Diablo 2 Guide: The Magical Barbarians

Introduction

Often players look to barbarians as the melee character class. Dealing with physical type of attacks and yells, they call war cries. But, a small tribe of rather unknown barbarians headed away from their stereotype and started to work with the arcane skills. These barbarians studied under sorceresses trying to learn how to cast spells. After many years of failing they almost gave up and went back to their typical ways.

A necromancer named Trang Oul came to their rescue. He gave them some equipment to where as armor, the armor enabled them to use 3 skills: fireball, firewall, and meteor. He also taught them the value of high potency poison. Being able to deal huge poison damage would teach them the finer points, of using their weaponry. So the barbarians began their training using charms of poison and arrows covered in potent poisons.

A group of these barbarians decided that fire and poison just wasn’t what they were looking for. They continued looking for more magical skills they could use. What they found will amaze you. They encountered a druid of the high summoner’s order. After a long talk with them he found some items that would enable them to call upon the forces of nature and summon the wolves, bears, and golems of the land. After great practice these barbs became known as the summoner barbarians

Introduction

MagiBarbs focus on fire skills and poison skills to kill their enemies. They are only able to use these skills with their equipment. The study of these skills required so much they could not study the attacking skills of their own tribes. Instead they studied defensive and controlling skills.

Skill Layout

For the magibarb one needs to build up great defense and learn how to control enemies. Using the following skills enables them to wield their magic with great effect.

20 Iron Skin
1-5 Natural Resistance
1 Increased Stamina
1 Increased Run/Walk
20 Shout
20 Battle Orders
1 Battle Command
10 Howl
1 Taunt
10-20 Battle Cry
1 Find Potion
1 Find Item
1 Grim Ward
Let’s take a look at the main skills being used here.
  • Howl/Grim Ward – This is a bread and butter skill to the magibarb, using poison which takes extended amounts of time to work, there is nothing like scaring away monsters and shooting them in the back with poison bolts. Another use for this is chasing enemies down the firewall.
  • Battle Cry – This is the magibarb’s boss killing skill, many bosses do not respond to howl, but Battle Cry will lower their defense and make their hits much weaker. Using Battle Cry when facing bosses will enable the tanking and mass destruction of melee hits while keeping the boss in the firewall.
  • Shout, Battle Orders, Battle Command – These are your character building skills they all increase the stats of your character. Battle Command even raises the damage your firewall produces.
  • The remaining skills are for rounding out the character, for instance the find item skills are there for the emergency case when the barb runs low on mana potions, or when a bit extra gold is needed for repairs.

 

Stats

Stats on the magibarb are pretty similar to other barbs. The barbarians gain no real advantage to mana by placing points in energy so always avoid energy as a stat on a barbarian.

  • Strength – Enough to equip items, the barb is more of a caster character thus the bonuses associated with strength is really not worthwhile for this build.
  • Dexterity – Enough to equip items, the barb is not doing melee attacks so AR is not an issue, also for the most part the barbarians defense is high enough that even low blocking %’s will be highly effective. Initially I suggest about 100 dexterity, but suit it to your equipment.
  • Vitality – What ever you have not placed elsewhere should go here, remember you are using Battle Orders and as a barbarian you get 4 life per vitality point. You can achieve high life totals with this build.
  • Energy – Nothing, Never place points in energy for a barbarian, +mana items will always be more effective on barbarians.
Equipment

I usually don’t like giving you need this item to make this build work, but this is a very, very equipment intensive build. So I will go over items you will need to be effective. I will also mention items that could make you even more effective.

Trang Oul’s Set

You need 3 of the following items in on your barbarian:

In order of earliest clvl of equipping
  1. Trang Oul’s Gloves
  2. Trang Oul’s Armor
  3. Trang Oul’s Belt
  4. Trang Oul’s Helm

 

I know they each have specific names but I like to refer to set items by their item type it makes planning with them easier.

Fire skills

For Synergies the barbarians would use charged items, such as a ring with charges of firebolt, slvl 5 is available. There is only one unique/set item with charges that synergize fireball and that item is Moonfall with its slvl 11 charges of meteor.

But synergies are not the only way to boost fire skills, there are several items with (+x fire skills) they include, Hexfire, Flamebellow, Hell Plague, Leaf runeword, Magefist, etc. Using these items to your advantage will gain you more damage towards your fireball and firewall skills. For the most power out of fireball the barb can use Moonfall and a Hexfire at the same time. For having another skill Hexfire can be replaced with Flamebellow or better yet 2 Flamebellows to really juice up the inferno skill. Having 2 hexfires on later in the game while using firewall will boost your firewall another 6 levels to be much more effective.

