There are 6 categories of Barbarian skills: Primary, Secondary, Defensive, Might, Tactics, and Rage. Note that these categories are a bit arbitrary and really do not mean anything other than that is where you will see your Barbarian’s skill chart once you are in-game.
Barbarian Skills – Primary
The Barbarian’s primary skills are a particular branch which do indeed make up the bulk of your attacks. These abilities generate Fury, a resource that you need to use your more powerful abilities. There are three skills:
- Bash. Unlocked at level 1. Generates 6 Fury per attack. Bash deals 150% weapon damage and has a 20% chance to stun the target. This is your basic attack versus single targets at a low level.
- Cleave. Unlocked at level 3. Generates 5 fury per attack. Cleave swings in an arc, dealing 120% weapon damage to all enemies immediately in front of you. This is one of the best abilities in the game versus regular enemies as it is one of the most powerful and effective resource-generating AoE attack.
- Frenzy. Unlocked at level 11. Generates 3 fury per attack. Swing for 110% of weapon damage. Each time you use Frenzy, your attack speed increases by 15% for 3 seconds. This stacks up to 5 times for a total of 75% bonus attack speed.
Barbarian Skills – Secondary
D3 Barbarian skills that fall into the secondary category lean are your primary Fury-spending abilities. These are the kinds of abilities you could use over and over if you had enough Fury to do so. Here is the list:
- Hammer of the Ancients. Unlocked at level 2. Costs 20 Fury. Deals 200% weapon damage to enemies in front of you. This ability has a 5% enhanced critical strike rate.
- Rend. Unlocked at level 5. Costs 20 Fury. Wounds all nearby enemies (within perhaps about 6-8 yards of the Barbarian), causing them to bleed for 210% of weapon damage over 3 seconds.
- Seismic Slam. Unlocked at level 12. Cost: 30 Fury. Slam the ground, sending out a shockwave that deals 155% weapon damage and knockbacks all targets within a 45 yard arc.
- Whirlwind. Unlocked at level 20. Cost: 16 Fury. A spinning attack that deals multiple strikes of 110% weapon damage to all enemies within range.
Barbarian Skills – Defensive
The Defensive Diablo 3 Barbarian abilities are an assorted set of 4 skills which do not deal damage directly. While some of these skills are defensive, some of them are offensively-oriented as well. Note that some of these abilities also generate Fury even when there are no targets to attack. Here is the list:
- Ground Stomp. Unlocked at level 4. Generates 15 Fury. Smash the ground to stun enemies within 12 yards for 4 seconds.
- Leap. Unlocked at level 8. Generates 15 Fury. Leap into the air, dealing 85% weapon damage to enemies within 8 yards of your landing. Damaged enemies also have their movement speed reduced by 60% for 3 seconds.
- Sprint. Unlocked at level 16. Costs 20 Fury. Move at 40% bonus movement speed for 3 seconds. No cooldown.
- Ignore Pain. Unlocked at level 22. No cost, but 30 second cooldown. Reduces incoming damage by 65% for 5 seconds.
Barbarian Skills – Might
The Might skill-set is like Defensive but more offensively oriented. These skills typically have cooldowns and are either situationally useful or reactive abilities.
- Ancient Spear. Unlocked at level 9. Generates 15 Fury. 10 second cooldown. Throws a spear which pulls the enemy to you. The spear deals 185% weapon damage and briefly reduces the target’s movement speed by 60%.
- Revenge. Unlocked at level 13. You have a 15% chance when being struck in combat to active Revenge. Revenge has no cost and deals 220% weapon damage to all nearby enemies. Revenge also heals you for 5% of the damage dealt.
- Furious Charge. Unlocked at level 21. Generates 15 Fury. 10 second cooldown. Rush forward to knockback and deal 195% weapon damage to all enemies along your path.
- Overpower. Unlocked at level 26. No cost but has 15 second cooldown. Deals 165% weapon damage to all enemies within 9 yards. Critical hits have a chance to lower the cooldown by 1 second.
Barbarian Skills – Tactics
Tactics skills focus not on dealing damage directly but instead focus on buffing you and your teammates or debuffing your enemies. These can be very effective if you are mindful about keeping the buffs up.
- Weapon Throw. Unlocked at level 14. Costs 10 Fury. Hurl a weapon at an enemy, dealing 120% weapon damage and reducing its movement speed by 60% for 2 seconds.
- Threatening Shout. Unlocked at level 17. Generates 15 Fury. 15 second cooldown. Shout with Ferocity, reducing the damage dealt of all targets within 25 yards by 20% for 15 seconds.
- Battle Rage. Unlocked at level 22. Costs 20 Fury. Increases your damage dealt by 15% and your critical strike rate by 3% for 30 seconds.
- War Cry. Unlocked at level 28. Generates 30 Fury. 30 second cooldown. Increases armor for you and your allies within 50 yards by 20% for 60 seconds.
Barbarian Skills – Rage
Your Rage skills are very powerful, but all have a 2 minute cooldown and cost 50 rage to use. These are among the last skills you unlock.
- Earthquake. Unlocked at level 19. Costs 50 Fury. 120 second cooldown. Shakes the ground violently, dealing 2000% weapon damage as fire over 8 seconds to all enemies within 8 yards.
- Call of the Ancients. Unlocked at level 25. Costs 50 Fury. 120 second cooldown. Summons 3 ancient Barbarians to help you for 15 seconds. Each one deals 60% weapon damage per swing. Additionally, Talic uses Whirlwind, Korlic uses Cleave, and Madawc uses Weapon Throw.
- Wrath of the Berserker. Unlocked at level 30. Costs 50 Fury. 120 second cooldown. Increases critical strike chance by 10%, attack speed by 25%, dodge chance by 20%, and movement speed by 20% for 15 seconds.
Barbarian Skills – Passive
Here are the 15 passive skills available to players:
- Pound of Flesh. Unlocked at level 10. Increases your chance of finding a health globe by 25% and increases your health gained from health globes by 100%. Not very good in my opinion – stick to Abilities to regenerate health like Revenge if health is a problem for you.
- Ruthless. Unlocked at level 10. Increases your critical strike rate by 5% and increases the bonus damage you deal from critically striking by 10%. Excellent passive, increases your baseline DPS by about 8% when you first unlock it and can increases it more and more as your critical hit rate goes off. If you get a lot of bonus damage to crits, it does lose some value.
- Nerves of Steel. Unlocked at level 13. Your armor is increased by 100% of your Vitality. Good for group play when you are going 1 hand and shield or even in PvP for a tank style build.
- Weapons Master. Unlocked at level 16. Excellent trait for boosting your damage. More powerful for Swords, Maces, Daggers, and Axes. Less powerful for Polearms, Spears, and Mighty Weapons.
- Berserker Rage. Unlocked at level 20. You inflict an additional 25% damage while at maximum Fury. Can be used as part of a single-target build which relies on Frenzy, Revenge, and other non-spammable abilities to generate Fury.
- Inspiring Presence. Unlocked at level 20. Doubles the duration of your shouts and you regenerate 1% of your maximum life per second while Shouts are active. Would rather see you use Unforgiving if buffing with Shouts is your concern.
- Bloodthirst. Unlocked at level 24. Gain 3% of all damage done as life. Definitely not worth picking up when there are other Barbarian passive skills which increase your raw DPS by 10%. You can get 3% damage dealt as life from gear much easier than you can get that much boost to your raw DPS.
- Animosity. Unlocked at level 27. Increases Fury generation by 10% and maximum Fury is increased by 20. Would rather have the damage bonuses as you will get much more damage from your Fury that way.
- Superstition. Unlocked at level 30. Good passive skill to use against any heavy casting-oriented bosses you otherwise are having trouble with as well as a standard skill for tank builds used for group play.
- Tough as Nails. Unlocked at level 30. Increases armor by 25% and increases Thorns damage dealt by 50%. Works best if you have a shield since Shields have such a high armor rating. Thorns seem to have been nerfed the last part of beta so I no longer thing a thorns skill is worth it, but could be wrong if the right gear is out there.
- No Escape. Unlocked at level 35. Increases the damage dealt by Ancient Spear and Weapon Throw by 10%. Critical hits reset the cooldown of Ancient Spear and critical hits with Weapon Throw refund 14 Fury. Too weak to mess with, 10% enhanced damage is worthless on 1 ability when you can pick up that much from Ruthlessness and the latter affects every ability.
- Relentless. Unlocked at level 40. While below 20% Life, all skills cost no Fury and all damage taken is reduced by 50%. I would really like to see this boosted up to 30% Life, when you only have 20% of Health left you are not going to be living much longer the way enemies deal damage. Perhaps useful for Hardcore players or in PvP since death means you no longer get to play, but not strong enough for me to use regularly for regular game modes and of course for tanking builds.
- Brawler. Unlocked at level 45. As long as there are 3 enemies within 8 yards, all of your damage is increased by 30%. You spend a lot of time with 3 enemies within 8 yards in Diablo 3 and that is a massive damage boost. Very good talent for clearing regular enemies. The only downside is that it is not really active during bosses.
- Juggernaut. Unlocked at level 50. The duration of control impairing effects on you are reduced by 20%. In addition, whenever a Stun, Fear, Immobilize or Charm is cast on you, you have a chance to recover 15% of maximum life. This is a PvP passive skill. I think that 20% reduction is a little cheap and it would be much more in-line with other abilities at 30%. It really comes down to the proc rate for the heal – if it procs above 30% it is worth it for PvP, if the proc rate is less its not really worth grabbing.
