Hammer of the Ancients 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Barbarian skills making use of the Legacy of Dreams setup as the Immortal King's Call set 4,000% damage bonus is pretty outdated these days and, with loads of new complementary item options over the years, it gets even less attractive. Hence Legacy of Dreams is the setup of choice as it wins both in terms of damage output and toughness.
This is an Area Damage (AD) build, since Hammer of the Ancients can proc it. This is further enhanced by the high HotA 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
❌ Band of Might Dependency
❌ Need Ancient Items for LoD
❌ Low Area of Effect Damage
- 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.
- Cindercoat is the reason we play Fire Element to further gain 20% damage and most importantly 30% Resource Cost Reduction to Fire Skills for Smash.
- 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. In-Geom replaces it in Speed Runs. With an ethereal The Grandfather we skip 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.
- Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac is essential as you have very high Attack Speed and want to ensure permanent uptime of Wrath of the Berserker. Leoric's Crown helps us with massive Cooldown Reduction.
- Band of Might is used for its tremendous 80% damage reduction procced by either Ground Stomp or Furious Charge.
- 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:
- The Legendary 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.
- The Ethereal Itself
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 Ethereal Stat 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 Bracers of the First Men and Wrath of the Berserker. With just the guaranteed Attack Speed roll on and The Witching Hour we comfortably land on the 20 frame Breakpoint (for in-depth mechanics check here). Going for the next Breakpoint is not worth the investment, so you shouldn’t have Attack Speed anywhere else.
Even though we do have Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac with high Attack Speed we still want to get around 40-50% Cooldown Reduction to ensure 100% Wrath of the Berserker as well as Call of the Ancients Together as One uptime. This is essential to maintain our 250% damage increase from Remorseless. We further reduce the cooldown of both skills by using Boon of Bul-kathos.
- Always keep up Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients
- Furious Charge or Ground Stomp 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 Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac.
- One of the most iconic Barbarian builds right next to the Whirlwind Rend Barb.
- You almost always see high yellow Critical Hit Numbers.
I personally have not played this build much since it was META back years ago with the Immortal King's Call set. But while writing this guide I tried it again and loved it, just like back in the days! 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!
Introduction by Chewingnom.
Guide by Rob.