[Guide] Zodiac Rend (Season 20)

Introduction

This build guide explains in painstaking detail the Zodiac Rend build, our strongest and most versatile Rend and Whirlwind build, for pushing solo Greater Rifts and speed-farming T16.

If you’re familiar with the Barb class, skip down to Part 1.

If you’re new to this build or the Barb class, or just trying it out for Season 20, please read the primer below.

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Build Primer

Step 1: Read through this guide: [Guide] New + Returning Player’s Guide (Season 19)

Step 2: Acquire the necessary gear.

Step 3: Read the rest of this guide. Pay close attention to how your gear is supposed to be rolled.

Step 4: If you’re playing in Season, consult the Season-specific information in each entry.

For more information on where this build ranks compared to other Barb builds, check out this thread: Top 7 Solo + Group Barb Builds (Season 20)

Finally, here are some common abbreviations in case you’re new. If you see terminology throughout the guide that you don’t understand, please do a little research before you ask questions.

  • WW = Whirlwind
  • Wastes = Wrath of the Waste set
  • Crimson’s = Captain Crimson’s set
  • BK = Bul-Kathos’s Oath swords set
  • IB = Istvan’s Paired Blades swords set
  • PoC = Pride of Cassius Belt
  • perma-IP = permanent (or nearly) uptime on Ignore Pain skill
  • perma-Wrath = permanent (or nearly) uptime on Wrath of the Berserker skill
  • Parthans = Ancient Parthan Defenders bracer
  • Nems = Nemesis bracer
  • Zodiac = Obisidian Ring of the Zodiac
  • CoE = Convention of Elements ring
  • dibs = damage increase by skills
  • CHC = critical hit chance
  • CHD = critical hit damage
  • AD = Area Damage
  • IAS = increased attack speed
  • ASI = attack speed increased
  • OS = open socket

Table of contents:


Part 1: The Core Build

The standard build, commonly referred to as the Core Zodiac build, is comprised of the Wrath of the Wastes and either the Bul-Kathos’s Oath or Istvan’s Paired Blades sets, or Ambo’s Pride and Doombringer as weapons. The Crimson’s variant, discussed in quotation blocks within this guide, differs in certain key aspects from the core build, and is not recommended for low-Paragon or new players.

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Requirements:

  • 35-45% CDR (combined total from gear, diamond in helm, and Paragon)
  • Complete Wrath of the Wastes and Bul-Kathos’s Oath or Istvan’s Paired Blades sword set
  • Mortick’s Brace
  • Band of Might
  • Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac
  • Convention of Elements
  • Mantle of Channeling
  • Ambo’s Pride
  • Lamentation
  • Legendary Gems: Taeguk, Bane of the Trapped, and Bane of Stricken
  • For the Crimson’s variant, you’ll want 50-60% CDR, 2 pieces of the Captain Crimson’s set, and the Ring of Royal Grandeur.
  • Note that Captain Crimson’s pieces can only be crafted from the Blacksmith and only after you acquire the plans from Bounty Caches.
  • As a viable alternative to the BK or IB sets for pushing Greater Rifts, you can equip Ambo’s in your main hand with Doombringer in your off-hand.
  • You’ll also want several items to use in the Cube, such as Stone Gauntlets and Furnace.
  • For Season 20, you’ll also want the Focus and Restraint ring set.

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Essential Active Skills

While Zodiac Rend offers some flexibility depending on your needs, the core build requires the following six skills on your bar.

Whirlwind: This is the build’s source of mobility, and healing or Fury generation. Unlike previous iterations of this build before 2.6.7, Whirlwind effectively deals no damage in the build. I recommend you put this skill on Right Mouse Button.

Rune Choice:

  • With the BK set or with Ambo’s and Doombringer, use Bloodfunnel for healing
  • With the IB set, use Wind Shear for Fury generation

Ancient Spear: This skill allows you to manage and group density, as well as drag elites to new locations. Though tricky to control, mastery of this skill is essential to successful Greater Rift pushes. I recommend you put this skill on Left Mouse Button and use Force Stand Still to make precise pulls.

Rune Choice:

  • Rage Flip for grouping

Battle Rage: This skill provides a boost to our damage output. While we used to rely on the damage provided by the Bloodshed rune, Rend cannot crit, and thus doesn’t syngergize well with Bloodshed. Because CHC and CHD act as direct multipliers to Rend’s damage (more on that in Parts 2 & 3), Into the Fray is the best choice for pushing. I recommend you put this skill on Number 1 Key.

Rune Choice:

  • Into the Fray for boosting Rend’s damage
  • Ferocity for speed-farming
  • Swords to Ploughshares must be used if you opt for the IB set and the Wind Shear rune on Whirlwind

Rend: This is the build’s main source of damage, and while I discuss it in greater detail below, there are actually two different kinds of Rends you will use: those applied automatically by Ambo’s Pride via Whirlwind, and those you manually apply through hard-casting Rend. If you don’t have this skill on the bar, your applied Rends will not have the added bonus of a rune effect. See Part 3 for more detailed information on how Rend works. I recommend you put this skill on Number 2 Key.

Rune Choice:

  • Bloodbath for optimal DPS (stronger in density)
  • Lacerate for more consistent damage output (weaker in density)
  • If your damage is sufficient when speed-farming T16, you can drop this skill from the bar and take Overpower (Killing Spree) instead since Ambo’s will still apply an un-runed Rend.

Ground Stomp: We use this skill to assist in grouping tight clusters of density (to increase our CHC bonus from Into the Fray) and to proc Band of Might for damage reduction. Make sure to use this skill before your Band of Might bonus drops off. This skill is also very good at pulling mobs into Oculus circles to maximize your DPS output. I recommend you put this skill on Number 3 Key.

Rune Choice:

  • Wrenching Smash for grouping

High-Paragon players that use Crimson’s may wish to drop Band of Might for Convention of Elements. If you opt for that setup, swap Ground Stomp to Ignore Pain with either Ignorance is Bliss or Iron Hide as your rune.

Wrath of the Berserker (Insanity): As a separate damage multiplier, this skill is a major booster shot to the build’s damage per second (DPS). It also boosts your toughness (Dodge), healing, and movement speed thanks to Mortick’s Brace. Since Mortick’s gives us the effects of all runes, the rune you select doesn’t matter. Just make sure you keep this skill up 100% of the time for the extra healing and damage reduction. I recommend you put this skill on Number 4 Key.

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Essential Passive Skills

Passives are key to a winning build. Discussed below are the essential passives needed to fully optimize your build.

  • Rampage: This passive provides a huge boost to DPS and toughness through the rift, but won’t offer much against the RG unless the boss spawns lots of adds (hello, Saxtris!).

  • Ruthless: When you’re pushing your personal best, you’ll want every second you can get to kill the RG and elites. This passive makes your job a heck of a lot easier.

  • Brawler: Since this build performs best in density, you should be able to maintain the bonus from this passive 100% of the time.

  • Berserker Rage: Though this passive offers slightly more damage than Brawler, it requires you to have 95% or more Fury. Use of this passive over Brawler depends on how often this drops off during game play. Use whichever seems to give you the most consistent damage.
  • Boon of Bul-Kathos: This, along with careful management of cooldowns, will insure you have perma-Wrath.
  • If you use the Crimson’s variant, you won’t need this passive to maintain perma-Wrath. If, however, you opt to not use this passive and happen to die with Wrath on a long cooldown, you will need to wait a long time before reviving.

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Alternative Passive Skills

Whether through bad RNG, deficiencies in gear, or Hardcore play, you may be forced to take a different, optional passive.

  • For Hardcore, swap Brawler for Nerves of Steel.
  • If you have trouble maintaining Fury, swap Brawler to Weapons Master (with BK set) or Animosity (with IB set).
  • If you are having trouble mitigating incoming damage, swap Brawler to Superstition.

