The Fighting McGregor -- untwinked single-pass HC guardian

Russell.s

Member
Apr 12, 2020
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The Fighting McGregor

(A hardcore, single-pass, no extended stash journey)

The Name
When my brother was a child he had a black, soft toy cat, instead of a teddy bear. When deciding on a name for his cat, my brother saw a headline in a newspaper titled “The Fighting McGregor”, and decided to call his cat McGregor. She was a bad-ass cat who frequently put the other toy cats in line. I guess McGregor was the cats last name, but what her first name was no one dared ask. I decided to call my barbarian McGregor in her honour.

The Plan
McGregor started out as a poorly planned WW barb. He played very slowly and painfully through to level 30 when I got sick of the grind and parked him. After several months I came back to him and decided I would try something different.

I knew I wanted to focus on integer Physical Damage Reduction (iPDR). Having tried it out on my assassin I really liked the added survivability. It’s also appealing to me to have some high-end magic gear being best in slot, moving the character as a whole away from some of the more common gear choices.
The barbarian gets a fabulous 4 life per point in Vitality, boosted by Battle Orders, so the fewer points spent in Dexterity the better. Therefore, I would go without max block.
As this was planned to be a hardcore, single-pass, no extended stash play through, all gear would be luck of the draw. This applied especially to weapons: I would have to make do with what I found.

Skills & stats
Berserk was my skill of choice. Berserk allowed McGregor to fight pretty much anyone, and make the most of likely sub-par weapons with its large %enhanced damage.
Battle Orders for more life and Howl for more Berserk damage were maxed as I progressed, sharing points roughly equally. I added War Cry for stun. A few points were added to the Masteries skills, and I kept several points free at all times to add into weapon skills as I picked up new weapons.
Stats were maxed vitality, enough dex and strength to hold weapons, and ~20 points left floating to quickly improve dex or strength as needed, depending on what dropped.

The Journey
I respec’d McGregor and the journey began anew, joined by Friend Fazel the Act 2 Might Merc.
Weapons in the early game were whatever pitiful rares I could find. It was slow going. Howl kept monsters off McGregor’s back, and War Cry kept them stunned and reduced incoming damage.

In Act 1 Nightmare a Partizan dropped with 4 sockets. Finding the runes for Insight took until part way through Act 2 of Nightmare due to a stubborn Sol, but when complete the killing speed (not to mention mana regen) went way up. Suddenly McGregor was fun to play again and I was hooked.
Act 3 Nightmare saw back to back drops of Steeldriver and Bonesnap. I upgraded them both in the cube, but ended up settling on Steeldriver. What a beast of a hammer! The -50% requirement really makes it a beauty, and I knew if ever found a Pul I could upgrade it again and avoid investing so much in strength. Friend Fazel took Insight and together the duo slaughtered their way into Hell, one foe at a time. (Act 5 Nightmare also gifted McGregor his first piece of iPDR gear in a Rainbow Amulet of Life Everlasting (9 resist all, 18 pdr)).

Hell started out well, but by Act 2 the killing speed was slowing down again. McGregor horked IK gloves from a random mob, and gambled an Angel’s Coronet of Life Everlasting (21 PDR). Duriel dropped a +4 skills Arioc’s Needle, which McGregor couldn’t use yet due to level restrictions.

IK maul dropped in early act 3 off of a random mob, which McGregor socketed with a shael and hel to bring down the requirements to 180 Strength. Killing speed was back up and things were going well. As an experiment, McGregor switched from IK maul to Arioc’s Needle in Act 4 with immediate success, wearing Tal Rasha’s belt in the interim to provide the needed Dex boost. The Ignore Target Defense and 50% deadly strike pushed it ahead of IK maul for me.

McGregor’s main complaint at this stage of the game was cold enemies, with no access to Rhyme for cheap Cannot be Frozen. Until… A unique ring dropped in Act 5! I said out loud “Ravenfrost Ravenfrost Ravenfrost not another Nagel ring!” then identified: Ravenfrost! This allowed McGregor to use Nightsmoke instead of Tals belt, and blast his way through to the finish. Ancients were a pushover, the three levels of WSK were kind, and Baal was stomped without difficulty.

Multiple Near death experiences early on, and one in Hell in the Swampy Pit: walked into a group of exploding dolls and decided to melee a few “just to see how it goes”. The answer: poorly. McGregor dropped to ~10% life in an instant and he fled the dungeon swallowing rejuv potions whole.

