Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian Endgame Build Guide

Last Updated: August 26th 2023

Season 1 - Malignant

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Welcome to the Diablo 4 Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian Endgame Build Guide! This is a fan-favorite skill that returns to the franchise for Barbarians. While HOTA naturally has a small AOE, we solve this by using Offensive Aspect of Ancestral Force (and don't worry if you can't find it, you can always imprint it from the Codex of Power). It does tremendous AOE damage for a relatively cheap cost.

To support Hammer of the Ancients we take a lot of the standard tools for the endgame. Lunging Strike is used to keep our Fury up and give our bonks more power with the help of Aspect of the Expectant and Limitless Rage. Ground Stomp does what you can imagine - it stomps the ground and topples or Stuns all enemies unlucky enough to be inside its impact zone.

We also load up on all three Shouts: Rallying Cry for Unstoppable, Fury generation and movement, War Cry for Berserking and extra damage, and Challenging Shout for the damage reduction.

With all this at our disposal, it's time to pull out the giant hammer and send these minions back to hell. Let's get started!

HOTA Barb Endgame Gear

Ground Stomp

Rallying Cry

War Cry

Challenging Shout

Hammer of the Ancients

Lunging Strike

Two-Handed Mace Expertise

Two-Handed Axe Expertise

This build guide assumes you have a Level 50 Character and finished the Campaign. Level up with our Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian Leveling Guide. If you are looking for a different Barbarian playstyle, check out all of our Barbarian Guides

Big Smash
All Content Viable
Manageable Fury Costs
Becomes Functional Early

Melee Range
Mediocre Single Target
Low Damage at Low Fury
Must Use Bludgeoning Weapon

Season 1 - The Malignant

Players on the Eternal Realm should ignore this section of the guide. This build is designed to work without Caged Hearts, though it can be enhanced by them.

Diablo 4 Season 1 introduces a new questline to hunt Malignant Monsters across Sanctuary. Defeating them drops Caged Hearts that are placed in Jewelry infested sockets to gain build-altering powers. Check out the full Season 1 The Malignant guide from Chewingnom to learn more!

  • There are 32 Caged Hearts divided into 4 different colors, 1 color for each type:
  • There are 32 Caged Hearts divided into 4 different colors, 1 color for each type:
    • Vicious: Orange, Offensive Power
    • Brutal: Blue, Defensive Power
    • Devious: Pink, Utility Power
    • Wrathful: Black, Super
  • The first 3 must be socketed into their respective infested socket color, while the 4th can be placed into any infested socket.
  • Once socketed, they cannot be removed. Instead they can be broken down into Invokers to target farm the Caged Hearts you want inside Malignant Tunnels.
  • Higher powered Caged Hearts drop at higher levels.
  • The first 3 must be socketed into their respective infested socket color, while the 4th can be placed into any infested socket.
  • Once socketed, they cannot be removed. Instead they can be broken down into Invokers to target farm the Caged Hearts you want inside Malignant Tunnels.
  • Higher powered Caged Hearts drop at higher levels.

With this in mind, let's look at the top 3 best Caged Hearts (and alternatives) for this build:

Best-in-Slot Caged Hearts

  1. Caged Heart of Focused Rage (Vicious, Offensive): After spending 100-60 Fury within 2 seconds, your next Non-Basic Skill's Critical Strike Chance is increased by 20-30%.
  2. Caged Heart of Revenge (Brutal, Defensive-World Tier III): 10-20% of incoming damage is instead suppressed. When you use a Defensive, Subterfuge or a Macabre skill, all suppressed damage is amplified by 250% and explodes, dealing up to 1360-2040 Fire damage to Nearby enemies.
  3. Caged Heart of The Barber (Wrathful, Super-World Tier III): Critical Strikes and all subsequent damage within 2.0-4.0 seconds is absorbed by your target. Then, the absorbed damage erupts onto surrounding enemies. Stored damage is increased by 10% per second.

Alternative Caged Hearts

  • Caged Heart of the Dark Dance (Vicious, Offensive-World Tier III): Every 5 seconds while above 60% Life, Core Skills cost 68-51 Life instead of your Primary Resource. Skills that consume Life deal 10-20% increased damage.
  • Caged Heart of Ignoring Pain (Wrathful, Super-World Tier IV): Incoming damage has a 5-15% chance of being ignored and instead Healing you for 17-68.

