Sword and Shield Tank -- Why on Normal?

I, as I'm sure most of you have also been doing, have been making my "spec strategies". Several friends are planning to do the sword and shield option on normal play. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I am firm in my belief that it only will be necessary for Hardcore players looking to milk every ounce of mitigation they possibly can out of their gear to survive. But on normal?

I think we are given tons of abilities and passives for defense, lifestealing, and knockbacks that will keep us juggernauting our way through mobs. Will we die occasionally on high end content? Well, yea. But we come back. I don't think it is worth the DPS loss to run around with a shield and a one hander when we can buzz saw everything and not lose a whole lot of health, or be massively penalized for dying.

Additionally, the bosses are being given enrage timers. Having a shield out can definitely complicate things. If you don't get enough damage in, you're in for a treat after 4 minutes. Will it be possible to do kill them in time on normal? Probably, but we have no way of knowing. Nightmare and Hell get pretty significant buffs, where I think (theoretically of course) a sword and shield won't cut it. Conversely, I can see why some of them want to go the shield route.

Some are playing EXCLUSIVELY in groups where they will try to be the team meat shield while the other classes are the glass canons. In this area, I guess I can see why it would fall into place. But even still, all classes are designed to be able to solo the game, so playing in a team is basically just a way to diversify your damage and defense. I do not think the DPS/Tank archetypes will be necessary; only skilled players who are on their preferred class.

In the end, I firmly believe a shield is not worth equipping when you can have a 2H or dual-wield Mighty Weapons. Even in a group setting, being a full on DPS barbarian with life steal seems more beneficial than just a meat shield who doesn't put out a ton of damage. These are just my thoughts and opinions as I plan to go dual wield from start to finish, only equipping a shield when I eventually roll my HC Barb. I'd like to hear what some of the sword and shield barbs have to say as to why exactly they find it more advantageous on regular play than the heavy melee style players. (Sorry for the essay, I am just killing time until Tuesday :P )

EDIT: Also something I forgot to put in after reading some of your posts about the damage while holding a shield will not be that low, I started to wonder if holding the shield will definitely require the passive Tough as Nails to be active to add DPS to a more tank-like barbarian.
I'm not actually going to be S+B in normal or nightmare but I will probably pick one up in hell or whenever things start to get difficult.

We do get tons of defensive passives but we get some pretty nice offensive ones too, ruthless/weapons master/brawler, and remember that a shield not only lets you block it also gives you almost as much armor as any three other pieces of gear.

It's a trade off either way you go, if you use a defensive passive then it is taking up a slot that could be used for an offensive one, while if you use a shield you are sacrificing the increase in damage you could get with a 2 hander or dual-wielding.
I agree with it not being optimal going with a sheild on normal for solo play, nor do I feel it is optimal to try to pass the game using online rpg archetypes.

Enemies 'might' hit hard enough in a public play game with enough players to justify the addtional defense from a shield even on normal though. For solo play who cares what other players are doing. They could die 100,000 times trying a build that is doomed to failure or take 1800 hours passing through the first act, and you will be unaffected.

If, however, your friends are planning on running a game with you in it and all of them are using sheilds, you should probably encourage them to switch up to something more offensive. In the end though, if you are friends and they refuse to listen to reason, you'll just have to put up with their shenanigans :P
It does seem weird to plan on using a shield as soon as possible. I doubt being heavily defensive will be necessary for normal difficulty, and I wouldn't do it before level 30 anyway because a lot of passives and runes won't be available.

However, I don't think using a shield on normal should be expressly avoided or even be uncommon. It's not entirely unlikely that you'll eventually come across a one-handed weapon better than any two-hander you have, and have no other one-hander close enough to make up the damage disparity with the attack speed bonus. This is made more likely once shields start getting offensive stats on them. Another situation is where you are fighting large groups of weak enemies and you're being frequently hit while the overkill from two-handers is actually wasting your time.
Having a shield as a melee class does not necessarily mean you're going to be doing less damage.

If an enemy hits hard enough that you need to Leap back and grab a health globe then that's time you aren't hitting a target. If a shield allows you to stay on a target longer then that makes up for the loss of damage.

Will it be needed on normal? I doubt it. I also doubt that the harder difficulties will require it. But even on normal, the loss of damage from a shield might easily be made up from being able to take more offensive abilities and passives over defense ones and being more freely able to jump into a large crowd of monsters and AoE (possibly).

Overall, it just seems like you're assuming that equipping a shield means doing terrible damage. We don't know that. We don't really know much.
In fairness the difference in damage on one handed weapons and two-handed weapons stays relatively similar for the early part of the game and only gradually stretches to roughly double at higher levels.

And also @GoldenWrench
So every barbarian needs to take threatening shout, intimidate?

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