Barbarian Throw Barb Introduction
There once was a young lad that grew up in a small village not far from Harrogath. His family was a long line of famous warriors and he couldn’t wait till he was old enough to prove himself in battle. There was only one problem. As with other youngsters his age it fell to him to clean his father’s and uncle’s battle gear after a fight and he just hated the smell of the gore that got stuck in all the little openings in their gear.
He thought long and hard on how to become a famous warrior without getting his own gear covered in gore all the time. Whirling just made him want to puke. His mother’s father had been a renowned singer, but Baz knew that while his voice was good it would never be that good. It didn’t help that all the warriors in the village used dual weapons and looked upon shields as something an unskilled warrior would use. In fact, his father and grandfather had both specialized in frenzy using scourges and axes, the absolute worst for spreading small body parts all over the place.
He was pretty sure that he would be like his father and end up using frenzy. Then one day as he practiced throwing axes, one of those preliminary frenzy skills, it struck him. Why not just throw axes! He was already winning all the axe throwing contests in the village in his age group. This would allow him to kill from a distance!
However, as he started to think in more detail, he realized that throwing axes don’t have sockets and that means that all those fantastic weapons that the village patriarchs used would never be available to him. No, death or destruction, not even a passion or oath. So, he decided that he needed to visit the village armory and look through all the weapons and other gear that had been brought home over the years by the victorious and while the village was small the armory was huge.
He was shocked as he toured the armory, here were axes, like Lacerator and Grimmershred and Warshrike the throwing knife. With weapons like these, he too could become a Patriarch! After calming down a little, he thought, but what about before I become skilled enough to use those amazing weapons and what about the rest of my gear? As he wandered more about the armory, he realized that there was some wonderful gear available at very early stages of his quest. Not only that, but he realized that he did not need to attain massive strength or dexterity to use some of the other equipment that would speed him on his way.
So, He decided to become a throw barbarian.
What about you? You don’t need the ultimate in gear, but there are several things to consider before you commit to the Diablo 2 Barbarian Throw Barb build.
One thing you will have to commit to is going back to town fairly frequently to resupply. Throw weapons disappear very rapidly even if they replenish themselves. This means you are going to also have to spend time picking up stuff to sell. It is also the reason to choose axes over javelins. While you can’t throw them as far, you have a lot more of them.
The second is that this really isn’t a barb build where you run in and kill things till there is nothing left around you. You don’t need huge amounts of strength to equip the best equipment, nor do you need high defense. As a result, your best movement direction will often be backward. If you can’t retreat then this build probably isn’t for you.
The third follows from the second, you will need some sort of crowd control. Because thrown axes don’t have the range of bows it is much easier to get mobbed. The good news is that there are a number of different ways to do this depending on your play style, more latter.
The last is that if you play a pure thrower, you will need some way to handle the Physical Immunes. While the unique throwing weapons are more than capable, you can find weapons and equipment that will do the job. If you really want to play self-found you may want to consider putting a few points in Berserk to handle the PIs. It comes down to are you going to have access to Lacerators and or Gimmershreds. If the answer is yes, then you don’t need Berserk. However, if the answer is I don’t know then dump a few points into Berserk to be safe.
The playstyle that you select is to a large extent going to affect your point distribution, so I’ve put this before skills and stats.
Throw weapons become available at a very early level and you can start using them as soon as you find them. As many have said the problem with Javelins is that there are so few in a stack, but you can throw them farther. Double throw becomes available at level 12 and you can start using it, but at low levels you will be popping mana pots unless you have some mana leach; 4% is more than enough and once you get above level 60 it doesn’t matter even if you have none. DT takes so little mana that even with what looks like an empty mana bulb you can still throw. You do not need to and should not waste points putting them into energy.
It can be very helpful to use stand still while you throw. This will prevent you from running into a crowd while trying to aim at a monster.
If you use up all of your thrown weapons the weapons select will automatically revert to a normal attack. Remember to reset the attack to double throw after repairing your weapons.
Besides learning to use a slow retreat or leapfrogging backward over your mercenary positioning can be very helpful. Find those places where they can’t mob you from all sides and you can pick them off one by one.
