Barbarian Levelling Guide

This guide will take you through an efficient method to level your Barbarian and complete the game on Hell difficulty.  There are various approaches to levelling and the method will change depending on your situation (for example if you have been rushed, you will level differently), this guide presents a method for playing through the game yourself and levelling the traditional way.  We will also discuss an efficient way of allocating your skill points and useful items to collect / farm along the way.

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The Barbarian is probably the slowest character to level, at least until you reach Level 30 and your strongest skills become available.  On the flip side, the character playstyle is full of action as most builds are melee focused so you are always in the thick of the action.


Normal Difficulty

Our journey through Normal difficulty on the Barbarian will be through brute force, using combat skills and weapon masteries to mow down enemies in our path.  Our chosen mastery will be Maces, this weapon type has very high damage during the early game, and we can use this to our advantage.  The main combat skill will be Double Swing, this isn’t available until Level 6 so for the early levels place points into Mace Mastery and a single point into Bash which is a prerequisite for Double Swing.  Purchase 2 cheap Sceptres from Akara as your early game weapons and you will have no problems dealing damage.  Place your next 5 skill points into Double Swing, then switch back into placing points into Mace Mastery – this combination gives a nice balance between both damage and attack rating.  Later in the game we will switch our main skill to Frenzy, which has a similar mechanic to Double Swing but provides increased attack speed and movement speed on successful hits.  At Level 15 stop placing points into Mace Mastery and begin focusing on prerequisites for the following skills which are available at later levels:  Battle Orders (Warcries), Increased Speed and Natural Resistance (Combat Masteries) and Frenzy (Combat Skills).  Once you have a single skill point in all of these, place every available point into Frenzy.

For your stat points, the general rule is to put enough points into Strength and Dexterity for the equipment you need to use then spend the remainder into Vitality.  Extra points into Dexterity are useful to increase your chance to hit, however this should be limited to a maximum of 10 points.

In Act 1 the best place to gain early experience is in the Forgotten Tower beneath the Black Marsh.  Each level in the tower has at least 1 Champion or Elite pack, so you will find a minimum of 5 packs and the Countess herself on level 5 making it very efficient.  Killing the Countess also provides us with early rune drops and there are some very strong low level Runewords that we can target for the Paladin.  You will need to farm Countess until you find a Tal and an Eth rune to make the Runeword “Stealth” (Tal Eth) in a 2 socketed armour (you will find one of these as you play, and if you don’t Charsi sells them).  I would also recommend farming an Ith, El and Eth rune to make “Malice” in a 3 socketed Flail, if you don’t find one in Act 1 this can be purchased in Act 2.  For our second weapon we will harness the early game power of poison damage and socket another 3 socketed Flail with 3x Tal runes (again, farm these from Countess if you don’t find them).  This combination is very deadly and will carry you through all of Normal difficulty.

When you fight Andariel in Act 1 drink 5-6 Antidote potions before engaging, these provide a passive boost to your poison resistance.  Similarly, when fighting Duriel in Act 2 drink 5-6 Thawing potions which has the same affect on your cold resistance.  Duriel will be a slow kill due to his Holy Freeze aura, however be patient and he will die eventually!  Continue working your way through Normal difficulty with the above build and there will be very little that can stand in your way.

Once you have worked your way through Normal difficulty you can start doing Baalruns to gain experience and prepare yourself for Nightmare difficulty.  You should ensure you reach level 40 as a minimum before entering Nightmare, this can be done either playing solo or with a group.


Nightmare Difficulty

Continue with the same build until you reach the Countess in Nightmare, at this stage we want to farm a number of runes to allow us to change our build to the “Singer Barbarian”.  The reason for this build change is that the spell does not rely on attack rating to hit (meaning we can concentrate stat points into Vitality) and also has good area of effect damage making it more efficient than the Frenzy skill.

There are 2 Runewords that we need to farm to make this build viable – “Spirit” (Tal Thul Ort Amn) and “Lore” (Ort Sol).  Once you reach the Countess you will want to farm her until you gain 2x sets of Spirit runes and 1x set of Lore runes.  Make both spirits in a Long / Broad / Crystal Swords – these swords can be farmed in Normal Difficulty Cows.  Lore can be made in any 2 socketed helmet, it really doesn’t matter which one you use.  The Spirit combination is extremely powerful at this point in the game, it provides +4 to all skills, up to 70% Faster Cast Rate, Life, Mana and Resistances.  Another useful Runeword is “Insight” (Ral Tir Tal Sol) which we can make in a 4 socketed Polearm (farmed in Normal Cows) and give this to an Act 2 Mercenary, providing him with the Meditation aura and sustaining our mana.  Once you make these you will notice a huge power spike and progression through both Nightmare difficulty will be very smooth.

Once you have farmed the above runewords it is time to reset your stats and skill points.  The stat point allocation is the same as Normal, place as many points as you need into Strength and Dexterity to wear your equipment and everything else into Vitality.  For your skill points, follow the allocation shown below (assumes Level 40).


Combat Masteries

Combat Skills:

The playstyle for this build is very simple, simply run up to packs and cast a single Battle Cry to reduce the monster’s damage and defense then spam War Cry as much as possible.  All non-elite and champion monsters will be stunned and unable to attack you whilst also taking sustained damage over time.  This makes it a very safe build (still be careful of the monsters that are not stunned!) and also very efficient in terms of killing.  As with any Barbarian build you will pre-buff yourself with Battle Command, Battle Orders and Shout – watch for when these run out and re-cast whenever you need to.  Boss fights can be a little slow and they will also not be stunned, so monitor your health and drink potions when needed.  If Battle Cry runs out on the boss, cast it again to make sure you are dealing maximum damage at all times.

When you finish Nightmare Difficulty, you will want to do more Baalruns and reach a minimum level of 60 before progressing into Hell.  Max out War Cry first, then Battle Cry and the other synergies for War Cry then Battle Orders.


Hell Difficulty

The method for Hell Difficulty is the same as Nightmare.  War Cry deals physical damage, so be careful of immunes.  Battle Cry should remove this immunity on some monsters, however others will be hard immune and you may have to skip these.  The power of this build does begin to fall off later in Hell difficulty however it is still viable, and on the whole more efficient than a normal melee build for the barbarian.

The most efficient farming location for the Singer Barbarian is Travincal.  You will need to make sure your fire resistance is maxed out so that the Hydras do not melt you, but with the stun from War Cry it is actually a relatively safe location to farm.  If you gain a point in Find Item you can also use this on the Council Member’s corpses for a chance at finding more items.  Try to round up as many council members as you can so that they are all stunned, and remember to keep an eye on the Battle Cry buff so that you are dealing as much damage as possible.

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