Up until now I have been building my barbarian with primarily strength and secondary vitality. So far it has been going good but now when I am in inferno it seems it's not a viable strategy. I am really having a hard time with blue and yellow monster groups. Some friends have suggested that I build intellect or resistance as well. How should I build my barbarian to better tackle the elite groups. Maybe there are some skills or passives that are a lot better for elites.

  • You should be more specific... what skills/passives are you currently using? Are you playing in a group or mainly alone?
    – bummzack
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 13:23
  • This topic is too broad to be answered with one response.
    – dennis
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 0:57
  • That is why there is a bounty so more people can give an answer.
    – Anders
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 1:39
  • Act 3 is yet another jump up and I've had to change my strategy again as I simply cannot stand toe to toe with most white mobs and especially not elite/champ packs. Anyone else having this problem?
    – Kyle C
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 17:20
  • @KyleC This mainly has to do with gear, in my opinion. I was able to get through Act 3 with a build that fairly closely resembled my build below. The main change was ditching the Berserker Rage passive for the skill that gives you 50% DR when you're at <20% health.
    – Sterno
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 9:58

3 Answers 3


Note: This was written prior to patch 1.05. With the changes to defensive skills such as Leap and War Cry, and in general making Inferno easier, some of this advice needs reevaluation. Novarg left a solid answer that I can't confirm since I don't play anymore, but seems to address the changes in later patches that allow for a more damage-oriented build.

Strength/Vitality gear, though it got you through Normal, Nightmare, and probably even Hell just fine, won't cut it anymore. You're going to need armor and resistances. And a defense-oriented spec. The advice below is geared towards Act 1, though with minor tweaks it holds up pretty well in Act 2 and Acts 3 & 4 (see bottom of post). The Barbarian is a very gear-oriented class, and our defensive skills can make up for a lot of shortcomings in gear. As your gear progresses, you'll find that you can make your build a little more offense-oriented, so don't be afraid to experiment and swap in some more powerful offensive abilities if you find that your survivability is doing fine!


I've seen a few different builds bandied about, but most will look pretty similar to what I've got below, other than maybe a rune or a passive different. Here's what I'm using. I'll try to explain why I've chosen what I did, and what other options I've seen.

Barbarian Spec for Inferno

Frenzy runed with Triumph

Frenzy gives high single-target DPS, which you'll need. I'm low on Life on Hit gear but have a decent DPS weapon for Act 1, so I've got it runed with Triumph so that I have a fairly steady stream of life coming in (6% of my max health) and can save money on potions. If your weapon is kind of weak or you just don't have a problem topping off your health, a far more popular option is Maniac for the +20% damage.

Sidearm also adds nice damage but I don't like the unpredictability of it, as sometimes it shoots off and hits a treasure goblin I didn't want to deal with yet. There's also Smite for the 20% stun (which doesn't last as long on elites) which helps you out a bit with reducing damage, and then there's Vanguard for the movement speed bonus. It's very hard to go wrong with runing this and it pretty much comes down to a matter of personal preference or filling gaps in your gear. I switch this around quite often.

If I had to pick one, I'd probably settle on Maniac. Even though as far as just the Frenzy attack is concerned, Sidearm does better damage, one nice benefit of Maniac is that though the attack speed bonus from Frenzy doesn't transfer to other skills, the +20% damage bonus does. This means your Revenge is hitting harder. Speaking of which...

Revenge runed with Provocation

I haven't seen a single general-purpose Inferno build that skips Revenge, and that's because this is the skill that keeps us alive. Does nice AOE damage to the enemy and heals us 5% of our max life for every enemy hit. This is the best tool in our toolkit. Unfortunately, it can be a little unreliable sometimes, which is why runing it with Provocation to get the trigger chance up to 30% is so popular. This skill is a must-have. Not to mention, the simple damage of it can be pretty impressive.

Leap runed with Iron Impact

There are other skills you could replace this with, but Leap runed with Iron Impact for the +300% armor is a great defensive ability. It means for 4 seconds of every 10, your armor is much, much higher. It's also useful for getting yourself away from scary elite packs, walls, arcane beams, jail, etc. Just make sure you're constantly leaping... you want that +300% armor up as much as possible.

I've seen builds that replace this with Ground Stomp for the stun or Overpower runed with Revel for the heal, but I like Leap a little better simply for the utility of getting out of a hot spot or taking shortcuts in dungeons.

