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Barbarian FAQ

From Diablo 2 Wiki

Basic Terms and Abbreviations

  • 8/09 - Patches. In 0.8 many items had different mods.
  • "Andy"/"Lil D"/"Meph"/"Big D" - The 4 act bosses.
  • "AR": Attack Rating.
  • "Arreats","Face": Arreat's Face unique slayer guard.
  • "BO" - Battle Orders.
  • "CCS/B" - Cruel Colossus Sword/Blade. Sometimes CCBQ for "of Quickness" suffix.
  • "CS" - Chaos Sanctuary
  • "D2C": Diablo 2 Classic
  • "D2X": Diablo 2 Expansion
  • "Def", "AC": Defense Rating. Sometimes Damage Reduced.
  • "DMG": Damage.
  • "Doom": Doombringer
  • "Dual": Dual leech (mana and life leech) or dual stat - (str and dex)
  • "FAQ": Frequently Asked Questions.
  • "FWIW": For what it is worth
  • "FYI" : For Your Information - another abbreviation.
  • "Gaze", "Vamp": Vampire Gaze unique grim helm
  • "GF", "Grandpa": Grandfather unique colossus blade
  • "HP's": Hit Points (life)
  • "HC" : Hardcore mode
  • "IAS": Increased attack speed
  • "IK": Immortal King set
  • "IMHO": In My Humble Opinion
  • "IMO": In My Opinion.
  • "Ironbarb" : A variant of the barbarian.
  • "ITD": Ignore target defense
  • "J/K", "j/k": Just kidding
  • "LA" - Leap Attack
  • "LEB": Lightning Enchanted Boss
  • "LL": Life leech
  • "LOH": Laying of Hands set bramble mitts
  • "LOL": Laughing out loud
  • "MDR": Magic Damage Reduced
  • "MF", "MFing": Magic find(ing)
  • "ML": Mana Leech
  • "MSLEB": Multishot Lightning Enhanced Boss
  • "OMG": Oh My God!
  • "PDR", "%DR" : Physical Damage Reduced
  • "PI": Physical Immune
  • "PK" : Player killing
  • "PvM": Player vs. monster
  • "PvP": Player vs. player
  • "ROFL": Rolling on the floor laughing
  • "LSabre/Sabre" - Lightsabre unique phase blade
  • "S/S": Sword/Shield
  • "Shaft": Shaftstop unique mesh armor
  • "SoJ": Stone of Jordan
  • "Singers": Singing Barbs - a variant class
  • "STFU": Be quiet please
  • "Storm": Stormshield unique monarch shield
  • "WC": Warcry the Level 30 Warcry
  • "WF": Windforce unique Hydra Bow
  • "WW": Whirlwind


A strong part of the barbarian is in his mastery skills. Most of them are useful and self explanatory.

What is the best Mastery?

There is NO best weapon, so no best mastery. Every weapon has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Each is specialized for a different role.

Maces pack a lot of power but are slow. Maces are great for MF runs though, since the IK maul (a mace class weapon) totally dominates act bosses and demons. A Silence runeword in a Thundermaul is also very effective. If used by a pure berserker barb, you can gain extremely high damage. The 1-handed maces can be good for Frenzy characters, but generally not well suited for a whirler as the slower speed and lower range go against them.

Polearms are great weapons because of their decent damage and a range of 5. Great if you want to whirl, also great if you don't. Polearms do require a larger investment in both dexterity and strength than other weapon classes so you end up with fewer points available to put into vitality. Some may argue it's a worthwhile tradeoff to get the cool scythe look...

Axes are a good mix of swords and maces, having great damage, decent speed, and lower requirements. For some reason they lack the popularity of other masteries which is strange, as both 1-handed and 2-Handed varieties are excellent. The berserker axe (elite war axe) has better 1-handed stats than most 2-handed swords in 1-H mode. A small note, Axes DO NOT have the 150% to demons extra bonus damage. REGARDLESS of what sources said they do, extensive testing has proven that this extra bonus is non-existant or not enabled.

Swords, however, are the most versatile weapon's class due to the fact that they have a good damage/speed ratio, and have a usual range of 3. You can also use a shield for added protection with any sword. Sword users are extremely spoiled since they have so many choices with a huge assortment of magical, unique, and set items available. The final advantage that sword users have available to them is the 3 chipped gem horadric cube recipe. (more on this later).

