Poison Whirlwind Barb; A Comprehensive Guide

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magz_
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POISON WHIRLWIND BARB
You're not like the other Barbs.
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PROS
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NEUTRAL
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CONS
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Goals of this guide and future plans
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This is a guide designed to get you a good farming character, at the very least. I believe a good bar for a build to be considered viable is whether or not it can clear popular farming areas like Fauzt, Duncraig, etc comfortably. 2.0 adds a new area, scosglen, which at the time of writing this build CAN do but it's not very comfortable. My gear is not even remotely optimized so expect this to change and expect this guide to be updated as it clears the few tougher ubers I'm missing. I'm also aiming to talk a little bit about strategy for killing each boss, if the fight calls for it. VIdeos will come if requested enough, but I'm pretty busy with work and don't have much time to play let alone make content. As long as there are no massive changes, I'll slowly start adding video guides and link to my youtube channel as they go up. More pictures and gifs to come as well.
Build Overview and why Poison over Phys/Magic

Poison WW benefits from a lot of things the other WW builds wouldn't. For starters, since we use Snake Stance, our damage upgrades come from plus skills/spell damage/pierce, and don't scale with stats. This allows us to put almost everything into VIT, getting us a really thicc boi life pool. This synergizes with our WW leech passive, which scales based off of our max life. Also unlike Phys/Magic WW, since we're poison and our damage is over time and not on hit, we don't need to go slow to maximize our hits and can get move speed on our boots. In my opinion this makes for a much more comfortable farming experience with WW. While the hit and run play style vs bosses may suck to some, I think there's value in being able to whack a boss, and run away while it's health ticks down. It's slow, but it's safe, and it enables some cheesy strats we otherwise wouldn't have access to.

There's more but TL;DR Poison WW makes up for some of the weaknesses of it's counterpart, while creating some of it's own and provides a bit of a unique spin on the play style, with different nuances.


STATS
VIT: Yes
STR: enough for gear
Dex: enough for gear
Energy: No

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A note on stats:
You will probably require a lot more strength and dex up front while leveling, and can invest less and less as you get charms from killing uber bosses. I'm not a huge fan of re-speccing so I aim to do that as little as possible with this build.

SKILLS BREAKDOWN
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YMMV. The above image is just a progress picture/example

NOMAD
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WINDCARVER
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MASTERY
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REWARD
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GEAR
We'll break gear down into 2 main sections; leveling and end game. I'll list alternatives and will TRY to rank them in order of power.
A note on poison damage and gear
Poison WDM is complicated in D2. Generally you want only one source of flat damage from gear after amatoxin and snake stance. This is why in both gearing setups we avoid having more than one source of "adds XXX poison damage over x seconds". Keep this in mind when leveling. (Thx Ben and Siosilvar for clarifying)
Siosilvar wrote:& the reason to have exactly one item adding poison is because all of your poison durations get added up, then divided by the total number of items you have adding poison.

Snake stance + amatoxin + an item with a 2s poison = 6s, divided by 1 item = 6 seconds.
Snake stance + amatoxin + two items = 8s, divided by 2 items = 4 seconds.

More items will always increase your poison damage per second, but the total duration (and thus total damage) goes down the more you add.


Leveling:
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End Game Setup:
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MOs:
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Socketables:
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Playstyle
Poison WW differs a bit from phys/magic variants. First and foremost, you don't have to constantly hit things, so you can move through a bit quicker. If your damage isn't high enough you'll have to circle back for a second (or third or fourth etc) pass to clear, but most of the time one pass will be enough.
The most important thing to consider with WW is the nuances of casting it. WHIRLWIND IS NOT A TRADITIONAL CHANNELED SKILL. This means that when you WW somewhere, your character will keep going until he gets there. Consider it like leap, it wouldn't stop in mid air if you let go of the button because it was cast once.
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Short Cast!

With this in mind, know that longer WW casts are not always the best. Being locked into the animation for too long can kill you. When your clear is good enough you can go quite fast but a good way to do more damage (with poison, not phys/magic) is to have the mouse closer to your character so the casts are shorter. This allows for much better repositioning, slowing down a bit (stopping and then recasting takes frames), and in some cases better sustain. It allows you to stay on targets longer, and since poison doesn't care about the slow moving "get as many hits IN the cast as possible" play style, we can take advantage of small cast distances.
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Long casting can save you from death
In other cases you may want to cast much further away from yourself, in rifts like fauzt, vizjun, and bremmtown where you are being attacked rapidly. Having the monsters chase you, get hit by the tail of your WW, and continue to chase you is much safer. This is how we combat our vulnerability to ranged enemies that like to stay away, like harpies in Fauzt.

