Introduction & Overview
The Immortal King Set is one of the most iconic Diablo 2 sets, often paired with Whirlwind as main damage dealing skill, which is also one of the few "AoE" options for the Barbarian, although it works more as a multi-hit attack rather than an full area of effect skill (which will determine its limits in terms of high density clear speed) and boosting impressive survivability and utilities as well.
This set is the only one in D2R which takes the whole 5 armor slots plus the weapon, while giving in exchange huge bonus to all skills, elemental damage, life and mana leech, physical damage reduction, a lot of resistances just to name some main effects and as if it wasn't enough, it is also reasonably cheap to get if you trade. For these and many other good reasons it is an amazing set choice early on to play with if you want a build with strong identity and a golden "shiny aura" while fully capable of solo clearing Hell difficulty (at low player counts).
Your gameplay will focus around using a maxed and buffed Whirlwind in and out of monsters packs relentlessly while trying to set trajectory in such a way that will make most of the skill multi hits connect on target(s). Since Whirlwind damage is not truly "AoE" (Area of Effect) low to mid density packs will go down rapidly, while it could take several more swings to take down hordes of flayers or in other high density scenarios. You will have a lot of Life and defense which does retain its full value during Whirlwind, giving you some nice extra mitigation through evasion, the Immortal King Set Bonus also gives 10% life/mana leech and you will do 4-5k damage per hit (as stated in game menu description without accounting for all extra damage modifiers) so that means you'll basically get full mana back or close to everytime you will land one WW hit on an enemy which isn't immune to leech effects and will also recover some noticeable life recovery while decimating hordes of enemies.
You will learn to recognize such leech immune monsters (like skeletons and ghosts for example) and adapt to strategically kill them, in the case of open field maps skeletons like act 1 open areas they'll often be not too far from other kind of enemies, one easy way to deal with packs of skeletons is to mix them with another pack of a different enemy type to still have leech sources while you kill them, otherwise since WW is an mp intensive ability on a build which doesn't specialize into getting a big mana pool or an insight mercenary (we'll get to them later), when you can't mana leech one row of mana potions will be enough to support such situations (when not fully going with full rejuvenation potions). The Ghost types can instead mana burn you and being stuck in a pack while out of Mana will require you to focus even with 3k+ or more Life!
Ideally if there is a pack full of ghosts with also ghost champions too inside, your best tactical bet would be to get close and Howl away the non Champions so you can spam Berserk to quickly dispose of them and to use Find Item before the minions even recover from fear, you can also one shot the minions with berserk but if there are multiple is very likely to get mana burnt, in that case pop a Super Mana Potion to keep spamming Berserk for the whole time it takes to finish them all since this skill is very cheap to spam compared to Whirlwind.
If you get stuck always keep nerves of steel and use howl to get rid of density or Leap to try jumping beyond the threats to save your life, same goes for Hell solo progress, if the situation is terrible or you just wanna proceed fast just Howl your way to Elites and bosses, if you so desire. With full set bonus the weapon deals massive damage between physical/elemental and crushing blow procs, suggested bugdet option for sockets are 2x Shael runes, i wouldn't suggest getting 2x 15ias/40ed due to them being more expensive than the full set. You need 30% extra ias on weapon for WW breakpoint so 2x Shael is good enough.
If you really wanna put a socket through Larzuk quest, your best cheap option is to put a Ptopaz to increase magic find, since you won't need extra life and the pdiamond attack rating won't be as beneficial as 24% magic find in the long term. I absolutely do NOT suggest putting enhanced damage % jewels in body or helm slots for this specific build, more on this later. No matter what you choose to build, you will need D2R Items. Players need to collect as many different D2R Runewords as possible to equip themselves.
By putting two Perfect Topaz in the sockets we can get one of the best magic find helms in the game, also the alternatives aren't really as appealing since Ber runes are expensive and same goes for Jah/Cham and top tier jewels, however I strongly suggest not to use enhanced damage jewels in the sockets. Why? At first 70-80% enhanced damage might sound very powerfull, but lets make a concrete example and take lvl29 WW damage while wearing full IK set and angelic amulet plus double ring, which is probably the most budget yet effective "set items only" build of Diablo 2. If 2406-4016 is the WW dmg without jewels, it becomes 2566-4235 with 69% ed from 2 budget jewels, as you can see that is far from being 69% increased damage, more like 5% while for example a +9 max damage from charms would already give +69 ww max dmg increase so that is the way to go for this build, Ptopaz in sockets to get the most out of your Item Finds and time spent farming with it supported by max dmg/ar charms, life is a bonus as you already got tons of it, like 2.500 or more after Battle Orders usually on a budget full IK once you wear the full set at level 76 and easily surpassing 3k in the 80s.
