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For other uses, see Berserk.

The Berserker is the ultimate damage build for a Barbarian. Barbarians built this way dish out massive magic damage with each hit, can override physical immunities, and aren't affected by Iron Maiden. The downside is that Berserking brings Defense to zero, and leeching life/mana is impossible due to the fact the damage is magical. Given the damage potential with this build, however, one can certainly work around this handicap.

There are two primary styles or sub-builds for the Berserker:

  1. Shielded build
    • Requires a good (probably expensive) shield with Faster Block Rate and high Block Rate for protection.
    • Requires an excellent (probably very expensive) 1-handed weapon (usually an axe) with enormous damage to maximize Berserk.
  2. Non-shielded build
    • Requires some skill/practice in using Howl, Warcry, Taunt, and Leap Attack for protection/damage avoidance.
    • Requires only a reasonably nice high-speed rare 2-handed weapon - an upped Shal'ed Steeldriver would be good, Ribcracker would be godly.

Stat Point Distribution[]

Strength: Enough to wear endgame gear. Calculate this amount ahead of time.

Dexterity: Shielded: enough for max block, non-shielded: nothing (if using 2-handed maces) or just enough for equipment (other 2-handeds)

Vitality: Everything else, especially for non-shielded varieties.

Energy: While Berserk can kill off the effectiveness of Mana Steal, it still leaves little excuse for points here if the Berserker wishes to be at his best. As such, most leave this to equipment.

Skill Point Distribution[]

What to Max[]

Berserk: The skill you're revolving around.

Weapon Mastery: Damage booster that's affected by +skill equipment, unlike synergies. Choose a weapon type first, obviously.

Battle Orders: More health and mana is a good thing. A staple skill to any Barbarian.

Shout: A synergy for Berserk. On its own it provides more defense and less damage, though Berserk removes all of your defense anyway. Less useful on a non-shielded build than Howl, more useful on a shielded build than Howl.

Howl: Another synergy for Berserk; can be useful to scare feeble monsters away. Vital for a non-shielded build, where you put several points into this early on and enjoy howling away not-so-feeble monsters for breathing space.

War Cry: On a non-shielded build, this is an extra control skill to prevent damage. You probably have to divert here some (or all) points from Shout and your weapon mastery on a non-shielded build.

What You Need[]

Note: The following skills require only one point to be utilized.

Whirlwind: This will let you fly through enemies and leech mana. Good for norm rushing, as well.

Increased Speed: This is entirely optional, but wholeheartedly useful.

Natural Resistance: More resistance, less damage. Also optional if you're going to have max resists with your gear instead.

Iron Skin: See shout.

Battle Command: Raises the entire party's skills by one.

Taunt: Stop powerful ranged monsters from attacking you at range, wasting their time to walk towards you and granting a second's respite from their damage.

Battle Cry: Reduce damage and defense of nearby opponents for a small extra bit of protection.

Skill Point Allocation[]


105 Total Skills

6 Total Pre-Requisites

End Result: 111 Skill Point Total (impossible to achieve, see below)

The order in which to max your important skills is as follows.

  1. Berserk
  2. Battle Orders
  3. Shout

These are vital. Your Weapon Mastery and the Howl synergy should have alternating points in them. Again, Weapon Masteries will give damage to your Berserk skill with plus to skills while synergies won't, so the Mastery is significantly more effective in that regard; however, Howl gives 10% magic damage, while the Mastery gives only 5% physical damage but also an attack rating/critical strike boost. Which one you max is your personal preference.


106 Total Skills

4 Total Prerequisites

End Result: 110 Skill Points Total (impossible to achieve, see below)

For a non-shielded build, put several points in Howl early on and practice using it for crowd control; at high levels of Howl even high-level monsters get scared. Use it to disperse a minion crowd and kill the boss or superunique while your merc picks off each of the minions. As soon as you can get Battle Orders pump that instead of Howl. As soon as you can get both Berserk and War Cry pump them both (pause pumping Battle Orders in the mean time); when you have both Berserk and War Cry to about 5~10 levels start using them and distribute your skill points between your four main pump skills (Berserk, War Cry, Battle Orders, and Howl); prioritize Berserk and War Cry but don't neglect Battle Orders, and give the occasional point to Howl to keep it sharp against high-level monsters. When Berserk, War Cry and Battle Orders are maxed, start maxing Howl and your weapon mastery.




  • Breath of the Dying: Put in an ethereal Berzerker Axe to Maximize Damage output. An Ethereal Colossus Blade is also an option if you prefer Swords over Axes.
  • Grief: Massive Solid Damage, Deadly Strike, Bonus Damage to Demons and IAS. The + Life After Each Kill also helps bypass the inability of Berzerk to leech health back while attacking, meaning you can heal yourself provided you kill enough monsters (not a difficult feat with this weapon). Put in a Berzerker Axe or Phase Blade (to save repair costs).
  • Death: Lacks increased attack speed, but makes up for it in Damage, 50% chance of Crushing Blow and level dependent Deadly Strike boost, Again put in an Ethereal Berzerker Axe for Best results, given that it makes the weapon indestructible.
  • Last Wish: Damage Boost (made even higher by the high level Might Aura), chance to cast fade when hit (and when using Berzerk you WILL get hit) and 60-70% bonus to Crushing Blow are excellent attributes. Note that while using Berzerk will trigger Life Tap you would have to switch to a different attack to make use of the life leech. Put in a Berzerker Axe for higher damage or a Phase Blade for lower repair costs.
  • Oath: Potentially High Damage (up to 340%), indestructibility, IAS and bonus damage to demons for four Runes that are not that hard to find. If you find a four socket ethereal Ettin Axe this is a good option.
  • Beast: for Fanaticism Aura, Damage and IAS.
  • Doom: gives +2 to Skills, Damage, IAS and a Holy Freeze Aura to slow your enemies which is useful since you will only be able to attack one enemy at a time. Put in a Berzerker Axe.


