Class Conversations: The Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls Barbarian with ZappaFan

Today brings the first of what I hope will be a regular feature; in-depth conversations with players who are experts and advocates for their favorite character class. This one stars ZappaFan, the long-time moderator of our Hardcore forum, leader of our IncHC2 clan, and a man who has played a lot more Barbarian than you have. Like a thousand hours more.

Still a mighty class.

Still a mighty class.

I started this conversation off during the Reaper of Souls beta when the “OMG they nerfed teh Barb!” complaints were coming fast and furious from former Spin2Winners who had turned into Spin2Whiners thanks to the nerfs balances Blizzard made to a few of that class’ abilities. It was obvious those changes, such as no more perma-Wrather of the Berserker, weren’t just some test on the PTR, but were coming long term.

Since ZappaFan was the most dedicated Barbarian player I knew, I wanted to hear what he thought about all the changes to the Barb, if he thought they were needed, how his gear and old D3v1 build was working in the new reality… and then we continued the conversation this weekend, after he’d had some testing time on in D3v2. Click through for the full exchange, which covers Barbarian gear, builds, Hardcore style, cheesiness (or not), passive changes, other class enjoyment, why he’s older than dirt, and much more. Here’s a quote:

Flux: How did you feel the Barb in the Reaper of Souls beta compared to the Barb in D3v?

ZappaFan: My barb definitely felt improved in RoS. I wouldn’t have even considered running dual-wield in D3V and I was happy doing that in RoS. …from what I’ve seen I don’t see the changes to Barbs being a big deal, something that people won’t adjust to once they really start playing the game. I think anybody that actually played the beta and is highly critical of the changes to barbs simply doesn’t want to change.

And to illustrate my point, I also had a lvl 70 Crusader. He had the same 191 account Paragon points at his disposal as my Barb did. I shared all the same equipment between my Barb & my Crusader, except of course my Crusader had a shield and a pretty nice 2H weapon. And even with the same gear… it wasn’t even close. My Barb was a much better killing machine than my Crusader, and definitely felt more hardy with better healing. Maybe I just really suck with Crusaders, but I tinkered with different builds quite a bit, looked at builds other people were using, etc.

Barbs still rock in RoS, no doubt about it imo.

Click through for the full interview / conversation / debate, and I’d like to conduct these with other knowledgeable fans to cover all the classes in the game. See the note at the very end if you’d like to participate in one.

Flux: Before we get into Diablo 3 version 2 and Reaper of Souls changes to the Barbarian, let’s do a little background and establish your credentials. You played a lot of Barbarian in Diablo 3. Was it all Hardcore? How much of your total play time was with a Barb? How many Barbs did you create and what was your highest level? What made this your favorite class?

ZappaFan: All my play in Diablo 3 has been Hardcore except the first character to 10 to enable HC. I played Barbs exclusively past the patch that introduced the Paragon system. I have seven dead Barbs that are 60 or below, #8 made it to P27. I finally played another class when that first Paragon Barb died. Tried a Demon Hunter, lots of fun, but clearly a death waiting to happen and stopped at the ripe age of Paragon 3.

Flux: I wish I’d learned that lesson. I just created ImmortinaVII, though at least now I know enough to get them to 60 and start to make them happy before they die.

ZappaFan: My next Barb, ZappaFanWTF, reached P100 (deeds that same week). Ran a Monk to P80 next. Then, on the day of the birth of my great-grandaughter Avani, I decided to make a new female Barb and name her Avani. Seemed like a cool idea except that she only made it to P50. So I made another Avani female barb and she reached P100 and is still kicking. After reaching P100 with Avani #2 I made a Witch Doctor and she’s currently sitting at P51 while I play the beta. To date, my play time on D3V is as follows: Barbs 2004 hrs, DH 65 hrs, Monk 195 hrs, WD 86 hrs, Wizard 61 hrs. I was shocked to see 61 Wizard hrs because that’s all from mules, I’ve not actually played a Wizard yet, ever. Some of my WD hrs are from a mule as well.

Barbs have always been my favorite going back to Diablo 2. I guess I like the visceral feeling of running around and smashing things, going Berserk. RAWR! I especially love the Male Barbarian in Diablo 3. The guy that does the voice for it, Dorian Harewood, nails it perfectly imo. I never get tired of hearing him scream, “How tastes your fear!”, etc. Seriously I love it. In fact when I switched to the female barb to honor my new grand-daughter I was disappointed in the female voice of Athena Karkanis as compared to the male. She sounds almost polite in her taunting.

Flux: Okay, wait. Multiple P100 Hardcore Barbs and Diablo 3 to the side… you have a great granddaughter? Like a real life living human female, three generations along? That’s the most impressive thing I’ve heard this year! How did that happen? Wait, don’t answer that. This isn’t about your real life, but that is inspirational. Obviously you’ve found a way to balance video gaming with family and real life and such.

OTDZappafan: Yeah, balance is important for sure – that’s actually a bit of a “life” soapbox for me, of which I will spare you. But mostly it just requires being old. I’m older than dirt, I have the t-shirt (photographic evidence attached).

Flux: Back to the Diablo stuff… your barbs were different than most I saw in Diablo 3 since you didn’t do the Spin2Win barb build, a build that most players felt was awesome, and also quite overpowered. It’s been nerfed in D3v2 and Reaper of Souls, which motivated a lot of complaints about the Barb’s class changes. We’ll get into your play time with the Barb in Reaper and now in D3v2 in a bit, but to establish the history… Did you ever try Spin2win back in the D3 days? Do you think it was OP and needed to be fixed?

ZappaFan: I never actually tried Spin2win, primarily because I’ve always liked actually picking stuff up when I’m playing. I really don’t care for the “mad dash sprint” play style that a lot of people seem to like. During almost all my play time on Diablo 3, I’ve picked up nearly all the yellows, and absolutely all gems, tomes, DE’s, etc. I think with my WD (my most recent char), I finally started being fairly selective about which yellows I picked up.

