Whirlwind or Throwing Max Grim Ward Barbarian Guide – Season 11 (Perlite)
People call me Kiki. That’s what some people call me.
I want to see more useful barbarians in general. And to give players more options when it comes to barbs’ builds.
Max Grim Ward vs. Full damage
- Having damage is good, but not having utilities is awful.
- People are happy to have +3 skills with the high Battle Orders and Shout that we are going to invest in.
- Grim Ward is an overlooked, overpowered skill with minus physical resistance, and which cannot be blocked. It increases by increments of -2% physical resistance per level and also increases in range and duration.
- Leveling Whirlwind add minimal amount of damage, AR, and increasing cost.
- Grim Ward can also break most physical immunities and significantly increase life leeching potential for people who deal physical damage.
- Paired with Grim Ward, a Bowazon can sweep nearly any maps with high Grim Ward range.
- Howl is also an overlooked skill because it stops most enemies from attacking, consequently protecting allies. Basically, it is a crowd control skill.
- You can probably kill almost anything in the game with Whirlwind using Grim Ward.
1 Find Potion (prerequisite)
1 Find Item (prerequisite)
1 Howl (prerequisite)
20 Grim Ward
20 Battle Orders
20 Battle Command
1 to each passive or more if preferred, or even none at all: Increase Stamina, Increase Speed, Irons Skin, Natural Resistance, Counterattack, Puncture, Pulverize.
1 to each optional utility skills: Frenzy, Leap.
Whirlwind Build Route
1 choice of weapon mastery (passive) skill depending on your choice of weapon
(Or 20 the choice of mastery, sacrificing Battle Command or Shout)
Prerequisite for Whirlwind: Double Swing, Bash, Cleave, Stun
Throw Build Route
1 Ethereal Throw
1 Throw Mastery
Prerequisite for Ethereal Throw: Power Throw, Concentration
Adding more throw mastery adds pierce
STR – Enough to wear gear or add more for more damage
156 for Monarch Shield base
232 for Sacred Armor base
DEX – Enough to use weapon or add more for higher attack rating
Thunder Maul requires none
75 for War Pike weapon base
142 for Warshrike
VITALITY – As much as you want
ENERGY – Ain’t nobody worried about that
3 socketed Arreat’s Face with 3 Ber runes
Trade secret option: Delirium runeword in a Barb helm with +3 Grim Ward, +3 Battle Order, +3 Shout
Fortitude runeword in a Sacred Armor base, but it can also be in any base you like visually.
Utility option: Enigma runeword for Warp (nerfed Teleport) skill to move around
Verdungo’s Heart Cord
Throwing option: Razortail, or Verdungo’s with 8% pierce corruption, or Arachnid Mesh with 8% pierce corruption
Laying of Hand, preferably with Life on Hit corruption
Optional: Trang-Oul gloves or Magefist, with Life on Hit corruption
Optional: Shadow Dancer for the 30% Faster Hit Recovery stat
Amulet and Ring combos
Angelic Wings amulet with +1 skill corruption with Angelic Halo ring x2 or substitute one with Raven Frost
Mara’s Kaleidoscope amulet with 2x Bul-Kathos’ Wedding Band or Stone of Jordan or substitute Raven Frost ring
+3 to Warcry skills amulet with +1 skill corruption for highest Grim Ward potential and 2x Bul-Kathos’ Wedding Band or Stone of Jordan or substitute Raven Frost ring
*All rings should, if possible, benefit from having physical damage reduction or faster cast rate corruptions.
Breath of the Dying runeword in either a War Pike base or a Thunder Maul base. Thunder Maul benefits from extra damage and undead damage
Breath of the Dying runeword in a Berserker Axe base + Stormshield Monarch
Warshrike with increase attack speed corruption + Pheonix shield
Heart of the Oak x2
Or paired with Radament’s Sphere for Desecrate skill
Budget option: + 3 Warcry stick x2
Or paired with Radament’s Sphere for Desecrate skill
+7 Battle Order option: Heart of the Oak and at least +3 Battle Order roll on Call to Arms (or +3 BO stick bought from NPCs)
* Battle Order on CTA caps at +3 for Barbarian class. Even if the roll is +4, +5 or +6, the Barb does not benefit from the extra points. Also dual CTA doesn’t work.
9 Warcry grand charms
+Res, +Life small charms (whatever you need to cap/fill in)
Act 2 Offensive for Blessed Aim aura
3 socketed Vampire Gaze
Budget option: 3 socketed Tal Rasha’s
In sockets: 1 melee splash damage + 15% increase attack speed jewel and two 15% increase attack speed jewels
Eth Fortitude runeword
4 socketed Gladiator’s Bane with 4 Mal runes (Ethereal Gladiator’s Bane is also a thing)
Eth Stone runeword
If you’re doing Whirlwind, go with Pride runeword for more AR and damage
If you’re doing Throw, go with Infinity runeword
Budget option: Reaper’s Toll for Decrepify curse
One thing to note: you can probably go both Whirlwind and Throw if you want to, as you will have enough skill points and stats. The gear is practically identical, except for the weapon. Just have additional gear in stash on standby.
