Barbarian Cleave Build Guide for Challenge Rifts
This Cleave build for Barbarian is intended for use in Challenge Rifts in Diablo Immortal, focusing on the use of skills such as Lacerate and Cleave.
Carefully balancing between survivability, single target competence and massive AoE damage dealing, this build is meant to support the Barbarian in the scaling difficulties of Challenge Rift attempts. It focuses on sweeping effectiveness of Lacerate and Cleave to deal the bulk of its damage, while relying on Wrath of the Berserker and Undying Rage to prop the Barbarian's defenses and attack speed-based healing.
If you are interested in approaching a different type of content, please see our other Barbarian builds below.
Considering the progressively harder hitting monsters inside Challenge Rifts, the biggest skill check in this type of content is the deliberate use of Undying Rage. Kite around a pull with Lacerate swings, forming a large enough pack to be worth popping cooldowns for. Once you form a decent fight, Furious Charge into them (ideally accompanied with a short CC effect by Screaming Fury). Pop Wrath of the Berserker and Cleave through the enemy ranks, using up your charges and finishing off the remains with Lacerate. As you sustain hits in the middle of the pull, use Undying Rage; if its cheat death procs, you should be able to heal back up and outlast your opponents. If strong opponents remain on the battlefield and Undying Rage is on cooldown, play defensively and use Furious Charge to dodge out of harm's way.
Skills and Alterations
Primary Skill: Lacerate offers a tremendously valuable healing aspect to its already attractive AoE damage. It gets further enhanced by the Ultimate for an even better package. While useful all around, this Primary shines in content where you have to out-sustain your opponent — be it PvP or Challenge Rift pushes.
Main Damage Dealer: Cleave is a versatile damage-over-time skill that hits surprisingly hard in single target situations despite its sweeping visuals. Its supporting legendary items overwhelmingly focus on improving its AoE capabilities; its most powerful enhancements come from the broadening of its effective area with Svot's Reach and the chain reaction damage triggered by Virulent Fist.
Secondary Damage Dealer: Despite its baseline mobility functions, Furious Charge is also a hefty nuke — providing you with a dashing skill that also deals heavy damage along its path. Dashing skills will always be useful in challenging PvE content, since you will need ways to get out of harm in a pinch.
- Alternative: Another amazing option for a secondary damage dealer is Hammer of the Ancients, particularly if enhanced by the powers of The Remembered. The Ancient summoned by the legendary packs a punch, offering crowd control, damage, and tanking substantial damage of his own. You can further lean into your newfound summoner powers by using Davin's Legacy, which adds a second charge to HotA — ergo, a second Ancient.
Attack Speed Buff: Attack speed is decisive during Boss fights, and few buffs compare to the ubiquitous Wrath of the Berserker. While the skill requires a lot of supporting legendary effects to truly shine, its innate versatility makes it part of many Barbarian setups.
Survivability Buff: Undying Rage is a survivability powerhouse, allowing you to endure massive bursts of damage through simply out-healing them. This becomes increasingly valuable in progression forms of content like Challenge Rifts and especially Helliquary, as well as PvP situations where you need to outlast the burst coming your way as you close the distance to the enemy. In the Diablo Immortal beta, it had no supporting legendaries, but was still deemed a valuable addition to Barbarians.
Equipment is split into Primary (right side of character screen) and Secondary (left side).
Primary equipment includes the Main-hand, Off-hand, Head, Shoulders, Chest, and Legs slots of your character sheet. These slots can — and should — be filled by Legendary items, since their legendary powers and ability to be socketed with Legendary gems vastly overpowers lower tier gear. Of course, these slots will be temporarily filled with Common (Grey), then Magic (Blue), and then Rare (Yellow) gear, before graduating into Legendaries (Golden).
The suggested Legendaries for Cleave Barbarians are:
- Main-hand: Svot's Reach — This legendary axe increases the reach of Cleave, turning its arc into a full, 360 degrees circle. With proper pulling technique and positioning, this can effectively double or even triple the DPS of this hard-hitting skill.
- Off-hand: Virulent Fist — This legendary hammer adds an on-kill detonation effect to foes slain by Cleave, adding a hefty amount of burst and even harming enemies that are outside of the skill's regular reach. If you opt for a Hammer of the Ancients-based variant of this build instead, equip The Remembered in this slot.
- Head: Lasting Hate — This legendary helm improves the uptime of Wrath of the Berserker, allowing you to enjoy its massive Attack and Movement Speed bonuses for longer.
