Written/started by @Fabian on Aug 6, 2013
Written/started by @Fabian on Aug 6, 2013
It's been almost two years since my first/latest thread on my Berserk Pitbarb, although I did post a short update a year ago. I've played him a heck of a lot (including in 4 MFOs), I've respecced him probably 30 times, and I feel like he, for the most part, is "finished". In this thread I'll do a final write-up on him, and talk about my thoughts on the build in general, hopefully so someone else can learn something about it. It's kind of a mix of a Pat thread and a guide, I suppose, but mostly focusing on the Berserk Pitbarb in general terms.
This character is a Berserk Barbarian built for doing Pit runs at players 1. He's a Magic Finder, and his goal is to find Uniques as efficiently as possible. He does this better than any other build in any area, so if you want to be competitive in an MFO, for example, this character might be a good choice for you. It's a very rewarding character to make/plan/build in my opinion, as he functions very well with relatively basic/straightforward equipment, but also has quite a bit of potential for improvement.
In many ways, the Berserker plays more like a caster than a melee character. You use four main skills; Teleport, Howl, Berserk and Find Item. Three of these are on your caster switch, where you have lots of FCR (more on equipment later), and the fourth, Berserk, is on your kill switch, a Grief Phase Blade and something else. Your aim is to focus on killing Bosses and Champions, and ignore Minions and Regulars as much as possible, since this is the most efficient use of your time. Minions/Regulars don't drop very well, and since a single target attack like Berserk takes a relatively long time to kill a dozen small/weak monsters, you'd rather have just teleported to the next boss instead. More details on skills/gameplay later.
There are some basic things you want from your gear. The most important ones include 105% FCR on your caster switch, CBF, and enough IAS to reach 9fpa Berserk. Assuming your weapon of choice is a Grief Phase Blade, that means 42 IAS, up to 40 of which can come from the Grief itself. Then, of course, you want MF, the more the better. Past that, you want things which will help you kill quickly (Skills/Strength/AR) and things which will help you survive (mostly life, resists to some extent, perhaps DR%). Here's what I would consider the most "standard" and elegant setup for a Berserk Pitbarb:
Helm: Cham'd Shako
Amulet: Crafted/Rare 2Barb/5+FCR/x/y/z
Switch 1: Grief Phase Blade/Something
Switch 2: Some combination of Ist'd Wizardspike/Ist'd Suicide Branch/Heart of the Oak
Gloves: Chance Guards
Boots: War Traveler
Rings: Dual Nagelring
There are many possible modifications to the above. There are relatively few "must haves" for this build (Enigma/Grief/the switch weapons/CBF/one more FCR source, pretty much), so you can change things around quite a bit. If you feel unsafe, you can switch out any of the MF equipment (Chance Guards/Nagelrings/War Traveler) for something which makes you feel more safe (Laying of Hands/good Rare Rings/good Rare Boots, any Unique/Set which solves a problem, etc) as you see fit. If you feel safe and confident, you can use a 6Ist Phase Blade in your off-hand for a huge MF boost; if you feel unsafe and overwhelmed, an Ist'd (or if you're even more unsafe, perhaps even Ber'd) Stormshield will probably help a whole lot. You can experiment a lot with different setups and different levels of killing power vs MF vs safety, and chances are most will be pretty much fine, as long as you make sure to keep the important stuff (105FCR/42IAS/CBF).
Helm: No surprise that Shako is great for an MF character, this probably requires little explanation. If you have a 1.07 Shako, that's probably better, although the DR% and mana boost from 1.13 Shako shouldn't be ignored. Mana might be an issue with a 1.07 Shako, especially if you use Suicide Branches rather than Wizardspikes or HoTO for your weapon switch. Another, pretty unrealistic, possibility is to find a Barb Helm in 1.07 with +2 Barb Skills and some great automods, maybe with a good suffix as well. These can get 3 sockets from Larzuk in 1.07, which matches the 50MF/CBF part of a Cham'd Shako quite well after you IstIstCham it. The potential is definitely there, but even with an extremely good Helm, chances are the Shako will still be better. If you have a possible candidate, you can probably figure out for yourself it the upsides outweigh the downsides, otherwise I wouldn't worry about it; Shako is extremely good.
