Diablo 4 Open Beta: Barbarian Thorns Build

Become the Diablo 4 porcupine you were always meant to be and thorn your enemies with this Barbarian Thorn build.

Barbarians have been getting some hate in the Diablo 4 Open Beta. But even though they have a bit of a slow start, Barbarians have some nice builds that dish out bookoo damage. One of my favorite builds is the Barbarian Thorn build that melts enemies when they try to attack you. Let’s check it out.

In this guide, we will review the pros/consskillsgear, and aspects of the Diablo 4 Barbarian Thorns build for Open Beta.

Barbarian Thorns Build – Overview

This build is for the Diablo 4 Open Beta. At the time of this writing the level cap was 25.

If your favorite playstyle is AFK, then the Barbarian thorns build is for you. This is a set-it-and-forget-it type of build. We aim to stack as many Thorns on our barb as possible and then maximize our health and damage reduction. Thorns get reflected as damage on enemies when they attack you, like a porcupine. The Thorns stat you are trying to maximize can be located by opening your character screen (“C” key on PC) and tapping Materials & Stats.

Diablo 4 Thorns Stat

The in-game Thorns description reads like this:

  • Deals damage to attackers when hit by direct attacks. Excludes attacks that are entirely damage over time.
  • Damage dealt is affected by the Skill damage increase from your Strength.

Get your thorns number up and dominate — simple.


Great Survivability ✔️
Super Easy to Play ✔️
Low APM ✔️
Low Gear Requirements ✔️

❌ Slow Movement Speed
❌ Kinda Boring


Diablo 4 Barbarian Challenging Shout

Challenging Shout

Diablo 4 Barbarian Iron Skin

Iron Skin

Diablo 4 Barbarian Call of the Ancients

Call of the Ancients

Diablo 4 Barbarian Flay


Diablo 4


You may notice that we are missing a sixth skill. Well, you’re gonna go AFK with this build anyway, so why do you even need a sixth skill, chill out. But seriously, we opted to put three points into Imposing Presence which gives us a 15% additional Maximum Life. In all honesty, at level 25, that doesn’t give you a ton of additional health or Thorns damage, so you can swap those three points for Death Blow for extra smacking power

Let’s run through the entire skill tree:


Diablo 4 Barbarian Flay

(1) Flay
Flay the enemy, dealing damage and inflicting Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.

(1) Enhanced Flay
Flay has a chance to make the enemy vulnerable for 2 seconds. Double this chance when using a Two-Handed weapon.

(1) Combat Flay
When Flay deals direct damage to an enemy, you gain 3% Damage Reduction and 6 Thorns for 3 seconds. This stacks up to 4 times.

We pick up Flay primarily for Combat Flay, which stacks for additional damage reduction and Thorns.


Diablo 4 Barbarian Rend

(3) Rend
Cleave enemies in front of you, dealing damage and inflicting Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.

(1) Enhanced Rend
Dealing direct damage with Rend extends the duration of Vulnerable on enemies by 2 seconds.

(1) Furious Rend
Direct damage with Rend grants 4 Fury per enemy hit, up to a maximum of 20 Fury.

Pick up Rend to help kill off elites and spam down bosses with Call of the Ancients.


Diablo 4 Barbarian Challenging Shout

(1) Challenging Shout
Taunt Nearby enemies and gain 40% Damage Reduction for 8 seconds.

(1) Enhanced Challenging Shout
While Challenging Shout is active, gain 20% bonus Maximum Life.

(1) Strategic Challenging Shout
While Challenging Shout is active, gain Thorns equal to 50% of your Maximum Life.

Diablo 4 Barbarian Iron Skin

(1) Iron Skin
Steel yourself, gaining a Barrier that absorbs 50% of your missing Life for 5 seconds.

(1) Enhanced Iron Skin
Iron Skin’s Barrier absorbs 5% more of your Maximum Life.

(1) Tactical Iron Skin
While Iron Skin is active, Heal for 10% of the Barrier’s original amount as Life per second.

