Fabian's Berserk Barbarian, MF Pit Runner Guide/Write-Up


Well-known member
Jan 22, 2019
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
Armor: Enigma
Switch 1: Grief Phase Blade/Something
Switch 2: Some combination of Ist'd Wizardspike/Ist'd Suicide Branch/Heart of the Oak
Belt: Goldwrap
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:

Berserk: 20
Howl: 20
Shout: 20 (max this last)
Find Item: 20ish*
Sword Mastery: 20
Battle Orders: 1
Battle Command: 1
Increased Speed: 1
Natural Resistance: 1
Prereqs: 6

* 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.

Other Considerations

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 1½ 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.

My Barbarian

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)

Life 2301
AR 13387 (94% chance to hit against most bosses)
FCR 106%
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)
Shout 20
Battle Orders 1 (11)
Battle Command 1
Increased Speed 1
Natural Resistance 1
Prereqs 6

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%
2/13/6 Fine SC of Good Luck
3/20/5 Fine SC of Fortune
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!


Well-known member
Jan 22, 2019
Page 1 comments

ninja yarr!

I might want to try your build some day (when I get an enigma. For now - I don't have the dedication for repetituos council/lk runs :D ).
What bothers me somewhat is the way your lifebulb goes yoyo. Don't get me wrong, but it doesn't look safe a lot, and a deeded 1000%MF horker gets less drops than a 250%MF singer who is alive.

Other than that - it's good to see a meleeing toon (and an effective one!) amongst hordes of magi MFers.
Great job Fabian, and thanks for your help with this barb before the last MFO.

I didn't have a spare Cham so went the Trang's Girth route. I felt that LoH didn't offer me much as the demons died easily anyway, so went with a Jewel of Fervour with MF in the Shako instead.

As I said in another thread, I love how this build redefined the boundaries of an MF build, ten years after the game came out.
Since I've probably caught most discussions about this and read the previous threads, there wasn't anything new but... I've read it all! Yeah!

5 out of 10 for the effort and optimization. Extra point for using that sexy hat! ...But it's still an ugly barbarian!
This is the most in depth guide for the games most efficient magic finder ever with hundreds of hours of experience to back up all of your findings, but I'm having trouble getting past how ugly your barbarian looks :p

EDIT: I just have to add, 42 elite monster kills + horks in under 5 minutes? God damn that's ridiculous!
Fabian said:
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.​
This part makes me sick

Outstanding work here Fabian, as a fan of the Barbarian class, this is some really good information to drool over and contemplate! Thank you for your dedication, explanations and thouroughness on your writeup. This kind of stuff for newcomers to like myself to indulge in, is truly, invaluable. I am very happy to have this information now at my fingertips to use as reference for when I go back to 1.13 and finish my Barbarian! Hope you have a wonderful week! Take care buddy!


just to echo what others have said-I really enjoy your write-ups.

Thanks for taking the time to do this-your thoughts on build, gear and optimizations are always great reading!

If/when I get Enigma I may respec and try him.

It would be great watching videos of more players watching their respective Pit-Berserkers!
Very nice thread.
Your map... is insane. Gieb.

And don't listen to others, your barb looks awesome with that hat. Pure beast.
i agree with Gripphon.

hat definitely looks >>> shako. also it's from 1.07 hax, what's not to love.
Really a great thread, Fabian. Although Gripphon has done some interesting research on the Singer, I suspect that 85% of its efficiency stems from the combination of Teleport + Howl to isolate boss + Find Item. The Berzerker can still do this best while killing the fastest with the most MF.

I've been running around with the poor-man's version (Laying of Hands + Trang-Oul's + Stormshield); it is a killing machine. Even if I had a 15+ FCR amulet though, I think I would stick with dual Suicide Branch over HoTo/Wizardspike. I really don't need the extra resists, mana, or extra skill in Shout, at least with 1.13 Shako for the mana, and then the extra MF from another Ist would be a big advantage (especially on the switch with fewer diminishing returns).

