DIABLO 2, LORD OF DESTRUCTION - BARBARIAN GUIDE
Version 1.0, August 25 2002
Written by Loranna (lorannapyrel@hotmail.com)

*** Table of Contents ***

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Section 1:  Introduction
Section 2:  Legal Notice and Contact Information
Section 3:  Why Play as a Barbarian?
      Section 3.1:  What a Barbarian Cannot Do
     Section 3.2:  What a Barbarian Can Do
Section 4:  The Barbarian's Individual Abilities
      Section 4.1:  Weapon Styles
            Section 4.1.1:  Weapon and Shield Style
            Section 4.1.2:  Dual Weapon Style
          Section 4.1.3:  Two Handed Weapon Style
      Section 4.2:  Stat Points
            Section 4.2.1:  Strength
            Section 4.2.1:  Dexterity
            Section 4.2.3:  Vitality
            Section 4.2.4:  Energy
          Section 4.2.5:  Suggestions for Stat Distribution
      Section 4.3:  Barbarian Skills 
            Section 4.3.1:  Combat Skills
            Section 4.3.2:  Combat Masteries
            Section 4.3.3:  Warcries
Section 5:  Putting It All Together
      Section 5.1:  What a Barbarian Needs
            Section 5.1.1:  Crowd Control
            Section 5.1.2:  Powerful Attack and Physical Immune Killing
            Section 5.1.3:  Adequate Defenses
            Section 5.1.4:  Means of Healing
            Section 5.1.5:  Mobility
      Section 5.2:  A Suggested Skeleton Barbarian Skill Selection 
      Section 5.3:  Possible Builds Using the Skeleton Skill Selection 
Section 6:  Hirelings
      Section 6:1:  The Rogue Hireling
Section 7:  Closing Thoughts
Section 8:  Revision History
Section 9:  Credits

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*** Section 1:  Introduction ***

Hello everyone, and thanks for looking at my Barbarian Guide for Diablo 
2; this is my first ever attempt at making a guide for a video game, so 
please bear with me as I offer my insights into the Barbarian class.

Before we begin, I would like to say that this guide assumes the reader 
has a basic familiarity with the game Diablo 2, LoD, and the terms and 
conventions used in the game.  The guide is also written from a mostly 
Single Player, Player versus Monster perspective.  I have only been 
playing Diablo 2 for a few months at this point; I have never taken part 
in any duels, and have only played some limited multiplayer games with 
friends via TCP/IP.  I don't use Battle.Net, and consequently do not 
have access to the sort of equipment one can find for sale from traders.  
It is, in fact, for these reasons that I have decided to try writing a 
guide for Diablo 2.

Many of the other guides and FAQs I have seen for this game are written 
by people who have played for a long time, who have accumulated riches 
and ultra-powerful items over that time.  Their advice and character 
builds, to me, reflect this experience and tend to assume an ability to 
choose from the best items in the game for even newly-made characters. I 
have no doubts that, for people with the resources to get the equipment 
recommended, and maybe a rush to get their character up to high levels 
in a day or two, the guides and FAQs I've read are very helpful.

However, to me, not everyone has the luxuries afforded by playing on 
Battle.Net, with the multitude of items for sale and the chance to get a 
character rushed to high level quickly.  People like myself, who play 
Single Player most of the time, don't necessarily have access to all the 
wondrous items mentioned in these guides.  Also, newer players who are 
just trying out a Barbarian for the first time, going by one of the 
guides written by more experienced players, may not immediately realize 
some of the unspoken things these guides do not mention; this is not to 
say that the writers of the other guides were wrong in leaving out those 
details - they've played the game a lot, and such things to them would 
be so obvious as to not need mentioning.  And also, several of the 
guides I have seen are built for specific types of playing styles - most 
notably dueling, or magic find runs, both of which are popular styles of 
play, but which might not be what a newer player is looking for ...

I, as a newer player, feel I have a different perspective on the game 
than people who have played for years by now; I don't have the uber-
items at hand and am usually playing with only myself and my lone NPC 
hireling to face the hordes of demons.  I am trying, through this guide, 
to offer a different perspective than what other guides I have seen have 
had; to speak to those players who, like myself, are relative newcomers 
to the game and are wondering how they'll ever attain the demigod-like 
power of some of Battle.Net's veterans.  I cannot offer tips on how to 
make a Barbarian Godly - but I can offer my experiences in how to make 
your Barbarian survive the rigors of the battles before him, making use 
of what you can find simply by playing the game, without trading, and by 
exploiting your Skills to good effect.  And if I say something that 
makes a veteran look at the Barbarian with a new perspective - well, 
then I'll know I wrote something good (^_^)

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*** Section 2:  Legal Notice and Contact Information ***

This Guide is my work; GameFAQS Username Loranna, Copyright August 2002.  
It is meant for personal use and it is not meant to be used to produce 
revenue in any way.  Please do not publish or distribute this guide with 
intent to sell; also please do not post it on your Web site without 
first contacting me and getting my permission 
(lorannapyrel@hotmail.com), and even with my permission, please do not 
alter, edit, truncate, or otherwise change around my work - even if it's 
a spelling mistake.  Current sites with permission to post my Guide are 
www.GameFAQS.com; should you see this guide on any other site, please 
inform me that proper action may be taken.

Whenever I quote numerical data, such as percentage of a skill working, 
etc, all such data has come from the Arreat Summit, at 

http://www.battle.net/diablo2exp/

People interested in more technical detail about various Skills and the 
like - such as the exact progression of damage and attack rating bonuses 
- are encouraged to go to the aforementioned website and read up on it 
there; Blizzard has done a far better job of compiling that sort of 
information than I could hope to do in this guide - plus, they have 
screenshots too! (^_^)

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*** Section 3:  Why Play as a Barbarian? ***

Barbarians are a powerful fighting class in Diablo 2, with many options 
for customizing the sort of fighter you want.  Anything form a classic 
sword and shield toting hero, to a berserker wielding two large axes, to 
a dragoon style warrior who jumps in with a massive pike, to a 
specialist in throwing knives, can easily be made with the Barbarian 
class.  Barbarians also possess a mix of abilities that make them a good 
choice for not only solo play, but also group play, with war cries which 
can grant bonuses to party members as well as the Barbarian himself.

Barbarians are also a relatively simple class to start off in, as their 
primary means of taking down the legions of Hell are through force of 
arms, which means that people can jump right into playing a Barbarian 
with little effort.  Yet, Barbarians have a level of depth to them as 
well beyond simple hack-and-slash; the number of skills devoted to 
weapons and weapon use offer many options for different combat styles, 
war cries provide ways for Barbarians to 'buff' allies and weaken 
enemies, as well as control the ability of monsters to even get in close 
enough to hit you.  Barbarians can be furious, all-out offensive killing 
machines, powerful, nigh-unhittable tanks, marksmen who coolly dispatch 
foes from a distance, or a mix of all three, and all while providing 
backup support for a team taking on Diablo and his brothers.  Many of 
the Barbarian's skills can prove useful even with only a single skill 
point allocated to them, providing Barbarians with potentially a wealth 
of options and tactics to play with, or one can choose to concentrate in 
just a few skills and become a deadly specialist.

*** Section 3.1:  What a Barbarian Cannot Do

Before going into the list of things a Barbarian can do, let me briefly 
sum up what they can not do - and then later I will explain how 
Barbarians can compensate for these inabilities :)

First off, Barbarians do not have many skills for inflicting magical or 
elemental damage.  What magical damage they can inflict, is mostly form 
skills like Berserk and maybe War Cry (if that skill does magic and not 
physical damage) - and Berserk is a melee skill, while War Cry is a 
short-range radius.  When it comes to striking down foes at a distance 
with the power of the elements, Barbarians must look to other sources 
than their natural skills; they are, in fact, the only class which lacks 
any real elemental damage in their skill set (Sorceresses and Paladins 
have ways to use ice, fire, and lightning; Necromancers have poison and 
pure magic attacks, and Amazons, Druids, and Assassins all have some 
ability to inflict all four elemental attacks, either in melee or in 
ranged form)

Second, Barbarians do not have the ability to summon minions - other 
than their hireling and party members, the Barbarian faces the hordes of 
Hell alone.  Only the Sorceress and the Paladin suffer from this lack, 
and the Paladin has a skill that can temporarily convert monsters into 
minions, offering the Paladin a way around this limitation.  Barbarians 
can, however, create Grim Wards, which can be used to keep enemies off 
of a Barbarian's back as effectively as a meat-shield summon, if not 
somewhat more so in the proper circumstances.

These are the Barbarian's most noticeable inabilities; lack of any real 
elemental skills, and lack of minion summoning.  However, the list of 
abilities a Barbarian does have more than makes up for these lacks.

*** Section 3.2:  What a Barbarian Can Do

This is just a short teaser list of the abilities available to a 
Barbarian; later sections will go into more detail about each of these 
abilities in turn.

A Barbarian can ...

- Specialize in almost any sort of melee or throwing weapon, doing 
impressive damage
- Control the distance between enemies and himself, thus controlling how 
many monsters can get in close to hit him
- 'Teleport' - or, rather, Leap, which is one of the better ways of 
getting around in a tight jam as well as a useful attack
- Wield two weapons, and use skills allowing for hitting multiple foes 
at once
- Use passive skills which improve defense, stamina, elemental 
resistance, and walking/running speed
- Use war cries to raise allies' defenses, life, mana, and stamina, 
weaken enemy attacks and defenses, stun monsters, frighten off monsters, 
or pull monsters to them (last three part of 'controlling the distance')
- Use skills that can 'pop' corpses, preventing reviving monsters from 
raising their dead comrades - and providing a chance to find more items 
in the process, or frighten monsters away
- Use combat skills that can inflict tons of damage, provide 
uninterruptible attacks, knock enemies away, or stun enemies briefly

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*** Section 4:  The Barbarian's Individual Abilities ***

With such an array of abilities from which to choose, deciding what 
skills to take, and how many points to invest in each, can be a daunting 
task.  In addition, there is the matter of stat points to distribute, 
what weapons to use, etc - a possibly daunting array of choices for a 
new Barbarian player.  So, how does one decide what abilities to go for?

*** Section 4.1:  Weapon Styles

Before deciding what skills to select or how to allocate your stat 
points from leveling, first you should determine a few things about your 
Barbarian's preferences for weapons - several of the Barbarian's skills 
work best with certain weapon setups and not so good with others.  
Example - Frenzy is a skill that requires wielding two weapons to use 
it; if you're making a Barbarian who uses swords and shields, or pole 
arms, Frenzy is not for you.

The following is a brief description of weapon styles available to 
Barbarians, with some suggestions as to the advantages and drawbacks to 
each, and what skills each style might want to look into.  Note - these 
styles are conventions I have made up and aren't actually part of the 
game per se; if anything, I would attribute my choice of naming these 
styles to Dungeons and Dragons (TM) and other such RPGs.

* Section 4.1.1:  Weapon and Shield Style

A classic fantasy staple, this style has the Barbarian swinging a weapon 
in one hand and deflecting arrows and blows with his trusty shield.  
Said weapon can be either a melee weapon, such as a sword, mace, or axe, 
or even a throwing weapon - all of which can be used as melee weapons as 
well, though most throwing weapons are much better used as ranged 
attacks.

With a shield, a Barbarian gains several advantages.  One is increased 
defense from the shield; another is the chance to block incoming 
physical attacks; a third is an increased chance for having good 
resistances to elemental attacks - shields can be socketed with diamonds 
and runes to provide better resistances than one might normally obtain 
through other items.  

Using a shield, however, does limit a Barbarian's offensive abilities - 
he gives up the chance to swing two weapons at once, or the ability to 
wield a weapon with two hands (two-handed weapons typically do 
noticeably more damage than one-handed weapons).  This lack of damage 
can be compensated for by getting powerful one-handed weapons, pumping 
up a Barbarian's weapon mastery in the appropriate weapon, using combat 
skills, and by increasing one's attack speed - but overall, a Barbarian 
using weapon and shield will do less damage per attack or unit of time 
than other Barbarians.  Weapon and shield is a defensive, resistance 
minded style; the Barbarian is stressing his own safety over his death-
dealing ability, confident that his defenses will keep him safe while he 
chops down his foes.

Weapon and Shield also presents one other potential problem - the chance 
of getting caught in 'blockstun'; a barrage of attacks deflected by your 
shield will cause the Barbarian to go into the blocking animation over 
and over, preventing him form moving for a moment.  This can be annoying 
when you're being fired upon by a dozen blowdart-wielding Flayers and 
you just want to take a few steps to the left for some cover ...  
Getting a faster block rate, however, can compensate for this problem, 
and to my mind, all those attacks that are keeping me in a blocking 
animation, had they hit, would likely have me gasping for a medic 
anyway, so I prefer to be alive and wading through the fire then dying 
and still having to wade through the fire (^_^)

Barbarians going for shield usage have a lot of options available to 
them; should they choose to pump up skills like Iron Skin and Shout 
(both of which raise defense), and get their hands on a shield with good 
blocking percentages, they can become formidable tanks, and by raising 
Natural Resistance while using shields socketed with diamonds, they can 
often walk into Hell difficulty with resistances near max even with the 
steep penalties.  Combat-skill wise, only the skills dealing 
specifically with two weapons are pointless for this fighter; weapon and 
shield style can either use skills like Bash, Stun, Concentrate, and 
Berserk to pick off enemies one by one, or else go for Whirlwind and 
slice up foes with abandon - and the shield offers Barbarians using 
Whirlwind and Berserk an additional layer of defense that they would 
otherwise not have.  Alternatively, a Barbarian using throwing weapons 
can use skills like Howl, War Cry, and Grim Ward to keep enemies at a 
safe distance, while his shield gives him a chance to deflect arrows and 
other ranged physical attacks while he picks his targets and whittles 
the legions of Hell down with deft throws of his weapon.  

I, myself, favor the use of the weapon and shield style, both for melee 
and for ranged weapons - I use a sword and shield as one weapon 
configuration, and a throwing axe and shield for the other.  Thus far, I 
have found that this style of play suits my inclinations well, and even 
if a player wishes to make a two-handed wielder or a dual-wielder, 
weapon and shield is a good option to look into when you're just 
starting off and have few skill points and good pieces of equipment to 
play with.

* Section 4.1.2:  Dual Weapon Style

This Barbarian goes for a more offensive approach, wielding two weapons 
to carve his foes into pieces.  Any one handed melee weapon, and any 
sword be it one or two handed, can be used in a dual wielding style by a 
Barbarian, as can dual throwing weapons.

By sacrificing a shield in favor of another weapon, a Barbarian 
increases the damage he can do per unit of time, and also opens up other 
options - it can be hard early on to find a sword with both good life 
leech and good mana leech, or with more than one elemental damage, but 
by wielding two weapons, you double the options available to you.  Have 
one sword that does great ice damage, but no leech?  Wield it with 
another weapon with a bunch of skulls and leech all you want while 
freezing your foes (^_^).   Of course, there are other ways to get extra 
bonuses like this, such as charms, rings, amulets, etc - but having two 
weapons gives you that many more options, especially in lower levels 
when the really good charms and jewelry can be hard to come by.

The downside to using two weapons is that you sacrifice the protection 
of a shield in order to get it, and all the benefits a shield can 
provide.  However, all the Barbarian's defense-raising skills can still 
be used, so one can still make a fairly impressive tank with two 
weapons.  And high-end weapons can often have bonuses to resists, which 
can offset the lack of a shield with runes and diamonds to some degree 
(or to a large degree, depending on what you get your hands on)

Skill-wise, the Barbarian using two weapons, especially melee, has 
several skills tailored for his style.  Frenzy is perhaps the most 
notable, allowing a dual wielding Barbarian to increase his attack speed 
and movement rate to truly frightening levels and cementing the dual 
wielding Barbarian's reputation for being a blender on legs.  Whirlwind, 
when used with two weapons, hits more often than with just one, as the 
secondary weapon slices through the legions of Hell along with the 
primary - thus increasing the damage that skill can offer over and above 
what a weapon and shield wielder could hope for.  Throwing specialists 
using two throwing weapons can strike down foes twice as fast using 
Double Throw, and still can use all the same skills for keeping enemies 
at safe distances that any other Barbarian can.

