Hammer of the Ancients (HotA) is a pretty iconic Barbarian skill. Originally used at the start of Season 4 as main damage dealer before being replaced by the infamous Static Monk, it has been then used in Season 5 by the zBarb due to its old Birthright rune iteration:
Critical Hits have a 10% chance to cause enemies to drop a Health Globe.
This effect in conjunction with Solanium and the special Critical Hit Chance buff from HotA allowed the zBarb to produce countless Health Globes in order to generate Resource for the damage dealer.
Nowadays, Hammer of the Ancients is one of the few Barbarian skills making use of the Immortal King's Call set. It provides a 4,000% damage bonus and has loads of new complementary item options. Keeping up Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients permanently is essential to this build.
This is an Area Damage (AD) build, since Hammer of the Ancients can proc it. This is further enhanced by HotA's high Critical Hit Chance (see Mechanics) in combination with the crazy Attack Speed granted by Bracers of the First Men, allowing for great burst damage. Let's get into the current variation of this build and its rotation based playstyle!
Very Tanky ✔ Fast Attack Speed ✔ Easy Resource Management ✔ Very High Critical Hit Chance ✔
❌ Static Playstyle ❌ Lack of overall Damage ❌ Band of Might Dependency ❌ Low Area of Effect Damage
Immortal King's Call(6) Bonus for the damage buff and cooldown reducing mechanics.
The Gavel of Judgment for its huge separate damage multiplier and its Fury generation effect. Cubing it allows us to use two 1-Handed Weapons for more Attack Speed and Critical Hit Damage.
Bracers of the First Men and Remorseless are the other core items granting us HotA damage and Attack Speed multipliers for crazy damage output.
Fury of the Ancients allowing us to have both great Fury generation from Ancients' Fury and 50% damage reduction from Together as One.
Echoing Fury provides us with a ludicrous 75% Attack Speed bonus even if its default Chance to Fear on Hit is very annoying with our high Attack Speed. Once we find The Grandfather we will drop this legendary power.
Mortick's Brace grants us all runes of Wrath of the Berserker. We use Insanity by default for its 50% separate damage multiplier but we gain Thrive on Chaos' Life per Fury Spent (we do spend a lot with HotA) and 50% damage reduction from Striding Giant.
Convention of Elements is another separate damage multiplier, giving you triple damage during your Fire cycle.
Season 24 Ethereals
Ethereals are powerful rare weapons that can only be found during Season 24. They have incredible stats, a random Legendary power, and a free passive for your class. Read our Ethereal Mechanics Guide for full details on how they work and our Ethereal Farming Guide to learn how to acquire them. What you should prioritize on them is the following:
TheLegendary Power This build requires The Gavel of Judgment and Remorseless to be functional. We need our Ethereal to roll one of these powers so we can cube the other. We also want a good roll on our Legendary power if it has a range. For speed content it is always helpful to have Ethereals with Echoing Fury, In-geom or Messerschmidt's Reaver powers, so keep those if you find them.
TheEtherealItself There are 3 different weapons available to us, each with its own benefits:
The Grandfather - This is the best Ethereal for pushing with its high Two-Handed Weapon average damage and its high Attack Speed complemented by Cooldown Reduction!
Gimmershred - This is the best choice for speed content and boss killing as it is a One-Handed Weapon with decent Attack Speed, Cooldown Reduction, Elite Damage and a Movement Speed buff!
Doombringer - This is the back-up option. It has regular Attack Speed and no Cooldown Reduction but applies a 25% damage reduction debuff on hit.
The EtherealStat Rolls Each Ethereal comes with its own fixed set of powerful affixes. While some have a static value, many have a wide stat range. This means the difference between good and bad rolls is significant and something you should look for.
A Useful Passive This is just icing on the cake because a fifth passive is not going to make or break your build. You're better off hunting for the things above. Check out the Passives section down below to see which ones you're looking for.
