Thorns Barbarian Endgame Guide

Last Updated: December 4th 2023

Season 2 - Blood

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The Thorns Barbarian offers a unique twist on the melee-oriented playstyle that this class tends to excel at. While other Barbarians are charging into battle and ripping their foes to shreds with Whirlwind, or sending shockwaves across the ground with their Hammer of the Ancients, we take a much more relaxed approach - the strategic "do nothing" tactic.

While this is often enough to entice most enemies to foolishly and continuously impale themselves to death, there are certainly those who think they can outsmart us by simply standing their ground; even resisting the urge to give into our taunting Challenging Shout.

Well, when our words aren't enough, sometimes we need to use force. And even the toughest foes can not escape the restraints of our Steel Grasp, as we force them to either spell their own demise, or violently shred them with Frenzy until death is, in fact, the only escape.

And speaking of Frenzy... thanks to some great Unique buffs and the Vampiric Powers of Season 2, Thorns gets some very welcome assistance with single target damage utilizing this Basic Skill - the damage output may actually surprise you!

Thorns Barbarian Endgame Setup

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

DifficultyVery Low
NM DungeonsExcellent
BossingNot Great

Season 2 - Season of Blood

Completing the seasonal questline, partaking in the seasonal Blood Harvest event and collecting Potent Blood are the main ways of obtaining and empowering these abilities. Check out the full Season 2 Guide from Chewingnom to learn more! Helms & Boots can have up to 3 Pacts, Pants can have up to 4, Chests & Gloves can have up to 5 giving you 20 Pacts to empower.

Best-in-Slot Vampiric Powers

  1. Moonrise (Major)
    • Gives us Attack Speed and a large multiplicative boost to our Basic Skill Damage, as well as some Movement Speed. This heavily buffs Frenzy, and gives us the ability to take down Bosses with ease.
  2. Accursed Touch (Major)
    • A great way to spread Vampiric Curse, and keep the effects of it up permanently on Bosses.
  3. Ravenous (Minor)
    • Another massive Attack Speed bonus.
  4. Prey on the Weak (Minor)
    • One of our ways of inflicting Vulnerable with the help of our other Vampiric Power, Accursed Touch. Useful for when Exploit falls off and against Bosses.
  5. Undying (Minor)
    • Because of how fast we attack, this gives us pretty much infinite life sustain.
Thorns Barbarian Vampiric Powers

Alternative Vampiric Powers

  1. Sanguine Brace (Minor)
    • Great for keeping permanent Fortify, but may not feel necessary with Numbing Wrath.
  2. Hemomancy (Minor)
    • Periodic damage based on our life pool and some additional sustain. Great for speed content and additional area damage.
  3. Jagged Spikes (Minor)
    • This is specifically made for Thorns, giving us a whopping 4x damage multiplier whenever it activates. Redundant for most content but has some use in high tier Nightmare Dungeons.

Skill Tree & Gameplay

The Thorns Barbarian is entirely melee-focused, as one might expect. We need to be right in the middle of everything and being struck from all angles to maximize our damage.

  • Frenzy is our Basic Skill of choice for this build. It gives us a nice defensive boost constantly and is a great single target tool for anything that doesn't frequently attack us.
  • Rallying Cry gives us a large Movement Speed boost, grants us a source of Unstoppable, and offers us a form of Fury and Fortify generation.
  • War Cry gives us a decent multiplier to our damage and grants us the Berserking status, drastically increasing our offensive potential.
  • Challenging Shout is a significant form of damage reduction for us, and even increases our Thorns damage in proportion to our Maximum Life.
  • Steel Grasp is an amazing utility skill, providing us a way to group monsters, apply Vulnerable, and extend the effect of Berserking. It even offers some increased damage when used in combination with Ancients' Oath.
  • Wrath of the Berserker is mostly back up for when we don't have Berserking or Unstoppable. It's a great skill to fall back on and has good synergy with Frenzy and Tuskhelm of Joritz the Mighty, if it is used.
Thorns Endgame Skill Tree
  • The gameplay loop goes something like this:
  • Approach enemies and use War Cry, Challenging Shout and Rallying Cry.
  • Steel Grasp to grant Berserking and pull in enemies who are out of immediate range to group them up.
  • Go ham with Frenzy on the big guys as Needleflare Aspect picks off the small fries.
  • Use Wrath of the Berserker whenever there's any downtime on Berserking or Unstoppable, or "just because."
  • That's really all there is to it! Loot or watch your favorite show as everything dies around you while you hold right click.
Tier 100 Nightmare Dungeon Showcase

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.

