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Thorns Barbarian Endgame Guide

Last Updated: May 26th 2024

Season 4 - LootA-Tier

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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 Bash them to a pulp until death is, in fact, the only escape.

And speaking of Bash... continuing the trend of buffs from past seasons, Thorns once again gets some very welcome assistance with single target damage in Season 4 by utilizing this incredibly strong 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
SpeedfarmingGreat
The PitExcellent
BossingGreat
DefenseExcellent

Season 4 - Loot Reborn

In Season 4, the Season Theme revolves around helping out the Iron Wolves. Compared to past themes, this one does not offer any borrowed power as the entire game has been redesigned with new itemization and crafting options, increasing player power substantially across the board. Instead, you can gather reputation similar to the Vampire Bounty Board from Season 2 to unlock rewards that supercharge your leveling journey to 100 with extra items, crafting materials and eventually even a Resplendent Spark to craft an uber unique.

We recommend to follow the seasonal questline until you unlock the reputation system, check which rewards suit you most and then follow your regular leveling path. To learn more, check out our full Season 4 guide for more information.

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.

  • Bash is our Basic Skill of choice for this build. When combined with Tempered Cleave and Ramaladni's Magnum Opus, it annihilates small packs on its own and aids us greatly in taking down Bosses.
  • Rallying Cry is used for it's always useful Movement Speed bonus, as well as its ability to grant Unstoppable and Fortify.
  • Challenging Shout is a significant form of damage reduction for us, and even increases our Thorns damage in proportion to our Maximum Life.
  • War Cry gives us a generic multiplier to our damage while it is active, which is quite often since we gear around reducing its cooldown. It is also serves as one of our options for activating Berserking.
  • Steel Grasp is an amazing utility skill, providing us a way to group monsters, apply Vulnerable, and extend the effect of Berserking. Making tight groups of enemies is extremely important for this build to make the most of Bash and the Needleflare Aspect.
  • Rupture is a great secondary supporting skill, since it lets us reliably proc the Overpower bonus from Decimator while simultaneously granting us a huge amount of attack speed. This skill is not considered a core part of the build, however, and can be replaced! See the Endgame progression tab for additional ideas and options.
Thorns Endgame Skill Tree
  • The gameplay loop goes something like this:
  • Approach enemies and use Steel Grasp to group them up and grant Berserking.
  • Use Challenging Shout to buff Thorns damage, taunt, and grant damage reduction. Use Rallying Cry for phasing and Unstoppable as desired.
  • Move with Bash to auto-target and cleave nearby enemies. Always go for those with the highest health pools; let Thorns pick off the smaller enemies.
  • Thorns inherently causes Bleed thanks to the Tough as Nails passive, so it is pretty good at giving Berserking a refresh (Blood Rage). In the case that it doesn't, use Steel Grasp or War Cry if it is ever falls off.
  • Rupture should be used to bolster single target damage with Bash and to activate both parts of Decimator. This is mostly important when fighting Bosses.
  • That's really all there is to it! Loot or watch your favorite show as everything dies around you while you hold right click.
Bash / Thorns Budget 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 this version of Thorns, we use the One-Handed Sword Expertise and One-Handed Mace Expertise as our primaries. This is mainly because Bash benefits the most from items with these weapon bases (Ramaladni's Magnum Opus and the Wallop passive).

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 Bash as our sole Fury generator. Once it's topped off, it pretty much stays there forever.

Being capped on Fury makes Bash do more damage thanks to Ramaladni's Magnum Opus.

Reductions to our Cooldowns 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.
  • Prioritizing War Cry and Challenging Shout Cooldown Reduction through Tempered affixes.
  • Hectic will be constantly lowering our cooldowns since we are using Bash all the time.
  • Bold Chieftain's drastically lowers the cooldown of our Shouts when used properly.

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.

Glyphs

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.

Optional Glyphs

  • Disembowel
    • Can be used for additional cooldown resets. Replace Undaunted (no changes to paragon board) or [1023199 class=2]Exploit[/d4-glyph] (take Willpower nodes).

Glyph Leveling Priorities

Level 15

  1. Ambidextrous
  2. Ire
  3. Revenge
  4. Territorial
  5. Undaunted
  6. Exploit

Level 21

  1. Ambidextrous
  2. Revenge
  3. Ire
  4. Territorial
  5. Undaunted
  6. Exploit

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:
    • Undying: Gamble Pants
      • Replaces Disobedience.
    • Hectic: Gamble Boots
      • Replaces Wind Striker.
    • Adaptability: Gamble Rings
      • Replaces Windlasher.
    • Elements: Gamble One-Handed Weapons
      • Replaces Devilish.
    • Moonrise: Gamble One-Handed Weapons
      • Replaces Death Wish, which replaces Berserk Ripping.
    • Bold Chieftain's: Gamble Rings
      • Replaces Vocalized Empowerment.
  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 Elements. This is one of the items that is used to boost our Bash damage, which enables us to deal with Bosses.
    • Razorplate:
      • Replaces Numbing Wrath to boost our Thorns damage.
    • Ancients' Oath:
      • Used in optional Endgame variant.
  4. If you're lucky enough to obtain the following Uber Uniques, they're useful for the build.
    • Doombringer:
      • This can be used instead ofRamaladni's Magnum Opus - it trades Bash damage for way more tankiness and Thorns damage.

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.

Starter
Early Endgame
Endgame
Frenzy EQ Thorns

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:

Gear

Helm, Chest, Pants

  • Might
  • Numbing Wrath
  • Disobedience

Gloves, One-Handed Weapons

  • Inner Calm
  • Devilish
  • Rapid

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Needleflare
  • Death Wish

Boots

  • Wind Striker

Amulet

  • Windlasher

Ring

  • Berserk Ripping
  • Vocalized Empowerment

This gives us a functional build to begin farming with. This starter setup aims to balance our Thorns damage with Frenzy and Double Swing as supplemental damage sources.

Thorns Starter Gear

Skills

The skill tree/playstyle stays relatively consistent throughout the leveling process. Early on, we make two skill changes:

  • Furious Double Swing replaces Rupture

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.

  • We take Frenzy instead of Bash until Tempered affixes are available. This skill is nice because of the extra damage reduction it provides, but Lunging Strike is also a good choice.

Optional Considerations:

  • Call of the Ancients can be a nice back up for enemies or bosses that just refuse to hit us during the early leveling process. If you find that Call of the Ancients proves useful, Rallying Cry is what it should replace.

Thorns Starter Skill Tree

Gameplay

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.

In this setup, you have access to all Legendary Aspects, allowing you to pilot a much stronger version of this build. Additional Legendary Aspects are used to fill slots that may be replaced with Unique items later on.

At this point of progression, prioritize using any well-rolled Aspects on pieces of gear that will not be replaced soon. If they are not build-enabling, it is even acceptable to save them for endgame pieces.

Gear

Make the following changes when the "Bash Cleaves for +x% Damage" Tempered affix is obtained:

  • Adaptability replaces Windlasher on our Amulet, giving us a big boost to our Bash damage.
  • Moonrise should replace Death Wish, which moves to replace Berserk Ripping on a Ring.

Other changes to make:

  • Undying replaces Disobedience for some constant life sustain. This should be done once we are approaching or above the Armor cap for the current level of content.
  • Hectic replaces Wind Striker to help keep all of our skills off cooldown.
  • Elements replaces Devilish.
  • Bold Chieftain's replaces Vocalized Empowerment.
  • It is important to start paying attention to Resistances the further we progress. If incoming damage becomes an issue, prioritize single Resistances on gear.
Thorns Early Endgame Gear

Skills

  • Bash should be taken as soon we have access to the Tempered affix "Bash Cleaves for +x% Damage" - this will boost our damage substantially and make leveling a breeze.
  • Rupture gives us a Bleed source and a big Attack Speed boost. It starts to shine more once Decimator is picked up or when Bosses start to take longer. Until then, it is fine to still use Double Swing to keep Berserking uptime comfortable.

Early Endgame Skill Tree

Gameplay

Aside from skill swaps, no real changes in gameplay are required.

In this setup, you have access to all Legendary Aspects and Unique items, unleashing the strongest version of this build. Be prepared to grind to access some of these highly sought after items!