McGregor reached Guardian at level 82.

Notable Drops
Ist rune from Act 1 Hell
Ist rune from Act 3 Hell
Tal Rasha’s belt from Act 3 Hell
Stalwart Small Charm of Good Luck (+25 Defense, 7% MF) from somewhere
Eth Titan’s Revenge from Act 2 Hell

The Future
Now that McGregor has reached Guardian he has access to the GoMule stash Valhalla, shared with my other Guardians Sable and Dosmingo. I don’t have the gear or runes to make a Pitzerker, but I might kit McGregor up and run Chaos Sanctuary, it being one of my favourite parts of the game.

Long live the Fighting McGregor!

[edited to add]: I have the runes to make Death, and a 5 socket eth Colossus Sword. Is that a fitting runeword to give McGregor? Or is Oath cheaper and better?

Name: McGregor
Class: Barbarian
Experience: 873208917
Level: 82

Naked/Gear
Strength: 162/182
Dexterity: 85/121
Vitality: 218/218
Energy: 10/20
HP: 1048/1221
Mana: 91/179
Stamina: 365/545
Defense: 21/508
AR: 410/961

Fire: 143/103/43
Cold: 114/74/14
Lightning: 124/84/24
Poison: 99/59/-1

Bash: 1/5
Leap: 1/5
Stun: 1/5
Leap Attack: 1/5
Concentrate: 1/5
Berserk: 20/24

Mace Mastery: 1/5
Pole Arm Mastery: 1/5
Spear Mastery: 1/5
Increased Stamina: 1/5
Iron Skin: 1/5
Increased Speed: 1/5
Natural Resistance: 4/8

Howl: 18/22
Find Potion: 1/5
Taunt: 1/5
Shout: 1/5
Find Item: 1/5
Battle Cry: 1/5
Battle Orders: 20/24
War Cry: 11/15
Battle Command: 1/5

Angel's Coronet of Life Everlasting
Coronet
Defense: 34
Durability: 28 of 30
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x84d789f0
Item Level: 72
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to Sorceress Skill Levels
Damage Reduced by 21

Rainbow Amulet of Life Everlasting
Amulet
Required Level: 37
Fingerprint: 0x30634601
Item Level: 61
Version: Expansion 1.10+
All Resistances +9
Damage Reduced by 18

Immortal King's Forge
War Gauntlets
Defense: 109
Durability: 23 of 24
Required Level: 30
Required Strength: 110
Fingerprint: 0xe16fd5d6
Item Level: 71
Version: Expansion 1.10+
12% Chance to cast level 4 Charged Bolt when struck
+65 Defense
+20 to Strength
+20 to Dexterity
Set (2 items): +25% Increased Attack Speed
Set (3 items): +120 Defense
Set (4 items): 10% Life stolen per hit
Set (5 items): 10% Mana stolen per hit
Set (6 items): Freezes target +2

Aldur's Advance
Battle Boots
Defense: 47
Durability: 13 of 18
Required Level: 45
Required Strength: 95
Fingerprint: 0xf95b449f
Item Level: 55
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Indestructible
+40% Faster Run/Walk
+50 to Life
+180 Maximum Stamina
Heal Stamina Plus 32%
Fire Resist +44%
10% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
Set (2 items): +15 to Dexterity
Set (3 items): +15 to Dexterity
Set (4 items): +15 to Dexterity

Smoke
Demonhide Armor
NefLum
Defense: 218
Durability: 24 of 28
Required Level: 37
Required Strength: 50
Fingerprint: 0xaafb8f4d
Item Level: 56
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20% Faster Hit Recovery
+75% Enhanced Defense
+280 Defense vs. Missile
+10 to Energy
All Resistances +50
-1 to Light Radius
Level 6 Weaken (18/18 Charges)
2 Sockets (2 used)
Socketed: Nef Rune
Socketed: Lum Rune

Raven Frost
Ring
Required Level: 45
Fingerprint: 0x9714c984
Item Level: 81
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+234 to Attack Rating
Adds 15 - 45 Cold Damage Over 4 Secs (100 Frames)
+16 to Dexterity
+40 to Mana
Cold Absorb 20%
Cannot Be Frozen