Flux: That’s amazing, but it seems like a window into your character. And your characters (toons). Not to psychoanalyze, but the rush rush rush play style doesn’t appeal to you since you’re very patient and meticulous, as demonstrated by you picking up all the rares and materials, etc. Now if you’re a coder, or you say… repair watches in real life, all the dots will connect.

ZappaFan: Mostly I think I’m just anal, but I am an engineer, so yeah, there’s some connecting dots there I think.

Flux: I agree with you on not liking to constantly rush around in-game, though I do like to go fast between groups of enemies to maximize my play time, and sometimes I’ll get into a mood or a char build — such as the Monk’s Tempest Rush before D3v2 nerfed the class to uselessness — to go very quickly with a farming priority on EXP, rather than worrying about gold and items.

That said, I do generally enjoy collecting all (or at least most) of the gems and tomes and such, but still… all of the rares? All of them? That’s not insane now in D3v2 when you need materials and rares can roll pretty well, but back in D3v1, rares were terrible! 99.9% were just straight vendor trash, with only the occasional glove, one-handed weapon, or jewelry worth selling on the AH.

Or do you disagree, and are you prepared to offer anecdotal evidence of some miracle roll on yellow boots or shoulders that earned you riches?

ZappaFan: Honestly the main reason for picking up all the rares for me is simply the curiosity to see what the roll is, even though I know it’s probably going to be crap, I can’t help but want to see it. Also, any item that has a chance to roll Reduced Requirement has a chance to be something very useful, especially in regards to Hardcore play where starting over is so prominent. You’ve blogged before about how dangerous the progression from 50 to 60 can be, but if your character is loaded up with lower requirements gear it makes it a LOT quicker and easier.

Flux: As we saw in the Reaper of Souls beta and now in D3v2, the devs don’t want to support the rush-rush-rush builds anymore. We’re talking about the Barb here, but the Wizard’s perma-Archon build was also killed, and the Monk’s Tempest Rush is much slower. Plus the general gameplay is more about longer battles, and there are lots of good crafting recipes now which require BoA materials, and some enchanting and crafting cost gems, which have to be picked up since they’re BoA in Reaper.

So… how did you secretly convince the Diablo III devs to change the entire game to support your meticulous play style?

Actual real life photo of Zappafan.

Actual real life photo of Zappafan.

ZappaFan: HA!! That’s funny because I had a hard time trying to train my brain to leave yellows on the ground playing my WD. Then I started playing the beta and it was right back to picking everything up again. All is right in the world once again. And it’s actually even beyond that, because now with legendary crafting materials popping from chests, bookcases, bodies, Cain’s satchels, etc., it’s become “no stone unturned”. I pop everything! It’s awesome! 🙂

Flux: Getting back to the Spin2Win barb stuff… why didn’t you try it? You surely saw and heard about how powerful the build was. Just to explain for readers who might not know, the power of the build at the highest level relied on remaining in the Wrath of the Berserker form indefinitely, which was possible if you kept gaining massive amounts of Fury. The only way to gain the Fury required was to get lots of procs while hitting enemies, which meant that a WotB/Spin2Win barb had to act like the proverbial shark and stay perpetually in motion to avoid drowning and death. Thus any delay or downtime out of combat, such as picking up gear, was verboten.

I guess you were having success doing your own Barb style, and you didn’t want to become what the Spin2Win rush rush would turn you into? Like Batman when he was prepared to turn himself in once he realized that he’d have to become a murderer to compete with the Joker’s insanity, and he wasn’t willing to stoop to that level?

ZappaFan: Any build I’ve tried playing Diablo 3 has had survival as the most important aspect. For a Barb I want to be tanky. I’ve never been interested in killing fast at the expense of safety. My main goal from the moment they introduced Ubers was to have a Barb that could run high MP relatively safely and comfortably. My first P100 barb actually achieved that but died due to first game load lag. That same week I ordered an SSD to run Diablo 3 from.
I’ve always had Wrath of the Berserker on my Barbs, but it’s mostly for emergency use. I don’t like running around with it on CD if I can help it too much. I’ll use it sometimes for high HP targets in order to speed things up a bit but that’s usually in a fairly controlled situation where I’m pretty sure of my surroundings, and fairly sure that said target will not be a threat when my WotB runs out. 🙂

And as far as the whole “cheesy” aspect of it, yeah, the build does seem a little bit cheesy to me in the overall scheme of the game. But I don’t begrudge anybody for taking advantage of a game design flaw that can produce a super powerful killing machine. But clearly the “infinite WotB” build is a product of a design flaw in the game. Far cheesier to me is all the whining in the forums that the Barb is neutered with the changes they’ve made to fix that flaw in the game. For a game to have longevity, it needs to be balanced. When there is one build that is so much more powerful than virtually any other build, it’s not balanced. That sort of situation should be fixed. Yeah it kind of sucks if that’s your favorite, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Either adjust or move on. But please, stop the whining.

Flux: I’m more prepared to condemn the cheesiness of it than you, since I’m like that. But I agree that players can’t be blamed for exploiting the exploits for greater profit. I tried some Spin2Win but didn’t like the rushing play style, and I didn’t like the way it felt to play, and I especially thought it was wrong for the Barb. Just in theory, I could have supported a Demon Hunter or teleporting Wizard build that worked in that fashion; super fast movement, big damage via spell-type attacks, but with a very high risk of death.

There were so many colors of cheese.

There were so many colors of cheese.

The real problem with the Spin2Win in my opinion was that it was the Barb doing it, who was easily the most robust character in the entire game. With high Vit and Str he had giant damage mitigation, huge life leech for instant healing, he had the best passives in the game, he had the fastest movement speed with Sprint, he was immune to all CC effects with perma-WotB, etc. To me the cheesiness wasn’t just that Spin2Win was so powerful in DPS output, it was that the Barb was practically immortal while doing it. And it just felt wrong since the bulk of the damage wasn’t from his attacks, it was from whirlwinds left behind, killing things 2 or 3 screens behind him.