  • Breath of the Dying in an Ethereal Polearm (Great Poleaxe or Giant Thresher), Ethereal Colossus Blade or Ethereal Ogre Maul or Thunder Maul.
  • Doom in a Cryptic Axe or other Elite Polearm.
  • Last Wish in a Glorious Axe.
  • Obedience in a Cryptic Axe or other Elite Polearm.
  • The Ribcracker.
  • Ethereal Edge.
  • The Reaper's Toll: The high chance to cast Decrepify (which will effect entire groups of enemies) will weaken, slow down and amplify the damage of your attacks.
  • Bonehew: High Damage and up to 2 sockets for customization.
  • The Cranium Basher: High Damage and very high chance of Crushing Blow.
  • The Grandfather: Indestructible and with level dependent boost to maximum damage.
  • Doombringer: Indestructible and chance to cast weaken upon attack.

Armor: Armor choices are somewhat limited as your defence is lowered to zero with each attack, effectively nullifying any defence bonuses from your armor no matter how high. As such Damage reduction would be a better attribute to look for in armor choices.

  • Chains of Honor: +2 to all skills, 8% Damage reduction, boost to resistances and life regeneration makes this a good choice.
  • Enigma: +2 to skills, damage reduction and life per kill (which helps bypass the inability of Berzerk to leech back health) makes this an excellent choice. Teleport is useful when Boss farming (see Tips and Tricks).
  • Treachery: IAS and chance to cast fade when struck (and when using Berzerk you WILL get hit) more than make up for the lack of defence.
  • The Leviathan: 22% damage reduction and massive boost to strength (which boosts your damage). Is also indestructible and therefore will never need to be repaired.
  • Shaftshop: 30% Damage Reduction, boost to life and massive boost to Defence against Missles (only useful when moving) make this a viable choice if combined with other damage reduction gear such as Stormshield and Verdungo's Hearty Cord.

Helm: Arreat's Face. No exceptions.

Shield: Nearly mandatory for some varieties of this build. Note that if you do use a shield for blocking, make sure to increase both blocking and Faster Block Rate - it's more dangerous to have 75% blocking if it takes you 7 frames to block, than to have 0% blocking (no shield) if it takes you 5 frames to recover from hits. Not using a shield frees up stat points for vitality; since hit recovery only triggers if the damage dealt is larger than a particular percent of your life, you may prefer to accept small amounts of damage that won't put you into hit recovery than to sacrifice 7 frames to block it. Stormshield is the best choice, or go with Phoenix for more damage.

Gloves: Steelrend for more damage, Soul Drainer for dual leech, Dracul's Grasp for the leech, strength and Life Tap. Note that neither leech nor life tap work with Berserk itself; you'll only use it when you either Whirlwind or Concentrate.

Boots: Gore Rider, Sandstorm Trek, or War Traveler.

Belt: Verdungo's. String of Ears and Thundergod's Vigor are alternatives.

Amulet: Highlord's Wrath for more attack speed and the Deadly Strike option; Mara's for more skills/resists. For dexterity-less non-shielded builds, prioritize a rare amulet with good AR boosts.

Rings: Dual Bul-Kathos rings or just one with a Raven Frost. For dexterity-less non-shielded builds, prioritize a rare ring with good Attack Rating boosts.

Tips and Tricks[]

  • Berserk will kill nearly everything in fewer than three hits, even on Hell. With max-blocking or War Cry/Howl, it's pretty much impossible to hit a Berserker even if he has no defense.
  • Whirlwind through things to leech because Berserk doesn't leech at all (it's magic damage).
  • Whirlwind will also whip through enemies when there are so many that you can't kill one at a time.
  • Stack your Crushing Blow, Critical Strike and Open Wound mods.
  • Remember to avoid moving too much while the defense-reduction duration is active if you are shielded. Non-shielded won't care either way, as your defense is already 0 and you don't block anyway.

Boss Farming[]

  • With a level 20 Howl you can farm Diablo himself. Run through the River and the Sanctuary, howling away non-bosses. Open the seals, howl away the minions, and kill the superuniques. When the 3 main superuniques are dead and the 5 seals are opened, Diablo will helpfully kill all non-bosses in the sanctuary for you.
  • You can also farm Nilathak in Hell with a level 20 Howl, Run through the Halls, howling away non-bosses. On reaching Halls of Vaught, make sure to not kill anyone (no matter how provoking) and howl them away - wielding pathetic dual +3 Warcry swords is recommended. Nilathak is nothing without corpse explosion.
  • Similar techniques for Pindleskin and Shenk, who are usually surrounded by legions of minions, which are easily scared off by level 20 Howl.

Player vs. Player[]

Berserk can one-hit-kill players, also, as resistance against magic damage is extremely difficult to acquire. Just don't try to duel using a non-shielded variety as Howl doesn't work on players. If you're using Enigma, teleport close to your enemy and let loose. Generally stay away from Hammerdins because they deal in high magic damage as well. However, if your attack rating is high enough, you can teleport as close as possible to a casting Hammerdin and wipe him out with one shot before he manages to kill you.