This guide was original written by S4v4G3 on the original forum and under his permission I have taken over porting it to the new forum and maintaining it.
This guide will attempt to put some light on Hammer of The Ancients aka “HoTA”, Immortal King build that is one of the all-time favorites for many barbs. I did not create this build, it was created back in a day by a few well known barbs (King Benjamin will be the one to blame for making it so popular as well as he is the one to blame for this guide). Several folks have contributed to that build back then (of course there is Nubtro, CC123, most of <Fray> mates and forum regulars from back than like Eduw) and this is the case today.
If you are new to this build or barb overall, I would recommend reading everything from top to bottom, because all the information is evenly distributed throughout the guide. Basically I’m trying to avoid a situation where you will just copy skills and come back after couple hours saying it doesn’t work, which will happen if you are new to this build. If you read the guide in its entirety you will have a really good shot on understanding it more.
Basic Terminology Used:
BoM – Band of Might
CoE – Convention of Elements
APD’s – Ancient Parthan Defenders
CDR – Cooldown Reduction
RCR – Resource Cost Reduction
Insanity – Wrath of the Berserker, Insanity Rune
TS – Threatening Shout
Falter – Threatening Shout, Falter Rune
F+R – Focus and Restraint, aka Bastions of Will Ring Set
CHC – Critical Hit Chance
CHD – Critical Hit Damage
AD – Area Damage
AS – Attack Speed
LPFS – Life per Fury Spend
HGB – Healing Globe Bonus
EW – Endless Walk Set
CR – Compass Rose
TP – Travelers Pledge
IB – Istvans Paired Blades aka Istvans
IK – Immortal King
WC – War Cry
AC – Aquilla Cuirass
SA – Strongarms
CoTA – Call of The Ancients
TaO - Together as One
BoTFM – Bracers of The First Men
FoTA – Fury of the Ancients Shoulder
HFA – Hellfire Amulet
1. Basic Stuff
What gear do I need to get started?
- 6 Pieces of IK Set
- Fury of The Ancient Shoulder
- Bracers of the First Men
- Convention of Elements/Band of Might (Cube the one with worse rolls)
- Remorseless Mighty Weapon
- Echoing Fury Mace
- Istvans Paired Blades
- Endless Walk Jewelry Set
If you are early season or simply don’t have all the gear yet, you can build around same basic pieces but with:
- F+R and HFA with BoM in cube instead of EW (you will be missing CoE burst damage)
- In case of not having Remorseless/Echoing Fury, you can use a combination of Pigsticker with any of the following:
- Istavan’s Blades
- Doombringer (you will go Physical than, not Fire)
- Sunkeeper (this build does’t have any “native” elite damage build in, as we don’t use Furnace)
- Burning Axe of Sankis (Fire)
- Azurewrath (cold)
- In-Geom (farming) or virtually any other dual wield weapon combination
For giggles you can even do it with Bul-Kathos Oath (WW weapons) as they can roll Max Fury and LPFS which are pretty vital stats in this build. You can also play with GoJ and Furnace, it is perfectly viable as well. Remorseless/Echoing Fury set is the most optimized weapons for this build, everything else will always give you less overall damage. But, if for some reasons you can’t get well rolled Remorseless/Echoing Fury – you can use just about anything, because base power of this build lies in the cubable GoJ, IK set bonus and BoTFM, Remorseless/Echoing Fury are simply providing the best synergy with the build in Attack Speed/Armor and a separate 30% multiplier to damage.
What do I need in my cube?
To have some options, you can obtain these items:
- Weapon = GoJ
- Armor = AC, Magefist, SA, BoFTM, MB
- Jewelry = BoM and CoE plus Avarice for some T16 farming
What will be best to use in cube?
At the beginning it will depend on one item. Your BoTFM and the quality of the legendary affix you will get. They have pretty wide range on the affix (375-500%) and this alone means 29.5% of difference in damage between the lowest (4.75 multi) and highest (6.0 multi) roll which is huge. If you have bracers that have a roll in 375 - 450 range, you will use GoJ/BoTFM/BoM or CoE in cube (TP setup where you can use both CoE and BoM) and will wear SA (Nemesis for Farming lower GR are always an option as well). SA will be procced every time you will FC into mobs which you will do anyways to keep BoM going. If your Bracers have a “higher end” roll (450%+) you will have fewer options, so obviously you want to try to farm good quality bracers to give you some freedom (so called, because in reality only one composition of items and cubed powers will be strongest for pushing). If you have good bracers your Cube slot can have Magefist (DPS, fire variant), SA (DPS, any variant), AC/Mortick’s (Mitigation, any variant). Mortick’s won’t provide any additional damage but will help with damage mitigation due to Striding Giant and Thrive on Chaos runes. Regardless of what you will have in your armor slot, your weapon cube slot in cube will always be GoJ for a dual wield setup (Furnace for GoJ used in hand setup) and either CoE or BoM (Endless walk setup, you will cube whatever has worse rolls) or BoM for F+R + HFA setup (again, F+R is not going to be stronger than EW variant, but a lot of things happen in early season, and getting a good Endless walk set may be difficult at first)
What legendary and armor gems will I need?
Bane of the Trapped, Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful, and Pain Enhancer are your basic gems. Obviously you will only use 3 out of those, but Powerful vs Pain Enhancer is still pretty open topic. For farming Powerful is really awesome, for end game pushing Pain Enhancer seems to be taking over. Hoarder for T16 farming is always welcomed, also some folks are using Gogok or Esoteric as well, but Trapped + Stricken and PE or Powerful are your best bet.
Your armor gems will be a choice or blend of Rubies and Diamonds, and at a certain point you will go all diamonds as our All Resistance is typically the weakest link in our mitigation. You will use Amethyst in the helmet to increase your life pool. This build doesn’t need any cooldown reduction at all, so a Diamond there would be a waste.
How does this build operate?
Unlike MoTE, this build is very straight forward. FC for mobility, agroing mobs, and activating BoM bonus while building up Fury, HoTA acts as a spender that resets the cooldown of CoTA and Insanity via the (4) piece set bonus. The (2) piece set bonus translates into a straight 50% damage mitigation (ancients lasting till they die with TaO rune) and the (6) piece set bonus is flat damage increase. The cubed GoJ provides a DPS boost while helping with Fury maintenance, BoTFM are straight DPS thru the HoTA multiplier and Attack Speed boost. The build has a pretty balanced damage output in terms of Single Target/Density damage, Density will get destroyed with Bloodshed and AD procs, single target will melt with Stricken stacks coped with high Attack Speed. FoTA shoulder is giving you the “Ancient Fury” rune on CoTA for free, which will help in maintaining fury globe. That’s all there is to it. HOTA SMASH!!!
Are there any “fixed” values of stats I have to pay attention to?
Nothing is really set in stone, but key things you will need to know about this build:
- Due to the nature of HoTA as a skill that grants you 1% CHC for every 5 points of Fury available, with proper gearing you can reach astronomically high CHC. Look at this:
162 Fury is all you can get with a non-GoJ setup. This equals to 32% CHC (rounded down, you need an even 5 points to get 1% CHC, that means that 10 fury on belt for a total of 160 is perfectly acceptable)
Insanity gives you 10%
Battle Rage gives you 3%
Total CHC from Fury, Insanity and Battle Rage is 45% plus 5% native and 5% paragon, so:
55% is our default CHC
12% Both Rings
That’s 44% CHC assuming perfect rolls.
This means that with perfect rolls you can have an up to 99% chance to critically hit. This has pretty important implications, because it means that your CHD turns into the highest priority stat and every 1% CHC you are missing is a flat 1% DPS loss.
- If you are using PE as your gem, getting 7% IAS rolls on Remorseless/Echoing Fury will provide you with “scaling” with density, because:
Weapon Attack Speed x (1+ all sources of additive Attack Speed) x 1.5 (BoTFM 50% modifier)
Bloodshed and AD are the “driving force” of this build. Maxing out CHC and CHD is direct buff to Bloodshed. Getting AD where you can is a very important part of min-maxing.
CHC is a stat that can – in certain circumstances – be compromised. If you are trying to optimize your AS or experimenting with average damage (pretty viable option, especially in case of 1h weapons) in certain slots you can allow for replacing this CHC with AS/AVG DMG/AD. We have done some basic calculations and CHC does not provide additional “scaling” to AD or Bloodshed, each 1% CHC is pretty much overall 1% DPS. Since with perfect rolls you can get 99%, missing one roll on a ring or on helmet will not break your build, especially if it will be replaced with something that in a long run provides another DPS benefit.
What is the weakest link of this build?
Pretty difficult to put the finger on it. It will be very dependent on you as a player. Playstyle you will develop and gear you will eventually acquire. For some it will be your sustain with Remorseless/Echoing Fury setup. For others, DPS. In certain situations you will find it lacking mitigation. Overall this build is very well rounded, it does not have any clear weak points other than total damage output compared to its stronger cousin, Raekor HoTA. Mobility may be of some struggle to some, but nothing to really worry about.
What should I prioritize in paragon?
Core – Max Fury, as it acts like 10% CHC, Movement Speed, STR, Vit if needed
Offense – CHD, CHC, AS, CDR
Defense – All Res, Life, Armor, LPS
Utility – AD, LPH, Gold Find, No RCR!
You don’t want to put any points in Resource Cost Reduction, because LPFS on belt is your major healing source, and spending less Fury will result in less healing received.
2. The Gear, The Works
Fortunately, rolls on gear are pretty straight forward. We are going to maximize CHC/CHD and AD where we can, maintain as much toughness as possible and maybe – if we can – optimize Attack Speed in a way to gain most out of Stricken vs single target fights.
Helmet (IK) – STR/15%HoTA/CHC with Physical Res and Pickup Radius as the second. There is only 2 slots where you can get 15% HoTA, this is one of them. If you can’t get such helmet, take 15% HoTA over 6% CHC if you can, 15% HoTA will be higher DPS gain than 6% CHC in any scenario (credit to Tensor for helping in clearing it up a bit)
Pants (IK) – STR/VIT/All Res with Life after Each kill and Pickup Radius secondary. We don’t have too many places where we can get All Res, so try hard to get it where you can. This build is very “in your face” and you have to get your toughness up there in order to survive.
Boots (IK) – STR/VIT/All Res/15% HoTA. HGB and Pickup Radius are the desired secondaries. You absolutely want to get 15% HoTA here, aside from the helmet it is the only place you can acquire this roll and this build – unlike EQ – doesn’t have high sources of additive damage. These 2 rolls are 30% to very small pool of DPS, that’s a lot of damage.
Chest (IK) – STR/VIT/All Res with melee/ranged deduction or HGB secondaries will be your safe bet. However any well rolled chest can be used in this slot. By well rolled I mean any combination of STR/VIT/Elite damage deduction/15% life and good secondaries (in general if you don’t have All Res on chest you will like to have either Physical Res or melee/ranged deduction to kind of compensate for missing mitigation)
Gloves (IK) – CHC/CHD/AD/STR with Physical Res are the best gloves for most people. If you are really lucky and high paragon, Quadfecta Ancients with CHC/CHD/AD/AS are end game if you want to try to optimize your Attack Speed vs single target.
Shoulder (Fury of the Ancients) – STR/VIT/AD/X. X will be either All Res (your secondary should be HGB then) or 15% Life (your secondary then can be Physical Res.).
Belt (IK) – STR/VIT/LPFS/X with 10-12 Max Fury secondary (this is 2% CHC) and either Pickup Radius or Chance to Freeze. Don’t prioritize Chance to Freeze over proper primary rolls and Max Fury, if you happen to have it or you can roll it while keeping all primaries intact good for you, in general Freeze is just your debuff and maybe in some rare circumstances you will be able to use APDs as bracers but this roll is not critical with BoM as the mandatory ring. As you can see, one of the primary rolls is an “X”. It typically will be All Res, but you may get a belt that will drop with STR/VIT/LPFS/All Res and proper secondaries, this will give you an option on experimenting with 15% Life in place of All Res, you may find either/or working fine for you.
Bracers (Bracers of the First Men) – 20%Elemental/CHC/STR/VIT with Melee/Ranged or Physical Res secondary, regardless of the type of bracers you will use. If you happen to have LPH instead of Vitality there, don’t panic, it contributes to your sustain quite a bit, it is not wasted stat, LPH is on “once per cast” rate, you will be “casting” with anything between 2-5 times per second. 10K LPH there is 50K life recovered per second in density.
Amulet (Travelers Pledge) – 20%Elemental/CHD/CHC/Socket with Physical Res/Melee/Ranged reduction. HGB is good secondary as well. Stacking on HGB can really make a visible difference in GR, not to mention it will make Bloodthirst – if you will use that passive – really effective.
Ring 1 (Non-Compass Rose) – CHC/CHD/Socket/X with Physical Res, HGB, and Life after Each Kill are good secondaries. Life After Kill is pretty amazing once you stack enough of it. “X” is where you will look for AD, AS, or AVG DMG depending on how you will be optimizing your build. In general you will go for as much AD as possible, and AS optimization will be more of a bonus rather than a priority.
Ring 2 (Compass Rose) – CHC/CHD/Socket/X/X. This ring is a nightmare to get rolled properly, you will always have Movement Speed and STR on it as default rolls, so if you can get STR/CHC/CHD with either AD or Attack Speed, call it a day. Most likely you will be running around with a CR that will have Vitality or some other not so highly desired roll, but all you can do is pray to Rngesus for some blessing.
Weapons – If you are using Remorseless/Echoing Fury – which you should if you look for highest damage output build – STR/7% IAS/24% AD seems to be currently the most effective way of doing things. 7% IAS will give you good scaling in density with PE, but AD is one of the most important stats in this build. Keep in mind that there are “acceptable” rolls like elite damage or LPH that can work, but they will be sub-optimal. If you happen to have an Ancient set of Remorseless/Echoing Fury with high damage range but a bit suboptimal primaries (as long as you can get something DPS related on them they are use-able) you can use it to farm better weapons, no issues. 30% DPS, Armor and AS will still be stronger than any non-Remorseless/Echoing Fury weapon build. As I mentioned before, if you don’t have Remorseless/Echoing Fury at all, there is a long list of weapons you can use as temporary solution, get some AS, AD, maybe 10% damage, match HoTA element with the weapon you have (Doombringer is Physical, Burning Axe of Sankis is Fire, Azurewrath is Cold) and have a blast. The build is strong enough to carry you till you get Remorseless/Echoing Fury.
Mandatory Active Skills:
Battle Rage – Bloodshed: This is where a lot of your damage comes from.
Wrath of the Berserker – Insanity: CHC, AS, Dodge Chance, Movement Speed, and 50% damage increase on top of it. Do not even think about using any other rune here if you thinking about pushing with this build, WoTB is one of the two mandatory skills to keep the 6 set bonus working.
Call of The Ancients – Together as One: 50% mitigation and the second skill that has to be active to keep the 6 set bonus working. They may be a pain in the neck sometimes as they will interrupt your aggro and/or keep elites occupied not when you need it, so keep an eye on them and recast them if they block doors, passages or corridors.
Pro Tip – Apparently ancient snapshot is still working, so it is good practice to recast them when you are at your maximum attack speed from PE procs in density, this way they will remain at highest attack speed till next recast which helps a lot with your fury regen thru the FoTA shoulders
Furious Charge – Merciless Assault: Mobility, agro, backup fury generator and BoM procs in one. Probably the best mobility skill barbs can have. It will let you skip bad tiles or travel from elite to elite, density to density. In F+R variant it procs the generator part of the set. If you using Strongarm bracers it procs them as well.
Hammer of the Ancient – Smash: Fire rune has the advantage over any other variant because it deals 640% weapon damage vs base 535%, this is a flat 20% additional DPS. If you using the physical variant then Birthright is a very solid choice. The sustain from it is really amazing. I didn’t test Rolling Thunder but it looks promising as well. Basically, you will push with Smash, if you don’t have all the gear just test what works best for you. Match Amulet/Bracers with the element and take it to town.
War Cry/Threatening Shout/Overpower/Insert Skill: Kind of an “open” slot. War Cry is your safe bet, it will never fail you, but feel free to experiment with anything else. TS – Demoralize for better grouping and a 20% debuff to incoming damage (20% damage less taken is very decent given that War Cry gives some armor and dodge chance/all res that may not really add up to flat 20% less damage), TS – Falter is extra DPS (you may entertain using Falter and swapping either Brawler/Berserker Rage for defensive/utility passive) Ground Stomp for SA proc and/or debuff, you can test it yourself. What works for one, may not work for another. I personally run War Cry – Veteran’s Warning.
Mandatory Passive Skills:
Rampage and Ruthless are your absolutely mandatory passives.
DPS Passive Skills of your Choice:
Berserker Rage and Brawler are pure DPS passives.
Defensive Passive Skills of your Choice:
Nerves of Steel, Relentless, Superstition , and Tough as Nails are your options. They all have their pros and cons, NoS is always good if you play aggressively. Relentless is really amazing on nasty floor effects under density you are just trying to kill. Superstition offsets elemental damage and helps with maintaining Fury. Tough as Nails boosts your Armor.
Utility Passives of your Choice:
Animosity and Bloodthirst are the two you will be looking at. Animosity gives you 20 Fury which is 4% CHC, so keep that in the back of your head. 10% more Fury generated and 4% CHC are pretty valuable in certain cases. Bloodthirst paired with HGB in secondary will make your sustain skyrocket.
I will not even attempt to tell you which one to choose, get the mandatory passives and then experiment and use what works best for you. In the next section I will break down gains from DPS passives and help you understand optimization, but I really like to leave the choice up to you. You will find the right blend of skills, no worries. It is part of the journey.
4. A bit of Math to make your Brain Sweat
OK, so, we have the gear and most of the basics covered. Let’s do a bit of numbers here, so you will be making more educated choices when you will be optimizing your setup.
Let’s look on our additive damage:
Battle Rage - 10%
That’s it. A whole 10% is all you have in this build before you get any other sources of additive damage. This should tell you that HoTA rolls on gear as well as our additive passives (Berserker Rage and Brawler) will play a big role in our total damage dealt.
Let’s get 15% HoTA on Boots:
(1.25-1.1)/1.1 = 0.136 which is 13.6% more damage from one HoTA roll
Let’s throw 15% HoTA on the helmet on top of it:
(1.4-1.25)/1.25 = 0.12, which is another 12% damage gained.
So, between 2 HoTA rolls you’ve gained a total of (1.4-1.1)/1.1 = 0.2727(27) which is a 27.3% damage increase. This is actually really big. If you have troubles picturing it, imagine having 12,000 STR and getting 3,240 extra STR which equals to either 650 paragon or getting 8 level 80 augments on your gear. Got the picture? Never go without these 2 rolls, they are very easy to get.
Now, let’s see what Strongarms are giving us in this setup with the 2 x 15% HoTA rolls:
(1.7-1.4)/1.4 = 0.21 which is 21% damage. Keep in mind that this will never be 21% damage, it will be less due to few factors:
- SA buff lasts 6 seconds, while you can charge only once every 8 seconds for BoM
- It is given that you will hit Mobs that are not under SA buff, because you may swing your hammer around without FC’ing into mobs which is pretty common practice in order to get some more bleeds going or when you’re struggling with fury a bit in density
- Some mobs/RG’s are immune to knock-back, so you will not get this going all the time
- Some of the AD and Bloodshed Procs will be calculated without this bonus due to above reasons
So, SA’s are a really good alternative if your BoTFM has a lower legendary affix, because this way you can use BoTFM in cube and wear SA’s, but always remember that they don’t have super high consistency. Now, this 21% boost via SA’s is what we calculated but we still have 2 additive passives to add in. So, let’s go back to our base (1.4 with 2 HoTA rolls) and see how these passives are affecting our overall DPS, and then factor in SA’s.
So, we have 1.4 base and we are using Berserker Rage:
(1.65-1.4)/1.4 = 0.178, so 17.8% DPS when you are above 95% fury (given you will have 160 fury, you need to have 152 fury available to keep this passive up). You will always have it up on RG, you should have it up about 70-80% thru the rift if you play properly. This passive alone when thrown on top of HoTA rolls gives you one GR level.
Let’s see what Brawler alone (no Berserker rage) gives us:
(1.6-1.4)/1.4 = 0.142 which is a 14.2% increase, this passive will be 100% up, except RG’s that have zero add-on spawns. There is quite a few of them, so you can draw conclusions yourself here if you want to compare these two passives. Basically you are talking 17.8% with 70% up-time during the rift and 100% up-time on the RG vs 14.2% on 100% thru the rift but with a roughly 50/50 chance of it being down on RG, based on which RG you will get.
Let’s see what we get from both, because we are going glass cannon:
(1.85-1.4)/1.4= 0.321 which is a 32% DPS increase combined, even if we discount 20% out of it for the downtime of BR and single target fights on Brawler, we still get about a 25% DPS gain if we can afford to go all out on DPS passives (Ruthless/Rampage/Brawler/Berserker Rage) which is definitely an option for “fishermen” or speedruns. If we throw SG’s on top of that combination we will get (2.15-1.85)/1.85 = 0.162 which is 16.2% which is still attractive on paper but keep consistency in mind and compare it with direct contender to the cube slot, Magefist.
Magefist will give you:
16.6% if you don’t have 20% fire on the Amulet but you have it on the Bracers (which is a pretty interesting option because you can roll with STR on amulet and ancient TP with some augment it may be as much as 8-10% DPS from STR if you have 15,000 STR)
14.2% if you have Fire on both,the Amulet and Bracers.
Magefist has no issues with up-time, any damage you deal when using Smash as your HoTA rune will get these multipliers, and they will be consistent 100% through the rift.
Your choice of Magefist vs Strongarms will be depending on only one factor, your BoTFM affix. As I said above, the difference between lowest and highest roll they can have is 29.5% of damage so if you don’t have really good BoTFM you will be better off cubing them and wearing SA’s, while if you have high roll on BoTFM your best option will be to wear them and cube Magefist.
Since we have one “free” skill on the bar, technically you can get TS - Falter there. If you do so, this would be your DPS gains:
With 2x HoTA rolls Falter is:
(1.65-1.4)/1.4 = 0.178, so 17.8% additional DPS. It’s same 25% DPS Berserker Rage right? So you can safely assume that Falter + Brawler will be more or less the same DPS as Brawler + Berserker Rage (so (1.85-1.4)/1.4= 32.1% increase over only 2x15% HoTA rolls). You need 95% fury for BR, you need to cast Falter every 6 seconds for them to be active. So in theory, you can consider dropping either Brawler or Berserker Rage for defensive passive and try to compensate this loss with Falter on skill bar. Not saying that it will work for you, you may need toughness from WC or anything else you may have there, but keep this as option in the back of your head.
Good luck Smashing!