Ignore Pain runed with Ignorance Is Bliss

Ignore Pain is your "Oh Crap!" button. Reducing damage by 65% can be especially powerful if combined with the 4 seconds of +300% armor during Leap. I find that I use this less as a "run away!" button and more as "do or die!" button, usually popping it right after I've decided I'm going to go toe-to-toe with a big nasty after popping Wrath of the Berserker. It gives me 5 mostly-worry-free seconds during which I can try to burn the mob down. Throughout Act 1 I runed it with Ignorance is Bliss so that I was getting 20% life back, but once I got to Act 2 I switched to Iron Hide because I found I needed those extra seconds of duration.

As a bonus, you can pop Ignore Pain even while frozen! Needless to say, this can be a real life saver.

Wrath of the Berserker runed with Insanity

Wrath of the Berserker runed with Insanity for +100% damage is a beast. With a 2 minute cooldown, this is what you pop when you run into a scary situation or see an elite that you want to burn down quickly. Combine with Leap and Ignore Pain to be as close to invulnerable as you're ever going to get for about 5 seconds. Sadly, not as close as you'd like, but you'll still be quite a menace! Make sure you smack those revenge procs as much as possible during the 15 seconds of this skill, because with the +100% damage from this, the +20% from a full stack of Frenzy, and the +25% from Berserker rage, you'll be able to pile some serious hurt on. In Act 1, popping this was often enough to take down at least one member of a pack, if not the whole pack. In Act 2... well, I counted myself lucky if it let me burn one pack member down.

One thing that really can't be understated about this skill is that you become immune to crowd control effects (Fear, Freeze, Jailer, etc) while this buff is active. It makes it great for fighting the elite packs that are traditionally a big problem for melee.

War Cry runed with Impunity

War Cry will give you more armor, and if you rune it with Impurity, it'll bump up your resistances up by 50%! As far as I can tell, this skill and rune are pretty much required for Inferno, as they're needed to get your armor and especially resistances up to the needed levels. Don't forget to refresh this every minute... you do not want to let it expire mid-fight.


Berserker Rage passive

Due to the lack of fury spenders in my build (except for Wrath of the Berserker, which is on a 2 minute cooldown), I go with Berserker Rage for +25% damage when at Max Fury, which is most of the time. Even if you start a fight at 0 fury, a War Cry + Leap will fill 45 of your 100 for you, and your Frenzied attacks and inevitable Revenge proc will fill the rest up quickly.

As I got to Act 2 and had problems with survivability, I ended up having to spend passive elsewhere. I've floated between Superstition for the damage reduction and Pound of Flesh for the more frequent and powerful health orb drops. I think this really comes down to a matter of preference and gearing in Act 2... you'll use it to shore up your weak spots.

Nerves of Steel passive Tough as Nails passive

For the other passives, I took Nerves of Steel and Tough as Nails for the armor bonuses. Swapping one out for Superstition also seems popular, though I've read a lot of arguments about it, with one popular view being that Superstition doesn't pay off as well since the bulk of your damage is physical, physical tends to hit harder, and many magic attacks can be dodged. Find what works for you.


Going from Hell to Inferno is about the same difficulty jump as going from Act 1 Inferno to Act 2. Unless you've got a wealthy benefactor, you're probably going to have to spend some time farming Act IV Hell to either find items or raise the cash to buy some decent items of the AH. Unless you were incredibly lucky with drops, you can't expect to just stroll into Inferno the second you beat Act IV Hell and start kicking butts and taking names. As you buy gear on the Auction House, keep an eye on the fact that you'll be wanting to move on to Act 2 pretty quickly. If you can get +20 resist all armor for 100k but +60 resist all armor for 300k, save a little longer and buy those 300k gloves. You'll need that extra resist when it comes time to do Act 2, and it'll help make your Act 1 Butcher runs easier too.

It goes without saying, you still want Strength and Vitality when you can get it

Hit points and damage. Yes, please. And Strength counts as armor, which is a bonus. You still want these where you can get them, but the simple fact is that you'll probably have to sacrifice them a bit to get your armor and resistances up to the needed level. Prioritize Vitality over Strength.

Find a balance between Armor and Resistance

This forum post has a pretty good description of how armor and resistances interact. Seriously, go read it now. I also took a stab at summarizing how Damage Reduction works in an answer here. Understanding how armor and resistance work is going to be key to your gearing strategy. Basically, you need to figure out where you're at on this chart so that you can figure out how much armor a single point of resistance is worth to you, so that you can min-max your gear. If you don't want to look through all that math, it amounts to this... you need a good balance of armor and resistance. You don't want to just go all-out in one or the other, because you get the best returns by keeping them at an equilibrium.