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Gear

There are essentially two different ways to gear for this build. Here is a brief breakdown of each that highlights the major differences:

Core Zodiac Build:

  • Armor set: Wrath of the Wastes
  • Weapons: Bul-Kathos’s Oath, Istvan’s Paired Blades, or Ambo’s and Doombringer
  • Rings: Zodiac, Band of Might, Convention of Elements
  • Cube: Ambo’s, Mantle of Channeling, ring of choice
  • For Season 20, many players prefer using Stone Gauntlets in the Cube, especially at lower Paragon. Since Wrath makes you immune to CC and slow effects, you’ll gain the mitigation of Stone Gauntlets without taking any of the penalties.
  • You can also opt to use the Furnace in place of Mantle to acquire more elite damage, but this option is better suited for high-Paragon players.
  • In Season 20, the most powerful setup will have you equipping Focus and Restraint and using your Cube slots for Band of Might, Zodiac, and Covention of Elements.

Crimson’s Variant:

  • Armor sets: Wrath of the Wastes & Captain Crimson’s
  • Weapons: Bul-Kathos’s Oath, Istvan’s Paired Blades, or Ambo’s and Doombringer
  • Rings: Zodiac, Band of Might, Ring of Royal Grandeur
  • Cube: Ambo’s, Lamentation, ring of choice

The required rolls on gear depend on which variant of the build you choose to play. The information below assumes the Core Zodiac build as the default build, and additional notes, or changes or additions for the Crimson’s variant, are included in quotation blocks.

Though Ancient pieces are the goal, ideal rolls take precedence. Weapons are the exception. You absolutely must have Ancient weapons with the required rolls. Good secondary rolls are absolutely crucial for pushing top tiers. When there are multiple options for a roll on a affix slot, the worse roll is placed in parentheses.

Helm (Wastes)

  • Strength
  • Vitality
  • 6% CHC
  • Socket: Diamond
  • Secondaries: Physical/Lightning resist
  • Augment: Strength

Shoulder (Wastes)

  • Strength
  • Vitality (low-Paragon) or 15% Rend damage (high-Paragon)
  • All Resist
  • 8% CDR or Area Damage
  • Secondaries: Pickup radius or globe bonus
  • Augment: Strength
  • For the Crimson’s variant, CDR is required over AD

Chest (Wastes)

  • Strength
  • Vitality (low-Paragon) or 15% Rend damage (high-Paragon)
  • All Resist or Life %
  • Sockets: Diamond
  • Secondaries: Reduced melee damage and reduced ranged damage
  • Augment: Strength

Glove (Wastes)

  • Strength (low-Paragon) or 8% CDR (high-Paragon)
  • Vitality (low-Paragon) or Area Damage (high-Paragon)
  • CHC 10%
  • CHD 50%
  • Secondaries: Stun on hit, Physical resist
  • Augment: Strength
  • For the Crimson’s variant, roll Vitality to 8% CDR
  • Players below 4-5K Paragon should not roll Strength off their gloves

Bracer (Mortick’s)

  • 20% Elemental Damage
  • Strength
  • Vitality
  • CHC 6%
  • Secondaries: Physical/Lightning resist
  • Augment: Strength
  • For Bloodbath, use Physical damage, and for Lacerate, use Lightning damage
  • If you opt to use the IB set, you may swap Vitality for Life per Hit to use Into the Fray on Battle Rage

Belt (Lamentation or Captain Crimson’s)

  • Strength
  • Vitality
  • All Resist
  • 15% Life (or Life per Fury)
  • Secondaries: Increased pickup radius
  • Augment: Strength
  • As a Mighty Belt, Lamentation can roll Life per Fury, which may benefit low-Paragon players

Pants (Wastes or Captain Crimson’s)

  • Strength
  • Vitality
  • All Resist
  • Sockets: Diamonds
  • Secondaries: Globe bonus
  • Augment: Strength

Boots (Wastes or Captain Crimson’s)

  • Strength
  • Vitality
  • All Resist
  • Armor
  • Secondaries: Globe bonus
  • Augment: Strength

Weapons (BK, IB or Ambo’s and Doombringer)

  • Strength
  • Vitality (low-Paragon) or Area Damage (high-Paragon)
  • 10% CDR
  • Socket: Emerald
  • Secondaries: Any except Chance to Fear on Hit
  • Augment: Strength
  • If you prefer the IB set, you can substitute Vitality or 10% damage for Life per Hit on one sword in order to use Into the Fray on Battle Rage
  • If you opt for the Ambo’s and Doombringer combo, remember to put the former in your main hand and use the Weapons Master passive. In addition, your Doombringer will need to roll with 20% Physical elemental damage.

Rings

  • Strength (low-Paragon), Area Damage (high-Paragon), or Average Damage (high-Paragon) or 8% CDR
  • CHC 6%
  • CHD 50%
  • Socket
  • Secondaries: Physical/Lightning resist
  • Augment: Strength
  • If possible, do not equip the Ring of Royal Grandeur as it always comes with sub-optimal stats
  • If you wear Convention of Elements, make sure the legendary affix is 190% or higher
  • If you opt to wear your Zodiac ring with the Crimson’s set, optimal stats will be CHC, CDR, and RCR

Amulet (Flavor of Time or Hellfire)

  • 20% Elemental Damage
  • CHC 10%
  • CHD 100%
  • Socket
  • Secondaries: Physical/Lightning resist or Health Globe bonus
  • Augment: Strength
  • Flavor of Time, when used in the Crimson’s variant, must roll with CDR
  • If you are unable to acquire 20% Elemental damage, you may use Strength or Average Damage

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Cube

The following items should be selected in the Cube. Remember that items with variable affix ranges will always use their maximum value in the Cube.

Weapon:

  • Ambo’s Pride: This will automatically apply Rend via Whirlwind and detonate our Rends 1 second later.
  • If you decide to equip Ambo’s and Doombringer, use Furnace in the Cube

Armor:

  • Mantle of Channeling: If you wear Lamentation (such as in the Core Zodiac build), this item will award you additional damage and tougness.
  • Lamentation: You will need this belt in the Cube if you opt for the Crimson’s variant.
  • As noted above, low-Paragon Seasonal players may opt to use Stone Gauntlets in the Cube, but the most powerful Seasonal setup will have you equip Focus and Restraint and use your Cube slots for Band of Might, Zodiac, and Convention of Elements. This will require you to equip Ambo’s + Doombringer and use the Weapons Master passive.

Jewelry:

  • Ring: Use your worst ring, or the Ring of Royal Grandeur, in this Cube slot.

In the next section, I’ll discuss how to optimize the build depending on which variant you’re using.

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Part 2: Gear Optimization

While the above section on gear presents the optimal rolls for each piece, the reality for many players is that you’re forced to compromise due to what is available at a given time. Many players also want to know which configuration is the strongest, or which configuration should be used at a given Paragon. The following section discusses different approaches you can take to optimize your build.

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Armor: Core Zodiac or Crimson’s Variant?

While many players believe that the Crimson’s variant is much stronger than the Core build, this has not proven to be the case. Either setup can be used to great success to push Greater Rifts, but the Crimson’s variant has more stringent gear and stat requirements, and the most powerful version, which drops Band of Might for Convention of Elements, requires a lot of Paragon and main stat to run with any efficiency.

My advice for most players is to stick with the Core Zodiac build until you have over 3500 Paragon, then experiment with the Crimson’s variant to see if you prefer it.

The table below provides a rough outline of how to gear each build as you progress from the weakest version to the strongest.

Paragon Range Equip Crimson’s Equip or Cube Lamentation Cube Mantle RoRG Band of Might Convention of Elements
0-3500 No Equip Yes No Yes Yes
3500-6500 Yes Cube No Yes Yes No
6500-9000+ Yes Cube No Yes No Yes

Note that you can swap to the Crimson’s variant any time you acquire the ability to craft the pieces (the plans can only be found in Bounty Caches). Because the Core Zodiac build is so strong right out of the box, I recommend waiting until you have the mats to spend trying to craft Ancient Crimson’s pieces.

Now that you know the basic differences between the variants, let’s examine how each stacks up in terms of damage multipliers and damage reduction. The table below is excerpted from a larger table alex posted in this thread.

Build Additional damage multiplier Additional damage reduction %
Core Zodiac + CoE, MoC, Mortick, BoM x1.875 92.5%
Crimson’s + Mortick, BoM x1.63 93.3%
Crimson’s + CoE, Mortick x2.44 66.5%

As you can see, the Core Zodiac build is very strong, particularly at lower levels while your gear is still imperfect. The Crimson’s variant that trades Band of Might for Convention of Elements is not recommended for new or low-Paragon players, and is never suitable for Hardcore play. This table doesn’t take certain factors into account, such as having Stomp on the bar and its ability to make pulls into Oculus rings, or the presence of Ignore Pain in any of the build variants.

