This is a compendium of information regarding game mechanics as they relate to the Barbarian (and other classes, in part) including a discussion of the skill builds and gear that has worked best in Hardcore mode. This information has been gathered via in-game testing and data mined formulae, and reflects my experiences as a level 60 Barbarian in Hell difficulty on hardcore mode (though most of the information is relevant for softcore play as well).

    IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a living document, meaning that it will be updated over time as new information emerges. This is not a place for us to dictate information; if something is incorrect or has changed, please help us maintain this as an accurate, up-to-date reference for all players.

    TL;DR Summary
    Spreadsheet: to compare mitigation across builds (file -> save as)
    Sample Builds: Full Tank, Solo Farming, Party Tank, Bosses, Stun-heavy/Kiting, Very aggressive AOE farming, Pure-Ranged
    Stat Priorities: Vitality > Strength > Dexterity (avoid Intelligence)
    Gear Priorities: +Armor / +%Armor, +Resistances, + %Health % Damage Reduction, Vitality, Strength

    DR – Damage Reduction
    Clvl – Character Level
    Mlvl – Monster Level
    Str – Strength
    Dex – Dexterity
    Int – Intelligence
    Vit – Vitality

    Table of Contents
    1. Survivability Mechanics

    1.1 Armor
    1.2 Resistances
    1.3 Dodge
    1.4 Block
    1.5 Damage Reduction

    2. Barbarian Mechanics

    2.1 Damage over time
    2.2 Dual wielding
    2.3 Slows and Snares

    3. Builds

    3.1 Components of a build
    3.2 Vital abilities
    3.3 Sample builds for hardcore

    4. Gearing Considerations

    1. Survivability Mechanics

    1.1 Armor

    • Reduces all incoming damage by a percentage
    • Increased by items, strength, abilities
    • 1 point of strength = 1 armor

    1.1.1 Armor Damage Reduction Formula:

    %DR =[Armor/(Armor+Mlvl*50)]*100
    Where Mlvl is the level of the monster attacking you

    1.1.2 Armor against a level 60 monster


    1.2 Resistances

    • Reduces damage of an element by a percentage
    • Works on physical damage as well as elemental
    • Increased by items, abilities and intelligence
    • 1 intelligence = 0.1 resistance

    1.2.1 Resistance Damage Reduction Formula:

    %DR =[Resistance/(Resistance+Mlvl*5)]*100
    Where Mlvl is the level of the monster attacking you

    1.2.2 Resistance against a level 60 monster


    1.3 Dodge

    • Percent chance to avoid all damage of an attack
    • Melee, ranged, missile, magic missile and AOE attacks can be dodged
    • Increased through items, abilities and dexterity

    1.3.1 Dexterity to Dodge Conversion
    Dexterity does not provide static amounts of dodge like Strength and Intelligence. Instead, the more Dexterity you have the less dodge you will receive.

    0-100 dex gives0.10%dodge per pt.
    100-500 dex gives0.03%dodge per pt.
    500-1000 dex gives0.02%dodge per pt.
    1000-8000 dex gives0.01%dodge per pt.

    Resulting in the following:

    100 Dexterity gives10% dodge
    500 Dexterity gives20% dodge
    1000 Dexterity gives30% dodge
    2000 Dexterity gives40% dodge
    3000 Dexterity gives50% dodge


    1.3.2 Example Dodge Calculation
    Assume: 600 Dexterity, +10% dodge from ability

    100 Dexterity @ 0.1% per point = (100*0.1%) = 10.00%
    400 Dexterity @ 0.025% per point =(400*0.025%)=10.00%
    100 Dexterity @ 0.02% per point =(100*0.02%)=2.00%
    Total from Dexterity:(10.00%+10.00%+2.00%)=22%

    Combining this with the 10% ability dodge we get

    =1-[(1-Total from Dexterity)*(1-Total from Ability 1)]
    =1-[(1-22%)*(1-10%)] =30% Total Dodge

    1.4 Block

    • Provides a chance to block an amount of damage from each attack
    • Three primary shield stats: armor, block chance and block amount
    • Block test occurs after damage reduction calculation
    • Magical attacks can be blocked
      • There has been some speculation on this – if someone can find evidence that this is incorrect, let me know and I’ll update this! -Jom

    1.4.1 Blocking Mechanics
    Shields provide a line of defense after your armor, resistances and damage reduction is taken into account. If a shield block is rolled, damage you would take is reduced by your shield block amount. If you would take damage less than the shield block amount, you take no damage.