As far as Intelligence goes, 10 points of Intelligence = 1 point of resist all, so while you don't want to specifically focus on Intelligence, you can at least look at it and mentally convert it into Resist All when looking at gear. Just pretend that piece of gear that you're looking at with 38 Resist All and 130 Intelligence is really 51 Resist All. I wouldn't specifically go searching the AH for high intelligence items though unless you're really struggling to come up with enough resistance. It's just not a terribly efficient way of getting your resistances up.

A good target for Act 1 Inferno is 600 in resistances and 7-8k in armor (buffed). Yes, this means you'll probably need to hit the Auction Hall. You can get by with less... don't think that you have to wait to play Inferno until you've reached these goals. I was getting by just fine with about 7k in armor, 480 in resists and no shield (but 16k DPS) if I played solo. As you add players, though, those enemies 75% HP buff for each additional player, which means you'll start feeling a lot more pain from weak gear. It's also tricky as you add players because one big tool you have is Wrath of the Berserker to burn elite mobs down quickly before they can do you a ton of harm, but you have no chance of burning down an elite with 430% it's normal health by yourself. Your team has to be very well coordinated and I've found it's often important for them to kite some mobs from the pack away.

It's a little bit more of a moving target in terms of what you need to be successful at Act 2. I'm currently at about 900 resists and 9000 armor (buffed) but only 12k DPS, and I'm still dying quite a bit, but I can grind my way through Act 2, taking a small number (~10%) of elite packs without a death, a few more (~30%) with 2-3 deaths, and that means the rest (~60%) I haven't had much luck taking out. Given the rarity and cost of the resist gear, you'll probably find yourself faced with a choice between going for resists or going for damage. I've seen videos of people who are quite successful in Act 2 who are only at about 500 resists and 7k armor, but are up around 35k DPS. A lot of this will come down to what gear you happen to find or afford.

No, really, focus on armor and resistance.

I'm repeating myself here, but armor and resistance is king. Having a huge health pool alone is worthless. You're not going to want to throw away +100 vitality for a mere 100 armor, but you probably will want to throw away 30 vitality for 200 armor and 30 resist all. One thing to remember, though, is that if you've got Nerves of Steel, Vitality is Armor for you. Don't get me wrong, you don't want to abandon vitality, but you'll probably have to trade some off to get the armor/resistance you need. I had about 40k health running through Hell. I'm early in my gearing process for Inferno, but I'm now down to about 30k but with much higher armor/resistance.

Once you hit Act 2, you'll want to try to stack more Vitality, probably around 45k, so that you can better survive the damage spikes.

Drop some cash on a high-DPS weapon

Note: Take these numbers with a grain of salt. Higher-DPS weapons were harder to come by back when the game was new, whereas 900 DPS one-handers now go for a pittance. But the theory holds... buy the best DPS one-hander you can afford.

If you can swing it, you'd really like to have a 800+ DPS one-handed weapon. This should be your first purchase when you hit level 60, because it'll make farming everything else even on Hell difficulty a lot faster. Walking into Inferno with that 350 DPS weapon that carried you through Hell difficulty just isn't going to cut it, and you also want high damage so you can dish out some good AOE on your Revenge procs.

Your ultimate goal is to get a 800-900 DPS one-hander (obviously, even higher would be better!) so that you can sword & board, but you may not be so lucky as to find one or be able to afford one early. There are, however, often some very cheap high-DPS 2-handers for sale on the AH, and using that until you are able to replace will allow you to start running Inferno early instead of being stuck farming in Hell.

Seriously, don't be afraid to use a blue weapon with high DPS as a stepping stone. Upon hitting 60 in Act III of Hell, I immediately went out and bought an 800 DPS 2-hander for 200k on the AH. My overall DPS doubled. Even though the weapon I got is just a stepping stone to the one I'd eventually like to have, it was worth not sitting there and waiting until I had a few million gold.

When you hit Act 2, you'll feel that same pain all over again, and you'll find yourself now wanting a 1200 DPS one-hander. I haven't been able to afford one yet, but I bought a 1200 DPS two-hander that I pull out specifically for the 15 seconds I've got for Wrath of the Berserker so that I can make the most of that time. Once my time is up, I switch back to sword & board. Damage output simply can't be ignored in Act 2, because unless you've got millions to spend on the AH, your armor simply won't be good enough to let you keep soaking damage from elite packs for 3-4 minutes straight.