Poison Skill

The charm is the greatest source of poison damage for the MagiBarb, with small charms that receive both a prefix and suffix of some sort of poison the rates add and so do the durations resulting in huge total damages. “Toxic small charm of pestilence†is a good example of such charms.

But we need a way to deliver poison to the monsters, I always liked ranged attacks for delivering poison, if you control a monster away from you and use ranged attacks to poison them there is no reason they should deal you damage. This leads to the bow, you can get 6 socketed bows in Hell mode, I found a 6 socketed bow and placed 6 tal runes in it for 451 poison damage over 5 seconds.

For even more power we may want to use facets and other +/-% poison damage items. Using Bramble and Trang’s gloves will force the use of Trang’s helm and Trang’s belt but will result in huge gains on the poison damage. I haven’t done the math yet but if you can socket a bow with 6 poison facets I bet they will give more overall damage. Unfortunately they have poison damage that last 2 seconds which will significantly reduce your poison duration due to how poison damage is calculated.

Poison basics

The Tao of Poison is the best source for fully understanding poison damage. When it comes down to it you can estimate your overall poison damage by adding rates and averaging durations. So you want to look for high rates and long durations, if you can deal 100 poison damage in 2 seconds or 200 in 4 seconds you will find that the 4 seconds is better not because it deals more over all damage but because it does not decrease your duration as much.

An example: I have the 6 tal bow and a 50 poison damage over 2 seconds small charm. To get my total damage I have to solve for rates:

451/5 = ~90
50/2 = 25

Then I solve for durations.

5
2

Now rates add, and durations average.

90+25 = 115

(2+5)/2 = 3.5

Finally I multiple rate times duration.

115 * 3.5 = 402.5

The small charm has reduced my total damage by ~49 points. But the rate at which those points are removed is much higher.​

 

Play Style

The MagiBarb has a hard beginning to life. They can’t even use their skills until they are into nightmare. So how do you handle normal? Well Poison and melee/ranged attacks are your only option.

Clvls 0-49
This is the most normal part of the barbs life, the barb can only use melee/ranged attacks hopefully using poison. Place 1 point in howl to start now using poison damage you can howl and scare away enemies the poison will take effect as the monster runs away. The next big concern is gaining defense and life, so focus on Battle Orders, Shout, Iron Skin, Natural Resistances, and your 1 point in Battle Command. Get your choice of merc at this time, for style an act 3 mercenary would suit this build well. Keep pushing levels as fast as you can the build really isn’t fun during this portion, in fact it can be rather grueling to get through.

Clvls 49-62
Now we are able to get 2 parts of Trang Oul’s set on, the gloves and armor. With these two parts we have the fireball skill, also as an added advantage we can get moonfall, hexfire, and hopefully our firebolt ring on. With these items on your fireball should be doing over 600 damage. On the switch you can keep your bow for FI’s and monsters you want to take out with poison damage. This is really a short section of the build and introduces you to your final play style of casting spells. You will want to get the find item skills during this time since you will need mana potions from using fireball in large amounts.

Clvls 62 onward
You will now be able to get the 3rd Trang Oul’s set item, the belt. With this you will be able to use firewall and melee skills, holding monsters in the firewall while beating them senseless with a melee poisoned weapon. From here on your play style is yours to choose, the better you use your ablities the better a magi you will become.

Adding a 4th piece of Trang Oul’s set may get rid of the charge bug by giving the meteor Oskill, make sure that you are ok with that and replace your moonfall with hexfire, or similar.​
Summoner Barbs ​

Summoner Barbs are very different from MagiBarbs, they deal all of there damage by using summons. The barb has no natural summoning skills and there are no summoning Oskills. So only charged items will provide the summons. In single player this can be quite an undertaking as the runewords are hefty prices to pay.

Skill Layout

Again our skill do not deal damage, however we need control in this build and need some way to deal with PI’s. Enchant is my answer to the PI problem. Of course this means one of two things enchanting your minions repeatedly with charges or chance to cast enchant and attack yourself. I am suggesting the latter, your cost are already high with the summons casting, adding more repairs on top isn’t a great idea.

20 Iron Skin
1-5 Natural Resistance
1 Increased Stamina
1 Increased Run/Walk
1-10 axe mastery (you can trade for a different one if you have your runewords in a different weapon type.)
20 Shout
20 Battle Orders
1 Battle Command
1 Howl
1 Taunt
10 Battle Cry
1 War cry
1 Find Potion
1 Find Item

Let’s take a look at the main skills being used here.

