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Frenzy Barbarian Guide

Overview:

The frenzy barbarian is one of the strongest melee characters in the game. It is particularly strong at killing bosses which makes it a top choice for both magic finding and contesting ladder.

STRENGTHS

  • Extremely high single target damage – excellent for killing bosses and champions.
  • Very effective crowd control.
  • Highly customisable character.
  • Provides a high level Battle Orders for party members.
  • Able to kill Ubers with minor gear switches.
  • Fast movement speed with Frenzy Buff and excellent teleport frames with an Enigma-based setup.
  • One of the fastest characters for the “Fast Chaos” run.
  • 1 point in Berserk takes care of Physical Immunes very easily.

WEAKNESSES

  • No AOE damage.
  • Effective Frenzy builds are very expensive – good weapons are essential for clearing Hell Difficulty at a reasonable pace.
  • Only moderate tankiness despite having a high HP pool. No Shield.

Character Stats

FASTER CAST RATE BREAKPOINTS

Teleport

9 Frames = 63 FCR

8 Frames = 105 FCR < Optimal Performance

7 Frames = 200 FCR

FASTER HIT RECOVERY BREAKPOINTS

7 Frames = 15 FHR

6 Frames = 27 FHR < Guillaume’s Face alone provides 30

5 Frames = 48 FHR

DAMAGE STAT PRIORITY

Increased Attack Speed is the most valuable stat by a large margin, especially versus broken immunes.

Attack Rating is a very important stat that comes primarily from your ring slots, dexterity and inventory charms. There are no specific breakpoints for attack rating, but generally you want to have a 95% chance of hitting most targets. Your chance to hit also depends on your level vs. the target’s level. You will most likely want to run 10,000+ AR on a High Budget build.

Crushing Blow allows a Frenzy Barbarian to take down high HP target with ease. This is especially relevant when farming Act Bosses or Ubers.

Deadly Strike doubles the damage of your attack and is an extremely powerful modifier. It is essentially a damage multiplier – 1% Deadly Strike is equivalent to +1% damage dealt.

Enhanced Damage is another important damage multiplier. Other than enhanced damage native to your weapon, you will be stacking damage from Off-Weapon ED% (Fortitude Runeword), Auras (Might, Concentration, Fanaticism), +Skills which boost Frenzy and Weapon Masteries and Strength (1 Strength = 1% ED). Enhanced Damage vs. Demons is also very relevant since almost all boss monsters in the game are Demons.

Critical Strike is functionally identical to Deadly Strike. Your only source of critical strike on a Barbarian is from Combat Masteries. However, since Deadly Strike and Critical Strike cannot both proc from the same attack, this stat is subject to diminishing returns and is therefore a low priority. If Deadly Strike chances is 100% or higher, Critical Strike will have no effect.

STRENGTH: Enough to equip items (preferably 0)

DEXTERITY: 0

VITALITY: All Remaining Points

ENERGY: 0

*A “Titan” build puts all remaining stat points into Strength to maximise damage output but is not generally recommended.

Skill Distribution

20 Double Swing

20 Frenzy

20 Taunt

20 Battle Orders

1 Bash

1 Double Throw

1 Stun

1 Concentrate

1 Berserk

1 Increased Stamina

1 Increased Speed

1 Iron Skin

1 Natural Resistances

1 Howl

1 Shout

1 Battle Command

Rest into Weapon Mastery (Corresponding to the weapon type you are using)

*Depending on your character level, it is a good idea to put a single point into the weapon mastery of your choice before maxing Frenzy synergies.

**If you do not wish to respec multiple times, Sword Mastery is the best endgame choice due to the strength of the Grief Phase Blade. This is followed by Axe Mastery if you wish to end with an Ettin-Axe based build (See Below in Itemisation)

Itemisation

LOW BUDGET

While it is not impossible to play a low budget Frenzy Barbarian, it is extremely slow without access to mid-range weapons and gear. It is generally better to join a party and max out Battle Orders, Shout, Battle Command and Leap / War Cry. This allows you play as an effective support while levelling and gearing up. Below is a suggestion for a playable low budget Frenzy Barb:

Helm: Guillaume’s Face

Amulet: Angelic Wings

Weapon (Left Side Primary): Honor OR Black

Weapon 2 (Right Side Secondary): Passion

Armor: Any Peace Armor

Gloves: Death’s Hand

Belt: Death’s Guard

Boots: 30 FRW Boots with Lightning or Fire Resistances

Ring 1: Angelic Halo

Ring 2: Angelic Halo

Weapon Switch: +3 Warcries Weapon (Can be shopped)

Weapon Switch: +3 Warcries Weapon

Inventory

Any charms with +Damage or Attack Rating that are available.

