This is my first character update for Tehrdas and Diablo 3. I am going to try to do an update once a week about my progress in the game. I heard there were a lot of issues at launch with bugs, but the game seems to be working for me okay. I have only had one disconnection so far and the occasional “rubber banding” while moving around.
Other than those few issues, I am having a blast. So much that my index finger hurts from all the clicking. It brings back all the memories from Diablo 2 marathons. I was able to play about 2 hours per day and got Tehrdas to level 20. Future character updates probably won’t have as many level gains. The early levels go really fast in Diablo 3 though.
I will add a link to my character profile for future posts whenever Blizzard adds character profiles to the Battle.net website. The character profile will of course be changing overtime, so it won’t be current if you read this post soon after publishing.
Level 20 Monk
Dexterity is the main Monk attribute. It increases both Monk damage (weapons & skills) and dodge chance. Vitality is another important one. It could probably be ignored for Normal, but a few monsters seemed to get my health down pretty fast with low Vitality.
Right now I am trying for an even balance of Dexterity and Vitality, so I am looking for more Vitality. There’s a lot of tweaks that could be done at endgame for this such as 90% Dex, 10% Vit for farming lower difficulties or maybe 40% Dex, 60% Vitality for Inferno. I don’t know yet. Once I get to level 60, I will try to experiment with different gear.
And I haven’t even gone into the other two attributes. For Monks, Strength increases Armor, and Intelligence increases magical resistances. At higher difficulties, it will probably be necessary to have more of those defensive stats, but I also get dodge chance from Dexterity. That might be enough that I don’t need Strength or Intelligence. I don’t know yet.
Active Skills & Runes (indented)
For character updates, I am just going to list all the new skills I got during that period. I’m not going to get into skill sets, because I’m not sure yet. I am basically switching things out every few levels to try out new skills and runes. There isn’t any sort of permanent build I am following. I am just trying everything out as I go. I already have three build ideas, I just need to get to max level to confirm them.
Fists of Thunder – This skill does 3 fast, melee attacks. The third hit does damage to all enemies in a small arc in front of your character. Fists of Thunder does not do the most damage, but is one of the fastest Spirit generators. I think it will be best when paired with high Spirit-using skills to take advantage of that high Spirit regeneration.
- Thunderclap – This rune adds a small area damage element to the skill. I think there are better options for area damage though, so I probably won’t use this one long term.
- Lightning Flash – You get a nice dodge boost for a couple seconds. The duration is too short to really take advantage of. Just think of it as extra dodge while using this skill. I think it might be possible to use one other skill in the 2 seconds, but it will be hard.
Deadly Reach – This skill shoots 3 lines of force from your character. One goes straight and the other two are at diagonal angles. The third hit has a longer range. While it does do area damage, I think the range is the important part. You can target, for example, a Fallen Shaman in the back of a monster pack while still hitting all of the regular Fallen in front of him. You can also use it to kite slow enemies since its range is longer than most enemies’ melee attack range.
- Piercing Trident – This rune increases the area effect of the second and third hits. In theory, you will hit more enemies in a short range, which means more damage. It doesn’t say how much it increases the range though. I’m not sure if it makes a big enough difference.
- Keen Eye – The rune gets rid of the extended third hit range and replaces it with a 50% Armor bonus. I think this will be really useful on higher difficulties where you start taking a lot of damage in melee range of monster packs.
Crippling Wave – This is the main area damage Spirit generator. It hits all enemies in melee range in front of you for the first 2 hits. The last hit hits all enemies around you in melee range plus slows their movement and attack speed. Of the 4 Primary Monk skills, this one is the best for area damage.
- Mangle – This rune simply increases the damage, so it is even more specialized as the best area damage Primary skill.
Way of the Hundred Fists – Of all the Spirit Generators, this one does the most base damage. The first and third attacks are normal punches, but the second attack does a flurry of punches. This flurry can hit more than one enemy if they are small and packed in. Otherwise the second punch/flurry will all hit the one large monster you have targeted. I think this will be the best Spirit generator for single target like bosses.
Lashing Tail Kick – Moving on to the Spirit spender skills, Lashing Tail Kick is a good area damage attack. It has slightly more range than melee but not much. It hits all enemies around you and knocks them back slightly, so it’s very nice if you get surrounded.
- Vulture Claw Kick – This further enforces the area specialty with more damage, specifically Fire damage. Changing the damage type will be nice on higher difficulties if there are enemies that are immune to physical damage.
- Sweeping Armada – This turns it into more of a defensive skill with a larger knockback and slowing monsters’ movement speed. I think it will be very good in Inferno difficulty, where you can’t tank large packs of enemies.