Bossing with poison WW is a little different too. You can hit the boss, and run away while it's health ticks down. YMMV depending on the boss. There are descriptions in the Dungeons section of this guide.



Leveling Guide

There are plenty of guides on leveling through median so I'll try to keep this brief and mention things that pertain to us. Refer to troubleshooting if you're stuck on a particular uber.

Normal:
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Nightmare:
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Hell, Dungeons, Rifts
Rather than reiterating how to progress through the D2 campaign, this guide will assume you are doing that on your own by now, and instead I'll cover the Median content, Dungeon and rift bosses. Be sure to complete all of your quests that give rewards, and upgrade your sunstone. The ancients in act 5 can be done for a nice chunk of XP when you hit 113-114 to help get you to 115 faster.

Leveling in the endgame is pretty straightforward. Do the regular campaign until you can do Torajan jungles/cows at 110, then farm cows (or TJ if you want to start getting signets early) until level 115. From there you can farm K3K, then Isle of Skatarra(Tran Athulua) until 120. From there you can do Duncraig until 120, and come back to clear it until 125. You likely won't be able to clear Fauzt right away, so refer to troubleshooting for tips on how to get there. Form there you can farm Fauzt, Bremmtown, and Vizjun for exp well until at least 135. Scosglen could be good for XP too but I personally like vizjun until 135 because the pack density with an XP shrine is sweet. Fauzt is a better loot zone so when you can clear it just as fast do so.

I apologize in advance for the spoiler list. This is EVERY uber I've completed and it didn't read well as a massive wall of text (will add as I complete more). Open and close the spoilers as you complete the fights :)

105
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110
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115
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120
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125

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All the bosses we're missing here will either be attempted again once my gear is optimized, or omitted if I can't complete them. Because this guide can get you to a state where you can farm fauzt and dunc easily, I'm considering this a full guide. I'll be sure to add more as I do more. Uldyssian is next for me and I'm pretty sure I can get him down.

Rifts
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Troubleshooting

Q: I'm dying too much in (insert rift), what do I do?

A:If you don't have max signets, go farm those. If you have way more strength or dex than you need to equip gear, you may need to re-spec and dump more into VIT, your defense may also not be high enough.

Q:How the hell do I get close to 1 mil defense?

A:You can MO all of your armor with % Enhanced Defense. While using WW and near your wolf companion, defense will be multiplied. Make sure you're using runes, and not jewels or gems, as they don't work with runemaster.

Q: I'm not doing enough damage, what do I do?

A: Make sure you MO each piece of gear with poison spell damage. This is 10% PER SLOT, it's a lot to miss out on. Farm runes for runewords, and poison runes for more pierce. Character level increases the damage of snake stance as well, so If you're still getting good exp, stop to level for a bit. Prioritize ubers that give you +all skills. You can also have 2x
Raptor



Raptor
Throwing Axes

'ZodSurLemEl'
Runeword Level: 85
(Barbarian Only)
Indestructible
3% Chance to cast level 60 Thunder Slam on Kill
-19% to Enemy Poison Resistance
+(6 to 11) to Snake Stance (Barbarian Only)
+3 to all Attributes
5% to Vitality
Maximum Life +3%
Regenerate Mana +15%
+100 Life after each Kill
on switch to snapshot snake stance. If you really want to push it, find a skill shrine before casting.


Q: I have a question not here

A:I'm in the median discord as magz. If I'm there feel free to @ me.

Thanks
~ :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: ~
DatDudeJay for the guide that taught me how to play basically
Ben and Siosilvar for some poison mechanics clarification
aerial for pointing out the snake stance snapshotting
Wulf For inspiring the WW guide
Suchbalance for nerfing fortress leading me to use WW instead
More when I remember to add them

~ :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: :flip: ~
Edited by magz_ 3 weeks.
lovelydeny
Invader
8 | 0
Already got end game gear for this build.
MY IDEA:
- Best farming build for barbarian, you could still get 300+MF for farming in Dunc or Fauz.
- Easy to kill 90% uber bosses but slow, even with no pots. The rest, you should change to other build
meovngaming
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so poison can farm better than phys/magic?
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magz_
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lovelydeny wrote:Already got end game gear for this build.
MY IDEA:
- Best farming build for barbarian, you could still get 300+MF for farming in Dunc or Fauz.
- Easy to kill 90% uber bosses but slow, even with no pots. The rest, you should change to other build


I should add to the pros of this guide that this build is cheap, respective to others. It's definitely a slow bosser but a really smooth farmer.
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magz_
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meovngaming wrote:so poison can farm better than phys/magic?