Any charms with +Life or Resists that are available.

Normal Barbarian Mercenary

Merc Helm: 3 Socket Helm + Ral + Ort + Thul

Merc Weapon: Lawbringer in Elite Sword Base

Merc Armor: Any Peace Armor

This build is slightly more expensive than other low budget builds, requiring 2x Lem, 1x Ko and a few of the more common set items – but that is the unavoidable for melee characters. Heart of Wolverine charges on Passion can give a slight boost to damage output as well as Decrepify from your mercenary.

MEDIUM BUDGET

Helm: Guillaume’s Face

Amulet: Highlord’s Wrath

Weapon (Left Side Primary): Colossus Sword (See Explanation Below)

Weapon 2 (Right Side Secondary): Phase Blade Variant

Armor: Any Treachery Armor

Gloves: Laying of Hands

Belt: String of Ears

Boots: Gore Rider

Ring 1: Raven Frost

Ring 2: Raven Frost

Weapon Switch: +3 Warcries Weapon (Can be shopped)

Weapon Switch: +3 Warcries Weapon

Inventory

Any charms with +Damage or Attack Rating that are available.

Low-End Annihilus and Hellfire Torch

Gheed’s Fortune

Nightmare Defensive Mercenary (Holy Freeze Aura)

Merc Helm: Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest + 15 IAS Jewel

Merc Weapon: The Reaper’s Toll + Shael

Merc Armor: Any Treachery Armor

INCREASED ATTACK SPEED BREAKPOINTS

Act II Mercenary / Thresher / Jab

5 Frames = 42 IAS

4.5 Frames = 75 IAS < Optimal Performance

4 Frames = 142 IAS

WEAPON SELECTION

There are several high quality unique weapons which work well for Frenzy Barbarians. However, they are almost all elite quality and not necessarily cheap to acquire. Runewords are generally much more easily accessible but will require mid-runes to craft. Some good options for a low to mid budget build (in order of quality) are:

UNIQUES

#1 Death Cleaver – This weapon is an excellent choice – every modifier is very valuable. Unfortunately, these axes are very rare and relatively expensive.

#2 Stormlash – Another very strong and rare weapon. Stormlash comes with good speed, 30% Crushing Blow and Static Field Procs.

#3 Headstriker Conquest Sword – The Poor Man’s Death Cleaver.

#4 Azurewrath – Good speed, Mediocre damage – the main selling point here is the in-built Sanctuary Aura which is a good way to counter Souls and Dolls in the Baal Throne Room as well as De Seis in Chaos Sanctuary.

RUNEWORDS

#1 Death – A little expensive, but has incredibly good stats. Allows each hit to have 100% Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike. Death is indestructible which means it can be made in an Ethereal base. (Larzuk will always add 5 sockets to Ettin Axes and Colossus Swords found in Hell)

#2 Oath – An extremely strong budget choice. Oath has an amazing +50% Increased Attack Speed and very high enhanced damage (plus an extra bonus vs. demons). It is also indestructible and should be made in an Ethereal base. Heart of Wolverine charges are just gravy.

#3 Lawbringer – Probably the best value for money. Lawbringer provides the same Sanctuary Aura as Azurewrath along with the chance to cast Decrepify – this is particularly valuable if you don’t have access to a Mercenary with The Reaper’s Toll.

#4 Crescent Moon – A good candidate for a 3 socket Phase Blade. Crescent Moon has a good attack rate, chance to cast Static Field which will help you clear much faster and it Ignores Target’s Defense.

WEAPON SPEED MODIFIER

Diablo II has a strange way of calculating attack rates when a character dual-wields two weapons with different speeds. The “Primary Weapon” is the weapon which was equipped first. When you start a new game, pick up your corpse or weapon switch, the Primary Weapon is on the left side (above your gloves) by default. Also note that the Primary Weapon attacks first when you Frenzy, so you always want to equip the weapon with the highest Crushing Blow chance first.