Global Stat Priorities
This build gets a lot of Attack Speed for free from Echoing Fury and Wrath of the Berserker. With Pain Enhancer boosting our Attack Speed even further we land on crazy Breakpoints for both Weapons as long as we have plenty of enemies around us (for in-depth mechanics check here).
We do not need any Cooldown Reduction (not even from a Flawless Royal Diamond in the helm) as we get crazy resets from Immortal King's Call(4) Bonus when we use Hammer of the Ancients and spend Fury.
Assembling the Build
1. Do the Challenge Rift for the materials to cubeLegendary Powers. You can complete this once a week for additional resources and we always update the guide for you!
2. Gather the 6 pieces of Immortal King's Call. Each piece can be gambled from Kadala for Bloodshards. Do not salvage any duplicate pieces you find! Instead convert them to another part of the set with Recipe 4 in Kanai's Cube. If you have extra materials you can use Recipe 3 to craft the remaining pieces, but this is expensive and not recommended for new players.
Two-Handed Mighty Weapons to get The Gavel of Judgment
Mighty Weapons to get Remorseless
Create a level 1 Witch Doctor and upgrade Maces to get Echoing Fury
Rings to get Convention of Elements and [The Compass Rose
Anything from the Gamble list in Step 3 that you haven't already acquired.
5. Do Bounties to acquire several important items for this build:
Act 3: Avarice Band
Bounty Turn In: Recipes for Sage's Journey and Cain's Destiny (for your follower)
6. There is one final required piece to piece to acquire, The Traveler's Pledge. With amulets being so expensive to gamble and craft, we'll have to search for it to drop in Nephalem and Greater Rifts. It can drop on any class so try to group up with friends when possible to share your loot!
Item Stat Priorities
Remorseless The Gavel of Judgment (Cubed) The Grandfather
1. Damage Range 2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift 3. Area Damage 4. Damage % 5. Maximum Fury (Secondary) 6. Strength
Ideally, you want Maximum Fury as Secondary to scale Hammer of the Ancients Critical Hit Chance.
1. Damage Range 2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift 3. Attack Speed 4. Damage % 5. Area Damage 6. Strength
Immortal King's Triumph
1. Socket Flawless Royal Amethyst 2. Hammer of the Ancients Damage 3. Critical Hit Chance 4. Strength 5. All Resistance 6. Vitality
Immortal King's Irons
1. Critical Hit Chance 2. Critical Hit Damage 3. Area Damage 4. Strength
Fury of the Ancients
1. Strength 2. Area Damage 3. All Resistance 4. Vitality 5. Life %
Immortal King's Eternal Reign
1. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond 2. Strength 3. All Resistance 4. Elite Damage Reduction 5. Vitality
Immortal King's Stature
1. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond 2. Strength 3. All Resistance 4. Vitality
Immortal King's Stride
1. Hammer of the Ancients Damage 2. Strength 3. All Resistance 4. Vitality 5. Armor
Convention of Elements Band of Might
1. Socket 2. Critical Hit Damage 3. Area Damage 4. Damage Range 5. Critical Hit Chance
The Compass Rose
1. Socket 2. Critical Hit Damage 3. Area Damage 4. Damage Range 5. Critical Hit Chance
Bracers of the First Men Mortick's Brace
1. Fire Damage 2. Critical Hit Chance 3. Strength 4. All Resistance 5. Vitality
The Traveler's Pledge
1. Socket 2. Fire Damage 3. Critical Hit Damage 4. Critical Hit Chance 5. Strength
Immortal King's Tribal Binding
1. Strength 2. All Resistance 3. Vitality 4. Maximum Fury (Secondary) 5. Life %
Bottomless Potion of Kulle-Aid
For breaking walls to pull enemies and increase DPS
Bane of the Trapped is the most common damage gem, and as we are a melee character, the rank 25 effect will slow all enemies within 15 yards providing us a flat 1.6 damage multiplier.
Pain Enhancer can be used to buff our Attack Speed tremendously with hordes of enemies in close range combat.