My experiences with dual wielding are, admittedly, limited - having 
grown comfortable with weapon and shield style, I tend to stick with it 
- but I have tried both a dual sword wielding style and a dual throwing 
style for comparison purposes.  My feeling is that dual wielding style 
is a fast and furious, high-risk high-reward method of play - yes, you 
hit the enemies twice as much, and with even lower levels of skills like 
Frenzy, you can get noticeable increases to speed and movement, but 
without a good investment in the defense-raising skills, you are leaving 
yourself more open for attacks, particularly ranged attacks like arrows 
and blowdarts (War Cry, however, offers a way to make melee range a lot 
safer ^_^).  If you like playing very offensive-type characters, 
however, dual wielding is an attractive option - just be mindful of 
allocating skills to help compensate for your lack of a shield's 
protection.

One last note on dual wielding; in the few times I used two weapons, I 
found that skills like Bash, Concentrate, and Berserk still only attack 
with one sword - the sword in your right hand (the hand that typically 
wields a weapon if you're also using a shield).  If you intend on using 
any of those skills with a two-weapon style (Berserk being the one most 
likely, in my estimation, to be used by a dual wielding Barbarian 
especially in Hell Difficulty), then it's a good idea to have your most 
damaging weapon be in your right hand.  

* Section 4.1.3:  Two Handed Weapon Style

The Barbarian who decides to wield large, two-handed weapons can choose 
from some of the hardest-hitting and longest-reaching melee weapons in 
the game.  Sacrificing both a shield and some of the speed in attacking 
that a dual wielder can attain, the two-handed weapon specialist gains 
the ability to strike foes with devastating single blows, while 
potentially keeping melee monsters at arm's length.  And when these 
Barbarians Whirlwind, the added reach many two-handed weapons provide 
gives their spinning dance of death a little more ability to hit more 
enemies that a sword or mace wouldn't hit.

Unlike the other two styles of combat, there is no real ranged version 
of the two-handed weapon style; bows and crossbows are not among the 
weapons Barbarians can take masteries in, and while nothing prevents a 
Barbarian from stringing a bow or wielding a crossbow, their combat 
skills are not geared for such weapons as they are for throwing weapons 
and most melee weapons.  This is not to say a two-handed weapon using 
Barbarian is without ranged options; with the ability to switch between 
two sets of weapons and shields, a Barbarian wielding a halberd can whip 
out a pair of throwing axes in a moment's notice, soften up the 
encroaching hordes with a few well-placed axe tosses, then pull out the 
halberd again and rain crushing blows upon those unlucky enough to have 
gotten in close.

The drawbacks to wielding a two-handed weapon are similar to wielding 
dual weapons; namely, the sacrificing of a shield and all the related 
benefits therein.  However, since the two-handed weapon style uses but 
one weapon, they have fewer opprutunities to raise their resistances 
through an extra piece of equipment that the dual wielder possesses, or 
the extra options of using two weapons with varying special abilities 
for double the woe for their enemies.  While two-handed weapon users can 
strike quickly with the proper equipment, most two-handed weapons are 
among the slower weapons in game, thus the style lends itself to a 
slower, more deliberate, pace, keeping the enemies at bay with a large 
stick and hewing them down with powerful blows - though it is still a 
more offensively oriented style of play then, say, weapon and shield.

Skill-wise, the only skills a two-handed weapon Barbarian will likely 
avoid are the ones directly related to using two weapons at once.  
Again, all the skills for raising defense and controlling the enemies' 
distance from you are still viable.  Two-handed weapon users are also 
more likely to make use of Leap Attack as part of their main offense, as 
their choice of weapons, combined with the large bonuses to damage from 
Leap Attack, make them more likely to fell even powerful foes with a 
cleaving strike from the heavens.  Fans of the Dragoons from Final 
Fantasy may with to give this style a look; be sure to wear an 
aerodynamic helm when fighting though (^_^)

Again, for comparison purposes, I tried wielding two-handed weapons a 
few times, mostly pole arms and spears.  Pole arms for the most part are 
noticeably slower than the swords I have come to love, and spears are as 
well (though most spears are a bit faster than most pole arms), and 
while I usually use Concentrate with a sword for the extra defense it 
provides.  With pole arms and spears I found myself falling back more 
and more on the Bash skill, to help compensate for the slower attack 
speed by keeping the enemies at a safe distance.  For me, while I felt 
more comfortable with the two-handed style than the two-weapon style, I 
still felt somewhat awkward trying to use a large pole arm or spear to 
finish off my foes, especially when in areas with lots of ranged 
attackers supporting melee monsters.  However, in my estimation, a 
Barbarian who is mindful of raising their defense-buffing skills and who 
is good at playing a slow and steady, strike-once-strike-dead style of 
play, will find two-handed weapons to be a good choice.  Such a 
character may also wish to experiment with knockback from items to 
further keep foes at arm's length, though in my experiments knockback 
from items doesn't quite seem to work all the time ...


Regardless of what weapon style a Barbarian chooses, many skills 
(especially from the War Cries skill tab) will be universally helpful.  
And with the weapon masteries, a Barbarian can get decent damage from 
most any weapon type, so feel free to choose whatever weapon style you 
feel most comfortable with - the legions of Hell should hopefully not 
notice the difference (^_^)

*** Section 4.2:  Stat Points

Look at some other FAQs for Barbarians, and the advice you'll see for 
stat raising often is much the same - enough Strength for 
Stromshield/the highest Strength-requirement for the equipment listed as 
part of the build, enough Dexterity for max block with your shield at 
level 99 (or whatever level you plan on attaining for your Barbarian), 
all other stat points into Vitality, and by Cain's Beard man, NEVER sink 
even a Single Point into Energy! (^_^)

... Well, there is a certain logic to this advice; life is useful, and 
you'll generally want as much as you can get, and once you meet your 
stat requirements for whatever your Final Gear will be you don't really 
need to put too many points into Strength or Dexterity - most of the 
Uber-Equipment Suggestions suggest items and weapons with large damage 
modifiers and high AR bonuses or else just Ignore Target Defense, and as 
for mana ... well, mana leech anyone?

However, for this guide, I'm not going to go by the usual suggestions 
I've seen in other FAQs; the whole idea of this guide is that I'm 
assuming you don't necessarily have access to all this Uber Equipment 
and have to play through with what you can manage to find.  Therefore, 
I'm going to look at each stat, see what it offers, and make suggestions 
based on that information.

* Section 4.2.1:  Strength

The hallmark of Barbarians in fantasy literature and film, Strength is 
used for a few things in Diablo 2:
- Determining Melee Damage
- Partially Determining Thrown Weapon Damage
- Used as a requirement for many melee weapons and other gear (armor, 
shields, etc)

Barbarians being the type who like using weapons and strong armor, 
Strength is important for Barbarians simply for the fact that most of 
their favored gear has moderate to high Strength requirements.  From my 
own experience, the increase in damage done via raising Strength does 
not seem all that big at lower levels of Strength - there were times 
when it took a good five points increase in Strength to see even a one 
point increase in damage done - but at higher levels of Strength, the 
increases in melee damage became more noticeable more quickly.  Raising 
Strength to increase damage will pay off; however, also remember that 
it's not just your Strength that raises damage, but also your equipment 
and also your Skills - yet another good reason to invest in weapon 
masteries (as if a Barbarian needed more reasons for that ^_^).

* Section 4.2.2:  Dexterity

Traditionally the hallmark of roguish types, Dexterity in Diablo 2 is 
used for the following:
- Determining Attack Rating
- Partially Determining Thrown Weapon Damage
- Determining Bow and Crossbow Damage
- Determining Defense
- Determining Chance to Block with a shield
- Used as a requirement for some melee weapons and all throwing weapons, 
bows, and crossbows.

Dexterity is the stat that will affect how often you hit things, and how 
well you avoid getting hit back by monsters.  When playing this game, 
I've noticed that oftentimes, I'll be listed as having an 80% or 84% 
chance to hit something, yet in actual play I seem to miss three times 
out of four an annoying number of times - without the ability to Ignore 
Target Defense, a Barbarian will want to up his attack rating as high as 
possible, to be able to land any of those powerful blows of his.  Shield 
users will want to try to get their blocking percentage as high as they 
can - obviously, shields with higher blocking percentages are a plus, 
but Dexterity plays a role in determining block percentage as well (the 
formula I've seen listed for determining block percentage has often 
confused me, as it seems to imply that higher level characters with the 
same Dexterity as a character of lower level are less able to block 
incoming attacks - somewhat counterintuitive, that.)  Throwing weapon 
specialists will want higher Dexterity not only for attack and defense 
reasons, but also for pumping up their damage, and because their favored 
weapons all have dexterity requirements.

* Section 4.2.3:  Vitality

Barbarians in fantasy are traditionally hardy people, which would 
translate into Vitality in game terms.  Vitality in this game actually 
only determines a couple things:

- Determining maximum stamina
- Determining maximum Life Points

The increasing of life points is the real draw of pumping up this stat 
for many Barbarians, and Barbarians enjoy some natural advantages here - 
with each level increase, they gain 2 Life and 1 Stamina naturally, and 
every Vitality point adds 4 Life and 2 Stamina. With high Vitality and 
using the Battle Orders Skill, Barbarians can have some rather hefty 
Life Point totals.  Many Hardcore players, who can't afford to die at 
all, are purportedly very enamored of the Vitality stat ... but even 
Softcore players, who can die and simply suffer the bother of retrieving 
their corpse, will want to have more life points, to make those corpse-
retrieving trips fewer and farther between.

* Section 4.2.4:  Energy

More the providence of mighty wizards, foul sorcerers, and cryptic 
mystics, the Energy stat as far as I can see affects but one thing in 
Diablo 2:

- Determining maximum mana

Barbarians, sadly, do not enjoy much advantage in the mana department; 
each level adds one mana naturally, and every point in Energy adds - one 
additional mana, no more.  Not 1.5, for 3 mana per 2 energy, pure and 
simple 1 to 1.  Still, Barbarians need mana as much as the next 
character; you can't Bash and Howl for free, you know (^_^). 

* Section 4.2.5:  Suggestions for Stat Distribution

Having briefly looked at what each stat offers your Barbarian, I now 
make the following suggestions when placing stat points:

- A Barbarian can make due without putting points into Energy.  At low 
levels, if you are feeling a pinch in the mana department, you can look 
to socketing sapphires into helms and armor for mana bonuses, as well as 
rings and amulets which offer additional mana.  Also look for items and 
weapons that offer mana leech and points of mana for killing creatures.  
While a Barbarian who invests points into Energy isn't doing anything 
wrong - every little bit does help - this is still the stat I would 
suggest a Barbarian not invest too heavily in, as the other three stats 
offer more for points invested into them than Energy provides, and it is 
possible even with the equipment most anyone can hope to find to 
increase your mana total to higher levels.

- Not taking the use of stats as requirements for gear into 
consideration, I would suggest that Dexterity is as useful if not 
slightly more so to raise for a Barbarian than Strength.  With a 
Barbarian's skills, and with better weapons, damage can be raised even 
with a slightly lower Strength, as can Attack Rating and Defense - but 
if you can't make your blows land, you can't do any damage no matter how 
powerful your attacks.  This doesn't mean I am suggesting neglecting 
Strength; every little bit of damage helps too - I am merely saying, 
that before you go to make your blows as powerful as a titan's fist, 
that you make sure you can actually land your hits first.

- Vitality is an important stat to raise; more life points = live 
longer, especially in those situations where something goes awry and 
you're suddenly trapped in a mob while Fire Walls spring up under your 
feet.  However, do remember - the point of your armor, shield (if you 
have one), resistances, etc is to prevent damage from occurring or 
reduce damage taken, and that use of your Skills can help keep monsters 
from hitting you too (more on skills in a bit).  Having an ungodly 
amount of life points is a good thing; having a decent amount of life 
points, good defenses and resistances, and the ability to avoid getting 
hit through tactics is a better thing (^_^).

- Don't forget that you can find items with pluses to various stats, 
both gear and charms; if you can get an extra 30 points of Strength from 
items without sacrificing something from your gear you feel you need, 
then you can focus on raising other stats for a while and let Strength 
be pumped up through your items.

For myself, I have more or less raised my Strength, Dexterity, and 
Vitality equally, devoting all five stat points per level raise to one 
stat at a time.  Sometimes, though, I'll skip raising Strength for a few 
levels in favor of just raising Dexterity and Vitality; I tend to do 
this whenever I feel I'm more in need of Attack Rating than Raw Damage, 
yet still want my Life Points to keep advancing steadily.  So far, in 
Single Player, I've found that has been working tolerably well so far; 
even in Act Four and starting of Act Five Nightmare, using a relatively 
decent but hardly Uber Unique weapon (the Ripsaw, socketed with an Amn 
Rune because I felt I needed some life leech), I can lay most enemies 
low within a few swings.  If anything, I'm wishing I had put more points 
in Dexterity than I have, so I don't miss quite so often ... but I'm 
still hitting often enough to not be in trouble.  Except for Nightmare 
Diablo, who insists that since he's the namesake villian of the game 
that he be big, buff, and overall Better Than Me; I have a few 
'councilling sessions' scheduled for later to disuade him from this 
notion (^_^).

*** Section 4.3:  Barbarian Skills


The Barbarian's Skills are his metaphorical lifeblood; through these 
Skills, he can attack his foes, defend himself and his allies, move 
around the battlefield, in short do all the things he does in the game.  
In this section, I will look at each Skill in as much detail as I can, 
offering my own experiences with using the Skill as well as any ideas 
and suggestions I can for making said Skill a useful part of the 
Barbarian's repertoire - or, at least, my reasons for feeling a Skill is 
a little less-than-useful.

* Section 4.3.1:  Combat Skills

These skills are the Barbarian's main form of attack.  Many of these 
skills have low mana costs, making them ideally-suited for the often 
mana-poor Barbarian - and once you find yourself some decent mana leech 
and some additional mana from items and other sources, you'll likely 
dispense with the plain old Attack command almost entirely.

Several skills from this tree offer not only bonuses to attack rating 
and/or damage, but also add some sort of additional effect to the 
Barbarian's blows.  Bash, for example, adds knockback, Concentrate adds 
defense, and Frenzy can add attack speed and increased movement rate.  

Bash - Level One Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: 2

Bash is the prerequisite for most of the other skills on this tree, so 
even people who wish to harness the mighty Whirlwind attack must first 
learn how to smack their foes around like rag dolls.  The Bash skill 
adds Knockback to your melee attacks, as well as bonuses to AR and to 
damage.  It is also, prior to Character Level 6, the only Combat Skill 
you will have, so beginning Barbarians will likely want to use it when 
they first explore the Den of Evil.

Knockback can, in the proper circumstances, be a very powerful ability.  
Even Champions and Uniques can fall victim to Knockback, and monsters 
who suffer Knockback while pressed against a wall or other obstacle are 
locked in hitstun, their heads snapping back in a most satisfying 
manner.  If you can isolate a Unique from his horde of minions (the Howl 
Skill from War Cries comes to mind) you can smack the unique around, 
keeping him hitstunned or simply out of melee range (for uniques with 
ranged attacks, Bashing them into a wall is usually better then simply 
smacking them hither and yon), or even sending the hapless monster 
further and further away from his pack of minions, to be slaughtered in 
a nice quiet location of your choosing (this tactic works well with some 
sort of way to keep the minions from following - Howl, Grim Ward, and 
War Cry all come to mind).  Using the Bash Skill lets a Barbarian have 
Knockback when he feels he needs it, while leaving him with the option 
of not knocking back foes when he wishes to keep them in one place while 
hewing them down.  Even in later parts of the game, I still use my one 
point Bash to teach melee uniques why Barbarians are the chosen 
defenders of Mount Arreat.