Please note that Season 20 players should avoid using the Crimson’s variant as their optimal setup will require them to equip Focus and Restraint and use their Cube slots for the other three rings.

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Optimizing Armor for Season 20

If you’re playing Season 20, you’ll have access to the most powerful possible version of this build. This will require you to use the Core Zodiac build. Use the table below to determine how you should set up the build.

Paragon Range Cube Slot 1 Cube Slot 2 Cube Slot 3 Equipped Weapons Equip Focus and Restraint?
0-1500 Ambo’s Stone Gauntlets Worst ring Istvan’s Paired Blades No
1500-2500 Ambo’s Mantle Worst ring Istvan’s Paired Blades No
2500-9000+ Band of Might Zodiac CoE Ambo’s + Doombringer Yes

Note that the final configuration also requires you to take the Weapons Master passive and have Ambo’s equipped in your main hand to generate Fury. Even then, you may run into problems generating enough Fury, and may have to conserve your use of Ancient Spear. You will also use Bloodfunnel on Whirlwind, and Into the Fray on Battle Rage. If you have frequent problems generating enough Fury, you can swap your runes to Wind Shear and Swords to Ploughs respectively.

This configuration will use Ground Stomp to proc the generator buff of Focus and Restraint, but since Stomp eats Zodiac procs, you have to be careful when you use it. Only Stomp when you’ve gathered density and are prepared to DPS on your Physical CoE cycle (via hard-cast Rends). Make sure you keep up Wrath 100% of the time against RGs, and only cast Stomp when you are able to without interrupting Wrath cooldowns.

In all other respects, pushing Greater Rifts in Season 20 is handled in exactly the same fashion as it is in non-Season play.

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Weapons: BK, IB, or Ambo’s and Doombringer?

Zodiac Rend offers three options for weapon combinations. The following table compares each potential combination.

Equipped Weapon Additional damage multiplier Cubed Weapon WW Rune Battle Rage Rune Elite Dmg
Bul-Kathos’s Oath 0 Ambo’s Bloodfunnel Into the Fray 0%
Istvan’s Paired Blades x1.3 Ambo’s Wind Shear Swords to Ploughshares 0%
Ambo’s + Doombringer or Sunkeeper x0-1.4 Furnace Bloodfunnel Into the Fray 50%+

The BK set is the weakest weapon combination in terms of damage output. It is, however, the best choice for low-Paragon players or those new to the build as it provides easy Fury generation, additional move speed (which makes large, multi-screen pulls with Ancient Spear much, much easier), and Bloodfunnel, the best healing skill available to Barbs. When speed-farming T16 for Rifts or Bounties, always use the BK swords.

Despite forcing players to take less optimal runes on Battle Rage and Whirlwind, the IB set has proven to be the overall best weapon set for pushing Greater Rifts. The additional Armor it provides helps to make players much tougher, but deaths with this set are much more risky than with the BK set: without the Fury generation of the BK set, getting the build going again after reviving is difficult, and it’s easy to end up in a chain of deaths that cost precious time. Despite these drawbacks, the 30% damage multiplier offered by the IB set makes these weapons incredibly powerful, especially when you take into account how this effects your hard-cast Rends (discussed in Part 3).

Season players are more likely to take advantage of the third configuration above. By equipping Ambo’s with another weapon, you’re able to take the best runes on WW and Battle Rage and load elite damage into the build from the Furnace in the Cube. For a second weapon, you can use Doombringer for the extra elemental damage roll, or Sunkeeper for the additional elite damage. While Doombringer looks to be the better overall option, either weapon will work for end-game pushes. On paper, this seems to be the most powerful weapon combination, but many players report problems with Fury generation, even with Ambo’s in the main hand and use of the Weapons Master passive.

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Optimizing Gear Rolls

Here are a few important thoughts to keep in mind when gearing your Barb:

Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage: These stats act as direct multipliers to Rend’s damage. Do not, under any circumstance, sacrifice these rolls for other stats. Your CHC and CHD should be roughly at a 1:10 ratio while all buffs are active, thus if your CHC is 50% while Wrath and Battle Rage are up, your CHD should be at 500%. See the FAQ for an excellent calculator to help determine how to achieve this ratio and when or where you should trade-off.

Attack Speed: Rend is not effected by attack speed. Do not stack this stat.

Vitality: Generally speaking, you want between 600k-850k Life. This isn’t a hard rule; many experienced players push with less. But if you’re new to the build or still learning its nuances, you want a bigger Life pool. Don’t be afraid to pump Paragon points into Vitality if necessary. There may also be times when you need to sacrifice a roll (such as All Resist on chest) for % Life, but that should only be done if there is absolutely no alternative.

CDR: This stat, in conjunction with the Boon of Bul-Kathos passive, the Zodiac ring procs, the diamond in your helm, your CDR in Paragon, and the Captain Crimson’s set bonuses will produce enough cooldown to maintain 100% uptime on Wrath of the Berserker. The Crimson’s variant also applies your sheet CDR as a multiplier to outgoing damage. Bear in mind that the amount of CDR we stack varies greatly between the Core Zodiac build and the Crimson’s variant.

Area Damage: The Rends applied by Ambo’s do not proc AD, but hard-cast Rends (those manually applied by pressing the Rend key) do proc AD. That means that if you have gathered a large amount of density, you’ll want to hard-cast Rend every few seconds–sometimes several times in a row–while also keeping up the Wastes 4 bonus and your Taeguk gem by Whirlwinding. Once density thins out, or against the RG, hard-cast Rends are no longer very useful except to accrue additional Zodiac procs.

All Resist and Armor Rolls: While there are ideal ratios to have between resistances and Armor, don’t worry about it. The simplest way to approach things is to gear as follows:

Paragon Range Must-Have All Resist Rolls
Low (0-3000) Shoulder, Chest, Pants, Boots, Belt
Medium (3000-6000) Shoulder, Pants, Boots, Belt
High (6000-10K+) Pants, Boots, Belt

As you gain Paragon and acquire better Augments, you’ll acquire more main stat–Strength–which directly contributes to your Armor rating. Armor reduces all incoming damage, but since Paragon isn’t capped, neither is main stat. Resistances, on the other hand, are capped. This is why it’s so important to get those All Resist rolls on gear and to use diamonds in your armor.

If a piece of gear has a native secondary resist roll (Arcane resistance, for example), it cannot roll All Resist as a primary stat. If this happens on a piece of gear that needs to have All Resist and you don’t have other, better options for that item slot, try to get an Armor roll on the item in question.

Secondary Rolls: Physical resist goes a long way in making this build tougher. I recommend two or three Physical resist rolls, and, if possible, one Lightning resist roll. If you find that you rarely die during a rift, but get one-shotted by the RG, it means you’re missing Physical resists (or don’t have enough Life). Additional Lightning or Arcane resist rolls are also very useful.

Mortick’s vs Parthans: Though no longer widely used in the build, the Ancient Parthan Defenders bracers are an excellent alternative to Mortick’s Brace. While Mortick’s provides a more consistent (50%) source of damage reduction when Wrath is active, Parthans have no cap on their damage reduction. As a result, in good density, Parthans can make you practically invincible. Use Ground Stomp to proc Parthans, or acquire a secondary Freeze or Stun roll on your belt or weapon. Parthans will only proc from Freeze and Stun. Slow, knockback, chill, and immobilize do not proc Parthans.

Bracer Choice: There are three different bracers that you’ll want to use in this build. Each has a different purpose as described below:

  • Nems: The best bracers for speed-farming T16 and low GRs (2-4 minute clears) once you have enough Paragon and Augments to survive incoming damage.
  • Mortick’s: Your second best option for speed-farming T16 and low GRs is this item. It offers much more toughness and healing than Nems, but can’t compare to Parthans when pushing higher, end-game GRs. Think of this item as the second-best option for pushing GRs if you don’t have much Paragon or can’t get the secondary rolls necessary to proc Parthans. Just don’t be fooled by the hype–this item is likely not the best-in-slot bracer for pushing.
  • Parthans: As noted above, this item is a good alternative to Mortick’s, particularly if you have not yet found a decent pair of the bracers. You can proc this item with Ground Stomp or a secondary Freeze or Stun roll on belt or weapons.