All that said… you played thousands of hours of Barb and built multiple P100s in Hardcore, so how did you do it? What was your build and play style?

ZappaFan: My current D3V Barb build:

I’ve been playing the same basic build in D3V for quite a while: Frenzy (Maniac), Rend (Blood Lust), WotB (Insanity), Leap (Death from Above), Warcry (Impunity) & Revenge (Provocation). Leap is a great escape skill but I also use it offensively for the 3 second stun quite a bit. Healing in HC is vital and is reflected in my build. I have multiple healing sources, with Rend (life steal), Warcry (2K HP/sec regen), Revenge, and also over 1K LoH (>2 att/sec) from BK ammy & pants. In her current gear setup for high MP play, she has 104K HP, 235K paper DPS, 280K dps with five stacks Frenzy, 670K dps with WotB active and five stacks Frenzy.

All my builds in D3V were sword & board. I tried dual-wielding early on in the release, and the first time I ventured into Fields of Misery I nearly died to the first pack and decided maybe a shield was a good idea. And once my first Paragon barb found the Hallowed plan I’ve always had a very nice shield in the stable to use. My D3V passives were Inspiring Presence, Weapons Master & Ruthless.

I’ve pretty much never had Life Steal on my weapon. Very early on I heard how LS was nerfed in Inferno and sort of dismissed it as important. By the time I learned just how important it really was, it had become a mitigating factor in the cost of a weapon. There were too many other ways to gain healing imo, and it wasn’t worth the cost to have it on a weapon – both from the aspect of buying a weapon on the AH or by keeping and using a self-found weapon that I could otherwise sell on the AH for big bucks.

Flux: Were you able to import your D3 Barb build into RoS? Did it work or were any of the skills nerfed or changed in function? And did you experiment much with new builds given all the changes to skills and gear in RoS? Do you feel the class is improved, in fun or style or variety, in RoS?

ZappaFan: Yeah, I pretty much ported my Barb directly over to RoS, and once I geared up she was running Torment 2 pretty easily. One big change I made was to go dual-wielding instead of using a shield. It had been sooo long since I’d even tried that in D3V, I’m honestly not sure if it was the changes in RoS that precipitated that or if I maybe could have been doing it all along and doing OK. During the beta I didn’t feel like playing D3V to investigate. 🙂

The only change I made to my six skills was changing the rune for Revenge. Ros enabled Revenge to stack, which was really cool and I liked that change a lot. But it also changed the Provocation rune so instead of increasing the chance to proc, it increased the number of max stacks from 2 to 3. Well, I’m a Revenge spammer, and it rarely even has the chance to gain three stacks so that rune was pretty worthless to me. So I switched to Bloodlaw rune, which increased the life steal from 2% to 4% max HP.

Zappafan and Avani pose at the mall.

Zappafan and Avani pose at the mall.

I also changed my passives. I continued using Inspiring Presence & Weapons Master, but I switched to Animosity & Bloodlust for increased Fury/Fury Generation and Healing from Fury spent, respectively. I’m glad we got four passives at level 70 because that allowed me to use the Animosity/Bloodlust combo.

Towards the end of the beta my hardcore Barbarian Avani was running with 733K HP, 819K paper dps, 916K dps with five Frenzy stacks, and 1.6M dps with WotB active + five Frenzy stacks. I fiddled around with the different skills and pretty much tried everything but I came back to my same build. Familiarity and comfort probably have a lot to do with that. But I think it works.

Perhaps one caveat was that during the entire beta I continued using my legacy Echoing Fury that I ported over from D2V on my off-hand. I enchanted the min/max and bumped the dps up to almost 2.2K, and with 60% crit dmg & +.25 att/sec I’ve not been able to find anything better. Considering that, I wasn’t surprised when they changed enchanting to eliminate legacy items. 🙂

Flux: How did your Beta barb feel compared to her Diablo III vanilla version? In killing power and survivability?

In the Beta I was running Torment 2 pretty comfortably, but again, I play fairly cautiously. I can’t just tank a lot of stuff like I could in D3V. You’ve got to be a little more tactical. Movement & positioning is more important, especially dealing with Lightning enchanted monsters. I didn’t miss the lack of life steal at all; my barb was healing just fine. Paragon account points helped in that regard. I had 191 to spend in the new system, and I was able to add considerable Life on Hit and life refen through that. I’m sure that’s been part of the reason I was able to start clearing Torment 2 so quickly.

They did nerf Torment a little bit with the last patch, but I was running Torment 1 before that, and had gotten to that point fairly quickly. In fact I’ve actually done that twice. I started playing at the onset of the closed beta, and lost Avani to Torment 1 Belial (a very foolish move at the time). So I imported my account and started fresh back at lvl 60 with D3v gear, and got right back to Torment 1 running again before the most recent patch.

Flux: Getting to the initial or main issue we started this to address… how did you feel the Barb in RoS compared to the Barb in D3v? Obviously you weren’t doing the Spin2Win build which was inarguable nerfed, but can you make any generalizations?

ZappaFan: My barb definitely felt improved in RoS. I wouldn’t have even considered running dual-wield in D3V and I was happy doing that now in RoS. And honestly I’m probably not qualified to give an opinion on the spin2win build since I’ve never really played it. But from what I’ve seen I don’t see the changes to Barbs being a big deal, something that people won’t adjust to once they really start playing the game. I think anybody that is actually playing the beta and is highly critical of the changes to barbs simply doesn’t want to change.

And to illustrate my point, I also had a lvl 70 Crusader. Hd has the same 191 account Paragon points at his disposal as my Barb did. I shared all the same equipment between my Barb & my Crusader, except of course my Crusader had a shield and a pretty nice 2H weapon. It’s really not even close which one is more powerful. My Barb is a much better killing machine than my Crusader, and definitely feels more hardy, has better healing. Maybe I just really suck with Crusaders, but I’ve tinkered around with different builds quite a bit, looking at builds other people are trying, etc.

