Whirlwind Barbarian Challenge Rift Guide

Introduction

The Undying Barbarian crushes Challenge Rifts when assembled properly and is a sought after teammate for group pushes. It combines great damage and pulling ability from Whirlwind together with insane survivability from Undying Rage. This build guide shows an optimal setup for both Solo and Group play so you can claim the best rewards at the end of each Season. Let's see below how you can reach Rank 1 on your own, and how you can bring the most to your team!

This build guide assumes you have a Character at Level 60. Check out the Barbarian 1-60 Leveling Guide and Complete Leveling Guide if you're not there yet!

Cheat Death ✔
Good Pull Ability
Many Crowd Control Options
Several Amazing Group Buffs

❌ Melee Range
Takes Damage Constantly
Low Single Target Damage
❌ Can't Whirlwind Constantly


Class Challenge Rift Builds

Solo Challenge Rifts

Frenzy (Primary) - This hits hard on a single target and increases your Attack Speed. Use this on any tough Elites you come across and on the Rift Guardian.

Undying Rage - Once this pops you know you have a limited amount of time to finish your slaying or get out of there before it wears off. If enough enemies are around, you can likely heal to full health while this is up, making you very hard to deal with.

Whirlwind - Is your main skill for damage. Two items equipped give it a large radius and make it suck in enemies.

Wrath of the Berserker - Great buff for solo play, giving you movement speed as well as Critical Hit Chance with Broken Soul.

Hammer of the Ancients - Only use when you have The Remembered (Battle Pass reward) else use Furious Charge. The Spirit of the Ancients helps with single target DPS and makes keeping your massacre bonus an easy task as the spirit constantly hits enemies. Can also be used to stun.

There isn't a recommended Legs Legendary Item, use any item you have.

Grace of the Flagellant is the best PvE Set for Barbarians by far! You use Whirlwind as your main skill and deal loads of continual damage to enemies!

Charm Priority: 1. Whirlwind 2. Frenzy 3. Hammer of the Ancients 4. Wrath of the Berserker 5. Undying Rage

Gameplay

  1. Start by gathering a group of enemies by moving around and tapping Whirlwind to pull them.
  2. Send down your Spirit of the Ancients a large pull to stun them.
  3. Now use Wrath of the Berserker and get close enough to start shredding them with Whirlwind.
  4. If Undying Rage procs use it to heal back to full HP and use potentially dropped Health Globes.
  5. As Whirlwind depletes, run out and send yourself straight through the pack. If needed, do it again or drag the damaged monsters along slowly while keeping them engaged.
  6. As Whirlwind, Undying Rage and Spirit of the Ancients are coming back you can use it to start damaging them again.
  7. If there's a lot of enemies alive, continue to kite them to new enemies as you prepare to do the same rotation again.
  8. For the Boss try to keep one Spirit of the Ancients up at all times for a distraction and spam Frenzy. If the boss spawns enemies, use Whirlwind to take them out. Activate Wrath of the Berserker as often as you can and synchronize it with Frenzy ultimate to maximize your damage out.

Alternative Setups

There are a few changes you can make depending on your preferred playstyle:

  • There are many different setups that can find great success within Challenge Rifts, this is just one example of a balanced build you can make. The key is to have diversity in your skills and make sure you're prepared to deliver AoE and Single Target DPS.
  • Need better damage on the Boss? Throw on Cleave instead of Whirlwind and make em bleed while you Lacerate or Frenzy.
  • You should never feel locked into a skill set or playstyle, as there are many combinations that are very powerful!
  • When doing these in a group you can utilize Crowd Control while still bringing decent damage. Try out Group Stomp and Demoralize with Bestial Threat, to pin monsters down constantly while your team decimates them.
Group Challenge Rifts

Lacerate (Primary) - This hits hard on a single target and heals you a bit as well. Use this on any tough Elites you come across that survive your initial onslaught.

Undying Rage - Once this pops you know you have a limited amount of time to finish your slaying or get out of there before it wears off. If enough enemies are around, you can likely heal to full health while this is up, making you very hard to deal with.

Whirlwind - Is your main skill for damage. Two items equipped give it a large radius and make it suck in enemies.

Demoralize - This skill matched with the Battlemaster's Helm gives everyone in the party a 25% damage buff. Communicate the timing of this strong buff with your teammates when playing in a group!

Hammer of the Ancients - Only use when you have The Remembered (Battle Pass reward) else use Furious Charge. The Spirit of the Ancients helps with single target DPS and makes keeping your massacre bonus an easy task as the spirit constantly hits enemies. Can also be used to stun.

There isn't a recommended Legs Legendary Item, use any item you have.

Grace of the Flagellant is the best PvE Set for Barbarians by far! You use Whirlwind as your main skill and deal loads of continual damage to enemies!