Budget options: Angelic Set Rings and Amulet, +3 warcries amulet, Chromatic magic amulet (up to all res +30), magic ring with all res and str or dex,magic find ring up to 25%, magic find amulet up to 40% magic find.
Mid options: Bul Kathos ring for +1 all skills, life leech; Ravenfrost for cannot be frozen, dex and attack rating to increase hit chance; dual leech ring with decent stats and rolls, magic find ring with double mf combination of prefix and suffix 31-40%, high mf Nagelring
High end options: Mara's Kaleidoscope amulet for +2 skills and overcapping res, Highlord Wrath for deadly strike, attack speed and +1 skills, or Metalgrid
You can honestly go for the 2x Angelic Ring + Amulet option and do really well almost as you would do with more expensive options, at lvl84 with the angelic setup and 50 points spent in dex my Whirlwind has 18k attack rating which makes landing all its hits very consistent even in terror zones with area being 2 levels higher than your character.
However the Angelic Ring + Amulet + Ravenfrost ring might be the best combination out there to still achieve very high attack rating while also gaining protection from being frozen which puts you at serious danger, since very slow attack speed means no leech and often leads to risky situations.
If you respec at lvl76 put enough points to wear your gear including the stats received from it (232 strenght needed for the armor and 225 for the weapon, since you need 30% ias on the weapon to hit WW last breakpoint lowering requirements on the body wouldn't still gain enough benefit to be worth it), then if you'll wear at least 1 Angelic Ring + Amulet you can skip putting any point into Dexterity, but if you won't be using any attack rating boost accessory then getting 40-50 points into dexterity will give you a bit more chance to hit. Keep in mind that if your level is lower than your enemies you'll receive an accuracy penalty, while if your level is higher than the zone you are farming you will have increased hit chance compared to earlier levels.
For terror zones specifically as the zone will always be 2 levels higher than you, at very high levels i'd suggest just wearing at least 1 angelic ring + angelic amulet and ravenfrost ring.
Put all remaining points into Vitality if you wanna maximize your tankiness or by really wanting it you could do a "Titan" build ("Titan" build means dumping all points into Strenght instead of Vitality after reaching desired comfortable amount of Life) but due to having a lot of enhanced damage already, 100-150 extra points in Strenght won't be as strong as one might think, just like the ehnanced damage jewels in the armor sockets. Perhaps straight godly rolled +max damage jewels with fhr would be better in this case.
Here are the fundamental skills you need to put 20 points into:
Whirlwind - Battle Orders - Mace Mastery
1 point wonders:
All Warcries - skills except Grim Ward if you choose to magic find with this build (since corpses will be used for Item Find, when they won't shatter 'cause of cold damage)
From Combat Masteries - Increase Stamina/Speed, Iron Skin, Natural Resistance
From Combat Skills - Bash, Stun, Concentrate, Berserk, Leap, Leap Attack.
You will then have several remaining skill points left to specialize your IK barb even more, lets take a look at various options:
IK WW Berserker - to deal with physical immunes Berserk works well even with 1 point invested, but if you choose to max it you'll get an enormous attack rating and magic damage boost to it. Since when you will use Berserk your defense will drop to 0, it must be understood when not to use it, for example when you're surrounded by lot of minions while trying to target a Champion, using it would mean getting hit with 100% chance by every single attack, which could deplete your immense Life in no time if you're not carefull. That's why sniping with Berserk synergizes extremely well with a good placed Howl to rapidly remove density around the Champions so that you can spam Berserk safe. After maxing Berserk you'll have few points left that you can put in Shout if you wanna have more defense and party utility. Combined with Angelic Set + Ravenfrost and focusing on max damage charms, this build is the most indicated for soloing.
- Important -
Correct buffs order is Battle Command x2, Battle Orders, Shout and this is valid for all variants, during scary situations don't be afraid to use Battle Cry to heavily debuff your opponents at least until the decrepify or another wanted proc lands, and if things get too dangerous Howl is your best friend to retreat, while Leap attack can also be used as gap closer to jump between medium-short distances, Warcry to apply a short AoE stun.
IK WW Group - Instead of maxing Berserk for the most tanky and supportive variant this build max Shout and then Iron Skin to have further increased survivability, can put perfect rubies in armors sockets if you wish to go the tankiest budget route or perfect topaz to get sweet extra magic find, while all the 1 point wonders remain untouched and you will still use Berserk to deal with immunes, just with lower attack rating and damage.
WW Berserker Full Magic Find - Note: due to cold damage applied by our maul, many corpses will shatter and won't be able to be used for Item Find, however many Champions and Elites which are the primary target for the ability won't be affected by the freeze and thus their corpse will remain for us to scavenge.