Those Life Steal properties that used to be so awesome? They suck now. Look for +Life on Hit instead

Life Steal (where you gain life equal to some percent of the damage you dealt), which I had found completely awesome through Normal and Nightmare and still pretty decent even on Hell, is pretty worthless on Inferno, as it scales down at that difficulty level. I haven't run the math myself but I've seen the number 20% thrown around a lot, so I'm going to assume its correct. That means if you had 10% worth of life steal gear (which is pretty hard to achieve, since I think you can only get it on Weapons, Belts, and a passive skill), that would amount to only 2% on Inferno. AOE attacks normalize it, so it's not like you will be raking it in that way. Plus, if you use the build above, your only AOE attacks are Leap (which is weak and every 10 seconds) and Revenge (which already does its own healing). Let's say you're cranking out 15k DPS... that's going to amount to about 300 HPS. Not great.

However, +Life on Hit doesn't appear scale down on Inferno, so this is what you want to get if possible. I've seen over 600 Life on Hit on weapons.

Act 2 and Beyond

I haven't beaten Inferno yet, mainly due to time constraints, but I have made it through to Act III and about halfway through Act IV, and can kill about 75% of the elite packs I encounter in Act III and IV. I do it with a build pretty similar to the one I just described for Act I, except that in Act 2 I had to drop Berserker Rage and take Relentless instead. As you get better gear and a higher health pool, Relentless becomes very useful since against elite packs you'll often be in that <20% health range, and the 50% damage reduction makes a huge difference. I also find on Act 3 that I need both other passives to be Nerves of Steel and Tough as Nails for the armor bonuses, plus the Enchantress as my ally for even more armor bonus. Eventually gear may overcome this, but you definitely need to be very defense oriented in Act 3. I have yet to find a great weapon, so I'm doing this all with only about 10k DPS. It's slow going, but it's survivable.

Eventually, you'll get earlier acts on farm mode (yes, even Act 2), and will be able to change your build to be more offense-oriented so you can more quickly farm those acts. My gear has progressed to the point on Act 2 that I can run with Inspiring Presence, Berserker Rage, and Battle Rage runed with Marauder's Rage for the +30% damage bonus. Experiment with this as your gear progresses, because trading off survivability that you've got more than enough of is worth the +55% DPS boost.

As you gear up, you'll also definitely need to get in the habit of just skipping some of the elite packs that are too tough for you. You'll be wasting precious time on your Nephalem Valor buff dying repeatedly on them. Just train them off somewhere out of the way and die so that you don't have to worry about them anymore. Then move on to the packs that you can handle.

As far as farming, when you first get to Act II I found Oasis to have the most Barbarian-friendly mobs, and as a bonus it sometimes spawns dungeons with Resplendent Chests, or even better, the Treasure Vault of Khan Dakab. Eventually you will be able to facetank every elite pack in Act 2 with this spec... it's just a matter of getting your vitality, resists, and armor up.

Also, make sure you check out yx.'s answer about advice on how to gear up for the later acts.

  • 2
    I'd like to point out this meta post which has a user script you can install on your browser which will let you hover over Diablo 3 links on this site (such as the skill build in my post) and a tooltip will appear showing it. Definitely useful with all the Diablo 3 questions on this site!
    – Sterno
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 14:37
  • Wow what a great answer. That was really what i was looking for. Thanks so much for taking your time. Hope many people see this and pick up on your tips.
    – Anders
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 15:57
  • 3
    This was an immensely helpful and detail-oriented post. Thank you very much for putting your time into making this. My barb is about where yours is, although I am using ground stomp instead of leap. I'm going to try both ground stomp and leap and forego ignore pain. We'll see how it goes. I had no idea that intelligence boosted elemental resists until 5 minutes ago. I'm maintaining about 350 in all resist categories right now, which has gotten me half-way through act 1 with little difficulty aside from rediculous packs that are molten + arcane + vortex(or another silly combo regarding 2 heavy
    – user26231
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 21:44
  • @Kevin I've added some more information about this, but yeah, the armor and resist numbers are meant specifically for those tough packs. White trash mobs and some of the easier elite packs can be handled with considerably less. FWIW, if playing solo I can clear Act I with minimal deaths with about 33k health, 480ish resists, 7k armor, and about 16k DPS (all numbers include buffs). I can kill the Butcher in under 2 minutes with that. But when playing with more people, I really start feeling the pain for most elite packs.
    – Sterno
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 5:46
  • 2
    Are there any awesome posts like this for the other classes?
    – bevacqua
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 19:39

A lot of this information may be repeated from Sterno's advice, but our builds are slightly different so I figured I'd comment. Please refer to his awesome answer for other details.

