Congratulations! You’ve made it to Inferno difficulty. Pssh and you thought Hell was hard, just wait. Inferno Act 1 is by far the easiest act in Inferno but it is still a significant step up from Hell. If you find yourself dying early and often in Inferno, stop. Go back to Act 3 or Act 4 in Hell and grind for some gear. This is a hard gear check, especially from a melee perspective. You need to be able to take the insane amount of damage that monsters in Inferno produce. I have seen many barbarians simply not ready for the pure intensity and brutal deaths of Inferno. Blizzard set out to make this difficulty hard, and they have undoubtedly succeeded. While hard at first, once Barbarians get geared they can farm extremely quickly. What exactly makes you so sick? Don’t worry, we’ll be covering exactly what you need to do to make it through Act 1 in one piece, but first let’s talk about Inferno and some of its features.
So what makes Inferno so difficult? Put simply, while normal mobs are more difficult they are still very manageable. Guess what? Similar to the jump up in previous difficulties, elite mobs have gained an additional attribute. These attributes really stack on top of each other making them much, much harder than the puny foes in Hell. What else? Well, you’re done leveling and unlocking skills/runes so you’re stuck with many of the tools that you had in Hell for Inferno. This means that every single mob in Inferno is a higher level than your character. You’ll be facing level 61 mobs in Act 1. Each Act in Inferno is a significant step-up in difficulty on its own. To add insult to injury, Blizzard also increased the difficulty of mobs when new players join your group. In Normal difficulty this was only 75%, now we are at 110%. The only ways to improve at this point, are simply to improve your gameplay or to get items.
Well, he thought he was ready for Inferno…
Nephalem Valor is the endgame that Blizzard has designed for Diablo 3 players. Without Nephalem Valor, Inferno would simply be hard with hardly any payoff. Nephalem Valor increases your magic and gold find and helps you to find that sick loot that you’ll be needing. In addition to this, Nephalem Valor stacks (up to 5 times). Taking advantage of this mechanic is a necessity to progress further in the game. You’ll need to be getting sick loot, selling items on the auction house and then purchasing even better items. What are the best ways to take advantage of Nephalem Valor? We’ll be covering this very thoroughly in the quests and bosses section.
One stack of Nephalem Valor. Four more to go.
Skills, Runes, and Gear
Due to the way Nephalem Valor works, there are many fewer viable builds to choose from. Since you will lose your Nephalem Valor buff if you change any of your skills, the challenge is in finding a skill and rune build that can work for regular mobs, champion packs, and even bosses. You will soon find that you need to maximize the way that your gear and build work together to give you more survivability or damage output and/or both. This is especially true for Barbarians (and Monks), since they need to be able to take damage to give damage. There are two builds that are the most viable right now for Barbs in Diablo 3, and for each of them I will explain the concept, runes/skills that you want to go for, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and the gear that you want to look for with them.
Tanky Revenge “Progression” Build
This build was the way most Barbarians were able to progress in Inferno when the game was released. It plays on nearly all of the defensive attributes of the Barbarian. I personally used this for progression when I was trying to clear Inferno Act 1 for the first time. It is also one of the most common builds that you will see Barbarians using. Here is the Battle.net Build.
- Frenzy (Left Mouse Click, Sidearm) – This primary skill is simply the best for single-target dps. The Sidearm rune is basically a free attack on 25% of your attacks, which further adds to single and to a lesser extent multi-target dps.
- Alternate rune – Maniac. Depending on the variations that you choose for this build, Maniac can give you more DPS than Sidearm. With 5 stacks, it gives all of you abilities a 20% increase in damage. This is less optimal than Sidearm for single target DPS, but works better for multiple target DPS. If you have no problem taking down single Champion Mobs or Bosses, then by all means feel free to try out Maniac.
- Leap (Right Mouse Click, Iron Impact) – This skill is great for many reasons. 1) It can get you out of sticky situations. 2)The 300% armor buff is just great. It effectively quadruples (4x) your armor and gives you great survivability. 3) It has a 10 second cooldown. You can effectively have 4x your armor for 4 seconds every 10 seconds. That is some awesome uptime.
- Alternate rune – Death from Above. This rune gives your Leap a stun ability. While less effective on Champion Packs, it does come in handy as an interrupt for people like the Skeleton Kind and the Butcher.
- Furious Charge (1 button, Dreadnought) – This skill is also great for more than one reason. You get the ability to move through monsters and get around the battlefield very easily (even when you are jailed, although you will still be jailed after you are done moving). You also get the heal, which is superb. Potions begin to lose their effectiveness when you get to 50k, 60k, 80k HP. The heal with Dreadnought, however, scales well (8% per enemy!). I use it as a potion. As an added bonus, it adds nicely to your damage output.
- Wrath of the Berserker (2 button, Insanity) – This skill is what allows the build to be so defensive. Normally Barbarians wouldn’t have enough DPS to take down Champion Packs without a serious time commitment. Normally you get an increase in Attack Speed and Critical Hit Chance, but with the Insanity rune your damage is also increased by 100%. The result is more than a double in DPS. This allows you to take down Champion Packs with more ease.