Barbs still rock in RoS, no doubt about it imo.

Flux: Now that the Reaper of Souls beta is over and Diablo 3 version 2 has been running for a week, how does it feel going back to the future? Most of the skill changes that debuted in RoS and on the PTR proc and dominate as they once did. (So is it now Spin2Lose, or managing a Spin2Draw?) Back in D3v2, does your Barb build remain much as it was in the beta, and is it working fine? Anything change between the end of the beta and D3v2 going live, other than gear?

ZappaFan: Other than not having that 4th passive, obviously, my setup is the same as I was using in the beta. So far I am still using a shield. I’ve not found a 1H weapon good enough to drop my Hallowed shield (and probably won’t until RoS hits and we can progress to level 70). And Blacksmith crafts are really looking good. I have upgraded my bracers, shoulders and the Hallowed shield in the first week already. I’d long ago given up trying to upgrade those before the 2.0 update, after literally hundreds of attempts.

Flux: I wasn’t doing Spin2Win with my barb pre-RoS, so that change didn’t affect me. What I noticed most changed were some of the Barb’s previously super OP passives. Gone was the free life steal from Bloodlust and the free crit chance/damage from Ruthless. This caused me to redo my Barb’s passives, and slightly reduced the envy coming from my Monk, compared to D3v where the Barb had literally 6 or 7 passives that were better for DPS than *any* of the Monk’s passive. (The Monk’s passives still suck, but at least he’s not so far behind the Barb on the curve, and both would kill for any of the best +DPS passives the other classes have.)

You didn’t have to redo your Barb’s passives much, but did you notice the changes there and think they were fair?

ZappaFan: Yeah, I’ve looked at the changes quite a bit while I was playing the beta, there wasn’t anything that struck me as “unfair”. The whole “spin2win” infinite wrath thing was never intended to be that way in the first place, so the fact that they fixed that never seemed like an issue of fair or not to begin with. I really think they did a good job of making things a lot more balanced. I think we’ll see a lot more variation in builds now with RoS – for all classes – than we had with vanilla. Seems to me that’s a good thing.

Flux: In my opinion, the biggest change in RoS and now in D3v2, especially for Hardcore characters, is the overall game combat engine changes. The way one-shot enemies have been turned down, that life leech has been removed, that battles are designed to go a bit longer, to put more emphasis on CC and debuff tactics, etc. And the changes to gear in Loot 2.0 make it much easier to raise a character’s Toughness, with much higher rolls to Vitality on gear. On the whole that seems to have made Hardcore a lot more balanced. (Easier, some might say.) I certainly feel like Demon Hunters and other glass cannon builds are much less squishy than they were in D3v.

Do you agree, have you tried new stuff with a Wiz or Demon Hunter? And does that change seem to extend through to tanky builds? Obviously your Barb in D3v was very tanky, and the game has changed to make everyone more tanky. So is your barb now uber-tanky and indestructible? Or did the changes not really trickle all the way up to the top end tank? Or have you modified your build/gear to play in what would have been a bit faster/more risky style in D3v, but that feels safe enough in D3v2?

ZappaFan: There is no such thing as indestructible. 😉

Having said that, I will say that since 2.0 hit, it’s been a bit difficult upgrading my barb. She’s already pretty tanky, so I tend to focus on upgrades in DPS rather than toughness. I’ve “turned down” some upgrades that would have given me a fairly significant toughness upgrade at the expense of DPS. But you’re spot on regarding toughness upgrades, and that definitely extends to barbs as well.

Flux: How about gear? We didn’t get into detail about that in the Reaper of Souls portion, but obviously you had to upgrade your equipment. What changed, other than more vitality? Did you get into any build-changing equipment that really opened up new play options, or were you hunting any specific items that would have done so?

I really love the “special” attributes that some of the new legendary items have, and they can really make a huge difference in how you play your character. Specifically my beta barb used Illusory Boots that let you move unhindered through enemies. That was HUGE for getting bounties completed quickly and also especially for avoiding frozen procs. I also had a legendary belt, Harrington Waistguard, that increased damage by 109% whenever you popped a chest – or armor/weapon rack, or bookcase, body, or just about anything that yielded gold. That was pretty huge.

Flux: In closing, how do you feel about the Barb now in D3v2? Is it still your favorite class or have the overall game changes made you more curious about other play options? And what’s your plan for Reaper of Souls? Taking Avani over and kicking ass, or are you more interested in delving into the Crusader or some other class?

ZappaFan: Barbs are, and will probably always be my favorite class. But I would also say that the recent changes have made me more curious about the other classes. I think that the changes in D3v2 & RoS make it more attractive to play multiple characters and not just concentrate on your “main”. I will definitely be making a Crusader fairly soon after RoS is released. Alas, I will not be kicking any ass with Avani, however, she perished just today.

Remember your “stupid deaths” blog? Well chalk up another one of those for me in that category. No toon is indestructible enough to survive human stupidity. Stupidity >> Tankiness. I have to admit tho, it definitely takes a bit of the sting out not losing the Paragon progression that she had gained. And also knowing that eventually all of her gear would be replaced in RoS anyway, all I’ve really “lost” is the time it takes to progress back to 60. And I’ve already managed to collect some pretty good lower requirements gear for the trip back to 60 with her as of yet unnamed replacement. No more Avani’s tho, making a male barb this time. 😉

Flux: Thanks for your time and thoughts, and I hope the readers found it interesting and informative. Final thoughts for people who play Barbs, or who ought to be doing so?

ZappaFan: Far be it for me to tell anybody what they “ought” to be doing playing a game and having fun. People “ought” to eat their vegetables. But playing a game? Do what’s fun… unless it means exploiting a fundamental design flaw in a computer game, in which case do that until the game devs fix it.

Thanks to ZappaFan for his input and inspiration, and I’ll get him playing a Demon Hunter sooner or later.