Why would you have wanted a Level 99 Goldfinder? 6x Lem Crystal Sword is still more GF than LemLem Ali Baba at 99, and he uses Wealth, not Enigma, I presume. Was it just for increased damange/chance to hit against the Council?

It doesn't look safe because I haven't built him to be safe (and even so, I've only died once with him in the last 30+ hours of playing fwiw). Why not try him out with 50% DR and 4000 life (Ber'd Stormshield+Shako, no Strength hard points, more BO hard points)? That coupled with less suicidal teleporting and/or more Howling should keep you quite safe, and you'll still kill really fast (especially compared to a Singer) with 500 MF (assuming you use stuff like resist/life charms, use only MF charms and you can go higher). Or something like that. Either way I hope you give him a shot at some point :)


Thanks, I appreciate that, and you're welcome. You're quite right that an IAS Jewel in the Shako is a possibility I should have mentioned, so thanks for bringing that up.

Other guys,

Thanks for the kind words. I actually like the hat look too, of course I'm comparing to the Shako look which is indescribably awful.


You're quite right about the FCR/Teleport/Howl/Find Item stuff being the key. On IRC we've, only semi-jokingly, been talking about trying Leap Attack Barbs or why not Throwbarbs. I'm sure they could do more or less fine, too, much like Singers can.

Depending on your setup, you might consider Heart of the Oak over a Suicide Branch if it would allow for another percentage of horking, even if mana was of no concern. The extra hork is worth more than the extra 30 MF, though admittedly the effect of either is quite small. The extra life from BO is not nothing either, allowing for some more Strength points.

I wanted a level 99 Goldfinder because I wanted a perfect Goldfinder, to get as high a score in the Piles tournament as possible. More skill points in Increased Speed, more Strength points, better chance to hit? Sign me up!
Fabian and all,

So you knew I was gonna ask-how does your setup compare to a wolfbarb? Are they comparable?

The idea to optimize safety with a reasonable amount of MF and efficiency being the goal for HC for myself.

Should I simply play with the char gen tool and stop asking these questions. Again, wanting to hear from those that have played them (your build and wolfbarb) if possible.

Currently, my singer is safest HC toon I have, followed by Necro followed by sorc. (I only have 3 guardians thus far) Ironically, this is in reverse to KS. It would be interesting to get a build that was somewhat fast and very safe.

Yes I know I'm harping on about this but after deeding my Lev 60 assassin it's on my mind.


p.s just read the singer vs berserk barb run time for pits -really interesting.
Love the build, but never used it for MF. Good info here, thanks.
It doesn't look safe because I haven't built him to be safe (and even so, I've only died once with him in the last 30+ hours of playing fwiw). Why not try him out with 50% DR and 4000 life (Ber'd Stormshield+Shako, no Strength hard points, more BO hard points)? That coupled with less suicidal teleporting and/or more Howling should keep you quite safe, and you'll still kill really fast (especially compared to a Singer) with 500 MF (assuming you use stuff like resist/life charms, use only MF charms and you can go higher). Or something like that. Either way I hope you give him a shot at some point.​
I'll try the build as soon as I have enough dedication to run for runes to get the 'nigma :)
Ber'd Stormshield+Shako, no Strength hard points,​
Also, do I see sarcasm here? ))

I'm just a lil' concerned cause I had a 1pt BO eDeath full power Berserker and I had to play less recklessly than I'm used to :)

I don't know the first thing about Wolfbarbs, and from what I understand they're not very good MFers, so this is probably not the thread for it. Can they even teleport?


No sarcasm intended, I guess you would need some number of hard points in Strength for the Stormshield though, yeah. I could get away with base strength, but we can't all have crazy 1.07 Rings I guess!
Can they even teleport?​
nope. They run really fast, though.
One can get 200-300 mf on a wolfbarb, or even more - and you'll be fine in Pits and many other areas.
But you'll never come close in terms of mf efficiency to a teleporting berserker or singer.
Note that it doesn't matter if you're going to just do some occasional mf runs with a char you like, not run a dedicated map for a few thousand times, writing down run time to milliseconds. But yeah, that's not the thread then :)
Yeah, wolf barbs really aren't where its at for magic finding other than something like trav runs. The lack of teleport isn't even what kills it for me, its the constant shifting and unshifting to be able to hork that would get to me.
Pyrotechnician said:
Yeah, wolf barbs really aren't where its at for magic finding other than something like trav runs. The lack of teleport isn't even what kills it for me, its the constant shifting and unshifting to be able to hork that would get to me.​
I used a wolfbarb for Pindle, and it wasn't great there either. It worked, but it was far from worthwhile.