Charm Priority: 1. Whirlwind 2. Lacerate 3. Hammer of the Ancients 4. Demoralize 5. Undying Rage

Alternative Setups

There are a few changes you can make depending on your preferred playstyle:

  • There are many different setups that can find great success within Challenge Rifts, this is just one example of a balanced build you can make. The key is to have diversity in your skills and make sure you're prepared to deliver AoE and Single Target DPS.
  • Need better damage on the Boss? Throw on Cleave instead of Whirlwind and make em bleed while you Lacerate
  • You should never feel locked into a skill set or playstyle, as there are many combinations that are very powerful!
  • When doing these in a group you can utilize Crowd Control while still bringing decent damage. Try out Group Stomp and Demoralize with Bestial Threat, to pin monsters down constantly while your team decimates them.

Gameplay

  1. Start by gathering a group of enemies by moving around and tapping Whirlwind to pull them.
  2. Send down your Spirit of the Ancients a large pull to stun them.
  3. Get close enough to start grouping them with Whirlwind.
  4. Use Demoralize to increase your and your parties damage.
  5. If Undying Rage procs use it to heal back to full HP and use potentially dropped Health Globes.
  6. As Whirlwind depletes, run out and send yourself straight through the pack. If needed, do it again or drag the damaged monsters along slowly while keeping them engaged.
  7. As Whirlwind, Undying Rage and Spirit of the Ancients are coming back you can use it to start damaging them again.
  8. If there's a lot of enemies alive, continue to kite them to new enemies as you prepare to do the same rotation again.
  9. For the Boss try to keep one Spirit of the Ancients up at all times for a distraction and spam Lacerate to heal yourself and tank the boss for your team while they shred him from far away. If the boss spawns enemies, use Whirlwind to take them out. Activate Wrath of the Berserker as often as you can and synchronize it with Frenzy ultimate to maximize your damage out.

Check out our Set Item, Equipment and Challenge Rift guides for more information.


Challenge Rift Tips

Use a build for Challenge Rifts that specializes in clearing groups of enemies and killing Rift Guardians. Bosses can take multiple minutes to kill at high levels. You need enough single target damage to kill them in time. Frenzy in combination with Vengeance Stone Family Bonus are important for dealing additional damage while your other skills are on cooldown. Fervant Fang further helps as one of the best Legendary Gems for single target damage.


Legendary and Normal Gems

Legendary Gems provide incredible attribute bonuses and unique effects. They are found as a reward after completing an Elder Rift that is enhanced with a Legendary Crest. Many of them are also crafted using Runes and Platinum at the Jeweler in Westmarch.

Read our Legendary Gems Guide for more information.

Starter Legendary Gems
  1. Trickshot Gem allows you to channel Whirlwind longer, especially when ranked up and awakened! This is the best 1 star Legendary Gem for a Whirlwind Barbarian!
  2. Everlasting Torment deals incredible damage over time after a Critical Hit. For a simple 1 star Legendary Gem, it packs a punch.
  3. Fervant Fang does fantastic single target damage. It can easily be acquired from the Battle Pass without relying on luck from crests.
  4. Berserker's Eye provides increased damage at the cost of taking more damage. This tradeoff works well for this build.
  5. Lightning Core does direct damage to an enemy group, often wiping them out in the process. While the damage is infrequent, it's useful for taking down larger targets.
  6. Chained Death gives a solid damage boost, especially in AoE situations.
Best in Slot Legendary Gems
  1. Blood-Soaked Jade is the best Legendary Gem in the game. It provides massive damage and movement speed, which is perfect for our Undying Barbarian Challenge Rift Build.
  2. Seeping Bile has poison that is devastating in large densities, like Elder and Challenge Rifts. When shredding through enemies with Whirlwind, you'll get so many hits in quick succession that this Gem procs all over the place!
  3. Blessing of the Worthy is amazing because you're constantly in melee range of enemies. Any damage taken activates devastating damage every 15 seconds, obliterating anything nearby.
  4. Phoenix Ashes gives a cheat death that increases in effectiveness as you rank this gem up. There might be unpredictable interactions between this Gem and Undying Rage, so we have to see how it performs with more testing.
  5. Bottled Hope provides great damage and movement speed. It can be triggered easily by using Sprint, Wrath of the Berserker or Undying Rage.
  6. Chip of Stone Flesh increases your damage sigificantly and can proc from any hard cc like your stun from the Hammer of the Ancients + The Remembered combination.

Normal Gems

  1. Tourmaline is better than Ruby, since Damage is better than Life.
  2. Sapphire is better than Aquamarine, since Armor Penetration (Critical Hit Damage) is better than Armor.
  3. Citrine is equal to Topaz, since both Potency and All Resistance are underwhelming stats. Simply use the highest leveled Yellow Gems you've obtained.

Attribute Priorities

Primary Attributes

The Barbarian's main Primary Attribute is Strength, giving +0.3 Damage per point. All other things equal, use gear with Strength to maximize the damage you deal. Fortitude is also important early on because it gives you Armor Penetration (Critical Hit Damage), but becomes less important later due to diminishing returns.

The Barbarian's worst Primary Attribute is Intelligence because it only gives +1 Combat Rating. If possible, don't use it.