The worst weapon class for a barbarian is the spear class. Some have speculated that this was Blizzard's revenge on all the lance barbarians that dominated D2C... Even though they possess high damage, the higher class spear weapons lack the speed and durability of other weapons. A far cry indeed from the pre D2X days. The lower classes of spears are much faster, but then their damage stats are a little lacking.

Throwing mastery is (obviously) for the ThrowBarb. It's an extremely fun subclass rapidly gaining in popularity so don't be so quick to dismiss them as an underpowered variant subclass. There are basically two different sorts. Javelin-type, and axe/knife type. The main difference is the Javelin type travels further (has longer range), but flies at a slower rate. Where the axe/knife has sorter range, but moves faster in the air, making them at times harder to dodge. Last thing ! Throwing mastery will only apply to the THROWN damage portion of the weapon. So if you want to melee with a throwing axe, throwing mastery bonus will NOT apply. (You need axe mastery).

Why should I max a Mastery?

This is asked quite often, and it does seem tempting to save yourself some points in masteries and throw them elsewhere. But your damage and AR both increase at a constant rate (+5% damage, +8%AR - no diminishing returns), so points here are never wasted. A golden rule is "Damage is King".

What is the mastery bug and why is Deadly Strike useless?

This was proven in an earlier version of 1.09. Basically, when a barbarian has points into a specific mastery, then uses a corresponding weapon, he will automatically do double damage each time he hits. We believe this is an automatic critical hit of 100%, so regardless of what the skill description says, your barb will do double damage each time. This might be considered a bug, but it's effect's aren't that severe. The thing it affects most is deadly strike items. Deadly Strike = Chance to do double damage as well, just like critical hits. In D2X, critical strike and double strike WILL NOT STACK (regardless of what some sources state, this will never actually happen. No Quad Damage for you !). Since barbarians are automatically doing double damage, DS items will never get a chance to activate, so on barbs they are effectively useless.

Iron Skin vs Shout

Age old debate, and the answer is presonal preference. Where IS is passive, and always in effect, Shout needs to be casted, and at the beginning it has a rather low duration. But, if you are going for defence route, maxing Shout first is a much better choice as the duration and % defence bonus gets very large at high levels. A high level Shout + Low IS gives much better defence than High level IS, low level Shout (similar but remember at low levels shout lasts a pathetic duration). Specific builds only.

How many points do I need in Increased Speed and Natural Resists?

Both of these skills are very similar, having large diminishing returns later on. You'd only need 5-9 points in Natural Resist, beyond that isn't recommended as the diminishing returns factor is too high. Increased Run/Walk is open to debate, but for PvM builds, it is more of a luxury then anything. In PvP it is a different matter, some argue that maxing is worth is as there is nothing better for a barb to put his points in, but other like to put it at 10 and let those charms with faster run/walk do the job. The choice is ultimately up to the player, but again Increased Speed has very sharp diminishing returns after level 10.

How does Increased Speed work?

By modifying your character's base speed (hence the faster run, even when naked). Other run/walk items are mainly additive and both suffer from diminishing returns later on. Increased speed no longer needs to be maxed, however.

Combat Skills

Just your average bread-and-butter everyday skills of mass destruction :) A barbarian has a number of unique and powerful combat skills at his disposal.

Whirlwind vs Everything Else, which is better?

At first glance, most people look at Frenzy or Leap Attack or something else, note the large % to damage and AR and lower mana cost, and compare to WW' "wimpy" bonus. Naturally, this is on paper only, and WW doesn't look very impressive on paper. However, in-game, WW is the most powerful combat skill, able to shred single monsters and crowds in a blink, and capable mass leeching, turning a barb from a near-dead warrior to a fresh instrument of destruction. Why is this ? WW is an Area-Of-Effect skill that allows a barbarian to hit single or multiple targets many times. Thus, his damage potential is incredible, where Leap Attack or Frenzy only deal 1 or 2 hits at a time. Admittedly, at early levels, the -% damage can be a pain, but this skill is well worth the effort. Recent testing has revealed that the number of hits landed with your WW is only increased by IAS on your weapon. Any additional IAS from gloves/armor etc. will affect all of your other attacks *EXCEPT* WW. On a side note, a faster weapon is generally considered better for WW, as it can greatly increase the damage output, through landing more hits than a slower weapon. Also, a longer weapon range will also greatly increase the effectiveness of your WW, as you can hit many creatures or a single creature more times due to the range. WW is also the best PvP skill at a barbarian's disposal, due to it's uninterruptibility and AoE. It makes him the king of melee combat, and rightly so :) Of course the other skills are still very powerful and the basis of many variants.

Do I need to max Leap Attack?

Leap attack is more of a utility skill nowadays. It is very hard to use due to aiming (monster might move out of range, for example), and only affects a single target. Unless playing a variant, Leap Attack is fine with just 1 point, for mobility enhancement purposes. (Leaping over ditches, through grates, across rivers, etc.). Very handy for escape. It's useful in places like the Chaos Sanctuary, the oblivion knights there like to cast Iron Maiden, but LA is considered a range attack so it won't be affected.

How does Frenzy work?

Frenzy needs 2 weapons (so no frenzying with a war pike). Frenzy will increase your possible Run/Walk Speed, Attack Speed, damage +% and AR +% with each point invested. This means that for each successful frenzy hit, your speed/attack speed will increase until you hit the cap. Then so long as you get another successful frenzy hit in during the next 6 seconds, you will stay at the speed cap. This skill combines VERY well with many other skills available to the barbarian. Frenzy + Berzerk = Huge killing speed and power in Hell. Frenzy + Double Swing = as many as 6 swings per second (good with high elemental damage weapons, like Baranar's Star, especially against physical immunes). Frenzy + WW = almost "old school D2C" style WW, but maxing both isn't a good idea - it sounds good, but in practice you will find yourself using one much more than the other, essentially wasting 20 points.

Do I need points in Berserk? 0 defence doesn't look appealing...

Well, in D2X, berserk is INCREDIBLE. No, you can't leech. Your defence drops to zero as well. But berserk is probably among the most damaging single attacks in game. Firstly, it is pure magical. Only a few monsters in the game can resist it, or are immune. Secondly, it adds an immense AR and damage bonus, a maxed berserk with a fast, high damaging 2-handed weapons = 1-2 hits kills, even on hell mode 8 player games. 5-10K or even more berserk damage is very achievable, and extremely deadly. Of course, whether you max it or not will depend on your barb build and whether you like the skill or not. But 1 point is essential, as you can EASILY take down PI monsters with it. It should be noted that since berserk is pure magic damage, skills like Iron Maiden, Spirit of Barbs and Thorns will not affect it.

Shouldn't I use a shield with berserk?

Actually, many players dislike the use of a shield when berserking. Since your defence drops to zero, blocking might look like a good way of protection, but it causes more problems. Firstly, potentially lower damage. What takes you 2 hits now might take 3-4 to die. Secondly, enemy chance to hit is directly based on your defence and blocking. Basically, it will check your defence first, then if it bypasses defence, it will check blocking. Since berserk = Nil defence, all attacks will automatically end up to your shield. This will cause Blocklock, and it's not a good thing to be blocklocked while surrounded by a horde of monsters. Also, notice that little stun around your barbarian's head ? This little thing, (first covered in an Assassin guide) if around your head, will cause subsequent attacks to make your barb go into STUNLOCK (hit-recovery animation, most often seen if your barb takes a big hit). Being both blocklocked and having a good chance to be stunlocked isn't a good thing at all.

Does Lifetap work with Berserk?

It's been tested and the answer is no. Probably due to the fact that berserk = magic damage. (You can leech with Lifetap on some skills like Smite, probably because it is still physical damage).

Concentrate, an overlooked skill?

Concentrate was improved a lot in D2X. It now has a nice little damage bonus (along with the original uninterruptible/defence adding attribute). It's very good at early levels, before your big combat skills (Zerk, WW,Frenzy). It is also the main skill of the "Ironbarb" build, which focuses on massive defence via Shout, Iron Skin and Concentrate. In addition, it will bypass blocking animation (uninterruptible), but this is a double edged sword, as it can be good and bad.

I'm planning a Throwbarb, how many points do I need in Double Throw?

As many as you can, preferably maxing if possible. Double Throw can give a very high AR, reaching 9-10K is possible, and effective. You want to make sure every shot counts, especially in PvP.

Leap or Leap Attack?

Leap Attack. It is 100000000% times better than Leap as it can be used to attack and has unlimited range (level 1 Leap is more like a hop, or small jump.). Leap does have a knockback radius, but it is very small, and not much use.

What can a barb dual wield?

All swords (even the 2-handed ones), all 1-handed axes and maces, and all throwing weapons. All daggers/wands/scepters as well, but only a few of them are worth doing so.

How does Dual-wield work and what advantages are there?