Tempest Rush – This skill doesn’t do much damage, but it does increase your movement speed quite a bit. To the enemies it slows movement and knocks back. I think its best use is for killing Treasure Goblins, who like to run away all the time. Certainly, it will be useful at higher difficulties as an escape tool.
- Northern Breeze – This reduces the cost of the skill. The cost doesn’t seem to be a big deal, so reducing it doesn’t seem that good. Its most common use on Normal difficulty is chasing down spellcasters and ranged attackers, but on Inferno it might be needed to escape hairy situations.
- Tailwind – This rune increases the movement speed quite a bit. Monsters don’t seem to move that fast on Normal, so this is another one I think won’t be useful until higher difficulties.
Wave of Light – An iconic Monk ability, a giant Asian bell drops from the sky doing heavy damage to the target enemy. The Monk then punches it and a wave of force damages all enemies behind it in a line. The range seems to be pretty long, 25 or 30 yards (half the screen), but it is a fairly narrow line of force. The Spirit cost is really high though, so I think it would have to be paired with Fists of Thunder’s fast Spirit generation.
- Wall of Light – This increases the initial damage portion, making it even stronger when the bell first drops. I think it will be great against bosses.
Blinding Flash – This is a defensive skill that blinds all enemies around you. It has a pretty good range too. I don’t know what the Blind effect actually does, but it seems to be like a Stun effect. The monsters don’t move and don’t seem to attack either unless you attack them in melee range. This gives you a few seconds to attack without retaliation. You can also use it to run away from a monster pack.
- Self Reflection – This just increases the Blind duration a little bit. It seems to be a common convention that the first rune just improves what the rune already does. So you get more time to attack safely or run away.
- Blind and Confused – This makes it into a little bit of an offensive skill. A portion of the enemies are Confused instead of Blinded. Confused monsters will attack each other instead of you. This will probably be more useful at high levels when monsters do really high damage.
Breath of Heaven – This skill is similar to Blinding Flash but for allies instead of enemies. All allies in range, including yourself, are healed a pretty good amount. Depending on gear, I think it will heal around 10-20% of your health. That is probably about equal to a small health globe. It can be treated like a second potion cooldown, so it’s not bad at all.
- Circle of Scorn – This rune adds an area damage component to the skill. Allies in range get healed; enemies in range get damage. It becomes a nice multipurpose skill.
Serenity – This skill makes you completely immune to all damage and character impairment for 3 seconds. This skill is much more potent than the other Defensive skills, but also much shorter. I don’t see much use for it yet. On Normal difficulty, I am just not having any trouble where I would need immunity. Maybe against bosses though. I will have to test it out more.
Dashing Strike – You teleport behind the enemy target and root them in place for 1 second. So Treasure Goblins and spellcasters are the best targets for this skill. It’s also nice for getting out of enemy attacks, such as bosses. If they are casting a forward arc attack, you can easily teleport behind them and avoid all the damage.
- Way of the Falling Star – The root is pretty short duration, so the target can get away from you quickly. With this rune, you get much faster movement speed after using the skill. That should help with keeping up after the root goes away.
Exploding Palm – This is an excellent damage ability. There is a single target element and a group target element. The single target element is a Bleed effect that does pretty high damage over time. If the enemy dies while afflicted by this Bleed, they explode dealing damage to all enemies in melee range. It is great for dealing with high health enemies. You focus them down with this skill. Then they explode doing huge damage to all the other enemies around.
- The Flesh is Weak – This further improves the single target element. For the duration of the Bleed effect all your damage to the target is increased. This makes it great against bosses. The single target damage is greatly improved.
Cyclone Strike – This is a great skill to combine with others. All enemies in a pretty good range around you are pulled to melee range and take normal weapon damage. The area damage is not that good, but this is a great set-up for a big area damage skill like Crippling Wave, Lashing Tail Kick, and the Exploding Palms area effect.
Seven-Sided Strike – This is an interesting ability. It does 7 hits on up to 7 enemies in range. That means against a large group, it doesn’t do all that much damage. However, against one target, it does massive damage. Because of how the damage spreads out, I think it is best against 1 to 3 enemies. Any more and other area damage skills do better damage. Note that your Monk cannot be attacked while performing this skill, so it can be a defensive skill as well. The duration is pretty short though.
Mantra of Evasion – This is the first mantra skill. Mantras are basically the same as Paladin auras in Diablo 2 except they don’t last forever. Each one only lasts a few minutes. You have to reapply them here and there, but the effect is doubled for a few seconds after you use the skill. This particular mantra gives you higher dodge chance. Since it is all I have right now, I am keeping it up 100% of the time. I activate the skill early sometimes for the double effect, which makes it act like a defensive cooldown.
In addition to the active skills, there are also passive skills. These range from giving passive bonuses to everything your class does to just boosting specific skills or combinations of skills. Again, I’m switching these out a lot, so I don’t have any sort of build. I have a few favorites, but I want to try out all of them first.