In Diablo 2, physical damage-based builds are lacking in damage and are very weapon-based for damage. The Breath of the Dying runeword seems to be the only decent damage dealing weapon of all the weapon. You can try anything you find, but the BOTD will dominate. I’ve tried it all. For bases, War Pike seems to be the most useful with range. Thunder Maul does have more damage, but ultimately, with either base, every monster dies within 1 WW.
If you haven’t seen Warshrike Ethereal Throw with Phoenix in action yet, it procs a lot of Fireballs, even with just 1 point in the skill. However, you’ll have trouble with fire immunes. While the dps with Throw Barbs is probably higher in a lot of cases, it also lacks killing power for single targets and bosses.
The gear is common Barb stuff. There are a lot of budget options, but I will elaborate on my personal choices:
Helm: Having 3 Ber runes instead of two + a splash damage jewel in the helm will drastically increase your survivability, in my opinion. It is an expensive option, but it’s worth the value for any Whirlwind users as there aren’t many places where you can get a good source of physical damage reduction without Stormshield.
Armor: Fortitude is BIS for the ED, as well as its defensive mods (chilling armor when struck, all res, etc.). Enigma is also a great option for the physical damage reduction, the faster run/walk, and of course, the Warp (nerfed Teleport) skill for mobility.
Gloves: Laying of Hands for the increased attack speed, the extra damage to demons.
Belt: Verdungo’s for the physical damage reduction, extra VIT (more life) and faster hit recovery. If you’re going for the Throw Barb route, you want an 8% piercing attack corruption on your belt. Arachnids for +1 skill, cast rate with 8% piercing attack corruption on your belt.
Boots: Gore Rider boots are the standard option for the deadly strike, crushing blow and open wounds mods. Shadow Dancers are another option for the extra DEX and massive 30% faster hit recovery.
Jewelry: Angelic Halo (ring) and Angelic Wing (amulet) as a set give a huge increase in attack rating, and more attack rating is always great with Whirlwind, as the skill halves your attack rating when active. If you want to have more buff potential than other Barbs, you should have rings that will give you +1 to all skills, like the Stone of Jordan or Bul-Kathos’ Wedding Band. Ultimately, you want to reach a +3 skills Battle Command, but in order to do so, you have to max the skill with hard points. Even without the AR boost from the Angelics, mobs will still die, but you still want to keep a set around if you want to do Uber Trist or Dclone.
On swap: we have dual Heart of the Oak flails for the faster cast rate of buffs and Grim Ward. You don’t have to swap for Grim Ward if it’s too dangerous to do so but having increased faster cast rate on rings and gloves is always useful for casting Grim Ward on the go.
Merc gear: Pride runeword increases your attack rating substantially so that you don’t really need the Angelics. Infinity is also good for all the Fireballs proc with the throwing build.
The playstyle is very straightforward, not too different from other melee builds: you start by buffing yourself with Battle Command, then Battle Orders and finally Shout. Then, you go on attacking with Whirldwind or Ethereal Throw depending on the route you picked, while occasionally casting Grim Ward to increase you and your party’s physical damage potential. If you have Enigma, you can Warp (nerfed Teleport) to a mob, Whirlwind, Warp to another mob and so on.
Chaos Sanctuay has a lack of corpses to cast Grim Ward effectively. It also doesn’t work on certain undead creatures. In order to counter this, you should use Radament’s Sphere shield to cast Desecrate (creates your own corpses), and then cast Grim Ward. You should be able to kill things pretty quickly with Whirlwind. Diablo should also die within 3-4 Whirlwind hits. As for Baal, he simply has more health, so killing him shouldn’t be a hard task at all.
Mods to avoid on a relic (especially in a red one) for Whirlwind Barb:
- Players take xx physical damage when attacking (AKA Thorns aura): this is the main thing you have to be careful about as melee build.
- %xx physical resistance: paired with Thorns, it’s the perfect recipe to get you killed, as you can’t deal any dmg, as well as leech.
Every other mods are at your discretion, but you might also want to look out for the following curses and auras:
- Chance to cast Amplify Damage on hit
- Chance to cast Decrepify on hit
- Chance to cast Lower Resistance on hit
- Conviction aura
- Concentration aura
- Precision aura
- Blessed Aim aura
Usually, you don’t want to have any of these paired in a red map, unless you know your group is fully geared and experienced in running these risky maps.