Well, the patch description is typically vague, and testing is limited severely by your weapons and their respective speed/range. Thus one result with one combo of weapons might be totally different from another set of weapons. Anyway, testing seems to indicate more hits, but this seems to be an "averaged" amount. You can see this clearly when using a slow weapon in one hand (like Schaefar's Hammer) and a faster weapon in the other hand (like Baranar's Star). So the main advantage is that you can potentially get more hits in. Whether or not it is up to you. Choice between 1 hard hitting weapon, or two slightly faster but less damaging ones?

How can I whirl better?

Contrary to popular belief, it's not as easy as the stereotype makes it out to be. Of course, clicking on one side of the crowd works, but there are much better techniques to use. You don't have to just click whirl stop click whirl stop, holding down your mouse button and "sweeping" and area is MUCH better, and good against tough foes or ones that take a long time to die (Cow level/Izual comes to mind). You can leech much better with this and it leaves very little time for the enemy to hit you (and even if they do, you are probably whirling/killing/leeching). Another popular use is the "short-whirl" a whirlwind that is literally short in length. It typically goes just a bit further than your warcries under your barb. A good player can make use of a short whirl with a longer range weapon by "keeping them at arms reach", and there are many uses for this in dueling too. Against tougher foes, short whirls can quickly make mincemeat out of them, while leaving your barb with little damage. Practice make perfect, as they say.

Explanation of whirlwind IAS.?

Recent research into post 1.08 whirlwind has brought up a number of interesting factors. For one, all external (non weapon) IAS WILL NOT APPLY TO WHIRLWIND. Only IAS from the weapon matters. This has been tested several times, so is proven to be a fact. Secondly, whirlwind does seem not adhere to traditional IAS tables. Upping the amount of hits whirlwind gives out is solely based on a system we call "break points", which work at specific IAS points. Max WW hits also seems to be capped according to your weapon range (which does make sense), so no 10 hit whirls with a hammer, for example.

Note : Applies to single opponents only. Mostly helpful if you are into dueling. Also, we do not know how this factors in with dual wielding whirlwind.

Second Note : I'm sure I will get bombarded with messages from mathematically inclined gamer, saying "you can't modify a weapon's base speed !" which is true. But for simplicity's sake, we'll use "speed" as in 10 base speed + 20 Shael = -10 speed. Butchering the maths I know, but makes it a little easier to understand.

Anyway, for 2-handed swords, first break point is at -10 speed (getting to first break point seems to raise your average hits), and it seems getting to -35 speed seems to give the maximum potential hits (around 5, rarely 6).

For other 2-handed weapons, first break point is at -30, second at -60. Thus most other 2-handed weapons are unable to get to the 2nd BP without a speed mod. (another reason towards the large bias of swords).

Can I whirl faster?

NO. WW speed is fixed, although you can go slower if chilled (sometimes resulting in many more hits due to slower movement). Frenzy + WW APPEARS to make you whirl faster, but this is just a desynch/display bug (like sorcs casting "2" orbs in succession - again, display error). In fact no amount of run/walk speed will affect WW speed. Yes, I know Talic whirls fast. But he's special. We're not.


The most interesting part of a barbarian's skills. A barbarian's already-powerful abilities can be enhanced further with his excellent array of warcries.

Can Warcries Stack?

Most definitely ! You might see Shout, BattleOrders, and BattleCommand simultaneously on some barbarians, a very powerful combination. Plus, they work with your party members, people love Barbarian BO :) They work on enemies too, so you can Warcry AND BattleCry enemies and both will be in effect. Not all warcries stack like this (Taunt/Howl will override Battlecry, for example), but most will stack with Warcry.

Shout vs Iron Skin?

Heh, see above, but if you are going defence route, maxing Shout first is a much better choice than Iron Skin. Duration and defence% bonus is excellent at high levels. Note that Shout will help a party though.

Why does my Battle Orders warcry keep resetting my health?

This is usually caused by a lower level of BO being casted and overlapping with your currently higher level BO. For example, you cast Battle Command, then BO, but when you refresh your warcries, you forget to cast your BCom before your BO. This results in your current life/mana to be reset to your base levels. It also is caused by people casting a lower level of BO on yours, and can get very annoying, and sometimes dangerous (losing 1K HP's in the middle of a battle, for example).

Why use Taunt and attract monsters to you?