One note on the hitstunning effect of knockback when an enemy is pinned; 
generally, while faster weapons can keep a foe hitstunned with no time 
to recover, a slower weapon like a pole arm (assuming you are lacking 
any Increased Attack Speed) may not be fast enough to keep them pinned 
to a wall without being able to strike back.  For people using slower 
weapons who want to keep enemies unable to retaliate, try knocking them 
back into the wall, but not actually following up in toe-to-toe range to 
keep them stunned, instead standing just out of weapon range or so, and 
giving them enough time to take a step or two forward.  This way, even 
though they'll recover from the hitstun, they still won't be able to get 
close enough to you before your next swing knocks them back into the 
wall, so they'll be pinned between a rock and a sharp stick.

Sadly, Act Bosses and Superuniques do not fall victim to Knockback, so 
no Bashing Diablo around the Chaos Sanctuary for you (^_^).  
Nonetheless, the option to add Knockback selectively to your melee 
attacks is one I consider useful, and even with one point only invested 
in this skill, it still has a permanent home on my hotkeys.  One of 
these days, though, I swear I shall find the mythical Sword of 
Smackdown, and beat the Act Bosses around their stages like rag dolls - 
oh yes, someday ... mwa ha ha ha!


Leap - Level Six Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: 2

Leap!  Soar through the sky; put mere mortal athletes to shame with your 
hang time!  ... Well, maybe not.  (^_^)

The Leap Skill is one of two 'movement' type skills the Barbarian can 
learn; using Leap can let you jump over enemies, small obstacles, and 
other things impeding your path to the Slaying of Evil.  However, of the 
two 'movement' skills (Leap and Leap Attack), Leap is somewhat the 
lesser of the two for a number of reasons.

Leap's range is based on the number of skill points invested; at lower 
levels the range is rather - short.  As in, you can hope to Leap over 
the lone Fallen standing between you and his Shaman, but that's about 
it.  In order to have a decent range, you need to put a lot of points 
into Leap - and even at maximum skill levels, the range Leap can achieve 
is as far as what Leap Attack can offer - for one skill point.  Almost 
anyone who has played Barbarians for any length will suggest that saving 
your skill points, and putting a single point into Leap Attack at Level 
18, is a far more economical way of getting a far-reaching movement 
skill for your Barbarian.

Leap causes a small radius of Knockback where you land, though it does 
not cause any damage.  Again, compared to Leap Attack (which offers the 
same knockback and a swing at an enemy with high bonus damage), Leap 
seems to come up short here.  However, the knockback effect can offer 
some limited crowd-clearing ability.  Don't try to rely too much on it, 
though, as a form of crowd control ...

This is not to say that Leap is useless; Leap costs a small amount of 
mana per use, and can be helpful for escaping being surrounded, getting 
past cannon fodder in narrow confines to get at bigger threats (like 
Shamans and Greater Mummies), and for avoiding danger.  Prior to Level 
18, it is not a bad idea to have Leap hotkeyed for such situations.  You 
will, however, most likely not want to invest any points beyond one in 
this skill, and when you get access to Leap Attack, Leap will likely be 
retired in favor of it's more powerful cousin - however, if you find a 
good Barbarian Helm that offers a few levels in Leap, you'll have a 
decent Poor Man's Teleport Skill with short range, but for a paltry 2 
mana, which will serve you well until you reach Level 18.


Double Swing - Level 6 Skill  
Prerequisites: Bash
Mana Cost: 2

Okay, it's not Whirlwind, nor is it Frenzy.  It is also a skill I tend 
to not use much at all, since I favor a weapon and shield style.  
However, it is a low-level skill which allows you to attack two enemies 
at once in melee range, and the mana cost stays fixed at 2.  Double 
swing makes your Barbarian swing the two weapons in his hands quickly, a 
lot more quickly than just using the regular Attack command, and if two 
enemies are next to you, you'll swing a weapon at both of them with the 
increased speed this Skill offers.

Sadly, this skill doesn't offer any damage bonus, only bonuses to AR - 
and the bonuses offered start off at low percents, though they do grow 
steadily.  However, the AR bonus from this skill will not, from what I 
have seen, ever compare with what even a couple points in Frenzy can 
offer. In addition, Frenzy is a fixed mana cost of 3, and Frenzy offers 
everything Double Swing does, with additional bonuses for damage, attack 
speed, and movement rate.  For these reasons, I would expect that, much 
like Leap, a Barbarian will likely only invest one point into this 
skill, and when the more powerful Frenzy becomes available, this skill 
will be retired in favor of Frenzy.  Until Level 24, however - this 
skill offers a Barbarian a chance to hit two enemies at once for damage, 
something no other Barbarian Skill at a comparable level can do, and 
offers some increased attacking speed - not true Increased Attack Speed 
so much as just making your two sword swings happen in one action (which 
is, effectively, doubling how quickly you get attacks off, but still is 
technically not the same as IAS I believe).  While you're rising in 
level, if you dual wield, you may wish to use this skill, as it's 
available early on and is a prerequisite for the most powerful dual-
wielding skill anyway.  And again, if you find a Barbarian Helm with 
this skill on it, your one point investment will yield better returns.

Stun - Level 12 Skill  
Prerequisites:  Bash
Mana Cost: 2

"There's one; set for Stun."  (^_^)  This Skill sounds very useful in 
theory; a successful strike will render a opponent helpless for a brief 
time, letting you continue to rain blows on them while they stare 
helplessly at the halo of stars over their head.  In practice, though, I 
have found this Skill to be a bit less than useful, compared to other 
skills a Barbarian can acquire.

To its credit, Stun is another 2 mana flat rate Skill, and Stunning your 
opponent can be a useful tactic.  The problems with Stun, however, are:

1.  It only does base damage; the skill offers only a bonus to AR, and 
not a great one at that compared to other skills.

2.  The Stun length requires several points to be invested before it is 
long enough to be useful as a way of keeping a single enemy helpless.

3.  The advantages of Stunning an opponent with this skill can be 
acquired either through the use of the Bash skill to knock an opponent 
into hitstun, or else by use of the War Cry Skill at Level 30 - and War 
Cry affects a radius around your Barbarian, allowing you to Stun several 
opponents, while inflicting damage to them at the same time.

In my experiences, for one point in Bash, I can keep a single opponent 
helpless as effectively as if I had about 5 or more points in Stun, 
especially if I can knock that opponent into a wall, and those 5 or more 
points, invested into War cry, will allow me to stun multiple enemies 
while inflicting some minor damage to all of them in one fell swoop.  
Since I already had Bash by this point, and planned on investing in War 
Cry down the road, and since this skill didn't offer any bonus damage, I 
put a point into Stun as a prerequisite for the next two Skills down 
this skill branch, but never made much use of it other than to test it 
out.  However, I won't say this skill is totally useless, and you may 
find Stun to be to your liking.

Double Throw - Level 12 Skill  
Prerequisites:  Double Swing
Mana Cost: 2

The ranged version of Double Swing, and another skill I have not used 
all that much, but from all my time spent reading the GameFAQS Diablo 2 
Message Boards and faqs, this would seem to be a bread-and-butter skill 
of a pure Throwing Barbarain.  With this skill, your Barbarian throws 
both throwing weapons in hand in a quick one-two combo, gaining a bonus 
to AR while he's at it.  The Barbarian is the only character in the game 
who can throw two weapons at once, and this is the Skill which allows 
for that.

From reading some of the faqs on Throwing Barbarians on GameFAQS, I was 
led to believe that, at least for Normal difficulty, Double Throw is 
best reserved for bosses and tougher opponents, as the normal throw 
commands seem to be sufficient for taking out Fallen, Skeletons, and 
other Cannon Fodder enemies.  Also from these faqs, I was led to believe 
that investing points in this skill beyond a certain point is really 
only recommended if you are finding it difficult to get through your 
enemy's defense.  After managing to find myself a Horned Helm with a 
couple levels in Double Throw, I set my sword and shield Barbarian off 
to confirm these ideas, try out this Skill, and experiment with using 
two throwing weapons in general.  (I also privately vowed afterwards 
that from now on it's Jawbone Caps and Fanged Helms for me; I felt a bit 
silly running around in a Horned Helm and don't get me started on 
Assault Helmets ... ^_^)

At first, I tried to pretend that Diablo 2 is Street Fighter 2 by 
putting Throw on the left-click, Throw Left on the right-click, and 
putting my old E. Honda Hundred Hand Slap skills to use by tapping both 
in a continual rhythm.  Upon relating my experiences thus tomy friend 
DragonKat, he suggested that I just assign both to the left-click, leave 
the right-click open for Warcries, and simply switch hands when running 
low on ammunition for one hand ...  I can now, though, say with some 
confidence that even dual throwing Barbarians will not really feel a 
need to try to throw both weapons in hand unless they are, in fact, 
looking to use Double Throw.  Even if for no other reason than trying to 
left-click, right-click, left-click etc is still slower than Double 
Throw's throwing speed, makes it that much more difficult to get a lock 
on a target, and ties up both mouse buttons for attacks when you'd be 
better off having a Warcry ready for use in case of emergency.  (Thanks 
to DragonKat for being the voice of reason for someone who does a lot of 
Diablo 2 playing at three in the morning ^_^).

Bouts of silliness aside, my estimation of this skill is that it really 
only offers a Barbarian two things - better chance to hit from the AR 
bonuses, and faster monster killing at the expense of burning through 
both your sources of ammunition at once.  Given that a Barbarian can 
deal with common grunt enemies by using Warcries to keep them at bay and 
pick them off at their leisure, this Skill in my estimation is geared 
more towards dealing with the tougher foes - Champions, Uniques, and 
Superuniques - who aren't as easily kept at bay by a Barbarian's Skills.  
There is, however, a certain fun to be had playing the Throwing 
specialist's answer to a John Woo character ... (^_^).  Since the 
primary benefit I see that this Skill offers is the chance to toss both 
your throwing weapons in one action at an enemy, I tend to agree with 
what I've read in other guides, that more points in this Skill are 
really only needed if you feel you need the AR bonuses; if you've got 
enough AR to get you through most situations, you probably don't need to 
invest more points in this Skill.

Leap Attack - Level 18 Skill  
Prerequisites:  Leap
Mana Cost: 9

For those of you who have patiently waited since Level 6 to see your 
Barbarian soar through the air like he had on jet thrusters in his 
boots, your patience is rewarded.  For fans of Final Fantasy who wish to 
recreate the Dragoon Class, your desires are met.  For anyone else, you 
now have the chance to get one of the few 'Teleport' type moves in the 
game - with a fixed mana cost of 9, a fixed maximum range even for one 
skill point, and with an attack tacked on upon your landing, which even 
at level 1 in the skill adds good bonuses to AR and damage.  It is good 
to be a Barbarian (^_^)

Leap Attack is just that - you leap, you land, you knock back opponents 
like the Leap Skill and take a swipe at one of them in the process - or, 
if you wish, you can simply Leap Attack to a spot on the ground by 
holding down the Shift Key when using it, for leaping over rivers, up 
and down elevated areas, into the fray and out of a dire situation.  
While Leap Attacking, you are considered to be a ranged attack - plus, 
you can't be hit while in the air (but you can be hit upon landing).  
Even if you never use this skill to land an attack, the usefulness of it 
as a means of moving around will make it well worth having it hotkeyed.  
Barbarians with Throwing Mastery can pick their sites from which to 
throw their weapons with impunity, always staying a step ahead of the 
crowd; melee Barbarians can soar high over hordes of Cannon Fodder to 
strike at more dangerous and annoying foes - like ranged attackers and 
reviving monsters.

As an actual attack, Leap Attack has a fair amount of power even at 
lower levels - and putting extra points into this skill will increase 
the damage dealt; fully maxed out, with a maxed out weapon mastery and a 
nice high-damage weapon to back it up, Leap Attack can deal a lot of 
damage with just one hit.  However, as an attack, Leap Attack suffers 
from a lack of speed - you have to sail through the air, then land and 
hit your foe, and many enemies can simply by moving dodge the incoming 
Flying Barbarian of Doom.  Also, you cannot do a Leap Attack on someone 
immediately adjacent to you - a regular attack comes out instead.  Thus, 
you need to have at least some small amount of distance between you and 
your target for the attack to come out.  The fact that enemies can move 
away from the Leap Attack does tend to limit it's usefulness, and the 
fact that you must leap, hit, then leap again to attack someone else (or 
move a few steps away to leap for the same target) means that using this 
skill as your primary means of killing will require patience.  However, 
not all monsters move around all that much - Greater Mummies, for 
example, tend to stand in place to shoot at you and heal/revive undead, 
making them easy targets for Leap Attack.  And monsters can't always 
move away form small hops - a short Leap Attack does the same amount of 
damage as a long one, so people wishing to emulate Dragoons can still 
hit things with their jumps, and stunning/slowing enemies also does 
wonders for providing easy targets.

One word of warning - while leaping into a cluster of monsters looks 
cool, if you get attacked and stunlocked by the horde, escaping will not 
be easy; would-be Dragoons may wish to pick away at the edges of a crowd 
rather than jumping into the thick of things - unless they intend to 
Whirlwind their way through the horde once they drop in (^_^)  Also, I 
have found that 'leapfrogging' is a useful way to use Leap Attack - you 
Leap Attack at one enemy on the edge of a group, then immediately Leap 
Attack another enemy on another edge of the group, leapfrogging between 
the two of them till one dies - or, alternatively, you can leapfrog 
between more than two foes.  And while you're at it, no reason not to 
toss a War Cry in after your initial assault; your enemies are busy 
minions of evil, and should stop for a moment to reflect on the finer 
things in life anyway - like the business end of your weapon (^_^)

Concentrate - Level 18 Skill  
Prerequisites: Bash; Stun
Mana Cost: 2

Even with just one point invested in this Skill, Concentrate is one of 
my bread-and-butter attacks; when using this skill, your attack becomes 
uninterruptible, you gain a bonus to defense, and you get a bonus to AR 
and damage - all for 2 mana per swing.  About the only drawbacks to this 
Skill, is that you can hit but one opponent at a time with it, and the 
Skill doesn't in itself prevent the enemy from hitting you, merely 
ensures that your swing will get through even if they do overcome your 
heightened defense.

At only 2 mana per swing, even modest amounts of mana leech will let you 
build back your mana from using this Skill with decent damage output - 
in fact, whenever I need to build back mana, I use this skill over 
regular attack, even with the 2 mana cost; my mana ball never fails to 
build back up when I use Concentrate for leeching, assuming I'm not 
attacking a horde of Skeletons or the like.  With even a few pluses to 
skills from items, even only one point spent on this skill will yield a 
solid attack skill to fall back upon, should you wish to spend skill 
points elsewhere, such as Whirlwind (which needs a major point 
investment to reap major awards for damage bonuses).

Again, however, Barbarians wielding two weapons will swing only their 
right-hand one for Concentrate, so dual-wielders will not get the full 
benefit of having two weapons for attack if they use this skill.  
However, weapon and shield users, and two-handed weapon users, have no 
such problems ...

Frenzy - Level 24 Skill  
Prerequisites: Double Swing; Double Throw
Mana Cost: 3

My first experience with this skill was when the Moon Lord enemies in 
Act Five Normal used it on me; I was and still am thankful that the 
computer does not seem as adept at using this skill as a human player 
would be, however, as Moon Lords are fast and tough as it is - were they 
to take full advantage of this Skill, I doubt I'd have made it to Baal 
in one piece (^_^)

Frenzy is the ultimate specific skill for dual-wielding Barbarians; when 
using Frenzy, every successful double hit landed increases your 
Barbarians movement rate and attack speed, up to the maximum bonuses 
allowed per your skill level in Frenzy.  Each additional level in Frenzy 
raises your AR and damage bonuses (which start off at decently good 
levels and only get better as the skill level rises) as well as the 
maximum bonuses to movement rate and attack speed.  Combined with the 
Increased Speed skill Barbarians can get, one can, I hear, zip around 
the screen like lightning at high enough levels of this skill.  With 
some increased attack speed from items, naturally fast weapons, and high 
levels in this skill, Barbarians can slice and dice with the best of 
them.

