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Hardcore Ranged Barb

Barbarian General Guide

By whackapple on December 28, 2012

Introduction

1.06        12/28/12

The ranged barb has always held some appeal for me and I decided to shoot for the build as soon as 1.04 came out - and The Three Hundred Spear along with it. The basic premise of the ranged barb is that it combines the best of ranged and melee characters: tankiness and damage reduction of the barb with range, dps, and mobility of ranged characters. The main reason I play hardcore mode is because having a functional economy is important for me to find the game fun. I don’t follow the philosophy all hardcore characters die eventually – I don’t plan to die with any of my characters, and haven’t lost a character since Belial on normal. Granted, a solid internet connection is a prerequisite to playing hardcore.

For additional resources I’ve created, see also

Typical Act 2 Run Video (add your own soundtrack)

In particular see warden fight at 9:30.

Hardcore Item Valuation Table

Here’s a chart I designed to help me compare items I use and on the AH to determine which item is better for me, and by how much.

In this chart you see four categories of stats for the Diablo character - sustain, EHP, damage, and other. Within each category it's easier to objectively assess and value the various stats. Between skill categories we need to rely exclusively on subjective preference and how items are valued on the AH. With more time and particularly with AH data I could come up with more exact valuations for the various stats. This chart does the trick for me - if you wish you can download it and adjust the values based on your own build.

Shortened link for in-game sharing: goo.gl/UbkJd             Note that capitalization is important in using the shortened link.

Ranged Barb Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Movement speed/mobility
  • Very good survivability for HC
  • Good at killing annoying monsters
  • Fun
  • Dominate PvP...when it's out
  • Versatile for any situation. I’ll discuss the following builds:
  1.  Boss fights. Want to crush Nekarat the A4 keywarden on MP5? No problem!
  2.  MP5 key runs – high WotB uptime
  3.  A3 MP0-1 XP/MF runs
  4. A2 MP2 runs
  5. Ubers HUGE DPS (mighty throw)
  6. Ubers Throwing hammer
  • and more! Keep reading.

Cons:

  • Not a tank (dps oriented passives)
  • 300 Spears have limited DPS and good socketed ones go for 50mil
  • No AoE damage on Uber runs makes getting 5 stacks take longer (I do preclears then switch to uber build)

Core Skills

Ancient Spear – optional. Choices include harpoon and dread spear, the rest are inferior.

Harpoon - If you’re up against particularly dense packs, harpoon deals huge damage until the pack has been cleared out. As long as you can keep hitting enough enemies with it, the cool down will continue resetting. An additional advantage to using this rune is that you are better able to protect allies in fights.

Pierce through multiple enemies in a straight line and drag them all back.

Dread Spear – This could be a useful rune if you lack sustain. I’ve used the rune on uber runs and found it particularly useful in the Ghom fight.

Gain Life equal to 60% of the damage inflicted.

  • Core of the ranged barb. Choices include ricochet, throwing hammer, and mighty throw (for shits you can try out dread bomb). The key point is that ricochet gives AoE damage and is most efficient against elites. I use ricochet for everything but boss fights and uber runs, but it is possible to use a different rune for normal runs if you have some other AoE damage. Discussed in more detail below.
  • Launch vs. Toppling Impact. You’re not a tank. You want to keep enemies out of melee range. Primary use is for escape, but it’s also useful for jumping around.
  • Great for damage. Use it. Into the Fray is also a good choiceNot generating enough fury for weapon throw, or want to maximize WotB uptime? Use this.

    While under the effects of Battle Rage, Critical Hits have a chance to generate 15 additional Fury.

  • A great skill with several useful runes.

    Forced March – I normally use this rune when in groups of 3-4. Increase the movement speed of allies within 50 yards by 20% for 3 seconds.

    Marathon – Together with the unforgiving passive, this rune makes the ranged barb the fastest character in the game.

    Gangway – Maximum survivability. Using the other runes I avoid being surrounded by enemies at all costs and expend more time kiting enemies. If you enjoy being surrounded by enemies, use Gangway as an escape skill. This is my preferred rune for MP4+ as flying around for maximum efficiency isn’t as important. Slams through enemies, knocking them back and inflicting 25% weapon damage.

  • Like most people, I use Impunity. I love being able to drop the skill when there are other barbs in the group.
  • Insanity vs. Thrive on Chaos. If you can keep WotB up for a long time, do it. I use Insanity to melt elite packs on MP2-4. Higher MP, I go with Thrive on Chaos.

Passives

Weapons Master (passive) – recommended for uber runs, optional for higher MP on other runs.

  • Along with damage, this ability is the main reason why having a good crit % is valuable to the ranged barb.
  • Recommended for most runs. With unforgiving you don’t need to worry about having enough fury to use weapon throw. Using it also allows you to sustain sprint even when there are no enemies around. An alternative would be using the full IK set and/or skull grasp or mara's with reduced cost to weapon throw in addition to a reduced weapon throw belt.

Equipment

Is the 300 Spear worth using? Yes. There’s three (or four) important stats to look at:

Damage – 1000+ is good.

Weapon Throw Damage – 35 to 50%. Weapon throw is your main and often only damage dealing skill, so 5% will make a big difference here. This is not factored into your sheet dps, so bear in mind you’ll actually be doing up to 50% more damage than suggested by your dps numbers.

Extra roll – Sockets, high crit damage, lifesteal, and high LoH are all good stats for weapons.