Amulet: This is where I like to have some extra FCR to reach the 105 breakpoint. If you have a 2/15 amulet, you can get away with only having 90 FCR on switch, meaning you can use HoTO. This gives you some extra levels in Find Item and Battle Orders, but loses out on some MF when horking. Which combination of things is best will of course depend on what options you have exactly. Ideally, you might have a 2/15 amulet with some other good mods (Strength/life/MF/mana/etc), but needless to say those are hard to come by. A craft with 5% shouldn't be impossible to find though, hopefully with some more useful stuff, and of course the potential is there for a rare 2/10 amulet to be very good as well. If you don't have any viable FCR alternatives, you could be using an FCR ring instead, and pretty much whatever is available to you here. The usual things are good, skills/MF/life/mana/resists/strength/dexterity/AR/etc.
Armor: Enigma is required for this build.
Kill Switch: Grief PB is close to the only choice since Grief is so much better than all other weapons. If you want to use Goldwrap as your additional IAS source, you need a 32+ roll on the IAS. Potential choices for the off-hand include a Stormshield and a 6Ist PB (note that other base items won't work, as they will result in needing more IAS for 9fpa because of how Berserk works). Maybe a 4Ist Monarch as some kind of compromise between block and MF, although that sounds pretty sketchy. Another alternative is to use Grief BA/Beast BA, but I'm not convinced the upsides of this combo (higher damage, better weapon range) make up for the lost safety (with Stormshield) or MF (with 6Ist PB). It's a possibility to keep in mind, though.
Caster Switch: As mentioned previously, there are three possible weapons, Suicide Branch (Ist), Wizardspike (Ist) and Heart of the Oak. Choose the combo which meets your FCR needs, your Find Item slvl needs, your mana needs, etc, the best. I've probably used almost all combos (except dual HoTO) at various points, they all have different upsides and downsides.
Belt: Goldwrap is pretty great for the IAS and the MF. Another possibility, especially if you're on a bit of a budget and don't have a spare Cham, is to use Trang's Belt for the CBF, freeing up the socket in Shako for something else (Ist). This means you need to find IAS somewhere else, and the solution I favor is to switch Chance Guards for Laying of Hands (also a decent solution if your Grief has less than 32 IAS). Another reason, apart from the IAS, why LoH might be good for "budget" setups is that almost all monsters in the Pit are Demons (except for the Skeletons, which admittedly are the toughest monsters to begin with), so it will likely help with killing speed quite a bit. Of course, there's an MF loss from switching out both Goldwrap and Chance Guards.
Gloves: Chance Guards seem good. Laying of Hands can work as well. Some Crafted/Rare IAS/MF type thing might be a decent compromise, if necessary.
Rings: Nagelring is a very good standard choice. Note that the AR is quite relevant for this character, unlike a lot of other MF characters, so look at both variable stats. Other choices might include Magic rings with more than 30 MF, Rares with or without FCR and other good stuff, or why not 1.07 Blood Crafts (nice automods, and potential for Magic-only affixes, but Ko runes are extremely rare). Note that Raven Frost is no good because of the cold damage, despite its other mods being extremely strong.
Boots: War Traveler seems very tough to beat here, as the damage is actually quite significant, not to mention the Str/Vita and the MF and stuff.
Merc: I like using a Might mercenary with Insight. Past that, I like loading him up on IAS to make his Might aura trigger as quickly as possible. I'm using Insight/Treachery/Andariel's Visage (FR/IAS jewel), but I'm sure a lot of stuff can work fine. Another possibility might be the Prayer/Insight combo, and if you feel like you can do without Insight (which I wouldn't recommend), then a Faith merc might be a possibility in order to get 9fpa with a BA Grief.
This section is pretty long, mostly because I wanted to explain what you should consider when choosing your setup/equipment as in-depth as possible. If you understand what's important for the character, you can probably come up with a good setup yourself, even if you have to improvise a bit.
Skill Points & Stat Points
There's high demand on both skill points and stat points with this build. You aim to be as efficient as possible, meaning you want to kill quickly, meaning you want Strength (and perhaps Dexterity too, although the 136 required for Phase Blade might be enough). You also want to not be slowed down by dying or being in danger of dying, which means having lots of life, meaning you want Vitality, so you have to find a balance. The same consideration happens on the skill point side; here you don't have enough skill points to max Battle Orders *and* Berserk synergies, so you have to find a balance.