I'm in Act 1 (early Act 2) Inferno and I've been using the following build:

Cropped screenshot of the build choices

Frenzy (Sidearm)

Frenzy (Sidearm) description

I use Frenzy as the main damage dealing ability of the build. It has great single target DPS, and with the Sidearm rune it allows impressive mob clearing (especially once the attack speed from five stacks kick in). It does have the downside of making your DPS a bit randomized and the possibility of triggering Treasure Goblins or mobs you aren't ready for. However, these events rarely happen and I really appreciate the extra mob clearing when skeletons are being summoned everywhere.

Furious Charge (Dreadnought)

Furious Charge (Dreadnought) description

Furious Charge is a great skill. It breaks the Jailer ability of monsters, allowing you to escape from being jailed on top of Molten, Plagued, or Desecration (or all at once in Inferno). It also can be used to dodge the ice pellets that Frozen monsters drop. If you are in the charge animation during the ice explosion then you will not be frozen. This is a great way to survive Frozen mobs once you have the timing down.

The Dreadnought ability is a great escape tool when surrounded by monsters, you receive a huge percentage of your life back. It also allows you to position yourself to avoid Arcane Enchanted and Desecration effects. I've tried getting rid of this skill, but I keep coming back for the ability to break jail and recover a huge amount of life quickly.

You can also use Furious Charge to grab health globes. Charging over a couple of health globes is a great way to survive a difficult fight.

Revenge (Provocation)

Revenge (Provocation) description

I agree with everything Sterno said in his answer. This skill is necessary on Inferno barbarian builds (maybe one day gear will allow you to skip it, but not for me). It is great against Illusionist mobs or any mass of quick attacking, low damage mobs. Against slower swinging mobs you can save the Revenge proc until Relentless (passive) kicks in. This keeps you just about the magic 20% mark.

Ignore Pain (Iron Hide)

Ignore Pain (Iron Hide) description

Sometimes you get caught by an ice explosion or a jail and need to survive for a few seconds. It is also a great skill to use early in a fight when waiting for Revenge to be activated. Using Revenge, Ignore Pain, and the Relentless passive you are amazingly hard to kill when at low health.

War Cry (Impunity)

War Cry (Impunity) description

As Sterno says, this skill is basically required especially during Act 2 when almost everything hits some kind of elemental damage. It is also a good way to get a jump of Fury for the Wrath of the Berserker skill.

Wrath of the Berserker (Insanity)

Wrath of the Berserker (Insanity) description

Be prepared to use this on pretty much every champion or unique monster fight. It greatly increases your damage output and allows you to mow down monsters. Since you are using Frenzy with Sidearm axes should be flying out super fast clearing minions while you focus on the big bad. Just remember it doesn't make you invulnerable; I've often times wasted a cooldown because I hit Wrath right before I die.

Wrath of the Berserker also breaks any CC currently on the Barbarian and makes you immune for the duration. This is a great method to escape Jailers, or to fight a Frozen mob without constantly being a statue.


Relentless description

I've tried other passives, and I can't help but come back to Relentless. The no Fury cost is mostly wasted on this build, but the damage reduction while under 20% is a literal lifesaver. It allows you to survive a much longer time in those Molten, Plagued, and other such nasty modifiers. This extra toughness allows time for Revenge to activate which usually keeps you hovering around the sweet spot of having 20% life during major fights. It also allows you to get away when things start going bad with a combination of Furious Charge and Ignore Pain.

Tough as Nails

Tough as Nails description

Of course everyone picks this passive for the 25% increased thorn damage, right?

Some sort of armor passive is necessary, pick whichever increases your armor the most. My barbarian gains more armor from Tough as Nails as opposed to Nerves of Steel.


Superstition description

I haven't tried dropping this passive yet, but right now a poison wasp from Act 2 hits for almost a third of my health. So, I really appreciate the elemental resistance at the moment. Once I gain strong enough gear to not need the 20% I may look to swap this, since this particular build does not benefit from the Fury gain.