Ancient Spear – Do you use the skill much? Then it’s important – though not as important as weapon throw.

Out of the 6 rolls available for a rare weapon, most good ones use 2-3 for damage. Not counting damage, the ancient spear has 4 useful rolls: 112-129 Str, 12% Movement speed, Increased Weapon throw Damage, Extra roll. Having +24% movement speed from items is a necessity. Do not ever ever ever consider not wearing two movement speed items as a ranged barb.

Belt: High Reduced Cost of Weapon Throw, lifesteal. Most of the time you’ll want to wear one. If you’re using into the fray for fury generation you’d likely be fine with a 3-4 roll on the belt. I wear one of these belts whenever I’m using the ricochet rune. Naturally I’ll use a different belt with a different rune. If I’m not using the ricochet rune, I’m working on keeping WotB up close to 100% and the trick there is to spend as much fury as possible.

Dual Wielding – Feeling lucky, punk? Really though, should be fine if you’re well geared and play safe. I’m wanting to pick up a good mainhand so I can dual-wield on ubers. However, take care that you’re not losing too much crit % from shield. As the point is to be doing high damage, life steal becomes even more valuable when dual wielding.

STAYING ALIVE

The ranged barb is great at kiting enemies. I can run into three elite packs and be confident I’ll be fine simply because I can outrun them all. Unless using the gangway rune it’s best to maintain your distance, enough to make sure you don’t get surrounded by enemies. That said, I’ve chosen the skills I use to maximize efficiency and survivability. It’s good to have a plan for fighting given monsters or monster affixes before you go into battle.

Monsters/ Traits

Vortex: I’ve noticed that the range on vortex is limited (shorter range than weapon throw). Further, vortex does not pull you through obstacles. Kiting from a distance works well against dangerous packs.

Waller: Both the most dangerous and most annoying of monster traits. This is why the leap skill is important and superior to furious charge – without it, you will die to a waller pack (unless of course you’re way over-geared for the runs you’re doing). It’s rare, but I’ve had walls form in the character and been unable to move.

Jailer/frozen: This is one reason why WotB is awesome.

Everything else: I can easily stand in a desecrator stack fighting enemies and stay at full health. But I don’t. I consider it a good habit to get into to avoid taking damage you can avoid – a good practice to combat the DC monster.

Dervish/A2 Warden: Don’t use weapon throw against them while they’re spinning. I kill the warden without aggroing him – it may be a bug that weapon throw’s range is extended when it enters the warden’s missile dampening aura. Get far enough away and use weapon throw. You know it’s working when you see the lightning coming off of the warden.

A4 Warden: With WotB I can kite him all day without him touching me. Done some MP4 preclears, worked out fine.

Regen vs. LoH

I prefer Life Regeneration for several reasons. First, it’s more effective against the DC monster. Second, you’re kiting/running a lot and can regen while doing so. Even if regen is marginally better for a ranged barb over other barbs, the AH prices for regen and LoH reflect how valuable the skills are for barbs in general, making regen a better choice economically for ranged barbs. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with both.

Builds & Runs

The builds you see below are what works best for me on various MP levels. The most efficient MP for you to use a certain build will likely be different as you have different DPS from me.

A2 MP2 runs - see video, and the skills portrayed above.

Flatten everything (A3 MP0-1 XP/MF runs)

Doing MP0-1 Alkaizer runs? Does everything melt, including elite packs? Time to drop WotB.

Running with another barb and he’s going to keep running warcry? Furious charge is fun. Or just add WotB back into the mix.      

Boss fights & Ubers

The fury you generate to maintain WotB only counts when you’re not already at full fury. Thus it’s good to have a few fury dump skills, and no weapon throw on belt. Battle Rage and Sprint serve this purpose well. I’ve also liked using the forced march rune on uber runs. If you’re with another barb running warcy, you have plenty options for replacement skills.

  • Ricochet has a 33% proc rate, which unfortunately also includes the fury generation. Hence it’s impossible to keep WotB up on boss fights with the ricochet rune. The throwing hammer rune is very effective at stunning a boss and keeping them from doing much damage. I killed Diablo the first time without going below 75% health, and didn’t let him use his lightning attack once.

  • for ubers, not going to be as useful in fighting Diablo for example

Ubers Best DPS Build

Body of Section
  • Forced March is also appropriate.

Boon of Bul-Kathos (MP4-5 runs with another barb using warcry in party)

Body of Section
  • Alternatively you could drop this skill and keep Warcry. Not recommended though.
  • Or forced march. Or marathon.
  • Damage stacks with insanity.

Followers

Choice of follower is really up to you and there isn't any follower inherently better than another. I use my follower almost exclusively for the passive boosts to mf, gf, and xp - my enchantress uses the Grand Vizier (+45%mf,44%gf) and gives a total of +25%mf, 24%gf, 7% xp to my main character. Course, it helps having a hellfire ring with 20%mf and 19% gf. The greatest mf bonus possible can be earned using a templar with Sunkeeper and +mf shield - far as I'm concerned not significant enough to merit switching followers.

Like any ranged character, the throw barb could benefit from having a tanky follower to draw monster aggro. Some people like building beefy templars or using Maximus on the enchantress (summon demonic follower). Additionally, some people use scoundrel with a Buriza-Do Kyanon (chance to freeze on hit). I don't bother with tanky followers for two reasons - I'm plenty beefy, and I'd rather keep monsters grouped together to hit them more effectively with ricochet or harpoon.
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