Diablo 3 Barbarian Guide: THE ART OF WAR

barbarian guide

Compendium for information regarding base game mechanics and barbarian specific game mechanics. It will hold a short look at potent skill combinations and a “How to..” for character creation.

Chapter One: Base Mechanics


diablo 3 armor

Armor reduces all incoming damage by a certain percentage. Armor can be increased by items with armor and the attribute strength. Every point of strength gives one point of armor. Skills and spell can increase the total amount of armor too.

%damage reduction = [Armor/(Armor+Clvl*50)]*100

Clvl= Character lvl

The Clvl is not the lvl of the player but the lvl of the monster attacking you. This is important as the may monster lvl in act 4 inferno is lvl 65.

Armor against Lvl 60 monster


Resistance against X

Resistance against one element reduces the damage of the element by a certain percentage. Resistance can be increased by items with +Resistance against X and the attribute intelligence. Every point intelligence increases resistance by 0.1. The damage reduction follows the same math as armor but with different absolut numbers. Resistance and armor work multiplicative.

%damage reduction = [Resistance/(Resistance+Clvl*5)]*100 Clvl= Character lvl

The Clvl is not the lvl of the player but the lvl of the monster attacking you. This is important as the max monster lvl in act 4 inferno is lvl 65.


Dodge is a percentage chance to avoid all damage of an an attack. You can dodge melee, ranged and magical missile. It was stated that ground based (area) attacks can also be dodged (need confirmation). Dodge increases through dexterity.

DEX to dodge:
0 – 100 gives 0.1%
100 – 500 gives 0.025%
500 – 1000 gives 0.02%
1000 – 8000 gives 0.01%

Summed up:
100 dex–>10%
500 dex–>20%

Skills can increase dodge. Different sources of dodge do get multiplied for total dodge.

Example: 200 dex ->12,5% dodge ; Mantra of evasion: 15%
Together: 0.875*0.85=0.74375 hit chance –> ~25.6% dodge

Shield Block

Shields hold three basic stats. Armor, block chance and block amount.

Armor is added to your armor mitigation. Every melee and ranged attack has the block chance to be blocked up to the block amount of damage. If the attack holds more damage as the shield can block the additional damage will hit you. The block test happens after the damage reduction through armor and other sources. High armor works very good with blocking. Because of this it is a very good defense option for barbarian.

Total Damage Reduction

For Information or comparing different builds and setups it is often useful to calculate the total damage reduction of your character. Different sources of damage reduction are added multiplicative. Be aware to only use defense mechanics that work against the damage typ/ attack typ you are interested in. This total damage reduction is a median over time as effects as block or dodge are random events.

Basic Formula:

drx= Source of damage reduction

The barbarian Hoggar has 70% armor mitigation, a shield with 20% block and 10% dodge through dexterity. As a barbarian he also gains 30% damage reduction against every source.

Compared to physical melee damage:
With the assumption that the full damage can be blocked with the shield we see that Hoggar gets only 15% damage from physical melee attacks.

Compared to magic damage dot:
Hoggar is not well prepared to fight magic damage and only achieves 79% damage reduction. He gets ~40% more damage from magic dots than from melee strikes.

Attack Speed

Attack Speed in diablo 3 is normally presented as “Attacks per second”. The faster your weapon is the more attacks per second can be achieved. This does directly affect skills and spells.

Direct hit attacks like Bash have a shorter animation and can be used faster.

Damage over Time effects like Rend “tick” more often and produce more damage. The absolut time of the skill does not change.

Channeled skills like Whirlwind or Ray of Frost “tick” more often and produce more damage. This does also increase the amount of resources the spell needs as it becomes “faster”.

If your character uses two one handed weapon he gets a unique attack speed bonus of 15%.

There are two main categories for attack speed. One is the modified weapon speed. The base weapon speed increased by all speed increasing affixes on the weapon. The second is the sum of all other attack speed increasing factors, even the dw bonus. Those two speed modifiers are multiplied for the overall speed.

Example: Hoggar the barbarian wields two 1.3 aps axes with each increased speed by 20% on the weapon. He also has 10% speed on other items and he uses Frenzy (+75%) to attack.

Actual Weapon speed: 1.3*1.2=1.56
Overall Speed: 1.56*(1+0.1+0.15+0.75)=3.12 attacks per second with maximal Frenzy stack.

!There are +0.x aps on items and the math is not yet included!


Besides attacks with cold damage many other skills can inflict a snare effect on your enemy.
Right now we know three snare lvl: light, medium and heavy.

Light snare reduces the movement speed by 30%. This means the enemy needs 1.42 times longer for a given way.

Medium snare reduces the movement speed by 60%. This means the enemy needs 2.5 times longer for a given way.

Heavy snare reduces the movement speed by 80%. This means the enemy needs 5 times longer for a given way.

Different snare effects do not stack only the strongest counts.