Taunt is useful at times, but those are selected times. A good example is if you scatter a pack with Howl/Grim Ward, then bring a couple back with Taunt to pick them off at your leisure. Crowd Control :) The other use is on ranged attackers. When some ranged attackers get taunted, they immediately stop firing and walk towards you, then fire. Thin of it as overriding their hit-and-run AI. Ranged attackers are usually weak in close combat, so this is very effective on enemies that like to hit and run (Flayers in Act 3 and Demon Imps in Act 5 are good examples). Some builds can benefit from Taunt's ability to pick things off like this. The range of taunt should be mentioned - it is slightly offscreen. Taunt can also be used to select a specific target, so you can use it to pick off dangerous/annying things first. Beware some things cannot be taunted (eg Oblivion Knight, champions, bosses, etc).

Does Battlecry deserve maxing?

Battle Cry is effective for some builds, but there is no point to max it. The radius is the most disappointing part, as it barely goes past your character. It's mostly used as a one-point-wonder skill against the hard hitting foes (eg Hell Duriel, Hell Ancients, Fanaticism + Extra Strong Boss). However, it is a good choice for a barbarian that uses warcries (yes, not only can you stack warcries on yourself, you can stack them on enemies too !), or a build that is always close to the enemy. In these cases, battle cry might be worth investing in - MUCH less damage taken and on the plus sides helps your to-hit chances by lowering their defence (by a large amount). Don't bother with this in PvP, unfortunately the radius is a great inhibitor. If you are close enough to BCry, you are also close enough to unleash a WW. Note that Battlecry seems to work on all monsters. Even the Act bosses.

Is Find Potion Useless?

No. Even with just one point you can use it in hell mode to get rejuvenation potions (pots are affected by difficulty, the higher the difficulty the better the potions). It's especially handy in HC mode where a rejuvenation can spell the difference between life and death.

How does Find Item work?

Find Item works on all bosses except for the Act bosses regardless of their attributes. It also works on any of the other monsters in the game. The only exception is those cases where there is no corpse via things such as shattering, corpse explosion and redemption. (You CAN USE FI on Fire Enchanted Monsters that explode, however.) The chance of getting an item is based solely on the level of the Find Item skill, however the if an item is "found" then your normal MF will apply to determine what sort of item it is. FI deserves 5-10 points, it has VERY sharp diminishing returns after that. You can also use the "Heart Carver" rondel or a +3 warcries weapon to boost it up.

If I max Battle Command do I get +20 skills?

No. This skill only gives a +1 skill bonus. Other points only increase the duration. Most people leave it alone or put 1 point to boost up their warcries, even though BComm's duration runs out, the bonus it gives to other warcries will not run out until the actual warcry itself runs out.

Is there a use for Grim Ward and Howl?

Yes, crowd control. You can use the aforementioned Grim Ward + Taunt Tactics. Grim ward is excellent for some classes, which apply the "daisy chain" (Taunt some over, kill, grim ward, scare the rest, move to next location and taunt, GW again, to set up a system to GW's. If you are good, your GW's should box monsters in and keep them fleeing until killed, or provide a safety net to break up larger crowds). GW is excellent in the cow level. Howl is often a prerequisite and not used after that, but sometimes you can use it to great affect. For example, if you are getting the cow leg, you can howl and scare away all of Rakanishu's minions and clear a path to the red portal. It's very situational, however, and suffers from a small factor - it's dependant on your level. If you are too low level, howl will not work. Also, note that some things cannot be scared away, but this can work to your advantage at times (isolating a boss, for example).

Please explain Warcry

Warcry is a premier crowd control skill. For best applications we advise maxing it, with a few +skill charms you can get a 6+ second stun length in all difficulties. That's right, the stun is not reduced by difficulty. The good part is monsters, when stunned with warcry, don't do anything. They just sit there and wait for you to smash them. The bad part is the radius is a tad small. However, that is ok, as you can go into a crowd and stun everything around you. Some monsters cannot be stunned 100% of the time, notably stuff like "special" monsters like Champions/Uniques. You can stun them, but not all the time, perhaps 50%. The rest they shrug off. Which is ok, as you can pick off a boss and then focus on his minions. This is the primary skill of the singer barb. Please note warcry is NOT affected by the cast timer, hence a singer with a fast cast rig works extremely well.

Other Barbarian Questions

What is the best Barbarian Build?

The eternal question... there isn't one. But the most popular is this -

The cookie cutter build/template:

20 in Mastery of choice 20 Whirlwind 20 BO 1-20 Berserk 1-5-9 Natural resistance 1-5 Find Item 1 in all prerequisites Enough base Str to use your weapon Enough base Dex to use your weapon (or to keep blocking at 75%) Rest into Vitality Never any into Energy (mana leech does the job)

Should be complete at level 80 or so, this is your typical PvM MF barb, it is extremely biased towards sword users due to it’s versatility for PvM, MF, dueling and the availability of good swords. For example you can hold a cruel high powered sword in one hand, and 2 alibaba's for weapon switch for that MF last killing blow bonus. Or hold a heart carver or two to boost your FI, or a sword + shield combo for PvP, etc.