The drawbacks to Frenzy, however, are that while you gain lots of 
increased speed and the like, you still have to hit your enemies one by 
one - though, it is possible to use other skills while in a Frenzy, and 
nowhere is it said you can't use War Cry, Howl, and other such skills to 
convince your enemies to wait a few seconds while you chop them to 
pieces.  However, the bonuses for Frenzy last but a few seconds, so make 
it March as they say.  I've also read that, with high enough levels in 
Frenzy, at some points your character can get so fast you start losing 
control of him - before you realize it, you're halfway to next week 
while your foes are staring mutely at the trail of dust and fire your 
boots left (^_^)  (Incidentally, it's a shame we can't see images of 
slack-jawed skeletons and greater mummies trying to comprehend how you 
suddenly became faster than a greased Lightning Fury while you zip 
around slashing away with gusto).  The short period of time during which 
Frenzy lasts can be annoying too if you were hoping to charge up Frenzy, 
then switch to, say, dual throwing weapons and try to emulate a machine 
gun; while you may be able to finish off foes quickly like that, for 
large hordes you may have to do a lot of switching between melee for 
Frenzy charge ups, and Double Throw for mowing people down, and in my 
experiences with using throwing weapons with my Barbarian, I've 
generally wanted to stay out of melee range as much as possible when 
relying on my throwing skills.

Whirlwind: Level 30 Skill  
Prerequisites: Bash; Leap; Stun; Leap Attack, Concentrate
Mana Cost: 25 at level One, +1 Mana per Two levels thereafter (26 at 
Level 3, 27 at level 5, etc)

The main reason many people, from what I've read, decide to play 
Barbarians, Whirlwind is touted by many as a staple for the Barbarian's 
arsenal of crowd control and swift death dealing.  With this skill, the 
Barbarian spins with weapons outstretched, slicing into any enemy 
foolish enough to be caught in his path.  Dual wielding Barbarians will 
hit 50% more often than single-weapon Barbarians, with the left-hand 
weapon accounting for the extra hits, and longer reach weapons mean 
slightly wider swaths of destruction when Whirlwinding.

Whirlwind is also among the most mana-intensive of the Barbarian's 
skills; Level one starts at 25 mana per pop, and every two levels in the 
skill raises the mana cost by one.  Whirlwind also starts off with very 
low damage; this is offset some by the chance for multiple hits, but the 
skill requires a generous amount of points to be pumped into it before 
it starts dealing damage bonuses comparable to, say, level one 
Concentrate - and the AR bonuses for this skill are not all that high, 
either.  And by generous amount of skill points, I mean something on the 
order of 15 to 16 Skill points before a single hit from Whirlwind is on 
par with a single hit from Level 1 Concentrate.  When Whirlwinding, you 
are unable to use potions, can still be hit by monsters, and can still 
block hits if you are using a shield - so you can sometimes end up more 
chewed up than the enemies you just dashed through, if you're not 
careful.

I have played around with Whirlwind some, having at one point raised the 
skill up to level 10 or so.  For me, I found that Whilrwind ... wasn't 
really what I had thought it to be.  To offset the danger of getting 
killed while whirlwinding, I tried often to mix in a level 10 War Cry to 
stun foes before whirlwinding through them a couple of times, but the 
low AR bonuses and damage bonuses tended to mean that things often did 
not die - and at 29 to 30 mana per whirlwind, on top of the cost for the 
War Cry to keep everyone in place and docile, I tended to burn through 
my mana like nothing no matter what.  Granted, my equipment at the time 
was hardly the best - not that much mana leech, a sword with a max 
damage of 25 or so (Single Player Normal was most unkind, and refused to 
drop a 5 or 6 socket Flamberge or something for me to turn into a 
Runeword like Honor or Silence - never mind I didn't even have half the 
runes for Silence I don't think anyway ^_^)  Based on my own admittedly 
somewhat limited experiences, and what I have read from the GameFAQS 
boards on Diablo 2, I surmise that Whirlwind requires the following in 
order to become the potent force of destruction I have heard it called:

1.  Maxed out Whirlwind Skill
2.  Maxed out Weapon Mastery
3.  High-damage output weapon - something Exceptional or Elite, 
preferably with a Cruel modifier
4.  Decent to high levels of mana leech
5.  (Optional)  Lots of pluses to skills from items, charms, etc.

From my perspective, this is a very high level of investment, requiring 
not only 40 points of skills just for this one attack, but also 
equipment that I as a Single Player user will not hope to see until 
sometime in Hell Difficulty - or which, people on Battle.net will have 
to pony up a fair number of Stones of Jordan for if they're just 
starting out (hope you brought a wheelbarrow for the chipped gems if 
you're starting off ^_^).  Granted, most of the time a Barbarian would 
likely want to max a Weapon Mastery and a Combat Skill to go along with 
it, but that still leaves the matter of equipment needed to make the 
Whirlwind viable.  All this, and there is also the matter of enemies 
being able to hit you while you use the skill, unless you have some way 
to ensure they are otherwise occupied - or, can do so much damage that 
even in Hell, with the global 50% damage resistance, you can mow down 
the legions of the Three before they can even get their attacks off.

With all this taken into consideration, I have concluded that, while I 
do think Whirlwind is a fun-looking and potentially devastating skill, 
the amount of work I would need to make it remotely effective is not 
worth it, until such time as I have access to the high-end equipment 
that will let me use Whirlwind consistently, with little fear of getting 
knocked out of it because I'm missing my foes and they're hitting me as 
I pass by.  Until then, I might as well just pump up War Cry, toggle on 
my trusty Concentrate Skill, and chop down foes one by one while they 
stare at me helpless to resist - a strategy that works relatively well 
with even modest mana leech, 10 to 12 levels of War cry, a minor amount 
in Weapon Mastery, and a Level One Concentrate (plus the wisdom to know 
when to fall back and thin out the hordes swarming after me, of course.)  
If you are able to meet the equipment needs to make Whirlwind viable, 
however, then you should have a powerful tool of mass destruction at 
your command.  

Berserk - Level 30 Skill  
Prerequisites: Bash; Stun; Concentrate
Mana Cost: 4

This is the skill which Barbarians tend to use against Physical Immunes; 
Berserk offers large bonuses to AR and damage, and the damage bonus is 
all 'pure magic' damage, like Bone Spear or Spirit.  Maxed out, with 
high-end equipment and Weapon Mastery, a Berserk swing can lay low many 
foes in an amazingly short amount of time.

However, such power carries with it several disadvantages; using Berserk 
temporarily lowers one's defense to Zero, ensuring that an enemy will 
hit unless you have a shield and manage to block the attack - a point in 
favor of the weapon and shield style of fighting.  Berserk is also a 
melee-only skill, requiring the Barbarian to get in close, and you 
cannot leech life or mana from enemies when using it.  Fortunately, the 
mana cost remains constant at 4, but for those Barbarians who pride 
themselves in being pure throwing masters, that's rather small 
consolation.

Using Berserk while in a crowd is a Bad Idea, as I found out the hard 
way - if a Unique is Physical Immune, make sure his minions are all dead 
or elsewhere when you go running up to him in a berserk rage (^_^).  As 
for crowds of Physical Immunes, should you be unlucky enough to meet 
some - well, this is what Howl, War Cry, and Grim Ward are for; a 
Berserker will want to render his enemies powerless to strike back while 
he hews away.  All is fair in love and Smiting Evil, after all.

Unlike many other Skills in this list, where I find even a single point 
enough to make do, Berserk is a good skill to pump at least a few points 
into even if it's not your main attack of choice; you want to finish off 
fights using Berserk as quickly as possible to lower the chances of 
retaliation from other enemies, and so you can go back and leech off of 
something to build your mana back up (or drink a potion too, of course).  
Still, most sources I have seen seem to advocate around 5 points as 
being a good level of investment, assuming a high level in a Weapon 
Mastery, and I currently see little wrong with those assessments.  
However, if you are finding you are having problems killing Physical 
Immunes fast enough, an extra point or two in Berserk is a good idea, or 
else finding enough elemental damage from charms and items to make up 
the slack.  And if you wish to max out Berserk and use skills like War 
Cry to control crowds while smiting them, then you will be feared even 
by Hell Difficulty monsters; this is a path I can see my own Barbarian 
potentially developing into, given my love of War Cry.

* Section 4.3.2:  Combat Masteries

The majority of the Skills in this tree are passive skills devoted to 
specific weapon types; the remainder are all passive skills that any 
Barbarian can enjoy benefits from having - in fact, many other classes 
would probably wish they had some of the passive skills a Barbarian is 
privy to (^_^)

The conventional wisdom that I have seen is that, for the weapon 
masteries, one should pick a single weapon mastery and stick with it 
exclusively, maxing it out or at least putting a good 10 or more points 
in it.  Especially if one is using Whirlwind as their staple attack, 
given my own estimations of that Skill, there is a fair amount of sense 
to the conventional wisdom.  However, I have found that there is some 
benefit to building up two different masteries, namely a melee weapon 
mastery and throwing mastery.  Whereas other people would see this as 
diluting a Barbarian's effectiveness by spreading his weapon skills and 
supporting skills too thin, I have found that many of the Barbarian's 
Warcries have applications for both melee fighting and ranged fighting, 
and that several Warcries are still useful even with minimal 
investments.  Therefore, I see branching into these two masteries as 
making a melee Barbarian with a good ranged attack to fall back on.

Since the six weapon masteries are functionally the same, only applying 
to different weapons, I will clump them together in this section when 
dealing with them.

Sword Mastery, Axe Mastery, and Mace Mastery - Level 1 Skills
Prerequisites; None
Mana Cost: None (Passive Skill)

These are the three Weapon Masteries a Barbarian has immediate access to 
(well, almost immediate - soon as he gets a single skill point, that 
is).  All three of these weapon types come in both one handed and two 
handed versions, though only swords may be wielded one-handed by 
Barbarians despite them being two-handed weapons (two-handed axes and 
mauls, for example, must be used with two hands even by the mighty 
Barbarian)

Generally, swords are faster weapons, though perhaps not as damaging as 
axes and maces, axes are average speed and damage, and one-handed maces 
are generally fast but not as powerful as a sword, whereas a two-handed 
maul is slower than a sword but more powerful even compared to a two-
handed sword.  Mace style weapons also gain 50% extra damage against 
undead, which is useful in any Act in the game, though more so in Act 
Two, which is littered with undead left and right.  

Spear Mastery, Pole arm Mastery, Throwing Mastery - Level 6 Skills
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: None (Passive Skill)

These weapons are the long ranged options for a Barbarian - spears and 
pole arms have the longest reach of any melee weapon, and throwing 
weapons ... well, are meant for range (^_^).  Other than the throwing 
weapons, however, the weapons in these masteries are all two-handed 
weapons.  Weapon speeds tend towards average to slow for spears and pole 
arms, and average to fast for throwing weapons.

Increased Stamina - Level 12 Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: None (Passive Skill)

The first of the skills on this Skill Tab that do not focus on a 
specific weapon, Increased Stamina does just that - it increases one's 
effective stamina by a certain percentage, which rises as you put more 
points into the Skill.  While Stamina is not the first thing I worry 
about when putting together a Barbarian, extra stamina never hurts; even 
at level one, this skill means I can run without pause 30% longer than I 
would have otherwise, and recover from my marathon sessions a little 
faster than others would.  The increase in percent of stamina raised 
also is quite nice - a flat 15% increase per level.  While that still 
did not entice me to spend more than a single point in this skill, it 
did make me rather happy when I found that +2 to Combat Masteries amulet 
... between that and a couple other skill pluses from my meager 
equipment, my stamina was nearly double normal, all for one Skill point 
investment.

Given that Barbarians start with good stamina, get decent stamina for 
every point of vitality, and that stamina-increasing items are not 
uncommon, I do not think even the most dedicated sprinter in Diablo 2 
will feel a need to pump this particular skill up beyond a few points - 
with pluses to skills being available on equipment, and even just from 
finding/buying Stamina potions, you can dash around all day with few 
worries.  However, a point spent here, in addition to making Increased 
Speed available, will also give you that much more stamina to play with 
- a minimal investment which will yield rewards both immediately and 
later, and which can grow even without additional points dumped into it.

Iron Skin - Level 18 Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: None (Passive Skill)

Iron Skin is much like Increased Stamina, only for Defense instead of 
Stamina; every point in Iron Skin increases your overall Defense stat by 
a percentage, which while not growing nearly as fast as Increased 
Stamina's percentage does, still nonetheless can get to impressive 
numbers at high skill levels.  Maxed out, you will more than triple your 
defense stat.

About the only Barbarian that wouldn't benefit at all from this Skill is 
the dedicated user of Berserk; Iron Skin does not stop Berserk from 
dropping your defense to Zero.  However - even dedicated users of 
Berserk may want to switch to some other attack skill when they feel a 
need to leech life and mana from enemies, and at that point defense will 
become important again.  Therefore, most anyone will want at least one 
point in this skill, in my estimation.  From my own experiences, one 
point plus whatever you get from pluses to skills is usually enough for 
a shield-using Barbarian, as they have the luxury of blocking available 
to them.  For the rest of the Barbarian population though, this is a 
good Skill to look into investing several points in at least, along with 
the Shout Warcry - and as I said before, if a weapon and shield user 
wishes to become Arreat's Unhittable Tank, investing moderately to 
heavily in this skill is something to consider.

Increased Speed - Level 24 Skill  
Prerequisites: Increased Stamina
Mana Cost: None (Passive Skill)

For charging headlong into the fray, and for noble advances to the rear, 
Barbarians often turn to Increased Speed.  This Skill works just like 
the Faster Run/Walk mod that many magical footwear items possess - only, 
a Barbarian can dump more skill points into this skill, or else use 
pluses to skills, to get bonuses to run/walk over and above what his 
equipment offers.

Again, this is a good skill to invest at least one point in, especially 
if you have items with pluses to skills to your name.  Wether you wish 
to put more points into this skill beyond one will likely depend on what 
equipment you can get your hands on and how much you find yourself 
running around as part of your strategies.  I, personally, have found 
myself quite happy with just one point so far - but I also have managed 
to find rare and set item Boots with around 30 to 40% faster run/walk, 
and have about +3 to +4 to combat skills overall from my usual gear, and 
I tend to play at a slow and steady pace, walking rather than running, 
taking time to investigate all the nooks and crannies, and generally not 
minding if I spend a couple of hours on just one map - I can always go 
back some other time, take the direct route to the next level, and move 
onwards.  And I don't duel either, and thus don't often find myself 
needing to outrun a volley of Guided Arrows or Bone Spirits, or flee the 
path of a Whirlwind doing about 3,000 points of damage either (^_^)  

Another factor to consider when looking into dumping points into this 
skill is that it suffers from diminishing returns; after the first few 
levels, additional levels start raising your speed by very small 
incremements.  From level one to level 5, you'll go from 13% to 28% 
increase; from level 5 to level 10, you'll go from 28% to 36%, and by 
level 15 you'll barely be hitting 40% ... from just looking at these 
numbers, I would suggest that even the most dedicated sprinters would 
probably be better off putting no more than 5 or 6 points in this skill, 
and relying on pluses to skills and items with bonuses to run/walk speed 
for the remainder of their fleetness of foot.

Natural Resistance - Level 30 Skill  
Prerequisites: Iron Skin
Mana Cost: None (Passive Skill)

Every class, thanks to one of the Act Five quests, can develop a certain 
amount of natural resistance to the four elemental forms of damage - 
fire, cold, poison, and lightning.  And every class can find items that 
raise their resistances to one or more of these elements.  And every 
class, walking into Nightmare and Hell difficulty, will learn that their 
resistances just took a stiff hit - up to -100% in Hell of what they had 
in Normal.

Fortunately, the Barbarian is able to raise his resistances through this 
skill, and thus enjoy a higher level of protection from the four 
elemental damages than he would otherwise be able to have.  Yes, other 
classes can raise their resistances too - Paladins have auras which do 
this, for example - but the Barbarian can do it through a passive skill.  
And when in Hell Difficulty, when the undead monsters in the later 
levels start raining meteors on your head, or when Andariel decides to 
show off her funky poison spray attack, you'll be happy to have as much 
resistance as you can get (^_^)

Like Increased Speed, Natural Resistance suffers from diminishing 
returns, though not quite as steeply as Increased Speed does to my 
estimation.  Also, this skill does not offer any protection from pure 
magic damage - so a Bone Spirit from an Oblivion Mage is still something 
to fear.  Nonetheless, this is, in my estimation, a good place to 
consider investing several points of skills.  How many skill points 
you'll want to invest will depend on what equipment you're able to 
procure, how capable you are at dodging elemental attacks, and how many 
skill points you have free in your planned skill allocation for your 
character.  

One good thing about Natural Resistance to consider, is that since you 
can use it to increase your resistances, you will need that much less 
resistance available from items and charms, potentially letting you take 
advantage of other useful magic modifiers instead.  For this reason, 
five or six points in my estimation is a good level of investment 
overall for most any Barbarian, especially if you have pluses to skills 
as part of your gear's bonuses.

* Section 4.3.3:  Warcries

Barbarians aren't just masters of hacking and slashing; they have a 
selection of skills that can add positive status effects to themselves 
and their allies, and induce negative status effects to their enemies.  
Used properly, these skills can do a lot for increasing your Barbarian's 
survival rate - a stunned or frightened enemy isn't trying to hit you, 
an enemy with its defense and damage lowered is more likely to die more 
quickly and is doing less damage to you, increasing your life and mana 
levels lets you fight longer and live through more punishment, and 
raising your defense never hurts.

In addition to skills that give the Barbarian and his allies bonuses, 
and give his enemies penalties, this skill tab includes a few skills for 
'popping' enemy corpses, thus preventing monster resurrection - and, 
also, offering a chance for a Barbarian to find some useful item or else 
make said corpse into an temporary adjunct to the Barbarian's forces.  

Howl - Level One Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: 4

With a mighty bellow, the Barbarian causes monsters within a small 
radius around him to run away in fear.  The greater the level of skill, 
the longer and further the enemies will run away.

This skill is among the earliest ones a Barbarian can have access to, 
and it does have certain weaknesses.  Like many of the Warcries 
available, this skill won't affect Champions, Uniques, or Super Uniques 
- so, no, you can't make the Lord of Terror run away from you no matter 
how fearsome your bellowing (^_^).  Also, in higher difficulties, I've 
noticed that the skill stops working on certain classes of monsters 
altogether - mummies and flayers are the ones I've noticed for right 
now, and I'll update this section with any others I may discover later.

Howl also suffers from a small problem which I believe is more a bug 
than an actual intended drawback; should a frightened monster find its 
immediate avenue of retreat blocked, they'll still be under the effects 
of the Howl (and thus, apparently, not re-Howl-able until it wears off), 
but will revert to their normal course of behavior. - A Barbarian who 
lets his enemies get too tightly packed before Howling may thus discover 
he's surrounded by a bunch of frightened, sniveling monsters ... who are 
still hacking away at him, because they have nothing better to do until 
someone shows them the exit.

Despite these shortcomings, however, I consider Howl to be a useful part 
of a Barbarian's repertoire, especially in his early levels.  Lacking 
the spells and skills of the Amazon and Sorceress, which can easily hit 
multiple targets for damage, and the ability to summon meat shields like 
the Necromancer and Druid to do fighting for him, the Barbarian is left 
with the matter of handling large crowds of enemies, many of which will 
seek to damage him through melee blows.  A frightened enemy is running 
away from the Barbarian, and consequently is not hurting the Barbarian 
during that time.  Howl is a form of crowd control, letting the 
Barbarian keep the hordes off his back while he picks a single target to 
feel his wrath. Especially before learning the mighty Whirlwind or War 
Cry, this is the skill for Barbarians who do not wish to become paste at 
the hands of a unruly mob of beasts.  And if Champions or Uniques are 
part of the crowd - a Barbarian can still scare off their minions, and 
fall back, luring the champion away from his friends to be dealt with in 
a place of the Barbarian's choosing (I usually choose near a rock - with 
Bash as my left-click attack, and Howl on my right in case his cronies 
decide to wander down to find their boss ^_^)

Given the radius effect of Howl, starting at 'ground zero' and emanating 
out from the Barbarian, I have found that it is useful to let off a Howl 
before the enemies rushing towards me are actually within Howl range, so 
that they run into the effect as I do it - the timing takes a little 
practice but isn't too hard, in my experience, to learn.  This both 
decreases the chance that my Howl will be interrupted by a monster's 
attack, and makes it less likely that the monsters frightened off will 
be cut off from all lines of retreat from the monsters behind them - 
thus making it less likely I'll be swarmed by a bunch of frightened 
monsters that aren't running away due to inability to shove their own 
comrades in arms aside.  This also usually leaves the one or two 
stragglers in the pack out of the Howl's radius of effect, so they don't 
get frightened off - but that simply means they get to be the first to 
taste the steel of my blade, and by the time they're dead, their 
companions are usually ready to come back and suffer the same fate.  
With care and cunning, I can usually avoid getting mobbed to death 
through use of this skill in the early levels prior to getting the more 
potent skills.

Howl is a skill which, in my experience, is perfectly useful even with 
one single point of skill invested in it; more levels simply add to the 
length of time that the enemy runs away, and at the highest levels, you 
could, possibly, frighten a foe off the map - well, actually, I don't 
know if that's even possible, but still ... (^_^).  Howl is a fairly 
common skill to find on a Barbarian-specific helm, so if you feel you 
need a higher-level Howl for your early levels, you can probably find 
yourself a helm to accommodate your needs - but for me, the great draw 
of Howl is that it offers a useful ability for minimal skill point 
investment, which will serve me well until I have access to higher-level 
skills.  And, even once the 'better' skills are available, a Barbarian 
can still find use for this first Warcry; just be aware that, at higher 
difficulties, the skill seems to lose its punch against certain foes it 
once affected.

Find Potion - Level 1 Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: 2

The first of the three skills a Barbarian can learn to affect corpses, 
Find Potion is just that - you use it on a slain monster, and with luck 
a potion will appear.  Essentially, you are trying for a second attempt 
at getting an item drop from a monster, only with this skill the items 
are limited to health, mana, and rejuvenation potions.  The percentage 
chance of the Skill working rises with more points in the Skill, and the 
quality of the potions you can find increases with the Act you are in - 
lower quality in Act One and Two; better quality (full Rejuvination 
potions and Greater Life/Mana potions) in later Acts.

Although the percentage chance for this skill working is comparatively 
low early on - just 15% at level one of finding a potion on any one 
corpse - the skill is cheap to use, costing only 2 mana.  And, given the 
number of monsters you'll slay even in the early parts of the game, the 
odds of you finding enough potions to keep you stocked with life and 
mana are fairly good - even with level one in this skill, I've had times 
when I had so many potions found that I was selling them for cash - and 
making decent money off of them (for Act One Normal prior to reaching 
the Dark Wood, at least).  All you lose for an unsuccessful attempt is a 
couple points of mana, which can be regained through leeching, drinking 
a mana potion, or even just sitting back and waiting a moment.

Other than its use as a potential supply of potions, this skill offers 
one other, significant advantage in combat - corpses that have this 
skill used on them cannot be raised.  If you're beset by hordes of 
revivable minions and lots of reviving monsters to bring them back, it 
can be difficult at times, especially at lower levels, to make your way 
through the hordes and kill the reviving monsters first.  With this 
skill, however, a Barbarian can prevent a corpse from being raised - 
with patience, even the large hordes of Fallen and Fallen Shamans found 
in the early parts of Act One can be whittled down to more managable 
levels, and your Barbarian can move in to finish off the shamans without 
worrying that the Fallen he just slew will get up and attack him again.  
A word of caution, though - if you Find Potion at the same time a 
shamman goes to revive the corpse you're using, more often than not, the 
Shaman will beat you to it.  When there are a large number of shamanas 
and other reviving beasts present, it's still a good idea to lead 
monsters away from them for the kill, and then use this skill to ensure 
that they stay down.

Like the other two corpse-affecting skills, Find Potion will work on any 
monster except for Super Uniques, such as the Act Bosses.  In my 
experience, one point is all you'll ever really need in this skill; 
there are always more corpses to be had, should you need them - though 
you may have to kill some monsters to get those corpses.  Also, when 
playing with others such as Necromancers (who have a lot of summons that 
require corpses), try to avoid going wild with this skill - unless you 
know he's not going to want that Oblivion Mage for his own undead army. 
(^_^)

Taunt - Level 6 Skill  
Prerequisites: Howl
Mana Cost: 3

Barbarians aren't just good at frightening monsters off; they can also 
insult monsters better than anyone.  With the Taunt Skill, a Barbarian 
makes a single monster stop whatever they were doing and rush over to 
attack him in melee combat, causing the monster to also suffer a penalty 
to damage-dealing and defense which starts off at very low levels, but 
rises with additional skill levels.

Like Howl, Taunt will not work on Champions, Uniques, or Super Uniques, 
nor certain other beasts; I remember not seeming to be able to Taunt 
Oblivion Mages last time I was in the Chaos Sanctuary, and Flayer 
Shamans more often than not are too hyper to notice I'm insulting their 
parentage, leaving me with egg on my face. Taunt also affects only one 
monster at a time - either the monster you have highlighted with the 
cursor (for Taunting a specific beast), or else the nearest one to you 
(if you don't highlight any specific monster).  Taunt also seems to 
suffer from the same bug as Howl - if something impedes the Taunted 
monster's path to you or knocks them back on their way to you (such as a 
knockback effect from Bash or a weapon, or just a bunch of lead-footed 
monsters), then they'll still be 'Taunted', but will otherwise act 
however they normally would.  Since Taunt doesn't wear off like other 
Warcry effects, this 'bug' means you can't re-Taunt them (and make them 
come back to you) unless you overwrite the Taunt effect with that of 
Howl or Grim Ward.

Despite the fact that Taunt suffers from these limitations and bug, and 
that the damage and defense reduction is rather small unless you dump a 
lot of points into this skill, Taunt is still a valuable part of a 
Barbarian's arsenal.  A Taunted creature, assuming nothing bars its way, 
will stop whatever it was doing and come over to attack you physically.  
Skeleton archers will stop shooting their bows until they're within 
reach of your sword; Fallen Shamans and Greater Mummies will stop 
reviving monsters and shooting at you until they're close enough to hit 
you with their hands or daggers.  And while they're running to you, 
monsters don't stop to avoid incoming missile fire ... Taunt lets you 
bring an enemy to you.  Melee Barbarians will like the fact that they 
can stop missile-shooting enemies from taking potshots from afar and 
make them come into range of their swords and axes; throwing Barbarians 
can make a monster running around evasively instead come to them in a 
mostly predictable line, making targeting much easier.

Taunt's range is roughly a full screen from what I've seen, if not very 
slightly longer; I've occasionally managed to Taunt enemies that were 
mostly off-screen by pushing the cursor to the edge of the screen and 
Taunting away.  This range makes Taunt somewhat useful as a scouting 
tool, though from what I've seen you need line of sight in order to make 
Taunt work, unless the monsters are just around a corner or to the side 
of a doorway.

Taunt works well in conjunction with Howl and Grim Ward; either of those 
skills can be used to send packs of monsters running, and then Taunt can 
be used to summon one specific monster back for a beatdown.  In fact, if 
you have a Grim Ward up and are standing right behind it, you can Taunt 
a foe, watch him run to you, let him get scared off by the Grim Ward, 
then Taunt him again to run at you, all while anyone else around on your 
side can take potshots at the poor hapless monster.  When using throwing 
axes, I've found this to be a wonderfully fun way to keep the monsters 
from ever really hitting me while letting my Rogue hireling and I plunk 
away with impunity.

Since Taunt's greatest value, in my estimation, lies not so much in the 
negative damage and defense modifiers it applies to monsters (that's 
basically icing on the cake), but rather in the fact that you can use it 
to draw monsters to you selectively, and keep ranged attackers and 
revivers from shooting at you or reviving while they come at you, I feel 
a single point in this skill is all a Barbarian really needs to make 
good use of the skill.  Though, at really high levels, the damage and 
defense penalties inflicted on monsters through Taunt do become 
noticeably high - up to 43% at level 20 - so a Barbarian who is looking 
to focus primarily on using Warcries to support other party members 
might want to look into investing some points here. For a patient party, 
being able to lure a large nasty monster to its doom is a nice, safe way 
of slaughtering the demonic hordes.

Shout - Level 6 Skill  
Prerequisites: None
Mana Cost: 6

Shout is the first Warcry a Barbarian can learn which allows him to 
grant a positive effect for himself and his allies - namely, raising 
their defense value for the duration of the Shout.  Even at level one, 
Shout can double your effective defense for a few seconds, and both the 
defensive bonus and the length of time it lasts rise steadily (albeit 
slowly) with additional skill points invested.

Shout, like Iron Skin, is one of the two skills a Barbarian can use to 
add noticeable amounts to their defense.  Shout has the double advantage 
of both being able to affect friendly units (which Iron Skin cannot), 
and by having a better defensive bonus than Iron Skin provides - the 
difference is most notable in the early levels of these skills, though 
Iron Skin at higher levels makes valiant strides to catch up with Shout 
in terms of defensive bonus.  Shout, however, costs mana, and can wear 
off, whereas Iron Skin's bonuses will last all the time.  When facing 
hordes of monsters, having your defense suddenly drop is a Bad Thing - 
especially right before that Moon Lord brings his axes down at your head 
...

As a weapon and shield using Barbarian, I've found that my shield's 
defensive bonus and blocking ability, combined with my frequent use of 
Concentrate, often provides me with adequate defense for most situations 
- but when there's a boatload of ranged attackers like archers shooting 
away at me from several angles, and a lot of monsters trying to mob me, 
I've found that even a level one Shout's defensive bonus helps out - 
even if it only makes me a few percent less likely to be hit, that few 
percent can mean the difference between getting peppered badly while 
falling back to more defensible ground, and being mostly hale and whole 
when I find more solid cover from the ranged attackers.  When I 
experimented with using pole arms and dual wielding swords, however, I 
began to earnestly wish I had pumped a few more points into this skill 
along with Iron Skin ...

How many points you spend here will depend not only on your own 
defensive needs, but also on whether you're playing a Barbarian in party 
situations and feel your party could use the defensive bonuses this 
skill provides.  Even Single Player Barbarians, however, can use 
hirelings - and hirelings like the Town Guard and the Barbarian (second 
cousin to your Barbarian, they tell me ^_^) tend to charge into the fray 
and tend to not use shields; a Single Player wanting to take advantage 
of the more offensive auras a Town Guard merc can provide may very well 
want to invest a few points into Shout to make his hireling more likely 
to not get killed when the hordes of demons show up.

Find Item - Level 12 Skill  
Prerequisites: Find Potion
Mana Cost: 7

Find Item is, for the most part, identical to Find Potion in function. 
The major difference is that instead of only being able to make a corpse 
'drop' a potion, any item that monster could have dropped in dying can 
potentially appear  Potentially, you can find even rare items and Unique 
Items using Find Item, but you can also find quivers of arrows and piles 
of gold just as easily ...

Again, the chance of finding an item with this skill is kind of low - 
and even at higher levels, the chance of it succeeding doesn't really 
get much better than 50%.  However, again, all you are gambling is a few 
points of mana, and so long as some Necromancer wasn't planning on using 
said monster to bolster his Loyal Minions, you lose nothing major for 
failure ... at worst, a potential Grim Ward you could have set up to 
help with crowd control.  As I have taken to saying though, "There are - 
always - more corpses ..." (^_^)

If you have managed to find a few pieces of equipment with magic find 
modifiers on them, equipping them and going around looking for monsters 
- especially Champions and Uniques - and using Find Item on every corpse 
in sight, can oftentimes yield a fair bit of profit, even if it is all 
just gold profit from selling off all the stuff you find (good for 
supporting gambling habits at least).  The bonuses to magic find will 
NOT increase the chance of the Find Item skill working; however, it WILL 
improve the chances of any items found through the skill being magical 
or better.  If you are finding yourself suffering problems dealing 
sufficient damage to monsters in an area, or being able to weather their 
attacks, it's not a bad idea to return to the last couple of areas where 
you were doing fine in, and doing some item-hunting.  If nothing else, 
you can use whatever gold profits you make from extensive slaying and 
Find Item using to fund a gambling spree to further your chances of 
finding something to help you out.