- Unforgiving. Unlocked at level 55. You no longer degenerate Fury. Instead, you gain 1 Fury every 2 seconds. This looks really good on paper, but consider the Fury generation bonuses to be very small. The real difference is you start fights with a full Fury. The best use for a full Fury pool is to be able to buff your teammates with Shouts before engaging a tough boss and perhaps being able to use one of your Rage skills immediately against tough opponents. Then again, you can always grab Ancient Spear with the 30 Fury Rune and Leap with the 30 Fury Rune and be at near full Fury anyway at the start of a fight.
- Boon of Bul-Kathos. Unlocked at level 60. The cooldown on Earthquake, Call of the Ancients, and Wrath of the Berserker is reduced by 30 seconds. If you use Wrath of the Berserker, this increases the maximal possible uptime of Wrath of the Berserker from 15 seconds every 120 seconds (12.5% uptime) to 15 seconds every 90 seconds (16.67% uptime). If we figure you are using the damage rune on Wrath of the Berserker, using that skill would be an easy 130-140% damage increase for that time. Multiplying it by 12.5% means an overall increase in damage of 16.25%-17.5% whereas multiplying that by 16.67% means an average increase in damage of 21.67%-23.38%, or about a 5-6% increase in damage. This does not even include the fact that the damage-boosting passive skills will boost the damage of your Rage abilities. Boon of Bul-Kathos is not worth it over other damage-increasing abilities, even for those Rage abilities.
Barbarian Best Passive Skills
For offensive oriented Barbarians, it is hard to choose anything other than Ruthless and Weapon Master for your first two slots. These represent huge damage increases across the board, and you really cannot argue for any other passive skill as other traits do not increase your damage nearly as much as these first two.
The real discussion then becomes whether or not to pick up Berserker Rage or Brawler. Berserker Rage deals 25% additional damage when your Fury bar is full. If you have not played a Barbarian much, you know that with 25% enhanced damage, you can use nothing but Frenzy and abilities which cost no Fury along with an occasional but powerful Fury spender like Wrath of the Berserker and deal huge damage to single targets.
On the other hand, Brawler is like the opposite of Berserker Rage. Brawler does massive damage against packs of enemies as it boosts your damage by a massive 30% when multiple enemies are around and lets you spend your Fury. Berserker Rage is not useful when clearing random packs as you will be wanting to spend your Fury and you spend a lot of time without Fury when clearing to a boss. Brawler does have the disadvantage of not being useful against bosses since these are usually 1v1 fights.
So you have Brawler which is good at clearing weak enemies and Berserker Rage which is good at taking out bosses. Both are very good at these tasks. If you do not want to switch your passive skills depending on the encounter, I think you have to side with Brawler, as you simply will end up spending more time clearing random enemies than you will attacking bosses.
Defensive Barbarians or Group Play
Of course, if you are playing with a group and using a sword and shield and have been tasked with soaking up damage by your party members (this works best in arranged groups, not pick ups), you can consider picking up Nerves of Steel, Tough as Nails, and Superstition.
Once you reach a higher level, I would toss out Nerves of Steel/Tough as Nails (depending on which one offers you the least extra armor, most likely Tough as Nails) in order to pick up Unforgiving or Inspiring Presence. Starting tough encounters with a full Fury pool lets you buff yourself and your teammates with your Shouts before you start. Shouts are very powerful buffs and provide much more than the few % of extra mitigation you get from Nerves of Steel.
Barbarian Stats– Primary Attributes
The Barbarian is the only class which has strengthas its primary stats. Each time you get a point of strength, you increase your damage done by 1%. This is a flat relationship – each extra point of strength equals another % of damage dealt (more on calculations in the next section). Each point of strength also gives you 1 armor.
Vitality increases the Barbarian’s maximum health. While Vitality technically is not a primary stat, it might as well be for the Barbarian. The Barbarian is not an effective attacker outside of melee range which means you end up taking a lot of damage as a Barbarian. Barbarians and Monks need more health than other classes even though Barb and Monk take 30% less damage.
Intelligence increases the resistances of the Barbarian from all elemental attacks. It does not seem like this is meaningful for a Barbarian as it only adds a few % resistance. You are better off using resist gear as a Barbarian to get protection from the elements.
Dexterity increases your dodge rate by a slight amount. Like intelligence, it is not really worth going out of your way to get. You would be better off getting more Vitality if you want to improve your survivability as a Barbarian.
Barbarian Stats – Damage Calculations
Before we can continue with this D3 Barbarian stats guide, we first need to look at how the damage you deal is calculated. Knowing how damage works makes the secondary stats section easier to understand.
In general, you have two important things: weapon damage and strength. Weapon Damage is the damage of the striking weapon (whichever weapon swings, dual wielders usually alternate weapon swings) in addition to any bonus weapon damage you find on other gear slots (rings and amulets in particular). Strength is simply your strength total.