General Strategy:

Don't be afraid to kite while Ignore Pain or Furious Charge are on cooldown. You can generally stay just ahead of a mob and use a combination of Relentless/Revenge to stay at decent health (around 20%).

Against White Mobs:

If I'm lower than 100% health I will use Furious Charge to get in the middle of a pack and gain a lot of health. Once surrounded I can usually sustain my life with a combination of Ignore Pain and Revenge. If things start getting hairy, I will use Furious Charge to get out of the pack.

Against Blues/Rares:

This comes down to which modifiers they have. I'll note general strategies for each memorable modifier, and remember you can use Wrath of the Berserker to quickly destroy a monster and avoid CC.

  • Illusionist: Oh happy day, Illusionist allows you to almost always be at 100% since Revenge and Furious Charge are based on how many enemies are hit.

  • Arcane Enchanted: Lasers o' Death, generally I save Furious Charge in case I get surrounded by lasers and can't move. This allows me to dash through the nearest one taking minimal damage. If I know I'm going to be hit by a laser, then I try to have Ignore Pain active.

  • Molten/Plagued/Desecration: Try to stay moving with a combination of Furious Charge and simply running around. Do not stand in the effect for any longer than you can help it, and be prepared to use Ignore Pain if you get caught. Don't be afraid to kite them around until Ignore Pain is back. Don't forget that Molten explodes and looks awful similar to health globes.

  • Frozen: Save Furious Charge as long as you can to avoid being Frozen. If you do get caught, then pop Ignore Pain and be prepared to Revenge as soon as you are no longer a barb-sicle.

  • Jailer: If you get caught in Desecration or Molten then you can use Furious Charge to break the CC. Wrath of the Berserker allows you to completely ignore this modifier.

  • Extra Health: Hit it harder? This really just serves to amplify the annoyance of other modifiers.

  • Horde: Sometimes this can be a boon in the same way as Illusionist, allowing you to proc Revenge more often. Other times it means you are going to die...a lot.

  • Removed in patch 1.04 Invulnerable Minions: Depending on the other modifiers this can be annoying to deadly. Just use Wrath of the Berserker and try to stomp the main monster's face. Remember if the mob is Molten then there will be a whole lot of Molten bombs when it dies.

  • Fire Chains: Use Furious Charge and positioning to survive, if you do get caught try to pop Ignore Pain and re-position.

  • Fast: Generally this isn't a problem, but if a fight starts going badly it can cause a few deaths. Just remember to use Revenge if you get multiple monsters around for maximum healing. Furious Charge can be used to gain extra ground or you can turn and charge through the pursuing pack for maximum health gain.

  • Vortex: Similar to Fast, this only becomes a major issue when you are trying to avoid a fight or fleeing for your life. I'm not sure if Wrath of the Berserker makes you immune, but I think it does.

  • Missile Dampening: Only notable because the axes from Sidearm look really cool flying at super slo-mo.

  • Nice elite affix breakdown!
    – Sterno
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 13:04
  • I can confirm that this setup works out pretty well. I'm on Inferno Act1 (just killed skeleton king) and I haven't run into a pack yet that I can't clear in a few tries... I have slightly different' passives but I think I may try out Relentless as there are plenty of times when I'm below 20% health.
    – Kyle C
    Commented Jun 2, 2012 at 22:37

Quote from Sterno's answer

Note: This was written prior to patch 1.05. With the changes to defensive skills such as Leap and War Cry, and in general making Inferno easier, some of this advice needs reevaluation.

So I decided to do my small contribution to this question. I do agree with Rapida's and Sterno's answers(this and this respectively) prior to patch 1.05. Nowadays Inferno is much easier than it used to be(without any Monster Power).

Since patch 2.0 many skills are changed. Answer is updated for patch 2.0



Skill Calculator link

  • Frenzy Smite - Skill that I use versus single targets. 75% Increased attack speed gives you a huge attack speed increase. With Smite rune you get 30% chance to stun a target for 1.5 seconds resulting in almost constant stun versus a single target.

  • Whirlwind Hurricane - Hurricane rune pulls enemies towards you. If there is a pull-monk in the party, consider changing the rune to Wind Shear to get some extra Fury. This is the skill that you will use to pull enemies close to you and to get into/out of the enemy group.