But we state again, all barbs can be effective. A list of more specialised barb builds are:

  • Variants of the masteries (eg pole/mace/axe barbs),
  • Throwing barbs (yes, don't laugh, they are effective !)
  • Berserker barbs (warcry + berserk)
  • "Singing" barbs (which use warcries-only),
  • Frenzy barbs, (the dual weilders),
  • Ironbarbs (the brickbarbs), which focus on massive defence and resists, and use the concentrate skill.
  • Hybrid barb (recently perfected by forum members, involving usually a barb that specialises in throwing AND melee combat.)

Some key things in regards to your items are :

  • High damage weapon (crucial, as this is your source for damage, and the only way for a barb to kill). Also, high damage = more leech.
  • Leech (both mana and life leech should aim for at least 5%/5%+ to be effective in hell mode)
  • PDR gear (more of a luxury item, but it makes a huge difference to your staying power). Needed in PvP.
  • MF gear (obviously for a MF - orientated barb) more is nice, a good level to shoot for at the beginning is 200%+ and work your way up.
  • Resistances (since roughly half the attacks in the game are elemental, it's a very important thing to keep your resists close to max as possible.

Since this is the template it's quite easy to figure out which direction you want to take your barb. For example a PvP specialist might want have less base str/dex and make the rest up with items. He wouldn't need points into find item either, etc. Again, it's impossible to build a barb that is the "best" and dominates everything. He can kill fast in PvM, but some are faster. He offers stiff competition in PvP, but against some other classes he can be pasted. Most people agree specialisation is the key.

And we have the other end of the spectrum here.

Barbs are boring! What fun and interesting variants to try?

Well, no one says you have to be cookie cutter. There are several non-ww builds, all have been refined and proven to be combat effective in the world of Diablo 2. Small list of variants:

  • Frenzybarb : 2 weapons, and zip around the map like crazy. Extremely fun.
  • Pure berserker : Sacrificing defence for killing power. The warcry for stun length while you bash them in with a high damage weapon.
  • Thrower : Where this was once a crappy subpar-submerged-subclass, it is no longer. A Throwing barbarian is one of the most unique variants in the game. Where a normal barb does melee... he throws. People laugh until they realise he is just as powerful as they are. Then it's usually "Hey, that's pretty COOOL". Note that there is even a variant of the subclass called the Hybrid (throwing-melee combat) and they are sometimes even more effective. Also, both of these are one of the few surprises in the PvP scene.
  • Ironbarb : Did you like the lil Defiant paladin in D2C ? Well, you'll love the Ironbarb. For the patient people, his killing power isn't as high, but as a defensive character he is pretty much king. Like the thought of walking around in the cow level without nary a scratch ? 30K defence + Max resists + Max block + PDR anyone ?
  • Singer : Another strange, but very amusing subclass. This one is mainly about fun, but not to say he's useless. Of course his killing power can't match your average WW barb, but he is incredible support. Rapid stun ability and party support, hey, who's going to argue with level 35+ BO ?

What is the 3 chipped gem recipe?


  • 3 chipped gems of any kind, YES chipped skulls work too.
  • 1 sword of any kind/type.
  • 1 horadric cube

Put the 3 chipped gems into the Horadric cube, add the sword, and press the "transmute" button. This will result in the same sword with:

  • 3 open sockets (if available, some swords don't support 3 sockets. They may have 2 as a maximum.)
  • New prefix and/or suffix, up to level 66 (this is *Completely Independent* of your character level. You can use level 1 or level 99.). The modifications are RANDOMIZED, so any modification under level 67 can be occur. The cruel(prefix- 201-300 Enhanced Damage) modification is level 51.

It is possible to get BOTH a prefix AND a suffix. i.e.: Cruel XXX-Sword of quickness.

  • Recent research has determined that not all swords can get the cruel prefix. It depends on both the level of the sword itself and also the level of the monster that dropped it. (thanks to Statistics forum). Only the following swords can be made into cruel from this recipe :

1-handed : Conquest, Cryptic, Mythical 2-handed : Champion, Colossus Sword, Colossus Blade (You can buy all (except the conquest/cryptic) from Larzuk the blacksmith in act 5. (in Hell Mode) Just buy any one, since the mods get rerolled with the recipe. Do not transmute a Cruel sword if you have one, since the recipe will randomise the mods.

