MF Howling Berserker guide - new version This is a new version of the guide I posted here a while ago. I. IDEA Howling berserker is a barb that uses Berserk as his main combat and Howl as a backup skill. When the 1.10 patch was released, I went to ladder HC and sure had to make an MF char to find starting items. I chose barb as safest char but what kind of barb? I tried different skill combinations: standard WW, Frenzy-Taunt, Ironbarb, and finally picked Berserk-Howl barb that I never regretted later. Why? 1. Good starting char. You never need to rebuild him when you find better items. I just equipped the newly found items and continued leveling. In his final version he has basically same stats and skills Iâ€™d chose if I had best items from the beginning. 2. Very safe to play. MF char in HC play is the base of all your activities. If you lose MF char, you have to forget your main chars and rebuild the MFer. Iâ€™ve lost many HC chars, but this barb been always kind of tank sure to survive in any circumstamces he was built for. He doesnt usualy meet monsters strong enough to kill him. And his belt is always full with full rejs, they drop in huge numbers. 3. Nice crowd control. I cant say â€œexcelentâ€ because I never used Grim Ward, rarely Taunt and all those skills perfect crowd control barb player would use. But Howl and Battle cry skills proved extremely handy just for magic finding. How to play. Due to the synergy, skill points in Howl affect Berserk damage more than Mastery does, so you can max Howl and at the same time increase Berserk damage. Howl will scare off all monsters which are not bosses or champions. Casting Howl on your way and on the boss pack you can fight the boss alone. Having killed him, you cast Find Item on the body, pick up the items and go further. During the run you dont need to kill anything but the monsters with good item drops, thus saving time and preventing dangerous situations. Thats why I call this type of play boss-hunting. Unlike any other class, howling berserker can actually chose what monster to fight. Along with safety this gives him taste of â€œestheticâ€ playing what in this build I like the best. Why this barb is not for Meph runs. In 1.10 there are 3 kinds of MFing: running Act bosses (Mephisto, Andariel, etc), clearing certain areas (Pit, Mausoleum, etc) and running some SU bosses (Pindle, Shenk, etc). The barb we talking about designed to fulfill 2nd and 3rd tasks. 1st questrion: cant he kill Meph? I am sure with very high dmg weapon and crushing blow he can. But I am also sure right built sorc will run Meph much faster and can have more MF items on. In D2C this is definitely not an option. It will take VERY long time to kill Hell Meph. 2nd question: arent the Act bosses most profitable? Maybe. As MF works on them they have the best chances to drop really good items. But Act bosses: 1. Hard to find (I presume we are not using hacks). And you can RIP easily on the way 2. Dangerous 3. Cant be horked meaning you cant use Find Item skill on their bodies. So, with good level of Find Item you have 1,5 times more drops from normal bosses than from Meph. Now devide time it takes to run Meph w/o mh by time per one SU run and multiply by 1,5. For example if you need 4 minutes for Meph and 1 for SU boss, he will drop 6 times more then old good Mephi. And you sure not to disconnect in dur2/3 and die w/o honor. Iâ€™d suggest having sorc for Meph runs and Berserker for bosses. Besides you can get all items you need doing SU only. II. SKILLS 1. Berserk â€“ 20 points. Our main combat skill. Berserk deals most damage of all combat skills and converts this damage into Magic. Magic is 6th attack type (along with physical, and 4 elemental), Berserk being same as Blessed Hammer or Bone Spirit..That means PhI and Stone Skin bosses become easy while some other monster types have high Magic resist or immunity. These are (> 25% resistance): Warped One (Fallen, act 5) (75) Plague Bearer (Zombie, act2) (100) Whailing Beast (Wendigo, act 3) (100) Greater Mummy (100) Bone warrior, Horror (Skeleton, act2) (70) Horror Archer (Skeleton Archer)(75) Death Clan (Goatman)(50) Wraith (50) Cow (33) Serpent Magus (Viper, act 2) (70) Lightning Spire (90) Fire tower (50) Duriel (33) Mephisto (50) Izual (30) Demon Steed (Siege Beast, act 5) (75) Defiled Warrior (Reanimated Horde, 5) (50) Blood Lord (Frenzytaur, act 5) (33-50) Guest Monsters act 5 Blood Hawk (50) Fallen (75) Fallen Shaman (50) Goatman (50) Reanimated Horde (50) Bone Warrior (Skeleton)(70) Horror Mage (Skeleton Mage)(50) Stygian Fury , Succubus (66) Gloam (50) Diablo-clone (50) Only Boss bonus which can rise Magic resistance is Mana Burn (+75). Nethertheless, this is not clear as any Mana Burn Wraith should in this case become Magic Immune, which I cant remember to have seen. As you can see only few monsters annoy Berserk user and if you compare to number of Physical resistant monsters, Stone skin and PhysImmune bosses (Extrafast and Mana Burn plz) you see Berserk is best single-hit combat skill in the game. Berserk requires a bit of mana, so fighting Mana Burn boss can be a pain especially if he is PhysImmune (you have to use normal physical attack if you dont have enough mana for Berserk). In this case, try hit-and-run tactics. Most bosses wont be able to hit you fast enough after your hit. Another solution is using mana potions. Anyway, most annoying monsters are Wraiths as they all have Mana Burn ability, PhysImmune, 50% Magic resistance and fly in huge packs (sprites of flying units cover each other as in StarCraft). 