Diablo 3 Barbarian Guide: Skills, Builds, Leveling

Published by admin on May 3rd, 2012 - in Guides

Diablo 3 Barbarian Guide

Barbarians are currently the most popular class in Diablo 3. They are extremely fun to play and in my opinion this class is what makes Diablo what it is. If you like leaping into the air and making your enemies do the same while smashing them down with giant axes, maces and other weapons, then this class is for you.


Barbarian is a melee class with high DPS, a good selection of defensive and offensive buffs, and the best tank in the game. Barbarians are also one of the three Diablo 3 classes that can dual-wield weapons. They are also great at wielding two-handed weapons for slower but more powerful attacks, and can also equip shields for increased survivability. Barbarians don’t excel at crowd control, but do have great area of effect abilities able to damage, tank and kill multiple monsters at the same time: Hammer of the Ancients, Cleave, Ground Stomp and Rend are all available even before you hit level 10. Barbarians also have good mobility with Leap and Sprint.

Barbs are also great addition to any group of players with their buffs and debuffs (shouts), designed to either weaken your opponents or strengthen your allies.

Barbarian Strengths & Weaknesses

For strengths, I’d have to say tanking, AoE damage attacks, able to dual wield and also use shields, and great gap-closing and escape skills.

For weaknesses Barbarians are definitely reliant on items a lot, where you often have to decide between defensive or offensive stats. Their biggest downside is also often their melee range: you need to be more vigilant about insane amounts of monsters spawning all around you, and it’s a lot harder to dodge certain spells from melee range. Having good defensive stats is a must.

Barbarian Resource System: Fury

Fury resource globeResource required to cast spells for Barbarian class is called Fury. It’s gained by killing enemies, dealing damage and also by taking damage. Instead of regenerating, Fury actually degenerates every few seconds, so you’ll want to keep going and going slaying monsters constantly. As a result, you need to consider the proper itemization, skills and runes to enable you to have as little downtime as possible. Unforgiving passive skill is available at level 55, and if you decide to take it your Fury will no longer degenerate, but actually regenerate at a slow but steady pace.

Barbarian Skills & Abilities

Barbarian Bash Skill

Most of the spells in Barbarians arsenal consist of AoE attacks. It’s extremely easy to take on any number of monsters at the same time due to the abilities Barbs have, but also increased survivability coming from itemization. Some of Barbarian’s abilities generate Fury, while some expend it. Below you can take a look at the full list of active and passive Barbarian skills.

Active Barbarian Skills

Bash.png Bash Requires Level 1 Generates 6 Fury per attack

Brutally smash an enemy for 145% weapon damage with a 20% chance to knock the enemy back.

Skill Runes: Clobber, Onslaught, Punish, Instigation, Pulverize
Hammer of the Ancients.png Hammer of the Ancients Requires Level 2 Costs 20 Fury

Call forth a massive hammer to smash enemies directly in front of you for 180% weapon damage. Hammer of the Ancients has a 15% increased chance to critical hit.

Rolling Thunder, Smash, The Devil’s Anvil, Thunderstrike, Birthright
Threatening Shout.png Threatening Shout Requires Level 17 Costs 20 Fury

Shout with great ferocity, reducing damage done by enemies within 25 yards by 50% for 15 seconds.

Skill Runes: Intimidate, Falter, Grim Harvest, Demoralize, Terrify
Battle Rage.png Battle Rage Requires Level 22 Costs 20 Fury

Enter a rage which increases damage by 15% and critical hit chance by 3% for 30 seconds.

Skill Runes: Marauder’s Rage, Ferocity, Swords to Ploughshares, Into the Fray, Bloodshed
Cleave.png Cleave Requires Level 3 Generates 5 Fury per attack

Swing in a wide arc to deal 115% weapon damage to the targeted enemy and 90% weapon damage to any other enemies caught in the swing.