All comments about Find Potion's uses in depriving reviving monsters of 
bringing back their minions from the grave also apply to Find Item, 
though Find Item does cost a bit more in mana and isn't as likely to 
produce a healing item; in my experience, I tend to retire Find Potion 
in favor of Find Item for my corpse-popping needs, but other Barbarians 
may feel that Find Potion's lower mana cost makes it better for keeping 
dead monsters dead.

Battle Cry - Level 18 Skill  
Prerequisites: Howl; Taunt
Mana Cost: 5

With another fearsome bellow, a Barbarian using this Skill imposes a 
penalty to monster's Defense rating and damage dealing ability 
simultaneously, making his foes easier to hit and weakening the power of 
their strikes.  Battle Cry affects all monsters in a small radius, much 
like Howl's radius of effect, and the effect wears off with time; the 
penalties for enemy defense and damage, as well as the length of time 
those penalties last, increase as this skill rises in level.

Unlike many of the other Warcries, this skill CAN affect Champions, 
Uniques, and Super Uniques; even the Prime Evils can be weakened through 
this skill.  I am not sure if the damage weakening affects all damage, 
or just physical damage, though I suspect it to be the latter - that, 
combined with the fact that it is a short-range radius effect, makes 
this skill somewhat less useful than one might hope.  However, consider 
- even at level one, for a few seconds, you can not only halve the 
defense of any monster near you (making them that much easier to hit), 
you can impose a 25% damage penalty to their attacks - which is about as 
helpful as having 25% damage reduction on in terms of taking less 
damage, from those enemies for that period of time.  Should you have 
actual damage reduction, although I doubt the effects would stack 
directly, you can still reduce the damage a monster deals out - and that 
means less damage for you to have to reduce, hence even less damage you 
take in the end.  For those Barbarians who don't have Damage Reduction, 
this skill offers a form of substitute; for those people with damage 
reduction, this skill is a way to make it even more effective.

Also, the effects of this skill, because they are targeted to monsters 
within your radius of affect, can benefit party members as well; a 
monster with lowered defenses is easier for everyone to hit, and a 
monster with weaker attacks deals less damage to anyone caught in its 
path.  If your Barbarian is the type to get in there toe-to-toe with 
monsters, use of this skill can make you last longer and make you kill 
things faster (or, at least, make your blows land effectively more 
often).  Battle Cry also, from my experience, stacks with the effects of 
Taunt, and is not erased by the effects of Howl and Grim Ward.

How many points you should invest into this skill depends on how much of 
a support role your Barbarian wants to play; for most Barbarians 
favoring melee weapons and the classic Barbarian Smashes Things Good 
philosophy, even one point in this skill is a decent enough investment - 
if you're going to be in toe-to-toe range, especially with the likes of 
Diablo, you might as well take advantage of what penalties you can 
inflict upon your enemies, especially the tough ones.  For Barbarians 
who wish to be a more support-oriented character in multiplayer games, 
this skill is a good one to invest points in; between you and the 
necromancer, you can keep a lot of enemies weakened (I don't know if 
Battle Cry stacks with other Necromancer curses, but even if it doesn't, 
two cursing types can keep even more enemies affected).  Barbarians who 
wish to specialize in throwing weapons, since - in my experience - 
they'll be keeping their distance more likely than not, may not find 
much use for this skill; however, if a horde of monsters swarms you, and 
you use War Cry to stun them, hitting them with Battle Cry before 
leaping to an optimum throwing position will make your ranged attacks 
that much more likely to hit.  Therefore, a single point here might not 
be a bad investment for even a pure throwing Barbarian, and with pluses 
to skills from items, even one point can yield decent levels of skill.

Battle Orders - Level 24 Skill  
Prerequisites: Howl; Shout
Mana Cost: 5

If there is one thing most Barbarian builds touted in current circles 
can agree on, it's that Battle Orders is a skill that should be maxed 
out, or nearly so, at some point in your Barbarian's career.  Some 
people will advocate maxing this out early before maxing out bread and 
butter attacks like Frenzy and Whirlwind; others will say max out your 
other skills first, but as soon as your mastery and 
Whirlwind/Frenzy/Beserk is maxed, start dumping all your free points 
here ...

Admittedly, this is a very potent skill, one useful for both solo 
players and team members; quite simply, this skill lets you raise your 
stamina, life, and mana maximums for a period of time.  The percentage 
of maximum increase, as well as the time during which the skill lasts, 
increases with more skill points - starting at around 35% bonuses for 30 
seconds at level one, and hitting 92% bonuses for 144 seconds - almost 
two and a half full minutes - at level 20.  It is very hard to argue 
that almost doubling your effective life and mana isn't desirable, 
especially when it's not just your life going up, but everyone's on your 
side.

There is one small caveat to this skill; it raises maximum but not 
current life, stamina, and mana - you must either wait for your values 
to replenish themselves, quaff a potion or three, or else rely on leech 
in order to get the benefit of having higher maximums.  For people with 
decent amounts of leech, this isn't that much of a problem, however - 
and so long as you remember to periodically renew the Battle Orders 
before the effects fade, you'll keep those extra points you gained, 
though if the effects wear off, you'll have to build the extra points 
back up again when you recast Battle Orders.  Those who make frequent 
use of this skill are well advised to learn how to keep track of how 
much time has passed even in the thick of battle to keep it active.

So, how many points should one put into this skill?  Definitely, at 
least one point as soon as you are able is not a bad idea - any 
Barbarian can benefit from being able to raise their max life and mana 
by 35% for tough situations, and pluses to skills from items will make 
this one point investment go even further.  Oftentimes, I like to use 
this skill prior to encountering an Act Boss or other Superunique I know 
can give me trouble - I tend to alternate between this skill, Battle 
Commands, and Battle Cry to keep my skills raised, my max life and mana 
buffed up, and my enemy weakened, and use the fading of the Battle Cry 
as my reminder to renew each skill (might as well play it safe, going by 
one of the shorter times any of those skills' effects last.)  Unlike 
many Barbarian players, however, I do not feel that this is an Absolute 
Must Max Out Skill ...

Yes, fully maxed, Battle Orders offers a lot of benefit, but with 
careful tactics a Barbarian can control the ability of enemies to 
actually get blows in on him to a fair extent.  Between my resists, my 
blocking with a shield, my use of War Cry to keep enemies stunned, Taunt 
to make ranged attackers come to me, and Leap Attack to simply get out 
of the five blazing Firewalls, plus the 12 potions of full rejuvenation 
I typically carry, I can with cunning and care avoid a lot of the damage 
my foes would seek to deal out and heal quickly if I do take a beating; 
the bonus afforded by Battle Orders, for my strategies, is useful but 
not strictly necessary.  For large bosses, like Diablo - definitely, 
I'll want it active; in those cases, no matter how much I try, if I want 
to get in any blows to my enemy I'm going to have to risk taking some 
substantial damage, and extra life then will often mean the difference 
between being seriously hurt and being dead.  For the unruly mobs of 
Hell's legions, however, I've found that I can - usually - get through 
situations with just my normal maximums for life and mana, making Battle 
Orders more of a Boss Strategy for me.

On the other hand, Barbarians playing a support role will likely want to 
max this skill out as much as possible - in 8 player games, with the 
increased life and toughness of monsters especially in Hell difficulty 
(and the ever-lurking specter of Lag Spikes and Random Disconnects), a 
potent Battle Orders is a party's best friend.  And in Hardcore Mode, 
where you get but one life for a character (and thus, every point of 
life you can muster becomes precious) this skill takes on an even 
greater importance.  My final advice to Barbarian players is this - feel 
free to invest as many skill points into Battle Orders as you feel you 
want or need, but do not feel this skill HAS to be maxed out in order to 
let you survive; remember that cunning and patience are oftentimes as 
effective in ensuring survival as an extra 500 hit points.

Grim Ward - Level 24 Skill  
Prerequisites: Find Potion; Find Item
Mana Cost: 4

The last of the Barbarian's corpse-affecting abilities, and the only 
such Skill that doesn't offer a chance at getting some sort of item, 
Grim Ward is the Barbarian's closest answer to the summons available to 
the Necromancer or Druid.  By popping a monster corpse, a Barbarian 
using this skill creates a small totem composed of his enemy's bones, 
which has the effect of constantly casting a Howl-like effect capable of 
affecting any non-Champion, Unique, or Superunique that wanders within 
the radius of effect.  The radius at which the totem can affect monsters 
increases with extra skill points, being somewhat small at level one, 
but increasing steadily as skill level rises.  No matter how high the 
skill, monsters will run for a few seconds only, and the totem will 
remain standing for 40 seconds before collapsing.

The totem itself, from what I can tell, does not offer any real hard 
protection; attacks and players can pass through it, so it doesn't 
really serve as a 'meat shield'.  Despite this drawback, Grim Ward does 
effectively chase off any regular monster which gets too close - and 
while it doesn't work on Champions, Uniques, and Superuniques, it DOES 
from what I've seen work on those regular monsters which seem to gain 
immunity to Howl in higher difficulties.  Properly used, a Grim Ward or 
three can keep monsters off your back as well if not more so than any 
summon designed to be a meat shield (like the Amazon's Decoy or the 
Necromancer's Bone Wall), at least for the forty seconds that the totem 
lasts.

In my experiences, this skill is good for many styles of play a 
Barbarian can employ, but really comes into its own when used in 
conjunction with Taunt by a Barbarian using throwing weapons.  Once I've 
killed a monster, I'll use Grim Ward to set up the totem, then stand 
right next to the totem and fire away.  When enemies get too close, they 
get frightened off - and I pick one to Taunt to lure him back, while I 
and my rogue hireling pick him off.  As more enemies die, I set up more 
wards, using corpses as cover to protect my advance, and thus can keep 
my foes from getting within striking distance.  Should ranged attackers 
be present, I'll Taunt them to come to me, then focus my efforts on 
killing them next.

This is not to say a melee Barbarian has no use for Grim Ward; luring a 
Champion or Unique to one area near corpses, then setting up Grim Wards, 
is a good way to ensure that you can hack away on the hapless monster in 
privacy.  And, in confined areas with lots of revivable monsters and 
their revivers, a Grim Ward or two in the midst of the legions of the 
soon-to-be-revived dead can give you breathing room - nothing is as 
funny as seeing a skeleton brought back to life only to immediately run 
away in fright because he saw the remnants of one of his friends set up 
like a demented Lego-ologist's latest creation (^_^)

For the most part, I have found that one point invested in this skill to 
be relatively sufficient - with my meager +2 or +3 to all Barbarian 
skills afforded by my current equipment, this is enough to make my Grim 
Ward's radius of effect large enough for me to work with.  If you 
absolutely cannot find any pluses to skills on equipment for your 
Barbarian, and find that Grim Ward is to your liking but the radius 
isn't great enough for your needs, then an extra skill point or two 
should be sufficient - but this is, in my estimation, yet another of the 
Barbarian's skills where minimal investments are enough to yield 
positive results.  Once I got Grim Ward, it replaced Howl on my hotkeys, 
though there is no reason for a Barbarian to not employ both at once 
should he feel Howl serves his purposes even in higher levels.

War Cry - Level 30 Skill  
Prerequisites: Howl; Taunt; Shout; Battle Cry; Battle Orders
Mana Cost: 10 at Level 1; +1 Mana per additional skill level (11 at 
Level 2; 12 at level 3, etc)

The adulations and praise other Barbarians give to skills like Whirlwind 
and Frenzy, I instead attribute to War Cry; to my method of play and way 
of thinking, this is THE skill all Barbarians should be learning in 
their quest to rid the lands of evil.  No other skill in the Barbarian's 
arsenal has proven to me to be more effective in crowd control and horde 
management.

Ahem.  All obvious bias aside (and I will freely admit I am biased about 
this skill's power and utility ^_^) War Cry is yet another radius affect 
skill that affects enemies.  In this case, the effects are direct 
damage, and inflicting stun status, leaving enemies helpless for a 
period of time.

Before going off again on how great this skill is, let me first mention 
its drawbacks; once again, this is not a skill that really affects 
Champions, Uniques, and Superuniques - they are immune to the effects of 
stun from this skill, though they do take damage from it.  The damage 
done, even at maxed out levels, is also not that potent compared to what 
you can likely deal with your weapons - at most, this skill can inflict 
160 points of damage at level 20, which will not exactly overwhelm the 
minions of the Three on Hell Difficulty.  The stun length, also, is 
rather short at low levels; a mere second at level one, and growing by 
0.2 seconds every skill level thereafter.  Unless you have godlike 
attacking speed, you need to pump points into this skill to make it be 
effective.  And once again, this is a short-range effect; if you want 
enemies to be stunned, then you will have to go over to them and stun 
them.

One other drawback to this skill that I have noticed is that enemies can 
occasionally block or even avoid its effects entirely.  This is most 
noticeable with the Cat People enemies found in Act Two - all of whom 
seem to have the passive dodging skills of the Amazon class, and who 
have given me many headaches as I try to stun a crowd of them only to 
see some or all of them lean to the side to evade my bellowing roar.  
Then, while I'm asking myself - how - the - heck - one dodges a shout at 
close range, I get pelted until I finally do get the War cry to stun 
them ... at which point said Cat People usually learn why you do not 
provoke a Barbarian to a Berserk fury (^_^).  Still, the fact that some 
enemies can nullify this attack's effects (along with dodging my melee 
blows and axe tosses, and my hireling's arrows, and probably anything 
else I could throw at them if I thought to bring an item with spell 
charges ...) is a point against this skill - though, if I'm right and 
those Cat People have the Evade Skill (which purportedly lets one dodge 
even spell effects), then I feel somewhat better ...

Having said all that, I now say - all the weakness of this Skill are 
things that a Barbarian can comfortably not worry about, since the Skill 
offers the ability to stun enemies.  Multiple enemies.  Multiple enemies 
in melee range, where you can chop them down while they stare at you 
helplessly.  And you can use War Cry over and over again, doing some 
damage to the enemies each time and freezing them in place while you 
pick them off at your leisure.  A stunned enemy cannot hit you, and stun 
length is not decreased in higher difficulty levels, unlike 
chill/freezing times. While that Whirlwinding Barbarian is slicing 
through the hordes of monsters and hoping he doesn't get hit while 
Whirlwinding, my Barbarian is quietly taking his time, alternating 
between Berserk and Concentrate as the mana bills demand, and taking 
heart in the fact that his devotion to the animal totems has made his 
enemies' limbs weak and heavy, unable to be raised against him.  Some 
may call that cowardly; I prefer to think of it as delivering Evil it's 
Just Deserts - you know those monsters would terrorize the weak and 
helpless if they could; now let them know the feeling of helplessness 
they have instilled in innocents for so long before they are sent back 
to their infernal pits - RAR!

... ^_^ Sorry; got a tad carried away there.  One too many D&D games as 
a youth. ^_^ ...

Back to more gameplay-related matters, War Cry is a skill that most any 
Barbarian can find benefit in.  A melee Barbarian can keep all his 
enemies nearby dazed and helpless, letting him attack with impunity.  A 
ranged attacker being beset by a mob can stun the mob, fall back a few 
yards, and proceed to pick away at them before they fully recover.  A 
Barbarian who focuses on support Skills will find that stunning a large 
mess of enemies is a great set up for hitting them all with Battle Cry 
to weaken them, then taking a second or two to use party-friendly Skills 
like Shout and Battle Commands to strengthen his friends before the 
crowd wakes up - assuming, of course, the Barbarian lets them recover 
and act instead of War Crying again. A Frenzy-based Barbarian can stun 
enemies and slice them to bits before they can recover from even one or 
two War Cries; a Berserking Barbarian has fewer worries about no defense 
when his foes can't move to hit him.  Even the Whirlinding Barbarian, if 
he can spare the points to raise War Cry to a useful level, will find 
this skill helpful; those concerns about being hit by enemies while 
Whirlwinding become moot if your foes simply stand there waiting to be 
hit, no?  