The modified weapon speed used by the Frenzy calculation is given by the following formulas:

Left Side (Above Gloves) Right Side (Above Boots) Weapon Speed Formula
Primary Secondary (WS Left + WS Right) / 2
Secondary Primary (WS Left + WS Right) / 2 + (WS Right – WS Left)

The first weapon speed formula shows that your modified weapon speed is the average base speed of your two weapons. Therefore, our strategy is to combine a slow, hard hitting weapon with a faster one to boost the speed of our Frenzy (Hence the use of a Phase Blade (Very Fast -30 WS) and a Colossus Sword (Slow +10 WS).

The best low~ish budget combination is a Lawbringer Phase Blade + Ethereal Oath Colossus Sword. This will give you reasonably fast Hell clear times before Death and Grief become available.

INCREASED ATTACK SPEED BREAKPOINTS

Colossus Sword / Phase Blade / Level 26 Frenzy

6 Frames = 22 IAS

5.5 Frames = 42 IAS

5 Frames = 78 IAS < Maximum Reached (Treachery + Highlord’s Wrath + Laying of Hands)

*Use the Titanseal Attack Speed Calculator for other weapon base combinations.

HIGH BUDGET (GENERAL PURPOSE)

Helm: Guillaume’s Face + Cham

Amulet: Highlord’s Wrath

Weapon (Left Side Primary): Ethereal Death Colossus Sword

Weapon (Right Side Secondary): Grief Phase Blade

Armor: Enigma Dusk Shroud

Gloves: Laying of Hands

Belt: Arachnid Mesh

Boots: Gore Rider

Ring 1: Crafted Blood Ring with 10 FCR / 100+ Attack Rating / 9+ All Resistances

Ring 2: Crafted Blood Ring with 100+ Attack Rating / 9+ All Resistances

Weapon Switch: Heart of the Oak Flail

Weapon Switch 2: Heart of the Oak Flail

*Strength, Life, Attack Rating and Min/Max Damage are desirable affixes on Crafted Items.

Inventory

Annihilus

Hellfire Torch (Barbarian)

Up to 37x 3 Maximum Damage / 20 Attack Rating / 20 Life Small Charms

OR

9x 10 Maximum Damage / 76 Attack Rating / 45 Life Grand Charms

10x 3 Maximum Damage / 20 Attack Rating / 20 Life Small Charms

Nightmare Offensive Mercenary (Might Aura)

Merc Helm: Ethereal Andariel’s Visage + 30 Fire Resistance / 15 IAS Jewel

Merc Weapon: Ethereal The Reaper’s Toll + Ber Rune

Merc Armor: Ethereal-Bugged Treachery Sacred Armor

INCREASED ATTACK SPEED BREAKPOINTS

Colossus Sword / Phase Blade / Level 28 Frenzy

6 Frames = 20 IAS

5.5 Frames = 40 IAS < We are sacrificing the next IAS Breakpoint for 105 FCR on Switch.

5 Frames = 75 IAS

Switching out the Death Colossus Sword for a second Grief Phase Blade will allow you reach the final IAS Breakpoint and has the highest potential damage output. However, the difference vs. bosses is not huge and the loss of Glacial Spike procs will greatly reduce your survivability.

HIGH BUDGET (BOSS HUNTER)

Helm: Guillaume’s Face + 40 Enhanced Damage / 15 IAS Jewel

Amulet: Highlord’s Wrath

Weapon (Left Side Primary): Ethereal Death Ettin Axe

Weapon (Right Side Secondary): Ethereal Death Ettin Axe

Armor: Fortitude Archon Plate

Gloves: Laying of Hands

Belt: String of Ears

Boots: Gore Rider

Ring 1: Crafted Blood Ring with 100+ Attack Rating / 20+ Strength

Ring 2: Raven Frost

Weapon Switch: Lacerator

Weapon Switch 2: Lacerator

*Life, Min/Max Damage and Dexterity are desirable affixes on Crafted Items.

Inventory

Annihilus

Hellfire Torch (Barbarian)

Up to 37x 3 Maximum Damage / 20 Attack Rating / 20 Life Small Charms

OR

9x 10 Maximum Damage / 76 Attack Rating / 45 Life Grand Charms

10x 3 Maximum Damage / 20 Attack Rating / 20 Life Small Charms

Normal Act I Rogue (Cold Arrow)