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Gear & Legendary Gems

Use rubies in your armor when speed-farming T16 or until incoming damage becomes a problem. After that, switch to diamonds.

Regardless of how you gear your build, you will use the following legendary gems:

  • Taeguk: This gem provides damage and Armor.
  • Bane of the Trapped: This gem provides damage.
  • Bane of the Stricken: This gem provides a signficant damage increase against the the Rift Guardian and lone elites.

When speed-farming T16 or speed-clearing low Greater Rifts, you may opt for the following gem combinations:

  • Taeguk: This gem provides damage and Armor.
  • Bane of the Trapped: This gem provides damage.
  • Gogok of Swiftness: This gem provides additional CDR.

Some players may opt to use Wreath of Lightning in place of Gogok for the additional move speed.

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Paragon Distribution

In the Core Zodiac build, max all Paragon categories all except RCR. If you’re running the Crimson’s variant, max out RCR.

RCR (resource cost reduction) reduces the expediture of Fury, which will reduce the healing returns of Life per Fury. If you don’t have any Life per Fury or don’t rely on its healing, don’t worry about RCR.

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Part 3: How The Build Works

This section explains how the build works, how we deal damage, and why density is so important to success in solo play.

Build Mechanics

There are several key mechanics at work in this build.

Whirlwind, Rend, and Ambo’s Pride

Thanks to Ambo’s Pride, Rend is automatically applied to any monster struck by Whirlwind. The Wastes set bonuses and Lamentation provide the largest multipliers to Rend’s damage, and because Ambo’s also detonates Rends after a second, all of our damage is focused on applying stacks of Rend.

Due to the interactions between Ambo’s and Whirlwind, Rend’s mechanics are complicated. In this section, we’ll cover all the information you need to know about Rend to succeed at using this build.

If you’re looking for the TLDR version, here’s what you need to know about Rend’s damage:

  • Rends applied via WW + Ambo’s do not benefit from attack speed or area damage
  • Rends applied via hard-cast do benefit from Area Damage
  • Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage are direct multipliers to Rend (hence why Into the Fray is so good in the build)

Here are the miscellaneous properties of Rend:

  • Rend calculates damage from mainhand
  • Ambo’s Rends applied via Whirlwind calculate damage from mainhand and offhand
  • Ambo’s Rends use the rune of Rend that you select from your skill bar
  • Dust Devils apply Rend within a 9-yard radius if you have Ambo’s equipped or in the Cube

Finally, here are the interactions between Ambo’s Rends and hard-cast Rends:

  • Rends applied via Ambo’s definitely overwrite hard-cast Rends
  • Rends applied via hard-cast definitely overwrite those applied via WW and Rend

In other words, you can follow these simple rules for gearing and play-style:

  • Don’t stack any attack speed
  • Stack some Area Damage to hard-cast Rend in density

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Hard-Cast Rends & Density

As noted in Part 1, there are two kinds of Rends operating in this build. The first is automatically applied by Ambo’s Pride via Whirlwind. This Rend, usually referred to as an Ambo’s Rend, does not proc Area Damage. This is the Rend that will kill Rift Guardians, as well as lone elites, and it’s also the Rend that deals almost all your damage when speed-farming low GRs or T16.

The second type of Rend, called hard-cast Rend, is performed by manually pressing the Rend key. This Rend does proc Area Damage, and thus using it in density is absolutely crucial for optimal build performance. Here’s a quick breakdown of how you’ll deal the bulk of your damage during a Greater Rift:

  1. Gather density (several screens worth)
  2. Wait for an Oculus bubble to appear
  3. Stomp density into the Oculus bubble
  4. Hard-cast Rend twice on your Physical COE cycle
  5. Whirlwind for a few seconds
  6. Hard-cast Rend twice (ideally on Physical cycle)

Repeat this until density thins out, then pull any remaining elites to the next area of the map where there is sufficient density. Remember, fighting in density is also important to maximize the damage cause by Bloodbath and Area Damage.

The Area Damage caused by hard-cast Rends is calculated from the total damage of Rend as compressed by Ambo’s legendary affix. It is also boosted by other multipliers, such Into the Fray (remember, CHC and CHD act as direct multipliers to Rend’s damage), Wrath, Convention of Elements, the Oculus bubble, or the multiplicative damage bonus provided by Istvan’s Paired Blades. This makes the Area Damage we proc from hard-cast Rends incredibly powerful, and proper use of hard-cast Rends is essential to true end-game Greater Rift pushes. It also places a lot of value on your ability to quickly and masterfully create density with Ancient Spear.

While you want to time your hard-cast Rends to your Physical Convention of Elements cycle, you will also need additional hard-casts from time to time. Don’t worry too much about it, and focus instead of making sure you spend your off-cycle time gathering density and preparing for Physical. If you prefer to use the Lacerate rune on Rend, it goes without saying that you’ll hard-cast on Lightning cycles.

Against Rift Guardians, you only need to hard-cast Rend to acquire some additional cooldown via Zodiac Procs (see the next section), or to proc Area Damage when adds are present.

For more information on Rend, you can see SVR’s test results, or look at Rage’s test results.

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Zodiac Procs, Healing, and Crowd Control

There’s more to the build than simply dealing damage, and the more you know about the build’s other mechanics, the better informed you’ll be as you push Greater Rifts.

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Zodiac Procs

As we attack with Whirlwind, we proc the Zodiac ring. This, in turn, lowers the cooldown on Wrath of the Berserker, Ground Stomp, and Ignore Pain. Make sure you have enough CDR in the build to maintain perma-Wrath even when attacking a single enemy.

While Whirlwind is our main method of proccing the Zodiac ring, we also proc it with hard-cast Rends and Ancient Spear. This is extremely important: If you have mismanaged your cooldowns, you can use hard-cast Rends (cast approximately every 2-3 seconds) to gather additional Zodiac procs. This can quickly reduce your Wrath cooldown and may save you from some unnecessary deaths. The same can be done with Ancient Spear.

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Healing

If we use the BK set or Ambo’s and Doombringer for weapons, Bloodfunnel takes care of healing. Bloodfunnel heals on every single critical hit and is not subject to proc coefficients. This means that if we critically hit 10 or 20 mobs, each and every single one of those will return 1% of our maximum Life. This, in turn, means we want a very large amount of maximum Life (I recommend most players acquire 900K-1 million + maximum Life). Bloodfunnel is one of the best healing skills in the game, and is hand-down the best healing skill available to Barbs.

If we opt to use the IB set, we heal either through Swords to Ploughs on Battle Rage or Life per Hit rolls on gear. It should be noted that while Swords to Ploughs is subject to a proc coefficient, and thus you aren’t getting the full amount of healing as described in the rune’s tooltip. Regardless, Swords to Ploughs is still a very good source of healing, but since it doesn’t scale based on our maximum Life, it is inferior to Bloodfunnel.

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Crowd Control

Another key aspect to this build, especially when pushing the build to its (and your) limits, is understanding how Crowd Control works.

Crowd Control, referred to as “CC,” is applied in two ways: Soft CC and Hard CC. Here’s a quick look at both:

Type of Crowd Control Examples
Soft CC Slow (move and attack), Chill
Hard CC Blind, Fear, Charm, Stun, Frozen, Knockback, Pull

A general rule of thumb for this build is to never apply Hard CC outside of pulls with Ancient Spear. The reason you don’t want to apply unnecessary Hard CC is because re-application of Hard CC will increase a monster’s resistance to its effects. If a monster is effected by Hard CC several times in a short window of time, it will go immune to that effect until it is left alone for a while. In other words, after a few instances of Hard CC, a monster is immune and can’t be further effected by Hard CC until you let it cool off. Different monsters have different Hard CC thresholds; for example, elites, champions, and RGs go immune to pulls with Spear much faster than regular trash monsters.

In terms of this build, this means the only Hard CC you want to apply is with Ancient Spear and Ground Stomp. It also means you can’t do this too often or you’ll risk the monsters going immune. Once that happens, you won’t be able to Stomp them into Oculus bubbles or pull them with Rage Flip, and that may greatly hinder your ability to create good density or position monsters into ideal locations.