There’s also the 100% curse reduction mod, but it’s nothing too dramatic. It just means you can’t use Howl (which happens to be a curse) for mob control.
Most yellow and white maps are easy to clear. Even though you can break physical immunes, they still take time to kill. I recommend simply using Bash to deal damage (does some amount of magic damage). Bosses are generally easy. You can use Howl to get monsters off of you. Your Grim Ward can also offset Thorns damage with enough life leech.
If you’re a Barb having to carry the group with your Whirlwind attacks, there is clearly something wrong with the group. Grim Ward with Multishot Bowzons can literally sweep everything: you can just don dual HOTOs, continuously cast Grim Ward/Howl, and the map will clear instantly faster and safer for everyone. Some may argue that Howl is bad, but I think it’s a great defensive skill: it basically stops monsters from attacking the group and sustaining damage, while giving the opportunity for the group to strike back.
If you want to get to level 99, you will most likely be assuming the role of the support Barb. You basically run around, cast Grim Ward/Howl for your group with Phoenix + Stormshield, and leech your way to 99. It’s a pretty tanky, effective setup. The more Ber runes you have in your gear, the better. Having more than 50% physical damage reduction will offset curses like Decrepify (which lowers your physical resistance). For example, if you have 150% physical damage reduction (not very likely), you will be technically immune to Amplify Damage. You can also Frenzy with dual HOTO if you want to run fast. Throwing Barbs are an excellent choice for Ruined Citadel maps.
Adjustment to some of the gear is needed, as well as having Radament’s Sphere shield for casting Desecrate followed by Grim Ward. This is necessary as it enables your group (or even yourself, as solo) to deal much more damage and massively leech more life. BOTD in a Thunder Maul base is, in my opinion, the best choice for weapon against Uber bosses. Before entering the Uber Tristram portal, you want to proc Fade with the Treachery runeword armor to cap your resistances (especially for Mephisto’s high level Conviction aura).
I haven’t tried soloing Dclone yet, but Dclone in a group follows pretty much the Ubers setup. If your resistances aren’t capped, you want to proc Fade with Treachery, but if they are already capped through your gear, it’s not necessary to proc Fade as you won’t be facing some type of resistance-lowering curses or auras. The Armageddon from Dclone doesn’t deal much damage either. You however have to be very careful of Dclone’s magic laser, as it can drag your health down in the blink of an eye. Again, having Desecrate + Grim Ward will make it possible to life leech more easily and deal more damage. Every minute or so, you will want to recast Grim Ward, as it wears out quickly.
Leveling to 80 with low gear
Aim for Sigon set (for lower leveling) and Immortal King set. It’s a weaker and spongier build, yes, but the Whirlwind skill setup works great nevertheless with complete IK and Angelics (ring/amulet) sets for starting out. With these items, you should be able to handle Hell content without many issues. Just keep in mind that mapping will be slow, though as is the case for most melee builds. You should keep a Radament’s Sphere shield in your inventory to cast corpses because IK set will freeze-kill everything, leaving no corpses for you to cast Grim Ward (unless you have the “Monsters cannot be frozen” mod in a map).
Super-secret, end section
This thing, in my opinion, is overpowered as heck, and mapping with this casts Confuse (curse) which instantly renders mapping safer as mobs will start attacking and dealing damage to each other. The crowd control is insane with it. Ethereal Throw and Warp (nerfed Teleport) are also an amazing combination with Delirium. You can also use Principle runeword which has a 100% chance to proc level 5 Holy Bolt on striking, in place of Enigma for a barrage of Holy Bolt proccing. I cannot verify if it heals or damages enough as of yet, though. (More to come)
*There seems to be an unintentional bug at the moment with “xx curse on hit” mods in maps (e.g., Amplify Damage on hit, Decrepify on hit and Lower Resistance on hit). With Confuse from Delirium, the monsters will curse themselves, making you hit harder. Mixed in with Grim Ward and Conviction with the Infinity runeword on merc, you are stacking 150% to -200% physical damage to monsters or -150% to all resistances (I think it’s capped at -150%).
Videos of gameplay
Whirlwind with suggested standard gear
Whirlwind with full Immortal King set
Ethereal Throw with suggested standard gear
Ethereal Throw with Principle runeword
I would like to thank Shirley for proofreading and formatting this guide. She added more than 1000 words to it because Kiki can’t form grammatically complete and correct sentences. Not only is she the cutest and prettiest player on PoD, but she’s also one hell of a smart cookie. I hope Kiki is grateful and appreciative of her efforts. Shirley does not and will not touch Barbarian characters, so if you have complaints about the build, please direct them to Kiki.
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