For Thorns, we use the One-Handed Axe Expertise as our primary, since this weapon is really the only one that offers us any benefit while wielding it. Generally though, any weapon can work here if it has very well-rolled stats.

In the Technique Slot, the Two-Handed Axe gives us a multiplicative damage boost to enemies that are Vulnerable, which they often will be.

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

Resource & Cooldown Management

The great thing about Thorns is that it is very relaxed and doesn't require much attention to Fury or Cooldown maintenance. Cooldown Reduction is still desirable in order to use our Shouts more often and to get more uses of Steel Grasp, but it isn't as vital as with other builds. With that said, in the interest of making the build feel as smooth as possible, we do the following:

  • We use Frenzy as our sole Fury generator. Once it's topped off, it pretty much stays there forever.

The importance of Fury regeneration in this build mainly comes down to having a consistent way of constantly generating Fortify via Aspect of Numbing Wrath. Being capped also means more damage thanks to Ramaladni's Magnum Opus.

Reductions to our Cooldowns (Shouts) are important so that we have as much uptime on them as possible. With enough sources, we are able to be under their effects more often, which makes our gameplay feel much smoother and our character much stronger. Here's how we help solve this:

  • Rolling Cooldown Reduction wherever we can get it. In our case, the Helm slot as well as the Amulet.
  • Bold Chieftain's Aspect. This is a rare Aspect to find, but should be made a priority. It saves us up to 6 seconds on each of our Shouts under ideal circumstances and makes this build, as with most Barbarian builds, feel very smooth with the significantly increased uptime on our Shouts.
  • The Disembowel Glyph. It offers us a small chance to slightly reduce all cooldowns upon killing an enemy affected by Bleed.

Paragon Board

The endgame Paragon Board assumes that Ramaladni's Magnum Opus is used. Until it is acquired, any nodes with Maximum Fury (this goes for gear as well) can be re-allocated to nearby offensive or defensive options.

Carefully check your Paragon Boards to ensure correct board rotation. Glyphs go from a radius of 3 to 4 when they reach level 15!

← Scroll to Level →

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


We need to level up our Glyphs to increase their power and activate their Additional Bonus with surrounding nodes. Glyphs have a radius of 3 by default, this increases to 4 at Glyph level 15. Complete Nightmare Dungeons to obtain Glyph experience.

Note that there are some Glyph position swaps and a few adjustments to surrounding Paragon nodes once they reach level 15. See the last two steps in the Paragon progression above for details. The setup displayed by default is the final version of the build.

Glyph Leveling Priorities

Level 15

  1. Ire
  2. Ambidextrous
  3. Marshal
  4. Undaunted
  5. Territorial
  6. Disembowel

Level 21

  1. Ire
  2. Ambidextrous
  3. Marshal
  4. Territorial
  5. Undaunted
  6. Disembowel

Also check out our dedicated in-depth guides to learn more about Paragon Boards and Glyphs.

Endgame Progression & Variants

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

Some of your Skill Tree choices depend on what Legendary Aspects and Unique items are available to you. These are listed in priority order:

  1. Unlock the following Aspects from Dungeons:
  2. Find the following Legendary Aspects either as a random drop or by gambling with Obols:
    • Bold Chieftain's: Gamble Rings
      • Put this on a Ring you aren't likely to replace soon.
    • Burning Rage: Gamble One-Handed Weapons
      • This is optional and can be skipped entirely, but it's nice to have while we have nothing else to use. It's eventually replaced with Ramaladni's Magnum Opus.
  3. Acquire the following Unique items either as a random drop or by farming specific Boss drops.
    Note: You cannot gamble Unique items with obols!
    • Ramaladni's Magnum Opus:
      • Replaces Burning Rage. This is one of the items that is used to boost our Frenzy damage, which enables us to deal with Bosses.
    • Battle Trance:
      • Replaces Disobedience, which is moved to our Pants. This is the second item we use to give us more damage with Frenzy.
    • Razorplate:
      • Replaces Iron Blood. The signature Thorns item - it gives us an absurd amount of Thorns damage, but nothing else.
    • Ancients' Oath:
      • Replaces Death Wish, which is moved to our Gloves. Steel Grasp is used often in our gameplay rotation, and this item gives us even more of an incentive to use it by increasing our damage dealt to any enemies that it pulls.
    • Tibault's Will:
      • Optional item that can either replace Disobedience, or be used instead of Razorplate. If the latter, Disobedience is simply swapped to the newly added Chest Armor.
    • Tuskhelm of Joritz the Mighty:
      • Optional item that can replace Numbing Wrath. Use in combination with Sanguine Brace as a source of Fortify.
  4. If you're lucky enough to obtain the following Uber Uniques, they're useful for the build.
    • Doombringer:
      • This can be used instead of Edgemaster’s. It turns an already defensive build into a complete damage tank.
    • Andariel's Visage:
      • Replace Numbing Wrath and swap Undying for Sanguine Brace.

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

Progression Setups

Follow the build's gearing progression from level 50 to 100, including the changes that need to be made as you obtain Legendary Aspects and Uniques.

Early Endgame
Abattoir of Zir

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

  • Iron Blood
  • Might
  • Numbing Wrath

Gloves, One-Handed Weapons

  • Berserk Ripping
  • Inner Calm
  • Rapid

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Death Wish
  • Needleflare


  • Ghostwalker


  • Disobedience


  • Echoing Fury

This gives us a functional build to begin farming with. This starter setup aims to maximize our Thorns damage, since we are already quite tanky and have consistent life recovery whenever we kill something. If more defense is desired, Flawless Rubies or Flawless Sapphires can be used in armor slots, and Thorns rolls on gear can be replaced with defensive rolls such as Damage Reduction, Damage Reduction from Close Enemies, etc.

We take Flawless Skulls in our weapons for a little bit of passive sustain, but Flawless Topaz work here too for some extra Basic Skill damage.

Starter Gear


The skill tree stays relatively consistent throughout the leveling process. Early on, there is one skill change that is recommended:

  • Furious Double Swing replaces Wrath of the Berserker

This skill is awesome for keeping up Berserking early on when we are lacking cooldown reduction for War Cry and Steel Grasp. Because of Death Wish and Blood Rage, we want to be Berserking at all times if possible, and Double Swing allows us to do just that. The great thing about this skill is that it doesn't even need to hit a target to activate its Berserking duration bonus - you can swing at the air to refresh it as long as you have enough Fury.

Optional Considerations:

  • Call of the Ancients can be a nice back up for enemies or bosses that just refuse to hit us. While running this skill, a good thing to pay attention to early on while playing Thorns is which areas of the game should be avoided - picking our battles is very important. This means learning which Dungeons have ranged or slow enemies that rarely attack or run away, or if there's a particular Boss that takes way too long to fight to be worth our time. If you find that Call of the Ancients is not needed, Steel Grasp should be the replacement of choice.

Starter Skill Tree


The general gameplay loop does not change in the early stages of gearing. Just be mindful of the Berserking duration when moving between packs of monsters and utilize Double Swing to keep it refreshed. Thanks to Unconstrained, we can store up to 10 seconds so it is not a bad idea to try to stack this duration to its maximum before moving on. Paying attention to this, in combination with watching when our War Cry is about to be off cooldown, enables us to maintain Berserking at all times.

Hardcore Adjustments

Hardcore requires you to build into more defenses. Here are some tips to successful in this game mode:

Though our main setup is quite tanky, more defense is never a bad thing in hardcore. We should consider the following:

  • Razorplate is always the first thing to swap out when opting for more defense. We gain a defensive Aspect, (such as Might), as well as up to four damage reduction rolls here.
  • Defensive oriented rolls should always be prioritized over offensive ones.
  • Iron Skin can replace a skill of your choosing and be supported with Aspect of the Iron Warrior.