Here are some good rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Against most mobs, you get 2 pulls with Rage Flip or Ground Stomp before you need to let them reset their CC resistance
  • Avoid secondary gear rolls that deal Hard CC (Blind, Fear, Freeze, Stun)
  • Do not equip your follower with items that deal Hard CC, including items that pull mobs (such as Ess of Johan)

For more information on Crowd Control and monster resistances, check the Game Guide.

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A Guide To Proper Density

While this build is no longer as dependent on density as previous iterations, collecting and engaging proper density is still crucial to successful Greater Rift attempts. By maximizing density, we:

  • Maximize the application of Rend (DPS)
  • Maximize the returns of Bloodfunnel, Swords to Ploughs, or Life per Hit (healing)
  • Maximize resource generation (Fury)

Zodiac Whirlwind is, first and foremost, an AOE-centric build. As such, you want the maximum possible density in order to maximize damage output. But how much density is enough? To get a better idea of proper density, let’s start by taking a look at this:

There are several things wrong with this. First off, I’m fighting in the middle of a long corridor, which is bad positioning. Worse, I’m fighting between two obstacles (the rocks on either side of me). That will make it twice as hard to pull stragglers with Rage Flip. But the biggest problem is that there’s not enough density. This is worth maybe 2-3% progression and not worth my time.

Now take a look at this:

That’s better, right?

Nope! Oppressors are terrible mobs. But you will notice that I’m fighting at the T-intersection. Good positioning, terrible mobs, and still nowhere near enough density. This is worth about 1.5% progression and definitely not worth my time.

Finally, have a gander at this:

That’s better! First off, it’s Festering Woods–one of the three or four maps you’ll take seriously. Second, there’s some density there–about three screens worth, in fact. But is it good density? Well, yes and no. It has summoners, which spawn additional monsters (adds). Those are great. And the elite phantoms will follow me with little provocation if I can’t kill them there. The only problem is the shamans. They run around too much, so I’ll need to spend a lot of time pulling them back with Rage Flip. In addition, their minions aren’t worth much progression. All totaled, this density is worth about 5-8% progression. Kill it quick and drag the elites to a new intersection where I can gather another 2-4 screens worth of density.

Ideally, you don’t want to stop and fight for anything less than 8-10% progression worth of density unless you need less to spawn the RG.

Something to bear in mind: Sometimes, you’ll need to skip whole floors of a GR. Let’s say you get a great floor 1 – Festering Woods with grotesques, skeletons, and a three-pack Conduit. Awesome! Then you hit floor 2 and it’s an empty Westmarch with bad mobs. What do you do?

Skip it. Get to the exit as fast as you can. And pray for a good floor 3.

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Part 4: Pushing Greater Rifts

Once you have your build optimized, it’s time to start pushing solo Greater Rifts. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to push Greater Rifts and maximize your chance for a successful clear.

1. Evaluate the Map and Mobs: The first floor of your GR can tell you a lot, including whether or not want to push any further. Generally speaking, good first floor maps include anything with dense amounts of skeletons, zombies, grotesques, and the zombies or summoners who make more zombies or minions. Stellar maps are either large Spires and Arreat Craters, Festering Woods, or Battlefields of Eternity and include the above mob types plus Phase Beasts, Maggot Lords, Swarms, and Anarchs. If you get a good first or second floor and can keep even with the time or get ahead, proceed to the third floor. Otherwise, quit and remake to get a new rift.

2. Drag density to a good spot on the map: Try to find a T-tile, intersection, or large open area that allows you to maximize your AOE damage. Whenever possible, try to gather 2-4 screens of density together at a time.

3. Whirlwind and Rend all available monsters: Keep your buffs up. When density thins, drag your elites (via Rage Flip) the next intersection and repeat the process until you kill some elites.

4. When the RG shows up, spin to win: The best RGs to fight spawn additional monsters (referred to as adds). Trust me–you want bosses that spawn adds, because adds proc Blood Funnel and Bloodbath bleeds, and reduce your cooldowns via Zodiac procs. Saxtris and Hamelin are the very best RGs to fight, but be very careful with the latter; Hammy’s rat swarms can deal tons of damage, so killing him is about dodging the swarms and letting Stricken do the work.

  • If you’ve got 1 minute (or less) on your timer and no Power or Conduit pylon in sight, leave game and make a new rift. Speaking of Pylons, if possible, save a Power for the boss. Conduits should be used to clear elites from the rift, particularly in density. For more information on Pylons, see below.
  • Be careful with bosses who use hard-hitting Physical attacks. If you don’t have lots of Physical resist stacked on gear, you may get one-shotted. When exactly this occurs depends on several factors including Paragon, main stat, and overall toughness. This is why pumping Paragon points into Vitality is a good idea, particularly if you’re pushing the limits of what a given Paragon and main stat range can accomplish in terms of GR tiers.

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Pylons

Proper Pylon management is an essential part of pushing GRs. Below is an edited explanation of how Pylons spawn in GRs courtesy of S4v4ge, a long-standing Barbarian veteran and expert.

Pylons are Progression-Based:

  • Pylons are progression-based. There is a small chance that you’ll spawn one right at the start of a GR even if you have little to no progression, but this is rare.
  • On average, you can assume that you require 20% progression between pylon spawns. Each purple progress orb is worth 1%, so yellows will grant 4% while blues will grant 3%. This is in addition to the progress gained for killing trash. Note that progression granted by trash varies by mob type.
  • Progression needed is measured from the spawn time of your previous pylon, not from the time when you last used a pylon. This is why you can get a pylon immediately after a juicy Conduit.
  • The last possible opportunity to spawn a pylon is at 99% progression. You can get one a little early if your previous pylon spawn was at 50-60%, but if you had 3 pylons already with your third at 70%, the 4th will only spawn (if it spawns at all) at 99%.

Pylons Spawns are Limited

  • In any given GR, you will not spawn all five possible pylons. No matter how carefully you play, 4 is all you will get.
  • Pylons have fairly defined spawn points on each map.
  • If you have 90% progression and have spawned a Power or Conduit Pylon at the entrance to the next floor of the GR, you can manipulate the odds in your favor by saving the Pylon and surrounding trash, going to the next floor to gain gaining your 99% progression, then returning to the previous floor to gain the necessary 1%. This will leave the Conduit for the RG!
  • You can assume 20/40/60% GR progression as your Pylon spawn points. If you get one at 80%, you will not get one at 99%. If you avoid the spawn locations of pylons around 80, you may get one further down the road, closer to the RG fight.

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The Hired Help

Let’s talk follower meta. My preferred approach is to avoid items that cause CC on monsters, period. This insures that when you need to relocate, monster CC resistance isn’t capped and they’ll be pulled with Rage Flip. For that reason, I avoid Thunderfury, Blinding Sand, Freeze of Deflection, Ess of Johan, Eu Jang Do, and Wyrdward. However, if you’re experiencing problems with Rift Guardians, try using some of these items to stun of freeze them temporarily.

The Templar seems to be the better follower. That said, depending on which follower you select, you should have the following skills selected:

Templar

  • Heal (restores Life)
  • Inspire (Fury generation)

Enchantress

  • Missile Ward (toughness)
  • Focused Mind (attack speed)

If possible, do not select skills at levels/skill slots not indicated above. Every unnecessary skill will slow down your follower’s essential skill casts.

Regardless of which followEither way, here are the required items:

  • Oculus Ring (absolutely essential – pull density into these bubbles for max DPS)
  • Sun Keeper (with diamond or ruby – some minimal help with elite damage)
  • Immortal Token (so your follower cannot die)

I highly recommend giving your follower a Flavor of Time or other amulet with CDR and Attack Speed. As for rolls on follower gear, focus on CDR, IAS and AS, and Increased Elite Damage for your follower.

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Common Problems

Listed below are some common problems people have with the build. If you’re experiencing one of these problems, read through the solution. If that fails to fix the problem, post with questions. Whenever possible, take screenshots and be as specific as possible.

Dying During Rift

  • Cause: This is normally caused by trying to tank too much incoming damage or messing with too many nasty mob/elite types. Another cause is that you’re not fighting in enough density. You may have forgotten to keep Wrath active 100% of the time, forgotten to proc Band of Might, or tried to remove Band of Might from the build too early.
  • Solution: Try to acquire additional Physical resist rolls. Avoid monsters that deal massive burst damage (Pain Mongers and Dark Berserkers, for example). Make sure to fight in lots of density (remember, at least a screen or two worth of mobs is the minimum – we do not fight lone elites or sparse groups of trash). Make sure you have diamonds in your armor pieces. Make sure you have 750-850k Life.