War Cry is a party-friendly skill as well - in it's own way.  Is the 
Sorceress in the party trying to set up a Meteor or Firewall?  Hey 
presto - the enemies can't move!  Does the Paladin really want to try to 
get Conversion off?  Here he goes - a bunch of practice dummies just 
waiting to be shown the Light!  Does the Druid wish to play Zombie 
Bowling with his Molten Boulder?  Taunt a few fools - er, foes, towards 
you, let loose with a War Cry, then Leap Attack to safety as yon Druid 
friend shows off his Mad Candlepin Skillz - STRIKE! (^_^)

Unlike some of the other Warcries, which can make do easily on but one 
skill point, War Cry in my estimation needs at least a modest investment 
of points to be effective.  I have found that level 10 to 12 in the 
skill, where the enemy is stunned for three seconds give or take a fifth 
of a second, is a good level of effectiveness - I can get about four or 
five swings off in that period of time even with next to no increased 
attack speed and still have a second to recast the effect - and with 
decent mana leech, I can keep this up for as long I have to.  I 
eventually plan on maxing War Cry since it's become my bread-and-butter 
skill, but even builds which rely on other skills can benefit from a few 
points here - and if you have a good amount of pluses to skills from 
equipment, one or two points may be all you need here to get a Skill 
capable of rendering your enemies helpless for a couple of seconds, 
before you unleash your devastating main attack.

Battle Commands - Level 30 Skill  
Prerequisites: Howl; Shout; Battle Orders
Mana Cost: 11

The last of the Barbarian's party-buffing skills, Battle Commands raises 
every friendly unit's skill levels - in skills they have at least a 
point in - by one for a short period of time.  The amount of time the 
skill increase lasts rises with higher levels of Battle Commands.  And 
no, before you ask, you cannot use this skill multiple times to raise 
your skills over and over - trust me; I tried (^_^).

Compared to, say, Battle Orders, Battle Commands may sound a bit - 
anticlimactic.  After all, when you have a level 24 skill which can 
nearly double your life and mana at maximum levels, and then you go to a 
level 30 skill which only adds one to your skill levels for a period of 
time - a somewhat short period of time at that compared to said life and 
mana doubling skill - one may wonder why Battle Commands wasn't the 
level 24 skill and Battle Orders the level 30.  Then again - this skill 
can theoretically add up to 30 temporary skill points to your character, 
even if it's only one point per skill (and chances are you'll not use a 
good five or six of those skills anyway, since most people tend to 
ignore all masteries except the ones they've chosen to specialize in).  
Looked at from that point of view, maybe this skill is the more 
impressive one after all - especially since it can add those 30 
theoretical skill points to each member of your whole party in a 
multiplayer game.

For Barbarians who play solo, this skill is still helpful for that 
little extra bit of 'buffing' especially during boss fights - again, 
when facing Act Bosses, I've found using Battle Commands, then Battle 
Cry, then Battle Orders to be a helpful strategy.  For my needs, so far 
as I have seen, a single point in this skill was enough to give me a 
useful ability, even if the time it lasts is kind of short.  Barbarians 
who wish to play a more support-oriented role may wish to invest a few 
more points into this skill simply to increase the length of the effect 
so they need not cast it again every 10 seconds or so.

------------------

*** Section 5:  Putting It All Together ***

Okay, so now that you've been regaled with descriptions of the style of 
weapons a Barbarian can use, seen the advantages that raising each stat 
can offer, and read discourses on most of the skills available to 
Barbarians, the burning question is "How do I put together a Barbarian 
from all this?"

The answer is - however you wish.  However, even I admit that answer is 
a cop out, so going into a bit more detail ...

*** Section 5.1:  What a Barbarian Needs

Rather than making any firm suggestions on specific skills/equipment, I 
will attempt to suggest what general things a Barbarian should be 
looking into:

* Section 5.1.1:  Crowd Control

The Three Prime Evils are powerful enemies that all Barbarians must 
someday face - but to get to the Prime Evils, you'll need to wade 
through countless hordes of monsters first.  Corrupted Rogues, Flayers, 
Venom Lords - a lot of the monsters in Diablo 2 like to get in your face 
before attacking, and without some way of handling the crowds, you'll 
soon find yourself as one of those Corpses other players overturn hoping 
for loot.

There are a few ways a Barbarian can deal with managing crowds:

- Freeze Them In Place: War Cry can stun crowds for a few seconds, 
giving a Barbarian time to get out of the way or start hacking the mob 
to pieces.  An Act Three Cold Merc can cast Cold Spells to freeze foes; 
an Act Two Nightmare Difficulty Holy Freeze Merc can slow everyone down 
to much more manageable speeds.

- Make Them Run Away: Howl and Grim Ward can both scare off monsters, 
keeping them from attacking you for a few seconds while you pick your 
targets.  Weapons with Howling and Wailing modifiers can make enemies 
run away as well - equipped on either you or your merc, these weapons 
can substitute to some extent for an actual Howl.

- Hit Them Lots:  If your unruly mobs die before they can deal out too 
much damage, you're safe, no?  Whirlwind can hit multiple enemies; 
Frenzy can offer enough movement and attack speed bonuses that you can 
zip around the crowd and hit monsters left and right.

* Section 5.1.2:  Powerful Attack and Physical Immune Killing

Yes, kind of obvious, but the question of Physical Immunes is an 
important one to Barbarians, since their primary attacks are physical.  
Also, if your Barbarian doesn't have at least one nominally effective 
attack, you'll be in for a very long haul ...

As for ensuring a Barbarian does adequate damage, there are several 
things he can do:

- Pump up a Weapon Mastery:  For Barbarians who don't like to rely on a 
single Combat Skill for fighting, but instead like to alternate between 
Combat Skills for various situations, the obvious thing to do is to try 
to put as many points into your chosen Weapon Mastery as possible; the 
bonuses for your weapon mastery will make whatever Combat Skill you're 
using at the moment that much more effective.

- Concentrate on a Single Combat Skill:  If, on the other hand, you know 
that you really want to use Leap Attack as part of your main combat 
strategy, or that you plan on relying on Berserk to kill the hordes of 
Hell, then by all means put as many points into that Combat Skill as you 
can spare.  Combined with Weapon Mastery, the bonuses from a pumped up 
Combat Skill will make your attacks that much more deadly.  This is, in 
fact, the general philosophy behind many of the builds offered by other 
FAQs, with the Whirlwind specialists being one of the most noticeable.

- Raise AR, or get Ignore Target Defense:  Not so much a means of 
increasing damage dealt as a way to insure that you'll be doing any 
damage at all, raising your chance to hit monsters or getting weapons 
that let you ignore the monsters defense stat will increase the number 
of blows that will actually land, thus increasing the amount of damage 
you do overall.

- Raise Attack Speed:  Raising the power of an attack is one way to get 
more damage; another is to simply swing a lot faster than normal, 
relying on a multitude of blows to equal or surpass the damage dealt by 
a single, more powerful strike.  The Frenzy Skill raises a Barbarian's 
Attack Speed among other things, and various magical items can offer 
bonuses to Attack Speed as well.

There are a couple ways a Barbarian can deal with Physical Immune 
monsters:

- Use Berserk:  This skill was seemingly designed with Physical Immune 
monsters in mind, and also includes a hefty damage bonus for the 
Barbarian.  It does not, however, help out a Throwing Specialist much, 
unless they don't mind getting in close ...

- Use Items Which Offer Elemental Damage:  Weapons with elemental damage 
modifiers, jewels which offer elemental damage, charms of elemental 
damage - all these can be used by a Barbarian to get around Physical 
Immunity, and for a Throwing Specialist Barbarian, allow for inflicting 
damage to PI monsters at range.

* Section 5.1.3:  Adequate Defenses

Adequate defenses includes not only physical defense, but also elemental 
resists as well - damage reduction would also fall under this category, 
but on items, damage reduction is usually only found on the higher end 
pieces of equipment.  Ways Barbarians can up their defenses are:

- Pump Up Skills That Primarily Offer Defense Bonuses:  Natural 
Resistance, Shout, and Iron Skin would be the three main skills to look 
at when considering raising your defenses for your Barbarian.

- Use Other Skills That Can Add Defensive Bonuses:  Concentrate adds a 
defense bonus; if your damage is decent enough even in Hell with the 
global damage resistance, using Concentrate is still viable.  Battle Cry 
can lower the damage monsters do - which is another way of raising your 
own defenses, effectively ...

- Use Equipment With Good Defenses And Resists:  Shield users have some 
advantages here, since a shield allows for blocking as well as adding 
defense and potentially adding resists from socketed runes and diamonds.  
Non-shield users will want to look into getting higher defense armor 
than a shield wielder may feel he needs to survive, and bonuses to 
defense and elemental resists are good mods to look for on both items 
and charms.

* Section 5.1.4:  Means of Healing

Technically, a Barbarian can always run back to town when seriously 
hurt, but a little more self-sufficiency would be nice ... (^_^)  There 
are several ways a Barbarian can keep himself in one piece while in the 
field:

- Use of Life and Mana Leech:  The most popular method of self-healing 
in Diablo 2, life and mana leech allow you to restore a percentage of 
the damage you deal to monsters to your life and mana respectively.  The 
greater the damage you deal, the greater the amount of life and/or mana 
you can get back; the higher the percentage of life and/or mana leech 
you possess, the greater the amount of damage you are dealing that gets 
returned to you as healing becomes.  Ideally, you want high amounts of 
damage as well as high amounts of life and mana leech - especially if 
you use mana-intensive attacks such as Whirlwind.

One caveat to life and mana leech, from what I've read and heard: the 
amount of damage returned to you as healing for both leeches is 
effectively halved in Nightmare Difficulty, and quartered in Hell 
Difficulty, compared to what you would expect to see in Normal.  While I 
cannot confirm those exact numbers with hard math (i.e., going around 
with a calculator and testing first in Normal, then in higher 
difficulties), I can confirm that, even with the same amount of leech in 
Normal and Nightmare, and even slightly higher damage in Nightmare than 
Normal, I was leeching noticeably less in Nightmare than Normal anyway.  
All the more reason to try to get as much leech as you can (^_^)

- Use of Life Replenish and Mana Regeneration:  Various items offer a 
mod for Replenishing Life; the greater the total of your Life Replenish, 
the faster your Life points will regenerate while playing - you start 
with zero life replenish, but can get this mod on jewelry, on armor and 
shields, and even by socketing Skulls into armor and helms, among other 
ways.  While you would need a lot of Life Replenish to be able to heal 
back the damage monsters deal in higher difficulties fast enough to be 
'safe', life replenish is great for those moments of quiet while you're 
walking around looking for your next foes.

Mana Regeneration works a little differently than Life Replenish; Mana 
Regen is expressed as a percentage, such as Regenerate Mana +20%.  
Everyone regenerates mana naturally; from my experiences, it seems the 
rate of natural mana regen is set so that, starting from no mana, you'll 
refill your mana points after a few minutes of rest.  Mana Regen 
shortens the time it takes for complete regeneration of mana: in the 
above case, a Barbarian with +20% mana regen would completely refill his 
mana from zero 20% faster than he would otherwise obtain - so if it took 
10 minutes normally (just for example; I know it doesn't take nearly 
that long, so Don't Panic ^_^), then having 20% mana regen would let you 
recover all your mana in about 8 minutes and 20 seconds roughly, 100% 
mana regen would let you recover completely in 5 minute, and 200% mana 
regen would let you regenerate in less than 3 and a half minutes.  

Because of the way mana regeneration works, the higher your mana total, 
the faster you'll seem to get back points of mana - a Barbarian with 10 
mana regains 2 points more slowly than a Barbarian with 100 mana, 
because the rate of recovering all mana is the same for both, but the 
second Barbarian's percentage of mana lost is a lot smaller than the 
first's.  Therefore, another way to keep yourself in mana is - get more 
mana (^_^)

- Use Potions:  No one said you can't use what you find; health and mana 
potions are relatively common items to find off of monsters - and 
Barbarians have a Skill that lets them seek out potions specifically 
from the bodies of the slain.  If you're low on leech and life/mana 
replenish, and haven't been finding too many potions - might as well go 
looking for some with your Skills (^_^).

* Section 5.1.5:  Mobility

Barbarians can be formidable tanks, yes - but even tanks occasionally 
come into situations where they're not soaking up damage like they'd 
like to be, and need to make a tactical withdrawal.  Also, when ranged 
attackers are besieging you, it's nice to be able to get to them quickly 
and dispatch them before you become a pincushion (^_^).  The Barbarian 
has a couple ways to add to his mobility:

- Use Leap or Leap Attack:  These Skills are the Barbarian's answer to 
the Teleport spell; you're relatively safe for the second or two you're 
in the air, and Leap Attack's range even at Level 1 is still pretty much 
Full Screen.  Being beset by Flayers?  Leap over the stream and watch 
them have to scramble for a bridge - or else just stare at you in mute 
frustration from the other bank.  Be aware though, that your hirelings 
are not bestowed with leaping ability - so you may end up leaving your 
trusty companion behind by accident.

- Increase Run/Walk Speed:  The Increased Speed Skill is made for making 
your Barbarian more fleet of foot, and the Frenzy Skill's bonuses 
include faster run/walk bonuses.  Also, various items, notably boots and 
other footwear, come with bonuses to run/walk speed.

*** Section 5.2:  A Suggested Skeleton Barbarian Skill Selection

With the above points in mind, I will now make a suggestion for a 
Barbarian Skill Point build - however, rather than a full build, I am 
instead going to suggest a skeleton build, including things I feel 
nearly any and all Barbarians will want to have, and leaving enough 
skill points left that most any sort of Barbarian can then be designed 
with these suggestions in mind.

In no particular order, the Skills I suggest are:

War Cry - at least a modest investment (5 points or more).  War Cry, in 
my estimation, is the best Skill a Barbarian has for crowd control, and 
virtually any strategy I can envision a Barbarian using can benefit from 
having the enemies stunned for a couple of seconds.  Just to be on the 
safe side, even assuming a Barbarian will find pluses to skills on 
items, I am suggesting a modest investment here to give at least a 
modestly decent stun length - I, myself, would feel more comfortable 
with 10 points in this skill, but I'm trying to be 'stingy' with my 
suggestions here to allow for more freedom in customizing later.

At least one Weapon Mastery - as many points as you feel comfortable 
with, moderate investments at least (10+ points).  I, myself, like using 
two weapon masteries - sword and throwing, and am planning on raising 
both to at least moderate levels (10+).  I would not advise trying to 
get more than two weapon masteries, however, and instead looking to find 
a single weapon type (or two weapon types, such as I did) which seem to 
suit your fancy best, and concentrate on those.  Those weapons will be 
your major means of dealing damage, and the masteries will be your major 
way of increasing your damage from those weapons.

Natural Resistance - at least a modest investment (5 points or more).  
Elemental attacks will become increasingly more dangerous in later 
difficulties, both from the monsters' increased stats and the resistance 
penalties you'll suffer.  The Barbarian can raise his resistances 
through a passive skill; in my estimation, a Barbarian should really 
take advantage of this Skill's benefits rather than just leave his 
resistances completely to his items.

Increased Speed - minimal investment (1 point).  Walking and running 
faster never hurts, especially when seeking to dodge the incoming 
fireball.  At least one point here will let you take advantage of pluses 
to skills from items, thus yielding more rewards for your investment, 
and in any event even a single point will bolster your movement rate 
over and above what your items provide.

Leap Attack - minimal investment (1 point).  The mobility Leap Attack 
offers is, in my estimation, too good to pass up - and the wait from 
Level 6 to level 18 to upgrade from Leap to Leap Attack is worth holding 
off on spending points into Leap to me as well.

