Since the early days when Diablo II was first introduced to us all the Barbarian class has been a favorite character to many of us D2 addicts. This hand-to-hand specialist is not only extremely fun to play but looks Bad-ass too! Whirlwind (WW) barbarian was one of the most played barbarian builds in 1.09 and in earlier patches also and with the coming of 1.10 a lot of WW Barbs out there were left out in the cold and had noticed that their once "almighty, cookie-cutter barb" couldn't cut butter let alone a cookie. I decided to write up this WW barb guide because there seems to be a lot of players asking for one and as soon as I made my first 1.10 WW barb and had him be very effective in hell I thought I would be the one to write a guide up.
The aim of this guide is to advise anyone who is thinking of making a WW barb on the way to make an effective character that can easily deal with any monster in the game, whether it be act1 normal or act5 hell, a well built WW barb should be able to hold his own with little trouble. Consider this guide as a blue print to a successful WW barb and remember that this guide is exactly that, a "guide", it should steer your Barbarian in the right direction but ultimately your character is your character and should change the build to your liking.
This guide is exactly that, a "guide", it should steer your Barbarian in the right direction, but ultimately your character is your character and should change the build to your liking. I have added the viable variations of the WW barb in this build, when it comes to left over skill points, its really all up to you.. Also, I have tried to stick to the same format as Hal's Concentrate barb guide because I was so impressed with it, he did an awesome job on his guide and for anyone thinking of making a Concentrate barbarian, it is a must read! Anyway here goes.
Stat Point Distribution
Enough to use your equipment. You should never pump strength more then you need to, it takes away points you could have on vitality instead. The best way to calculate how much strength you should have is to look at the requirements of your heaviest piece of equipment, add up how much of a strength bonus you will be getting from all your other gear and place points on strength accordingly.
The amount of dexterity a barb should have all depends if you're going to be using a shield or not. In my opinion, and I'm sure a lot of you will agree with me, a shield is an extremely useful thing to use and will save you more times than you think. The benefits of using a shield can be priceless. Defense, resistance, and blocking are awesome things to have. After saying this, you should put enough dexterity so that a 75% chance to block is reached. You can check your chance to block simply by hovering your cursor over your defense in game. One thing to remember is that dexterity bonuses you receive from equipment, charms etc. will increase your chance to block to as written above. Figure out how much dexterity you will be getting from your gear, and place points accordingly. Also, as Hal has said on many occasions and I seem to agree with him, dexterity is a very bad way of increasing your Attack Rating, so don't place points in it if you're not hitting anything. Charms and other things that are listed in this guide is all you need.
This stat should be pumped up as high as you can get it. Any remaining stat points you get after placing what you need on strength and dexterity should go directly to vitality. It's simple, high vitality = high hit points (life), and therefore you will be able to take more damage before dying. Also, if PvP is your aim, vitality should be maximized in every way possible. Aim for at least 200-300 vitality before items bonuses.
Don't ever touch this stat, you don't need any on energy. Mana leech, bonuses you get from leveling and Battle Orders will take care of your mana needs. Besides, there are always pots to drink when you need them.
Skill Point Distribution
This build relies on four major skills and therefore they should all be maxed. Any variation of the Whirlwind barb is going to max these skills, they are the basis of the Whirlwinder! MAX the following!
Decide what type of weapon you will be using and max the appropriate mastery. This will increase your damage and attack rating (AR), as well as give you a nice critical strike percentage.
Your main attack skill, this is what makes a WW barb a WW barb so max it.
This Warcry should be cast before going into any battle as it will increase your defense to incredible heights and is a must for almost any barbarian build so max it.
This Warcry should be cast along with shout before going into the fray. Every barbarian build should max this one. It is also a synergy for Concentrate which you will use a lot so max it.
The following is a list of skills that require at least 1 point and that are very useful to any barbarian. Deciding whether to put more than one point in is up to you and some variations of the build that are listed bellow do make more use of some of these skills.
This is going to be your "physical Immune" killer. This skill converts your damage to a nice huge amount of pure magic damage. Also use this skill to kill those pesky Oblivion Knights that cast the "Iron Maiden" curse on you, because this skill causes no physical damage it is unaffected by the curse.
This skill should be used on your left button attack at all times. Concentrate receives a huge damage bonus from maxing Battle Orders so 1 point is enough, though you may want to put more into it after maxing the main four above, this skill will be discussed more in the Build Variations section.
This skill is very useful for getting yourself out of trouble as it allows you to leap away from a crowd when things get a little too heated. This skill is also extremely convenient when killing Mephisto, because it allows you to leap over the blood river instead of having to run around killing everything.
This skill increases your Defense rating. It is a passive skill so no casting is necessary. It is also a prerequisite for Natural Resistance which is a must-have skill also. Iron skin will also be discussed further in the Build Variations section.
The name says it all. This skill gives the barbarian a head start over any other character type by giving a certain percent resistance to all elemental damage. Maxing your resistance to elemental attack is a must for any character and this one helps out a lot.
Although not completely necessary, this skill is very nice to have 1 point in. It simply makes you run faster. If you want to duel a lot definitely put 1 point on this.
In the words of Scorpion from Mortal Combat.. "GET OVER HERE!" and this is exactly what this skill does. It makes a monster come to you and try to attack. This skill is awesome when going against ranged attackers like the archers you find in act5 Highlands. Once taunted, they will stop attacking from a far, and walk towards you making them easy prey for a WW barb.
This skill is a must-have when boss-killing or going against any hard hitting, high defense monster. It will decrease the monster's defense and damage they cause.
Not completely necessary but still a nice tool to have under your belt. It will stun and cause a small amount of damage to monsters and before you start thinking "Woh, cool, it stuns, I should max it!" the stun length is extremely short and the damage is minute
Simply increases all your skill levels by 1 for a long time, this skill should be cast first before any other Warcry.
Outfitting Your Whirlwind Barb
The Whirlwind Barbarian is very item dependant in my opinion, and requires some top-end gear in order to be successful throughout the later stages of the game. The following is a list of different gear that could / should be used. Some will be expensive but alternatives will be listed.
The Whirlwind Barbarians weapon is the most important item he needs. In order to be effective in hell, you will need a weapon that reaches the final speed break point for Whirlwind (for more information about speed break points, see the Speed Break point section below). Because Whirlwind speed is not affected by off weapon Increased attack speed, you will need a weapon that has a speed of -35 (see the arreats summit weapon section for base weapon speeds) for example, an ordinary Colossus Blade had a base weapon speed of 5, and therefore need to have +40% Increased attack speed in order to reach the speed desired. Remember that more speed = more hits per WW = more life and mana leach for your barb. What weapon you choose relies greatly on which mastery you have chosen and if you are going to be using a shield or not. The following table has all the best items in each mastery and a number of alternatives if you can't get your hands on those expensive runes.
Weapon Switch: unless Magic finding, every Barbarian should have 2 weapons on switch with the echoing mod (+3 to war crys), this will pump your Warcry's with a total of +6... try buying some from a shop. Be patient
"Breath of the Dying" Colossus Blade: An excellent choice for any sword barbarian, with some great mods and the fact that you can make it in an ethereal 6 socket CB means that the damage on this baby is going to rock! Also very versatile because it can be used both 1 and 2 handed which lets you take your shield off when you don't need it and cause even greater damage. The 60% increased attack speed means it has an item speed of -55, which is more then enough speed for a WW barb. It has a relatively low strength requirement too and a massive bonus of 30 to all attributes meaning more vitality for you.
"Crescent Moon" Legend Sword: You may be wondering why I'm listing this one, and the simple answer is that it reaches the speed break point that we want. It also has decent damage and it ignores target's defense which will make hitting normal monsters a breeze. The base speed of a legend sword is -15 so the 20% increased attack speed adds up to -35. The runes are not too expensive and the 25% chance of open wounds and static on hit will help a lot. Note: % chance to cast static will not go off while WWing but will when using Concentrate.
The Grandfather: I'll start off by saying that this sword will be too slow and never reach the final break point of -35 no matter what you socket it with! But the damage rocks and if you want huge damage and can't afford a BotD, well give this one a try. I advise duel wielding this baby with another sword for extra hits.
Rare Elite Sword: If you are finding it difficult to get your hands on a great WW sword then make sure you look out for rare swords, even if they are normal/exceptional, they can be upgraded. Look for Increased attack speed and Enhanced damage mods.
"Breath of the Dying" Berserker Axe: If you're going to be strictly using a shield or perhaps duel weird 2 axes, nothing even comes close to touching this baby. The 1-hand damage and speed of this weapon blows anything out of the water so if you can get your hands on one of these, touch it! touch it! Base weapon speed on a Zerker axe is 0 so it will have a weapon speed of -60.. WOOT !
"Breath of the Dying" Glorious Axe: If your WW barb is never going to use a shield, or if you want a huge damage weapon on your switch, this weapon is the way to go. Base weapon speed is 10 but will be -50 when you finish the rune word. That's fast enough for us.
"Breath of the Dying" Champion Axe: Although not as high damage as the Glorious Axe, the speed will be extremely godly, base speed on one of these babies is -10 and will get to -70 when BotD! WOOT !
"Beast" Berserker Axe: This rune word is a little less expensive than the one above and stands out for one mod especially, Fanaticism! The 20% Chance of Crushing Blow and 25% Chance of Open Wounds is a great addition as is the strength bonus you receive. All round great weapon of choice and I recommend it to those of you who are going to be duel wielding. A Botd in one hand and a Beast in the other results in a pretty hard-hitting fast attack barb and you'll took bad-ass. Desired speed is reached.
"Doom" Berserker Axe: This rune word stands out for the Holy Freeze Aura it gives its wielder, with 20% Deadly Strike, 25% Chance of Open Wounds and a +2 to all skills, this weapon is awesome for duel wielding and reaches our desired speed too.
Death Cleaver: This unique elite at first sight seems to have only a few mods, but boy are they quality. +40% Increased Attack Speed, -33% Target Defense and 66% Deadly Strike, it is a fast killer and for the rich ones out there, an ethereal ZOD'd one would own.
Razor's Edge: with a modest -33% Target Defense, 50% Deadly Strike and 50% Chance of Open Wounds, this weapon is a decent choice for those on a budget.
Rare and Crafted Axes: You can always try crafting your own axe with the blood recipe, it is possible to get incredibly strong items with it. Also look out for Rare axes with Increased Attack speed and high Enhanced Damage.
Immortal Kings Maul: If you're interested in using this one, why not just use the entire set. The bonuses are great and with 2 shaels it will get faster. Note: even with 2 shael runes in it the speed will only get to -30, which won't be as fast as we desire. You glow with the entire set on, making you look like a huge Christmas light.
Stormlash: This mace class weapon has great damage and speed, and although its minimum damage is quite low it has a nice +33% Chance of Crushing Blow which makes it a decent killer. Range is the same as the Colossus Blade and Berserker axe so it's quite neat indeed.
Baranar's Star: This one is old school. The damage is ok and speed can be reached. The main mods that stand out are the huge 200% Attack Rating bonus and elemental damage but the range is a little low for my liking.
"Breath of the Dying" Great Poleaxe/Colossus Voulge: Needless to say that any BotD weapon will be great and these are no exception. Huge damage and looks that will kill (literally) these are great choices for the polearm WW barb.
Bonehew: This massive weapon looks damn cool. If damage is what you want and "price is no object" try an ethereal one of these with a shael/IAS jewel and a ZOD.
Tomb Reaver: With big damage, magic find and 1-3 sockets this one isn't bad. It reaches our desired break point and looks cool too.
"Breath of the Dying" War Pike: If pure damage is what you want, then look no further. The only thing to remember about this one is that it won't reach the desired break point we want, but damn will it do damage!
"Breath of the Dying" Ghost Spear: The speed and damage of this weapon will be one to reckon with. Also, it looks damn cool. what else can I say? its a BotD!
Arioc's Needle: Not a bad choice at all, with super mods like +2-4 To All Skills, Ignore Target's Defense and 50% Deadly Strike, makes it a great killer.