Dying vs RG

  • Cause: Depending on your main stat, gear, and setup, you may not be able to tank some RG attacks, especially those that deal significant melee burst damage.
  • Solution: Increase your Vitality in Paragon to get 750-850k Life. Make sure Wrath and Band of Might are active 100% of the time. Try to acquire more Augments and Physical resist rolls on gear.

Can’t Keep Perma-Wrath

  • Cause: This is normally the result of failing to properly manage cooldowns.
  • Solution: Only use Ground Stomp to proc Band of Might or pull mobs into Oculus circles. If you’re running short on Zodiac procs, use a few hard-cast Rends for additional procs.

Running out of Fury

  • Cause: This is normally the result of failing to fight in density. Could also be the result of bad, empty maps.
  • Solution: If you’re using the BK set, drop the Brawler passive for Weapons Master passive. If you’re using the IB set, swap Brawler for Animosity. Don’t spam Rage Flip too often, and be selective when you use hard-cast Rends.

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Greater Rift Tiers, Paragon, and Augmentation

At some point, you’ll hit a wall and will fail to clear a particular Greater Rift tier over and over. Welcome to the Greater Rift Fishing game.

GR Fishing, also referred to as I Hate This Game, is inevitable. At some point, every build will encounter this painful part of the game. This is because of the scaling nature of Greater Rifts and the fact that the game hates you. To minimize frustrations, let’s talk about how to prepare for success.

Paragon is one of the single-most important factors in successful Greater Rift clears. While it’s not set in stone, here’s a conservative guide of how much paragon is needed for solo pushes with absolutely no augmentation on gear:

  • Paragon 400-700 = tiers 1-100
  • Paragon 700-1000 = tiers 100-110
  • Paragon 1000-1500 = tiers 110-115
  • Paragon 1500-2000 = tiers 115-120
  • Paragon 2000-2500 = tiers 120-125
  • Paragon 2500-3000 = tiers 125-130
  • Paragon 3000-4000 = tiers 130-135+

So how does augmentation factor into this?

Remember that past 800 paragon, 1 paragon point equals 5 points of Strength, and 5 points of Strength equals 5% increased damage. This means that 300 Strength through augmentation is equal to 60 paragon levels above paragon 800. So, if you’re paragon 800 and you augment all 13 pieces of gear with 300 Strength, you are, for all intents and purposes, paragon 1580. This is called Effective Paragon, a slightly wordy way of summing up the value of someone’s main stat.

What does this mean?

It means that main stat, not the actual Paragon level, is what you need to look at when studying a clear or trying to determine your chances of success.

Yes, Paragon is important–it boosts your Life through Vitality, for example–but main stat contributes directly to damage. Assuming your gear is great and you have considerable skill with the build, here are some current conservative estimates:

  • Main Stat Range
  • 10-12k – GR 80-110
  • 12-14k – GR 110-120
  • 14-18k – GR 120-130
  • 18-20k – GR 130-135
  • 20-25k+ – GR 135+

Personally, I recommend you push as high as you can for as long as possible with zero Augmentations.

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Part 5: Speed Farming Torments

Discussed below are the changes you’ll make to the build to speed-farm Bounties and Nephalem Rifts in Torments 1-16. This also work well for speed-farming low-tier GRs. Please note that the build is flexible. Don’t like how it’s put together? Change it! You can also incorporate Crimson’s into your speed-farm build, but again, this is not recommended for low-Paragon players.

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Speed-Farm Build

Gear

  • Swap Band of Might to Skull Grasp, Avarice Band, or Stone of Jordan
  • Make sure to use the Bul-Kathos’s Oath set

Cube

  • Ambo’s
  • Nemesis bracers (additional elite spawns)
  • Star of Azkaranth (immunity to molten explosions)

Legendary Gems

  • Swap Bane of Stricken to Gogok

Active Skills

  • Swap Ancient Spear for Ignore Pain (Bravado)
  • Swap Ground Stomp for Sprint (Marathon)
  • Use the Hurricane rune on Whirlwind
  • High-Paragon players may opt to use the Ferocity rune on Battle Rage

Passive Skills

  • Swap Brawler or Berserker Rage for Weapons Master
  • If you feel squishy, swap Ruthless for Nerves of Steel
  • High-Paragon players may opt to swap Ruthless for Pound of Flesh

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Group Play Options

Due to our Rend buffs in 2.6.7, Zodiac Rend can now function as a DPS alternative in off-meta group Greater Rift speed-experience runs–better known as “Rat-Runs.”

To do that, make the following modifications:

Gear

  • One Barb should have Nemesis bracers
  • One Barb should use the Core Zodiac build with Chilanik’s Chain either worn or in the Cube
  • Swap Band of Might or Convention of Elements to Avarice Band or Stone of Jordan
  • Make sure to use the Bul-Kathos’s Oath set
  • Stack Physical elemental damage on bracer and amulet

Legendary Gems

  • Swap Bane of Stricken to Gogok

Active Skills

  • One Barb must swap Ancient Spear for Ignore Pain (Mob Rules)
  • One Barb must swap swap Ground Stomp for War Cry (Hardened Wrath)
  • One Barb should swap Ground Stomp for Sprint (Forced March)
  • Use the Hurricane or Wind Shear rune on Whirlwind
  • Use the Bloodbath rune on Rend
  • Use the Into the Fray rune on Battle Rage

Passive Skills

  • Swap Boon of Bul-Kathos for Weapons Master
  • Swap Brawler for Nerves of Steel
  • High-Paragon players may opt to swap Ruthless for Pound of Flesh

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Part 6: FAQ

The Zodiac Rend build has a long history, and so does this guide. Compiled below is a FAQ for the build that excludes outdated material from previous eras.

Click the arrow for details

Q. What are Rend’s mechanics? How does it really work?

A. Player SVR tested Rend in the 2.6.7 PTR and published the following results:

  • Rend’s base duration is 6 seconds, not 5 (the tooltip is straight up incorrect).
  • Rend’s selfcast damage is only calculated off mainhand. The off-hand can be any off-rolled weapon for supporting purposes (CDR, AD etc.). WW, and therefore Ambo’s, oscillates between mainhand and off-hand.
  • Rend scales with CHC & CHD but CAN NOT crit.
    • Each Rend tick has (1 + CHC * CHD) as a separate multiplier.
    • Only CHC and CHD that you see in your detail sheet, will scale rend. Any debuff-CHC (Iceblink, Multishot, Corpse Lance, Bash, etc.) will not scale Rend.
    • Battler Rage:Bloodshed has 0 effect on/for Rend damage (except for the base rune crit), because Rend does not crit.
    • Battle Rage:Into the Fray does not have a cap, increases CHC in sheet and therefore works with Rend.
  • A Rend instance snapshots CHC upon cast.
  • Selfcast Rend does proc Area Damage.
  • Rend applied by Ambo’s does not proc Area Damage.
  • Ambo’s has a proc-coefficient of 1 and applies a Rend on each WWs tick.
  • Ambo’s does apply the equipped rune from the skillbar.
  • Ambo’s does oscillate between main and off-hand, since WW does.
  • Ambo’s pride can’t exceed the Lamentation cap of 2.
  • Rend:Bloodbath explosions count as a separate Rend instance but are capped at 2 due to Lamentation. This makes Bloodbath by far the best DPS rune (doubling the damage output).
  • Rend ticks every 12 Frames (0.2 seconds). Damage is accumulated and displayed every 48 Frames (0.8 seconds).
  • Normal Rend calculates with 1100% over 6s (not 5s as tooltip depicts).
  • Wastes’ 2PC sets Rend’s duration to 15s. 2PC-Rend calculates with 1100% Weapon Damage over 5s and not 6s.
  • Wastes’ 4PC is dynamic and therefore doesn’t snapshot.
  • %Rend damage is a separate multiplier to Wastes’ 2PC and 4PC.
  • Rend snapshots Strongarms upon cast.

The thread in which this was posted can be found here.