    Due to the nature of the damage calculations, armor synergizes very well with blocking. That is, a character with high armor will see more benefit from blocking than a character with very low armor.

    1.5 Total Damage Reduction

    • Combines all sources of damage reduction multiplicatively
    • When testing for survivability, be sure to calculate both physical and elemental damage
    • The total damage reduction is an average over time due to block and dodge being random events

    1.4.1 Other Damage Reduction Sources

    • Barbarians and Monks have an innate 30% damage reduction
    • % armor bonuses are calculated including all static armor adjustments

    1.4.2 Basic Formula

    Total DR%=100*[1-(1-DR1)*(1-DR2)*(1-DR3)…]
    where DRX (e.g. DR1, DR2, etc.) is a source of damage reduction

    1.4.3 Basic Formula Example
    Assume: 60% DR from armor, a shield with 15% block chance and 1000 block amount, 10% dodge from Dexterity and 20% resistance to all magical damage
    Assume: Monster hit deals 5,000 damage
    Note: All melee classes receive 30% damage reduction from all sources

    Shield Damage Calculation:

    Shield DR=15%*1000 = 150 average damage blocked

    Physical Damage Reduction:

    1) Find Non-avoidance DR: 100*[1-(1-60%)*(1-30%)]=72.00% (1400 damage)
    2) Determine Block DR: 150/1400=11% DR
    3) Combining it all: 100*[1-(1-72%)*(1-11%)*(1-10%))=77.57% Total Physical DR

    Magical Damage Reduction

    1) Find Non-avoidance DR: 100*[1-(1-60%)*(1-30%)*(1-20%)]=77.60% (1120 damage)
    2) Determine Block DR: 150/1120=13% DR
    3) Combining it all: 100*[1-(1-77.60%)*(1-13%)*(1-10%))=82.46% Total Magical DR

    1.4.4 Spreadsheet Calculator

    • Download here
    • Adjust variables in yellow cells to compare mitigation across different builds



    2. Barbarian Mechanics

    2.1 Damage over Time

    • DiabloWikiDoT effects from the same ability (e.g. Rend) do not stack
    • DiabloWikiDoT effects from multiple abilities can be applied to a single monster at the same time
    • Higher attack speeds cause each DoT in a channeled ability to “tick” more frequently – total length of time does not change
    • DoT effects scale from weapon DPS, not weapon damage (i.e. slow, high-damage weapons aren’t necessarily better than fast, low-damage weapons)

    2.2 Dual Wielding

    • Alternates attacks between each weapon
    • 15% attack speed bonus while DiabloWikidual wielding
    • You never attack with both weapons at the same time
    • Some abilities always use the damage from the main hand weapon
    • Weapons with the +X attacks per second affix provide the bonus speed to both weapons

    2.3 Slows and Snares

    • Attacks with cold damage slow enemies
    • Slows do not stack, only the highest is used



    3. Builds

    3.1 Components of a good build

    1. Some form of mobility/control to prevent being surrounded
    2. “Emergency buttons” for elites/champions/bosses
    3. Percent-based Healing
    4. As much armor/resistances/passive defense as you can fit

    3.2 Important Abilities

    Effect: 30% chance when hit to activate an ability, which when used heals 5% of max HP per enemy hit

    As soon as you possibly can, rune this with provocation. The healing this ability provides is enormous, especially against packs of mobs. To top it off, there’s no cooldown.

    DiabloWikiIgnore Pain
    Effect: 65% damage reduction for 5 seconds

    You’re virtually unkillable for 5 seconds, on a 30 second cooldown. That means about 15-25% of the time you’re nearly immune to death (depending on rune – either extend time to 7 seconds or gain 20% life steal).

    DiabloWikiWar Cry
    Effect: Increases Armor, along with HP, resistances, or dodge

    This will fill in any stats you’re missing from your gear. Due to diminishing returns, we want to gain damage mitigation from multiple sources. For instance, if you’re heavy on armor and doge but low on resistances, rune this for resistances. If you’re heavy of armor and resistances, rune this for dodge.

    DiabloWikiWrath of the Berserker
    Effect: 10% crit, 20% attack speed, 20% dodge, 20% movement speed, (rune for 100% damage or 60% dodge)

    Every two minutes you’re a god. Or..nearly so. This is the cornerstone of your champion/elite killing power. It can also be used as an emergency button to escape with, as it breaks frozen and various other debuffs.