- Shoulders: The Coming Storm — These legendary shoulders reduce the Wrath of the Berserker cooldown by 15%, with an Awakening enhancement that cuts the cooldown even further More time spent with the valuable WotB active will greatly improve your chances of success. Another option for the slot is Hatred's Reach, which further pushes out the reach of Cleave and turns it into one of the most formidable AoE tools of Barbarians.
- Chest: Any Good Roll — A Cleave-centric build has no specific legendary chest pieces to strive for, so simply use your best rolled item in this slot. If you opted for a HotA-centric alternate build, you should use Davin's Legacy in this slot instead, since it provides you with another charge of this potent nuke/summoner skill.
- Legs: Screaming Fury — These legendary pants allow you pinpoint accuracy at the point of impact, and add a crowd control aspect to Furious Charge.
Secondary equipment includes the Amulet, Rings, Hands, Waist, and Feet slots of your character sheet. These slots can — and should — be filled with Set items, since the bonuses they form once completed vastly overpowers lower tier gear. Of course, these slots will be temporarily filled with Common (Grey), then Magic (Blue), and then Rare (Yellow) gear, before graduating into Sets (Green). Secondary equipment can only be socketed with Normal gems.
The recommended set for Cleave Barbarians is Grace of the Flagellant, which increases channeled, continual and persistent ground damage effects, as well as rewarding continuous attacks against a chosen target. The set consists of:
- Open Gut (Waist) — Farmed at Pit of Anguish in Difficulty Hell I and above.
- Torn Sole (Feet) — Farmed at Mad King's Breach in Difficulty Hell I and above.
- Bloody Hand (Hands) — Farmed at Cavern of Echoes in Difficulty Hell II and above.
- Slit Throat (Neck) — Farmed at Temple of Namari in Difficulty Hell II and above.
- Severed Thumb (Ring 1) — Farmed at Destruction's End in Difficulty Hell IV and above.
- Broken Palm (Ring 2) — Farmed at Kikuras Rapids in Difficulty Hell IV and above.
The set bonuses of Grace of the Flagellant are as follows:
- 2-piece Set Bonus: All continual damage, Channeled damage, and persistent ground damage increased by 15%.
- 4-piece Set Bonus: Each time you damage an individual enemy 5 times, you will do additional damage to that enemy.
- 6-piece Set Bonus: Each time you deal damage, you have a 4% chance to unleash a lightning strike, dealing damage to all nearby enemies and Stunning them for 2 seconds. Cannot occur more than once every 40 seconds.
Improving your attributes in Diablo Immortal generally revolves around increasing the total amount of Combat Rating, or CR. Every primary attribute point (Strength, Fortitude, Vitality, Willpower, and Intelligence) grants you 1 point of CR.
The priority attribute for Barbarians is Strength, which gives +0.3 Damage per point; given otherwise identical options, use the one with higher Strength to increase your DPS. Second in the priority order is Fortitude, which adds to your Armor Penetration — indirectly increasing damage dealt by also improving your crit chance. This attribute suffers from diminishing returns due to crit caps, but is still quite valuable. Third in the priority order is Vitality, which simply increases your Life total; the longer you can stave off death, the better.
Stat priority order and stat benefits for Barbarians are as follows:
- 1. Strength — Grants +0.3 Damage to Barbarians, and +1 to your total CR.
- 2. Fortitude — Grants +0.1 Armor Penetration, which affects your crit chance. It also grants +0.1 Armor; Armor increases your Block chance, and blocking attacks mitigates 20% of the damage dealt. More mitigation is never amiss, and even more so when dealing with riskier content like the Helliquary. It also adds +1 to your total CR.
- 3. Vitality — Grants +3 Life; the more you can add to your total health pool, the better. This is especially true for melee classes like the Barbarian, and Barbs specifically thrive on percentage-based healing skills. This attribute also adds +1 to your total CR.
- 4. Willpower — Grants +0.1 Potency and 0.1 Resistance. Potency increases the duration of harmful effects that you inflict on your foes. Resistance lowers the duration of harmful effects inflicted by your enemies on you. This attribute also adds +1 to your total CR.
- 5. Intelligence — Grants +1 CR. This attribute does nothing else for Barbarians, and should be avoided as much as possible.
Secondary (Special) Attributes
You should not put an emphasis on Special Attributes when considering between gear pieces. This is due to the overpowering importance of Primary Attributes and your CR total. That being said, the better Special Attributes are the two Crit Stats (Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage), Cooldown Reduction, Beneficiary Effect Duration, and Movement Speed. You can also consider Increased Damage to Players for PvP gear.
