The Hammer of the Ancients (HotA) is one of the few Barbarian (Barb) builds that makes use of the Legacy of Dreams (LoD) legendary gem, which provides a total of 13x750%=9750% damage increase if you have full ancient items. Originally many HotA Barb builds used the Immortal King's Call set, but the damage bonus of "only" 4000% is pretty outdated these days and with loads of complementary item options, it gets even less attractive. The LoD version usually wins in terms of damage per second (DPS) and toughness.
Super Tanky ✔ Fast Attack Speed ✔ Easy Resource Management ✔ Very High Critical Hit Chance ✔
❌ Not very Mobile ❌ Band of Might Dependency ❌ Need Ancient Items for LoD ❌ Low Area of Effect Damage
The Legacy of Dreams legendary gem is our highest damage multiplier. To optimize damage output it is ideal to have full ancient gear!
Our second highest damage multiplier is the The Gavel of Judgment. We want to cube this one because it is a 2 handed weapon and we have decent 1 handed options to better optimize our Critical Hit Damage with the additional 130% from the second Flawless Royal Emerald. The second effect on the item also solves our Fury problem on single targets like the Rift Guardian
Bracers of the First Men and Remorseless are the other 2 damage and Attack Speed multipliers giving us crazy damage output
Fury of the Ancients has a nice synergy with Call of the Ancients Together as One allowing us to have both great fury generation from the Ancients' Fury rune and a permanent 50% damage reduction
Cindercoat is the reason we use Fire as our element to further gain 20% damage and even more important 30% Resource Cost Reduction for our main Fire skill Hammer of the Ancients Smash
Echoing Fury is nice to have for additional Attack Speed but there are other option to choose from like In-geom for cooldown purposes in speed runs. The Chance to Fear on Hit with Echoing Fury can also be a bit annoying with our high Attack Speed
Mortick's Brace gives a lot of healing through Life per Fury Spent (we do spend a lot with HotA) and additional Toughness
Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac is an item you really need to have in the LoD Version of this build as you have very high Attack Speed and want to ensure Wrath of the Berserker stays active
Band of Might is used for the tremendous toughness gain and is proc'ed by using Ground Stomp or Furious Charge
During Season 22 we add The Furnace into the 4th Kanai's cube slot to gain more damage against Elites
Optional items are Squirt's Necklace and Convention of Elements for multiplicative damage. Use The Flavor of Time for solo pushing mainly to maximize Conduit Pylon benefits
Global Stat Priorities This build gets a lot of Attack Speed for free from Echoing Fury and Wrath of the Berserker. With just the guaranteed Attack Speed rolls on Echoing Fury and The Witching Hour we comfortably land on 13/13 frames 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 and the Call of the Ancients Together as One up time. 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.
Item Stat Priorities
Remorseless The Gavel of Judgment (Cubed) The Furnace (Cubed)
1. Damage Range 2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift 3. Cooldown Reduction 4. Area Damage 5. Damage % 6. Maximum Fury (Secondary) 7. Strength
Echoing Fury In-geom
1. Damage Range 2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift 3. Attack Speed 4. Damage % 5. Cooldown Reduction 6. Area Damage 7. Strength
1. Socket Flawless Royal Diamond 2. Hammer of the Ancients Damage 3. Critical Hit Chance 4. Strength 5. All Resistance 6. Vitality
Magefist Stone Gauntlets Gloves of Worship (Bounties A2)
1. Critical Hit Chance 2. Critical Hit Damage 3. Cooldown Reduction 4. Area Damage 5. Strength
Fury of the Ancients
1. Strength 2. Cooldown Reduction 3. Area Damage 4. All Resistance 5. Vitality
Cindercoat Aquila Cuirass
1. Fire Damage 2. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond 3. Strength 4. All Resistance 5. Elite Damage Reduction
Swamp Land Waders (Witch Doctor item)
1. Fire Damage 2. Strength 3. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond 4. All Resistance 5. Vitality
1. Socket 2. Critical Hit Chance 3. Critical Hit Damage 4. Area Damage 5. Damage Range
Bracers of the First Men Mortick's Brace Nemesis Bracers
1. Fire Damage 2. Critical Hit Chance 3. Strength 4. All Resistance 5. Vitality
Squirt's Necklace The Flavor of Time
1. Socket 2. Fire Damage 3. Critical Hit Chance 4. Critical Hit Damage 5. Strength
The Witching Hour
1. Critical Hit Damage 2. Attack Speed 3. Strength 4. All Resistance 5. Vitality
The first one is obvious, Legacy of Dreams for our majority damage increase as well as some nice toughness. To gain the maximum benefit out of this gem aim for a full ancient or primal set of items
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 1,6x damage multiplier
For Solo we need Bane of the Stricken to kill the Rift Guardian and for Torments we use Boon of the Hoarder to gain Gold and additional Movement Speed. Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard can be used to gain a shield buff in combination with Squirt's Necklace for double damage, toughness & insane healing. This last choice is very popular in group play or solo speed runs on medium Greater Rift levels!