  • Shout, Battle Orders – These are your minion building skill, your minions will be fairly strong but they will lack compared to the natural summoning characters, that’s where the Shout and Battle Orders come in they boost life and defense of all the minions. Some of these minions are huge tanks to begin with, the clay golem for instance has 3005 life before battle Orders.
  • Axe mastery and warcry – This build typically ends up in the heat of battle, unlike the skelemancer you really only have 3-4 minions out at a time. Sometimes a barb has to resort to their natural skills to fend off the wolves. Axe mastery is chosen since all applicable runewords can be made in axes.
  • Battle Cry – Unlike the MagiBarb controlling the enemy monsters is left up to the summons so points that were otherwise spent for control (namely howl) can be spent here to further protect your minions.
  • The remaining skills are for rounding out the character, for instance the find item skills are there for the emergency case when the barb runs low on gold which is needed for repairs.
Stats

Stats on the magibarb are pretty similar to other barbs. The barbarians gain no real advantage to mana by placing points in energy so always avoid energy as a stat on a barbarian.

  • Strength – Enough for equipment, a bit more is needed than the magibarb, because he is a partial attacker.
  • Dexterity – Enough to equip items, the barb is not doing melee attacks so AR is not an issue, also for the most part the barbarians defense is high enough that even low blocking %’s will be highly effective. Initially I suggest about 100 dexterity, but suit it to your equipment.
  • Vitality – What ever you have not placed elsewhere should go here, remember you are using Battle Orders and as a barbarian you get 4 life per vitality point. You can achieve high life totals with this build.
  • Energy – Nothing, Never place points in energy for a barbarian, +mana items will always be more effective on barbarians.
Equipment

Again this is a hard part of the guide for me to write. This build requires very specific gear. You need the summoning skills from charges thus you need to have the gear with charges equipped at all times.

Helm – Wolfhowl is a must, we will be using dire wolves from this helm, they will be our summon of choice, since the helm doesn’t change with the weapon switch.

Armor – “Stone†runeword is the second must, we will be using clay golem as our main controlling minion and as before armors don’t switch so the golem will stay with us during weapon switches (which is very important).

Amulet – Metalgrid may be a first thought of choice, but I would rather get the extra 3 warcry skill trees out of this item slot, you’re forced to use specific equipment thus +skills is scarce. +3 warcries amulet is the way to go, +2 barb skill rares with other great mods may also be very useful.

Gloves – I suggest getting chance to cast enchant from here, I think the lavagout unique glove is a good choice for this build.

Belt – +skills are lacking in this build you can gain +1 skills here if you so desire.

Boots – Marrow walks are nice for their bone prison but it costs too much. I suggest getting your resistances and defense out of your boots, chance for crushing blow is very nice for those you end up facing yourself.

Weapon and weapon switch – These are very important as they give the synergies needed for your summons, they are also expensive items for single player. I will start with the primary weapon used.

  • â€Beast†runeword – this is used for 2 reasons first the grizzly charges synergies your dire wolves with damage. The second is the auto aura fanaticism, this aura will add damage and chance to hit to all of your summons as well as yourself that is very necessary for this build.
  • â€Crescent moon†runeword – This provides again 2 things a weapon with chance to cast, the very impressive static field and secondly spirit wolves for their attack and defense synergy bonus.
  • on the switch Bloodmoon this is for one thing synergizing your clay golem, the clay golem can not survive the depths of hell without a fair amount of life, at 3005 life the golem survives decently but when your BO and Shout kick in he becomes one of your best tanks, and at ~4900 gold he is cheap to replace compared to your merc.
Play Style

The summoner barb has a pain of a young life, you have little to no killing power starting out, this can be supplemented with the poison style from the magibarb. At the young age of clvl 47 or so Stone armor can be equipped depending on the armor type used, clay golem will provide a nice tank to such a young summoner barb. Next will come the runewords and helm. . .​

The Magi/Summoner Barbarian ​

I have showed you firewalls and poison damage, 4 minions doing your attacking, and even ways to use your skills to help controlling enemies. But like the druid, you can build a Fire/Summon style of build if you take the time to work out the equipment.

Lets first look at our skills then we can work out the equipment needed for this build, unlike my normal style of guide writing the equipment will be quite specific.

Skill Placement

We will start with the similar parts of the 2 builds above.

1-5 Natural resistances
20 Iron Skin
1 Increased Stamina
1 Increased Run/Walk
20 Battle Orders
20 Shout
1 Battle Command

These 7 skills are your character protection and beefing skills, they are fairly passive in nature but really beef up your build, they also work with your minions (well 3 of them do) so using them is to an advantage.

Now we need 2 other elements for the build first off we need enemy control.

