Combining superb martial arts with spiritual energy, like the Shaolin Monks of our world, the Monk class in Diablo 3 relies on speed and defense to destroy its enemies. However, speed comes at a sacrifice to health and armor. While the Monk can dish out damage with the best of them, he can’t take too much himself. The Monk can’t stand toe to toe with enemies like the Barbarian can. Instead, keeping a Monk character alive relies on attacking enemies quickly and from many angles, defeating them before their little demon brains can realize what’s happening. Like the other characters in Diablo 3, the Monk class can be seen as having similarities to previous characters in the series, combining the healing and protection of the Paladin with the fast paced damage of the Assassin.
In Diablo 3, the Monk’s unique mana pool (Spirit) has a two way system for spending and gaining energy. Spirit is gained through landing primary skill attacks and by completing combos. A Monk can then spend spirit energy on skills that are either defensive, such as dodges, shields and healing spells, or that deal massive damage like a Chuck Norris approved roundhouse kick to the face. Further enhancing its speed, the Monk class can unleash primary and secondary attacks rapid fire with no cooldown times. This means the Monk can quickly bounce around the battlefield dealing damage, but it also means his Spirit pool can dwindle just as fast. Keeping the Monk and the party members who rely on his healing alive requires keeping a close eye on Spirit levels, and balancing primary attacks with secondary abilities and defensive moves. If this balance can be achieved, the Monk can prove to be one of the peskiest classes for enemies to face in the game. To get the optimal Monk build for your difficulty level and act, take a look at our character builds guide for the Monk!
The Monk’s active skills can be divided into offensive and defensive. Unlike the Barbarian, which can deliver and take damage like a heavyweight boxer, the Monk is more like, well, a Shaolin Monk (think Crouching Tiger). The Monk can only stand still for so long before its advantage is lost. This means that a Monk can’t rely on spamming primary attacks and needs to master defensive skills to avoid damage. Here are some of the active skills available to the Monk:
- Primary Attack: Deadly Reach – A projecting attack that kicks ass in a straight line away from the Monk. Generates 6 spirit and deals 110% damage, with every 3rd hit projecting damage 25 yards.
- Secondary Attack: Lashing Tail Kick – The aforementioned roundhouse kick that is sure to be a fan favorite. This kick spends 30 spirit and deals 200% weapon damage, knocking back enemies within a small area of effect. This skill will likely be your bread and butter early on.
- Defensive Ability: Breath of Heaven – The first healing spell available to the Monk, unlocked at Level 8. For a cost of 25 Spirit heals you and all allies within 12 yards for 6202 – 7442 Life. The ability to heal allies will make this skill one of the most requested in co-op, but it will need to be timed correctly due to its 12 second cooldown.
- Technique: Exploding Palm – Unlocked at level 13, the Exploding Palm Strike is a devastating attack that makes for some satisfying kills. For 40 spirit, the Monk strikes a target for 220% Bleed damage over 3 seconds. If the target dies from the result of the strike it will then explode, presumably from having its mind blown by your wu-shu skills, and damages nearby enemies with Physical damage equal to 30% of its Life value, making the Exploding Palm Strike a nice combination of single-target and area of effect attacks.
- Focus: Seven-Sided Strike – The Monk’s signature attack is all about lucky number seven, with 777% damage being dealt over 7 hits as the Monk dances around his enemies. Costs 50 spirit and has a 30 second cooldown and is unlocked at level 17.
- Mantra: Mantra of Retribution – Along with healing allies, the Monk borrows the mantra ability from the Paladin of Diablo II. The second mantra unlocked (level 21), the Mantra of Retribution applies to the Monk and all allies within 40 yards. This mantra protects your party by reflecting melee damage taken back to enemies as Holy damage worth 30% of the original attack. Like all mantras, this ability lasts for 3 minutes and has a spike in strength for the first 3 seconds after casting, dealing 80% reflected damage.
Thankfully, not all of Diablo 3’s abilities require button clicking. Here are profiles for a few of the passive skills available for the Monk to choose from. Characters may have 3 of these skills selected at any time (once they’ve been unlocked).
- Fleet Footed – The first available passive skill (level 10) is a straightforward skill that increases the Monk’s key attribute of movement speed by 10%, ensuring he is just a little bit harder to hit and can reach enemies a step sooner.
- Transendence – Unlocked at level 16, this skill seems almost too good to be true, granting you healing worth 62 Life for every Spirit point spent, allowing you to heal and attack simultaneously.
- Sixth Sense – Like most of the passive Monk skills, Sixth Sense is also defensive focused, increasing your chance to dodge by an amount equal to 30% of your Critical Strike Chance. Unlocked at level 27, Sixth Sense provides one more chance for the Monk to avoid damage.
Items and Equipment
Rather than weapons with big blades or bulky armor, the Monk’s special items are simple tools, only made lethal once in the hands of a true master.
- Daibo – A fancy stick, the daibo has been my personal favorite ever since Donatello used it to shred the Foot Clan. In Diablo, this is a 2 hand weapon that offers fast attacks with solid damage. Magical and legendary versions of this weapon offer bonuses useful for the Monk, such as increases to speed, damage, Life and dexterity.
- Fist Weapons – Resembling the Assassin’s Claw weapons from Diablo II: Lord of Desrtuction, Fist Weapons are single handed and intended for dual wielding. These weapons often increase damage and boost attributes.
- Spirit Stones – A large shiny stone to sit on the Monk’s forehead, Spirit Stones are the unique helm of the Monk. These items often improve the Monk’s magical (spiritual) abilities, improving regeneration and increasing skill effectiveness (damage %, cost, etc.).
The Monk can be an exciting class to play, always cutting through the thick of the battle. But playing as a Monk requires keeping a constant eye on danger, as your health bar can plummet rapidly if you get surrounded and run low on Spirit. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the Monk is designed to avoid damage, not absorb it. The Monk is not your typical melee fighter and requires precision timing and spacing. However, if you can learn the art of simultaneously attacking and defending, then, young grasshopper, you will be truly ready to face Diablo’s minions. For the optimal gear set up and character builds take a look at our class guides and consider buying our premium guide!