Skill Runes: Rupture, Reaping Swing, Scattering Blast, Broad Sweep, Gathering Storm
Ignore Pain.png Ignore Pain Requires Level 22 No cost. Cooldown: 30 seconds

Reduces all damage taken by 65% for 5 seconds.

Skill Runes: Bravado, Iron Hide, Ignorance is Bliss, Mob Rule, Contempt for Weakness
Leap.png Leap Attack Requires Level 8 Generates 15 Fury Cooldown: 10 seconds

Leap into the air, dealing 40% weapon damage to all enemies within 8 yards of your destination. Only generates Fury if you hit an enemy.

Skill Runes: Iron Impact, Launch, Toppling Impact, Call of Arreat, Death from Above
Weapon Throw.png Weapon Throw Requires Level 14 Costs 10 Fury

Hurl a throwing weapon at an enemy for 180% weapon damage and slowing the movement of the enemy by 70% for 4 seconds.

Skill Runes: Mighty Throw, Ricochet, Throwing Hammer, Stupefy, Dread Bomb
Ground Stomp.png Ground Stomp Requires Level 4 Generates 15 Fury Cooldown: 12 seconds

Shake the ground to inflict 30% weapon damage to all enemies within 12 yards and stun them for 3 seconds. Only generates Fury if you hit an enemy.

Skill Runes: Deafening Crash, Wrenching Smash, Trembling Stomp, Foot of the Mountain, Avalanche
Rend.png Rend Requires Level 5 Costs 20 Fury

Perform a vicious strike to all enemies within 9 yards, dealing 60% weapon damage every second for 3 seconds.

Skill Runes: Ravage, Blood Lust, Lacerate, Mutilate, Bloodbath
Frenzy.png Frenzy Requires Level 11 Generates 3 Fury per attack

Swing for 80% weapon damage. Each swing increases attack speed of Frenzy by 15% for 4 seconds. This effect can stack up to 5 times for a total bonus of 75% attack speed.

Skill Runes: Sidearm, Triumph, Vanguard, Smite, Maniac
Revenge.png Revenge Requires Level 13 No cost or fury gain.

Inflict 150% weapon damage to all enemies within 11 yards and gain 5.0% Life for each enemy hit. Revenge has a 15% chance to become active for a short time each time you are hit by an attack.

Skill Runes: Vengeance Is Mine, Best Served Cold, Retribution, Grudge, Provocation
War Cry.png War Cry Requires Level 28 Generates 30 Fury Cooldown: 30 seconds

Unleash a rallying cry to increase the armor of you and all allies within 50 yards by 20% for 60 seconds.

Skill Runes: Hardened Wrath, Charge!, Invigorate, Veteran’s Warning, Impunity
Furious Charge.png Furious Charge Requires Level 21 Costs 15 Fury Cooldown: 10 seconds

Rush forward knocking back enemies and inflicting 195% weapon damage to enemies along the path of the charge.

Skill Runes: Battering Ram, Merciless Assault, Stamina, Bull Rush, Dreadnought
Overpower.png Overpower Requires Level 26 No cost. Cooldown: 15 seconds.
Deal 165% weapon damage to all targets within 9 yards. Landing a Critical Hit has a chance to lower the cooldown by 1 second.
Skill Runes: Storm of Steel, Killing Spree, Crushing Advance, Momentum, Revel
Seismic Slam.png Seismic Slam Requires Level 12 Costs 30 Fury

Slam the ground to cause a wave of destruction that deals 215% weapon damage and knockback to targets in a 45 yard arc.

Skill Runes: Stagger, Shattered Ground, Rumble, Strength from Earth, Cracking Rift
Earthquake.png Earthquake Requires Level 19 Costs 75 Fury Cooldown: 120 seconds

Shake the ground violently, dealing 2000% weapon damage as Fire over 8 seconds to all enemies within 18 yards.