Nightsmoke
Mesh Belt
Defense: 70
Durability: 13 of 16
Required Level: 30
Required Strength: 58
Fingerprint: 0x15ad416e
Item Level: 57
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+49% Enhanced Defense
+15 Defense
+20 to Mana
All Resistances +10
Damage Reduced by 2
50% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
Required Level +5

Ring of Fortune
Ring
Required Level: 31
Fingerprint: 0x674b433b
Item Level: 56
Version: Expansion 1.10+
24% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

3 - 14 Cold Damage Over 3 Secs (75 Frames)
Adds 75 Poison Damage Over 5 Secs (125 Frames)
7% Life stolen per hit
+250 Defense vs. Missile
+22 to Vitality
+97 to Mana
+8 Magic Absorb
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Tal Rune
Socketed: Thul Rune
Socketed: Ort Rune
Socketed: Amn Rune

Arioc's Needle
Hyperion Spear
Two Hand Damage: 110 - 377
Durability: 24 of 30
Required Level: 81
Required Strength: 155
Required Dexterity: 120
Fingerprint: 0xc3b226c3
Item Level: 88
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+4 to All Skills
+30% Increased Attack Speed
217% Enhanced Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
Adds 394 Poison Damage Over 10 Secs (250 Frames)
50% Deadly Strike

Small Charm of Sustenance
Small Charm
Required Level: 17
Fingerprint: 0x24e67383
Item Level: 45
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+14 to Life

Stalwart Grand Charm of Balance
Grand Charm
Required Level: 34
Fingerprint: 0x33a1f801
Item Level: 49
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+12% Faster Hit Recovery
+63 Defense

Ocher Small Charm
Small Charm
Required Level: 10
Fingerprint: 0xe362ae3d
Item Level: 52
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Lightning Resist +7%

Ocher Small Charm
Small Charm
Required Level: 10
Fingerprint: 0x2435a5c2
Item Level: 23
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Lightning Resist +7%

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0xf4d0ac0d
Item Level: 75
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+16 to Life

Steel Large Charm of Sustenance
Large Charm
Required Level: 44
Fingerprint: 0x49dfcd79
Item Level: 68
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+66 to Attack Rating
+21 to Life

Azure Large Charm of Vita
Large Charm
Required Level: 66
Fingerprint: 0xea86b331
Item Level: 81
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+34 to Life
Cold Resist +7%

Amber Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x398e0c45
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+18 to Life
Lightning Resist +11%

Stalwart Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 40
Fingerprint: 0x758d7060
Item Level: 69
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+25 Defense
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Serpent's Small Charm of Inertia
Small Charm
Required Level: 40
Fingerprint: 0xdf746101
Item Level: 73
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+3% Faster Run/Walk
+14 to Mana

Cobalt Small Charm
Small Charm
Required Level: 20
Fingerprint: 0xd486fc25
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Cold Resist +8%

Small Charm of Inertia
Small Charm
Required Level: 27
Fingerprint: 0xd1b6f4f8
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+3% Faster Run/Walk

Sharp Grand Charm
Grand Charm
Required Level: 21
Fingerprint: 0xff2ca1a0
Item Level: 52
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+10 to Maximum Damage
+71 to Attack Rating

Serpent's Small Charm of Fortune
Small Charm
Required Level: 40
Fingerprint: 0xf6e31606
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+14 to Mana
4% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x88732c3d
Item Level: 79
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life

Mercenary:
Name: Fazel
Race: Desert Mercenary
Type: Off-Nightmare
Experience: 66983456
Level: 82
Dead?: false

Naked/Gear
Strength: 181/191
Dexterity: 145/150
HP: 1647/1647
Defense: 1217/1823
AR: 1874/350438

Fire: 146/106/46
Cold: 146/106/46
Lightning: 161/121/61
Poison: 146/106/46

Rockfleece
Field Plate
Defense: 337
Durability: 25 of 25
Required Level: 28
Required Strength: 41
Fingerprint: 0x422e3cf4
Item Level: 55
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+112% Enhanced Defense
+5 to Strength
Damage Reduced by 10%
Damage Reduced by 5
Requirements -10%
Ethereal

Blackhorn's Face
Death Mask
Defense: 269
Durability: 10 of 20
Required Level: 41
Required Strength: 55
Fingerprint: 0x465020cc
Item Level: 60
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Prevent Monster Heal
Slows Target by 20%
+210% Enhanced Defense
Lightning Resist +15%
+20 Lightning Absorb
Attacker Takes Lightning Damage of 25