Skill Tree

Active Skills
Passive Skills

Active Skills

  • Lunging Strike is our Fury generator of choice and a means of utilizing Aspect of the Expectant.
  • Hammer of the Ancients is a heavy hitting Core skill with a fairly low Fury cost. It shines when combined with Enhanced Hammer of the Ancients to regain Fury, and Furious Hammer of the Ancients for even more deadly attacks at full resources. The Offensive Aspect of Ancestral Force transforms this skill into an omni-directional shockwave that blasts most of the room to pieces.
  • Ground Stomp is used to shake the floor beneath us and cause all enemies in the immediate area to either be Knocked Down or Stunned. It's a great defensive tool since enemies affected by it cannot do anything until they recover, and also an offensive one as it allows us to capitalize on Stun-related damage sources such as Aspect of Retribution.
  • Rallying Cry is one of our Shouts that boosts Movement Speed and Fury generation for the whole party. Movement Speed improves your positioning to hit as many monsters as possible with Hammer of the Ancients to gain even more Fury.
  • Challenging Shout is one of our main defensive buffs that also regenerates Fury when we get hit. This is very powerful as we are in melee range all the time and spend Fury while smashing with Hammer of the Ancients.
  • War Cry gives our party a decent multiplicative damage buff, and grants us Fortify and Berserking for even more defense and Movement Speed.
Final Skill Tree

Arsenal System

The Arsenal System allows us to use a specific weapon for every attack skill, with each weapon granting different bonuses. We also have what is called the Technique Slot. With this, we can use any weapon of our choosing to always reap the benefit from, regardless of which weapon we have equipped.

The Two-Handed Mace is our main (and only) weapon of choice, since Hammer of the Ancients requires a Two-Handed Bludgeoning Weapon. While the Critical Strike Damage multiplier offered by its Arsenal bonus might seem highly situational at first glance, we are built to take advantage of it more often than not, since we are constantly afflicting our enemies with Stun and Vulnerable effects through multiple sources.

In the Technique Slot, the Two-Handed Axe further allows us to capitalize on this by increased our damage to Vulnerable enemies. Unfortunately, its secondary effect does not apply here - the limitation of the Technique Slot is that it does not allow us to benefit from the second bonus that is normally gained from reaching rank 10 with any weapon expertise.

Learn more details and how to unlock this class specification in our full Arsenal System Guide.

Paragon Board

Level the Paragon Board by scrolling. Each step optimizes progression.


We need to level up our Glyphs to activate their Additional Bonus with surrounding nodes. For some Glyphs, we max our bonuses by allocating every relevant node in range, while on others we take the minimum required for the Additional Bonus only. Because Glyphs at level 15 increase their radius, we need to prioritize leveling them by completing Nightmare Dungeons. After that, we prioritize leveling our strongest glyphs to level 21.

Glyph Leveling Priorities

Level 15

  1. Wrath
  2. Exploit
  3. Territorial
  4. Imbiber
  5. Undaunted
  6. Marshal

Level 21

  1. Wrath
  2. Exploit
  3. Imbiber
  4. Territorial
  5. Undaunted
  6. Marshal

Optional Glyphs

This Glyph is used in an optional setup that is better designed for high level Nightmare Dungeons.

  • Might

There are a total of 225 Paragon Points. Starting with level 50 you gain 4 Paragon Points per level, plus 20 from Renown, and 4 from Altars of Lilith.


This is a full melee playstyle. We are always toe-to-toe with our foes with no great way to deal ranged damage (unless you count the very outside of the shockwave). The gameplay loop is generally as follows:

  • Use Challenging Shout, War Cry, and Rallying Cry. This is the preferred order, since it allows Challenging Shout to come off cooldown first thanks to Bold Chieftain's Aspect. This is important because it is one of our best sources of damage reduction.

  • Approach enemies with Lunging Strike to both generate Fury (for Limitless Rage, and to stack the Core Skill damage buff gained from Aspect of the Expectant).

  • Use Ground Stomp to incapacitate as many enemies as possible. The area of effect of this skill is rather small and does require some good positioning to get the most out of it. Enemies that are close to the very center of the impact will be Knocked Down, while the rest are Stunned. Ideally we want the ladder result, so against Elites especially, it's important to aim off-center to them to try and ensure they are put under this status.