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 162/5 = 32 % more Critical Chance, adding up to almost 100% Critical Hit Chance with proper gear. We choose the Fire rune so we can use Magefist and Cindercoat for their Fire damage buffs and 30% Resource Cost Reduction.
We need Call of the Ancients to proc the legendary effect of Remorseless, Together as One rune provides permanent 50% damage mitigation
Next we need a skill to proc Band of Might. Here we can choose between Furious Charge for a speed version or Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash to group up monsters tightly for massive Area Damage value in high Greater Rifts
Wrath of the Berserker is the second skill necessary to activate Remorseless and it also provides massive stat boosts and Crowd Control immunity
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
The last skill slot is optional: Most builds use War Cry for toughness or Threatening Shout Falter for a damage debuff on monsters. You can also use Ignore Pain to have a Crowd Control immunity option combined with some nice additional toughness
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)
Boon of Bul-kathos for Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients Together as One up time. It is needed even with an equipped Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac and high Attack Speed as you need to reset both skills
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 Fury
2. Critical Hit Chance
2. Life %
2. Pickup Radius
3. Cooldown Reduction
3. Resource Cost Reduction
4. Attack Speed
4. Life Regeneration
4. Life per Hit
¹ Add a bit of Vitality if you feel too squishy (aim for around 500.000 to 800.000 Life)
The Templar is recommended for this build due to his melee range and aggressive AI. When there's a monster in range he will always stand still and fight it, making him very predictable and easy to play around.
For the Skills pick Heal, Loyalty, Onslaught and Inspire. All the alternatives, except Intimidate, include AoE hard-CC, which makes mobs harder to manipulate.
Follower's damage is completely irrelevant, so we stack Attack Speed for more on-hit procs and Cooldown Reduction for more Heals. The Items are:
Enchanting Favor to make follower immortal
Oculus Ring for 85% multiplicative damage boost
Hellfire Ring for 0.9% XP boost
The Ess of Johan to pull mobs together
Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker for the Attack Speed slow
Any Shield with Cooldown Reduction
Always start by casting your War Cry, Call of the Ancients Together as One for Toughness and Fury as well as your Battle Rage Bloodshed for Critical Hit Chance and the additional damage wave. For solo gameplay you group up the monsters with your Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash and also proc your Band of Might in the process. Cast Wrath of the Berserker before you start attacking 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 Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac 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 Legacy of Dreams, 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. You can also add Stone Gauntlets for an insane Armor boost or Aquila Cuirass for 50% damage reduction and you will be almost invincible!
Concept The HotA barb is not the best Barb key farmer. That title belongs to the Whirlwind Rend Barb. However this can be a decent alternative if you want to change things up a little bit with a permanent Furious Charge, once In-geom is active, combined more area of effect damage with Hammer of the Ancients Rolling Thunder.