    Furious Charge: DiabloWikiDreadnought
    Effect: Dash forward, healing 8% for every enemy hit

    Mobility and healing – this can be used in many builds to kill two birds with one stone.

    3.3 Example builds for Hardcore

    Note that these builds are the ones I’ve found to work best for hardcore play. In softcore, you can likely get away with quite a bit more damage and less survivability. These are templates to help you as a starting point in building your own build that suits your playstyle – adapt them as you see fit.


    Keep in mind that, currently, hardcore Barbarians don’t really have a single build to “rule them all” – certain areas require certain abilities to stay alive. You should almost always be using either Full Tank, Bosses, or Stun-Heavy/Kiting.

    3.3.1 Full Tank

    Use when: You’re in hardcore, under-geared in softcore, exploring new content, or have a high-DPS friend

    You’re giving up a large portion of your damage potential for raw staying power. Ignore Pain, Wrath of the Berserker and Leap all provide very high levels of damage mitigation for elite and champion packs, while frenzy and revenge provide your damage.

    If you feel like you’re hurting for more damage, consider swapping Tough as Nails for Berserker Rage and the Wrath of the Berkserker rune for Insanity.

    3.3.2 Solo Farming

    Use when: You’re well-geared and farming comfortable content quickly (e.g. magic finding)

    Relies more heavily on healing than mitigation and kills more quickly than the full tank. You retain Ignore Pain for emergencies, but gain Furious Charge in lieu of Leap for mobility and healing.

    Frenzy: Sidearm provides your main source of damage, which is useful for both single-target and AOE damage (the additional projectile can hit your main target, and often does). Wrath of the Berserker: Insanity provides a huge damage amp, especially paired with Berserker Rage.

    3.3.4 Party Tank

    Use when: You’re in a heavy-DPS group that lacks survivability. Not recommended for Hardcore.

    Gives up most of your damage and mobility in exchange for more stunning and group buffs. Build relies on having other damage dealers to do the killing while you keep things busy.

    3.3.5 Bosses

    Use when: You’re fighting a boss

    Due to boss enrage mechanics, it is imperative to kill them quickly. This crux of this build is maintaining a very high attack speed with Frenzy: Smite for frequent stunning, in combination with Wrath of the Berserker + Earthquake. Take the life steal rune on ignore pain instead of revenge, as revenge isn’t terribly attractive against single targets.

    3.3.6 Stun-heavy/Kiting

    Use when: You’re in tight corridors or areas without room for much maneuverability. Try to funnel mobs into a choke point, then stun them to keep them at a distance.

    Gives up some healing from Revenge (you won’t be in the thick of things if you can help it) and takes a number of additional stunning abilities. Primary heal is now Furious Charge: Dreadnought.

    Focus on using abilities to generate rage quickly, then spam Seismic Slam: Stagger to keep things stunned and at a distance. Due to the hit-and-run nature of the build, Unforgiving is taken as a passive to keep rage from decaying while you move.

    3.3.7 Very aggressive AOE farming

    Use when: You vastly over-gear content, are extremely comfortable and want to quickly group-up mobs and AOE them down

    Be careful with this one – it provides an immense amount of damage over a short period of time, but gives up quite a bit of mitigation to do so. Ideally, round up a bunch of mobs and burst them down before your power abilities run out.

    3.3.8 Pure-Ranged

    Use when: Melee attacks simply aren’t an option

    This is an interesting variant I’m still testing. This build relies heavily on crits and cooldowns to generate fury, and doesn’t have nearly as much mitigation as other Barbarians would typically have. You’re still more beefy than a Demon Hunter, but try to avoid getting into the thick of things.

    Leap: Launch and Ancient Spear: Rage Flip are your escapes, and you keep War Cry and Ignore Pain for emergencies. Practice your stutter-step micro, because you don’t want to be anywhere near monsters for this.



    4. Gearing Considerations

    • In general: Vitality > Strength > Dexterity > Intelligence
    • Due to the high amounts of resistance available on gear, intelligence is a very poor stat for Barbarians and should be avoided
    • Armor and Dodge both suffer from diminishing returns – use the spreadsheet to determine which stats provide you with the most mitigation.
    • +% Health (e.g. gem in helm) is a great way to get your health pool up


    To be added:

    • Damage Calculations
    • Demo videos
    • Best Affixes
    • Boss Strategies
    • Gems discussion
    • Life steal vs. life on hit vs. life on kill

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