Well-known member
Jan 22, 2019
Page 2 comments

Wolfbarb is the king trav runner for safety IMO. No MF needed there.
crawlingdeadman said:
Wolfbarb is the king trav runner for safety IMO. No MF needed there.​
I said trav runs....didn't I say trav runs?
A little late to the party, but I stumbled on this thread since my recent return to the game. Since I want to take (yet) another run at some missing TC87 uniques, I've been building one of these MFers and I have a couple questions on the final details:

1. I'm thinking of sticking a Gloom runeword (15% ctc level 3 Dim Vision) on my merc to help with the occasional nasty archer and/or skeleton pack. But with Howl essentially being a curse and these two overwriting each other, I'm not sure if it's a good idea. My hope is that I'll get in a Howl first and the monsters will run away - and keep running even if the Dim Vision curse gets triggered afterwards. I seem to remember Howl working like that but it's been a few years since I played regularly. Thoughts or experiences?

2. I'm torn between dual-weapon (to get max MF) or using a shield. My non-fire resists will be pretty poor on kill-switch (LoH needed for IAS, and my 1/17 amulet has 12 FR too), but is elemental damage even a threat in Pits? Or how about the lost DR% if I don't have Stormshield? Or how about a different shield altogether (ISTed Lance Guard for some FHR, DtM, Life, Deadly Strike and a lowered block %, for example - or maybe just a simple Rhyme in a low-block base for nice balance of resists and MF)?

My MF will be around 4-500 if I use stormshield, but if I go with a 6-IST PB I can push that in the neighborhood of 600 pretty easily. I'm softcore and don't mind the occasional death, and I definitely want uniques (i.e. not sets), so the extra MF would fit. But I don't really want a fragile potion-addict, and I'd also need to hunt down 3 mores ISTs for the 6xIST weapon (i.e. not an especially appealing project, but I could work towards it).

FYI, my currently planned setup is as follows:

Casting switch: HOTO & Wizspike
1/17 crafted caster amulet
Grief (3/4 of the rolls are near perfect, except 4th - 31 IAS - isn't a good break for this build)
???? weapon/shield
Harlequin Crest (PTopaz) - I seem to have forgot to find a Cham over the years
Trangs belt
Nagelrings or a couple of Scintillating Rings of Fortune (near perfect rolls)
Charms: Gheeds + MF/Sharp/Fine (being self-found I definitely don't have the extensive charm-base that Fabian has, but I'm not without good options here)

I've never played with Gloom (and probably never with Dim Vision at all), so I couldn't tell you how it would turn out. My guess is it won't work out as well in practice as you'd like, but it seems like one of those things that would take 10 minutes of testing to get a good feel for. Gloom is pretty cheap, too.

I would start out with a Stormshield probably. See if that works, then see if you can switch to something else (Lance Guard/Rhyme/PB/etc) and still be reasonably safe. Like I wrote in the OP, I like how customizable this Barb is, you can pretty much choose any place on the speed/safety spectrum and go with whatever works for you. Stormshield seems like a nice choice for starting out to me, though. I wouldn't worry too much about the lost MF from a 6Ist PB; sure it's nice and whatever, but smooth gameplay where you're not constantly dying or having to pick up 6 potions a run is definitely more important. It's not like 4-500 MF is awful in any way.