There are many choices when it comes to what armor one is going to wear, and many have their pros and cons so they're just listed blow with a small run down about them. There are many other alternatives, but you should be able to determine what's best for you.
Enigma: Great high defense armor that gives any character who wears one the ability to teleport. Woot! Also has a nice +2 to skills, a faster run / walk bonus, great amount of magic find, but most importantly a huge strength bonus that lets you save some stats on strength so you can invest them in vitality. Very sexy.
Chains of Honor: Awesome armor with high defense a heck load of resistance, +2 skills, life leech, magic find, and 8% physical damage reduction. Woot!
Duress: This would have to be my favorite armor because of the great mods and relatively cheap runes that are required to make one. This armor boasts high defense, a massive 40% faster hit recovery, resistance, cold damage, and my favorite....15% crushing blow and 33% open wounds. These mods make this armor very sexy.
Stone Nice utility armor. Massive defense bonus, 15 resistance, and a nice bonus to strength, vitality and energy. Also has a beautiful 60% faster hit recovery.
Shaftstop I couldn't bring myself to leave this armor out of the list. It has served many of us well for many characters and throughout lots of patches with 30% physical damage reduction and a small life bonus, this old school armor would best work if upgraded and UM'd!
Arreats Face: This is probably the best all round helm for any barbarian build with +2 to skill and +2 to combat skills, great Strength/Dexterity bonus, resistance and a very useful 20% to Attack rating, this helmet stands out from the rest. The life leech is also great.
Shako: This helm is as old school as they come. +2 skills, 10% physical damage reduction and a hefty life/mana bonus, this is a very decent choice helm for any character.
Vampire Gaze: Also old school, 15%-20% physical damage reduction and duel leech, this one's a keeper. Also great for a mercenary helm.
Stormshield: The almighty shield. Easily the best shield for a Barbarian with its massive defense and 35% physical damage reduction it'll help you out a lot. Gives a nice 35 strength bonus to help you reach strength level easily.
Alternatives: what makes a shield great is when it has a decent defense, high block chance and resistance. If you can't afford a Stormshield, look for a rare with good mods like the ones above and it should do fine until you can upgrade to a better one.
Steelrend: In my opinion, no other pair of gloves come close. These are so simple. Super high defense, enhanced damage bonus, strength bonus and a super important 10% Crushing Blow. Awesome gloves.
Soul Drainer: Not a bad choice also, with duel life/mana leech. If you're having trouble leeching pop a pair of these on. Also has a useful -50 to monsters defense per hit.
Rare Gloves: If you can't get your hands on any of the above gloves, try and find some rare ones with increased attack speed, high defense, perhaps some leech and resistances too.
Verdungo's Hearty Cord: This is the belt you are looking for. Huge vitality bonus and 10%-15% physical damage reduction. This one will give you more life while helping you reach that all important 50% damage reduction.
String of Ears: An old school belt that has served me well in the past. Life leech and 10%-15% physical damage reduction makes this a great choice for any Barbarian.
Thundergods Vigor: This belt seems to be more useful for Amazons but it is an awesome belt to use. 20 to strength/vitality is godly but what you'll also find useful is the lightning absorb. With high resistance and lots of absorb you can sometimes be healed by lightning attack. Woot!
Gore Rider: This is the pair you want with 10% Chance Of Open, 15% Chance Of Crushing Blow and 15% Deadly Strike you really can't go wrong with these. Upgrade them for extra defense and you never have to worry about your boors again, except to repair them =)
Sandstorm Trek: Great strength/vitality bonus and faster run/walk with Faster hit recovery, all round useful pair of boots. Good choice.
War Traveler: These are great for the extra strength, magic find and damage they provide. If you want a little good luck, pop a pair of these on.
Waterwalk: The dexterity and life bonuses are useful on these and not a bad choice for those on a budget. The dexterity bonus can help with your blocking too.
Angelic Combo: When equipping the Angelic set amulet and ring it will give a huge attack rating bonus based on your character level. AR is so important for a WW barb because you want to be able to hit as much as you can, especially when dueling! It also gives a nice 10 dexterity bonus. Use two rings if you're really having trouble hitting things.
