The Monk is one of two melee classes in Diablo 3, the other being the Barbarian. However, the Monk offers a far less gimmicky endgame build and is, in my eyes, quite a bit more fun to play. This guide will focus on giving new players tips to making it to level 60 and Inferno difficulty, both of which act as the Diablo 3 endgame. Normal difficulty concludes at around level 30 and offers a very easy playing experience, so this guide will focus largely on skills available before level 30 and the steps that can be taken to improve them after that point.
The Monk and Barbarian classes fill the melee class type for Diablo 3 and although they do have a sufficient number of similarities to make transitioning from one class to another a relatively simple task. However, these similarities exist primarily once a character has reached level 60 and moved into Inferno difficulty. Prior to this, the class development is different, with the barbarian reaching a stable build that will work for the remainder of the game very early in comparison to the monk.
First steps: To ensure that you are able to develop your character quickly and with a full repertoire of skills, there are two changes that must be made to the game. The first is monster power. Monster power takes the default difficulty of the game and ramps it up on a scale from 1 to 10, with MP10 featuring extreme increases to monster health and damage, but with similar increases to EXP gained, as well as magic find and gold find percentage. Increasing monster power is the easiest way to power level and reach maximum level and difficulty setting, where the endgame really begins.
Monk skills: although the number of skills available increases steadily throughout the game, it can be difficult to choose the skills and, more importantly, the runes to go with them, that make the ascent to level 60 a cakewalk. Many of the skills offered are useless at level 60, and although they may seem useful during your first playthrough there are very few skills not listed here that are genuinely good choices.
Skill #1: There are different techniques that do work at the end of the game, but for this guide’s purposes it is best to stay simple. Fists of Thunder is unlocked at level 1, and with Thunderclap (a rune unlocked at level 6) it is a viable option for the remainder of the game that offers good damage, attack speed, and AoE.
Skill #2: Wave of Light is unlocked at level 12 which still means that it is very easy to get, and the massive damage spike that it provides makes it useful immediately. Even though the ideal rune (Empowered Wave, unlocked at level 35) isn’t available immediately it still works as a great damage spike for boss battles and for clearing and knocking back mobs.
Skill #3: Serenity is unlocked at level 16, again very close to the start of the game. Serenity grants 3 seconds of invincibility, making it a multipurpose powerhouse without the added effects of runes. The first rune for it is unlocked at level 23, and even though the more useful ones don’t unlock until after 30 it is still a necessary survival skill that can get you out of sticky situations and offer those last few seconds to heal up and defeat a tough enemy.
Skill #4: Sweeping Wind offers constant AoE damage and is unlocked at level 21. As with Serenity, the useful runes do not make themselves available until after normal difficulty but still makes a fantastic mob clearing skill on its own. It does have a high spirit cost if kept running at all times so it is best to wait to use it until you are in a mob or are taking on a boss, as hitting enemies is what keeps it from ending.
Skill #5: this skill goes with Serenity to offer good coverage against all enemies, and is unlocked at level 4. Blinding Flash blinds all enemies within 20 yards for 3 seconds and causes Elite monsters to suffer a 30% accuracy penalty during the skill’s duration. Combined with Serenity it offers a great 1-2 punch for extending your lifespan and carrying some kind of coverage for a longer period of time.
Skill #6: The final Monk skill type is called a Mantra, and the Mantra you choose decides how you are going to play the class. There are four Mantras, offering 3 minute effects that increase evasion, life regeneration, damage dealt, and damage reflected. For a player making their way through Diablo 3 for the first time, the Mantra of Evasion and the Mantra of Healing are the easiest Mantras to use. The other two, Retribution and Conviction, focus more on offensive production and require a high amount of damage and life on hit/life steal to sustain, which can be difficult early in the game. Mantra of Evasion is unlocked at level 19 and is what I would recommend for the entirety of your first playthrough, with Mantra of Healing being your backup option if survivability is low. However, towards the end of the game, as you do approach level 60, the Mantra of Conviction becomes a very viable offensive option and guarantees higher survivability if life steal is present.
Endgame version of the build: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/monk#aeYSgk!dUX!abYZYa
Passive Skills: In Diablo 3, you get 3 passive skills, with the first passive slow unlocking at level 10, the second at level 20, and the third at level 30. Passives are not especially important for your first playthrough due to the limited number that you will have available, but for an offensive Monk build like mine, it is important to equip the right ones as they become available. Seize the Initiative and The Guardian’s Path are unlocked at levels 20 and 24, respectively, and are extremely important for low-level characters, offering a significant armor boost and an increased chance to dodge while wielding two one-handed weapons. At level 45, One With Everything is a must, increasing all resistances to the stat of your single highest.
Monk gear: as this guide focuses on the progression of the class to level 60 rather than the class as it functions in the endgame, gear is significantly easier to find or purchase that meets the demands of the game. A low-level Monk only has to worry about Dexterity and Vitality on their armor, which makes low-level trips to the Auction House easy and affordable for new players. Dual wielding two one-handed weapons worked best for me as I powerleveled my monk, but a one-hand/shield is also a strong option for playthrough 1. Dexterity and Vitality are all that matter for playthrough 1, but for the later parts of playthrough 3 resistances start to come into play. However, by the time resistances come into play, passives that support them are available, making them of minimal concern.
Putting It All Together: Steadily using the skills I recommend as they unlock will do more than make your climb to level 60 an easy one; the build I’m recommending is the one that I still use at Inferno difficulty, and it is one that has worked very well for me. When Inferno is finally reached, it will be a small adjustment to make with a good working build, which is what this article has aimed to provide.
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