It turns out that, mostly thanks to the Barb getting 4 life per point in Vitality, you will want to go with a 1 point Battle Orders and maxing Berserk synergies, while putting more points in Vitality than you might have otherwise wanted to (and thus fewer points in Strength). This results in the highest total amount of damage and life. If you were to put 20 (or 5, or 10) points in Battle Orders and more points in Strength to compensate for the lost damage, you will end up with a lower total ED% given the same amount of life (and conversely, if you put 20 points in BO and then allocate your stat points such that your ED% is the same as with the original 1 point BO setup, your life total will now be lower than it was). Thus, your skills will be:
Shout: 20 (max this last)
Find Item: 20ish*
Sword Mastery: 20
Battle Orders: 1
Battle Command: 1
Increased Speed: 1
Natural Resistance: 1
* You might put a few fewer points in here, depending on what your equipment looks like. With dual Suicide Branch/2Barb Amulet/Shako/Enigma/Battle Command, you reach slvl 29 (55% Hork) with 20 hard points. If you have a 2/15 Amulet and use HoTO/Suicide Branch, you put 18 points into Find Item, etc.
Assuming 20 points in Find Item, this build is finished exactly at clvl 99, and even then you wouldn't mind having 19 more points to spend in Battle Orders, so the competition is pretty stiff for the skill points.
As for stat points, you once again have a balance between safety and speed to consider. I've tried all kinds of life totals, ranging from 1900 to 2800 or something (of course, a HC player might want 4000). It's more a matter of preference and playing style than anything else I think, but the higher the life total you go with, the less damage each swing will do. Of course, a Stormshield Barb will probably get away with less life than a 6Ist PB Barb, if he so chooses. At the moment I've decided on a 2300 life total for my character, which with my equipment means 136 points in Dex, 268 points in Vita, and the rest (176) in Strength (before bonuses from equipment). It will be different for everyone else though, and all I can suggest is to try stuff out and see what works for you.
Ok, so you have your equipment, your stat points, your skill points. Now what?
Most of the time, you're using the Caster Switch. You Teleport around, cast Howl, you Hork, you tele away, all on the caster switch. The only time you're on your kill switch is when you click once or twice (hopefully) on a boss, then you switch back to your FCR switch. Essentially, this is the sequence I think you want to execute over and over:
1. Teleport around until you see a boss, teleport right on top of him
2. Switch to Howl, cast Howl 1-2 times
3. Hit weapon switch, where Berserk is already the pre-selected skill (you never switch from Berserk to anything else on the kill switch, unless you mess up)
4. Attack the boss, hopefully 1-2 times at most. Being able to quickly identify and accurately click the boss takes some practice, but will be very helpful for your run time
5. While the boss is dying, hit weapon switch again, going back to your Caster Switch. Switch to Find Item.
6. Hork the boss once his death animation is done and he's on the ground ready to be horked.
7. Switch to Teleport. Teleport away. Go to 1.
At pretty much any point in the above steps, you might throw in an extra Howl to keep safe, if necessary. Sounds complicated? Well, the bad news is it's not like playing a blizzsorc. The good news is it's really not that bad, and you get used to it pretty quickly. You only use four hotkeys (though Berserk is a fifth hotkey you might use if you mess up at some point and need to change back) and one mouse button. Here's what it might look like in practice:
810 MF (on kill switch)/660 MF (on hork switch)/56% hork, 42 bosses killed in 4:50 (average run time 58s, 8.4 bosses per run), 4.43s/boss (290/42/1.56), in this video.
Some general things to know/keep in mind when it comes to fast MF running:
Fast teleporting: When teleporting up/right, you can "trick" the game into letting each teleport cover a greater distance by doing the following:
1. Hold Teleport, while keeping your mouse in the upper right corner of the screen
2. Open your Inventory screen by pressing I
3. At this point, the mouse cursor will move to the middle of the screen, and you can now move it back to the upper right corner. Each teleport will now take you 1Â½ screen lengths, instead of 1.
This technique is useful when teleporting from the River of Flame waypoint to the seals in the Chaos Sanctuary, or to the Throne of Destruction, among other things. However, the same technique can also be used when teleporting down/left, using the Character screen (C) instead of the Inventory. This comes in handy when teleporting from the Outer Cloister waypoint to the Pit entrance. You can see it used in my video above. On my particular map, the way I do it, it doesn't actually save that much time because of the exact position of the Pit entrance, but on other maps it can save quite a bit of time. It's also easier to get it to be faster if you play in full screen or with mouse capture, which I unfortunately can't do when recording.