  • Battle Rage Into the Fray - a great buff that increases your damage by 10% and your Critical hit chance by 3%. Into the Fray rune will give you 1% extra Critical hit chance for every enemy within 10 yards. So if there are 20 enemies within 10 yards away from you, you will get extra astounding 20% Critical hit chance.

  • Sprint Marathon - personally I only use this skill to travel around much faster. You may replace it with Warcry Impunity for a huge Toughness buff.

  • Overpower Momentum - Overpower itself is sort of useless, but the Momentum rune is a great Fury generator. But only if you are surrounded by enemies. Combined with the fact, that each critical hit has a chance to lower the cooldown by 1 second and it doesn't cost anything to cast - smash it whenever you get a chance(and there are a few enemies around you of course).

  • Rend Bloodbath - This is the main source of damage. 1000% weapon damage, if a bleeding enemy dies it will cause other enemies within 10 yards bleed for another 1000% damage. And it also feels that it is stackable.

    • Example: I've encountered a group of champions with Illusionist affix. I whirlwinded a little bit to bring them all together, but in the mean time they all casted their illusions. I found myself in the middle of 20+ champions(and their illusions). After casting Rend Bloodbath once, I noticed that illusions died almost immediately(due to the fact that they have a lot less HP) and apparently they were all fairly close to each other that all champions(not illusions) got extra bleed effects from the dead illusions. In a couple of seconds the last champion died. It only costed me a few whirlwinds and 1(one!) cast of Rend Bloodbath.


  • Weapons Master - no explanation needed here, just take some decent Mace or Axe into your main hand and enjoy the 5% bonus to critical hit chance. More critical hits ==> faster re-use of Overpower and more damage. The very popular Mace for that is Echoing Fury. High DPS, +0.21-0.25 attack per second(they also affect the other weapon while dual wielding), +150-169 main stat and 2 random properties.

  • Unforgiving - since patch 2.0, Battle Rage won't grant you any Fury on critical hits, and using Frenzy takes quite a while to get enough Fury. It's also fairly difficult to keep the Fury high enough all the time. Unforgiving will grant you 2 Fury per second. Enjoy it :)

  • Brawler - because you will mostly find yourself surrounded by hordes of enemies, Brawler would be a good choice. It will increase your damage by 20% if there are at least 3 enemies within 12 yards from you. And don't forget that Battle Rage Into The Fray will grant you 1% extra Critical hit chance for each enemy within 10 yards. So try to get surrounded/overwhelmed by enemies and cast Rend Bloodbath


  1. Get some fury(by Frenzy or just wait for Unforgiving to replenish it)
  2. Cast Battle Rage Into the Fray
  3. Find some enemies.
  4. Whirlwind Hurricane + Sprint Marathon(if you want to). When there are enough enemies around
  5. Cast Rend Bloodbath and enjoy. Most enemies will die within a couple of seconds.
  6. If you don't have enough Fury, use Overpower Momentum.


  • Damage: as high as possible(but do not become a glass cannon, a melee fighter will ALWAYS get hit)
  • Toughness: as much as possible. Just make sure you can still kill enemies fairly quick.
  • Healing: personally I ignore this stat. Just get some Life on Hit and/or Life Steal(just don't forget that at level 60 LS will get a 0.1x multiplier making it 10 times less effective and at level 70 it will not work at all). With enough bleeding enemies you will get enough Healing.

  • Critical hit chance: the more - the merrier. But don't sacrifice tons of HP and resistances only to get extra 1% Crit chance.

  • Critical damage: in perfection you will get max damage when your Crit dmg is 10 times higher that Crit chance. Example:

    10 hits, each non-crit hit 100 damage:

    20% crit chance, 800% crit dmg: 8*100 + 2*(100*(8+1)) = 2600 damage

    80% crit chance, 200% crit dmg: 2*100 + 8*(100*(2+1)) = 2600 damage

    50% crit chance, 500% crit dmg: 5*100 + 5*(100*(5+1)) = 3500 damage

    It doesn't mean, that you HAVE TO have 10x as much critical hit damage as critical hit chance, but it is optimal. Item choice example:

    You have an item(I'll call it A) with 5% Critical hit chance

    You found an item(B) with exactly same stats(your Damage/Toughness/Healing doesn't change), but instead of 5% Critical hit chance it gives you 80% Critical hit damage.

    With A you have 50% Critical hit chance and 500% Critical hit damage. With B you will get 45% Critical hit chance and 580% Critical hit damage. It would sound obvious to choose A, but don't forget that you will get lots of Critical hit chance from Battle Rage Into The Fray with enough enemies around. If there are 15 enemies around, will 65% CC and 500% CD be better than 60% CC and 580% CD?

    65% CC, 500% CD: 3.5*100 + 6.5*(100*(5+1)) = 4250

    60% CC, 580% CD: 4*100 + 6*(100*(5.8+1)) = 4480

  • Movement speed bonus: 25% is max you can get from items. 12% is max that you can get on a single item. So get yourself 24% bonus to movement speed and you will be fine.


That might be difficult to say, because there are so many good rare items too. But a few pre-2.0 items that will help are:

  • Skorn: nice DPS, 132-200 Critical hit damage + socket, main stat and some more Bleed.

  • Ice Climbers: +170-200 strength, +10-12% life, +71-80 allres, Empty socket and 3 random properties. One of these properties can become +xx% Movement Speed. It can also roll some Vitality for some massive HP boost.

  • Inna's Temperance: yes, I know, it's Monk's set item. But it's doing great for a Barbarian too! 8-9% increased attack speed, 12% movement speed, 1% critical hit chance(which doesn't roll on pants), 2 sockets(so up to 124 vitality or strength) and 1 random property. If you are lucky you may get some Allres there. Or Strength and/or Vitality.

  • Immortal King's Tribal Binding: 71-80 allres, 2.8-3% life leech, up to 200 strength, 1 random property and set bonus(if you have other IK items). Some Vitality would be a nice add.

  • The Witching Hour: another possibility for the belt. 8-9% increased attack speed, 35-50% critical hit damage and 3 random properties. That 90-100 intelligence will add 9-10 allres to our barb too.

  • Lamenation: and another possible belt for us. 2.8-3% life leech, up to 200 strength, 1% crit chance, 2 random properties.

  • Immortal King's Irons: probably the best gloves in the game. 9-10% crit chance, up to 200 strength, 5-6% melee damage reduction, 2 random properties. For maximum damage look for the ones with Critical Hit Damage and Increased Attack Speed. But they cost A LOT.

  • Immortal King's Eternal Reign: chest armor, 120-200 strength, 30-100 vitality, 71-80 allres, armor bonus, 1 random property and 3 sockets(up to 186 stats via gems).

  • Tyrael's Might: another possible chest armor. 71-80 allres, 5-15% extra damage to demons, 12% movement speed, 3-4% extra damage vs. elites, 170-200 strength, 1 random property. With it you may use some better bracers instead of Lacunis.

  • Lacuni Prowlers: bracers, 8-9% increased attack speed, 12% movement speed, 3 random properties. I prefer using crafted bracers

  • Andariel's Visage: 8-9% attack speed, 4.5% crit chance, 150-169 strength, 1 random property. Try to get one with socket. And don't forget, that depending on the helm you will get 5-25% extra fire damage.

  • Mempo of Twilight: probably the best helm in the game. 71-80 allres, 8-9% increased attack speed, 10-12% life bonus, 170-200 strength, socket and a random property. For maximum damage, look for one with Critical Hit Chance. But they cost A LOT.

  • Vile Ward: possible shoulders. 71-80 allres, 170-200 strength, 2 random properties. Personally I prefer crafted shoulders, they can be better than Vile Ward. And they cost less too.

  • Amulet: crafted or found, there are no decent legendary ones.

Post-2.0 legendaries that you may use:

  • Since Legendaries are now Accound Bound, pretty much anything you can find as long as it increases your stats. Smart loot system will give you some decent rolls in about 70% of the cases(decent = for your class, so +strength for Barbarian)


  • Damage: 150k(200k+ buffed, 300k+ with gazillion enemies around)
  • Toughness: 745k
  • Healing: 125

I hope that this answer will help somebody.

  • Wish I'd noticed this earlier. Nice answer! I've linked to it from mine so that hopefully more people will take notice.
    – Sterno
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 15:07
  • yep, this is pretty standard as of now, but this build will be nerfed in the xpac
    – l I
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 15:14
  • Not to mention that since the AH is closing this kind of gear will be pretty tough to come by.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 14:45
  • nice update, too bad I can't upvote you again. I'm personally waiting till RoS and level 70 before posting any new/revised builds.
    – l I
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 17:46
  • @z-, thanks. I might update it for level 70 barb as well if I will ever touch my barb again. Since 2.0 I love wizard with its' Frozen Orb skill(rune) :)
    – Novarg
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 17:48

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