Barbarians vs. Desert Mercenaries


Diabloii.Net Member
Barbarians vs. Desert Mercenaries

This is my first time playing, and I’m a level 35ish sorceress, I’m about to fight Baal and finish the game on normal difficulty. So far I’ve been using a defensive desert mercenary from act II, who has more than done well by me. My question is, before I complete act 5 should I pick up a barbarian hireling? Comparing them at comparable levels on paper, obviously the barbarian has higher strength, resistances and hit points, but lower everything else. The barbarians bash attack seems to be only slightly better than desert warriors jab attack when you factor in 3 hits. I know the barbarian can use barbarian +skill equipment and can duel wield, in that case, does that mean a bash or stun attack would be twice as effective as listed? If so, that would make his damage output tremendous. I guess what I’m getting at is, is the defiance aura of the desert mercenary worth sacrificing for the extra damage and faster healing of the barbarian? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!


Diabloii.Net Member
Firstly, the barbarian cannot dual-wield. He can only wield ONE sword and no shield. And frankly, I do not think the selection of swords really matches up to the many awesome polearms available. The ability to wear barbarian helms is neat, but nothing else, it's not like he can really put those +skills to any practical use anyway.

The barbarian's Bash is more annoying than anything knocking monsters round and about (often out of your area of effect spells), but his stun is really nice.

When you factor in the awesome auras available on desert warriors the barbarian really comes out as the inferior.

The barbarian does have a few things to be said for him, however. You mentioned them already. He has boatloads of hitpoints and awesome resists so he doesn't keel over as fast if he gets trapped in hit recovery or breathed upon by a bosspack of horadrim ancients.

Also he has a bit more aggressive AI compared to the Desert Warrior. The Desert Warrior mostly cares about you being within the radius of his aura and can often be found camping out somewhere in the rear instead of where the action is. The barbarian instead heads for the nearest enemy to break some heads. This can of course be annoying at times too.


Diabloii.Net Member
One thing that I find is that in normal mode, since I usually run in groups to level faster, my Act 2 merc tends to lag behind my char in levels. Since most people recommend a holy freeze Act 2 merc, which is available in nightmare difficulty, you're going to be trading in your normal difficulty merc anyway. I typically trade in my Act 2 merc (level 16 for example) and hire a (level 24?) barbarian, with the idea that I'll be trading him in in 2 more acts anyway. Just a thought.



Diabloii.Net Member
Barb mercs can't dual wield. I don't think they can use a shield either. They can use two handed swords though. Personally I pick up an Act5 merc on any character that I think can get away with it, namely sorcs and barbs. You kinda get sick of Act 2 mercs after a while. If you can get some decent armour on yourself and your desert merc, and put a point in a cold armour (preferably the second one) then it might be worth keeping the defiance merc. But to be honest, I think the higher life and regen of a barb might keep him alive better than a defiance aura.

That being said, I think defiance merc is best if your build uses firewall.

Dagoth Urs Flaming Hand

Diabloii.Net Member
All u nd 2 do is wait, u cant use nething real good yet but i would choose the act 5 barb until u get 2 nm act 2 then get the holy freeze merc and get insight, then after hes atleast lvl 70 get him infinity or obediance


Diabloii.Net Member
I've used both ActII and ActV mercs on casters, and both have their uses. If you do not use a cold spell, my reccomendation is to use Holy Freeze. They are hands down the most useful IMO for any caster without a chilling attack.

That being said, I kind of like the barb merc if you use orb or blizzard and don't need the HF's slowing aura. The might merc's aura helps you not at all, even though it will make him more powerful. I find the defiance merc to be of limited use unless you are already a high defense build, and I personally have trouble getting them to level. The barb merc can tank and regenerates his life extremely fast, so he keeps mobs off of me long enough for me to kill them, then heals so I don't have to feed him potions all the time.

The main advantage I see to using the Act II in these cases would be the availability of cheap, powerful weapons. The runewords are both very good--possibly the best if you need the meditation aura for mana--and bonehews seem to fall like snow. There are some cheap weapons for the barbs, too, though. Doombringer works pretty well and can be had for pgems, and you can always cube a cruel elite 2 hander with the chippy recipe (hey, I found a use for that recipe in 1.10!) Low end Grandfathers go for about pul on USEL, and if you've got a Mal laying around, an etheral Oath would be extremely nice.

And don't forget that if you hire a barb, you can get one named Torkel.

EDIT: don't forget RW Insight for polearms, either.
Well first of all...before everyone bashes barbarian mercs...barb mercs attack ALOT faster AND have ALOT more FHR (faster hit recover). They also have a ton of they're pretty much tanks..but on the other hand..Act 2 mercs are pretty good themselves...I would have to say that they both even out...