Pieces of Primary Gear that you upgrade at the Blacksmith attain up to three additional Bonus Attributes for Reforging at Ranks 6, 11, and 16. These Bonus Attributes belong to "families" (outlined and ranked below); a Family Bonus can be unlocked if all three Bonus Attributes are from the same family. Multiple Primary Gear pieces can have the same Family Bonus to improve your proc chance. The process of Reforging is done with the Reforge Stone consumable. Note that only Primary Gear pieces can be reforged; Secondary Gear pieces cannot.
- 1. Tremor Stone is the most valuable bonus for general content, as its Family Bonus adds a crowd control proc and extra damage to your Primary Attacks.
- 2. Vengeance Stone brings a single target-oriented Family Bonus that becomes increasingly important as you push the difficulty of the content you are doing, i.e. Challenge Rifts. Pair it with high Attack Speed choices like Frenzy to have a chance at finishing off Boss fights within the timer.
- 3. Wildfire Stone is mostly valuable due to its innate attributes, as it brings valuable Critical Hit Chance to the table. The Hydra summon from the Family Bonus is mostly an extra minion to soak up damage.
- 4. Barrier Stone has a Family Bonus that brings some much needed mitigation to Barbarians, a class that face-tanks all of its damage. The absorption shield is paired with some excellent innate attributes like Damage Taken Decreased and Block Chance, which further reduce incoming hurt.
- 5. Jolt Stone offers situationally valuable bonuses; it has Beneficial Effect Duration Increased as an innate attribute, which is decent for groups, and a Cheat Death proc which is never amiss when soloing content. Its Family Bonus brings soft CC to attackers, which is decent mostly for PvP.
- 6. Ravager Stone offers summoner-oriented innate attributes that are all but useless to Barbarians (unless you hyper-specialize in Ancient summons). Its Family Bonus requires enemies to be slain to proc, significantly diminishing its usefulness when doing progression content like Challenge Rift bosses and Helliquary.
Normal and Legendary Gems
As per tradition for Diablo games, socketed gear allows you to insert beneficial gems according to your needs. In Diablo Immortal, gems are divided between Normal Gems (socketable in Secondary Gear) and Legendary Gems (socketable in Primary Gear).
Normal Gems can only be socketed in Secondary Gear. Normal gems are divided into Red, Blue and Yellow sockets, and their priority is listed below. Priority-wise, gems are decent power increases to your character, but should never come at the cost of Primary Attributes and your CR score. Go for Red and Blue gems over Yellow if possible, as they provide a stronger bonus overall.
- Red Sockets: Prioritize Tourmaline as it provides a straight Damage increase. Ruby is also decent for the Life increase, but only if you lack Tourmalines.
- Blue Sockets: Prioritize Sapphire, which increases your Armor Penetration, and your Critical Hit Chance stat as a result. Note that Crit Chance provided from Sapphires has diminishing returns, capping out at 33%; when benefits from ArPen get too insignificant, swap to Aquamarine. Aquamarine provides Armor, which is a decent source of damage mitigation.
- Yellow Sockets: Prioritize Citrine for the Potency gains, increasing the duration of harmful effects you inflict on enemies; however small its benefits, they trump the Resistance effects provided from Topaz.
Legendary Gems can only be socketed in Primary Gear. They provide unique and very powerful bonuses on top of a robust stack of stat increases. Legendary Gems are found in Elder Rifts enhanced by the Crest consumables, as well as through crafting at the Jeweler in Westmarch.
Early on in Barbarian character progression, you should use common, 1- and 2-Star Legendary Gems like:
- Fervent Fang — Can be obtained from the Battle Pass, saving you some Crests. Provides a stacking damage increase against a target with successive attacks; great for single target damage.
- Los-Focused Gaze — Provides increased damage to Charge skills, improving both Cleave and Furious Charge / Hammer of the Ancients (whichever skill is present in your setup). It also makes them more frequently available through its recharge bonus.
- Everlasting Torment — For the mere cost of a critical hit, this gem inflicts a considerable DoT and an Attack Speed increase to boot. Even at a low quality, this gem starts off with incredible stats and fits nicely from the get-go.
- Chained Death — This is a great early game gem, especially during farming where you usually pull hordes of enemies to maximize your AoE skills. It amplifies your damage the more enemies you fight, encouraging chaining fights together.
- Lightning Core — Despite its low proc chance, this damage-dealing gem can wipe out entire packs when activated, or focus down a larger foe, making it a decent addition to you legendary gem lineup.
- Berserker's Eye — This gem increases damage dealt at the cost of an increase in damage taken. For most of the farming PvE content, this is a reasonable trade-off that you can feasibly mitigate with the Barbarian's strong sources of self-healing.
When perfecting your character for endgame content, the 5-Star Best-in-Slot Legendary Gems for Barbarians include:
- Blood-Soaked Jade — With its Damage and Movement Speed increases, it is largely considered to be the best legendary gem in the game for pretty much all forms of content.
