Heroes of the Storm - Barbarian Guide

A basic overview along with a few suggested builds for playing Sonya, the Barbarian in Heroes of the Storm.

Welcome to the Heroes of the Storm build guide for Sonya, the Barbarian from Diablo 3. In this guide, you will find basic information on the game and the Barbarian, as well as tips on how to play and build her.

This guide will break down into six categories:

  • Introduction - A breakdown of the kind of character you're playing
  • Starter Abilities - The abilities your character starts with at the beginning of the match.
  • Heroic Abilities - Pick from one of these two ultimate-like abilities at team level 10
  • Talents - The character improvements you can choose from to custom build your hero
  • Talent Builds - Recommended builds that I have personally found success with
  • Playstyle Tips - Extra information about the character to help you play your best


In Heroes of the Storm, Sonya, the Barbarian, is a melee warrior with a kit that allows her to do some serious single-target and AoE damage.

Like many of the warrior heroes, she has the potential to be a damage dealer or a tank/initiator for your team. She has a lot of options for increasing her damage and her survivability that allow you some flexibility in how you want to play.

She works well in lane with characters that can keep her health up or that can CC. Her Whirlwind also makes her a great match for pushing lanes along with specialist characters.

Starter Abilities

  • Fury (Combat Trait)
  • Generate Fury by taking and dealing damage. Dealing damage also restores health.

  • Ancient Spear (Q)
  • Cooldown: 15 seconds
  • Throw a spear and pull to the first enemy hit, stunning and dealing damage.

  • Hammer of the Ancients (W)
  • Cooldown: 1 second
  • Deal a large amount of damage to an enemy.

  • Whirlwind (E)
  • Cooldown: 1 second
  • Damage nearby enemies. Can move while using this.

Heroic Abilities (Choose One)

  • Leap (R)
  • Cooldown: 40 seconds
  • Jump on enemies to stun and damage them.

  • Wrath of the Berserker (R)
  • Cooldown: 100 seconds
  • Duration: 12 seconds
  • Gains attack and move speed and becomes unstoppable.

Talents (Choose One from Each Tier)

Tier 1

  • Path of the Warrior: Your Hero gains an extra 25 Health for every level gained.
  • Endless Fury (Trait): Increases maximum Fury to 150.
  • Shot of Fury (Trait): Activate to gain 25 Fury. 45 second cooldown.

Tier 2

  • Amplified Healing: Increases healing taken and regeneration effects by 30%.
  • Focused Attack: Every 5 seconds, your next Basic Attack deals 50% additional damage.
  • War Paint (Trait): Increases your Lifesteal to 20%.
  • Massive Hammer (W): Damage of Hammer of the Ancients is increased by 50% and the Fury cost is increased to 20.

Tier 3

  • Block: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Basic Attacks by 50%. Stores up to 2 charges.
  • Poisoned Spear (Q): Ancient Spear deals an additional 50% damage over 4 seconds.
  • Seismic Slash (W): Hammer of the Ancients deals splash damage behind the target.

Tier 4

  • Leap (R): Leap into the air, dealing 50 damage to nearby enemies, stunning them for 1.5 seconds.
  • Wrath of the Berserker (R): Gains +100% bonus Attack Speed, +40% bonus Move Speed, +10% additional Lifesteal and silences, stuns, slows, and roots against your Hero have their duration reduced by 50%.

Tier 5

  • Spell Shield: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Abilities by 50%. Stores up to 2 charges.
  • Composite Spear (Q): Increases the range of Ancient Spear by 30%.
  • Wind Shear (E): Casting Whirlwind removes all movement impairing effects and increases move speed by 10%.
  • Cyclone (E): Increases the radius of Whirlwind by 80%.

Tier 6

  • Imposing Presence: Enemies that attack you have their Attack Speed slowed by 30%.
  • Mystical Spear (Q): Ancient Spear will pull the Barbarian to the target point, even if it misses a unit (but will not generate Fury.)
  • Hamstring Spiral (E): Whirlwind slows enemy move speed by 25% for 1 second.
  • Stoneskin: Activate to gain 30% of your max health in Shields for 5 seconds.

Tier 7

  • Resurgence of the Storm: Upon dying, revive back at your Altar after 5 seconds. This can occur once every 120 seconds.
  • Fury of the Storm: Basic Attacks bounce twice to nearby enemies for 50% damage.
  • Arreat Crater (R): Leaves behind an impassable crater for 3 seconds.
  • Anger Management (R): Increases the damage of other Barbarian abilities by 50% while Wrath of the Berserker is active. Increases the reduction of silences, stuns, slows, and roots to 75%.

Talent Builds

Tank Barbarian

  • Path of the Warrior: Extra health is always beneficial for tanking.
  • Amplified Healing or War Paint: Lifesteal helps you sustain yourself if there is no support with a heal nearby; if there is such a support, take Amplified Healing.
  • Block: What's a tank without the ability to block?
  • Leap: This is great for initiating team fights.
  • Spell Shield or Wind Shear (E): Wind Shear gets you movement speed to get into the fray, but Spell Shield gives you better defense against enemy abilities.
  • Stoneskin or Imposing Presence: A shield is always useful, but Imposing Presence punishes your enemies for hitting you.
  • Arreat Crater: This greatly enhances your Leap ability.

This is the kind of build you would choose if you wanted to be a tank/initiator. You will be the first person to enter the team fight and try to disorient them so your teammates can get their abilities off and kill the enemy team. This works really well if you have a character like Malfurion supporting you.

Heavy Area Damage Barbarian

  • Endless Fury (Trait): Having extra Fury allows you to spam Hammer of the Ancients and Whirlwind more often.
  • War Paint (Trait): Lifesteal will help sustain you in lane.
  • Wrath of the Berserker (R): Greatly increases your ability to do damage, as well as giving you better survivability.
  • Cyclone or Wind Shear (E): Cyclone lets you hit more targets, but if you're having a hard time getting out of tough situations, Wind Shear will give you a better escape mechanism.
  • Hamstring Spiral (E): Slowing the enemy with Whirlwind effectively guarantees that they will be stuck in your Whirlwind for more of its duration.
  • Anger Management (R) or Fury of the Storm: Make your abilities do even more with Anger Management or do more AoE damage with Fury.

This build focuses on using your Whirlwind and having as much Fury as possible. This is a great setup for pushing lanes, doing damage to multiple Heroes, and clearing merc camps with more than one in them. When you want to do more single target damage, pop your Heroic ability.

Barbarian Playstyle Tips

The Mercenary Queen

  • Whirlwind is one of the best abilities for clearing mercenary camps with multiple enemies.
  • You can take mercenary camps a level or two above you if you have enough Fury and can spam Whirlwind on multiple enemies.
  • Not as effective against single target camps like the Skull Golem.

Spear Tips

  • Do not use Ancient Spear for damage alone. If you use it at the wrong time, it can pull you towards multiple enemies and get you killed.
  • Be sure you can take an enemy if you are going to pull yourself towards them.
  • Once fighting an enemy 1-on-1, feel free to use it to give chase or stun as you please.

Look Before You Leap

  • To maximize the effectiveness of Leap, make sure your enemies are all bundled together.
  • Hitting as many enemies as possible means stunning as many as possible.
  • Stunning enemies is great for team fights.
  • Well placed Leaps win team fights.

Featured Columnist

World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.

Published Apr. 7th 2014

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