Build Scaling & Stat Priorities

Learn about the important build scaling mechanics and stat weights.



  • Thorns damage scales with, you guessed it, our Thorns stat.
  • When we cast Challenging Shout, its enhanced version gives us a Thorns boost in proportion to our Maximum Life pool.
  • Both the Outburst and the Tough as Nails passives give us increases to our Thorns damage. Outburst is especially important since it allows our Maximum Life to also scale our Thorns, which makes this stat not only great defensively, but offensively as well.
  • Death Wish Aspect provides a significant amount of thorns while under the effects of Berserking.
  • Combat Flay gives us a stacking multiplier to our Thorns damage.
  • A large portion of our Thorns comes from the Unique item, Razorplate. As far as optional sources go, this should always be the priority when trying to add more damage.
  • Thorns can also be rolled on gear, notably the Pants and Amulet. Although it's nice to have these extra rolls, they compete with much more useful defensive ones in all cases, and should be considered low priority when it comes to stat choices. It's important to note that all Thorns values on gear scale with item power. For every 10 item power, the Thorns value and range of Thorns that can roll increases. As an example, a piece of gear with item power 731 - 740 will always have the same range, but the range on a piece of gear with item power 741 - 750 will be higher.
  • Royal Emeralds give Thorns when socketed into Armor pieces. As noted above, they compete with better options that offer us more defense, and the overall boost they provide is pretty negligible. This source in almost all cases should be the least prioritized, outside of very early leveling.


  • One of the biggest sources of increased damage for us. Berserking acts as a 1.25x multiplier while it is active, and this damage scales even higher with the help of the Blood Rage paragon node. Because of this, we want to prioritize Berserking at all times and take Damage while Berserking anywhere that it is feasible - on gear and the Paragon Board.
  • Another reason for wanting to be under the effects of Berserking at all times is to benefit from Death Wish Aspect as much as possible.
  • Enhanced War Cry is our primary source of Berserking.
  • Use of Fighter's Steel Grasp can also initiate or extend the effect.
  • Unconstrained gives all our sources prolonged duration and also drastically increases its damage bonus.
  • Sources of Berserking Duration usually aren't necessary but can be nice to have. Typically in most content, two rolls on gear or in paragon can make a noticeable difference.

Vulnerable Damage:

  • This status acts as a 1.2x multiplier to our damage. We don't actively try to scale Vulnerable damage beyond this, since anything beyond this is also considered additive.
  • Exploit allows us to inflict Vulnerable whenever we initiate combat, and can be a main source of application. However, once its duration ends, we have to wait quite a while for its effect to activate again.
  • The Two-Handed Axe Expertise is another multiplier to our Vulnerable damage.
  • Enhanced Flay inherently gives us a 30% chance to inflict Vulnerable whenever it's used.
  • Enhanced Steel Grasp always inflicts Vulnerable when it hits an enemy.

Weapon Damage:

  • Weapon Damage does not matter for Thorns, but it should be prioritized on our Frenzy weapons. Besides that, we want to prioritize only the stat rolls on our weapons, and we want them to at least have an item power of 780 to have them roll their maximum values.

Critical Strike Chance & Damage:

  • These also do nothing for Thorns, but they do boost our Frenzy damage. Thorns cannot Critically Strike (unless under the effect of a Lethal Shrine), so these stats aren't important when trying to maximize Thorns damage.

Needleflare Aspect:

  • This Aspect allows us to spread our Thorns and provides us with a source of area damage; it is invaluable for clearing groups of monsters and scales insanely well in highly dense areas.

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

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.