In Solo Bane of the Stricken helps us kill the Rift Guardian. As long as you don't need more than 2 minutes to kill it you can equip another gem instead.
In Group we take Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard to gain a shield in combination with Squirt's Necklace for double dps, toughness and insane healing.
We take Hammer of the Ancients Smash as our main damage dealer. This skill has 1% increased Critical Hit Chance for every 5 Fury we have. As we are mostly at maximum Fury with Fury of the Ancients and The Gavel of Judgment we get around 130% more Critical Chance, adding up to almost 100% Critical Hit Chance with proper gear.
We need both Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker to proc the legendary effect of Remorseless and our Immortal King's Call(6) Bonus. Together as One rune provides permanent 50% damage mitigation while Wrath of the Berserker provides a massive stat boosts and Crowd Control immunity.
Next we need a skill to proc Band of Might. Here we can choose Furious Charge with the Merciless Assault rune to move around quickly.
Battle Rage Bloodshed is a powerful damage choice as we are melee class and basically always critically hit with our Hammer of the Ancients Smash.
Lastly we use Ancient Spear Rage Flip to gather enemies and drag them alone for massive Area Damage and a Conduit Pylon to finish them all off together.
Rampage is the strongest Barbarian passive there is with its 25% buff to total Strength. It provides a massive boost to both offense and defense (Armor).
Berserker Rage as we are almost always at maximum Fury with Ancients' Fury and The Gavel of Judgment.
Other damage options include Brawler, Ruthless or Nerves of Steel as a defensive touch.
1. Movement Speed
1. Critical Hit Damage
1. All Resistance
1. Area Damage
2. Maximum Fury1
2. Critical Hit Chance
2. Life %
2. Pickup Radius
3. Attack Speed
3. Resource Cost Reduction
4. Cooldown Reductio
4. Life Regeneration
4. Life per Hit
1 Take Maximum Fury as it scales Hammer of the Ancients Critical Hit Chance. 2 Add a bit of Vitality if you feel too squishy (a total of 750,000 Life is recommended).
Patch 2.7.0 revamped the follower system giving all 3 hirelings new powers and the emanate system. The first thing you should do is read our complete follower guide and remember the key takeaways:
The emanation system allows followers to share certain legendary and set powers with you. The most important ones are: The Flavor of Time, Nemesis Bracers, Avarice Band, Sage’s Journey and Cain’s Destiny. Click the guide above for the full list.
Follower’s powers are based on their mainstat (maxed at 25,000, but they have a 2.5x multiplier so you only need 10,000). This means we stack Intelligence on the Enchantress, Dexterity on the Scoundrel and Strength on the Templar.
Followers share 20% of their Experience, Magic and Gold Find stats with you.
Legendary gems do not work on followers, except Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard.
Cooldown Reduction does not work for any follower skill except the Templar’s Heal.
Followers never deal significant damage; you’re on your own to clear the content.
With these in mind, let’s get into our recommendations for this build.
GR Pushing Templar
For Greater Rift pushing we recommend this Templar setup for the sustain from Heal, 10% increased damage from Onslaught, and the very powerful cheat death mechanic from Guardian. This is the only follower build that stacks Cooldown Reduction because it works with Heal. Since we take the immortality relic, we do not need any survivability stats.
Since we have the immortality relic, we do not need to stack survivability on our Templar.
Strength > Cooldown Reduction > Attack Speed.
The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
Nemesis Bracers: For more progression from Elites.
Oculus Ring: For 85% increased damage.
Unity: For 50% damage reduction if you're also wearing one.
Ice Climbers: To make your follower immune to Freeze and Immobilize effects.
Leoric's Crown and Captain Crimson's Trimmings: For more Cooldown Reduction on Heal.
Always start by casting your Wrath of the Berserker, Call of the Ancients Together as One as well as your Battle Rage Bloodshed. For solo gameplay you group up the monsters with your Ancient Spear Rage Flip while you move around with Furious Charge Merciless Assault and also proc your Band of Might in the process.