- Revenge (3 button, Provocation) – High damage skill that heals? Of course Barbarians want this! The rune Provocation is a no-brainer. It simply allows you to use Revenge more often. This skill is interesting in the fact that you want more mobs hitting you if you want to cast it more often. This mechanic works even if you block an attack, which is paramount to reducing the damage you take (more on that in the gear section).
- War Cry (4 button, Impunity) – This is simply necessary for a new player in Inferno. With the amount of physical and elemental damage that you will be taking, the armor and all-resist boost is a must for new players in Act 1. Of course, the boost that it gives you (50% to all resists) requires that you have a good base value. I will go into this in the gear section.
- Superstition – Survive those elemental attacks. Necessary until you get enough +Resist All.
- Nerves of Steel – For each point of Vitality you get a point of Armor. Great for increasing your Effective HP.
- Tough as Nails – Increases armor by 25%. Again, great for survivability.
The build itself is pretty straightforward (I go further in-depth here). The idea is simply to have as many enemies hitting you as possible so your Revenge can proc, and then use Wrath of the Berserker to take out Champion Packs. Here is some footage of my playing the build in Act 1 Inferno:
This build, like any Inferno build, is highly reliant on gear. The gear that you should be looking for is primarily Strength, Vitality, and All Resist. One note about shields – the shield you use should have a large amount of block. This is crucial. Look for Sacred Shields (they are item level 63) with +% Block. Even if there aren’t many other stats, the +% Block is that important for the reason that Revenge can still proc when you block an attack. While there is no specific numbers that you should have in order complete Act 1, a good goal is:
- 1000 Strength
- 1000 Vitality
- 350 All Resist (without Warcry)
- 6000 Armor (without Warcry)
- Shield with at least 25% Block Chance
- 8k DPS
Once you reach those metrics, you will be able to clear Act 1 with little to no problems using this build. You should be able to find this gear very easily on the Auction House for cheap. For tips in this regard, refer to our Auction House How-To.
Tornado Whirlwind “Life on Hit” Build
This build is much more of an offensive in your face Barbarian build. It relies heavily on +Life on Hit items, and it is more about hitting the enemies as much as possible so that you are constantly getting life back rather than mitigating damage. Also, another core concept for this build is to generate huge amounts of Fury. Personally, I find this build to be a lot more fun than more defensive builds, but that is simply my opinion.
- Bash (Left Mouse Click, Instigation) – This skill is all about the Fury generation. It gets your tornado/whirlwind up and running quickly.
- Whirlwind (Right Mouse Click, Hurricane – This is part of the bread and butter of the build. Whirlwind allows you to move through mobs, which is essential for creating the Sprint tornadoes right on top of monsters.
- Alternate rune – Dust Devils. This rune spawns off mini-tornadoes whenever you Whirlwind. Personally, I like the Movespeed bonus that Hurricane gives, but depending on your preference additional tornadoes is a good choice as well.
- Wrath of the Berserker (1 button, Thrive on Chaos) – With this rune, your WotB duration is increased for every 25 Fury that you gain. So combine this with the Battle Rage rune and you can keep up WotB indefinitely as long as you are critting mobs. For nearly all Champion Packs I can stay in Super Sayain mode the entire fight.
- Battle Rage (2 button, Into the Fray) – The entire build hinges on this skill and rune combination. Into the Fray has a chance to give you 15 Fury each time you crit. Thus, the more crits that you are getting the longer your Wrath of the Berserker can last.
- Sprint (3 button, Run Like the Wind) – The rune on this skill spawns little tornadoes when you run, and those tornadoes have a very high crit chance. This is essential for constantly getting Fury.
- War Cry (4 button, Impunity) – Again, you need this if you are just starting in Inferno. It is a huge boost to your defenses and is simply a no-brainer.
- Ruthless – Since this is a crit-heavy build, it makes sense to improve both your Critical Hit Chance and your Critical Hit damage. This skill greatly improves your DPS.
- Nerves of Steel – You will want the extra armor that all your Vitality stats give you. Until you get better gear and have been farming Inferno for a while, you will want the extra mitigation. However, if you find yourself surviving easily, you can switch this defensive slot for a more offensive one.
- Superstition – This skill helps both your elemental mitigation (which is super important when you first get to Inferno) and can increase your Fury generation. Simply great for this build.
The first couple times you try this build out, you might find that it doesn’t seem to be working just right. But once you find that big pack of monsters and get the rhythm to keep Sprint up, you will just start smiling at how much fun you are having being an Whirlwinding Barbarian. Some notes about this build:
- Constantly use Sprint otherwise you won’t be generating enough health and/or Fury.
- In order to keep WotB up the whole time, any Fury that you gain when you have maximum Fury does not increase the duration. Be sure to use Sprint and/or Battle Rage often.