21 level Berserk = 450 ED. 2. Howl â€“ 20 points. Howl is basically a curse similar to Necromancerâ€™s Terror. It causes green thingies to appear over monsterâ€™s head. Cursed with Howl, moster will run in opposite direction until he get stuck or the curse wears off. Each point invested in Howl increases Berserk damage by 10%. Why is it important to max Howl and not Shout? 1st, Shout has very limited effectiveness for this build. When you are hit while running your defence wont help. Same with fighting â€“ Berserk sets defence to zero. Only time when defence can help is standing in lag not responding to monstersâ€™ attacks. This barb should have enough life and block to survive in such situation. 2nd, you will never have high enough level of Howl: the more points you invest, the more monsters it will affect and the longer they wont bother you. If Howl is not maxed, monsters are likely to come back for you in short time. Strong points of Howl: it scares off most monsters thus leaving you 1vs1 with the boss. Howl also affects archers so that they stop shooting and start walking. Basically you need Howl to occupy monsters while you fight bosses and champions. Till the curse wears off they walk in some direction and wont attack. Weak points: Howl often cause desynch so that you see monsters walking on place while they are already far. When monsters have no place to retreat, they continue attacking if you are in range (for example, if you are in corner with monsters, you cant just scare them away as they wont have a place to go). In this case reposition yourself so that either you are not in range or monsters can run away. Leap attack serves good in this case. Some monsters are not affected by Howl (notably, Oblivion knights). Howl is very important vs Mana Burn bosses as their minions gain the same ability. In this case you should scare the minions away by any means. If you dont kill the boss before Howl wears off, the minions will come back for you and I advise you to run, accumulate mana for Howl and cast it again before finishing the boss. Same with Cold Enchanted, Fana, Might and Extrastrong bosses â€“ you will need to clear the battlefield before engaging in combat. I must admit minions are quite annoying and they tend to follow their master while even cursed or separated from him by long distance. 21 lvl Howl grants 23 seconds of freedom from annoying monsters and +210% damage to Berserk 3. Find Item â€“ 11 points with items. Why I insist on 11 points. Guess what main skill in this build is. Berserk or Howl? No â€“ Find Item. This is MF build and all it has must serve the purpose of increasing magic finding. 11 level of FI grants 44% chance to â€œhorkâ€ the body of killed monster (that means we have another chance to kill it doing nothing). After 11 lvl diminishing returns are just too scary. As to effeciency of FI, despite what the skill description says it actually works on bosses SU included and gives just same quality items that they drop being killed. MF works fine with FI. Thus they can easily drop uniques, sets and rares and often their â€œsecondâ€ drop are much better than the first. Why dual Heart Carvers wont replace points in FI ? â€“ we need more MF, not % of FI chance. Instead of Heart Carvers or whatever we can equip dual Gulls or Ali Babaâ€™s thus increasing our MF VERY significantly. 4. Battle Orders â€“ 20 points. No discussion. 23 lvl = twice more life/mana/stamina and further increases 3% per lvl 5. Natural resistance â€“ 9 points with items. I wont preach necessity of having good resists. Besides barb is the only class that can have 50% more resists for only 9 skill points (+skills from items included). I prefer 52% more resists as after this lvl hit diminishing returns and 52% just seems to me safer than 49%. Anyway the more + skills items and resists you have, the less you can invest here. 6. Battle Cry â€“ 1 point. This is 1-point wonder skill we cant do without. With only 1 point invested we have -50% monster defence and -25% damage. This is mainly useful vs high defence monsters â€“ Act bosses, SU such as Izual and those bosses you want to be sure you hit them every time (Mana Burn for example). Also good if your AR is not high enough. Vs normal bosses you can leave BC aside. But while fighting Act Bosses and such always cast BC first. Another use of BC is while fighting such bosses as diablo. I found out sometimes you dont get exp for killing Dia as you probably dont deal the killing blow. Casting BC repeatedly can solve this problem. 7. Battle Command â€“ 1 point. BCnd duration now depends on points invested in such skills as Battle Orders meaning you get long enough duration for just 1 point invested. BCnd is actually a virtual +1 skills item, cast it before BO and Shout and count skills needed bearing in mind +1 from BCnd. Thus I state 21 lvls here as you have 21 lvl with maxed skills even without + skills items. 8. Increased Speed â€“ 1 or more points. 18 FRW youâ€™ll have anyway and that is better than 20 FRW boots. 9. Mastery â€“ 4 points with items. We replace Mastery with Howl, but more points in Mastery means more AR, damage and critical strike. At 4 lvl youâ€™ll have 52%, 43% and 11% respectively. After that AR increases by 8% per level, damage by 5% and critical strike maxes 21%. 10. Prereqs â€“ Bash, Stun, Concentrate, Leap, Leap Attack, Shout, Taunt, Find Potion, Increased Stamina, Iron Skin â€“ 1 point each. Most useful here is Leap Attack as a mobility enhancement skill. LA should be used to jump over obstacles, reposition oneself during combat, dealing with some nasty bosses. I mean those that tend to retreat and shoot (mages, archers, etc). Jump to them and deal a few blows with Berserk. This is especially useful vs Mana Burn mages such as Bone Ash (when heâ€™s Mana Burn). His attacks wont take all your mana in one blow, but if you walk straight to him, they will. And he most likely will retreat meanwhile. Just jump to him and finish the poor mage. As to situations when you have to retreat yourself being surrounded , you can use either LA or Howl depending on situation. 11. After youâ€™ve maxed all the above spare points go into Shout (+10% defence, +10% to Berserk damage per skill point invested) HOTKEYS Right mouse button: F1 â€“ Howl F2 â€“ Battle Cry F3 â€“ Find Item F4 â€“ Leap Attack F5 â€“ Battle Command F6 â€“ Battle Orders F7 â€“ Shout F8 â€“ Town Portal. Left mouse button: Berserk Cast F5 â€“F6 â€“ F7 first. Switch to F1 while running and scare off whatever monsters follow. Scare off the minions. Cast F2. Switch to your dual Ali babaâ€™s and cast F3 when boss dead. Pick up items and continue. III. STATS 1. Strength â€“ enough to equip all items 2. Dexterity â€“ enough for max block (items in D2C) 3. Vitality â€“ rest 4. Energy â€“ none. IV. EQUIPMENT AND LEVELLING 1. What we need from equipment. Goal: Berserk is a swing attack so the barb needs have maximum possible MF while being able to hit monsters not giving them time to respond AR (attack rating) is most important with this build. Unlike with WW you cant compensate less AR with more hits. Each unsuccessful hit means the monster hits you instead. Besides, more time passes Howl wears off . IAS (increased attack speed) works the same way â€“ more speed means more hits. CBF (cannot be frozen) â€“ same (increases attack speed) DTM (damage taken goes to mana) and more mana helps regenerate mana fast enough to never run out of it. Not having enough mana means using normal attack with lesser damage and chance to hit. Having much mana is recommended but last in importance. Crushing blow and high damage weapon. Resume: Defence: max resists, max block, DR, more life. Offence: AR, IAS, DTM, CBF, crushing, more mana. 2. Recommended equipment: D2C: Weapon: good battle hammer. B/h has highest one-hand damnage and requires less stats than other weapon types. Helm: any socketed with 3 perfect topazzes. Armor: Angelic Rings and amulet: Angelic (each ring 50 MF) Gloves: 40% chance gloves or rare gloves with MF and resists Belt: Goldwrap Boots: rare boots with 25% MF, FRW and resists (perfect boots should have 20 lightning, cold and poison resists to use Chance gloves) Shield: perfect Ward or 3pd tower This set has lower MF than standard Tancred-based set, but compensates with huge AR, DTM, mana, +skill and so on. LOD: Having played D2C exclusively I cant give advice concerning gear, choice of Merc and Mercâ€™s equipment. I suggest addressing to Fluxâ€™s guide (http://strategy.diabloii.net/news.php?id=495), nice Berserker guide (where did it go?) and take a look at 1.10 runewords (http://www.battle.net/diablo2exp/items/runewords.shtml ) 2. Levelling (D2C) 1-12: 1st locations of Act I in 8 ppl games. Get Hell Forge Hammer or upgraded Khalims. Following the road and killing all encountered monsters should get you to 7-8 lvl by the time you arrive at Tristram portal. Do Ttristram till 12. 12-20: Sewers and Arcane in party. Otherwise get a Enchant sorc help you. Enchant stays for 15 minutes and adds huge damage. 20-30: Normal cows 30-60: NM cows 60-80: Hell Flayer jungle or CS in party. Problem with this build is slow killing speed, thats why party is always recommended. While levelling - max BO 1st, this adds nice damage to Concentrate skill. As long as you can kill monsters use Concentrate â€“ its safer (defence and leech). Berserk should be maxed last (by 80 lvl). From now on you have all needed skills and can start MFing or level Shout.