  • Helm: Numbing Wrath
    1. Cooldown Reduction
    2. Damage while Berserking
    3. % Armor
    4. Life / Maximum Fury
    5. Strength / All Stats
    6. Resistance (as needed)
  • Chest Armor: Razorplate
    1. High Item Power / Thorns
  • Otherwise Look For: Iron Blood
    1. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
    2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
    3. % Total Armor
    4. Maximum Life
    5. Damage Reduction
    6. Resistance (as needed)
    7. Thorns
  • Gloves: Death Wish
    1. Critical Strike Chance
    2. Strength
    3. All Stats
    4. Dexterity / Willpower
    5. Damage to Injured Enemies
    6. Attack Speed
  • Pants: Disobedience
    1. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
    2. Damage Reduction while Fortified
    3. % Total Armor
    4. Maximum Life
    5. Damage Reduction
    6. Resistance (as needed)
  • Boots: Ghostwalker
    1. Movement Speed
    2. Cold / Lightning / Poison Resistance
    3. Cold / Lightning / Poison Resistance
    4. Cold / Lightning / Poison Resistance
    5. Resistance (as needed)
    6. Damage Reduction while Injured
    7. Strength / All Stats
    8. Movement Speed for 4 Seconds After Killing an Elite
  • Amulet: Battle Trance
    1. + Ranks of Frenzy
    2. Maximum Fury
    3. Cooldown Reduction
    4. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
  • Otherwise Look For: Might
    1. Cooldown Reduction
    2. Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
    3. + Ranks of the Counteroffensive Passive
    4. % Strength
    5. Damage Reduction while Fortified
    6. Movement Speed
    7. Thorns
  • Rings: Bold Chieftain's & Inner Calm
    1. Damage While Berserking
    2. Maximum Life
    3. Maximum Fury
    4. Damage to Close Enemies
    5. Physical Damage
    6. Vulnerable Damage
    7. Damage to Bleeding Enemies
  • Two-Handed Bludgeoning Weapon: Needleflare
    1. Damage while Berserking
    2. Strength
    3. Damage to Close Enemies
    4. All Stats
    5. Basic Skill Damage
    6. Damage to Bleeding Enemies
    7. Vulnerable Damage
  • Dual-Wield Weapon 1: Ramaladni's Magnum Opus
    1. High Damage Per Second
    2. Increased Damage per Point of Fury (0.4)
    3. Maximum Fury
    4. Damage to Close Enemies
    5. Damage with Dual-Wielded Weapons
  • Otherwise Look For: Berserk Ripping
    1. Damage while Berserking
    2. Strength
    3. Damage to Close Enemies
    4. All Stats
    5. Basic Skill Damage
    6. Damage to Bleeding Enemies
    7. Vulnerable Damage
  • Dual-Wield Weapon 2 (Axe/Sword): Edgemaster’s
    1. Damage while Berserking
    2. Strength
    3. Damage to Close Enemies
    4. All Stats
    5. Basic Skill Damage
    6. Damage to Bleeding Enemies
    7. Vulnerable Damage
  • Two-Handed Slashing Weapon (Axe): Ancients' Oath
    1. Enemies Pulled Take Bonus Damage (50%)
    2. Damage while Berserking
    3. Damage to Close Enemies
    4. Vulnerable Damage
    5. Ranks of Steel Grasp
  • Otherwise Look For: Death Wish
    1. Damage while Berserking
    2. Strength
    3. Damage to Close Enemies
    4. All Stats
    5. Basic Skill Damage
    6. Damage to Bleeding Enemies
    7. Vulnerable Damage

This build benefits the most from the following consumables:

  • Elixirs: Elixir of Cruelty, Iron Skin Elixir, Elixir of Fortitude, Heady Assault Elixir & Heady Precision Elixir
  • Incenses: Song of the Mountain, Reddamine Buzz & Chorus of War

FAQ & Mechanics

Once a guide is released, many players have questions on why and how we are approaching certain choices. In this section you can find the answers to the questions that have been asked the most.

Is Razorplate necessary?


Learn about the mechanical details which makes the build tick.





This build is an excellent choice if you're looking for a relaxing way to enjoy much of what the Endgame has to offer. It has great damage with relatively low gear requirements, minimal Fury management, amazing defenses with multiple ways of scaling them, and excellent utility in the form of Steel Grasp. If this sounds fun, then definitely consider introducing yourself to the Thorns Barbarian - just don't get too close!

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Written by snail
Reviewed by Northwar

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