- If you find yourself dying too often, check out some of the alterations to the build below, specifically switching out Bash with Leap.
Here are some variants on the build, that can help with either Fury generation, DPS, and survivability. Obviously, this build is highly gear-dependent. The order of importance in gear that you should follow is this (from most important to least important): +Life on Hit, Critical Hit Chance, Attack Speed, Resist All, Vitality, Armor, Crit Damage, Strength. The general markers that you should look for are:
- 1300 +Life on Hit
- 35% Crit Chance unbuffed
- +10% Attack Speed
- 1000 Vitality
- 300 All Resist Unbuffed
- +10% Movespeed on Boots
- 600 DPS Mainhand
There are some subtleties to the gear here that not everyone knows. First of all, the Tornadoes from Sprint use only your main-hand weapon damage. That means you should look for a higher-damage main-hand, and a more stats-oriented off-hand. Second, attack speed increases the number of times a tornado hits an enemy. So higher attack speed = more hits = higher damage output = higher survivability. There is actually a video that goes through and outfits a Barbarian for Act 3 Inferno. Check it out below. Keep in mind that he was buying items for Act 3 Inferno, not Act 1.
Quests and Bosses
The bosses you face in Inferno will be the hardest that you will ever face them. For Act 1, that means the Skeleton King and the Butcher. While there are not really any new strategies for them, they will roll your face if you don’t have good enough gear. The Butcher has an enrage timer, at which point the entire stage will go up in flames. Thus, you want to make sure that your gear provides you sufficient DPS. If you are finding that your gear isn’t enough to get you through the Act, go back to Hell Act 4 and farm gold and items (which you will probably sell) until you have found enough gear or bought enough gear on the AH to make it through. As a point of reference, you can probably find all the items you need to clear Act 1 Inferno for about 700K gold.
This run is the easiest in the Act, and most players find that they can clear this even if they are having trouble progressing through the rest of Act 1. Once you are able to clear the rest of the Act, you probably won’t find yourself killing the Skeleton King that often, simply because there are other places to farm that will give you better loot. For a breakdown of this run by my compadre Phate, check out the video below. For general Skeleton King strategies, look at some of our older posts.
Good ol’ butcher. As mentioned above, there is an enrage timer for the butcher, so it is a form of a gear check. You want to make sure that you kill him within 3 minutes, otherwise the entire stage will go up in flames. Before Patch 1.03 came out, this was the primary way in which people farmed Act 1. Get 5 stacks of Nephalem Valor, then kill the Butcher. The reason for this is that you get 2 guaranteed rares. Check out the analysis of a Butcher run in the video below.
For nearly every single player I have seen, when they get to the end of Act 1 they have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them. The surprise is that their gear simply isn’t good enough for Act 2 (sorry to ruin that for you). So once you are able to take out the bosses, the real question facing you is: How can I farm Act 1 efficiently? Unless your gear is good enough to get you into Act 2, you with either need to farm the items or farm the gold to buy the items that will take you through Act 2. This is a great overview of farming Inferno in Act 1, but since Patch 1.03 the new thing to do is elite runs.
Champion Pack (Elite) Runs
Blizzard has put a lot of conscious effort to make actually playing through the content the best way in which to farm for gear. As a result, going around and killing Champion Packs in different places of the game is currently one of the best ways to farm. You want to get 5 stacks as soon as possible, then go around and kill as many elites as you can find. In order to traverse around different parts you are going to want to start on a quest much later in the Act. Personally, I choose the Cursed Hold so that I can kill both the Warden and Butcher once I have killed the Elites in all the easy-to-reach places. For places to easily find elites, check these places:
- Nothern Highlands – There should be at least 1 Champion Pack in the area, but the real find is in the Western portion of the Highlands. There should be a Dungeon called the Watchtower. If you don’t see it, remake your game and check again (the loot inside is really that worth it!). Once inside, you will find 1-5 Elites, treasure goblins (gobos), and resplendent chests. Note: This will probably be nerfed in the future, so take advantage of it while you can.
- Festering Woods – 2 guaranteed dungeons with at least 1 Champion Pack in each. Often another Champion Pack via quest or in the area.
- Leoric Manor – 1 Elite is always in the courtyard, sometimes 1 inside the manor.
- Cemetery of the Forsaken – 3 guaranteed dungeons, at least 1 Elite in each. Sometimes a Champion Pack in the Cemetery as well.
Depending on your build, the follower that you will want to use is either the Scoundrel or the Enchantress. When you go the tanky build, the Enchantress is the way to go. She simply has the highest amount of Crowd Controlling abilities and her armor buff is very handy (+15% armor? Yes please.) If you want some more added DPS, you can always go for the Scoundrel. His +3% Critical Hit Chance aura will help, especially with the Whirlwind build. Fore more information about Followers, check out our Followers Guide. Quick Tips:
- You can equip your follower with a weapon that deals Cold damage and it will slow enemies.
- You receive 25% of your Follower’s Magic Find.