Gear

  • Ramaladni's Magnum Opus gives a large damage boost to Bash, and can also be easily target farmed. This is arguably the first piece of gear that should be an active priority.
  • Razorplate gives us a giant chunk of Thorns with a chance to increase its damage by 2.5x. It offers us nothing outside of that, but for pure Thorns damage it's hard to beat.

Optional Considerations:

  • Paingorger's Gauntlets can be used in combination with Steel Grasp to give Bash some more area of effect damage.
Thorns Late Endgame Gear

Skills

This is the final version of our tree - it does not differ much from where we left off.

  • Rupture is not a requirement to pilot this build, and can used as a flex slot. Other options include:
    • Kick (with Battle Fervor) - additional Berserking uptime on Bosses.
    • Tactical Iron Skin - use with Iron Warrior, replace Undying.
    • Leap - more mobility; use with Bul-Kathos (Helm) and Giant Strides (Ring).
Late Endgame Skill Tree

Gameplay

This will typically be our gameplay loop from now on. Use Steel Grasp to group up enemies and extend Berserking, then use Bash as the main attack to cleave through enemies. Thorns is the bulk of our area damage, and Bash serves as a way of dealing with tougher enemies and whatever survives our Thorns.

This variant is similar to versions with Frenzy from previous seasons, with a bit of a twist: it uses Leap and supporting Aspects/Tempers to constantly be benefitting from quake-related bonuses. While it lacks a powerful single target skill, it is generally way more tanky and has a higher Thorns damage output.

Gear

  • Bul-Kathos is used so our Leap will always cause Earthquakes when used. We empower these Earthquakes through Tempered affixes, which increase their size and duration. The Earthquake Aspect is also used becauses we still benefit from it even when not using Ground Stomp. These two Aspects give us a combined 38% damage and 25% damage reduction as long as we are standing in Earthquakes (which should be often, since we have Steel Grasp to pull enemies to us).
  • Giant Strides is taken to keep Leap off cooldown so we can reposition if needed.
  • Ancients' Oath is great for this setup; it gives our Thorns and Earthquakes a large damage boost when we hook enemies with Steel Grasp.
  • Doombringer just gives us a crazy amount of Maximum Life and defense, making the build even more comfy in the process.
Leap / Thorns Gear

Skills

  • Without Bash Tempers, the Basic Skill is player choice. Frenzy is nice because it gives some extra damage reduction.
  • Leap keeps us mobile and gives us our Earthquakes. Depending on gear and cooldown reduction rolls, more or less points may be required to keep it off cooldown.
Leap / Thorns Skill Tree

Paragon

The main difference is we are using Rumble for its damage multiplier while we have Earthquakes active.

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:

  • 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.

Damage
Defense

Thorns:

  • Thorns damage scales with, you guessed it, our Thorns stat.
  • It also scales with Strength and Maximum Life when the Outburst passive is taken.
  • When we cast Challenging Shout, its enhanced version gives us a Thorns boost in proportion to our Maximum Life pool.
  • The Tough as Nails passive give us a percentage increase to our Thorns damage.
  • Death Wish Aspect provides a significant amount of Thorns while under the effects of Berserking.
  • 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.
  • The Tempered affix "Thorns while Fortified" gives our Thorns a percentage-based damage increase.

Berserking:

  • One of the biggest generic 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 status at all times and take enough sources of Damage while Berserking to reach its cap.
  • 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.

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 it acts as just another additive damage source.
  • 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.
  • Taking a Lucky Hit: Chance to Make Enemies Vulnerable roll on one Ring is usually an efficient way to keep this debuff active once Exploit expires.
  • The Two-Handed Axe Expertise is a multiplier to our Vulnerable damage.
  • 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 Bash 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 Bash 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.

Damage Reduction:

  • Challenging Shout is one of our main sources of damage reduction.
  • Aggressive Resistance is a source of damage reduction while we are Berserking.
  • Pit Fighter offers us a small amount of Distant Damage Reduction.
  • There is a stacking damage reduction with our Shout(s) thanks to Guttural Yell.
  • Territorial, Undaunted, and Ire Glyphs all offer us various forms of damage reduction.
  • The Might Aspect gives us an additive 20% damage reduction.