Insight
Superior Partizan
RalTirTalSol
Two Hand Damage: 132 - 271
Durability: 57 of 65
Required Level: 27
Required Strength: 113
Required Dexterity: 67
Fingerprint: 0xb9b2e62
Item Level: 44
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Level 17 Meditation Aura When Equipped
+35% Faster Cast Rate
262% Enhanced Damage
+9 to Minimum Damage
186% Bonus to Attack Rating
Adds 5 - 30 Fire Damage
Adds 75 Poison Damage Over 5 Secs (125 Frames)
+6 to Critical Strike
All Stats +5
+2 to Mana after each Kill
23% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Ral Rune
Socketed: Tir Rune
Socketed: Tal Rune
Socketed: Sol Rune
 

Maltatai

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2020
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Immeasurably cool and impressive guardian, PDR tactics rule in style and no rerunning is quite a feat with a melee character.
Don't change the weapon like that, the spear wins out in style and uniqueness. Can't he be built to maximize the effect of Ariocs Needle instead?
walked into a group of exploding dolls and decided to melee a few “just to see how it goes”
The reader of this will not question your sanity, but be immediately convinced that it is non-existent. o_O:D
 

Russell.s

Member
Apr 12, 2020
19
38
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Immeasurably cool and impressive guardian, PDR tactics rule in style and no rerunning is quite a feat with a melee character.
Thank you, this really made my day :). I've really come to enjoy single-pass because it puts a focus on 'making do' with whatever I find.

Don't change the weapon like that, the spear wins out in style and uniqueness. Can't he be built to maximize the effect of Ariocs Needle instead?
I think you're right... Even though an Eth Death CS would be more damage, there is style to the Needle! I'll have to investigate how to make the most out of it.

The reader of this will not question your sanity, but be immediately convinced that it is non-existent. o_O:D

Not my finest moment!
 
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Luhkoh

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2020
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Very cool character and journey. Loved the writeup and the history with good ole fighting mcgregor.
 
May 27, 2020
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Sanctuary
What a wonderous turn of events; I love when parked characters end up getting picked up again and end up revitalizing the player. Always a great twist.

What stopped you from returning to WW once you found those sick weapons? I'm glad you didn't- as Spearzerker is super cool.
 

Russell.s

Member
Apr 12, 2020
19
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Fighting, I'd imagine ;)

Congrats on the Guardian! I've never seen a spear berserker before - what a cool build for a character, and a very impressive single-pass :)
Thank you! I had some luck, plus a measure of persistence.

Very cool character and journey. Loved the writeup and the history with good ole fighting mcgregor.
Thanks Luhkoh, I appreciate it :).

What a wonderous turn of events; I love when parked characters end up getting picked up again and end up revitalizing the player. Always a great twist.

What stopped you from returning to WW once you found those sick weapons? I'm glad you didn't- as Spearzerker is super cool.
All this positive feedback for the build has me so chuffed haha. I'm going to keep McGregor as a spearzerker for sure!

I played WW a lot on b.net back in the day, and wanted to try something different. Additionally, I think going WW would have pushed me towards a more "standard" build prioritising defense and shield, rather than relying on crowd control shouts.
I have to say, I wish Barbs had a second AOE skill other than WW. A 'sweep' skill would be cool, hitting enemies in an arc or something!

I am interested to hear anyone's thoughts on how to make the most of a berzerker before Enigma for mobility; being single-target makes it a bit slow compared to an AOE build.
 
Last edited:
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May 27, 2020
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Sanctuary
Well, I think at this stage, where we (like you) are so accustomed to a number of standard character builds that any deviation from that is a novel treat! With that in mind, anything with even a bit of spice is bound to be inundated with positivity and gratitude for the variety.

As for making the most of a zerk barb- I take it you mean MFing, since you've already 'beaten' the game.

I would say that the best thing you can do is farm places that take advantage or minimize the weaknesses of the build; which as you've pointed out are its 'slow' clearing of areas and travel speed. The clear winner would be Pindleskin, IMHO... though there are some easer, more novel targets if you feel so inclined. Bane Ash (Inner Cloister) and... I forget his name, but the Superunique Sand Raider next to the entrance to Arcane Sanctuary. Simply pop into the Arcane Sanctuary and enter the portal to the Palace Cellar. You can find maps where he spawns by himself right on the other side, making it one of the fastest runs out there. Both of those have been Classic barb targets for a very, very long time.