There are a number of ways to control crowds with Howl and Taunt being available from almost the beginning. Howl to drive away groups and then taunt them back in, one or two at a time. Also, use taunt to get the range attack monsters to forget and come closer. If you have good gear, you may frequently not need these skills, but practice these skills till they become second nature. It will save you when they are really needed.
The next tool for crowd control is Leap or Leap Attack. Yes, you can use leap to jump away from crowds, but we all tend to forget this skill also comes with knockback and stun, and at high level is pretty impressive. Just jump in place and watch them move back until they reach the max range of your leap.
Finally, there is War Cry. Stun a crowd and then leap or run away and start hitting them before the stun ends. The area affected by Warcry isn’t very large and the real value is in the stun length. If you are going to use War Cry you will want to get a 2-second stun or a total of 6 or 7 with + skill from other equipment.
Experiment and find the ones that work best for you.
It is strange in that you don’t need to max your primary skill. Adding levels to double throw only increases the attack rating and with the attack rating increase from throw mastery you probably won’t need a lot more. The increase in damage comes from a synergy with double swing which adds 8% per level and which is why double swing is maxed.
There are actually only three skills that have to be maxed:
Adding 1 point for the prerequisites Bash, Howl, Shout, and one point for double-throw means that at level 85, which is a common level to finish hell, that you have 29 points to distribute in other skills!
So how do you distribute those points? Much of it will depend on the gear and charms that you have available, how you like to play and the crowd control techniques you choose. You will have time to experiment as there is no rush to gain skills and with the resets you can change them if you don’t like them.
Here is what I recommend
For the skills that you are going to max, the order to max them would be
I suggest the following as a starting point
|Skill Points and Notes||Icon|
|Bash – 1 Point|
|Howl – 1 Point
|Shout – 1+ Point
|Increased Stamina – 1 Point|
|Increased Speed – 1 Point|
|Iron Skin – 1 Point|
|Natural Resistance – At least one point here while in nightmare|
|Taunt – 1+ Point|
|Battle Cry – 1 Point|
|War Cry – 1+ Points|
|Battle Command – 1 Point|
|Axe Mastery – 1+ Points – Sooner or later you will actually have to hit something instead of throwing at it and this will give you some critical strike. Of course, if you need Berserk you will need points to best utilize your weapon of choice.|
Two more skills that I think make sense are:
The next three skills you may or may not want to invest in depending on your play style
Another possible use of the extra points is to dump points into Frenzy. The idea is to rush in whack away with Lacerators to start Frenzy and cast amp damage then back up and throw axes. If you go this route, remember that you will also need some point in axe mastery.
Stat Point distribution
As I said earlier you don’t need huge levels of strength or dexterity to wear equipment, nor do you need to put any into energy and since you are going to try and stay out of mobs of enemies you aren’t going to need insane levels of life. Of course if you have a tendency to rush in then you will need more life. The good news is that you don’t have to follow a strict point distribution regimen.
I suggest that with charms to have at least 1,000 in life. Just as some build Amazon glass cannons you could do the same with a throw barb. There is a tradeoff of course. Dumping points in life makes it easier to survive, but putting the extra points into strength and dexterity increase the damage you do and the ability to hit your targets. So, first you need to understand the minimums for dexterity and strength and then decide how to split the remainder. Of my pure throwers in one a dumped in 194 to vitality and the other 226.
You will need 122 in dexterity to equip winged axes and 142 for winged knifes. You will need more to ensure that your attack rating remains high. I suggest putting enough points into dexterity to keep the chance of hitting your target at 90% or higher. Remember that dexterity also increases the damage done.
On the strength side you will really only need 118 to equip Arreat’s Face and 127 to equip Demon’s Arch, the unique Balrog spear. However, increasing strength also increases the amount of damage done. You may also want to increase your strength to wear the armor you want.
Therefore, keep your life at a comfortable level for you, maintain at least 90% chance of hitting most targets and dump the rest into strength.