Critical Hits

Critical hits are hits with increased damage. The critical hit chance is the percentage chance to score a critical hit with any attack, the base value is 5%. The critical damage is the damage critical his deliver compared to the non critical damage of the attack. The base critical damage is 150%. Both, critical hit chance and critical hit damage can be increased through skills and items. Most classes have several active or passive skills that use critical hits as trigger for additional effects like extra damage or resource generation.

Advanced Game Mechanics

Basic How To: Make a Character Build

The Art of War: Showcase

Clash of Titans -Barbarian Boss Strategies

Beyond the gates of Hell: INFERNO a quick look at the pinacle of D3

Chapter Two: Barbarian Mechanics

Barbarian Special Traits

The Barbarian, like any other class has a few special traits. The barb can dual wield one handed melee weapon and use the weapon class Mighty Weapon. Because of his battle hardened state he has an additional 30% damage reduction against every damage source. Only the barbarian can wear Mighty Belts. Every point in strength also increase the damage of the barbarians attacks by 1%.

Resource: Fury

The source of the barbs power is fury. It is build up by fury generators and used by fury spenders. The base maximum fury is 100, this can be increased by items and skills. There are three primary fury generators that can be used without interruption and several fury generators with cooldowns. A small amount of fury is gained by taking damage from enemies. As this should be minimized in addition to its random nature, it should not influence your fury calculations.
Fury declines after combat over time down to zero. Breaking objects with a fury generator produces fury and stops the decline of fury for short time. In the present state the fury decline is not very problematic. The amount is small and the time between mob packs is only a few seconds. In addition many cooldown based fury generator give a good chunk of fury and allow the barbarian to replenish his fury at the beginning of a battle.

There are three basic strategies concerning fury generation and use. Every build can be categorized in one of these groups.

Strategy: Fury Supported

This is the base strategy most builds are going to use. The barb settles with a balanced fury generation and spending. The generation of fury normaly variates between 10 and 20 fury per second. After building up a good amount of fury over a few seconds the fury is spend with hard hitting single target or aoe attacks. These “build up” and “burn” phases repeat themselves until all enemies are dead.
The balancing of generation and spending is the cruicial part of such builds. If the fury generation is pushed to much via skills the player will lose damage increasing skills in his build. If the fury generation is to small for the regular use of the fury spender the build will end up fury starved and the actual damage output of the build will be strongly reduced.

Basic Example:

Strategy: Fury Centered

This one is rare. The goal of this strategy is to produce as much fury per time as possible, by all means. Right now there is only one good reason to do this: Wrath of the Berserk with the rune Thrive in Chaos. For every 25 fury generated the active time of WotB is increased by one. With a very high fury generation it should be possible to prolong WotB to near infinite time.
The main problem is the time when you do not hit an enemy. There for your fury generation must exceed even the 25 fury per second. To decrese the “gaps” between fights movement abilities and high movement speed are mandatory. This with the need for many skills to produce fury leaves the player only with a few choices left for open skill slots.
To be able to fight even in inferno defense must also be considered as damage alone will not bring victory. For a good fury centered build you should also include a way to dump your fury everytime you hit max fury.
Later in the game it may be a useful strategy as there are items that grant life for every spend fury.

Basic Example:

Strategy: Fury-less

This is the complete oposite of the fury centered strategy. The goal is to get rid of the dependens of fury generation and spending. This has several advantages. First you can unleash your potential th whole time and not only in “burn” phases. Second with the fury spender out of the way more skill slots are avaible for advanced tactics.
The down side for such build is that you need to come up with skill combinations that can produce comparable damage to fury spender builds. Your damage dealer will be most of the time one or more of the primary fury generators.
As you still produce fury you will end up with max fury all the time. This gives you the oportunity to use one of the most powerful passives the barbarian has to offer: Berserker Rage. This gives you a 25% damage increase for all skills as long as you have max fury. Berserker Rage is the corner stone of nearly all fury less builds. The normal solution for this strategy is to gather as much +%damage increase from skills you can get. This will increase the damage of your primary fury generators up or even beyond the level of the fury spender.
The main disadvantage you will face is the lack of good massive aoe attacks like Seismic Slam.

Basic Example:

Thematic Spotlights:

Hit and Run

3/3 Build Approach


Team Play

Of Topic: Rhaloz’s short stories

a tribute

Talking to Strangers

Endless Night

Primal Fury – The primary Fury Generator

The barbarian has three primary fury generator at the disposal. Bash, Cleave and Frenzy. They are all melee attacks and spammable. I will provide a short look at each skill with some informations regarding usage and synergies.

A hard hitting single tagret attack with a chance to knockback the target. It produces 6 fury per strike and is the first generator unlocked. The very high base damage with the good fury generation makes this skill a solid choice for a allround build. The knockback can be bothersome against small fry but may help to get some breathing room against a champion mob. Another important point is that Bash produces ludicrous physics effects when you hit a zombie and achieve a homerune.

Clobber: The short stun with the very high proc chance makes fast attack builds preferable for this rune. The stun can make the difference between a deadly 4 times enchanted boss mob or a practice target.