It wouldn't hurt to make a melody bow and use it for faster travel between targets.


Is that the sort of advice you are looking for?
 
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Russell.s

Member
Apr 12, 2020
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...

Is that the sort of advice you are looking for?
This is precisely the sort of advice I was looking for, and yes I meant MF. Thank you!

I think I may actually keep McGregor's stash separate from the rest of my characters, because I've been enjoying finding better items and upgrading his gear on his own, rather than 'skipping' ahead. I'll think on it anyway.
 
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Swamigoon

Well-known member
Apr 18, 2020
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This looks fun, @Russell.s . I'm using a berzerker right now in the RFL, running the Travincal council. He fights using a unique elite two-handed axe. Unlike your McGregor, he's SC; my poor skills get him killed about once every fifteen or so runs. I put a lot of +strength items on him, instead of PDR equipment like McGregor's. Single-target is a reason that my run times average about three minutes (twenty runs per hour, including horks). My fastest so far is a two-minute run. It's not competitive compared to league veterans that are getting 100 or even 150 runs per hour, but I'm still having a fun time with him. Your achievement makes me want to try a spear berzerker someday. I imagine that Arioc's Needle of yours, with its frequent deadly strike, could dish out even more damage than I can currently get out of any of my unique elite 2H axes.
 
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Russell.s

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Apr 12, 2020
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This looks fun, @Russell.s . I'm using a berzerker right now in the RFL, running the Travincal council.
Thanks Swamigoon! It has definitely been a fun journey... well, the latter half anyway haha.

Travincal is an excellent target for MF for a berzerk barb I think: a few, high-health, hork-able targets.

I put a lot of +strength items on him, instead of PDR equipment like McGregor's
Is this primarily to increase damage?

My fastest so far is a two-minute run.
Do you kill all the council minions as well, or just the named members?

Your achievement makes me want to try a spear berzerker someday. I imagine that Arioc's Needle of yours, with its frequent deadly strike, could dish out even more damage than I can currently get out of any of my unique elite 2H axes.
Add it to the ever-growing list of character builds to try? :D

I'd be interested to see how you've allocated your skills and stats. I'm still debating how best to use my second respec, now I've decided to stay with the spear.
 
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Swamigoon

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Apr 18, 2020
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I posted about my berzerker here and later here, when I built and finished him a few months ago. He kills all eleven council monsters each Travincal run. To help Qursh work more reliably for the current RFL round, I changed out most of his gear. His amulet gives +30 strength, and yes, I wanted that for higher damage. His other new duds include a Veil of Steel hat, Dwarf Star ring, Infernostride boots, Laying of Hands mittens, and Nosferatu's coil. I tried the unique elite 2H axes again, and found that he usually runs Travincal fastest with the Executioner's Justice, so that's what he swings right now.
 

Russell.s

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Apr 12, 2020
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Thanks Swamigoon, that's very clear! It's interesting you went completely offensive without maxing BO or War Cry; I suppose Howl is pretty excellent defense. I worry in Hardcore I'd miss the extra life or stun at a crucial moment... but maybe it would be made up for by faster killing speed? Food for thought :)
 

Zyr

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Apr 4, 2020
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@Russell.s, I am impressed, inspired, and humbled by this achievement. Terrified by the Defenselessness of the Berserker, I only recently made my first, totally twinked, after years of accumulating iDR gear on battle.net East HCNL. Kudos!
 

Russell.s

Member
Apr 12, 2020
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Nicely done! UT Single-pass can be rough!
Thanks D2DC. I'll definitely do another when I have time.

@Russell.s, I am impressed, inspired, and humbled by this achievement. Terrified by the Defenselessness of the Berserker, I only recently made my first, totally twinked, after years of accumulating iDR gear on battle.net East HCNL. Kudos!
Lovely feedback, thank you :). I'm glad you are feeling inspired!

iPDR is cool, but I think a 'full' iPDR set-up may be too limiting in some ways. Compare a perfect iPDR armour (Jewelers whatever of Life Everlasting with 4x Sols) with The Gladiators Bane socketed with a Sol: the magic item gets 43 iPDR, the unique has 27. But Gladiators Bane also has FHR, cannot be frozen, a decent chunk of defence, and 15-20 magic damage reduced too. Obviously it all depends on what gear you have to hand and how you can make up those differences elsewhere.

Good luck with your Berserker!