Diablo IVClasses

Diablo 4 Thorns Barbarian Guide

How to Play Thorns Barbarian in Diablo 4

Thorns Barbarian is back in Diablo 4, and it feels very powerful. In previous games, Thorns builds typically relied on active abilities that scale off of your Thorns, but in Diablo 4 it’s back to the basics.

Your Thorns only gets procced when you get hit, and with the Death Wish legendary your Thorns damage is dealt in an AOE. This leads to a surprisingly engaging play style.

It involves pulling large amounts of mobs into Elites so that they hit you and cause you to do significant damage to those Elites. If you enjoy intentionally running into enemy attacks, this might be the build for you.

Click below to jump to a topic!

Build Overview

diablo 4 thorns barbarian build

Thorns Barbarian is all about pulling large groups of mobs into Elites and quickly bursting everything down. You want to use Steel Grasp to move mobs and use Flay to gain extra Thorns and damage reduction.

Once your Flay is stacked, you pop Wrath of the Berserker and Challenging Shout to dish out loads of damage. Keep using Steel Grasp to make sure mobs stay together, and be sure not to move too much so that you don’t accidentally walk out of hits.


  • Surprisingly consistent damage
  • High AOE burst
  • Lots of Elite damage if you have mobs on you


  • Relies on getting hit to do damage
  • Certain mob types are hard to get hit by
  • Can struggle against single target bosses

How to Build the Diablo 4 Thorns Barbarian

Basic Skills

thorn barbarian basic skills


Flay is the primary skill for this build. It gives you high single target damage while also providing you with a large amount of thorns and damage mitigation. Make sure you use a Two-Handed weapon with this skill as you will double the chance of applying Vulnerable on hit.

Core Skills

thorn barbarian core skills


Upheaval is great as it gives a high cost ability for proccing Wrath of the Berserker. The ability itself also gives Berserking from the Violent Upheaval talent as long as we hit at least two enemies.

Defensive Skills

thorn barbarian defensive skills

Challenging Shout

This ability adds a significant amount of damage to your build while providing some takiness. The damage comes from the talent that gives Thorns based on maximum health, and the ability gives baseline damage reduction when used.


This passive gives you Thorns that scale off of your maximum health.

Tough as Nails

Tough as Nails gives you increased Thorns and also causes Thorns to apply a Bleed, which is great for proccing any Bleed effects

Imposing Presence

Maximum Health from Imposing Presence scales with Outburst to increase your overall Thorns value while also giving you a little tankiness.

Brawling Skills

thorn barbarian brawling skills

War Cry

This is a large dps gain and also gives Berserking, which is perfect for this build.

Booming Voice

Booming Voice gives you an extra 30% duration on your Shouts, which represents a massive damage and tankiness gain

Weapon Mastery Skills

thorn barbarian weapon mastery skills

Steel Grasp

Steel Grasp allows you to group up enemies to get maximum value out of Death Wish. You can add skill points to Steel Grasp to give you 2 seconds of Berserking for a nice damage increase.

Ultimate Skills

thorn barbarian ultimate skills

Wrath of the Berserker

Providing a huge burst of damage and Unstoppable, this skill is perfect for this build. You can receive 15-20 seconds of Berserking depending on your talents, and is a great boost in overall dps. Upheaval is used to proc the Supreme Wrath of the Berserker talent, giving loads of bonus damage.

Keystone Talent

thorn barbarian keystone talent


For your Keystone Talent you’re going to be taking Unconstrained as it offers a nice damage boost while also giving you better uptime on Berserk.

Highest Priority Aspects (that you consider bis)

  • Thorns damage dealt has a 40% chance to deal damage to all enemies around you.

This Aspect represents one of your biggest power spikes, allowing you to do AOE damage whenever an enemy hits you. This Aspect makes the build much more consistent. It also gives you the ability to kill Elites much quicker as all of the trash hitting you will now add damage.

Death Wish
  • Gain % thorns while Berserking

Death Wish is a decent damage boost for this build. You are able to get good up-time on Berserking from these skills, and this compounds with your damage bonus from Berserking to add a bit of extra damage.

Optional Offensive Aspects


Basic Skills gain % Attack Speed

Rapid is quite good in this build as it adds some single target damage and allows you to quickly ramp up your Flay.


Gain x% damage while you have a barrier active

This Aspect combined with another Aspect such as Protector can increase your burst when you run into an Elite. You can also get a barrier from Iron Skin if you don’t have Protector.


Gain Berserking for x seconds after swapping weapons 10 times

This Aspect can work in this build depending on what skills you are running. The extra up-time on Berserking synergises well with Death Wish, and provides a nice flat damage boost. If you decide to use this, make sure your abilities use different weapons!

Burning Rage

While Berserking, you deal x Fire damage every second to surrounding enemies

Despite not buffing our Thorns damage, Burning Rage still brings a decent amount of consistent AOE damage to the table due to your high up-time on Berserking. This isn’t our first pick for an Offensive Aspect, but you can run it when needed.

Optional Defensive Aspects

Crowded Sage

You heal for x life per second for each Close enemy, up to 5x Life per second

You get much needed healing from this legendary. It also becomes stronger as you pull more enemies, which is exactly what you want to do to maximize your damage.


Damaging an Elite enemy gives you a Barrier, absorbing up to x damage for 10 seconds. This effect can only happen once every 45 seconds.

This gives you some tankiness and has great synergy with Adventurer, as you will get bonus damage when you run into an Elite. Popping Wrath of the Berserker and Challenging Shout with Protector will give you a ton of burst damage, allowing you to quickly kill Elites.

Aspect of Might

Basic Skills grant x% Damage Reduction for 4.0 seconds

You are able to easily keep this up if you are constantly pressing Flay, allowing you to run around with constant damage mitigation.

Stat Priorities and Gems

For this build you want to get as much Maximum Life and Thorns as possible. You can add gem slots into your gear at the Jewel Crafter, and then equip +Thorns gems.

Critical Strike Chance and Critical Strike Damage are also great, as your Thorns can Crit. Damage to Healthy Enemies, Damage to Injured Enemies, and Damage to Slowed/CC’d Enemies also add a lot of Damage to your Thorns.

General Tips

  • Protection Shrines prevent your Thorns from proccing, so you probably don’t want to click them.
  • When you Dodge, your Thorns do not proc. Avoid equipping gear with Dodge on it.
  • Try not to clear too much trash while looking for Elites, you want everything hitting you while you’re on top of it to proc your Death Wish.
  • Thorns do not count as direct damage.
  • Make sure to get hit by enemy attacks to proc your Thorns!
  • Seriously, get hit

Thanks for reading our Diablo 4 Thorns Barbarian guide.! Check out our other Diablo 4 class guides here.