These cruel swords are extremely popular, since they have 3 sockets that are automatic. This results in many combinations, for example you could put 2 x Shael runes to boost speed and an Ohm rune to further increase damage.

When you cube an ethereal sword with the 3 chip recipe, does it stay ethereal?

No it doesn't. The 3 chip recipe will always produce a magic sword regardless of what type the sword has before you cubed it. Additionally, any runes, jewels, or gems that where socketed before cubing will be lost. So forget any Ethereal cruel 3 socketed colossus blades of quickness please :)

Does defense matter?

It depends on the type of defence. For one thing, defence as in resists definitely helps. But defence as in Defence Rating, well not as one might initially think. See, the difference between 1000 and 2000 defense rating is almost nothing. Roughly 1/3 of the monsters in the game don't take your defence into account. However, defence is far from useless. The key is specialising in it. It's no use to say "throw a few points in Shout" as that will be a barely noticeable difference. However, lets say max Shout, well, you could end up with much higher defence rating, which will make a large difference in the PvM (and sometimes PvP scene). With an Ironbarb, who is defence orientated, focusing not only on defence rating, but also other factors such as resists, block, and getting equipment to add to these will vastly increase his effectiveness as a Tank/Brick character, able to defend against all that is thrown at him. Last thing is it is semi-useful in PvP, but it's sad to see it negated by one little thing. The bugged ETH rune.

What is the ETH bug?

The ETH bug you might have heard of, refers to the low level rune, ETH. It's function is bugged right now, as it acts like an ITD attack in PvM AND PvP. Normally, true ITD (such as granted by the Jah rune) WILL NOT WORK IN PvP. ETH right now does. Despite what it's description says (-25% target defence) it automatically bypasses any sort of defence in a PvP situation. If you are skeptical, feel free to test with a high defence barb (without a shield) and a lower level barb with an ETH'ed weapon (preferably as low AR as possible). Theoretically the lower level barb should require a few passes to hit the high defence barb (as the description reads "-25% target defence", assuming that each hit lowers your opponent's defence), but this does not hold true. So pumping Shout/IS for PvP situations right now is useless, since many barb duelers use a Cruel 3-socket swords involving an Eth rune. Hopefully this will be fixed, but don't hold your breath.

How can I improve my to-hit? Will ITD help me?

ITD only works against normal monsters. It's not autohit but does increase your chances a lot.

The to-hit equation is as follows -

Chance to Hit for Melee Attacks: 100 * AR / (AR + Ddef) * 2 * alvl / (alvl + dlvl) where AR = Attack Rating; alvl = Level of Attacker; dlvl = Level of Defender; Ddef = defense of defender.

If you possess ITD then DDef = 0, nil, zero. As you can see it's not automatically 95% chance to hit, since you still have to factor in level difference. True ITD does NOT work in PvP.

Back to AR, generally a higher AR will serve you better, but notice that level difference plays a part too. A level 50 barb in hell mode will have trouble regardless of how much AR he has. You can raise your AR by acquiring items that give to +AR. This works much better than pumping dex.

How much leech do I need?

Remember that leech is directly related to the amount of damage that is dealt out. More damage will equal more leech. Most barbarians eventually acquire a high damage cruel weapon, or an elite unique weapon so in most csaes 7-10% mana/life leech is good enough to keep your life/mana globes full. In some areas it is better to have more life leech so there is less risk of dying, such as in the cow level.

Those 50% lifeleech barbs you might have seen/heard of are pretty much built for PvP. Remember where we said above you can build a barb 2 ways ? This one is the antibarb-barb focusing on much lower life and higher damage and life leech. With a good setup, getting 5K damage 1-handed isn't out of the question, and combined with 50% lifeleech makes short work of other barbs. Lower life is acceptable as having that much leech (as well as the usual 75% block/damage reduction) will keep your barb alive. Not recommended for the average player, mainly due to the items needed.

What is the best Mercenary for a Barbarian?

Since a barb tends to be a front line melee specialist, he should look for something for crowd control or more damage. 2 clear choices are the NM mercs of act 2. They must be hired in NM as in other difficulties their auras are different, and not as useful. 2 clear choices - Offensive, which gives a might aura, and defensive, which gives holy freeze. Might is the most commonly used since it will boost your damage a lot. Holy freeze is another choice for some, who prefer the crowd control ability. At high levels, it definitely can't be ignored. You should give your merc some form of life leech to keep them alive. You can even give them some items such as vamp gaze/shaftstop as this would increase their survivability by a large amount. However, few people could afford this. Also, in some places it is actually better to let your merc off dead, especially in the cow level or against bosses where they usually crumple and fail quickly.