If you’re an expert and advocate for one of the other classes in the game and you’d like to take part in a conversation like this one, let me know at [email protected] I’d like conduct similar interviews/conversations for for all the classes during this D3v2 period of transition, and your insight and expertise into your class of choice could be very useful to others.


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  1. Very good interview, thanks Zappa and Flux!

    • Flux, flux, flux … leave it up to you to hunt down some barb lover with 3000 hours who totally agrees with you. Perfect.

      So, that’s it … if Zappahumper says so … well, then I guess we all just have to agree with him.


      the barb is a sluggish waste of time now. OMG … how boring. Did you ever think you’d see the day when you’d rather be playing a Demon Hunter shooting stuff? I never did.

      Always a barb fan; with over 2000 hours of play in both SC and HC … It’s clear to me that barb has been punished.

    • I don’t know, maybe if he mentioned/wrote Spin2win couple more time, than it would be pretty epic…

      captcha: sarcasm

  2. Thank you, interesting read. Particularly since there’s also an incentive now for softcore players with the introduction of Pools of reflection. In D3v I used to focus on dps as well.* This changed dramatically in D3v2 where I tend to focus on survivability to keep the 25% extra xp alive. This allows me to get rid of the hellfire ring and red gem in my helmet.

    I run solo through normal to get as much pools of reflection and then join public games at torment level and watch others being slaughtered by the butcher and waiting for me to kill him at a slow but steady pace.

    * I had a barbarian build centered around stuns and keeping things stunned as a means of dishing out dps and survivability. There are more reasons why this build is not effective anymore (smaller mobs and fury).

  3. Wonderful article. Thanks, Flux and Zappa.

    I tried S2W a few times and sucked at it. The HotA build still seems to work OK in D3V2, but fury generation is noticeably reduced. Long-term it sounds like that’s OK, since gear drops in RoS will help offset that. I’m looking forward to trying out a dual-wield Frenzy/Run Speed/Berserker Rage build in RoS. Hopefully that will feel similar to the D2 barb.

  4. ZF is an inspiration. Rock on

  5. Thanks guys, excellent work by Flux as usual! A shame he couldn’t have found a newer “real life” picture of me. That old, outdated one will just have to do!

  6. Interesting read, looking forward to the next ones.

    @ flux- Are you going to come back to the same peeps after ROS hits and they have time to gear up and level?, that would be interesting.

    • That’s a useful idea, and it might happen. Obviously we’ll have a lot of people who liked class X and then tried it in RoS and had feedback, but as ZappaFan and probably some others will be on the record with more commentary than most…

  7. This might honestly be the nail in the coffin for the expansion for me. Crusader was basically the only reason I was buying it, or at least the primary one. Level 70 and adventure mode sounded interesting but it sounds like if I want to keep playing a tank I need to stick with barb and avoid crusader. Kind of depressing when crusader was being marketed as the big tank, saying they had the heavy armor, special shields, the 2hweapon passive that slowed them down, etc. A strength based shield user that focused on defense was basically the big thing I was looking forward to and they decided to turn crusader into a ranged character? Oh well.

    Knowing me I’ll still buy the expansion eventually but it’s certainly not going to be a day 1 purchase now.

    • “I’ll still buy the expansion eventually but it’s certainly not going to be a day 1 purchase now.”

      Yeah, that’ll show them.

      • If enough people did it, it would. That’s how capitalism works, you show support for a product with your money. If I wait for the game to go on sale and purchase it instead of a day 1 price (most companies judge a games success by sales in the first 2-4 weeks rather than the long term) then yes, it does send a message. It might get lost in the noise since I’m just one person but it’s still the principal.

        The idea that Crusader, with the exact same gear as Barb, is both weaker and squishier is just sad. According to the beta streams even the monk was less squishy and they don’t even have a strength focus to get all that extra defense. It’s depressing to see the character you waited for turn out to be nothing like what you hoped they would be. Up until now I was fine with the expansion, this just happens to be the deal breaker for me. Everybody has one, it’s not a big deal. It’s not like I’m going to parade anti Blizzard signs around saying they’re a terrible company or some nonsense.

        • Oh I just thought it was funny how you went from “this is the nail in the coffin” to “I’ll buy it eventually”, as if your own post convinced you that you were over-reacting and spoke too rashly. Blizzard’s games drop comparatively slowly in price so buying the game at a minor discount is much less effective way to vote with your wallet than not buying it at all.

          Personally, I haven’t keep up with the latest news on the crusader and his ability to tank, but judging from the 2.0 balance pass the other classes received there’s a good chance the crusader will be buffed if he turns out too squishy. It’s not unlikely that Blizzard is planning a release day RoS patch that brings the boxed (DVD) version up to date with the development that took place after beta closed (if any).

    • Keep in mind that he said specifically he wasn’t well versed with the Crusader class. He has obviously fine-tuned his Barb skills to near perfection, but Crusader is a different beast I’m sure. I’m a Barb-main player as well and play the class quite efficiently. I’ve played other classes, with good gear and the supposed powerful builds and don’t have the same success. Plus just because the same gear is equipable for both classes doesn’t necessarily mean his Barb gear was well tailored to the Crusader class. At 40 bucks it’s still a high investment, but don’t take one opinion on the class as the messiah’s word.

      • This isn’t just about the gear though, if you watched some of the beta streams a lot of the players were trying to show Blizzard the disparity between barbarian and monk vs the crusader. Crusader always came out on the bottom when it came to both their defense and offense. Blizzard decided that crusader is not a melee character, despite barbarian having plenty of ranged powers and still being melee (meaning crusader lacks a 30% damage resistance buff), so in order for the crusader to get the same level of defense as a barbarian they have to significantly hurt their dps. That’s what they meant by the same gear giving crusader less effective dps and defense. Yes, the gear could be tuned better for crusader rather than being a straight swap of the barbarian gear but even in gear tuned for crusader they would have far less defense if they were trying to get any reasonable dps.