  1. Strength +1 Combat Rating and +0.3 Damage.
  2. Fortitude +1 ORDR, +0.1 Armor, and +0.1 Armor Penetration. Armor increases your chance to Block, which mitigates 20% of incoming damage. This is a nice defensive boost, especially when pushing Challenge Rifts or Helliquary bosses. Armor Penetration gives Critical Hit Damage, which is nice if you already have a high Critical Hit Chance.
  3. Vitality +1 ORDR and +3 Life. It never hurts to have more life, especially for end game pushes and PvP. Vitality is the best attribute after the damage-dealing ones.
  4. Willpower +1 ORDR, +0.1 Potency, and +0.1 Resistance. Potency increases the duration of harmful effects on enemies, while Resistance lowers the duration of harmful effects on you from enemies. Willpower may play a larger role in the future, but currently it is never prioritized.
  5. Intelligence +1 ORDR. Gives nothing extra and is therefore the worst attribute.

Check out our Attributes Mechanics Guide for more information.

Special Attributes

Because the total amount of primary attributes is so important, you rarely prioritize special attributes on gear. Still, several special attributes can make a difference, here are some of the best ones you can find:

  1. Critical Hit Chance to proc Everlasting Torment attack speed effect at Rank 6.
  2. Beneficiary Effect Duration to boost uptime of Sprint and Wrath of the Berserker.
  3. Critical Hit Damage to increase damage.

Check out our full Attribute and Magic Affix Guide and Upgrading and Reforging Guide for more information.

Bonus Attributes, Family Bonus, and Reforging

Family bonuses are hard to change so picking a powerful option is important. Here are some of the best Family Bonuses available for the Barbarian:

  1. The Vengeance Stone Family Bonus is a great option for the extra single target damage. Focus on the Attack Speed rolls here for even more overall DPS and Vengeance Stone procs.
  2. The Wildfire Stone Family Bonus rolls Critical Hit Damage, which is a powerful stat that also synergizes well with Everlasting Torment. The Hydra can soak incoming damage by distracting enemies but its damage is a bit underwhelming.

For more details, see our Upgrading and Reforging Guide.


Awakening

Focus on Awakening your gear with 1 star Gems at first (Trickshot Gem, Berserker’s Eye, Everlasting Torment etc.). Most item slots provide great benefits for a Barbarian, with the exception of the Off-Hand. We recommend Awakening your items in this order:

1. Main-Hand

  • Eager Maelstrom - Whirlwind energy consumed 10% slower
  • Stonefall - Hammer of the Ancients damage increased by 10%.

2. Chest

  • The Gathering - Whirlwind energy consumed 10% slower.
  • Davin's Legacy - Hammer of the Ancients damage increased by 10%.

3. Shoulders

  • The Coming Storm - Wrath of the Berserker cooldown further decreased by 10%.
  • Broken Grasp - Sprint Cooldown decreased by 10%.
  • Ydama's Cyclone - Whirlwind energy consumed 10% slower.

4. Head

  • Second Breath - Sprint cooldown decreased by 10%.
  • Battlemaster's Helm- Demoralize cooldown decreased by 10%.

5. Legs

  • Swiftwing - Sprint cooldown decreased by 10%.
  • Screaming Fury - Furious Charge cooldown decreased by 10%.
  • Determination - Furious Charge cooldown decreased by 10%.

6. Off-Hand

  • We do not recommend awakening your Off-Hand as a Barbarian, since all the Awakened effects are bad.

Check out our Awakening Guide for more information.


Paragon

For Paragon Points, always prioritize Damage and Life. Remember to activate the Paragon Tree that you want to use. Vanquisher is the best for damage, and Treasure Hunter can be used for a small Experience boost. Avoid activating the Gladiator Tree since its active nodes only work in PvP.

Note: This path is used for all PvE content, but is subject to change on launch as we achieve higher Paragon and see the finalized trees.

Have a look at our Barbarian PvP Guide to see the PvP focused path.

Use the Slider to see Paragon progression

Once you hit Paragon 150 respec your Paragon Points so you can utilize the more powerful Mastermind tree. Remember to activate the Paragon Tree! From here continue to pick up Life and Damage nodes in the other Paragon Trees.

With this setup you can also activate the Gladiator tree when you PvP. Once you have Mastermind filled in and active you can prioritize picking up the Gladiator tree sooner or later, depending on how much PvP you plan to do.

Use the Slider to see Paragon 150-200 progression

Check out our Paragon Guide for more information.


Video Guide


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Summary

  • Dominate Challenge Rifts, solo or in a group using these builds.
  • Create huge pulls & annihilate everything with Whirlwind.
  • Equip The Gathering, The Remembered, Second Breath, Eager Maelstrom and the Grace of the Flagellant for maximum power.
  • For the Group build stun monsters with The Remembered + Hammer of the Ancients and use Demoralize + Battlemaster's Helm to increase party DPS.
  • Rank up Normal and Legendary Gems for huge bonuses while hunting for a Wildfire Stone Family Bonus.
  • Awaken gear slots to boost your Sprint and Whirlwind to another level.
  • Accumulate Paragon and invest in all the Damage nodes you can find while picking up key active nodes.

Credits

Written by Rob
Contributions by Facefoot
Reviewed by Raxxanterax


Changelog

May 9th 2022
Published Guide

Jun 12th 2022
Adjusted Legendary Gem Section