How can I increase my damage?

Besides the obvious choice of getting a more damaging weapon, there are other ways to increase your damage, by a large amount. You can socket enhanced damage jewels in your helm/shield/armour. A 150% enhanced damage armour might add upwards of 500 extra damage, perhaps even more. Those "fine/sharp" charms which have max damage can alse have the same effects. But you'll need a lot to see a difference. The unique boots "WarTraveller" also have the mod "adds 15-25 damage" which can increase your damage by a couple of hundred, handy for those who PvP. +Skill items can also raise your damage, but doing so is not recommended. Rare cases involve barbs pumping their str, but again, it's not recommended you do this unless you have a specific build in mind. The other choices should give you a much better result. Of course, you can always have the friendly paladin/druid boost your damage with their Auras and Spirits in a team game. Also, remember although Damage is King, Speed Kills Too.

You can calculate your Total Damage with this formula (since ED in other items such as armours/helms do not work the same way as they do in weapons) :

Minimum Damage = (Weapon Minimum Damage + (+x To Minimum Damage)) * (1 + StatsBonus + (+x% Enhanced Damage) / 100)

Maximum Damage = (Weapon Maximum Damage + (+x To Maximum Damage)) * (1 + StatsBonus + (+x % Enhanced Damage) / 100)

+x % Enhanced Damage = all non weapon ED (like in armour/helm/shield etc) and skills (like Might, Heart of Wolverine)

'+x To Minimum/Maximum Damage' = all non weapon +min/max damage. Like from charms.

You calculate your Weapon Minimum/Maximum damage with this formula :

Weapon Damage:

Weapon Minimum Damage = (Base Minimum Damage+1) * (1+ (+x % Enhanced Damage)/100) + (+x to Minimum Damage)

Weapon Maximum Damage = (Base Maximum Damage+1) * (1+ (+x % Enhanced Damage)/100) + (+x to Maximum Damage)

+x % Enhanced Damage and +x to Minimum/Maximum Damage = The mods on the weapon.

Statsbonus: Remember more strength increases damage, however some weapons are affected differently.

Maces: 1.10 x str / 100 Daggers, Throwing Weapons (and Assassin Claws) : (0.75 x str + 0.75 x dex) / 100 Bows/ Xbows : dex / 100 Other Weapons : str / 100

I plan on dual wielding Lightsabres. Will I be immune to lightning?

Getting to 50% absorb will make redundant all normal lightning attacks. However to get the healing effect, you have to take into consideration your resistances and other Lightning Absorb gear (Thundergods/Blackhorns mask for example). First the game calcuates the damage (after MDR and resists). Then absorb comes into play. With twin lightsabres, in most cases it will nullify any damage as absorbing 50% damage = half the attack deals damaged, but the other half is absorbed so essentially you take zero damage. To get healed you must be wearing another absorb item, with this the damage absorbed would be higher than the damage being dealt out, so it would add to your health instead of subtracing it, and in essence "heal" you. Also, absorb does not always fully prevent damage, and definitely does not prevent death. If you are on very low health, chances are you could die (if the final damage is greater than your barb's life, for example). Note some other skills can affect absorb rates (Conviction, Lower resist), and in PvP play, using a full absorb rig against an elemental damage user is frowned upon. What's the use of fighting if they can't hurt you ?

How does +demon damage from items such as Laying of Hands work?

In 0.9 the +damage bonus is added on to the base damage of your weapon. Thus, it makes killing Act bosses MUCH easier. Useful for a MF barb, if you sacrifice Chance guards for LoH, you could kill Meph or Baal in roughly half the time it normally takes a non LoH user. This means your runs are faster which in the long run maximises your chance of getting items. A small sacrifice in MF results in much shorter runs. Also the reason why mace barbs and the IK maul work well in MF runs.

How do I get awesome items?

Well, it's not like we were magically bestowed with them... Everyone has (usually) worked for their items, and some were playing at the very start of the game. It's not too hard nowadays to get good items, but lot of MF, trading and of course Luck was involved, though. Try to do MF runs, and complete quest rewards which sometimes lead to a nice surprise. Single player barbs might have more trouble, try asking for help in the Single Player forum, and for barb related matters, state they are single player as most advice given out is biased towards to multiplayer/closed realm side of the game.