Skill Runes: Giant’s Stride, Chilling Earth, The Mountain’s Call, Aftershocks, Path of Fire
Ancient Spear.png Ancient Spear Requires Level 9 Generates 15 Fury Cooldown: 10 seconds

Throw a spear up to 45 yards to pull an enemy back to you, slowing target’s movement by 60% and dealing 185% weapon damage.

Skill Runes: Grappling Hooks, Skirmish, Dread Spear, Harpoon, Rage Flip
Sprint.png Sprint Requires Level 16 Costs 20 Fury

Increase movement speed by 40% for 6 seconds.

Skill Runes: Rush, Run Like the Wind, Marathon, Gangway, Forced March
Call of the Ancients.png Call of the Ancients Requires Level 25 Costs 50 Fury Cooldown: 120 seconds

Summon the ancient Barbarians Talic, Korlic, and Madawc to inflict 60% weapon damage with each attack as they join the battle for 15 seconds.

Skill Runes: The Council Rises, Duty to the Clan, Korlic’s Might, Madawc’s Madness, Talic’s Anger
Whirlwind.png Whirlwind Requires Level 20 Costs 8 Fury per second

Deliver multiple attacks to everything in your path for 110% weapon damage.

Skill Runes: Dust Devils, Hurricane, Blood Funnel, Wind Shear, Volcanic Eruption
Wrath of the Berserker.png Wrath of the Berserker Requires Level 30 Costs 50 Fury Cooldown: 120 seconds

Enter a berserker rage which raises several attributes for 15 seconds. +10% critical, +25% attack speed, +20% dodge and +20% movement.

Skill Runes: Arreat’s Wail, Insanity, Slaughter, Striding Giant, Thrive on Chaos

Passive Barbarian Skills

Pound of Flesh.png Pound of Flesh Requires Level 10

Increases the chance of finding a health globe by 25% and you gain 100% additional health from health globes.

Ruthless.png Ruthless Requires Level 10

Critical hit chance increased by 5%. Critical hit damage increased by 50%. Many skills and runestone effects rely on critical hits to trigger their effects.

Nerves of Steel.png Nerves of Steel Requires Level 13

Your defense is increased by 25% of your Vitality.

Weapons Master.png Weapons Master Requires Level 16

Gain a bonus based on the weapon type of your main hand weapon:

  • Swords/Daggers: 15% increased damage
  • Maces/Axes: 10% chance to critical hit
  • Polearms/Spears: 10% attack speed
  • Mighty Weapons: 3 Fury per hit
Inspiring Presence.png Inspiring Presence Requires Level 20

The duration of your shouts is doubled. While benefiting from War Cry or Battle Rage you regenerate 60% of your total Life per minute.

Berserker Rage.png Berserker Rage Requires Level 20

You inflict an additional 25% damage while at maximum Fury.

Bloodthirst.png Bloodthirst Requires Level 24

Gain 3% of all damage done as Life.

Animosity.png Animosity Requires Level 27

Increases Fury generation by 10% and maximum Fury is increased by 20.

Superstition.png Superstition Requires Level 30

Reduces all non-physical damage by 20%. Whenever you take damage from a ranged or elemental attack you gain 3 Fury.

Tough as Nails.png Tough as Nails Requires Level 30

Increases armor by 25%. Thorns damage dealt increased by 50%.

No Escape.png No Escape Requires Level 35

Increases the damage of Ancient Spear and Weapon Throw by 10%. In addition, killing an enemy with Ancient Spear automatically resets the cooldown and critical hits with Weapon Throw returns 14 Fury.

Relentless.png Relentless Requires Level 40

While below 20% Life, all skills cost no Fury and all damage taken is reduced by 50%.

Brawler.png Brawler Requires Level 45

As long as there are 3 enemies within 8 yards, all of your damage is increased by 30%.

Juggernaut.png Juggernaut Requires Level 50

The duration of control impairing effects on you are reduced by 20%. In addition, whenever you become stunned, feared or charmed you recover 15% of your maximum Life.

Boon of Bul-Kathos.png Boon of Bul-Kathos Requires Level 60

The cooldown on your Earthquake, Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker skills is reduced by 30 seconds.