Highlords: The Ultimate Barb amulet, +1 to skills, 20% increased attack speed, and a % to Deadly Strike based on character level not to mention the lightning resistance. If you have no Attack rating problems, grab one of these, you wont be disappointed.
Raven Frost: In my opinion this ring should never be taken off, it's just too damn useful. The massive dexterity bonus will help with your AR and blocking and the "cannot be frozen" mod is godly. The cold absorb helps out a lot too, especially when dueling a cold skill tree sorceress.
Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band: This ring is very popular with a lot of Barbs out there. The +1 to skills and life leech in general are awesome mods and it gives a nice life bonus also.
Rare rings/amulets: If you can't afford any of the above or want something a little different try getting your hands on a rare ring with either duel leech, stat bonus and/or resistance, or an amulet with + skills, resistance and other helpful mods.
If you do the calculations you will notice that maxing the four necessary skills for Whirwind can occur at a minimum character level of 83, so this leaves us with some left over skill points when your character progresses past this level. I have listed a few options to consider when your WW barbarian matures over level 83.
Iron Barb Whirler
Left over skill points can be placed into Iron Skin, giving your Barbarian an extra defense bonus. Not getting hit by monsters is everyone's' dream and in PvP the higher your Barbs defense, the better.
Concentrated Whirl Winder!
Concentrate is a powerhouse attack skill, giving huge damage and defense bonuses. Using your left over skills to maximize Concentrate, a great tool that is already in your arsenal. This would make Concentrate even better for Boss Killing or very useful for killing mana burn monsters because of the low mana cost.
You could always invest those left over skill points into Berserk. With an even more powerful Berserk with higher Attack Rating Bonus those annoying Physical Immune monsters won't know what hit them. Berserk also adds a bit of Magic damage to your Concentrate so it's not a bad idea in that respect also.
The Stun Whirler
Another option for those extra skill points is to invest into Warcry, allowing you to Stun a mob before Whirlwinding them to death. Yeh baby!
More points on Natural Resistance would allow for a higher resistance again elemental damage, maybe even free up a socket or two for you to place some Enhanced Damage jewels in.
There comes a time in every player's career when leveling becomes a bore, you couldn't be bothered trolling the trade channels and it feels like if you do another magic find run and get that unique breast plate again, you'll throw your computer out the window! Well when this happens I recommend trying your hand at a little dueling!
Dueling can be very fun indeed, but going against the 7 different character types in the world of Diablo II can be a different experience every time you do it. So the basics about dueling and the equipment you should look out for are listed here. There are several mods and attributes you should always look out for when thinking about what equipment you are going to be equipping on your WW Barb.
Barb vs. Barb dueling
When going against a fellow barbarian you have to remember that most of the time he has the same tools in his arsenal as you do, depending on his build. All Barbarian builds, excluding singers, should try and maximize the Big 2.
Defense: You can never get enough defense. Try and maximize your defense by having some nice armor. Some good dueling armors are included bellow:
Stone: The stone rune word offers a huge amount of enhanced defense of an armor, therefore try making it in the highest defense armor you can find. Armor of 2000+ defense are very realistic when using the Stone rune word. It also offers faster hit recovery and resistance which always helps!
Enigma: The teleport and strength bonuses this armor gives you are priceless. Just the fact that you can save so many points on strength is enough to make this the choice of many duelers out there. Teleporting around also helps your barb to plan attacks or retreat quickly.
Chains of Honor: If high defense and lots of resistance is what you want, try this rune word out and you won't be disappointed. This armor boasts +2 skills and a 20 strength bonus that will help your damage and overall effectiveness. Throw in 8% life leech and some Physical damage reduction and you've got yourself some pretty nice dueling armor.
Attack Rating: After reading the defense section, you must assume that the Barbarian you're going up against will have extremely high armor also therefore you need to make sure you are able to land a blow on him. This is where your attack rating comes into play. There is no use having godly weapons and armor if you can't even hit the guy.
Raven Frost: This ring will give you a nice attack rating boost by adding straight to your AR and also giving you a dexterity bonus, which also helps with your chance to block. The cold damage is a nice bonus.
