I have a game going with the Barbarian class, and I seem to be getting killed more often with him than any other class. Is there a secret/tip to using him that I am missing? My stat for armor (going off the top of my head since I don't have access to my game right now) is probably closer to 300, but I'm getting my butt kicked bad in Act 1, on normal difficulty! I know this is probably a stupid question, something easy that I am missing...

  • My experience with low-level barbarians has also been that they feel very squishy. Their skills require you to constantly put yourself in the middle of large groups. You just need to make sure your gear can support that, and that you are paying attention to your defensive skills.
    – bwarner
    May 25, 2012 at 16:07
  • I found that in Act I on normal, my health pool was so small that focusing on life restore (life on hit/kill, regen, etc) and AOE damage (cleave mostly) was the best thing I could do to stay alive. I quickly discovered in Act II that I needed to switch to strength/vitality to increase my life pool and armor. Eventually I had enough life that I could return to focusing on strength to improve my overall damage (now a mix of AOE and direct). May 25, 2012 at 16:16

4 Answers 4


The number one thing I'd say to you is make sure you've got Revenge on your skill bar, and that you use it whenever it triggers. But for some more long winded advice, keep reading...

Well, as a melee-centered class, you certainly don't want to neglect armor, but on Normal you shouldn't need to be raiding the AH to get survivable gear levels. It's hard to say exactly how much armor you need to survive, since it changes by level, but if you're sitting at around 50-60% damage reduction, that should be plenty at this stage in the game.

Your problem probably isn't really damage mitigation, unless you're running around half-naked. You probably just need to focus on ways to regain health. You've got a few options to help out in both cases, though. I'm assuming you're level 19 or less, and probably more realistically around level 12-14 right now.

  • Cleave runed with Rupture is good for AOE damage, and it carried me all the way through Normal. If you're killing groups of enemies quickly, you're taking less hits, which increases survivability.

  • At level 10, choose Pound of Flesh as your passive. You'll get more frequent health orb drops, and they'll heal for more. You could always change this to Nerves of Steel for extra armor at level 13, but honestly this early in the game I think Pound of Flesh pays off more.

  • At level 14, you can add the Iron Impact rune to Leap, which increases armor by 300% for 4 seconds. This is a good way to start a fight with a pack of mobs. Jump in there, get greatly increased damage reduction for 4 seconds, and lay waste to them with your AOE attacks. Another option would be Ground Stomp to stun your enemies, but frankly, I think Iron Impact will have about the same effect on your survivability, but brings a lot more utility with it (like jumping over chasms in dungeons, or out of hot spots from elite packs of enemies)

  • At level 13, take Revenge. This is just about the best skill a Barbarian has, and you'll be using it from level 13 on. Not only does it do great damage when it triggers, but it heals you for 5% of your max health for every enemy hit. Great for keeping your health up when you're in packs! And at level 19 you can rune it with Vengeance is Mine to increase that heal up to 8% per hit!

  • More than anything else, in Normal you just want to stack gear with Strength and Vitality on it. Strength not only increases damage, but it adds directly to your armor on a 1 to 1 basis. Vitality is 10 hp per point, and if you took Nerves of Steel, it also adds armor on a 1 to 1 basis.

  • If you can find it, grab some Life on Hit or Life on Kill gear. It helps keep your hit points topped off.

  • Last but not least, you don't need to spend money on a top of the line mega-weapon, but do make sure that you're not running around with the same blue dagger that you found at level 4 when you're level 13. If it's taking you forever to chop down even the tiny white mobs like zombies, you need to hit the AH and look for a weapon with higher DPS. Monsters have a harder time hurting you if they're dead!

  • You are right, sorry about that. I will delete it to avoid confusion.
    – Philipp
    May 29, 2012 at 13:51
  • 1
    +1 for Cleave w/ rupture. It clears through hordes very quickly.
    – DrFish
    Jul 12, 2012 at 7:48
  • 1
    my barb focused solely on str/vit and cleave w/ rupture and a decent life on hit to go all the way to act 1 inferno. It wasn't until late act 1 inferno when I had to do a gear swap for more resistance
    – l I
    Jul 12, 2012 at 14:53

At very low levels, high levels of armor will probably not help you, as your problems may be more related to a low health pool and low passive defense (dodge, resistances, etc).

I would recommend instead ofcusing on:

  • Skills that regain life
  • Life leech
  • Vitality
  • +HP per kill
  • +HP per health globe
  • Blackmailing monks to follow you around
  • And of course the ever popular health potion!

Strength increase your damage as Barbarian and for all classes it also increase your armor.

The best combo you may focus is

  • Strength
  • Vitality

With this, you get health enough to survive and armor/damage to kill


I hardly ever died when I was a low level barbarian. What you need to focus on would be your main stats (strength/vitality). There really shouldn't be any need at all to visit the AH. I never even opened it up until I was level 45ish. Also I've learned from playing multiple different classes that you may just need to try mixing up different combinations of powers. Find a combo that flows perfectly together and that works best for you!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .