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How exactly does Barbarian rage work in 4E? Is there a prerequisite they have to meet to be able to rage, for example only after using certain powers, or can they rage whenever they want to?

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Welcome to J.Burke. Have you read the books at all? Is there something you've read you haven't understood? Could you clarify your question? – C. Ross Jul 1 '13 at 12:21
Alright. Does a Barbarian enter into "rage" only after using powers, is there a pre req he has to meet or is it like "Hey I want to rage now" then BAM hes raging. – J.Burke Jul 1 '13 at 13:21
How does that edit look @J.Burke? – Wibbs Jul 1 '13 at 13:32
Thanks Phil for cleaning that up for me – J.Burke Jul 1 '13 at 13:41
also, just a quick note - its generally better to leave a question open and wait for a day or so before choosing your 'correct' answer, as it gives people a bit more time who don't necessarily come on every day. – Wibbs Jul 1 '13 at 14:58

I know of a Berserker Barbarian in the Essentials line, but I'm not familiar with it. I'm assuming you're asking about the PH2 class.

Unlike in the previous edition of the game, now raging is no more something you get by itself, it's part of some powers instead. Whenever you use one of the barbarian's daily attacks (they all feature the Rage keyword but Rage Strike), your barbarian character is considered raging until the end of the encounter.

This means you need to choose which battles are rageworthy, because you'll usually have less daily powers than encounters.
This also mean you're not encouraged to use mor than a Rage power per encounter, because you already are raging.
One exception would be thee need to enter a different rage: Those daily powers all set your status to "raging" but each has his different rage effects. The Rage Strike power you get at level 5 allows you to sacrifice an unused daily power to get an unusually strong attack. You need to be raging already to use that, which also means you need two daily powers to use it. That's why Rage Strike is gained at level 5.


  • You need no prerequisite status to enter a rage.
  • You need to use a power (any barbarian daily attack) to enter a rage (for raging is a direct consequence of those powers).
  • You need to be in a rage already to use Rage Strike.
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"one of the barbarian's daily attacks (they all feature the Rage keyword)" --Technically Rage Strike is a daily that lacks the Rage keyword. Just sayin'. Also, some page numbers and pithy quotes direct from the book would be lovely additions. – BESW Jul 1 '13 at 14:12
Awesome, thank you for your answer! – J.Burke Jul 1 '13 at 14:22

There are two different Barbarian classes with two different mechanics.

The Barbarian from Player's Handbook 2

The Barbarian Class from PHB2 rages by using its daily powers that have the Rage word in them. To quote the Compendium:

An effect type. A rage power allows the user to enter a rage specified in the power. The rage lasts until the user enters a new rage or until the end of the encounter.

Thus to get the most utility out of a Barbarian's Rage you should use it at the start of what looks to be a big fight.

The Barbarian (Beserker) from Essentials

The essentials line also has its own version of the Barbarian, the Barbarian (Berserker). The Berserker class works as both a striker and a defender and the way the Berserker enters their rage reflects this. The Berserker starts out in their defender role (defender level damage, aura based punishes), and must rage to enter their striker mode (1d8 added to attacks, extra effects on martial at-wills):

When you use a barbarian primal attack power, you enter your Berserker Fury until the end of the encounter. Alternatively, you can use a minor action while you are bloodied to enter the fury. The fury has the following effects.

The mechanics of the Berserker (and the Essentials line in general) allow you to be stronger on average, between fights rather than having 1 or 2 fights a day where you blow everyone out of the water.

My personal opinion: Both feel like barbarians, but from a mechanics perspective you have to be a much more thoughtful about when to use your rages as the regular barbarian vs. the Berserker subclass. Barbarians do more damage from a math/optimization stand point than Berserkers as well. I feel that the Berserker class feels more like the idea of a barbarian from a play standpoint though because you rage every fight and get to feel the benefits of raging every single fight. You don't question if you are going to rage, only when.

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I edited your post to add headings and hopefully increase readability, and made some other small modifications. Please check my changes to make sure you're still happy with it. :) Nice answer, too. +1 – doppelgreener Jul 1 '13 at 23:56
@JonathanHobbs Thanks, I actually thought about doing so myself. – Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 2 '13 at 15:08

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