- Seeping Bile — The value of this gem scales with the number of attacks you inflict, fitting well into Attack Speed-heavy Barbarian builds. With a considerable damage proc and a spreading effect, it is one of the best additions to your legendary gem lineup.
- Frozen Hearth — With percentage-based mitigation against ranged damage, this is one of the strongest defensive legendary gems you can support your character with.
- Blessing of the Worthy — Barbarians thrive at melee ranges and sustain a lot of attacks, making the retaliation proc of this gem quite valuable. Note its scaling off maximum Life, which turns the Barb's considerable health pool into a makeshift nuke.
- Chip of Stone Flesh — This is a PvP powerhouse of a gem, inflicting hard CC and increasing damage dealt on affected targets. It also provides decent value for progression content.
- Phoenix Ashes — A cheat death proc is never useless; considering the damage intake Barbarians have to deal with in progression content, its value grows even more.
Paragon Points are character-specific progression system that allows you to advance in power after you reach maximum level. Each level gives you a Paragon point to spend into currently available nodes on the five Paragon Trees. While Paragon Trees are specialized for certain tasks, you should always keep in mind the tenets of character building — increasing damage and mitigation as much as you can. With that in mind, focus down the Vanquisher tree first, pick up the experience bonus from the Treasure Hunter tree, pick up whatever is useful from the Gladiator tree, and finish off with the group powerhouse of the Soldier tree. Always keep in mind that the (circular) Persistent Attributes are always active once leveled, but the (square) Specialization Skills are only applied when their respective Paragon Tree is active.
- Vanquisher Tree: The offense focus of this tree makes it the best starting point for all characters. It is recommended that you start with the middle row, maxing out Damage and picking up Zeal. Go down the bottom row, maxing out Damage and picking up Wrath. Finally, go along the top row, maxing out Potency, putting the point in Exorcism, and finishing off with Deeper Pockets and Heart of Wrath. This puts you at Paragon level 49.
- Treasure Hunter Tree: This tree unlocks at Paragon 50 and focuses on rewarding you more for your grinding efforts, making it an attractive mid-progression pickup. Go through the middle row, maxing Armor to attain Swift Learner. Then go on straight by maxing out the Damage node. This puts you at Paragon 70.
- Go back to the Vanquisher Tree. Max out the Life nodes in the mid row that follow Zeal, and put one point in Judgment to finish off that row. Then, go to the bottom row and put 3 points into Armor Penetration, which puts you exactly at Paragon 99.
- Right around this point, you have a decision to make. If you focus on PvE content, you should divert your attention back to the Survivor Tree — the other tree unlocked by default. Start out by maxing Life, picking up a point in Unyielding and progressing downwards. Max out Armor, then through the middle row — taking Escape Artist, additional Life, and Precognition along the way. Finish off with the coveted Damage increase. If you focus on PvP content, you should focus on the Gladiator Tree instead; this tree unlocks at Paragon 100, and offers brawling-oriented bonuses. Start off with maxing Armor Penetration, picking Uncontrollable right after it and continuing upwards. Max out Life, attain Quick Witted, and go into maxing Resistance and the second Life node. Get the Cheat Death right above the Life node. Finish with the consistently desirable Damage.
- At this point, you are hovering around the Paragon 180-185 point. One thing to consider is going back to the Vanquisher Tree to finish off the bottom right Armor Penetration node. You can also divert to the Treasure Hunter Tree to grab Gold Find and its subsequent Armor Penetration node. Alternatively, if you group up a lot, you can tab over to the Soldier Tree. This tree unlocks at Paragon 150 and is focused on grouping bonuses and provides tremendous utility for most modes of play. Take Hold Formation and head down to Resistance, then even further down into Damage. Attain the full bottom row — Battle Morale into Armor Penetration into Sacrifice. Then, finish off the middle row with Combat Veteran and Potency. Finally, go through the top row of Life and First Aid.
It is important to reiterate that your utmost priority is picking up all the damage nodes you can, deviating into one tree or another only to further that goal. Secondary valuable pickups are found in Armor Penetration and Life nodes. Once you are done with leveling all the Damage nodes, you are free to fill out Paragon trees as you see fit, as well as to activate specific Trees for the needs of the content you are doing.
When you turn in Bestiary pages, you will receive a class-specific consumable. For Barbarians, this item is the Horn of Arreat, which increases all damage done by yourself and your nearby allies by 10% for 20 minutes. Be generous with its use, especially in party content; buffs like these are what make the Barbarian an invaluable member of the group.
- 27 May 2022: Guide added.
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