  • Now it's time to smash your enemies with Hammer of the Ancients. To maximize your damage try to hit as many monsters as possible with the help of Aspect of Ancestral Force, and keep your Fury up for the full effect of Edgemaster’s and Furious Hammer of the Ancients.

Resource & Cooldown Management

In order to play this build effectively, attention is required in overcoming our Fury-spending issue, which can be a massive drawback early on. The use of Unbridled Rage makes this problem even more severe. Here's what we do to help it:

  • Use Tactical Rallying Cry. This is one of our main sources of Fury regeneration and we make sure this is active during any major fight.
  • Fury Cost Reduction on gear. We prioritize this on our Boots and Amulet.
  • Resource Generation on our Rings. While damage stats are always more appealing, they mean nothing if we can't cast our skills.
  • Aspect of Echoing Fury grants us up to 4 Fury per second while we have one Shout active, and 12 if all of our Shouts are active.
  • Lunging Strike acts as a Fury generator when used.
  • The Two-Handed Mace Expertise inherently gives us a chance to gain Fury on hit. It's not exactly reliable, but it's there.

Reductions to our Cooldowns (Shouts) are equally as important. Without ways to drastically mitigate their downtime, the build becomes weaker, slower, clunky, and unfun. We solve this by doing the following:

  • Rolling Cooldown Reduction wherever we can get it. In our case, the Helm slot as well as the Amulet.
  • Imprinting the Bold Chieftain's Aspect - this is a major obstacle unless we're lucky, since it is quite rare to find. It saves us up to 6 seconds on each of our Shouts under ideal circumstances, and is pretty much required to make the build feel smooth. Acquiring this should actively be one of our first priorities.
  • The Marshal Glyph.

Endgame Gear & Skill Progression

When you start diving into the Endgame, you don't have all the tools available to achieve the final build versions. Let us guide you through different progression points to give you a smooth transition from our Leveling Guides to the final build version.

Progression Goals

Many of our Skill choices depend on what Legendary Aspects and Unique items are available to us. While we can guarantee that everyone has access to the same Codex of Power Aspects, the progression might be different for everyone!

  1. Unlock the following Aspects in your Codex of Power:
  2. Find the following Legendary Aspects by farming in Dungeons, Nightmare Dungeons, Helltides, through the Tree of Whispers, or gambling with Obols:
    • Bold Chieftain's: Gamble Rings
      • During Season 1, this can be obtained by completing Chapter 2 of the Season Journey.
    • Exploiter's: Gamble Boots
    • Limitless Rage: Gamble One-Handed Weapons
    • Smiting Aspect: Gamble One-Handed Weapons
  3. Find the following Unique items by farming in Dungeons, Nightmare Dungeons, Helltides. Note: You cannot gamble Unique items with Obols!
    • Temerity

Learn more details and how to farm Legendary Aspects and Uniques in our General Farming Guide.

Progression Setups

Early Endgame
Late Endgame

Once you have completed the leveling guide, only the Codex of Power Aspects are guaranteed. With this setup you can farm the Legendary Aspects and Unique items you need for the next progression point.

Upon finishing the leveling process and approaching the endgame grind, many of the Aspects we use are already available to us from the Codex of Power. There is no reason we shouldn't put them to immediate use, since they can be imprinted as often as needed as we upgrade our gear. We'll start by doing the following:


Helm, Pants, Armor

  • Might
  • Numbing Wrath
  • Protector

Gloves, One-Handed Weapons

  • Ancestral Force
  • Expectant
  • Rapid

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Edgemaster’s
  • Retribution


  • Ghostwalker


  • Disobedience


  • Echoing Fury
  • Unrelenting Fury

This gives us a functional build to begin farming with. Some Fury issues might be present early on until we find the required gear to solve them, but Hammer of the Ancients generally is less demanding here in comparison to other Core Skills.

Starter Gear


The preliminary version of our build makes a few changes to the skill tree to compensate for our lack of gear and to help ease early game struggles. Specifically:

  • We max out Rallying Cry to get as much Fury regeneration out of it as we can.
  • Points are taken in Guttural Yell to make all of our shouts a source of damage reduction.
  • Wrath of the Berserker is taken for tougher fights and grants us even more Fury regeneration, along with some other strong buffs such as Unstoppable and Berserking (with an increase to its damage bonus, as well).