        • I see. I haven’t kept my ears to the ground on much of the Reaper of Souls beta. I wasn’t aware of those issues. Hopefully Blizzard will indeed take to heart the suggestions offered and tune the Crusader to better compete with the other classes. I would’ve (mistakenly, apparently) assumed the Crusader to be melee like the Barb and receive the 30% resistance, given the nature and design of the character.

    • The lack of the 30% innate DR is not indicative of a lack of “tankyness”. If you think like this then you’re ignoring all of the class’ skills and class specific Legendary items.

      For example, the Wizard can become a better tank with half of the Toughness of the other classes if you use Cold skills and Frostburn. Why? Because you’ll freeze enemies constantly and barely get hit as a result. Sure, other classes can use Frostburn as well, but the Wizard can make the best use of it by far.

      Also, the Crusader can be played as a melee class. It’s just that you can also choose to play it like a ranged one.

      • A classes ability to tank should not be decided around the idea that they might possibly get, if they are lucky, a specific legendary some time down the line. The crusader, as seen by many of the beta streams, is in inferior melee class because they take so much more damage when in melee. The shields were supposed to make up for this but they don’t even come close to the 30% damage reduction that is granted to the other two melee characters. The crusader simply doesn’t have the lasting power in melee without giving up a large amount of DPS, something the other two melee characters don’t have to do.

        • So….you’re crying imbalance on a class that hasn’t actually been released yet? You do realize the stuff you saw was a beta, right?

          • The game is releasing in 15 days, what was seen in the beta is essentially finalized for all intents and purposes. I’m not saying it can’t be improved, however the odds of it happening pre-release are pretty slim now. Also, this is not crying imbalance, this is seeing imbalance based on evidence shown by the testers as well as some fairly large writeups on the forums. This isn’t just making assumptions, the imbalance was shown and proven based on what was accessible in the beta. Could it be fixed? Of course. Will it be? Doubtful, at least for the near future.

          • It’s just number tweaking…I guarantee that tons of numbers on all sorts of stuff will have changed significantly when RoS releases. Expect the obligatory day 1 patch notes to be very long.

    • I recommend you keep an eye on crusader development because I believe this will change. Either the class will be re-tuned or new strategies will be found.

      endless-wotb barbs and arcane freeze wizards weren’t discovered until quite late after release.

  8. Great interview. I see you guys didn’t talk much about the nerfs to fury generation. – do you guys feel much of a change (I know ZappaFan mentioned picking up Animosity)? Maybe it’s my imagination but I feel fury-starved more often than in vanilla.

  9. This was a great read. Very interesting take on the class. I feel revisit from the other perspective would be worth a look too (I.E. A “spin-to-win’er” or someone similar.

    I much prefer the 2.0 Barb so far (I didn’t get to try RoS beta). I played both S2W and other builds. While I prefer HotA, DTWW was just so effective (and honestly, really fun *while solo* to play.) Now there was no doubt the mechanics were flawed, if not totally broken. I also hated, as mentioned above, it was a nightmare to play that build with other players, since they had almost no chance to keep up with the killing speed and efficiency.

    My biggest gripe with the class since the nerf is fury management. ITF made fury not worthy of even thinking about. Now, while I do feel things have improved as a whole, certain builds and skills seem very necessary, much like the old overpower DPS passives were. Into the Fray was overpowered, especially when taking Sprint into consideration. Nerfing that is fine, but leaving Barbs with no solid option for fury generation is frustrating. I understnand they don’t want HotA to be endlessly spammable, but as it stands now it’s pretty frustrating to use given the high spending cost vs. low fury generation.

    I’d like them to either fine-tune the cost of fury spenders, fine-tune to fury gained from generators, or allow Fury on Crit to spawn as an item affix. Fury on Crit makes sense since most other classes have a similar affix. Barb belts would be a perfect spot for it since life steal has been removed, making barb belts essentially identical to regular belts. As it stands now I feel kind of pigeonholed into taking at least one of Animosity or Unforgiving. 3-piece IK set bonus also adds an alluring fury gaining bonus. Nonetheeless, I feel there should be an option to have other means of fury generation. Through any of those scenarios, fixing the proc rate on Sprint RLTW would have to be further fine tuned so as not to make a joke of fury gain once again.

    • I did try a couple of different HotA variations in the beta, and I went back to Rend partly because I seemed to be able to manage my Fury better. I’ve gotten pretty good at timing my Rending so that I almost always have enough Fury to hit WotB if needed, while keeping most enemies around me bleeding. My first P100 barb used full IK minus the weapon so I could get away with being a Rend whore, but move away from that gear setup so I could use WH for my belt with my Avani P100 barb. That made me learn to be a little bit more strategic with my Rending to keep from being Fury starved. Rend isn’t nearly as sexy as HotA tho, that’s for sure. 🙂

      • Rend is easily one of my favorite Barb skills. My favorite build in D2V was Using Bash/HotA/Rend. Most of the barb skills are direct attacks, so to have a powerful DOT (once they buffed Rend) in the arsenal was a great addition, especially when you take into account the additional potential as a healing skill.

        I don’t play HC (I’m far too reckless, even when being cautious), but I’m really enjoying my current build a lot. I’m still using a DTWW variant since the damage is still great, it offers mobility, and Fury is very manageable with the Wind Shear rune. I’ve been swapping between Rend and HotA. Rend is great because you ave Rend damage, Sprint RTLW damage, and WW damage all hitting at the same time. I’ve also been using Frenzy -> Smite as my Fury builder. With fast hitting DW weapons, Fury builds up fairly fast, and the stun from Smite is so frequent it’s amazing at keeping mobs defenseless. With the new 2.0 loot I’d really like to set up a Lightning barb, since Wind Shear and Smite are both lightning based. Dual-wielding Thunderfury and Odin Son, with Thundergod’s and some +% Lightning damage items seems like it would be a blast to play.