Angelic Combo: There has been much discussion on the angelic set combo, and the amount of attack rating it gives you is legendary. The amount increases as your character level increases and also gives you a small dexterity bonus of 10. Hint- if you're still having attack rating problems try equipping 2 rings and the amulet for double the AR bonus!
Barb vs. Casters Dueling
When going up against most casters try and remember that most of the time their defense is quite low and so in theory they should be quite easy to hit but the biggest obstacle is getting close enough to them to hit them before they kill you or teleport away. A few general strategy's are listed below.
Sorceress: In general, sorceress' have quite low life compared to most characters, this is because they aim not to get hit in the first place! Because of their low life, usually 1-2 hits will take them down, but in order to get close enough to hit them you need a few things. Very high resistance to whatever skill tree they have mastered, this is usually the cold/fire tree. In order to help with the initial chase, Enigma (listed above) would help immensely because of the teleport skill it grants. Try wielding a Wizardspike for the resists and faster teleporting and make sure you have some absorb on. (some duelers think it's bad manners to have too much absorb on). Another good idea would be to have a 4 socket shield with the appropriate resists in it given by perfect gems.
FoH Paladin: A good idea for resists would be to equip a 160 lightning resist shield (4 perfect topaz) to counter his Conviction and have some nice absorb on, then chase the mofo and hunt him down or teleport to him if you have Enigma. It is always very useful if you have a high run/walk speed.
Hammerdins: Don't let this guy anticipate your moves. There is a blind spot for all hammerdins when they are casting their hammers, it is situated just south of him, if you can teleport/run/leap to him while avoiding his hammers you should be able to take him down. Also, any "magic damage reduced by X" items are useful but not really worth sacrificing your top gear for. Instead try having the highest amount of hit points you can get by pumping vitality, having charms, and having a high level Battle Orders.
Lightning Trap Assassins: Some lightning absorb would do you very well when going against a Trapsin. Follow the same sort of strategy as you would a FoH Paladin, except you won't need the 160 resist shield because sins won't have the Conviction aura lowering you resistances. Hunt them down fast!
Necromancers: One of the hardest characters to beat for the Barbarian. My only advice on this one is to grab yourself an Enigma, and try to teleport right on top of him and Concentrate/Berserk him quickly!
There a several items that grant their user some type of elemental damage absorb. These include Raven Frost, Wisp Projector, the Rising Sun amulet, Thundergods Vigor, Dwarf Star, Lightsabre. Try browsing the Arreats summit and there may be more useful items with absorb on them.
Dueling in General
In general, the best dueler is the experienced one, and the person who dedicates his/her character to the art of dueling. The more practice you get, the better you get, and although I could probably write pages upon pages of theory, you really won't be a great dueler until you step into the ring and get the hang of it.
In my opinion there is only one mercenary any hard hitting Barbarian would require and that is the act2 Offensive mercenary. With this guy's Might Aura you will get an extremely useful increase to your damage and with your maxed out Shout and Battle order, your mercenary will have huge amounts of defense and life.
For your mercenary's equipment, the most necessary stats are a good amount of life leech, high defense, and lots of physical damage reduction. The optimal equipment would be an upgraded Shaftstop with UM, 20% Vampgaze with UM, and a Reapers Toll unique thresher. With this weapon you mercenary will be cursing monsters he hits with Decrepify which will lower the damage they cause while making them take more physical damage from you and your mercenary.
I'm going to make this very brief and direct.
Whirlwind anything that moves and cannot cast Iron maiden on you. If you come across an Oblivion Knight, Berserk the MOFO 'till he drops at your feet. Make use of your Warcrys, all of them serve you well in different situations Use Berserk on Physical immune monsters. Use a shield Try and have a Decent amount of Crushing Blow, Critical strike and Open wounds Be good to your Mother Conclusion
If you didn't notice already, this guide was written very quickly and of course could have gone into much more depth, so I do intend to add to it and revise it a lot in the upcoming weeks. I just wanted to get something out there for all the people that keep asking for a WW barb Guide!