Unforgiving.png Unforgiving Requires Level 55

You no longer degenerate Fury. Instead, you gain 1 Fury every 2 seconds.

Barbarian Builds

Barbarian Leveling Builds

Diablo 3 Barbarian Leveling Guide

The tips below will tell you some of my experiences with the Barbarian class, and tell you which abilities and skills are best when it comes to leveling speed. Do note that this leveling guide doesn’t include grouping with other players, so if you play with your friends you might want to change some skills accordingly. Additionally, I haven’t been able to try all skill runes so some may be better than the ones I recommended, especially if they better fit your play style.

In the early levels (before and around 10) I recommend you use the following skills:

  • Cleave: in most cases monsters come at you in groups, and this skill will hit all of them for 120% weapon damage, as well as generate additional fury. Paired with the Reaping Swing skill rune at level 18 this ability will be an excellent fury generator.
  • Leap: the ability that makes Barbarian in Diablo III what it is, this attack will enable you to jump on monsters and deal AoE damage. It even generates fury and it’s great for initiating fights. With Leap Attack I prefer using the Call of Arreat skill rune which pulls nearby monsters to you, enabling you to gather them quickly and kill as many as you can with your AoE attacks.
  • Hammer of the Ancients: this ability will deal 200% weapon damage to enemies in front of you, helping you clear larger minion groups.
  • Rend: an alternative to Hammer of the Ancients I like using, this will cause all nearby enemies to take 210% of your weapon damage over 3 seconds.
  • Pound of Flesh: this passive skill gives you an increased chance to drop health from monsters, making sure you can easily survive those massive groups of monsters and having as little downtime as possible when leveling. You can alternatively use Ruthless passive, but it’s not nearly as useful in my opinion.

To speed up leveling after level 10 I suggest you focus more on using Rend, especially at level 19 when you gain access to the Ravage skill rune, which returns a percentage of damage dealt as life. If you feel like you don’t need sustain, you can just keep using the Ravage rune.

Revenge is also an excellent ability, available at level 13. Each time you’re attacked you have a 15% chance to return 220% of your weapon damage to all nearby enemies, and also heal 5% of your health for each enemy you hit. At level 19, you’ll want to pick up Earthquake, a skill dealing 2000% weapon damage as Fire over 8 seconds. This ability will deal massive amounts of AoE damage making sure you clear enemies as fast as possible.

Overall, for leveling you’ll want to be using lots of AoE attacks, so aim for those abilities. Anything that helps keep you alive is always helpful as well, so in case you’re having trouble you can take some more defensive abilities. Also find the right balance between abilities that generate and spend rage: don’t just use one rage generating ability and three that spend it, or you might find yourself in trouble more often than you’d like.

For more detailed a specific skill builds see this guide.

Barbarian PvP Builds

For PvP you’ll want to get some crowd control and gap-closing abilities. Elemental resistances are helpful as well when fighting Witch Doctors and Wizards. You’ll often want to use shields as well to mitigate some damage. Unfortunately, there’s isn’t too much Diablo 3 PvP information available at this point, but I’ll update this part soon with more helpful tips and tricks.

Barbarian Weapons & Armor

Barbarian Weapons and Armor

As I already mentioned before, Barbarians are very gear dependent. I recommend you find a balance between your offensive and defensive abilities and items for optimal leveling speed, damage dealing and survivability. You’ll need a bit of all, as going the glass cannon route with all offensive stats and spells can be risky.

Barbarians have three class specific pieces of equipment:

  • Mighty Belt – most of the mighty belts you’ll come across will only increase your armor, but the better ones will also provide other random properties.
  • One-handed Mighty Weapons – One-handed mighty weapons are a diverse lot of clubs, axes, hammers, swords, and more, with massive size and unexpected balance as their only common traits.
  • Two-handed Mighty Weapons – Two-handed mighty weapons come in many forms, from clubs the size of tree trunks to greatswords and axes seemingly made to be wielded only by statues.