Keep Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients Together as One up at all times. Gather the enemies and stop moving around to get the offensive buff from the Endless Walk set. Then attack with your main damage attack Hammer of the Ancients, ideally timed with your Fire Convention of Elements rotation for maximum damage output. Make sure to keep attacking to get plenty cooldown resets from Immortal King's Call(4) Bonus to keep up Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients.
This build is very good for Hardcore as it is super tanky with all the damage reducing buffs up. You have Band of Might, Call of the Ancients Together as One and Wrath of the Berserker Striding Giant from your Mortick's Brace for some insane damage reduction.
Just to be extra safe add the Nerves of Steel passive for a cheat death.
Ethereals If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Remorseless and Echoing Fury.
Concept & Gameplay Keep your main focus on small high progression trash monsters like Vile Swarms or Dark Hellions while you damage Elites in the process. Play an open map ideally where you can finish off the already damaged Elite Packs with a 60 second Conduit Pylon enhanced by your Followers The Flavor of Time. Always start off by casting your Battle Rage Bloodshed. Use Ancient Spear Rage Flip to drag enemies along and create big pulls while moving around with Furious Charge Merciless Assault. Burst them down on your Fire Convention of Elements rotation for massive damage and Area Damage.
Setups There are not many alternatives here. If you struggle to survive you can take in Relentless or Nerves of Steel instead of Brawler.
Group Speed Greater Rift
Ethereals If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Remorseless and Echoing Fury.
Concept This builds has been one of the best in the past and even made it into the group META years ago. It is rather weak nowadays compared to the Whirlwind Rend Barb. We focus on full Area Damage and Attack Speed and now don't need Ancient Spear Rage Flip anymore. We take War Cry instead to boost us and our teammates! This META is played with a Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard which provides a shield to keep up Squirt’s Necklace for even more damage.
Gameplay Hammer of the Ancients will proc yourImmortal King's Call (4) Bonus like crazy allowing for a permanent Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients up time. Keep up damage and toughness buffs and burst on Fire Convention of Elements right after for example a zBarb uses Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash to group up enemies for massive Area Damage.
Setups If you are struggling with toughness add a Band of Might instead of Convention of Elements. If you still can’t keep the Squirt’s Necklace buff, switch from Bastions of Will to Endless Walk set, dropping Squirt’s Necklace entirely.
Hammer of the Ancients & Critical Hit Chance
This build starts the damage rotation at Maximum Fury, which is generated by Furious Charge.
During single target fights like on the Rift Guardian we stay at Maximum Fury all the time with The Gavel of Judgment and get up to 112 Fury .
We get 1% Critical Hit Chance per 5 Fury we currently have, so at full Fury we get 112 / 5 = 22% more Critical Chance. In conjunction with Battle Rage Bloodshed and Wrath of the Berserker, we gain a total of 22 + 3 + 10 = 35% bonus Critical Hit Chance.
With the 5% players get by default and another 5% we get from the Paragon System, this build reaches 35% Critical Hit Chance without any items. This allows us to drop some Critical Hit Chance on Rings to gain other stats like Cooldown Reduction or Damage Range.
Battle Rage Bloodshed
A great offensive skill that has been reworked a lot in the past due to multiple bugs like double dipping some damage multipliers such as Elite damage and Physical Elemental damage.
Releases a 20 yard wave around your character every second.
Does not proc Area Damage and diminishes its effectiveness.
The damage is calculated from a sum of the critical hits performed during the last second.
The damage wave itself is not further amplified by any damage bonus, including Physical Elemental damage, as its damage calculation is based off of your hits, which are already buffed.
Always keep up Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients
Furious Charge every 8 seconds for Band of Might.
High Damage potential in a very small area of effect with Hammer of the Ancients.
Very fast Attack Speed and cooldown resets with Immortal King's Call(4) Bonus
You almost always see high yellow Critical Hit Numbers.
This build has been one of the best in the past and even made it into the group META years ago. It is a really cool and fun build to play and Barbs can only hope for some love to this classic build in the future Patches!