Welcome to our comprehensive guide for creating a powerful Barbarian who wields a bloody axe and hurls chained spears to drag enemies to their death with a single swing. This Steel Grasp Rend Barbarian build is all about controlling and decimating groups of enemies, making it perfect for both solo play and group activities. In this guide, we will cover all the basic mechanics and provide you with the optimal setup for skills, paragon points, and gear. We have also included a supporting YouTube video to showcase the build in action.
Strengths and Weaknesses
To compare this build with others, you can refer to our build tier lists.
To make this build work, you will need two unique items: Ancients’ Oath and Penitent Greaves. Additionally, you will require several Legendary Aspects, including Weapon Master’s Aspect, Accelerating Aspect, Bold Chieftain’s Aspect, and Aspect of Limitless Rage. We recommend having all the Legendary Aspects listed in this guide for the build to reach its optimal performance.
Season of the Malignant
This build was created for the current Season and utilizes the current in-game information and Aspects. Any future changes to this build will be noted here.
The second major update for Season 1, Patch 1.1.1, released on August 8th, 2023, brings some positive changes to the Barbarian class. These include adjustments to Basic Generator Skills, Key passives, skill passives, and Legendary Aspects. The changes that directly affect this build are as follows:
- Flay: Increased fury gain from 10 to 13.
- Aggressive Resistance: Increased damage reduction from 3% to 4%.
- Gushing Wounds: Increased bleed damage dealt based on Critical Damage bonus from 100% to 115%. Increased bleed damage when Overpowering from 11% to 70%.
None of these changes significantly impact the effectiveness of this build, and we have full confidence in its continued success.
The theme for Season 1 introduces a new legendary gem called Malignant Hearts. There are three types of hearts that need to be socketed into matching colored sockets on all equipped jewelry, as well as one type of heart that can be placed into any socket. For more information about the Malignant Hearts theme for Season 1, check out our Malignant Hearts guide. The ideal Malignant Hearts for this build, ranked by importance, are:
- Caged Heart of Creeping Death
- Caged Heart of Revenge
- Caged Heart of the Dark Dance
Please note that while this written guide is continuously evolving, the accompanying video serves as a general guideline. For the most accurate information, always refer to the written guide.
Skill Tree Points and Skill Bar
Follow the points allocated in the image above for the complete 58 point build. The additional 10 skill points are acquired through the Renown system.
Weapon Expertise – The Barbarian Specialization
Weapon Expertise is a set of benefits tied to the weapons you use as a Barbarian. Once you reach Level 5, you will unlock your expertise by using a specific weapon type. As you fight, your expertise rank with that weapon type will increase from 0 to 10. Once you reach rank 10, you will gain the maximum benefit when using that weapon with your skills. To swap your assigned weapon, go to your Skill selection list (not skill tree) and use the designated button (Middle mouse button on PC.) At Level 15, you will unlock the Masters of Battle quest, which grants you additional permanent bonuses regardless of your equipped weapon.
For the Steel Grasp Rend build, we recommend focusing on using the expertise of Two-Handed Swords for the bonus. We have listed both bonuses for the Two-Handed Swords below, but you have the option of assigning Two-Handed Swords to your skills and using a different Technique if desired.
To fully optimize this build for endgame, we recommend using the following Legendary Nodes and Rare Glyphs. Note that the information provided for each Rare Glyph is based on the Level 21 version.
Let’s break down each beneficial Node and the position of our Paragon Points in each Paragon Board, starting with the most important:
- Take the pathway on the right-hand side of the board towards the open Glyph slot.
- Along this route, pick up the Rare Node Brawn, which boosts our flat damage and increases our Maximum Life.
- Insert the Glyph Territorial and take the associated Dexterity nodes for the bonus. This will enhance our combat against close enemies.
- Within the Glyph radius, take both Rare Nodes: Iron Strength and Raw Power.
- Proceed back down the board and take the Rare Node Tenacity for Armor and additional Maximum Life.
- Finally, path towards the connection point at the top of the board and attach our next Paragon Board, Decimator.
Decimator (2nd Board)
- Head towards the open Glyph slot and pick up the Rare Node Destroyer. This Node, along with the two chosen Magic Nodes, will increase our damage with Vulnerable Damage and Two-Handed Slash Damage.
- Take the pathway to the left and acquire the Rare Node Brawn for increased Physical Damage.
- Move to the Glyph slot and insert Marshal, which amplifies the Magic Nodes around it and provides a cooldown reduction for Shouts.
- Select the two Rare Nodes inside the Glyph radius: Arrogance and Demolish. These nodes increase our damage to Vulnerable enemies and provide damage reduction while fighting them.
- Head towards the right-hand side of the board and pick up the Rare Node Pillage before selecting the attachment point. This Node focuses on increasing Vulnerable Damage.
- Attach our next Paragon Board, Carnage.
Carnage (3rd Board)
- Take the pathway towards the Glyph slot and pick up the Rare Node Enraged and the associated Magic Nodes.
- Insert Might into the Glyph slot, which boosts the Magic Nodes within its radius and grants us increased Two-Handed weapon damage.
- Inside the Glyph radius, take both Rare Nodes: Brash and Fierce. These nodes grant increased Berserking Damage and damage reduction against Vulnerable enemies.
- Path towards the bottom of the Paragon board and attach the next board, Warbringer.
Warbringer (4th Board)
- Head to the Glyph slot and insert Wrath for increased Critical Strike Damage and a bonus Fury for each Critical Strike.
- Take the Rare Node Raw Power for increased Physical Damage.
- Once this Paragon board is complete, return to the Decimator board and head to the topside to add Weapons Master.
Weapons Master (5th Board)
- Head towards the Rare Node Brute for increased Physical Damage and Attack Speed.