MF Breakpoints: Without going into too much detail, the way MF works in this game means that different amounts of MF will result in the same effective chance of finding Uniques. The formula for the Unique MF Bonus is (MF*250)/(MF+250), and is always rounded down. For example, having 827 MF is no better than having 810 MF, since (827*250)/(827+250) = 191.97 = 191, and (810*250)/(810+250) = 191.04 = 191. In the ATMA drop calculator, this number is displayed when you input an MF%, which is more convenient than calculating it yourself. When choosing your equipment, make sure to not carry any unnecessary MF which could be exchanged for something else. For instance, this is why I use some MF charms with less than 7% MF, since they have better prefixes than my 7% alternatives, and the extra 8% I could get from my charms would bring me from 810 to 818, a meaningless improvement.
Map Selection: Finding a great map can be pretty tricky and frustrating, but can also do wonders for your efficiency. You want a map where you can kill as many bosses as possible per time unit, on average. What this means is generally a map with a high boss density, and not necessarily the map with the highest boss average. While large maps tend to have more bosses on average, they will also tend to be slow since they require a lot of moving around to cover the whole map. Thus, when talking about efficiency, it's better to think in terms of seconds per boss pack, rather than just looking at boss pack average or just looking at run time average; they need to be considered together.
A specific tip when looking for a good Pit map is to try finding a map where level 2 tends to spawn with lots of bosses. In the case of my Pit map, I like level 1 a lot, as it tends to be very boss pack dense and not super huge, but what really puts it over the top is how my level 2 map often will spawn with 4 bosses rather than 2, with 3 being the most common number. Having an extra 0.5 bosses (or whatever) on average in level 2 (with its fixed size/shape) means your level 1 map can be that much worse while still keeping up with other maps, in terms of efficiency.
Finally, a quick write-up on my current setup/equipment/etc.
Barb_I, level 99
Strength 176 (289)
Dexterity 136 (136)
Vitality 268 (278)
Energy 10 (10)
AR 13387 (94% chance to hit against most bosses)
Hork 56% (slvl 33)
MF 810 on kill switch, 660 on tele switch
Berserk 20 (30)
Sword Mastery 20 (27)
Howl 20 (30)
Find Item 20 (33)
Battle Orders 1 (11)
Battle Command 1
Increased Speed 1
Natural Resistance 1
Helm: 1.07 Barb Helm +2Barb/+3Berserk/+3Find Item IstIstCham (50)
Armor: Enigma (99)
Kill Switch: 397/38 Grief 15ED/1AR Superior PB / 6Ist PB (180)
Tele Switch: Heart of the Oak / 1.07 Wizardspike Ist (30)
Amulet: 2Barb/16FCR/21MF/7FR/18mana/4manaregen Craft (21)
Gloves: Chance Guards (40)
Belt: Goldwrap (30)
Boots: War Traveler (50)
Ring 1: 98AR/3LL/14str/24life/2MDR/39MF 1.07 Craft (39)
Ring 2: 119AR/6LL/15str/23life/38MF 1.07 Craft (38)
Merc: eth 1.07 Insight Thresher, eth Treachery, eth Andariel's Visage Fervor Jewel
Gheed's Fortune 40% 3/20/7 3/20/7 3/20/7 3/18/7 3/17/7 3/17/7 3/17/7 3/15/7 3/13/7 3/11/7 2/19/7 2/19/7 2/19/7 2/17/7 2/12/7 1/16/7 1/16/7 1/15/7 1/12/7 1/12/7 3/19/6 3/15/6 3/15/6 3/13/6 2/14/6 2/13/6 Fine SC of Good Luck 3/20/5 Fine SC of Fortune 36/7 34/7 33/7 32/7 31/7 30/7 Steel SC of Good Luck
Barb_I started out as a 1.07 rushee in the fall of 2012, then spent many hours standing in a corner of the 1.07 Cow level while an Amazon killed a lot of cows. After he got to level 99, he was forwarded to 1.13d and started hunting a Pit map for the 2013 Winter MFO. He found a really sweet map, and this was the result of the MFO. After that, he hasn't done much other than running the Pit, although he has doubled up as a Gambler, a Crafter and a Shopper a little bit. Originally I planned for my 99 level Barb to also be a Gold Finder and participate in the Piles of Money tournament, but his Pit map is too good to reroll, so that's where he will stay for eternity.
I hope you've learned something about the best MF build available, and I hope reading this has made you curious to try it out yourself. I love this build, not only for its efficiency, but the challenge in optimizing him, both when it comes to gameplay and planning/building, has been more fun for me than anything else in Diablo 2. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, ask away!