Maybe a bit smoother because it has way more health from not needing to scale strength. It's definitely not better for bossing, but farming is super easy.
Siosilvar
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Hey, thanks for the shoutout!

To head off a couple of questions folks may have: spell damage applies to your Whirlwind damage, but not to your Gale Force. This is the same bug that makes classic LoD Enchant double-dip with Fire Mastery, and it applies to direct melee attacks *only* and not to any of the projectiles that 99% of Median skills use, so Whirlwind is one of the few skills that actually benefits from it.

& the reason to have exactly one item adding poison is because all of your poison durations get added up, then divided by the total number of items you have adding poison.

Snake stance + amatoxin + an item with a 2s poison = 6s, divided by 1 item = 6 seconds.
Snake stance + amatoxin + two items = 8s, divided by 2 items = 4 seconds.

More items will always increase your poison damage per second, but the total duration (and thus total damage) goes down the more you add.
Edited by Siosilvar 3 weeks.
Laika_92
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Well I've been dying to level a barb, thanks for the excuse to finally do it!
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aerial
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I suggest trying devastation proc, probably on attack from su will be the best currently. It has high wdm (around 100?) was changed muliple times, so not sure what value it ended up with. But it creates gigantic delayed nova released at your feet, it is wonderful to spread poison in ubers where it can 1-shot everything, such as fauztinville. You don't need to proc it that often for it to be very good, because it hits such large area.

I have played many versions of this build, it is quite fun, although damage for bosses in endgame is bit lacking.

Another small thing, you can snapshot snake stance, so those runewords that add a lot to snake stance, dual wielding them on switch is worth it.

Lastly, with earthquake secondary hit being 150%, just running around and slapping 1x eq every screen is quite competitive, you poison for quite bit more than gale force, it is worth noting.
youtube.com/ae1337
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magz_
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Created a complete character guide
Siosilvar wrote:Hey, thanks for the shoutout!

To head off a couple of questions folks may have: spell damage applies to your Whirlwind damage, but not to your Gale Force. This is the same bug that makes classic LoD Enchant double-dip with Fire Mastery, and it applies to direct melee attacks *only* and not to any of the projectiles that 99% of Median skills use, so Whirlwind is one of the few skills that actually benefits from it.

& the reason to have exactly one item adding poison is because all of your poison durations get added up, then divided by the total number of items you have adding poison.

Snake stance + amatoxin + an item with a 2s poison = 6s, divided by 1 item = 6 seconds.
Snake stance + amatoxin + two items = 8s, divided by 2 items = 4 seconds.

More items will always increase your poison damage per second, but the total duration (and thus total damage) goes down the more you add.


Thanks for further clarifying~. I should add the note about gale force, or at least link to this comment, when I figure out how to add quick links :|
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magz_
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aerial wrote:I suggest trying devastation proc, probably on attack from su will be the best currently. It has high wdm (around 100?) was changed muliple times, so not sure what value it ended up with. But it creates gigantic delayed nova released at your feet, it is wonderful to spread poison in ubers where it can 1-shot everything, such as fauztinville. You don't need to proc it that often for it to be very good, because it hits such large area.

I have played many versions of this build, it is quite fun, although damage for bosses in endgame is bit lacking.

Another small thing, you can snapshot snake stance, so those runewords that add a lot to snake stance, dual wielding them on switch is worth it.

Lastly, with earthquake secondary hit being 150%, just running around and slapping 1x eq every screen is quite competitive, you poison for quite bit more than gale force, it is worth noting.


I hadn't considered adding 2x raptor on switch! I knew you can hit a skill shrine and snapshot snake stance that way but didn't think about on switch weapons. I'll try that myself and credit you, it'll help as the build progresses into harder ubers. I'll give devastation a go too at some point. Thanks so much :)