  10. Really nice interview. It suddenly brings hope back to barb players :d

    Btw I heard that crusaders don´t get the hidden 30% dr, which is the reason, why it feels more squishy than a barb. Can anyone confirms if it´s true?

    • Correct, only the Barb and Monk get the 30% damage reduction. The other 4 classes get none. Presumably the Crusader’s shield and general defensive nature makes up for that 30%, and the fact that it’s something of a mixed range class, capable of using a lot of spells and playing almost like a mage.

  11. It is true – and to be honest, I’m not sure why this is the case (even though his shields supposedly make up for the 30% difference).

  12. QUOTE

    It is true - and to be honest, I'm not sure why this is the case (even though his shields supposedly make up for the 30% difference).

    IMO the 2H weapons haven’t gotten good enough to justify the 10% loss in movement speed for Crusader, as well as having to lose a passive just to be able to equip a 2H. Seems to me having to dedicate a passive just to be able to equip a 2H like that is detriment enough. In RoS I’m going to try going the 1H route and using that passive for something else (obviously).

  13. Seismic Slam all day long 😀
    I don’t think that fury generation is a problem. It’s way worse after Into the Fray nerf, but that was broken mechanic that should never exist. We saw how nice that was and that’s why it hurts. But We would adapt.

  14. Very interesting. Even though I’ve always been drawn to the melee classes in Diablo games since the original Warrior, I tend to get better results with Blizzard’s ranged classes. Post-patch, all the classes feel stronger to me, but the Wizard in particular feels dramatically improved and more fun.
    I agree that the male Barb was the most well-done D3V character in terms of voice acting, etc. His dialogue and interactions are by far the most enjoyable. For this and other reasons I wanted him to be my “main,” but playing Barbarian has been frustrating for me. I’ve never felt that he hit hard enough to make up for his hits coming slower than a Monk (incidentally I use Frenzy/Maniac as well), and he needs to set aside skills like Ancient Spear to deal with fleeing enemies, while all the other characters, including the Monk, can deal with hard-to-catch creatures without thinking twice. I’m really curious how the Crusader will play, since I preferred the Paladin back in D2. In D3, I still don’t have a clear favorite class.

  15. QUOTE

    IMO the 2H weapons haven't gotten good enough to justify the 10% loss in movement speed for Crusader, as well as having to lose a passive just to be able to equip a 2H. Seems to me having to dedicate a passive just to be able to equip a 2H like that is detriment enough. In RoS I'm going to try going the 1H route and using that passive for something else (obviously).

    Agreed. The only time it would ever be worth using a 2H in lieu of a 1H is if the benefits of the 2H outweighs the best benefit a passive could provide. WHICH is possible, because this opens up all unique 2H unique benefits to a 1H slot.

    For instance, nearly all of the 2H flails would provide brand new build options based on their unique affixes.

    Some other interesting possibilities:
    The Furnace – has one of the few remaining “Crushing Blow” affixes left in the game
    Cam’s Rebuttal – looks interesting.

    It’s hard to truly tell what is 2H and what is 1H on the site right now, though. Some 1H’s are showing up in the 2H pages.

  16. I love my barb.

    The only issue I have is killing one lone enemy. My OCD doesn’t let me ignore them, but using a Seismic Slam on them is a total waste. I am trying to learn to just let it go.

    But so long as I’m attacking 10 or so enemies at time, everything melts nicely and is delicious.

  17. QUOTE

    The game is releasing in 15 days, what was seen in the beta is essentially finalized for all intents and purposes. I'm not saying it can't be improved, however the odds of it happening pre-release are pretty slim now. Also, this is not crying imbalance, this is seeing imbalance based on evidence shown by the testers as well as some fairly large writeups on the forums. This isn't just making assumptions, the imbalance was shown and proven based on what was accessible in the beta. Could it be fixed? Of course. Will it be? Doubtful, at least for the near future.

    Considering that even Patch 2.0 wasn’t identical to what we had on the PTR, which was released only the day after the PTR/beta went down, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll see some changes to the RoS features too. They won’t be spending the next few weeks sat on their hands.

  18. QUOTE

    I recommend you keep an eye on crusader development because I believe this will change. Either the class will be re-tuned or new strategies will be found.
    endless-wotb barbs and arcane freeze wizards weren't discovered until quite late after release.

    By quite late you mean 2 weeks right? Because early WW Barbs were an amusing gimmick where you don’t die or get cced but don’t do much else either, the dps part came later when people got gear and stopped relying on LoH.

  19. Fanastic interview, Flux and Zappa! I have enjoyed it thoroughly! 🙂

    As for reading the discouraged comments and opinions of people regarding the crusader, I can tell you from my experience of having played in the beta for around 6-7 weeks, that the class is more than just fine.

    True, it was more a mid-ranged tanky class battle-mage, than a hulking classic tank, the theme that most were hoping for, but in the last few beta patched, it was slowly changed more into a melee build, and less a spell casting machine.

    I suggest you all give it a shot on launch, as I am certain some more tweaks and changes will be making their way into that release version, and that the crusader will be just fine, and on par with the other classes.. in hope it really lives up to it’s theme and is the tank oriented class of the game.

  20. Good to hear that about the Crusader!

  21. Very enjoyable interview. Great job and love live the barb!

  22. Great interview and hopefully part 1 of a great series.

    I really like how Zappafan just does his own thing playing builds he enjoys rather than doing the thing everyone already does because it’s supposed to be the most efficient. The final question is spot-on; it’s a video game, it’s supposed to be fun. As long as you’re enjoying the game it’s all good, when you’re not enjoying it anymore it’s time to move on.

    Luckily, D3v2 brought back the Fun for me 🙂

  23. Haha failed Barbarian PIC but a nice read anyways ….

  24. Great Interview but the questions were written with white font which couldn’t be read on my phone since the mobile site uses a white background.