Fortify:

  • While we are Fortified, we gain a baseline 15% damage reduction.
  • Numbing Wrath and Strategic Rallying Cry are used to constantly generate Fortify.
  • Undaunted gives us even more damage reduction while Fortified (and hey, some damage too.)

Armor:

  • ‍A minimum total value of 9230 is required to reach the Armor cap against level 200 enemies.
  • Our Strength stat inherently grants us Armor, with a 1:1 ratio.
  • Aspect of Disobedience increases our total Armor by a percentage.
  • Royal Skulls can be socketed in Amulet and Rings for additional Armor, but they contend with gems that grant Resistances.
  • Armor rolls are available on non-Unique Helmets, Chest Armors, Gloves, Pants, and Boots.

Another form of damage mitigation, Armor is perhaps the most important as it is not conditional and always in effect. We want to scale this as high as possible and make it a priority everywhere we can get it.

Unstoppable:

  • Enhanced Rallying Cry is our main source of prolonged Unstoppable.

Unstoppable is our means of ignoring or escaping the many types of enemy Crowd Control effects. With the above skills, we actually have very high uptime on this.

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: Might
    1. Armor
    2. Maximum Life
    3. Cooldown Reduction
  • ⚒️Thorns while Fortified
  • ⚒️Imposing Presence
  • Chest Armor: Razorplate
    1. Thorns
    2. Thorns
    3. Thorns...
    4. Thorns?
  • Otherwise Look For: Numbing Wrath / Iron Blood
    1. Strength
    2. Maximum Life
    3. + Ranks to Challenging Shout / Resistance (as needed)
  • ⚒️Thorns while Fortified
  • ⚒️Imposing Presence
  • Gloves: Inner Calm
    1. Critical Strike Chance
    2. Attack Speed
    3. Strength
  • ⚒️Thorns while Fortified
  • ⚒️Damage to Close Enemies
  • Pants: Undying
    1. Strength
    2. Maximum Life
    3. + Ranks to Bash / Resistance (as needed)
  • ⚒️Thorns while Fortified
  • ⚒️Imposing Presence
  • Boots: Hectic
    1. Movement Speed
    2. Maximum Life
    3. Resistance (as needed)
  • ⚒️Thorns while Fortified
  • ⚒️Movement Speed
  • Amulet: Adaptability
    1. + Ranks to Counteroffensive
    2. Critical Strike Chance
    3. Cooldown Reduction
  • ⚒️Thorns while Fortified
  • ⚒️Imposing Presence
  • Ring 1: Bold Chieftain's
    1. Critical Strike Chance
    2. Resistance (as needed)
    3. Attack Speed
  • ⚒️Damage while Berserking is Active
  • ⚒️War Cry Cooldown Reduction
  • Ring 2: Death Wish
    1. Critical Strike Chance
    2. Resistance (as needed)
    3. Lucky Hit: Chance to Make Enemies Vulnerable
  • ⚒️Damage while Berserking is Active
  • ⚒️War Cry Cooldown Reduction
  • Two-Handed Bludgeoning Weapon: Needleflare
    1. Strength
    2. Maximum Life
    3. Vulnerable Damage
  • ⚒️Bash Cleaves
  • ⚒️Damage to Close Enemies
  • 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: Elements
    1. High Damage Per Second
    2. Strength
    3. Maximum Life
    4. Vulnerable Damage
  • ⚒️Bash Cleaves
  • ⚒️Damage to Close Enemies
  • Dual-Wield Weapon 2 (Mace): Rapid
    1. High Damage Per Second
    2. Strength
    3. Maximum Life
    4. Vulnerable Damage
  • ⚒️Bash Cleaves
  • ⚒️Damage to Close Enemies
  • Two-Handed Slashing Weapon (Sword): Moonrise
    1. Strength
    2. Maximum Life
    3. Vulnerable Damage
  • ⚒️Bash Cleaves
  • ⚒️Damage to Close Enemies

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.

Coming Soon

Mechanics

Learn about the mechanical details which makes the build tick.

Thorns

Fortify

Unconstrained

Summary

This build is an excellent choice if you're looking for a relaxing way to destroy pretty much anything the game 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!

Credits

Written by snail
Reviewed by Northwar

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