Barbarian Stats & Attributes

Diablo 3 Barbarian Stats and Attributes

Primary Stats

Most important Barbarian stats or attributes are strength and vitality. Every point of strength will increase your damage by 1%, and armor by 1 point, making it both a defensive and offensive stat. Each point of vitality increases your health by 10, and while it’s not as important as strength is, I still feel having greater health pool helps a ton.

Intelligence and Dexterity are both helpful as well. Each point of intelligence increases your resistances (Physical, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, Arcane, Hold) by 0.1. You should however focus more on gaining resistances from equipment rather than getting intelligence attributes. Each point of Dexterity increases your chance to dodge by 0.1%; it’s usually easier and more helpful to aim for Vitality than Dexterity when it comes to survivability.

Secondary Stats

As for secondary stats, these are the ones you should look for:

  • Weapon damage – clearly it’s very helpful as it increases your base damage, as well as increasing the damage of certain abilities such as Hammer of the Ancients or Weapon Throw.
  • Attack speed – 1% of increased attack speed will do exactly what it says, effectively increasing your damage output by 1%. Good to have unless you’re relying a lot on abilities that scale with weapon damage.
  • Critical Hit Chance/Damage Bonus – Barbarians often have high critical strike chance (passive skills also give plenty) and getting more of it is helpful, particularly when dual wielding. Critical Damage will increase the damage you deal with critical hits, so you can have up to three times the normal crit damage.
  • Armor – armor stat gives you a flat damage reduction. Being a melee class, defenses are always important to have.
  • Resistances – resistances give you a flat damage reduction to a particular magic damage element. In most cases you’ll want items that provide resistances to all elements, but you might also want to consider getting some items in your stash that are aimed at reducing a specific magic element for boss fights.
  • Block Chance/Amount – block amount will increase the amount of damage you can absorb, and block chance will increase the chance of that happening. If you like using shields and tanking for your group, these attributes are for you.
  • Lifesteal – personally I don’t prefer this stat as I usually gain plenty of health back with Pound of Flesh passive skill and certain skill runes, but if you need more sustain in combat this is pretty helpful as well.

Grabbing strength, weapon damage and critical damage and critical hit are best when it comes to building an offensive Barbarian, but don’t forget to get Vitality as well. In case you need more survivability, get more Vitality and Damage Converted to Life (lifesteal), which will help keep you alive long enough.

Barbarian is personally my favorite class in Diablo 3 and I’m sure you’ll have fun with it as well. I do hope this guide helped you understand Barbarians a bit better. Do note that some of the information in this post may be from beta, so for a more updated guide on Barbarians I suggest you check this guide. It contains much more detailed and advanced information.

2 Responses

  1. justin says:

    when lvl 60 what skills should i use?

  2. admin says:

    Unlike most other classes you don’t really need a specific build on 60 to do well, so you can experiment and change things around as you prefer.

    One ability that you always must have is War Cry with Impunity rune, which increases your and your groups resistances by 50%. Second, Revenge with Provocation is very important as well, as it gives you free healing and damage the more enemies hit you.

    For primary attack, Frenzy is the most commonly used one; Smite rune is my favorite and adds a nice stun, but you could also use some other.

    Personally I usually run with Leap (with Death From Above rune), Earthquake (with The Mountain’s Call) and Call of the Ancients (with Duty to the Clan). That’s what I use for my Act I/II solo farming runs to speed things up.

    Passives: Weapons Master, Ruthless, Berserker Rage.

    If your gear isn’t as good as you’d like, you should change Leap, Earthquake and Call of the Ancients for Overpower (with Revel), Ground Stomp, Ignore Pain/Threatening Shout. It should help you tank more, and if you’re playing in a group you don’t really need that much damage anyway.

    For passives, Tough as Nails and Nerves of Steel give you plenty of additional armor so you might want to change Ruthless and Berserkers Rage with those two.

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