  25. Inspiring interview. Giving Zappafan’s Barb build a try at the moment and it’s working out great :).

  26. QUOTE

    Flux, flux, flux ... leave it up to you to hunt down some barb lover with 3000 hours who totally agrees with you.  Perfect.
    So, that's it ... if Zappahumper says so ... well, then I guess we all just have to agree with him.
    the barb is a sluggish waste of time now.  OMG ... how boring.  Did you ever think you'd see the day when you'd rather be playing a Demon Hunter shooting stuff?  I never did. 
    Always a barb fan; with over 2000 hours of play in both SC and HC ... It's clear to me that barb has been punished.

    Congratz to Flux on hunting me down! Quite the Sleuth, that Flux.

  27. QUOTE

    I don't know, maybe if he mentioned/wrote Spin2win couple more time, than it would be pretty epic...
    captcha: sarcasm

    Yeah well he hardly invented the term, that’s for sure.

  28. The article that you have been shared is very awesome. This is a very nice compilation, possibly the best on the web. Hope to see more useful information from this site…

  29. QUOTE

    First off, I miss spin2win. It simply was a very fun build. 
    Change is always tough so I have adapted and moved on. While loot 2.0 had lots of positive, it feels like lots of things were hit with a blunt instrument rather than a scalpel. Given the long development time, I expected the latter. Remember 1.10 in d2 LOD? That changed what is possible in the game and was good enough for it to effectively last 10 years since following patches were minor in terms of items. 
    For example, the 4/2 problem, 2-hander DMG problem, crusader melee, etc. 
    One issue I want to highlight here is a certain redundant weapon, specifically the previously popular Echo Fury, now made into a shell of its former self. Other than raw damage and fear, which very few parties like even if there are now items that take advange of it, there is never a reason to use it over another high damage weapon. Due to the 4/2 limitation, there is no possibility for it to receive socket or crit DMG. It has to settle for things like exp per kill, etc. 
    Considering the primary reason this item was used in the past was due to its inherent 0.25 APS (appropriate given the "echo" name), taking that away and neutering the weapon to its current state seems like an overthought. In the name of less is more, wouldn't it make more sense to simply remove that weapon in the game since lots of other weapons do the same thing (DMG without chance of socket or crit DMG) especially since this one has the negative bonus of fear. 
    There are other weapons like it such as SunKeeper (MF no longer matters in game) and others but let's start with the most popular EF.

    I think the primary change to weapons is bothering you more because weapons have changed what they are supposed to “do,” and it feels like a nerf when in fact it isn’t really one. For example, your example was Echoing Fury, in that they reduced the attacks per second and removed the chance of getting a socket on it. The attacks per second thing I agree should be there, but you get a guaranteed attack speed roll as compensation (albeit only a small compensation). However, the main ‘point’ of the weapon now is pure power: Echoing Fury is now guaranteed to roll increased damage and +26-30% increased damage, while other legendary weapons can roll a max of +6-10%. Because of this, Echoing Fury is going to be better by default than any other legendary weapon in terms of raw damage, because its max role for the damage modifier is literally triple the max roll of any other legendary. As a result, Echoing Fury’s new ‘job’ as a legendary is the power weapon, with a secondary stat of high chance to fear.

    The other weapon you mentioned, Sun Keeper, has also been modified to do a certain “job” better than other legendaries. Namely, Sun Keeper always spawns with +15-30% increased damage to Elites. Where Echoing Fury will always deal more raw damage than other legendaries, Sun Keeper will take down Elites specifically much faster than other legendary weapons will, since its ‘job’ is to do so. In this way, new legendary weapons are more meant to each do a specialized ‘job,’ with one major strength: this could be either a special modifier, such as the damage on EF or the guaranteed buff to cold damage on Azurewrath, or the special orange roll, such as Jace’s Hammer of Vigilance making your Blessed Hammers bigger, or The Tall Man’s Finger turning your zombie dogs into one bigger, meaner zombie dog. In contrast, old legendaries were more meant to generally be good for everything, with neither the highs nor the lows of the new legendary system.

    In addition, something that you failed to realize about the new legendaries is that you can modify them through Enchanting. Echoing Fury cannot roll a socket normally, but if you reroll one of its properties (such as the Attack Speed or the Mainstat/Vit) then you can turn that stat into a socket. Because of this, the ‘general goodstuff’ that old legendaries used to have is not gone, but rather shifted over to the Mystic. I can certainly sympathize with how difficult it is to get Forgotten Souls, but but the specific issue you have seems more to be due to a lack of knowledge with the new system, rather than with the system itself. You can get everything out of the new EF and Sun Keeper that you could out of the old ones, with the exception of the .25 APS (which is sad to see go) and the MF (which isn’t).

    Finally, in this case we must agree to disagree, as I hated Spin2Win. I don’t have a problem in general with cookie-cutter builds like that, but my problem with Spin2Win specifically came down to two things: it was guaranteed better than any other build (lowering build variance) and it nullified many of the game’s challenges just by existing. There were answers to both problems that could have been done without getting rid of the build, but both answers would have been too punishing to the Barbarian in general: better to kill the build than implement the answers. For me, the two answers would have been to nerf the damage on Whirlwind and Sprint-Dust Devils into the ground, and make WotB not provide immunity to enemy CC. This would have fixed both problems, as the main reason Spin2Win was better than any other build was because it had insane damage from WotB granting increased damage and Crit Chance, and was immune to enemy CC like Frozen and Immobilize because WotB provided immunity. However, the problem with implementing those answers would be first that Whirlwind and Dust Devils would be balanced within Spin2Win build, but would be really weak outside of that build, and second, because WotB would have felt really cheapened compared to the old version if it no longer provided CC immunity. Finally, I played it for about 30 Paragon Levels, and I just didn’t have any fun, because anything that didn’t instakill me could never do enough damage to actually hurt me. With the damage changes in 2.0 and RoS, instakills never really happen, so it would have been even more ridiculous if Spin2Win hadn’t been changed somehow. Overall, I can appreciate and sympathize with the fact that you enjoyed the build, but I really feel that Blizzard had to do something, and getting rid of the build was probably the best they could have done.

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