Gameplay Keep your buffs on cooldown and utilize In-geom by charging from pack to pack and kill the enemies while force attacking on them with HotA.
Setups In the Planner on the right we take a full movement speed approach together with Nemesis Bracers. Feel free to drop these 2 movement speed skills for anything you want like War Cry for Toughness and fury or Battle Rage Bloodshed for Critical Hit Chance and the additional damage buff. At medium Paragon levels (2000+) you can even drop Bane of the Trapped to take in Wreath of Lightning for additional Movement Speed.
Solo Greater Rifts
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 The Flavor of Time. Always start off by casting War Cry as well as your Battle Rage Bloodshed. Use Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients Together as One when you engage enemies while making a massive pull. Get a bunch of monster together and group them tightly by using Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash and burst them down on your Fire Convention of Elements rotation.
Setups There are not many alternatives here. If you struggle to survive you can take in Stone Gauntlets for an insane Armor boost or Aquila Cuirass for overall toughness. As you are immune to Control Impairing effects when you have Wrath of the Berserker up, the negative effect of Stone Gauntlets can not affect you in most situations. We can also drop War Cry to fit in Ancient Spear Rage Flip to gather large group of Elites for more Area Damage and more Battle Rage Bloodshed wave damage.
Group Trash Killer
Concept We take in Squirt's Necklace instead of The Flavor of Time as we gain additional shields and toughness in group play for example by adding a zMonk to the party. This leaves us with double damage as long as our shields remain up!
Gameplay Cast your Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients every 20s. Burst on your Fire Convention of Elements with Hammer of the Ancients Smash after your supports group up the monster to deal massive Area Damage. Communicate your rotation with your group or they can use this link to help keep track of Convention of Elements cycles. Don’t forget to use Furious Charge once in a while to refresh Band of Might buff.
Setups Feel free to add a Pride of Cassius in combination with Ignore Pain instead of Battle Rage for a massive toughness boost at lower Paragon Levels. Here you can also take Stone Gauntlets or Aquila Cuirass for another Toughness boost. Andariel's Visage without the 6% Critical Chance roll can be an offensive option.
IK HotA Trash Killer Version
Concept Here we drop the Legacy of Dreams gem to take the Immortal King's Call (6) Bonus for the damage buff and cooldown reducing mechanics, while we can keep our core and most important items. We also gain Pain Enhancer in the process which allows us to reach even the Attack Speed cap of 5 APS in certain situations with plenty of trash monsters around.
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 the monster for massive Area Damage.
Setups If you are struggling with toughness add a Band of Might instead of Convention of Elements or The Furnace. 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. Getting additional Toughness in the Immortal King's Callversion is not as easy since you are limited by set items.
Hammer of the Ancients & Critical Hit Chance
This build stays mostly at maximum Fury with Fury of the Ancients and The Gavel of Judgment and gets up to 162 Fury (or even more when using a Mighty Belt with Maximum Fury). We get 1 % Critical Hit Chance per 5 Fury that we currently have. So at full Fury we get 162/5 = 32 % more Critical Chance. Together with Battle Rage Bloodshed and Wrath of the Berserker we gain a total of 32 + 3 + 10 = 45 % bonus Critical Hit Chance. With the 5 % base players get from the game and another 5 % we get from the Paragon System this build already reaches 55 % Critical Hit Chance without any items. This allows us to drop some Critical Hit Chance on Rings for example to gain another stat like Cooldown Reduction or Damage Range.
Battle Rage Bloodshed
A great offensive skill that has been changed a lot in the past as it was a source of multiple bugs like double dipping of Physical damage etc. Here are the current mechanics:
Releases a 20 yard wave around you character every second
Damage is calculated from sum of your recent critical hits
The damage wave itself is not amplified by any damage bonuses, including Physical or any other Elemental Damage
Does not work with Area Damage
Diminishes the value of Area Damage
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
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! Rob