Merc Helm: Ethereal Andariel’s Visage + 30 Fire Resistance / 15 IAS Jewel

Merc Weapon: Faith Crusader Bow

Merc Armor: Ethereal-Bugged Fortitude Archon Plate

INCREASED ATTACK SPEED BREAKPOINTS

Ettin Axe / Ettin Axe / Level 26 Frenzy / Level 15 Fanaticism

6 Frames = 6 IAS

5.5 Frames = 22 IAS

5 Frames = 48 IAS < Maximum Reached

Act I Mercenary / Crusader Bow / Standard Attack / Level 15 Fanaticism

10 Frames = 16 IAS

9 Frames = 35 IAS < Optimal Performance

8 Frames = 70 IAS

Gameplay

LOW ~ MEDIUM BUDGET

Even with a budget build, the Frenzy Barbarian is able to clear all game content with relative ease. The only problem is the lack of AOE damage. The most effective way to level and farm is to seek out areas with a large number of Unique and Champion monsters while ignoring regular packs. The best options are The Pit, Ancient Tunnels, River of Flame, Chaos Sanctuary, Worldstone Keep 2 and 3 as well as Shenk, Eldritch and Pindleskin. The ideal number of players depends on the quality of the weapons you have equipped – ideally you are able to kill Diablo in under 10 seconds.

Use Howl to fear monsters around you when you get into a dangerous situation – this is particularly useful when you need to eliminate a dangerous Aura Enchanted monster (eg. De Seis). Use Berserk to take care of any pesky Physical Immune monsters.

HIGH BUDGET (GENERAL PURPOSE)

This build has extremely high utility and excels at sniping off Uniques, Champions and Bosses with brutal efficiency. This allows the Frenzy Barb to magic find very efficiently despite not having any MF% on gear. It is also one of the fastest levellers in the game: It has the same teleport frames as a sorceress and is able to easily isolate high value targets using Howl. Between Decrepify, Glacial Spike and Howl, this build has excellent survivability but requires good reflexes and game mechanics.

This character is able to do a Fast Chaos very easily in 8-player games. Simply teleport to each of the seals using your dual Heart of the Oak switch. Pop the seal, teleport on top of the Seal Boss and cast Howl to scatter the minions before switching to your DPS weapons. As soon as the seal boss dies, proceed to the next seal. For maximum experience gain up to level 98, it is actually better to kill the champions and uniques that you encounter while teleporting as well.

HIGH BUDGET (BOSS HUNTER)

This variation of the build trades out a lot of utility for raw boss damage – especially against the Ubers. Dual Death Ettin Axes reach the maximum IAS breakpoint and 100% Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike. When fighting a high HP target, start with the Lacerators until Amplify Damage procs, and then switch over to the Death Ettins for huge damage output. Use Treachery to prebuff Fade and drink 2-3 antidotes and thawing potions before engaging the Ubers.

Damage Comparisons

The Following are approximate damage figures for a fully geared character in their respective builds:

Ethereal Death Colossus Sword

2500-8500 Damage Base Attack

100% Deadly Strike

3200-10700 Attack vs. Demons

Average: 13900 Damage Per Hit vs. Hell Diablo

(Decrepify, Deadly Strike and %ED vs. Demons Applied)

100% Crushing Blow

Grief Phase Blade

5600-7300 Damage Base Attack

72% Deadly Strike

22% Critical Strike

8000-10300 Attack vs. Demons

Average: 16300 Damage Per Hit vs. Hell Diablo

(Decrepify, Deadly Strike and %ED vs. Demons Applied)

50% Crushing Blow

Ethereal Death Ettin Axe

3400-8500 Damage Base Attack

100% Deadly Strike

4300-10700 Attack vs. Demons

Average: 22500 Damage Per Hit vs. Hell Diablo

(Amplify Damage, Deadly Strike and %ED vs. Demons Applied)

100% Crushing Blow

Summary

The Boss Hunter setup does significantly more damage to high HP targets – interestingly, the amount of damage that Fortitude and Fanaticism Aura add is mostly cancelled out by the loss of strength and Might Aura. The biggest difference comes from the extra -50% Physical Resistance that Amplify Damage provides over Decrepify. The Boss Hunter setup also deals a further 10% more since it reaches the 5 Frames Per Attack Breakpoint.

As expected, Grief does considerably more damage per hit than Death, however this is offset by the reduced chance of a Crushing Blow. Given the difference in Base Damage, Grief will always outperform Death damage-wise on low HP targets. Death can deal more damage than Grief on high HP targets 50% of the time when Grief fails to score a Crushing Blow – mathematically, the target needs to have over 40,000 remaining HP (On Players 1) for Death to do higher average damage (so basically just the first few attacks on Act Bosses).

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