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I'm playing a minotaur barbarian who has a (housruled) tanked int of 3. He's a brute - simple as that.

I want him to be able to do the most possible damage with zero regard to defenses or companions (part of the way I want to RP him).

What is the best way to optimize for most damage? (heroic tier) More specifically - what feats and weapons should I get?


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I've always found it odd that 1) increasing strength always comes at the expense of intelligence and 2) anyone with that low of intelligence is capable of doing any reasonable amount of damage. I've always just assumed someone could just step out of the way of someone running at them with an int of 3 and they would just keep running until they hit something, probably the wall. – corsiKa Feb 25 '14 at 18:26
@corsiKa please use comments to improve Q&A, not for discussion. – Joshua Aslan Smith Feb 25 '14 at 18:35
@Joshua As a 50k+ rep user and SE moderator, I'm very well versed in how comments should and should not be used. My comment is on the eligibility of his build and whether or not it (in a true RP sense) would be capable of dealing the kinds of damage he wants to. – corsiKa Feb 25 '14 at 18:50
The OP mentions his RP intentions, but this is a question about mechanics, pure and simple, D&D4e doesn't care what your INT is if your Powers call for STR for attacks. 4e is not simulationist, thus your comment is "chatty" – Joshua Aslan Smith Feb 25 '14 at 19:22
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Basically, the things you need to do are stack to-hit, damage, and things that boost charges.

Roughly at L10 you should have the following

  • Rageblood class feature (might as well get access to Swift Charge)
  • L1 At-Will Howling Strike (can be used on a charge, extra damage at-will)
  • L1 Feat Two handed weapon expertise (feat tax, extra damage on charge)
  • L2 Feat weapon proficiency Gouge (barbs should have nice toys)
  • L4 Feat MC Fighter/Rogue (opens surprising charge shenanigans)
  • L6 Feat Surprising Charge (1[W] on charge with CA? I'll take that)
  • L8 Feat Weapon Focus Spear/Axe (extra damage on spear attacks)
  • L10 Feat Powerful Charge/Deadly Rage (you decide, both probably merit inclusion on an exclusively damage oriented build, either way, MOAR damage)

As far as equipment goes, there are two essential pieces for the heroic barbarian.

  • Horned Helm (extra d6 on a charge)
  • Vanguard or Jagged Weapon (extra d8 on a charge for Vanguard, Jagged weapon for expanded crit range)
  • Badge of the Berserker (doesn't promote damage, but goes a long way to making sure you can keep charging and stay alive)
  • Boots of Adept Charging (again, doesn't boost your damage, but they keep you alive)
  • Iron Armbands of Power (+2 melee damage)

Basically, your strategy with feats, powers and equipment are to stack damage.

Charge is your best move for many reasons, but the big reasons are the +1 to hit, and the fact that it's an easy way to stack gobs of damage.

With this character, at L10, with Powerful Charge and the Vanguard weapon, you're doing the following on a charge with CA (assuming Str 22):

 To Hit: 2 + 6 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 = +19
 Damage: 4d5+4 + 2d6 + d8 + 6 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 2  = 39.5 on average

On top of that you don't take OA's when charging, and you can shift a square afterwards. And while you're raging, your speed is 8.

Jagged vs Vanguard came up in the comments below and I should share the results of the math. For a +20 to hit on a charge, and +19 to hit on a MBA (both +3 weapons), the math is as follows:

Vanguard Howling: 4d5+4 + 2d6 + d8 + 6 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 40.5, 59
Jagged Howling: 4d5+4 + 2d6 + 6 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 36, 51
MBA: 2d5+4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 15, 20

Crit damage:
3d8 = 13.5
ongoing 10 = 15



.75 * 40.5 + .05 * (59 + 10.5 + .65 * 15 + .05 * (20 + 13.5) = 
30.375 + .05 * (69.5 + 9.75 + 1.525) = 34.72


.70 * 36 + .1 * (51 + 15 + .6 * 15 + .1 * (20 + 15)) = 
25.2 + .1 * ( 66 + 9 + 3.5) = 33.05

This gives the edge to the Vanguard weapon on the charge. However, in general, the Jagged weapon is the stronger weapon for the Barbarian as he wants the expanded critical to trigger Rampage. The Paragon tier feat Charging Rampage seals the deal on this as it allows rampage to become a charge attack which bumps the damage substantially.

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(note the average damage stated here is average damage on a normal hit actual average damage would need to account for monster defenses (~24 for AC at L10, crit damage, and Rampage)) – wax eagle Feb 25 '14 at 18:57
How does a Jagged Weapon compare to a Vanguard weapon in this build? 19-20 crit available as early as lv8 (assuming DM gives out lv+4 toys as per DMG recommendation) vs. +d8 on charge at lv1. – Brian S Feb 25 '14 at 19:07
@BrianS it might be a bit better. Let me work on the math. – wax eagle Feb 25 '14 at 19:09
@BrianS if you assume the first attack is always a Charge with CA, then no, a Vanguard weapon is better. However, it's likely that a Jagged weapon is better for a barbarian overall thanks to Rampage. – wax eagle Feb 25 '14 at 19:31
Add Charging Rampage at 11 and the Jagged weapon would win out easily (provided a new charge target is available) – wax eagle Feb 25 '14 at 21:43

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