Now let’s say you are using Bash, which deals 150% weapon damage, your main-hand weapon does 15-20 damage, and your off-hand weapon does 14-19 damage and you have 100 strength.
Under a 150% multiplier, your weapon damage is increased from 15-20 and 14-19 to 22.5-30 and 21-28.5, respectively, when using Bash. With 100 strength, your damage is increased by 100%, bringing up your Bash’ damage to 45-60 when striking with your main-hand and 41-57 when striking with your off-hand (Bash alternates weapons).
Now consider doubling your strength to get to 200. This means you deal 200% extra damage instead of 100%. However, this does not mean your damage doubles. Instead, that 200% is multiplied with the original Bash weapon damage, bringing it up from 22.5-30 and 21-28.5 to 67.5-90 and 63-85.5 damage.
The take-away message is that both strength and weapon damage are important. Weapon damage can be multiplied to a very large level by applying your skill multipliers and your damage bonuses. Without those bonuses from Strength, your damage will be very low.
However, if you have a weak weapon damage, then even with a ton of strength you will not deal very good damage. It is important to have both high Strength and a good weapon damage.
Barbarian Stats – Secondary Attributes
With damage calculations in mind, here are your important secondary stats as a Barbarian:
- Weapon Damage. Weapon damage does a huge amount to increase your DPS and is frequently found on rings and amulets.
- Increased Attack Speed. This stat increases the attack speed of your weapons by a percentage. It is not level based; gloves that have 5% increased attack speed will work all the same no matter what level you are. You can think of 1% increased attack speed as being roughly equivalent to an increase in damage by 1%, making it a good stat to have.
- Critical Hit Damage Bonus. This makes your critical hits do additional damage. The Barbarian has a very high native crit rate due to its passives and already has a high critical damage bonus if you use the Ruthless passive. WIth enough of this, your critical hits deal 3x or more regular damage.
- Critical Hit Chance. This increases your chance to get a critical hit. Critical Hit chance is an excellent stat for the Barbarian. You can think of it being equivalent to a 1% damage boost for every 100% of +critical hit damage bonus you have (this is seen in your Inventory by clicking on the “details” button right under the attributes panel in-game).
- Block Amount. If you are wearing a shield, this increases the amount of damage you can absorb. This is a good stat to have if you are using a shield.
- Block Chance. Increases your chance to block an attack with your shield. Good for shield users.
- Armor. Provides a flat reduction in all damage types, including elemental damage.
- Movement Speed. Lets you move faster. Good for leveling up and farming as you get from place to place quicker. Found on boots.
- Gold Find and Magic Find. Increases the amount of gold enemies drop and your chance to find magic items, respectively. Finding magic items is good for crafters and finding gold is good for buying things on the auction house.
- Monsters Grant Extra Experience per Kill. This actually adds up if you can find it on gear. While it will not increases your damage, it is not a bad stat to have on items while leveling up.
- Damage Dealt is Converted to Life. This converts a percentage of your damage to health. You will want enough of this so that you never run out of health during normal circumstances when you factor in Health Globes and using potions and perhaps Revenge. Typically found on weapons, rings, and amulets.
- Cold/Fire/Lightning/Poison/Arcane/Holy Resistance. These give you a flat damage reduction to that particular element. You likely do not want to be wearing these all the time unless you find something that offers a solid boost to all resistances. For the most part, keep on a resist set and break it out when you need it as you sacrifice damage and health for resistances.
These are the most common secondary stats you will run into that have some use to the Barbarian. I always try to maximize weapon damage and strength first, but there are sometimes when bonus critical damage and increases critical chance can do more for your DPS than raw strength or weapon damage. The DPS meter you can see in your inventory will clear that up for you (found again under details).
Be careful about the DPS meter though – the Barbarian has a lot of good self-buffs such as Battle Rage, Maniac, and Best Served Cold among others. You need to check your DPS when these buffs are running as sometimes they will change things. For example, when Best Served Cold is running, you get 10% bonus critical hit rate.
With this buff, +critical damage bonus does more for your DPS than it does when this buff is not up. If you are sitting in town and comparing gear, you would never know this, so be sure to get some buffs rolling to get an accurate read on your DPS changes from new gear.
Barbarian Recap Conclusion
Gearing up a standard offensive Barbarian is easy – max out strength, vitality, weapon damage, critical damage bonus, and critical hit chance. Grab just enough damage converted to life to survive and you will be well on your way to rolling through enemies. If you find yourself dying too easily, put more emphasis on Vitality and damage converted to life. If you are never being hurt by enemies, unload some of your Vitality in favor of damage-oriented stats.Tags: D3, Diablo 3, EGP, Eviscerated, Eviscerated Gaming