ability to break down into smaller mobs after the larger version is destroyed. This allows us to pull multiple larger Spiders together and kill them, unleashing a massive group of smaller, very low life spiders for us to grab some additional experience.

Westering Lowlands

Westering Lowlands Leveling D4 Barbarian
Northwest of Firebreak Manor

This zone has three events that cycle quite frequently (red marks) and some high-density mob areas (in the green) to farm as you move between the events. This is a great spot as we have a waypoint very close, and we do a simple rotation of two or more events. When you add the time needed to kill the dense packs of monsters in each green area, you will have a great non-stop loop for experience.


Lost Achieves in Fractured Peaks – Levels 1 – 25 recommended.

Fractured Peaks Leveling D4 Barbarian
Lost Achieves

Forsaken Quarry in Fractured Peaks – Level 1 to 25 recommended.

Fractured Peaks Leveling D4 Barbarian
Forsaken Quarry

Sarat’s Lair in Scosglen – Level 25 to 50 recommended. High Poison Resistance needed.

Scosglen Leveling D4 Barbarian
Sarat’s Lair

Uldur’s Cave in Kehjistan – Level 25 to 50 recommended.

Kehjistan Leveling D4 Barbarian
Uldur’s Cave


Questing is a necessary evil if you are still grinding out your renown levels for each zone. If you need to complete your Renown, it can be a relatively easy way to get some quick experience along the way. If this is something you need to do, take as many quests as you can from one area and complete them all in one go. It may not feel necessarily faster, but going back and forth for each one is a waste of time.

Gear Affixes

In the early levels, targeting affixes on your gear can be very challenging. Part of the reason is we will be playing in world tier 1 or 2 and the best opportunity for rare gear is a maximum of 3 affixes. So the list below will show us the best four options to choose from.

Gear SlotTargeted Affixes
Helm1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Attack Speed
3. Maximum Life
4. Strength
Chest1. Maximum Life
2. Damage Reduction while Fortified 
3. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies 
4. Damage Reduction from Bleeding Enemies
Gloves1. Critical Strike Chance
2. Ranks of Hammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients
3. Attack Speed
4. Strength
Pants1. Maximum Life
2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
3. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
4. Damage Reduction from Enemies that are Bleeding
Boots1. Movement Speed
2. Damage Reduction while Injured
3. Fury Cost Reduction
4. Berserking Duration
Amulet1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Fury Cost Reduction
3. Damage Reduction while Fortified
4. Ultimate Skill Damage
Rings1. Vulnerable Damage
2. Critical Strike Chance
3. Maximum Life
4. Resource Generation
Weapons1. Vulnerable Damage
2. Basic Skill Damage
3. Core Skill Damage
4. Strength

Legendary Aspects

The Legendary Aspects chosen below are all available from the Codex of Power, so each Aspect can be found from Dungeons in the open world. If possible, finding each of these Aspect on a piece of Legendary gear will offer you a better roll compared to the Codex of Power.

Gear SlotLegendary AspectLegendary Aspect Power
HelmAspect of MightAspect of MightBasic Skills grant 20% Damage Reduction for [2.0-6.0] seconds.
ChestAspect of DisobedienceAspect of DisobedienceYou gain [0.25 – 0.50%] increased Armor for 4 seconds when you deal any form of damage, stacking up to [15.00 – 30.00%].
GlovesVeteran Brawler's AspectVeteran Brawler’s AspectEach time a Core Skill deals direct damage to an enemy, your next ChargeCharge or LeapLeap deals [15 – 20]% increased damage, up to [225 – 300]%.
PantsIron Blood AspectIron Blood AspectGain [2.0-4.0%] Damage Reduction for each Nearby Bleeding enemy up to [10-20%] maximum.
BootsGhostwalker AspectGhostwalker AspectWhile Unstoppable and for 4 seconds after, you gain +[10 – 25]% increased Movement Speed and can move freely through enemies.
Amulets(50% bonus)Aspect of the ExpectantAspect of the ExpectantAttacking enemies with a Basic Skill increases the damage of your next Core Skill cast by [5-10%], up to 30%.
RingAspect of the Relentless ArmsmasterAspect of the Relentless ArmsmasterGain [20-36%] increased Fury Generation while all damage bonuses from Walking ArsenalWalking Arsenal Key Passive are active.
RingAspect of Unrelenting FuryAspect of Unrelenting FuryKilling an enemy with a Core Skill refunds [10.0-20.0%] of its base Fury cost. Can only happen once per Skill cast.
Bludgeoning Weapon (100% bonus)Aspect of Ancestral ForceAspect of Ancestral ForceHammer of the AncientsHammer of the Ancients quakes outwards, dealing [32-50]% of its damage to enemies.
Slashing Weapon (100% bonus)Edgemaster's AspectEdgemaster’s AspectSkills 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 1Rapid AspectRapid AspectBasic Skills gain [15-30%] Attack Speed.
Dual-Wield Weapon 2Aspect of Berserk RippingAspect of Berserk RippingWhenever you deal direct damage while Berserking, inflict [20 – 30%] of the Base damage dealt as additional Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.


Once you hit Level 50 with this leveling build, you will be ready to complete your first Capstone Dungeon and unlock World Tier 3. This will open up the true endgame and allow you to collect new Sacred Rares and Legendary Aspects you will need to transition into the Endgame HotA Shout and Berserk Builds. Once you upgrade your build to the Endgame build, you will be ready to push into Nightmare dungeons, World Tier 3 Capstone Dungeon, the Paragon Board system and so much more.


Listed below are the best gems to socket into gear for each slot type.

  • Weapon: EmeraldEmerald for the increase Damage against Vulnerable Enemies.
  • Armor: RubyRuby for the increase to Maximum Life.
  • Jewelry: Exclusively using our Malignant hearts for this slot.

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 ElixirAssault 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.


  • September 16th 2023, Leveling Guide revamp
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