Q. Do Ancient weapons really make that much of a difference?

A. Yes. Make them priority number one.

Q. Do Primal weapons really make that much of a difference?

A. Not unless your Ancient weapons are crap. Still, a perfect Primal is GG, hands down.

Q. Are you really the best dressed Barb?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Do you proc Strongarms?

A. Every day, all day.

Q. Does the DPS of my offhand sword matter?

A. Yes, it matters. Though hard-cast Rends only calculate damage based on your main hand weapon, the Rends applied by Ambo’s alternate hands for calculating damage. This is because the Ambo’s Rends are applied via Whirlwind, and the Whirlwind skill alternates hands for calculating damage.

Q. How much CHC vs CHD?

A. 1:10. Check this wonderful calculator: http://d3resource.com/critcalc/

Q. How much Armor vs All Resist?

A. Check out this other amazing mitigation calculator: http://d3resource.com/mitigation/

Q. My CDR isn’t stacking properly! What gives?

A. Quin explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G26OM19vR8g&list=WL&index=2 . In short, the effectiveness of CDR and how it displays on your sheet are not the same.

Q. How can I get my transmogs to look as good as yours?

A. You can’t.

Q. Is Lady Barb better than Dude Barb?

A. Always.

Q. Can this build compete with Vile Charge, R6 HOTA, and IK HOTA?

A. Yes. This build is very strong–potentially our strongest solo push build.

Q. What do I do if I’m an anti-intellectual, anti-feminist piece of alt-right human garbage?

A. Go !@#$ yourself.

Q. When should I incorporate Bane of Stricken into my build?

A. It depends on how fast you are clearing GR tiers. Generally, I advise players to start adding it into their builds between 65-70. Anything higher than 70 will all but require Stricken.

Q. Will Stricken help me clear the rift faster?

A. Because of the ICD after each stack applied to a target, Stricken is all but useless for clearing trash. It will help with elites, but only if it takes you more than a minute or two to kill them. Grouping, AD, and Bloodshed procs are still your best allies for clearing rifts.

Q. Are you the Captain?

A.

!@#$ THE %^-* GUIDE. If I wanted the same !@#$ build that every %^-* already !@#$'n has I will follow that %^-* guide. And YES I’M AN ANGRY PERSON, ALSO WRONG CAPTAIN, I’M THE CAPTAIN THAT BOARDS YOUR SHIP AND BURNS IT DOWN WHILE I’M STILL ON IT WHILE SCREAMING THE WHOLE TIME - I AM NOT A TASTY SUGARY CEREAL CAPTAIN! ALSO I’M ON MEDS NOW AND I’M STILL PISSED OFF BECAUSE THEY !@#$ MY %^-* SLEEP!

Q. How exactly does the Zodiac ring work?

A. For more specific information, here are Shadow’s test results (edited by me):

WW proc coefficients do NOT affect Zodiac procs

Zodiac procs every WW cast that hits. WW cast rate is (WW tick rate) / 3 for non BK2, and (WW tick rate) / 4 for BK2 setups

This is the equation for determining Zodiac proc distribution:

Assume three skills (S1, S2, S3) for this example.

Assume S1 has the longest duration and is the most important (i.e., WotB).

Assume skill durations (including for instance PoC): S1dur, S2dur, S3dur

Assume skill cooldown periods (after CDR and BoBK): S1cdp, S2cdp, S3cdp

Assume WW cast rate = (WW tick rate) / 3 for non BK2, and (WW tick rate / 4) for BK2

Total Cooldown Returned per Second: CD/s = (WW rate) + (number of skills)

In this example, for three skills it would be: CD/s = (WW rate) + 3

Amount of Cooldown Needed: CD Needed (s) = S1cdp - S1dur + (S2cdp - S2dur) * (S1dur / S2dur) + (S3cdp - S3dur) * (S1dur / S3dur)

Amount of Cooldown Gained (over period of S1dur): CD Gained (s) = CD/s * S1dur

Worse Case Uptime % for S1

S1 Uptime = 100% * (CD Gained) / (CD Needed)

Q. What’s your fondest WW memory?

A. The clear I’m most proud of happened in Era 4, just before the close of Season 4, where I cleared 64 non-season (no Stricken) while under 900 paragon. For screenshots and specific details, see this thread: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/20043566656

Q. What’s an IK Truther?

A. An IK Truther is someone who thinks IK Whirlwind is as good or competitive with Zodiac Whirlwind. They tend to say things like, “The two builds are only a few tiers apart,” or, “No more than 5, definitely not more than 5.” Often, this is preceded by the IK Truther Slippery Slope (see below). In reality, the gap is 5-10 tiers, maybe more. Time will tell. But no, IK Whirlwind is not competitive with Zodiac Whirlwind.

Q. What’s the IK Truther Slippery Slope?

A. As follows:

It starts with, “I know it’s weaker but I like to play it!”

Over time, that becomes, “I know it’s weaker, but not by that much.” And again, that’s not true. But it doesn’t stop there.

Further down the road, maybe in a year or so, someone–maybe some new poster–will proclaim IK WW isn’t really weaker at all! “It’s just as good,” that person will say.

And eventually, someone will say it’s potentially stronger.

Change Log

The following log is a record of changes made to the guide over the years.

Edit 9/9/2015: Updated FnR build to Strongarm bracers, added stat goals, clarified RG fight.

Edit 9/10: Updated skills, gear, and added more info on how to play build.

Edit 9/13: Updated FAQ with calculators for DPS and mitigation.

Edit 9/13: Linked to Diablofans build, updated skills to correct missing Weapon Master passive, corrected passive discussion, and discussed paragon distribution.

Edit 9/15: Skull Grasp is bad and should never be worn.

Edit 9/17: Update FAQ for questions about Zodiac and Ice Climbers, clarified passive skills and Hellfire preference, added Requirements sections closer to top of builds, and re-formatted post.

Edit 9/20: Updated builds and FAQ for more notes on CDR, updated secondaries on amulets.

Edit: 9/26: Updated builds and FAQ for more info on AD.

Edit 9/29: Updated FAQ about 6/4 WW.

Edit 10/1: Updated builds and FAQ with info on Stricken, RG fights, WW in season vs non-season, and its relation to 4x Rend.

Edit 10/10: Corrected typos, edited follower meta, and other general edits.

Edit 11/5: Added information about Zodiac ring.

Edit 12/12: Updated skills (Rend to Overpower) and FAQ.

Edit 12/17: Updated FAQ with info on highest clear, updated skills, passives.

Edit 1/17: Updated guide for 2.4.

Edit 1/18/2016: Updated build options and FAQ.

Edit 1/20: Updated speed-farming and group-play build modifications.

Edit 1/21: Updated speed-farming options, corrected typos.

Edit 1/23: Updated info about IAS in the build and how to play in Greater Rifts.

Edit 1/24: Edited info on how to play build in GRs and what to look for in terms of maps.

Edit 3/26: Updated the guide to 2.4.1.

Edit 4/12: Updated guide due to the results of CDR vs IAS on 2.4.1 PTR. Many thanks to Archael for helping me test. Read the full post here

Edit 4/26: Edited some info. Patch 2.4.1 drops. Whatevs.

Edit 6/18: Updated speed-farming info and LoN WW builds.

Edit 1/5/2017: Updated guide for 2.4.3.

Edit 1/11: Updated build info, cleaned up formatting, and included new breakpoint info in FAQ.

Edit 1/12: Updated guide, corrected errors.

Edit 1/30: Updated build and added valuable life advice to FAQ.

Edit 3/8: Updated follower information.

Edit 4/6: Updated to 2.5, included info on other two variants, and re-organized info.

Edit 4/6: Updated info for Hardcore, fixed general errors.

Edit 4/19: Updated builds and corrected errors.

Edit 7/5: Updated for 2.6 (zero changes to the build but did emphasize that the IB variants are outperforming the BK variant at the highest tiers). Also, Serro should roll a Wizard.

Edit 7/25: Updated build guide for more gear options (rings and swords), average damage, and updated FAQ to include Wroboss’s 102 clear.

Edit 10/26: Updated to 2.6.1. Other updates, including an early-Season starter guide, are in progress. Also added info about IK Truthers to the FAQ.

Edit 11/5: Updated follower section and added new section, Common Problems, to help players troubleshoot common problems with the build.

Edit 12/24: Added a more detailed density pop quiz in the How To Play the Build section.

Edit 12/27: Updated information on fishing Greater Rifts.

Edit 3/19/2018: Fixed typos, updated IAS vs ASI, and cleaned up text.

Edit 4/21: Clarified which build variant is strongest and info about problems managing Fury.

Edit 9/15: Updated to Season 15, clarified material, addressed Rend in the FAQ.

Edit 1/19/2019: Updated to Season 16, fixed minor errors.

Edit 5/15/19: Updated to Season 17.

Edit 7/9: Posted to migrated forum.

Edit 7/21: Total update to all sections and formatting.

Edit 8/15: Updated to Season 18.

Edit 9/6: Updated to include info on the Crimson’s variant.

Edit 11/17: Updated to 2.6.7 and Season 19.

Edit 3/13: Updated to 2.6.8 and Season 20

55 Likes
Best gems for WW Barb still Taeguk, Trapped, and Stricken?
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Top weapon setup for WWRend
Leveling a season 19 Barbarian
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New Barb needing help
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[Guide] New + Returning Player's Guide (Season 19)
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WW and Rage Flip
Do I have enough attack speed for Zodiac Rend? + Other suggestions you might have
Seasonal Roadblock
Perma Wrath of the Berzerker
How much CDR do you need?
Formatting Free's Zodiac Rend guide
Patch 2.6.8 Balance changes Nerfs/Buffs
How do you play the rage flip version of WW?
Ambo's Pride Rend only once per second?
Better combo breaker than MB+Lam+MoF(c)?
🩸 Rend barb 2.6.7a Guide
One more Barb question
Top 7 Solo + Group Barb Builds (Season 19)
WW Stats for season 19
Whirlwind/Rend: Skull Grasp, Ground Stomp/Band of Might and Looting Danger
WW Stats for season 19
Barb Buffs in 2.6.7: Feedback and Analysis
Seasonal Question
#SAVEBARBS: update Mortick’s to also increase damage by 50% while WOTB is active!
Classes that complement each other
General WW Barb questions (very new)
Rend skill damage bonus % on shoulders and chest
Need help with how to play Focus + Restraint WW at high GR
Question about REND
Rend skill damage bonus % on shoulders and chest

I am partial to Sherwin’s WW guide in Hard Core forum.

But thanks for your Soft Core guide for the SC crowd.

1 Like

Not familiar with it and doesn’t show up in any searches of the old forum.

Regardless, I cover Hardcore play in the OP, and the build doesn’t differ much between Hardcore and Normal. Above and beyond what is covered in this guide, you can opt for Band of Might and Stomp, but that’s going to cripple your damage output.

1 Like

You must search in Hard Core forum.

It’s main post line is “So you think you can Whirl(Hurricane)? S16!”

Found it!

It’s pretty underwhelming :\

No offense to Sherwin and the HC players, but I think there are better ways to optimize the build for HC, and I definitely think this build guide is much more detailed. His thread isn’t so much a guide as a place to post clears and such, but I think you’ll achieve better results using this guide :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi, Free,

may I make a suggestions to rework your tutorials?

In the help guide to the new forums on the german site, I found a tag, which might make the tutorials a bit more accessible.

<details>
<summary>Header (click on arrow to expand)</summary>
Detailed text
</details>

Which results in this:

Header (click on arrow to expand) Detailed Text

This may make it easier to read the rather long tutorial postings.

What do you think?

Other than that I’m glad to have such supportive guys like you, Rage and others on the forums.

Regards
B.

1 Like

Thanks! I didn’t even know you could do that! I might insert that into the OP at a later date!

1 Like

Why nobody is talking about Band of Might-Ring? After casting Furious Charge, Ground Stomp or Leap (i use this) the damage is reduced by 69% for 8! seconds. As a hc barb i prefer this insead of CoE. And im wearing Aquila Cuirass Breastplate for another 50% DR. And instead of Pain Enhancer gem im using Gogok. So, in the cube i must use Ring of Royal Grandeur. With this build i have 1.2 billion toughness as long as Wrath of the Berserker is up. (Season 17)

1 Like

For HC play, Band of Might isn’t a bad option. The problem is, you’re gimping your DPS if you also use Aquila and RoRG. You can’t make up the damage you lost from COE and Zodiac + PE provides far more cooldown than Gogok. In other words, while you have to prioritize survival in HC, you also can’t afford to cripple your damage output.

It looks like you’re going for the Lightning Istvan’s variant, so I recommend you do the following:

  1. Follow the build guide in the OP for your variant.
  2. If you’re nervous, swap COE for Band of Might, and swap War Cry for Furious Charge (Cold Rush to Proc Parthans).
  3. Always use all diamonds in gear.
  4. Always use Parthans.

Right now, it looks like you’re struggling to get the right/good gear, so DO NOT PUSH GRs until you get your build in order.

Good luck!

This build can be tricky

1 Like

Hey everyone.

Did a massive update to the guide today. Overall, it’s now much shorter, and better organized, and I think it’s now much easier to read and understand. I plan on adding D3 Planner links in the near future, but that will have to wait.

Let me know what you think.

2 Likes

A few questions for Templar-

  1. is stacking + Phys Damage beneficial?

2)Weapons choice- does increase weapons damage produce more kills to get more occulus bubbles?

Which weapon should my Templar use?
A) Skysplitter Axe- primal 3634 dps (10% dam, 1000 str, IAS 7%) + 270 dam ruby- weap ability is 20% chance to smite (600 - 750% weap dam)

B) Sever- primal 3345 dps (max dam, str, IAS) w/ diamond for 10% vs elites- +10% vs demons (do emost elites and RGs qualify as demons?) innate- dead rest in pieces

C) sunkeeper (only ancient)- 1422-1758 dam, +26% elite + 20% (diamond) = +46%
red CD 9% (rolled)

D)Doombringer (seems to be very good ancient) 2894 dps, +20% phys red CD 10%, IAS 7%, 832 str- not yet socketed (but have 250 gifts) or rolled

Good follower guide here: D3:RoS Followers Wiki

Hi Lenny,

Templar’s damage is effectively zero no matter what weapon you give him. Oculus ring procs from him when YOU kill an enemy, the templar doesn’t have to do the killing.

If you want the templar to provide some modest CC, equip him with Ess of Johan, Thunderfury, Freeze of Deflection, and Wyrdward. If you just want oculus circles, you could just use Oculus ring, the invulnerability templar relic, and nothing else.

1 Like

Hi Lenny.

Don’t overthink your follower. Everything you need to know is covered in the OP. Your templar is only there to proc Oculus and occasionally heal you a bit and keep your Fury topped up. Stack CDR and attack speed on his gear, and make sure he has the Immortal token.

If you’re using Parthans, do not let your follower proc any CC. Hard CC will detract from your Freeze, and soft CC will slow mobs down. Again, no CC effects from Follower!

I am not here to brag or steal Free’s thread but with his help and opinions from a few others i have managed to secure myself as #1 ww barb on s17 ladder at #205, gr106.

Top WW Barb - GR 106, Rank #205 NA Seasonal Leaderboards

I decided to play Whirlwind for s17, the slowest build of all in my opinion. I do not expect anyone to actually care but my goal was to be the #1 ww barb on the season leaderboards and see how far i can get. I beleive i am securely sitting at the top ww barb rank #205.

3 Likes

Is 106 really the top ww barb? I find that hard to believe. I did a 105 without any fishing.

incase you dont beleive me go ahead and inspect everyone above me (#205 on the leaderboards) you will notice none are playing whirlwind.

Unfortunately, the way the leaderboard works is if a barb used whirlwind to complete a 110 and also used another build to do a 115, only the 115 would show up. As such, you may be the highest whirlwind clear or alternatively, you may be the highest whirlwind clear for only players who did not use another build to surpass the “whirlwind” greater rift level.

I personally have advocated for 6 piece class set specific and LoN leaderboards so you can see how you stack up for a given build.

5 Likes

I don’t really get why or who your trying to explain how the leaderboards work but in case you did not know, someone who’s been playing whirlwind literally the whole league simply will not just switch to another build to compete with whomever. I am sorry if that gives you a reason to dislike my leadership in the build. I had a goal, and I made it clear. You can either side with me and agree, or disagree.