Onslaught: Nearly 200% damage (patch 16) make this rune a real heavy weigth. With this rune you can use your generator as your main single target damage source. But why the strange two small attacks? With the total count of 3 hits per strike you can achieve up to three critical hits and with this Into the Fray from Battle Rage can produce giant amount of fury. The high damage and the possible synergy with ItF makes this rune viable for all but fury less builds.

Punish: Stackable extra damage for all attacks. This rune pushes you whole build and can help you support your main fury spender. The small lifetime of the effect makes it important to close gaps very fast and to be in the midst of battle. Faster attacks allow you to stack the bonus in shorter time. It also ads well to a fury less build as the extra damage will multiplicate with the already high damage bonus from other sources.

Instigation: Plain fury generation. With 12 fury per hit you should be able to fuel your fury spender without any problems. The lack of additional damage compared to Onslaught makes it bit inferior if you can provide crti rating and Into the Fray in your build.

Pulverize: The possible most dmaging rune in the lot. Posssible. You need to hit at least one extra target to get close to Onslaught. The problem of this rune is that there are many better ways to produce constant aoe damage. The basic purpose of Bash is not further supported by this rune. If you wish for some extra aoe dps it is viable but other options should be considered first.


A short range aoe in the forward arc with lightly increased damage. It produces 5 fury per strike and is the second generator unlocked. The base damage is smaller than Bash but the option to hit three or more clustered mobs makes it in many situations the better dps dealer. As mob cluster are common in d3 you will often achieve good results with this generator. To increase the effectivity skills that cluster enemies or mobility skills that help you to get into a mob group are recomanded.

Rupture: Ads a short range explosion when a mob dies through cleave. This effect may also trigger if a mob dies through the Rupture explosion and create a strong chain effect. In tight trash mob grps Rupture can easily top even aoe fury spender in dps. A very hard hitting two handed weapon is mandatory for this rune. The single target damage is very small and should be supported with a high damage single target attack.

Reaping Swing: Extra fury for every enemy hit. Sounds nice but don’t be fooled to believe this is a good choice if you need constant high fury amounts. You need to hit at least two enemies if you wish to compete with Bash-Instigation and three to top it. You will often get three or more mobs together but against few strong mobs you will lose a good bunch of your fury generation adn cripple your spender dps.

Scattering Blast:Extra damage on crit with a knockbck and most likely aoe dps in tight groups. It is good damage upgrade for high crit builds and can produce high amounts of damage in grps. It may be more potent than Rupture if you need to many swings to kill mobs with Rupture. Again the lack of good single target dps screams for hard hitting fury spenders.

Broad Sweep: More damage. Nothing else to say. Damage calculations with equipment should show if this rune is viable compared to Rupture and Scattering blast. The increased damage against single targets can make this to makeshift single target dps skill.

Gathering Storm: Heavy snare for 1 second. In short PvP or tanking if you wish to bind the enemy to your heels.


Frenzy is most likely the most iconic skill in the generator group. With only 3 fury per strike it produces less fury than Bash and a bit more than Cleave if fully stacked. The attack speed increases with every strike up to +75%, you need to refresh the skill every 5 seconds to keep the buff and the buff does only count for Frenzy. The buff stacking is less a problem as it may seem if you use dual wield or one handed weapons as you can bring it up to max under two seconds. It has a very high single target damage. The speed bonus is not shown in the character sheet of your hero. It is added behind the scenes. You need to calculate it yourself to see how fast you become.

Sidearm: A piercing axe with 110% damage at 25% chance is a very strong bonus. It directly increases the skills damage in single target battle by 25% and in groups can produce with a bit luck a good chunk of extra damage. It fully works even without stacked frenzy buff and by this makes it preferable for two handed weapon.

Triumph: A health over time buff after each kill can help you to hold your health pool high and not get diminished by small accumulating damage. It may add to other passive healing sources (Inspering Presence, Invigorate) but is in it self not enough to withstand high grp damage or the attacks of an boss mob.

Vanguard: Fitting the topic of speed this buff will help you to reach your enemies faster and so increase your real overall dps. With fast boots and other speed increases you can become fast enough to ignore other mobility skills. It adds very good into a Wrath of the Berserker Thrive in Chaos build.

Smite: Like the Bash Clobber rune a nice single target stun to take the heat from a hard hitting boss/champion mob. With up to 5 attacks per second you can hope to completly shut up a single mob. Stun reduce in high difficulty level will decrease this effect but it will still ad to you defense.

Maniac: More damage for Frenzy. ONLY Frenzy. In low speed builds this rune exceeds Onslaugth from Bash. The still small fury generation is a problem if you think about supporting a high damage aoe skill like Seismic slam. Weapon Master Mighty Weapons or Into the Fray are very much needed in such a case.

Drop the Hammer! – Hard Hitting Fury Spender

Scream, at the top of your Lungs….The barbarian shouts

Race to Hell – barbarian mobility skills

In the Heat of Battle – The situational barbarian skills

The uneven Pack -Ancient Spear, Ground Stomp, Weapon Throw

Ancient Rage -the mighty high cooldown skills

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *