Update: In the final patch notes they swapped the Guardian’s 2-piece and 3-piece bonuses. That means that Wastes can no longer use Guardian 2 + Coe.
I wanted to give a few notes on what I see as the lay of the land for Season 27. All of this, is, of course, subject to change, since final patch notes are not out yet.
First, I want to give a big shoutout to Kozmik and to Rob for their testing of both gameplay and mechanics, without which I would have no idea what was going on, since the terrible lag made me give up on the PTR on day 1.
A: Builds + Crucibles
1: LoD + IK HotA
Both of these builds are going to face a significant choice between using the WW (“infinite pulling”) power and the HotA (“Quad Hammer + Shockwave”) power. First, a few notes on how the shockwave works:
It doesn’t benefit from the HotA Fury-based CHC buff. That means that if you’re using it, you want to carry a lot of CHC on your gear.
It can crit, but it either crits everything, or nothing. In other words, if you hit 100 enemies with the shockwave, it will either crit all of them, or none of them. That probably means it also doesn’t work with debuff-based CHC sources, like Iceblink, though I am by no means sure about this.
Its damage is equal to 10x your direct HotA hits. And it procs every 10 uses of HotA. That means it significantly increases your direct damage (not quite doubles, since unlike your hammers it doesn’t have ~100% CHC, the actual increase is about 71.3%).
It has a proc coefficient equal to whatever HotA rune you’re using. That means 0.667 for all runes other than Rolling Thunder, which is 0.4. This means that it can proc AD and Bloodshed, and that you’re losing a good bit of Bloodshed damage if you take the Rolling Thunder rune.
It always deals Physical damage, no matter the damage type of your hammer. So if you are using the usual Smash (fire) rune, with CoE, you get one damage bump in Fire, and another in Physical.
With all that in mind, I think that the absolute maximum potential for both IK and LoD may come with the HotA Crucible, rather than the WW one. Using this Crucible power to its utmost will require a lot more fishing than using the WW one, since you’ll need to open a super-good (ideally single-floor) rift, where the density is already really high without you needing to pull it as much by yourself.
But, the “base” HotA setup invented by Kozmik is already pretty good at pulling mobs, and in density, those extra hammers + the shockwave mean you will probably do more than twice as much damage, since you directly hit with your HotA on mobs that are on all sides of you, which jacks up your Bloodshed damage, and you hit all those mobs with the shockwave too.
In addition, if you draw a really good boss, like Saxtris, this means you can kill him significantly faster, since ~71% more dps from the shockwave helps a good bit, and once he starts spawning adds, the extra hammers plus the shockwave will speed the kill up a lot.
All that said, the WW power is going to produce results that are FAR MORE CONSISTENT. If you want to get a good clear without fishing 1000+ keys for a Fields with Lacuni/Phasebeast, a Conduit, and then Saxtris + Power for a boss fight, WW is the way to go.
At the end of the day, both are good choices, but I think the HotA crucible is capable of producing higher clears at the top end.
2: MOTE Spinquake vs Leapquake
The best crucible for MOTE this season will be using the WW power. There’s a spinning-based EQ setup that’s been seeing some action in Season 26, and this setup is going to be MUCH more powerful in season 27. If you want to see the details on that setup, just check out the rank 1 NA clear snapshot by LebronJames.
Bottom line: WW to pull the whole map into one spot, burning them all down with EQs generated by Threatening Shout, cooled down by Zodiac. Leap only when needed, every 8 seconds, to keep up your MOTE(4) defensive bonus + you BoM. This setup bypasses a bunch of the “can’t-kill-the-boss” problem that Leapquake usually has, since WW stacks Stricken really fast.
For people who hate the way this setup plays, standard Leapquake will incorporate the WOTB (“Tempest Rhythm”) power. It turns out that this damage debuff is ADDITIVE, meaning that its impact is less than was previously though. Since standard Leapquake usually runs with 55-65% dibs, that means that the extra 100% from TR gives 60-65% increased damage. Of course, it only hits a small radius and doesn’t have full uptime (only about 33-37%, though this also overlaps WOTB being active, when you do more of your damage in general). So the actual damage increase is probably between 30% and 50%, or perhaps ~2.5 tiers worth of damage.
3: Wastes Rend
Classic Rend will have to choose between the WW power and the WOTB power. I think the WW power clearly wins here, since it lets you pull everything quickly without using Spear. Rend also carries a lot of Additive damage (~150%), meaning the WOTB power only adds about 2 tiers of damage, max. With WW, you don’t need to take Spear, so you can replace that with TS:Falter (more damage) or War Cry (more toughness). And if you want, you can swap out Stomp for either Leap or Charge, since you no longer need the grouping of Stomp.
Crimson-based setups will get a bit of a bump this season, since they can pixel-pull much better than usual with the WW power, plus they don’t need to take Spear, which allows for the use of War Cry, which will help to alleviate some of the squishiness problems usually associated with this setup. Much better pulling than normal, plus better survivability than normal, may be a recipe for Crimson setups to capture the Wastes crown this season. We’ll see.
4: H90 Frenzy
Poor Frenzy is in the worst spot out of all our builds. It can’t take the HOTA power since, well, it doesn’t use HOTA, and it can’t take the WW power because you don’t gain any damage by grouping enemies (and there’s also no room on the skill bar for WW). So that leaves it stuck with the WOTB power, which is not great since Frenzy carries a lot of additive damage (~150%). So that leaves you with roughly 50% uptime on 40% extra damage, though again, this overlaps with your WOTB itself, so the downgrade from not having 100% uptime is less than it might seem. Still, expect this build to gain only about 1-2 tiers worth of damage.
5: Raekor Boulder
Finally, we have Raekor. IMO the most powerful setup for this build this season, by far, will be using the WW Crucible. The damage of Boulder Toss / Bloodshed scales up so much with higher density that there’s a huge incentive to just spend a bit of time dragging the whole map into a corner where you can trigger boulder collision, and then just delete them all with a few tosses. The issue is: where to put WW on the bar?
I think that for lower paragon the optimal thing will be to skip Weapon throw and take WW instead. This will play fine for the bulk of the rift, and only cause a little trouble on bosses, since Charge is not that good at building either Raekor stacks or Fury vs single targets. But, not a big problem: you just need to save a pylon for the boss. And since WW:DD stacks Stricken super-fast, you can just build Stricken stacks on the boss for a while, then pop the pylon, and presto, you have a bunch of mobs to charge through to build up those Raekor stacks and Fury. Higher paragon players might opt to drop War Cry / IP instead, and hold onto Weapon Throw for easier boss fights.
It’s already clear that this setup works fine, since the Korean player Enryu used it for a good 150 in the first iteration of the Season 26 PTR, before they gave Weapon Throw the attack speed and Fury-generating abilities it has now. It’ll definitely be more fussy to play than standard Raekor, and boss fights without a pylon will be fairly impossible. But for top-end pushing, I see this as possibly the strongest Barb setup of Season 27.
I know that some people are predicting LoD HotA to be the top Barb build this season, but I’d frankly be a bit surprised if Raekor doesn’t come in on top again, especially if Enryu is pushing it (for those who don’t already know, in season 26 he did 150 with under 3.3k paragon).
For those who don’t feel like mixing spinning with their boulders, they can take the WOTB power. Raekor only carries about 30% additive, and has pretty good WOTB uptime, so it probably gets about +3 tiers of damage from this ability. Frankly, even this lesser Raekor setup might beat LoD HOTA this season, if enough talented players are pushing it. Raekor currently has about a 3.4 tier lead over HotA. If you add 3 tiers of extra damage to that, you get 6.4 tiers. Can either the WW or HotA crucible produce 6.4 extra tiers of power? Maybe… but maybe not.
B: The new Guardian’s Set
Unfortunately, this new set doesn’t synergize very strongly with most of our builds, but it will have a few uses, particularly at low paragon.
For Wastes Rend,
at lower paragon, we will have the option to move Lamentation to the cube, replacing Mantle, drop Mortick’s, and run two-piece Guardian’s- Bracer and Belt. We can actually hold on to CoE instead of swapping to RoRG, since the main bonus for Guardian is on the 2-piece. As long as this set is giving us more than 25% total extra mainstat, it’s a damage gain versus Mantle. Defense-wise, it is a little bit of a loss, since we roughly double our Vitality, while losing a combined 62.5% mitigation from Mantle + Mortick’s. All in all, this is a solid option for lower paragon players who want to add a bit of damage. Once the value of that extra mainstat goes down to about 25%, though, going back to the regular setup, using Mantle + Mortick, is decidedly better.
With the update to Guardians, Wastes now needs to use RoRG to properly use this set. You can drop either Mantle (replacing it with Lamentation) and wear belt + helm, which gives more toughness, or drop Mortick’s and wear bracer + helm, which gives more damage. The former requires Guardian to give 87.5% mainstat to break even with the “core” build, and the latter setup requires you to get 50% mainstat to break even.
For H90 Frenzy, we can replace Aughild with Guardian, again at lower paragon. The only good way to do this is to continue with RoRG in the cube, and wear Guardian Bracer + Helm. If we try to wear the belt, we then need to move Undisputed Champion to the cube, and this displaces Depth Diggers, which doubles our damage. No good. As long as Guardian is giving you more than about 55% extra mainstat, it probably outperforms Aughild. Yes, Aughild’s total 1.69x multiplier vs elites is better than 1.55x from mainstat, but in most fights, you have a mix of trash and elites around you, and because of the way the Bastion’s chain splits up your damage, the value of the elite damage on Aughild is diluted somewhat. Also, Guardian provides better survivability. Still, once Guardian gives you less than 50-55% total mainstat, it is probably best to swap back to Aughild.
For IK HOTA, we could theoretically swap CoE → RoRG and then wear Guardian Bracer and Bracer + Helm or Belt. This would be a damage increase as long as we get more than 50% extra mainstat from Guardian’s, and is basically a wash in terms of toughness, since we roughly double our toughness from extra Vit, then halve it by losing Mortick’s. The real problem is that this costs us our main source of healing, the huge 5k+ LPFS that we get from Mortick’s. Bottom line, this is probably not worth playing, since it combines only modest gains with a (probably) huge amount of frustration.
For MOTE Leapquake, we could drop Focus + Restraint, wear CoE + BoM, and use RoRG in the cube. This would let us wear Guardian’s Bracer plus Helm. As long as we’re getting 50% or more mainstat from Guardian’s, this is basically a wash for damage compared to Focus + Restraint. You lose the ability to wear Parthans for defense, but doubling your Vit should help you stay alive. You’ll want a good source of healing to go with that extra health, which means taking BR: Swords to Ploughshares rather than War Cry. You can also swap Leap:Death from Above to Leap: Call of Arreat, which helps with grouping mobs. Once you get less than 50% total mainstat from Guardian’s, though, you’re better off going back to Focus + Restraint.
For Raekor Boulder, we really don’t want to use Guardian at all, since we get a TON of value out of Crimson. Not only does it help with cooldowns and provide more damage, it also doubles the effect of our Relentless passive, which helps us stay alive at low life and leverage the missing life damage bonus of the 4-piece.