Too bad about the Grief IAS, but of course it will only start mattering once you want to use Chance Guards over LoH. At that point I would consider socketing the Shako or the Stormshield with some IAS jewel.
Would Pits or would super unique bosses in A5 be more efficient?
As in shenk (Optional)-> eldritch -> Sharptooth -> Threshsocket -> Pindle
incomplet said:
Would Pits or would super unique bosses in A5 be more efficient?​
As in shenk (Optional)-> eldritch -> Sharptooth -> Threshsocket -> Pindle​
Pits. Nothing beats boss pack/sec ratio berserker in pits makes. Besides you'll never find your Tyrael's Might from those (not that it'll be easy in pits either)
Shenk, Eldritch, can't drop Tyrael, Web, Astron's, Mang Song's, Fathom, Stormlash
Sharptooth and Thresh can't drop Mang Song's, Stormlash and Tyrael
Pindleskin can't drop Tyrael (and Azurewrath + Arachnid Mesh, but those are not really important)
In Pit's bosses can drop everything

Therefore, those a5 bosses, except Pindle, are a waste of time. Pindleskin has almost 10 times better chance to drop Web and Astreon's compared to Sharptooth. Thresh Socket is the only one who is "almost" like Pindleskin in the terms of drop probabilities minus he can't drop mentioned items unlike Pindleskin.

So, what you really compare is running Pindle vs running Pits. This is not an easy competition since Pindle-runner can be very efficient. In fact, if you play Pindle berserker well, you will have very very hard time beating him with pit berserker in terms of efficiency. So far I think Fabian and me are the only ones who have more efficient pit berserker than pindle berserker. However since Pindle can't drop Tyrael's, I assume running Pits is what you really want to master.
Thanks, Fabian, for the advice. I already have a Gloom on my singer/LK-runner's merc so I guess I'll give it a try in the Pits too. In order to help speed (and, therefore, safety) I definitely want to aim for 1-2 hit KO's, which is part of the reason I was looking at a Lance Guard (since the cumulative +damage from my charms and lower synergy levels will fall far short of what you have). But I'll probably take your advice on starting with the Stormshield, at least until I see how safe it is.

@incomplet, like Grape said, the SuperUniques generally have a slightly-lower level than the random uniques (and even Champions) you meet in the Pits; Champs are monster-level (mlvl) 87 in the pits and random uniques are mlvl ** - while Pindle is 86, Eldritch, ThreshSocket & Sharptooth are 84, and Shenk is 83.

So a few of the items with quality level (qlvl) of 85 or 86 would only drop from Pindle, and you wouldn't get any possibility of the 3 items with qlvl 87 (Tyrael's Might, Azurewrath, and Arachnid's Mesh) from the SuperUniques.

Edit: beaten by Gripphon
Thanks for the advice everyone. I now have the following set up:

Weapon1: Grief PB (32 ias +354 damage =[)
Weapon2: Stormshield (Socketed with rare jewel +ed/min/max/mf) as a placeholder until 6os IST Phase Blade
Armour: Enigma Dusk Shroud (+774def)
Helm: Shako (Ptopaz)
Glove: Chancies (40mf)
Belt: Goldwrap (Uped)
Boots: Wartrav (50mf)
Ring1: Raven (20dex 241ar)
Ring2: Rare (10fcr, 18ar, 59mana, 2dr, 27pr, 7mf)
Ammy: Maras (placeholder until level 89 for +2barb, 9fcr ammy)
Switch1+2: Suicide branches (both ist)
Charms: As much +mf as possible

Just a quick question though...Should I bother putting in a few charms/gear for FHR? Or any other general tips for my gear? And whats the deal with howl, sometimes it just doesnt work on normal mobs? And what hotkey are people here using for wep switch?

Aside from that, so far so good! I never really bothered with barbarians up until now, previously using my sorc for virtually everything. SO its a fresh change. And once I ramp up my skill with switching between caster and normal weapons, I can see how it can be more efficient for mf when you factor in hork. Managed to already find a high ed Deathcleaver within my first 20 runs lol.

View attachment 4878
There are some things you can improve.

Since you are using Ravenfrost, I assume you don't have Trang belt, yes? If you do have Trang belt, remove that Ravenfrost and use that belt as source of CBF. Beware, you will need to replace gloves to get ias breakpoint then. Other option is to replace Stormshield with Rhyme shield to get CBF and avoid cold damage from your equipment. You will lose some damage reduction, but since you go max block, your barb will be very very safe anyway.
Or you can continue like this, Trang belt shouldn't be too hard to find.
If you remove Ravenfrost, check to remove all cold damage sources from your equipment, including charms. Also do the same for your merc.

You can improve your inventory a lot. Don't know do you really need that much free space because you pick up many things or something. My suggestion is like this if you need some inventory space.

Use full 8 columns of charms. MF as much as you can, for the rest you can use life/mana or life/AR or life/whatever or mana charms, whatever you find useful. Put cube in inventory. Any "large" item you pick you will toss in cube, and you will have 2x2 space below cube to fast pick up charms, runes, rings or whatever you pick up. I don't use any free space in inventory, only cube, and that is enough even when I pick many things. That should be more than enough space for any item you take. If you are bored with usage of cube like this, then try to get used to it. It will come naturally to you with some practice.

Unless you pick tons of random items, tome of identify is waste of space. During run you pick up any item, and then after you start new round, you spawn right next to Cain and use him to identify all items at once. That is faster than doing it item by item by yourself.
Even faster way is not to use Cain at all, just toss unidentified items into stash and continue running, you will see stats of all items in Atma or whatever you are using after stash is full. This probably won't be better if you really pick up tons of items.

Last column of belt is very great to have scrolls of town portal. If you happen to pick up several items and you don't have space in inventory for everything, just use scroll, toss items you carry into stash, return and pick new item up.

Try to use only Full Rejuv potions. With time you will master potion management and will be able to easily refill your belt with potions while running. It's faster to deal with only one type of potions than with 3, and full rejuv is obvious choice. Bosses drop tons of them.


Sure you can toss some hit recovery charms in if you think you need it. Barb has great fhr breakpoints so it's usually not needed to use any hit recovery from equipment. However, if you think it will come in handy to you, then use 3 small charms to get 7 frames hit recovery (15 fhr needed), perhaps that will help. Test it. With time you will eventually get used to 0 fhr because it's really enough.

Sometimes when you cast howl and at the same time some monster puts you to hit recovery, animation of howl will appear, but nothing will happen. Beware when you are under heavy fire, you might need to reposition yourself to cast howl or cast it more than once to be sure it will work.

Caps Lock - weapon switch for me
Great! I am making some good progress now, found another crappy tc87 (cranium basher) aswell as an IST.
Another quick question though? Is it worth killing champion packs? I feel as if I spend most of my time in chasing around fleeing devilkins & archers. And im not sure whether its best just to skip them altogether or not.

Also, would anyone be able to suggest whether my Pits map is good or could be better?
Its about 5 teleports away when you exit the cathedral.
Green line is my journey
Red stars represents a boss/champ pack there 90% of the time.
Pink stars represents a boss/champ pack there occasionally.
Level 2 has 2-4 boss packs, with an average of 3.

View attachment 4887
I'll use these handy spoilers since my answer is a long one.

[highlight]Is it worth killing champions packs? How to kill them?[/highlight]

Short answer is, yes, it is well worth to kill them just like you kill bosses. Archers and devilkins are tricky because they run away, so sometimes it's not worth it to kill the whole champion pack, but try to kill at least 2 champions if you can.

1. Devilkin champion pack

Archer champions are not so problematic unlike devilkins because they spawn among million of other devilkins you are not interested in. What to do? Tele into them or next to them, Howl and start killing. Try to aim for champions only, but you usually kill some non-champion devilkins too. After one die, other champions will run away. Now is the perfect time to swap weapons to your casting switch and hork dead bodies around you. When you hork, some champions might return to you, so just simply switch back to swords and kill them. It works great many times and you usually kill whole champion pack that way. So, why to chase around when you can hork bodies you already killed and wait for them to come to you? Beware, sometimes they will run too far and wont return to you at time, sometimes your merc will kill something and they will start running again.

If that is the case, you can either just skip the rest of the champions and go on to the next bosspack, or you can tele at champions to kill them fast. This teleing on them and killing requires skill and is not easy to do, it takes some time to master it. Especially if you have to tele on them + switch to kill.

Another possibility is to kill champions first and then hork when they all die. Again, tele into them, Howl and start berserk. Once you kill one or two, the rest will run away. Just tele on them with your KILL switch to kill them, it's easier and faster than to bother with switching to casting switch, then tele, then switch again. Sometimes running after them with berserk is better than teleing on them, and is definitely more user-friendly compared to teleporting on them + kill.
This is something you have to master yourself, to see when is what method of killing the best. I combine all described methods depending on each individual situation.

Sometimes I kill them right away and they don't have time to run away. Sometimes I kill first two, then tele on others to finish them off immediately. Sometimes I just run after them with berserk. Sometimes I skip the rest of devilkins. But, at all times I kill at least 2 of them, I never skip entire champion pack.

2. Archer champion pack

They are easier to deal with. Again, similar method as with devilkins, but this time you don't have millions of creeps around to worry about, only champion pack of archers. Just tele next to them and start berserking. What to do when the rest of archers run away? The same method as with devilkins. I have to say I really prefer teleporting on them with my kill-switch to finish them off, you take merc with you + get faster to them + you kill them faster. You also avoid huge damage you can otherwise take when you run after them and then they run and shoot back. So, teleing on them with kill switch is my preferred method of dealing with them and I find it fastest way too. But, you can run after them with berserk if you find that easier.

Also, you can kill 2 archers or whatever, and then when they run away, you hork this one you killed, and then when you are done, it is likely running archers will stop running, so you can just tele on one of them + switch to kill, then do the same for the other one.
When to skip? I rarely ever skip any champion archer at all, but sometimes when zillion of creeps are around, I let that one fleeing archer to run and I continue with my life to the next bosspack.

General idea is to kill at least some champions of the champion pack, and skip remaining ones only if it seems like you will lose too much time chasing them around instead to just kill next bosspack.

[highlight]How to find good pit map?[/highlight]
Here I will just copy-paste my writing from Lounge topic in here. It answers questions like how to find a good pit map, how to determine is map good enough, what to look for when searching for map and so on.

I will try to explain my way of finding decent map, but it's not easy task to find one.

First of all, ideal is to find Pit entrance that is as close as possible to Outer Cloister. Note that it can be just a little further if you can easily reach it with teleporting trick when you open character screen. I saw some players have map where Pit entrance is close to Black Marsh waypoint, so you can try that too if you want.

When it comes to Pit itself, there are few tips how to find good map. You want map which is small and has as many bosspacks on it as possible. Easiest way is to see what is Pit 2 level like, there you can find map where 3 bosses spawn frequently and 4 bosses sometimes. Good Pit 2 means Pit 1 can have less bosses to still maintain good average number of bosspacks. But that is not a rule, just a tip. I have good map with average Pit 2 just because Pit 1 is great, but it's very likely that difference between great and fantastic map is in Pit 2 area. It is a big deal if you have 2.8 bosspacks average there instead of, let's say, 2.2.
In the end, you want map that provides good average of both Pit 1 and Pit 2.

When it comes to map shapes, they are not crucial, but are often very important. You don't wanna map where you have dead ends and need to return back to cover common areas where bosspacks spawn. However this doesn't mean that map where you need to do that is not good. I had pretty good Pit map where I had quite large dead end and have to teleport back a bit, but doesn't matter cause common bosspacks there covered time lost. But, in general you want as few as possible dead ends on map, mostly trying to avoid them if you can. Please note that dead ends I talk about are those where bosspacks frequently spawn. On many maps you have big dead end where bosspacks don't spawn at all, you will naturally skip those.

Also, map with good shape is desirable so you can run it easily without map turned on. But it's not really important, you can get used to anything with good amount of running. So, you asked do I look for certain shape map? I don't, most important thing which defines good map is seconds/bosspack ratio. The lower, the better. This is what I look for and it doesn't matter do i have dead ends on map or is map bad shape as long as this ratio is great.

Now, harder part of searching for good map. It is good idea to run map 3-4 times to see is it potentially good or not before rerolling. It really comes down to experience to determine what can be potentially good map, but it's not hard. If you find map you can run considerably fast and has many bosspacks, you found potentially good map. In 10-20 runs you will see does map fit in. Sometimes you will find map that has many bosspacks first few runs, and then it starts to sux.

Next step when you find something that seems fine, you have to measure your running times and count bosspacks as you run. That will give you seconds/bosspack ratio you care about. How many runs? Impossible to tell. Sometimes I see map is not good as it seems after 15 runs, sometimes I see it after 25 runs. It would be ideal to do at least 50 (or 100 if possible) test runs to determine how good map is cause some maps can remain "bad" for over 30 runs, and rest 70 runs be great. Bosspack number vary as you know. However I tend to believe fantastic maps can't sux for more than a 10 runs.

When you do test your map, pay close attention on areas where bosspack spawn. It is not important to visit ALL areas on map where bosspacks spawn. On every single map I skip 2-3 areas where boss spawns once in 10 or even 30 runs. If it takes time to check that area, then it is very possible it's not worth it and is better just to entirely skip it. It is very important to know your map well to know what is your best teleporting path on it. You can improve efficiency with over 10% just by skipping areas where bosspacks rarely spawn, and you lose too much time checking it every run for nothing.

Summary is, most important thing on map is seconds/bosspack ratio. It takes time to determine is map good or not that way, but is only way to do it, unless you have great evaluation based on experience. Sometimes I rolled map that looked great, and after measuring that ratio it turned out only good, not great.

Also, fair note. Bigger average bosspack number usually means better seconds/bosspack ratio, but not always. For example, I had 7.5 bosspack map on my poison nec, and he was way more efficient on map with 6.5. Not all maps are suitable for all characters. Poison necro prefers maps where bosspacks spawn at one place, preferably in devilkin nest, but pit berserker prefers map with Well and hates map where bosspacks spawn in devilkin nest. So, seconds/bosspack will determine what map is great, not her shape or average bosspack number.

If you want to find some godly map, expect to spend hours and hours rerolling maps to get it. Decent map on the other hand is easier to find.

So, I can't tell you is your map good enough or not, do tests as described to determine that. From the first look, your map can be very good if your average bosspack count is high enough. Test your efficiency, determine average bosspack count.
Thanks for putting this guide together. This and the MF pit singer are fantastic, al beit the Zerker is hard to play at first with all the switching and my prior habits with hotkeys. I liked the build so much that I put aside my disgust of Grief that I made one.
Hey, thanks for the guide. It's a big motivation for me!
Am currently running travincal with a barb to farm for the runes... We'll see if I ever get there. xD
How would that build look for 1.12 vanilla players(no zod, no cham)? Something like this comes to my mind:

Beast BA/Runemaster(on budget) or Beast BA/Eternity Ettin Axe - Runemaster can go up to 280avg dmg with 5x40ed jewels, Eternity up to 300-310avg dmg
2xWizardspike on switch - I guess mana will be a problem even with them
Shako - nice mana boost
Enigma - 15%dmg taken goes to mana
LoH - 3 of 4 monster types in pits are demons, 20ias needed for 9frames per attack
War Traveler - nice dmg and mf
Tal Belt - 37%dmg taken goes to mana, this could make that build possible
Amulet 5+%FCR 2barb skills

Cannot be frozen on weapon could be bad with all that switching. Kira or Trang belt will be alternatives in that case.
Any advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Your 'budget' is 5x 40ed jewels?Without Insight, you should check out zgpmf's Pit Zerker who used an Act 1 merc with Faith - obviously you don't have Faith either, but Beast can work, and he solved mana problems effectively (if I remember right) with HotOs/SoJs/Arachnid Mesh (+mana, +skills to lower teleport cost). I can't find the link to where he discussed his Pit runner but here's the build he used for Pindle: http://diablo.incgamers.com/forums/...2012-Edition&p=8418445&viewfull=1#post8418445. CBF on weapon is inferior but playable, better than Raven Frost in my experience.
CBF on weapon is not playable, as you will get frozen when you're on the caster switch.

At first glance that looks reasonable to me Victus. I don't know what the highest damage weapon is, if you say it's Eternity I'll take your word for it. Beyond that, I'd be looking at Trang's Belt for the CBF, and probably use SoJ(s) over Nagelring maybe? Serpent's SC of Good Luck might be your best friend too if you have a couple.
My budget is Jah, 2Ber, Sur, 2Vex, 4Ist. One more ber is needed for Eternity. +% to maximum mana is kinda bad for barbarian(only 1mana/lvl, so about 100mana at lvl90). Maybe with some serpent small charm (I have five of these with 6-7mf on my blizzsorc) to boost the base mana it can be viable.
Botd is much better than Eternity but beyond reach in 1.12. The Grandfather looks really good too - up to 300avg dmg with 40ed jewel but no bonus from axe mastery. Interestingly Death Cleaver deals slightly lower dmg than Runemaster after crit with just 200avg weapon dmg.
Fabian said:
It's a very rewarding character to make/plan/build in my opinion, as he functions very well with relatively basic/straightforward equipment​
There are relatively few "must haves" for this build (Enigma/Grief)​
We play the same game... and yet we don't. Most of the gear you listed is so far from what I consider basic and straightforward, I don't even know where to begin. Gotta love D2 ;)

All that aside, very awesome write-up. I've always enjoyed the Berserk barb, and you have established him well as a great item finder. It inspires me to make one. The Find Item skill alone has such potential to make them more efficient magic-finders than any other class.
Just reached lvl30 and realized that Berserk is only a single weapon attack.:ponder: :p That makes 40% IAS from Beast BA useless because it's not the primary weapon any longer. So now I have to add IAS in sockets/equipment or go for Beast Elite Hammer/2h Axe. Things got complicated again. Is 9fpa mandatory or 11/12 with higher dmg could work as well? Beast on Thunder Maul deals damage close to Grief PB. That should one-hit kill some champions/uniques and two-hit kill most of them. Or going for Eternity Eth Thunder Maul and one-hit kill everything on average dmg. So many options...:scratchchin:
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Well-known member
Jan 22, 2019
Page 3 comments

Victus, the very first version of the Berserker I played in an MFO (Winter 2011) was, while not quite as ridiculous as today's version, still insanely well geared and powerful by most standards. He used an ethbugged Berserker Axe Grief instead of a Phase Blade Grief though, resulting in 11 fpa. My avg run time for that MFO was 76 seconds, then immediately after the MFO I switched to a Phase Blade and my run time jumped to 69 seconds overnight. Very very signficant difference, 9 fpa is very important.

Good luck figuring out what's good in the non-Grief world :)
ya I look forward to the vanilla zerker :D
Havn't read the whole thread, but as I'm close at starting my first pitzerker, inspired by this thread, I've got following question:
- Why IST'd Wizardspikes, when Killing with Grief + 6*IST-Phaseblade?

Thanks in advance :)
@Bukama because you should use Find Item (hork) on the "caster" switch and magic find works with horking.
Albatross said:
@Bukama because you should use Find Item (hork) on the "caster" switch and magic find works with horking.​
Ah and I thought to use "Find item" on the kill switch because of the 6*IST-PB.

Another question How important are ress? I use some GC with allress and so I'm at around 70 allres on kill switch (on caster switch with dual wizardspike I'm max) and also several life charms. Overall I'm at 5xx MF. I know I have have no MF on amulett, low Wartraveler and not the higehst Gheeds/Chance Guard, but even if I would have these max I'm far away from 8xx MF like you.

I'm lvl 81 atm, so sure some life will come through level ups, but no more skillress. Or shall I mostly ignore ress on killswitch, because most mobs are haunted anyway and pick up some more MF charms (Atm i only have one charm with ress and mf).
Lightning resistance is of relevance and it is a good idea to have 50+ on kill switch. Significant damage spikes can come from lightning enchanted monsters. It's not really that important to max it by any means, but it is definitely helpful to have it at a solid level to avoid some deaths or reduce drinking potions.
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