- Path over to the open Glyph slot and insert Disembowel. This will increase our Bleeding damage and give us a chance to lower the Cooldown for our Non-Ultimate skills with every bleeding enemy we kill.
- Lastly, take the single Rare Node Raw Power to further boost your Physical Damage.
- This board is now complete. Return to the Decimator board and take the path to the left-hand side to attach Hemorrhage.
Hemorrhage (6th Board)
- Take the pathway to the open Glyph slot, picking up the Rare Node Grit along the way to increase your Damage Reduction against Bleeding targets.
- Insert Undaunted into the Glyph slot and take the necessary Willpower nodes to activate the bonus.
- Now take the other Rare Node within the Glyph radius, Butcher, which increases our Bleed damage.
- Head to the top of the board and attach the final Paragon board, Bone Breaker.
Bone Breaker (7th Board)
- Head towards the open Glyph slot and insert Exploit, which increases our damage to Vulnerable enemies.
- Take the Dexterity nodes shown above to receive the bonus with Exploit.
- Lastly, take the Rare Node within the bottom of the Glyph radius, Vigor, to increase our overall damage to Healthy enemies.
- This completes the Paragon Tree for this build.
Please note that the Paragon board images are courtesy of d4builds.gg.
Mechanics and Playstyle
This build has a straightforward yet rewarding gameplay loop. Use Steel Grasp, aided by the unique item Ancients’ Oath, to gather enemies, and then unleash Rend to deal devastating bleeding damage. The key to mastering this build is positioning yourself effectively for the Steel Grasp pull to maximize the damage amplifiers (Berserking, bonuses against close enemies, shout buffs, etc.) just before using Rend. By doing so, you can swiftly eliminate enemies while continually moving forward to the next group. The unique item Penitent Greaves further enhances your damage by adding an additional crowd control effect to the mobs you pull with Steel Grasp. This is achieved through the Caged Heart of Creeping Death, which amplifies the Bleeding damage inflicted on slowed enemies due to the icy trail and Hamstring effect of the boots.
This buff is almost always active thanks to Steel Grasp and War Cry. By utilizing these two skills, along with the Relentless Berserker’s Aspect, you can maintain a Berserking state for the majority of your battles.
Rallying Cry and War Cry are the primary shouts in this build. Not only do they increase our damage with Berserking and Fury, but they also synergize to reduce our cooldowns, allowing us to use Steel Grasp more frequently. Challenging Shout can also be utilized for additional Cooldown Reduction, but its primary purpose is to tank opponents.
Flay serves as our basic attack and can be seamlessly integrated into combat while performing Steel Grasp and Rend rotations. It not only increases our Bleeding damage with each strike but also keeps enemies Vulnerable, setting the stage for Rend.
Gear Choice and Stat Priority
As you progress through World Tier 3 and 4, you will start to encounter Rare and Legendary item drops. Pay close attention to these drops and save the targeted Legendary items that possess the required Legendary Aspects listed in this guide. Additionally, aim to acquire Rare items with specific affixes that match the recommended rolls detailed below. The order of importance for the targeted affixes is as follows:
- Cut to the Bone – Increased bleeding damage to Vulnerable Enemies.
- Cooldown Reduction – Reduce the cooldown of Steel Grasp as much as possible.
- Resource Generation – Boosting Fury generation enables more frequent use of Rend, thus stacking the Bleed damage.
Please note that these affixes are our recommended picks, but other affixes can also work effectively. However, be aware that certain affixes, as mentioned above, are essential for the build’s success.
A final note on acquiring the right affixes or Legendary Aspects: use your Obols to target farm them. Obols can be obtained from various activities in the game, so accumulate them until you reach your maximum capacity. Instead of spending them randomly, use them to target specific loot slots and find what you need. This approach maximizes your chances of obtaining the correct affixes or Legendary Aspects.
If you’re interested in optimizing your Obol gambling, check out the Obol Gambling Optimization Tool from Icy Veins.
Listed below are the best-in-slot Aspects found on Legendary items that are crucial for the Steel Grasp Rend build. While Aspects from the Codex of Power can be used as substitutes, they do have weaker effects. Extract Aspects from lower-level Legendary items and imprint them onto better Rare items with preferred stats. The ultimate goal is to imprint Aspects with the best values onto high-item-power Ancestral Rare items, then upgrade them through the Blacksmith. Each aspect is listed alongside its matching gear slot. Try to keep each aspect in the designated slot for optimal performance.
This build relies on two unique items: Penitent Greaves and Ancients’ Oath.
For each slot, we recommend the following gems:
- Weapon: Royal Emerald for increased critical strike damage to Vulnerable enemies.
- Armor: Royal Ruby for increased Maximum Life.
- Jewelry: Exclusively use our Malignant Hearts for these slots.
Elixirs and Health Pots
Visit the Alchemist in any main town to craft helpful Elixirs that boost stats and experience gain for 30 minutes. Gather the necessary crafting materials while exploring the world, as they randomly spawn. Choose an Elixir that provides the Resistance you need most, or use the Assault Elixir to increase Attack Speed.
Once you reach Level 20, 30, 45, 60, 70, 80, and 90, return to the Alchemist to upgrade your potion. The additional healing provided by these upgraded potions is essential for survival.
- August 8th, 2023: Added notes about Patch 1.1.1.
- August 5th, 2023: Updated Malignant Heart and Paragon sections for clarity.
- July 27th, 2023: Initial build creation for Season 1.
And there you have it! With our Steel Grasp Rend Barbarian build, you’ll be able to dominate your enemies with ease in Diablo 4. Follow the guide, optimize your gear and skills, and enjoy the thrill of decimating hordes of foes. Good luck and happy hunting!