Let’s talk about modifiers on the axes and whatever you decide to throw. The key three are enhanced damage, increased speed and life leach. Increased speed and life leach are almost must-haves on at least one of the axes. Chance to cast amplified damage is also a very helpful addition. Replenish quantity is helpful. You will still use up the axes much faster than the item replenishes, but it will reduce the repair cost to 1 gold per weapon. Mana leach is helpful at low levels, but not necessary at high levels.
My high-end preference is Lacerators. While both Warshrike and Grimmershred offer higher damage, the amp damage and 50% chance of monsters fleeing make the Lacerators superior. They are also much cheaper to repair. On my weapon switch, I finally settled on a Warshrike and a Gimmshred. On the PIs, I could take them down with just the Lacerators, but I found it faster to use the Lacerators till amp damage was cast and then switch to the warshrike and Gimmershred. The Warshrike/Gimmershred combo is also better for catapults, doors and other places where amp doesn’t work.
Before we get into selecting gear you need to decide if you want to go for max damage or if you want to magic find as getting your magic finding to 200 or more will dictate some of your equipment choices. If you want to Magic find you are pretty much locked into Skulder’s ire for armor and War Travelers for boots, but those are both very nice and complement the throw barb very well.
As I said earlier you really don’t need any uber gear. Lacerator and Grimmershed are definitely extremely helpful but not required.
I have gotten through normal at players 8 wearing the following: Twitchthroe, Tarnhelm, Cleglaw’ Pincers, Lenymo, Gorefoot, Angelic Halo, and Manald heal rings and Angelic Wings Amulet and a pair of rare level 19 balanced axes.
Much of your choices will depend on what you have and how you handle getting resistances to 75% in Hell. For example, Razortail is great for +dexterity and pierce, but String of Ears offers life leach and damage reduction (and you will get hit) and then there is Thundergod’s which give +20 strength and Life, increased Lighting resistance and Lightning absorb. All are good belts, but what works best for you will depend on other factors.
- Low level – Twitchthroe, Ice Blind, Silks of the Victor
- Mid level – Crow Caw, Skin of Vipermagi, Shaftstop, Skulder’s Ire
- High level – Arkaine’s Valor and Runewords Runewords like Duress, Fortitude, Enigma, and Chains of Honor and Treachery
- Low level – Tarnhelm, Howltusk, The Face of Horror
- Mid level – Arreat’s Face
- High level – You can’t beat Arreat’s Face
- Low level – Lenymo, Nightsmoke, Bladebuckle
- Mid level – Razortail, String of Ears, Thundergod’s Vigor, Immortal King’s
- High level –
- Low level – Cleglaw’s Pincers, The hand of Broc, Bloodfist
- Mid level – Lava Gout,
- High level – Laying of Hands
- Low level – Angelic Wings Amulet, the Eye of Etlich
- Mid level – Crescent Moon,
- High level – Mara’s Kaleidoscope, Highlord’s Wrath, Seraph’s Hymn
- Low level – Angelic Halo, Manald Heal
- Mid level – Raven Frost
- High level – Rare rings with life, LL resists
Now there is only one last piece to add to determine who should you hire as a mercenary?
The obvious answer is the might merc, but not so fast. Yes, the Act 2 mercenary offers a good meat shield and can be very durable in Hell. But Might is not the only good alternative. Normal Defense provide Defiance and the ability to be hit less, and Hell Defense give Holy freeze to slow everything down. Again more of a playstyle choice.
The usual suspects of Reaper’s Toll, Bonehew and Tomb Reaver all are good choices. Personally, I found that with the Amp damage from Lacerator’s that I didn’t need the decrepify from Reapere’s Toll. I will also add another option that doesn’t get much mention, Arioc’s Needle with 50% deadly strike and +3 or 4 to skills to buff the Merc’s aura. Finally, for the rune rich there is Pride.
However, there is another very valid choice for the mercenary, the Act 1 Rogue with Cold arrows. I’ve soloed Hell with an Act 1 Rouge using Guillaume’s face, Shaftstop and a Windforce bow. If done right you will find that she will many times briefly act as your tank and then fall back.