Fleet Footed – This is just a small 10% movement speed bonus. It’s nice when you are doing full clears and uncovering the whole map. You will frequently get to a dead end and have to backtrack a lot. Faster movement speed makes that go a little faster. The bonus is usually not enough to use it as an escape or catch-up tool though.
Resolve – This is a really good defensive passive that makes it so every enemy you hit does 25% reduced damage for a few seconds. Cutting a quarter of damage done to your character is quite a bit and can make the difference between surviving or dying. It is best used with area of effect skills to hit as many enemies as possible with the damage debuff.
Exalted Soul – This simply adds 100 to your maximum Spirit. Normally Spirit is capped at 150, but you get 250 with this skill. It doesn’t seem to be the best passive really. If you are spending your Spirit regularly, it never even gets to the 150 cap. A 250 cap would only allow you to pool more Spirit, and that’s really only good at the beginning of a boss. Once a long fight is started, you can’t generate Spirit fast enough to take advantage of a higher Spirit cap.
Transcendence – This is a nice skill that heals your character for every point of Spirit spent. You just attack like normal and get some nice healing for free. On Normal difficulty the healing is enough that you rarely have to use potions, but I doubt this passive will be worth it in higher difficulties. When monsters can kill you in just a few hits, you need more control over your healing that potions and active healing skills allow for.
Chant of Resonance – This increases your mantra durations to 10 minutes and also gives 2 Spirit every second while a mantra is active. I definitely like the extra Spirit but don’t see the need for the extra duration. The mantras have double the effect the first 3 seconds after activation. I tend to refresh them well before they expire to get that double effect bonus on demand in a tough encounter. The Spirit generation might be worth it though.
Seize the Initiative – This provides a really nice Armor boost, equal to your current Dexterity. So if you have 100 Dexterity, you get +100 Armor. It probably is not needed on Normal difficulty at all but should be nice in Nightmare and beyond. This makes Dexterity give the same bonus as Strength. You can stack Dexterity and completely ignore Strength. Obviously, this will require a special set of gear to get the most advantage out of.
I have found about 20 rare quality items, but none of them all that notable. I am leveling so fast that most of them get replaced within 5 levels. While leveling, I will only note any Legendary items I find. In these 20 levels I did not find any Legendary items. I think they are going to be much harder to find compared to all the Uniques I found in Torchlight, but that was also a single player game. Diablo 3 relies on trading and the Auction House for players to get the good items.
As far as stats I am mostly looking for Dexterity and Vitality. The ideal item has both of those but one or the other is okay. So far, I haven’t really delved into trying out different secondary stats. I am replacing gear so fast, it is really hard to do that. At endgame I will want to try out different mixes of increased attack speed %, health stolen %, increased damage, increased armor, etc. I don’t even know what all the stats possible are yet.
I am about halfway through Act 2. I think I am actually overleveled a little bit, but that’s because I am fully exploring every location. Each map seems to have a path or road you can pretty much follow that goes straight to the objective, but there are a lot more monsters and dungeons outside of that path. I have been uncovering every inch of the map to look for more dungeons and champion/rare/unique monster packs. I have always been obsessive like this with hack ‘n slash games.
Now, I don’t think I am too overleveled because I did die once at the end of Act 1. There were some champion monsters in the Halls of Agony that wound up their big axes like a baseball bat and threw my Monk across the room. I got hit by a few of these and tried to run away, but these champions had the Prison affix to trap my character. I then got hit by 3 more of their slow attacks at once for an instant kill, full health to empty. The Skeleton King and Butcher were actually pretty easy fights. I didn’t have any trouble with either of them. That champion pack was harder.
Other than that, it has been relatively uneventful. I didn’t find any legendaries and didn’t die that much. I will probably die a few more times before the end of it. Good thing I started with softcore first, or I would already be restarting. I haven’t needed to spend any gold on items from vendors or the auction house. I have found good enough gear not to need supplements. One death is not bad enough for me to spend gold on gear.
I did craft one or two items with the Blacksmith, but it seemed to cost a lot of gold because you can’t control the stats the crafted item gets. I want to try it some more at higher levels though. Most of my gold I am spending on leveling up the Blacksmith and stash size. Even if the Blacksmith is not good now, I think he will be really good at level 60 when I have extra gold to try for an amazing item. I just got the Jeweler at the end of this period, but I haven’t leveled him up yet. I have only found a few chipped gems so far. I just don’t need him upgraded yet.
That is the end for this week. Next week I am pretty sure I will have Act 3 and 4 finished along with my thoughts on the remaining active skills. You stop getting new active skills at level 30, but you keep getting runes and passive skills all the way to level 60. There is a lot more to think about as I get to the max level.