Diablo 4 Barbarian Imposing Presence

(3) Imposing Presence
Gain 15% additional Maximum Life.

Diablo 4 Barbarian Outburst

(1) Outburst
Gain 2 Thorns. Also gain 2 Thorns for each 3 bonus Maximum Life you have.

(3) Tough as Nails
Increase your Thorns by 60%. When enemies hit you, they take an additional 1% of your Thorns as Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.

The heart of the skills is in the Defensive cluster. Outburst and Tough as Nails are core skills for the Thorn build. You need those, so max them out. Challenging Shout can also be considered essential. It basically gives you double thorn damage for 8 seconds. Iron Skin gives you some extra survivability, but you might find that you don’t really need it. Imposing Presence is pretty good, but you will be a bit under-leveled to really utilize it. It won’t provide a ton of extra life/thorns overall, so you can sink those three points into something else like Death Blow or Rupture.



Weapon Mastery



Diablo 4 Barbarian Call of the Ancients

(1) Call of the Ancients
Call upon 3 Ancients to aid you in battle for 6 seconds.

  • Korlic leaps at enemies, dealing damage and swinging his weapons in a frenzy, dealing damage per hit.
  • Talic spins in a whirlwind rapidly attacking enemies.
  • Madawc upheaves the ground, dealing damage.

(1) Prime Call of the Ancients
While Call of the Ancients is active, gain 10% bonus Attack Speed and 10% increased damage.

(1) Supreme Call of the Ancients
Each of the Ancients gain additional power.

  • Korlic: You gain 10 Fury each time Korlic damages an enemy with his Fenzy.
  • Talic: Enemies are Slowed by 50% for 1 second when damaged by his Whirlwind.
  • Madawc: 30% chance to Stun enemies for 3 seconds when using his Upheaval

Call of the Ancients is used for boss killing. The last skill basically gives you infinite Fury for 6 seconds with the Korlic buff. So hit Call of the Ancients, and then Rend spam the boss to death.

If you want to add up some more damage, you can drop Imposing Presence and add Death Blow or Rupture.

Skill Rotation

The play style is essentially braindead; here’s your skill rotation:

  1. Run into a bunch of enemies
  2. Hit Challenging Shout
  3. Watch everything die
  4. Hit Iron Skin if necessary

When your fighting a boss, hit Call of the Ancients and spam Rend for 6 seconds. It won’t smack as hard as the Barbarian Upheaval build, but it for sure gets the job done.

Gear and Aspects

Your gear will be the primary source of adding extra Thorn damage. You’re looking for gear that has additional Thorns on it directly and also slots for them good ol’ gems. Here are stats to be on the lookout for in order of importance.

  • Thorns
  • Maximum Life
  • Damage Reduction Aspects
  • Slots
  • Strength

Find gear with slots and stick Emeralds in them to get a direct thorn increase.

You want to find aspects that help you be tankier. Here are some of the best to keep an eye out for:

  • Needleflare Aspect – Thorns damage dealt has a [20-40]% chance to deal damage to all enemies around you
  • Aspect of Might – Basic Skills grant 25% Damage Reduction for [4.0 - 8.0] seconds.
  • Iron Blood Aspect – Gain [2 - 4]% Damage Reduction for each Nearby Bleeding enemy up to [10 - 20]% maximum.
  • Aspect of the Protector – Damaging an Elite enemy grants you a Barrier absorbing up to [518-1035] damage for 10 seconds. This effect can only happen once every 45 seconds

Needleflare is pretty clutch here, giving you a nice damage boost. Aspect of the Protector is a nice addition basically giving you double life at the start of a fight. You don’t have to think about anything. Elites attack, your thorns automatically damage them back, and a barrier immediately procs. Iron Blood and Aspect of Might both synergize nicely, with Flay giving you some substantial damage reduction.

There it is, the Diablo 4 Beta Barbarian Thorns build. Enjoy! If you got some modifications or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.