Berserk - at least minimal to modest investments (1 to 5 points+).  This 
is the Skill that lets you have some attack which will affect Physical 
Immunes irregardless of your equipment; it's worth including in your 
repertoire for those situations.

Find Potion - minimal investment (1 point).  For 'popping' corpses of 
monsters that tend to get back up if nothing else, and for a little 
extra chance to keep your healing supplies stocked up at all times.

Battle Orders - at least minimal investment (1+ point).  If for no other 
reason than to have some small life and mana upping ability for 
protracted battles, like Boss fights.  I say at least minimal 
investments, just because I'm trying to be 'stingy' with my assessments 
in this section, but even still this is a good place to consider putting 
Skill Points if you want to have even more life and mana available.

Taking into account all the prerequisites for these Skills (prereqs get 
one skill point), my suggested Barbarian Skeleton Skill Build looks 
something like this:

Warcries Tree
- Howl:           1 point
- Find Potion:    1 point
- Taunt:          1 point
- Shout:          1 point
- Battle Cry:     1 point
- Battle Orders:  1 point
- War Cry:        5 points
Total -------    11 points

Combat Masteries Tree
- One Weapon Mastery of Choice:  10 points
- Increased Stamina:              1 point
- Increased Speed:                1 point
- Iron Skin:                      1 point
- Natural Resistance:             5 points
Total -------------              18 points

Combat Skills Tree
Bash:            1 point
Stun:            1 point
Concentrate:     1 point
Berserk:         1 point
Leap:            1 point
Leap Attack:     1 point
Total -------    6 points

TOTAL POINTS ALLOCATED: 11 + 18 + 6 = 35 Skill Points

Again, this build is not meant to be a complete build; these are merely 
my suggestions for Skills practically every Barbarian can make good use 
of, with a mention of places where I think more than one Skill Point is 
a decent investment. With these Skills, a Barbarian has: some method of 
Crowd Control, a decent attack with a specialized weapon, mobility, 
extra defenses both physical and elemental, a way to deal with Physical 
Immunes, and a way to both 'pop' enemy corpses and keep his healing 
supplies stocked.  And that's using only 35 out of a possible 110 Skill 
points earnable, leaving a lot of points free for customizing a 
Barbarian.

*** Section 5.3:  Possible Builds Using the Skeleton Skill Selection

With the above build in mind, here are some ideas for ways to build a 
Barbarian, based on concepts I've seen in other faqs:

Using this basic template, a Barbarian wanting to specialize in 
Whirlwind can get 10 more points in the Weapon Mastery, then 20 in 
Whirlwind itself - so the points spent are now up to 65.  Another 19 to 
pump up Battle Orders like many Barbarians like to do, and you've spent 
84 Skill points - given that 12 Skill Points are obtainable from quests, 
that's 72 Skill points needed from leveling - so by level 73 you'd have 
your Whirlwind, your Weapon Mastery, and your Battle Orders all 
potentially maxed, and still have from levels 74 on up to add Skill 
points to other skills - like Shout or Iron Skin for defenses, or 
Natural Resistances for resists, or Berserk for killing Physical Immunes 
that much more quickly, or whatever you want.

Again using this template, a Frenzy specialist will likely want 20 
points in Frenzy, with 2 points needed for prerequisites - so the points 
spent for this Barbarian would be 57 points.  With a mid-level weapon 
mastery and maxed out Frenzy, you now still have up to 53 points to play 
with; 19 for maxed out Battle Orders leaves you with 34 points still 
free, and you can potentially get the template skills and your primary 
attack plus Battle Orders to these levels by level 65, leaving time to 
to pump up your defenses still - or, playing more cautiously, invest 
points into Shout and Iron Skin at lower levels while you're levelling, 
up to a point you feel comfortable with.  Or you can go all out offense, 
pump up your Weapon Mastery, rely on pluses to skills to shore up your 
defensive skills and other tricks should you have such items, and be a 
blender on legs.

A Berserk specialist will likely want maxed out weapon mastery - another 
10 points bringing us up to 45 using the template, then 19 more in 
Berserk for a really massive attack, and just for argument's sake let's 
say maxed out War Cry for keeping everyone stunned.  45 + 19 + 15 = 79 
points spent, leaving still potentially 31 points to spend to bolster 
his abilities - maybe a few in Iron Skin and Shout for when he's trying 
to leech back life, a point in Grim Ward for additional crowd control, 
and of course Battle Orders ... 

A Dragoon will be much like a Berserk specialist, except that instead of 
maxing Berserk he'll max Leap Attack and may not necessarily feel he has 
to max out War Cry since his defense still works (unless he Berserks a 
lot while on the ground).  So, 35 points for the template, plus 10 for 
maxed out mastery and 19 for maxed out Leap Attack is 64 Skill points, 
and from there you have still 46 points to use to bolster your defenses, 
resistances, crowd control, etc, in whatever manner you please.

For a Throwing Barbarian, likely they'll want maxed out Throwing 
Mastery, need at least one point in Double Swing, one in Frenzy, and say 
at least 10 in Double Throw for AR bonuses ... that's only 57 points 
before even looking to max out Battle Orders or raise other skills for 
extra defense/speed/what have you ...

All of these suggestions assume that a Barbarian will want to max out 
whatever their primary attack is as much as possible.  However, a 
Berserker may find 10 points in Berserk is enough to let him kill things 
as fast as he feels he has to, especially if he has a decent weapon to 
back his attacks up; a Dragoon may decide that 5 to 10 points in Leap 
Attack is enough and focus on raising the skills used in their ground 
game more; and Blizzard has never said that a Throwing Master, 
Whirlwind, or Frenzy Barbarian - has - to max out Battle Orders 
completely or else be unable to beat the game.

------------------

*** Section 6:  Hirelings ***

Even Single Player Barbarians don't have to go it alone; Diablo 2 offers 
a choice of different Hirelings to aid your quest.  The Rogues of Act 
One, with bows and elemental arrows, provide supporting fire; the Town 
Guard of Act two provide auras like a Paladin's and a potent pole arm-
wielding muscleman; the Iron Wolves of Act Three, with elemental spells 
along with swords, offer some magical support; the Barbarians of Act 
Five provide a powerful tank who can take damage and bash things almost 
as well as you can. (^_^)

In my own experiences, I have only used one mercenary so far - an Act 
One Rogue, typically a Cold Arrow specialist.  Why her over the others?  
Actually ... no real reason whatsoever; I just happen to like the Rogues 
more than the other Mercenaries, and in other games Ice has always been 
my favorite element.  Since she's the only Hireling I've had any 
experience with, I'll offer what thoughts and ideas I can on using a 
Rogue to bolster your fighting ability, and if I ever try another 
Mercenary someday ... well, that's what updates are for (^_^).

*** Section 6:1:  The Rogue Hireling

Sister to the Rogue who bravely fought Diablo in the first Diablo game 
(and who, apparently, didn't succeed as well as we could have hoped, 
else we wouldn't be here to begin with ^_^), the Rogue Mercenary stands 
ready to cut down your foes with her bow. 

The Rogue has the basic Skills of Inner Sight, either Fire or Cold 
Arrow, and possibly Critical Strike from the Amazon Skill lists - the 
last one I'm not certain of, but I've seen a few cases of my rogue 
getting the flash of a critical hit and doing extra damage, so I think 
she does, in fact, have this skill (though it doesn't happen often, so 
don't start thinking you'll have a Howitzer in leather boots working for 
you just because I said the Rogue seems to have Critical Strike ^_^)  
Rogues can equip any bows except Amazon-specific ones - but not 
crossbows - and any non-class specific armor or helm that their stats 
will allow them to wear.  Like all Hirelings, Rogues have infinite nama 
and can use their Skills whenever they want, and have natural life 
replenish that restores their health in blocks of Life points - every so 
often, a Rogue will get back x number of Life points, as opposed to 
getting them back one at a time like a PC would with life replenish.

Important Note: Holding down Shift while hitting the key for any belt 
slot will cause the potion therein to be used on your Hireling - even if 
you're a full screen apart.  Hirelings are also healed when you drink 
from wells - yet another reason to like fresh mineral water (^_^).

AI-wise, the Rogue prefers to keep her distance, moving away from 
monsters to pick them off with a steady stream of arrows, generally 
aiming for whoever is closest to her.  She is not the most inclined to 
act as a meat-shield for you, nor are her hit points really geared for 
such duty.  This doesn't mean she can't take a few hits, but she's not 
the sort of person who deals well with being mobbed ...

Since the Rogue only equips bows, helms, and armors, her outfitting 
options are a mite more limited than your Delux Wardrobe Set, complete 
with gloves, boots, jewelry, and what have you.  In my experiences, I've 
found that equipment that raises my Rogue's Dexterity (for better 
defense and bow damage), Life points (for better death-tolerance), 
elemental damage (for PI monsters) and life-leeching (for cutting down 
on having to use my potions on her) tends to go a long way in helping my 
rogue live longer and be a contributor to the Slaying of Evil.

One note on equipping the Rogue - if you are able to equip her with an 
item or bow which offers +1 to all skills or Amazon skills, she will be 
able to use both cold arrows and fire arrows.  Having two levels in 
skills from items seems to do nothing at all, and I hear at three levels 
of skills from items, your Rogue thinks she's Opera Vectra from Star 
Ocean, Second Story and starts blasting foes with a stream of lightning.  
Soon as I find the spare equipment to test that, I intend to find out 
for myself ... (^_^).

Given that the Rogue likes to keep her distance, any strategies which 
keep monsters safely at arm's reach will not only help her live longer, 
but also give her more time to plunk arrows into monsters.  Some little 
tricks I've developed to use my rogue to good advantage are:

- Taunting Enemies Through Her Line of Fire:  Taunted foes will ignore 
most anything other than getting over to you - though if an ally wanders 
into their path, I've seen Taunted foes take a quick swipe at them 
before continuing heading to me.  However, I've also found that letting 
my Rogue pick a spot to stand and shoot from, then Taunting an enemy and 
moving myself so the Taunted foe has to pass through my Rogue's firing 
zone, is a most amusing way to lure monsters to their doom.  Why do all 
the work when you can make the hired help pull their weight? (^_^)

- Taunting With Grim Wards:  As I mentioned before, using Taunt in 
conjunction with some Grim Wards is an excellent way to make the legions 
of Hell act like hapless yo-yos - and because the Rogue prefers to hang 
back and shoot from a distance, she's perfectly happy to stay with you 
behind a Grim Ward and let you intice fleeing foes to come back for more 
arrows in their gut.

- Grim Warding a Doorway:  If most of the enemies in a room are melee 
monsters, tossing up a Grim Ward right in the doorway will pretty much 
seal the outside off from the monsters within - and your Rogue (and you 
if you use ranged weapons) can fire into the room with impunity.

- War Cry For Everyone:  When you stun the enemies with a War Cry, your 
Rogue will generally pick one of the foes to shoot at a time; if you 
want to finish off enemies more quickly, try to concentrate on attacking 
the one she's shooting so it dies more quickly.  Or, you can leave her 
to pick away at her victim while you tackle someone else.

- Invisibility, Made Useless:  The Rogue's Inner Sight will illuminate 
enemies, even in dark conditions and if they become invisible - making 
it easier to keep track of who is around you and where.  Incidentally, 
Barbarians making use of Warcries like Taunt and Battle Cry can 'tag' 
invisible foes in much the same way - but the Rogue can also do it, and 
having two people who can flag foes for future killing are better than 
one, not to mention the Rogue doesn't have to worry about mana like you 
do (^_^)

- Message For You Sir!:  The Rogue's eyesight is keen; oftentimes when 
you're wandering through a new area, she'll move on ahead a bit, and if 
she sees enemies she'll stand firm and start shooting.  I've found this 
to be helpful as advance warning to expect trouble around the next 
corner, and because the Rogue attacks from a distance, she doesn't 
usually get so close to the enemies that when I get there, she's in a 
pool of her own blood.

- Man, D2 Rogues Can't Jump ...:  Sadly, your Rogue will not take to the 
skies when you start doing Leap Attacks; if you aren't careful you may 
end up leaving her behind - which may be a good or bad thing depending 
on the situation.  Also, when experimenting with Whirlwind, I've noticed 
that when I start trying to Whirlwind through a horde of monsters, my 
Rogue wants to follow - usually to her detriment as she's not spinning 
with blades extended like I was ...

Is the Rogue the best Hireling for a Barbarian?  That depends on the 
individual player - I imagine a fair number of Barbarians would prefer 
to use a Might Act Two Mercenary and reap huge damage bonuses from that 
aura, or use the Holy Freeze Merc as part of crowd control, or what have 
you.  My advice on this matter is this: choose a mercenary you think you 
like, try working with them, and if they seem to offer your style of 
play benefit, then stick with them, and learn how not only to make your 
mercenary complement you with their powers, but also how you can 
complement your mercenary's style of fighting for better survival of 
both parties.

------------------

*** Section 7:  Closing Thoughts ***

And now a few general opinions of mine, on the Barbarian and playing the 
game ...

The most important thing to remember when playing a Barbarian in Diablo 
2, is simply that - it's a game, it's your character, and don't be 
afraid to do something that others might advise against if you will have 
fun with it.  In my guide, I've tried to give a detailed idea of how all 
the Barbarian's Skills work, and offer some suggestions for what sort of 
things I feel all Barbarians can benefit from - but if you have an idea 
of your own that you like playing, then go for it.  Do you like using 
the Stun Skill, even though I said I felt it was not one of the 
Barbarian's most effective Skills?  Then by all means pump it up with 
Skill points as high as you like - if you like it and you have fun 
playing the game using that Skill, then use it.  Make your Barbarian 
suit your style of play.

Also remember, that no one is saying you have to compete with other 
players, especially if you're playing Single Player or Multiplayer 
Player versus Monster; so what if the sorceress can do 7000 points of 
damage a second with her Firewall and who knows how much with her Frozen 
Orb?  If you can hold your own, you're doing fine. If that sorceress 
feels you're holding her back because you're barely scraping the 1000 
mark for damage, then chances are your playing styles aren't meshing 
well anyway; don't feel you have to match or top everyone else you see 
or hear about, and play the game to have fun.  With luck you'll meet 
people who will enjoy playing with you if you play multiplayer and not 
have to worry about competing with your own party, when the real enemy 
is Diablo and his hordes.

Though I know little of the sorts of scams, hacks, and other dangers 
that can beset a person online, even I am aware that such things do 
exist, unfortunately - have fun, but not at the expense of others, and 
when online, please be careful.  Nothing can be as frustrating as having 
all your hard work in making a character destroyed because someone 
managed to hack your account and did What Have You to your character and 
items.

That's everything; I hope you found this guide helpful and informative, 
or at least interesting to read (^_^).  If you have any questions, 
comments, or the like, again I can be reached at 
lorannapyrel@hotmail.com; please include in the subject heading that 
your e-mail is about my Diablo 2 guide.  Helpful criticism and comments 
are welcome; flames, 1337-laden messages, and the like will be summarily 
ignored, and if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them

------------------

*** Section 8:  Revision History ***

Version 1.0; August 25, 2002: After a couple of weeks of planning, 
typing, late-night playing, and discussing with a couple of friends, the 
first version of this guide is done!  YAY!  Here's hoping it gets 
accepted ...

------------------

 *** Section 9:  Credits ***

Finally, credit where credit is due ...

I give credit to Blizzard, for making this game that has so eaten up my 
current free time.

I give credit to Sega and Sonic Team for making Phantasy Star Online, 
for that was the game which introduced me to online gaming to begin with 
- which contributed to me looking into this game.

I give credit to CJayC for creating GameFAQS, and the many FAQ writers 
before me who have given me inspiration from reading their guides.

I give credit to my friend DragonKat, a fellow GameFAQS user, for 
offering to review my guide before I sent it out, and for offering his 
advice on what he's seen other Barbarians do with some Skills I never 
really used much prior to making this guide.

I also give credit to myself for managing to put this guide together 
despite my own laziness (^_^)

August 25, 2002