That being said, for this build instead of maxing Berserk we max Shout first and then put remaining skill points into Potion Find to maximize Item Find success rate, while also putting perfect topaz in every armor socket and wearing magic find rings, amulet, small charms and Gheed's Fortune unique charm.
Without any charm by using 2 perfect topaz in the helm, magic find budget rings and amulet you can easily achieve 170-200%, by adding body armor socket and charms you could even get to 300% magic find which is pretty decent considering you will also have Item Find often available!
Although it must be said that before running a full magic find IK build you'd better off gain some extra levels to compensate the lack of attack rating with your higher level, for example while farming Act 1 Hell while lvl85+.
This build is indicated for both solo and group play once you are confident enough with farming an area and you know you can gimp yourself and still be allright.
Skill breakpoints are the number of frames needed to perform an action, IK barb doesn't use Block Rate so you can ignore that table for this build.
The ideal mercenary would be an Act 2 merc with Might aura and chance to cast Decrepify costantly debuffing enemies while boosting your damage (Blessed Aim is also viable if you really wish to go for it instead of Might). Reaper's Toll unique is the best weapon you can get for decrepify procs with also amazing stats, Ethereal version is way more expensive but has ideal damage values, while other budget earlier options can include Obedience, Insight, upped Blackleach Blade, upped Kelpie Snare, Tombreaver (eth versions are always better for merc)
Budget body armors could be Smoke or much better offensive yet also decent defensive option is the Treachery runeword in a Dusk Shroud for example or even a normal 3os base is fine, just don't get superior items if you're not willing to use a lot of gold for repair costs compared to normal versions, if you gamble in game I wouldn't make expensive runewords into superior elite bases with very few exceptions (refer to superior items guide). Other good budget merc options are the Guardian Angel templar coat unique, Duriel Shell, Naj Plate, while the best ones are Duress for high Crushing Blow setup, Leviathan for damage reduction, Fortitude or Chains of Honor in a Great Hauberk (or other ethereal elite bases) for a lot of extra damage.
Budget Helm slots are Undead Crown early on for some life leech, Peasant Crown for +1 all skills, Lore runeword then going less budget Tal Rasha head is probably the best life leech cheap merc helm you can get usually offering all resists and 10% life leech which is huge for the merc and opens up more offensive options for weapon slot, or straight up enables reaching very high life leech amounts (31%) to turn your merc into a deadly self sustaining tank, Vampire gaze is also a mid budget option with great value while the most expensive yet great options are Harlequinn Crest Shako unique or (eth) Andariel's Visage, Crown of Ages, Kira's Guardan for cannot be frozen, while for high Crushing Blow merc builds Guillaume's Face from Orphan's Call set is the best option with a noticeable 35% crushing blow chance.
Although Fortitude armor has a massive damage modifier Treachery can still compete due to 45% attack speed and high level Venom too on top of fade proc. If you add up a 15% ias jewel in a tal rasha head for example that's gonna be a lot of ias added to his powerfull weapon of choice!
Act 5 merc is "less popular" but can also be used with success by really wanting it, but needs quite good gear to stand a chance in comparison to the Act 2 merc overall utility, when wearing Lawbringer or Vile Husk as budget option it can be usefull for melee builds, otherwise a frenzy Grief + Last Wish act 5 merc with Fortitude/Chains of Honor/Treachery and Andariel Visage or Guillaume's Face will obliterate almost everything you will throw at him.
Weapon Swap: 2x +3 warcries weapons or cta/hoto + spirit to buff Battle Orders, or even wand of Teleport/Life tap can be very usefull.
You can prebuff Treachery Fade proc if needed by going in Act 4 River Of Flame WP to stand in the fire close to the pillars next to Hadriel until you get that proc, then you can equip your IK Body. To quickly collect the items needed for building, you can go to RPGStash to Buy D2R Ladder Items. Of course, you can also buy d2r runes to quickly increase your strength, which will save you a lot of time and energy.
The Immortal King is one of the absolute best budget melee builds which D2R has to offer, while aesthetically pleasing thanks to his look and aura, farming Hell difficulty with this set is overall great considering its price and unless you get extremely lucky and wealthy early on, I would highly suggest it as Barbarian lategame budget build to familiarize with WW Barbarian playstyle, plus can use it until you will transtition into top end setups, considering it can cost of an Ist or less and its beginner friendly status you will not regret going for it.
On the other hand if you are looking for the ultimate overpowered barb build meant to dominate the game, or for a complicated build with high skill ceiling and lots of min maxing skills to master, this is not the build you might be looking for.
Article From: D2R Immortal King (IK) Barbarian Guide