2.6.6 and Barbs: A Measured Response

When the 2.6.6 PTR notes went live, many players jumped for joy! New items! New gems! A cool new Season theme with magical bubbles!

Meanwhile, Barbs got nothing.

Again.

Well, I guess we got Mortick’s, but that item is effectively useless in our builds. And don’t worry, I’ll talk more about Morticks.

Anyway, in this post, I’ll detail why Barbs are so upset, and why this patch is just the latest in a long string of disappointments for Barbs.

Part 1: 2.6.6 & New Items

The new patch is bringing us new items. But what can Barbs at any level of play do with any of them?

Flavor of Time: Not much. Useful, perhaps, for zDPS Barbs, but that remains to be seen. It’s also incredibly hard to get a decent Flavor since it rolls all over the place.

The Executioner: Not much. See, the problem is that we have zero flexibility in terms of equipped weapons. Early-Season players may find this useful, but by the time you complete a set, you’ll be relegated to using the build-specific weapon: the IK BB, Istvan’s Paired Blades, Bul-Kathos’s Oath, or Blade of the Tribes. Our Cube slots are likely restricted. This item is of very little use outside of group zDPS play.

Stone Gauntlets: No. Just no.

Echoing Fury: For speed T16, this item is somewhat useful for our Zodiac WW build, but it’s certainly not leaps and bounds over the current speed versions of that build. For pushing, this item cannot be used, and the bonus this item provides is much weaker than what is provided by our current build-required items.

Squirt’s Necklace: Nope. We take damage because our builds are melee builds. Our ranged builds are, sadly, so weak as to not even be worth discussing.

Messerschmidt’s Reaver: See the problems with weapons above. It’s also weaker than the Zodiac ring, which is easier for us to use.

Part 2: Mortick's Brace

Many Barbs are hyped about this, but the truth is that this item is, at best, a lateral move for a small number of our builds. Since there’s so much misinformation about this item, and so much confusion over what it’s worth, I’m dedicating a whole section to it.

Mortick’s offers us the effect of every rune of Wrath, but before we there are a few things you have to understand about the Wrath skill:

  1. While it is used in every build, only 3 builds can achieve permanent Wrath. This means the item is only potentially useful in 3 of our 5 major builds, and 0 of our 3 minor builds.
  2. Wrath has a long cooldown. There are two ways to achieve perma-Wrath: You either use the IK set or the Zodiac ring. If you go with the latter, you have to manage cooldowns.

Got it? Okay. Before we get into the builds that can potentially use Mortick’s, let’s look at Wrath’s runes and see what they actually do.

  • Arreat’s Wail’s 3400% Fire damage seems like a lot, but it’s similar to the Pain Enhancer gem in that it’s actual damage is negligible. It’s also only active on activation, which means it deals a miniscule amount of damage over the course of a rift, and much less over the course of a bounty.

  • Insanity is the go-to rune since it acts as a separate multiplier to outgoing damage. Every build that uses Wrath already uses this. Next.

  • Slaughter used to be really good. Then the proc coefficient of this skill was nerfed into the ground. Even if it wasn’t, it deals meaningless damage in today’s power curve.

  • Striding Giant is popular with zDPS Barbs, and the extra DR is good for every build that can afford the item and the skill, but it fails to address one of the core problems of the class (hint: it’s not mitigation).

  • Thrive on Chaos offers 5k Life per Fury, about the same as Ignorance is Bliss. This is equal to 2 Life per Fury rolls, and less if a build uses the Blood Thirst passive. In other words, it’s a nice boost to healing, but not make-or-break for any of our builds.

So what builds can use this item? Let’s break it down by build:

  • Zodiac WW: For speed-farming T16, we can wear this and Witching Hour for a little bit more DPS, but that means this item offers 50% more CHD. We can’t use use it for pushing because we can’t give up the damage from Mantle in the Cube and Parthans offers more mitigation.

  • IK HOTA: It can replace Aquila in the Cube, but so what? 50% DR for 50% DR? It’s better than Aquila, but only because it’s more consistent. IK HOTA is not a good speed build, and for end-game pushes, players will want Magefist in the Cube for additional Fire damage.

  • R6 HOTA: Won’t use it since the build doesn’t maintain perma-Wrath and can’t give up the better mitigation offered by Aquila (or the DPS of Magefist).

  • Vile Charge: Parthans offers better DR for pushes, so it’s not likely to be used except in speed-farming.

  • Fire/Physical EQ: Won’t use it since the builds have low uptime on Wrath. Besides, these builds are already tanky.

  • Our minor builds? None of them have perma-Wrath.

  • LON builds? They’ll have to take Boon, 50% CDR, and possibly Messerschmidt’s in the Cube. But if you have 50% CDR, why not just take IP and wear PoC for the exact same bonus?

Let’s add this all up.

Of all our builds, only 3 can achieve perma-Wrath.

Of those three, only 2 can squeeze the item into the build without sacrificing a required item.

Of those 2–IK HOTA and Zodiac WW–only 1 could reasonably use it for speed-farming (WW) and 1 could use it for pushing GRs (HOTA).

For those two modes of play, Mortick’s is useful for speed T16 for WW. But for pushing GRs, Mortick’s is inferior to Magefist in the Cube for IK HOTA.

That means that Mortick’s, this legendary bracer that so many folks are foaming at the mouth to get their hands on, is useful for a single T16 speed build that, frankly, has other options.

In other words, it’s outdated junk. The developers even admit to as much:

If you played during the Patch 2.2.0 PTR, you’ll recognize this as an item that was later removed from the game before it went to live servers. At the time, Mortick’s Brace gave too much power for a single item slot. However, the power curve of Diablo III has changed significantly since then and we’re comfortable with bringing it back.

That’s the Developer’s Note included with the item in the PTR patch notes. Mortick’s Brace dates back to Patch 2.2.0, which was released in April of 2015.

Yes, you read that right.

Mortick’s Brace is more than 4 years old.

That is what we got this patch: a 4-year old item that wouldn’t even be powerful two years ago.

If that’s not a slap in the face, I’m going to need a new face.

But what about the Legacy of Dreams?

I got bad news for you. We have one–exactly one–worthwhile LON build (LON HOTA), and the new gem will only make the build roughly as powerful as it was in Season 17. For you die-hard LON fans, I hope you’re okay with being the same as you were last Season, because that’s all you’re getting.

Part 3: Barbs and Patches

Okay, you’re thinking. So Barbs didn’t get any love this patch. What’s the big deal?

I’ll tell you what the big deal is. Get a cup of coffee and sit down. I got some 'splaining to do as we take a comprehensive look back at major patches. Let’s keep in mind the current date: We’re about to hit August, 2019.

We’ve covered 2.6.6, so let’s jump back to 2.6.5:

May 2019. As you can see, Barbs received zero updates in this patch. We got nothing, nada, zip.

Is that a big deal?

Yes and no. We had been advocating, quite strongly, for select buffs, and it was around this time that we noticed on a community-wide scale the rather large disparity between us and other classes, not to mention the disparity between our own builds.

Patch 2.6.4

January 2019. In this patch, they buffed all class sets to current values. In so doing, they only perpetuated the cross-class disparity that’s existed since forever (see below). The bigger set numbers were nice, but problems with weak and outdated supporting legendaries remained prevalent.

Patch 2.6.1

October 2017. Where did 2018 go?

This is a weird one, because everyone received lots of changes and tweaks, most of which, like the set buffs, were made outdated by 2.6.4 What’s more, we were adamant at the time that the adjusted values were too low (they were). Let’s look more closely at the tweaks to skills and supporting legendaries.

The buff to Bloodshed made it stronger, but failed to address any class weaknesses. This did indeed buff builds that use Bloodshed, but the nature of the skill’s mechanics prohibit many builds from using it. The change to Ground Stomp was a nerf, mainly to curb the skill’s use in group play.

The buffs to supporting legendaries brought them to their current values. These were really good changes! They’re also two years old by now.

Patch 2.6.0

June 2017, This is when the Necro was released, so it’s understandable that Necro received all the attention. Moving on.

Patch 2.5.0

March 2017. On the skills side, we received a tweak to a Slam rune that, in the long run, has only made it a Fury dump. The skill continues to fail at dealing meaningful damage with that rune change, but what’s new?

While other classes received items and updates, Barbs received zero adjustments to items save a bug fix on the Raekor set.

Hmm.

Patch 2.4.3

January 2017. Overpower was nerfed. They also slapped a legendary affix on Saffron Wrap which was then, as now, completely and utterly useless. In fact, the item was a running gag in the PTR forums back then, and still is.

The Wastes set was tweaked, but not to any great effect.

Hmm indeed.

Patch 2.4.2

August 2016. Falter was nerfed. Girdle of Giants was nerfed.

Moving on.

Patch 2.4.1

April 2016. Let’s see what we got.

A tweak to a HOTA rune nobody uses.

A nerf to Ignore Pain.

A buff to Tough as Nails. This is what, at the time, made Frenzy Thorns viable. This is also the last time Frenzy Thorns, a beloved build, was meaningful in any way. Think about that for a second.

Our set bonuses were buffed, but that was all made obsolete a patch or two later, and we were still weaker than other classes.

What does this all mean? What does this all add up to?

We’ve looked at patches as far back as April 2016. It is now, for all intents and purposes, August 2019. That’s over three years, and in that time, let’s review the meaningful buffs we’ve received.

8/19–2.6.6: Nothing
5/19–2.6.5: Nothing
1/19–2.6.4: Current values on sets
10/17–2.6.1: Current values on supporting legs
6/17–2.6.0: Nothing
3/17–2.5.0: Nothing
1/17–2.4.3: Nothing
8/16–2.4.2: Nothing
4/16–2.4.1: A (now long outdated) buff to a single passive skill

I think this paints a pretty damning picture.

But wait, you say. How is “meaningful” being defined?

Simple: A meaningful buff or change makes improves the game for one more modes of play. What’s more, the improvement must be actual–in other words, it can’t be an item or buff that creates the illusion of improvement (see Mortick’s above), or fails to improve the performance or utility of a build across one more modes of play. For instance, you might argue that the new Messerschmidt’s Reaver will do that, but as explained above, its inclusion into any of our builds will likely only weaken them.

You might also argue that global changes, such as the Season of Nightmares, buff everyone, and isn’t that good enough? Don’t Barbs benefit if everyone benefits?

Well, that ignores the information presented above, and also fails to consider the various problems that have persisted within our class since before 2.4.1. More info on that can be found here. Temporary Seasonal themes can’t be taken into account for obvious reasons.

Conclusion

The above information speaks for itself. The state of Barbs doesn’t suck for just the folks who love to push GRs, nor does it such just for the folk who like to play more casually.

Right now, Barb sucks for everyone who loves and mains Barb.

And the most frustrating part of this is that it’s so, so easy to fix.

We’ve never asked for a Barbs-only patch, but the developers could, in one fell stroke, made an entire community of players very, very happy.

How easy is it to fix these problems?

Take a look.

All the devs had to do was increase numbers on existing items. That’s it.

It wouldn’t fix the deeper, more complicated problems with our builds and items–stuff like Rend, for example–but it would do the following:

  • Achieve better intra-class parity
  • Achieve better cross-class parity
  • Make frustrating, demanding builds less frustrating
  • Increase build diversity
  • Increase the number of viable builds
  • Increase available LON options
  • Increase build options for Hardcore play
  • Increase build options for casual Torment play
  • Increase build options for Seasonal play
  • Increase build options for pushing GRs
  • Increase off-meta options for group play
  • Bring Barbs in line with DHs, WDs, Monks, and some Crusaders
  • Make every Barb player very, very happy

It would not do the following:

  • Elevate Barbs to the level of Wizards, Necros, or some Crusaders
  • Displace the current group meta
  • Break the game

I hope this helps everyone understand why so many Barb players are disgruntled. And I hope it inspires other class communities to organize and decide how best to approach their class’s issues. And when and if y’all do, just know that the Barb community supports you.

Thank you and don’t forget to tip your waiter.

122 Likes

Nice “summary”. It is shame they ruined the overall balance they achieved around S12 (2.6.1 I think).

3 Likes

I didn’t realize I was reading a research report when you said thread is up.

:heart:

Agreed on all fronts though as everyone can tell from my posts the last few days.

5 Likes

I havent played much for a year but man they ruined the balance very badly again. I hate it when someone keeps breaking stuff in my lab after rigorously fixing it again and again… It is tiring.

I think this calls for another era analysis (if there are enough barb player left lol)

4 Likes

I’ve stated this a lot these days.

Every class got something for Season 17. Everyone. But not Barbarians.

I don’t know anything about game developing. Changing stuff in game.
But… It wouldn’t require much to get something for Barbarians as well.

Something updated, a bit new. A buff of some sort. Something.

Getting an item that old, that has no new updates on it, it sounds like someone needed to go to work on a vacation day, slapped it on the pc for 10min. just to be able to get back home again as fast as possible.

No disrespect to the people working, it was a sarcastic remark. But man, I am so down after reading the patch notes, seeing all these people getting together and write some great stuff for the class they love and want to play.

Good reading Free. As always. I sincerly hope you and the others work here is being heard.

7 Likes

Barbs: we’re way behind all other classes. Here’s a detailed and well thought out proposal of how to fix us without breaking anything else or making us OP.
Devs: here’s a bracer that’s well out of date and will give you next to no benefit.

19 Likes

Want to throw this quote up btw because this response seems weird to me.

So many of the suggestions the Barbarian community is making are simple number changes on singular items that help only specific builds and that run no risk of interfering with each other.

I appreciate Nev communicating with us and hold no ill will towards her over our current predicament. She’s just the messenger and is in a very precarious position having to be our intermediary. But the lack of action regarding updating Barb’s supporting legendary items is so frustrating.

10 Likes

Well written and easy to understand even for devs who likely don’t play this game let alone the Barb class.

+10000

9 Likes

Agreed, mah dude.

I feel for Nev in this scenario. And I want to be clear that at no point should any of the disappointment we feel be directed toward her. She likely has many restrictions on what she can and cannot say, and regardless, her renewed presence on the forums is nothing but a good thing.

Still, I think what’s written above only reinforces the point we made with the proposal, which is that Barbs have, in fact, been left in the dust for a long time, and something’s got to give.

13 Likes

But they did so for every class except for Barbarians in season 17…

They all got buffs to some legendaries while we got nothing. And the only item we get, is not changed one bit…

It just disheartening.

4 Likes

Once again here for support !!

The thread, the text speaks for itself and our current state of affairs.

I am a potential MAU, (three accounts overall) yet every single patch moves my interest farther away.
And it’s not even because the lack of significant updates, its the disheartening feeling that whatever changes are made, they just lack a purpose, a second thought.

And a growing feeling that these devs are so proud that they’re unable to concede that players are rightfully correct about their suggestions.
I had hopes that the classic team were more passionate about the game.

But hey, we all have better things to do i guess.

Thanks for the effort everyone !!
Much respect where deserved.

6 Likes

And before anyone complains about ‘these disgruntled barbs’, i would love significant changes to Witch Docs and Crusaders.

I can’t really get my head around what they were thinking after coming up with that new Gargantuan affix, as nothing else is made to complement it.

Same issue as with Morticks and the crafted Sets updates … What’s the point?!

6 Likes

All classes need (or want) changes and fixes of course.

Hopefully those other classes understand Barbarian requests and proposals should have no bearing on their own classes since we never ask for nerfs to those classes or builds. We only ask for buffs and updates that would put us more in line with those other classes/builds.

9 Likes

Great summary!Like I said previously, I have no hope at all for Dev to make “Complicated updates”, but seriously refuse to just change some numbers? Sadly they will not enter the post and reply since this is a slap in the face. I do not think Nev’s Blog will help ease our pains, it is just another excuse of “no time to do”.

I even worried about they will remove the bracer we got in 2.6.6, since we are all yelling “the bracer is not a good update”. Waiting for every patch you listed since last two years have made me drive nuts and so sensitive…

3 Likes

Good job Free. Every day that goes by I get less hopeful, but would really have loved to see some buffs this time. I had believed again.

2 Likes

I would moderate your expectations. They did not even have time to introduce a new seasonal wing as a reward. As you can imagine, they could have taken a pre-existing wing and just recolored it.

8 Likes

Sadly expectations started last ptr when they said they didn’t have enough time to fix barbs.

3 Likes

Hope you guys get a fix. This is rediculous. I don’t really play Barbs, but as a Monk I sort of feel your pain.

7 Likes

Free my man that is a great summary and I wish I could click that heart more than once.

The picture painted aint pretty and It could be so easily addressed. Look at list 1 and go - yeah okay we’ll do it. ActiBlizz it aint that hard.

Flicking out Morticks and thinking we’ll be over the moon is just an example of how out of touch ActiBlizz is. If they actually played the game they would realize that this item is now past its best by date.

The biggest problem Barbs will always face is ActiBlizz devs see zBarbs in 4 man meta and think “yup Barbs in a good place and useful”. They don’t play their game, they don’t play Barbs and sadly they don’t listen to the player base. It’s a shame really.

+10000 to ya Free. I appreciate your endeavors. if I ever need a lawyer, I’m getting you on my side buddy :+1:

8 Likes

I read the 2.6.6 patch notes, had a brief look on the PTR (haven’t been back on for a couple of days due to the fact that there are 15+ minute queues to get in at all times of the day) and thought to myself… re-used S6 cosmetics, no new cosmetic for Guardian, the seasonal theme being poor (the circles last way too short a time and they drop nowhere near your hero and if your hero relies on movement they’ll never stay in one) and, yet again, Barbarians have another 3 months with nothing useful to play with.

I suspect I might well be doing Chapters 1-4 in S18 for the S6 cosmetics and then not bothering any further.

5 Likes