Optional Considerations:

  • Call of the Ancients can be used instead of Wrath of the Berserker early on if we are really struggling for single target damage.
Starter Skill Tree


The only thing that changes in the early stages of the build is that we have access to an Ultimate Skill in Wrath of the Berserker (or Call of the Ancients if that is preferred). We reserve these skills for situations where they are really needed, and don't just use them every time they are off cooldown. Fights with many strong Elites or Boss fights in particular are where they shine.

Build Scaling & Stat Priorities

The answer to many questions can be found in the following section.

Build Scaling

Learn all you need to know about how to scale this build in the endgame.


Weapon Damage:

  • We're looking for the highest DPS Two-Handed Mace we can find. This is where our base damage is calculated off of and has tremendous implications for our overall damage. The other weapons are just stat sticks, so take them for their affixes and NOT for their damage.

Fury and Cooldown Reduction:

  • With the Unbridled Rage passive (which is a huge multiplier to our damage), Hammer of the Ancients has a higher rate of Fury consumption than normal. In order to be able to use this skill efficiently, we need to put some effort into maintaining its regeneration. One main source of this is the Aspect of Echoing Fury in combination with our Shouts. To have our Shouts (and Fury generation) up as much as possible, we invest into Cooldown Reduction which is further bolstered by the Bold Chieftain's Aspect and Marshal.
  • Cooldown Reduction is available on Helm and Amulet.
  • Resource Generation is available on Rings.
  • Fury Cost Reduction is available on Boots and Amulet.
  • Prolific Fury gives us a separate multiplier to our Fury generation.

Critical Strike Chance and Damage:

  • Critical Strike Chance is a priority roll on Gloves and Rings.
  • We have many sources of Critical Strike Damage. All rolls on our weapons apply to us even if we are not using them, including the Royal Emeralds socketed within. For this reason, Swords are ideal for these slots since they naturally roll with a Critical Strike Damage implicit.
  • Heavy Handed and the Two-Handed Mace Expertise are separate multipliers to our Critical Strike Damage.
  • The Wrath Glyph.

Vulnerable Damage:

  • The window in which enemies are Vulnerable is generally when we deal the most damage, because this effect acts as its own separate damage multiplier. We can increase this multiplier drastically through gear and the passive tree.
  • The Two-Handed Axe Expertise is another multiplier to our Vulnerable damage.
  • Exploit allows us to inflict Vulnerable whenever we initiate combat, and is our main source of application. However, once its duration ends, we have to wait quite a while for its effect to activate again.

Damage from Stuns:

  • Aspect of Retribution
  • Wallop
  • Two-Handed Mace Expertise

This build benefits heavily from inflicting Stun, and we aim to do so as often as we can with help from Concussion and Ground Stomp.

Aspect of Ancestral Force:

  • This Aspect causes our Hammer of the Ancients to produce a shockwave on impact, dealing a percentage of its damage to enemies within its radius.

Limitless Rage and Edgemaster’s:

  • These Aspects are damage multipliers that significantly increase their effectiveness when we are capped or overcapped on Fury, another reason why our resource management becomes so important.

Conceited Aspect and Temerity:

  • The Barrier produced by this Unique item allows us to gain an extra damage multiplier when used in combination with the Conceited Aspect.

Our Damage Explained article explains how to scale your Offense.
Learn all you need to know to scale Defense with our Defense Explained Article.

Stat Priorities & Gear Options

There are many stats and status effects that generate on gear, but many are not important for your build. See below for a general breakdown as well as a per slot priority list in the list.

Put in the following Gems into your gear:

  • Royal Sapphires in Helm, Chest Armor, and Pants.
  • Royal Skulls in Jewelry.
  • Royal Emeralds in all weapon slots.

This build benefits a lot from the following Consumables:

  • Elixirs: Iron Skin Elixir, Elixir of Resourcefulness, Elixir of Fortitude, Precision Elixir, Elixir of Savagery, Elixir of Combatant Fortune
  • Incenses: Song of the Mountain or Reddamine Buzz

Refer to the table below to see the best rolls for every slot ranked in order of importance:

Bludgeoning Weapon

One of:
Limitless Rage
1. High Damage per Second
2. Vulnerable Damage
3. Critical Strike Damage
4. Strength
5. Damage to Close Enemies
6. All Stats
7. Damage with Core Skills
Dual Wield
Weapon 1
One of:
Ancestral Force
1. Vulnerable Damage
2. Critical Strike Damage
3. All Stats
4. Damage to Close Enemies
5. Strength
6. Damage with Core Skills
Dual Wield
Weapon 2
One of:
Ancestral Force
1. Vulnerable Damage
2. Critical Strike Damage
3. All Stats
4. Damage to Close Enemies
5. Strength
6. Damage with Core Skills
Slashing Weapon
One of:
Limitless Rage
1. Vulnerable Damage
2. Critical Strike Damage
3. Strength
4. Damage to Close Enemies
5. All Stats
6. Damage with Core Skills
HelmOne of:
Numbing Wrath
Relentless Berserker's Aspect
1. Cooldown Reduction
2. % Total Armor
3. Maximum Fury
4. Maximum Life
5. Strength
6. All Stats
7. Crowd Control Duration
ChestOne of:
Numbing Wrath
Relentless Berserker's Aspect
1. % Total Armor
2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
3. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
4. + Ranks of Challenging Shout
5. Damage Reduction
6. Damage Reduction from Distant Enemies
7. Maximum Life
GlovesOne of:
1. + Ranks of Hammer of the Ancients
2. Critical Strike Chance
3. Lucky Hit Chance
4. Attack Speed
Temerity1. Barrier %
2. All Stats
3. Healing Received
4. Lucky Hit: Up to a 5% Chance to Heal Life
5. Potion Drop Rate
Might1. % Total Armor
2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
3. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
4. Damage Reduction while Injured
5. Damage Reduction
6. Maximum Life
7. Damage Reduction from Distant Enemies
Boots Ghostwalker1. Movement Speed
2. Fury Cost Reduction
3. Berserking Duration
4. Strength
5. All Stats
6. Damage Reduction while Injured
7. Movement Speed for 4 Seconds After Killing an Elite
AmuletEdgemaster’s1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Fury Cost Reduction
3. + Ranks of the Counteroffensive Passive
4. Movement Speed
5. + Ranks of the Wallop Passive
6. + Ranks of theHeavy Handed
RingsBold Chieftain's
Echoing Fury
1. Vulnerable Damage
2. Critical Strike Chance
3. Resource Generation
4. Maximum Fury
5. Critical Strike Damage
6. Damage to Close Enemies

Hardcore Adjustments

  • We can opt for more defensive oriented passives, such as Imposing Presence , Martial Vigor, and Aggressive Resistance. These can replace Heavy Handed, Wallop, Counteroffensive , etc.
  • Prioritize more defensive rolls on gear, such as Maximum Life on Rings.

Level 100 Endgame Variants

You can optimize your build further for certain endgame activities, such as Speedfarming, Nightmare Dungeon Pushing, etc. Let's take a look at the changes we need to make to achieve the best results in them.

Nightmare Dungeon Push

The Speedfarming setup makes you more efficient in farming the Open World, Helltide zones, Tree of Whispers, regular Dungeons, and Nightmare Dungeons below Tier 50.

Our optimized endgame build is already pretty well-suited for speedfarming most content, but if more speed is desired and losing some damage or utility isn't too much of a hindrance, there are some small adjustments we can make. The gameplay loop doesn't change, we're just trying to speed it up.


This is our main setup so no gear changes are required. For a more defensive setup, do the following:

  • Replace Temerity with a defensive Pants piece, focusing on Damage Reduction rolls and Berserking Duration.
  • Replace Conceited with Retribution.
  • Put Earthquake Aspect in the slot where Retribution was moved from.
Speedfarming Gear

Skill Tree

Our skills don't need to be changed at all here. To fit certain playstyles, some changes can be made though to give the build a little more defense:

  • Two points from Rallying Cry can be allocated elsewhere, and so can points from Counteroffensive or Heavy Handed.
  • The defensive passives we want to take are Imposing Presence , Martial Vigor, or Defensive Stance.
Speedfarming Skill Tree


Why do I do less damage with the shockwave from Aspect of Ancestral Force now?

Why am I running out of Fury?


Barrier + Fortified + Life

Furious Hammer of the Ancients

Video Guide

Coming Soon.


The Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian is a strong melee build that controls the battlefield. It is very beginner friendly since Fury costs are much more manageable than other Core Barbarian Skills. Lunging Strike your way into battle, deliver that Earth-shaking Ground Stomp, and pretend it's the 80's as the Hammer Swings Down!

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Written by Raxxanterax, snail
Contributions and Planners by Rob2628
Reviewed by Facefoot

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