With the launch of Patch 1.0.7, Diablo III players were finally given the opportunity to test their mettle in PvP combat. Thousands of new builds were proposed by the masses. Some worked; most failed. But through it all, only a handful of viable strategies emerged, and even then their effectiveness varied from situation to situation.
Barbarians in particular had a rough go of things. They lacked the range of a Demon Hunter, the utility of a Witch Doctor or Monk, and the crowd control of a Wizard. What they do bring to the table is extremely high damage mitigation and just enough all-around utility to get the job done. Yes, there is hope for our frenzied friends.
Your Barbarian will be more successful if you view Brawling as more of a chess match and less of a free-for-all. That’s not to say some classes, particularly the Witch Doctor, won’t still give you trouble, but with the tips outlined in this brief guide, you’ll find yourself capable of wearing most opponents into submission.
Slowing Down an Enemy’s Advance
Nothing will work more to your advantage than slowing down the enemy advance. Whether you opt for Bash with Clobber, Hammer of the Ancients with The Devil’s Anvil or Ground Stomp, having at least one skill in your arsenal that either stuns or slows enemies is vital to your success. In our preferred Barb PvP build, we go with Bash with Clobber, not only because it’s a great Fury Generator, but the 35% chance to stun makes it a fairly reliable mechanism of crowd control.
If Barbarians had an infinite supply of Fury, this would be easy – spam Sprint and run like Hell. Unfortunately, they do not, and in PvP settings generating Fury can be particularly annoying. Thus, you’ll have to use your mobility skills more selectively.
Sprint plus Marathon can certainly get you out of most jams. Even if you are already slowed, the huge 50% boost in speed will offset any impairment. In addition, Marathon allows you to Sprint for five seconds, as opposed to three. However, it costs 20 Fury to use, so you’ll either need to get in a few hits with Bash, generate Fury via Leap or Ground Stomp, or take enough hits to amp up your Fury (more on this later).
Furious Charge, especially when paired with Bull Rush, is another viable option. In this scenario you’ll be rushing towards the enemy. Hit them with a Critical and they’ll by stunned for 2.5 seconds – an eternity in PvP. This should give you enough time to put a serious dent in the HP of any caster type.
Tip: Rend plus Ravage works really well with your mobility powers. Hit an enemy with Rend, run for it, and let them bleed to death.
Embrace the Meat Shield Philosophy
Get your defenses up high enough so that you can take a few hits and you’ll suddenly have an entire arsenal of new tactics at your disposal. Remember kids, the more hits you take the more Fury you’ll generate. More Fury equals more skills and…well, you get the point.
The fact remains that some of your most devastating PvP skills: Hammer of the Ancients, Rend, Weapon Throw, Sprint – all require Fury to use. Do yourself a favor and optimize the ways in which you generate it.
Always Have Another Way Out
Finally, it would be downright foolish to not equip at least one emergency skill. The most obvious choice is Ignore Pain. Paired with Iron Hide you will become nearly invulnerable for seven out of every 30 seconds. That’s almost 25% of the time! Better yet, it doesn’t cost any Fury to use.
Other worthy powers in this category are Threatening Shout with Intimidate and Wrath of the Berserker (WotB). Threatening Shout is less of an emergency power and more of a sustained debuff, but it’s still quite powerful in PvP. WotB is an extremely formidable buff that makes you more mobile, more powerful, and most importantly, completely resistant to crowd control. You can make a case for any rune pairing, except for Thrive on Chaos – which is ironic, since that’s the only rune Whirlwind Barbarians use.
Without a good starting strategy it will be hard to advance as a Brawler. No matter what build you decide on, always remember to keep an equal balance of emergency defensive powers, mobility skills and crowd controlling abilities. Doing so is the key to victory. Stay bloodthirsty my friends.