1 Howl
1 Taunt
1 Battle Cry
1 Grim Ward

Luckily for us they are all warcries and our minion creating item has +3 warcries as an affix. But we also need a poison damage producer, since we need specific weapons for synergies and boosting our minions they will be our poison source, lets make them hit by increasing them with AR.

1-20 axe mastery

So overall we have 69-~91 skill points spent, you will have the points placed before all your equipment is in place!!!

Stats placement

We will be following the same stats as the summoner build, so just refer to above for the suggested placement.

Equipment

Helmet –

Wolfhowl is the only applicable helmet available for this build therefore a must. We will be abusing the charges of Dire Wolves this helm provides, they will be the main if not only summoned minion on this build.​

Armor, Gloves, Belt –

Since Trang Oul’s set has only 4 pieces wearable by the Barbarian and the helmet slot is taken, we need to use the other 3 pieces to gain firewall our main fire skill. Luckily the 3 pieces work well together and with our build giving many other benefits and skills.​

Rings –

This is one of the only places where a bit of choice can be made with the build, depending on your thoughts towards fire or summoning will determine which rings you want to equip. If you are the fire sort I suggest +skills rings, SOJ for example. If you are the summoning sort I suggest getting some charges of summons out of your rings, Carrion Wind, Natures Peace and Wisp Projector are excellent choices. Another thought is to go one ring of each for instance a SOJ and Wisp Projector. The choice is really the players style.​

Amulet –

The amulet is a second choice making equipment, you can either get a metal grid for the iron golem (though not really a great choice IMHO), of you can get +skills or other great affixes like resist all, magic find, +mana, etc.​

Boots –

This is a great place to build style into your character, will he be really fast, use charged skill (bone prison), be a magic finder, or hotfooted (blaze). Personally I like to wear Infernostride because charges are expensive and marrowwalks really don’t help this build, and fire from your heels just add to the fire/summon mindset.​

Weaponry

Barbs stand at a great advantage when they use weapons they can dual wield, this will prove very helpful for the fire/summoner. Many weapons are helpful for this build, the choice of which ones to use and why to use them is both style and choice. Any of the combinations listed below will be beneficial.​
  • Beast – Crescent Moon
  • Beast – Hexfire
  • Crescent Moon – Hexfire
  • Hexfire – Hexfire
  • Flamebellow – Flamebellow
  • Moonfall – Hexfire
  • Moonfall – Beast
  • Moonfall – Crescent Moon
  • Beast – Beast

This list could go on mainly you need to focus on either summons or fire, my personal choice would be:

Hexfire – Hexfire with Beast – Crescent Moon on the switch, you lose the fanaticism aura but gain +6 towards your firewall which will be place directly in front of your minions as they fight.

Charms

This is your main source of poison, as such you should focus on getting high poison damage from this source, into the 2000’s should be very possible, maybe even as high as 4000 would be possible with a perfect set of poison small charms. Otherwise your charms should take care of the resistances you are short on (shouldn’t be too short) and extra life/mana for your barb. The defense from charms will be boosted several times over from your iron skin and shout so defensive charms could be helpful though not really needed.

Play Style

Clvls 0-49
This is the most normal part of the barbs life, the barb can only use melee/ranged attacks hopefully using poison. Place 1 point in howl to start now using poison damage you can howl and scare away enemies the poison will take effect as the monster runs away. The next big concern is gaining defense and life, so focus on Battle Orders, Shout, Iron Skin, Natural Resistances, and your 1 point in Battle Command. Get your choice of merc at this time, for style an act 3 mercenary would suit this build well. Keep pushing levels as fast as you can the build really isn’t fun during this portion, in fact it can be rather grueling to get through.

Clvls 49-62
Now we are able to get 2 parts of Trang Oul’s set on, the gloves and armor. With these two parts we have the fireball skill, also as an added advantage we can get moonfall, hexfire, and hopefully our firebolt ring on. With these items on your fireball should be doing over 600 damage. On the switch you can keep your bow for FI’s and monsters you want to take out with poison damage. This is really a short section of the build and introduces you to your final play style of casting spells. You will want to get the find item skills during this time since you will need mana potions from using fireball in large amounts.

Clvls 62-79
Play this very similar to how you would play the magibarb build, if you happen to have a stone armor you could switch out the trangs armor for the stone and add the trangs helm. This gives you a golem, remember though clay golem really needs a bloodmoon when casting to provide the life to gumby.

Clvls 79 +
I foresee this being played similar to the summoner build, but I see the barb casting firewall in front of his minions and possibly using fireball while his minions hold the monsters in the firewall for damage from physical and fire sources. The poison damage may become a 3rd source quite quickly and may just be used to stop life regen monsters, if this happens drop the poison charm idea and use charms for more productive things like boosting warcries. . .

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