Another character update, and I made it to level 33. I was able to finish the rest of Act 2 and fully complete both Act 3 and Act 4 to beat Normal difficulty. I was level 32 with just a sliver of experience points required to get to level 33. After just a few monster kills, I was level 33. I finished getting all of the active skills but still have a bunch of skill runes and a few passive skills to obtain at higher levels.
I died a few times in this update in Act 2 and 3 but soon after found a good one-hand mace and shield. This gave me the damage and armor to survive with ease for the rest of Normal difficulty. I also found my first Legendary item, a nice ring for my level.
Blizzard still has not added character profiles to the website. I thought it would be sooner since they announced it was coming “shortly after launch“, but we are still waiting.
Level 33 Monk
Strength: 97 (+259%)
Dexterity: 534 (+242%)
Intelligence: 162 (+230%)
Vitality: 237 (+125%)
The percentages are the increases from the previous update. They increased quite a bit since the last update. I only gained 13 more levels, but the stats seem to go up exponentially. I didn’t even think about recording the Armor and DPS values in the first update. I will be doing that from now on. I think my DPS was around 150 and Armor probably 500, but I really don’t remember any details.
The Armor value is somewhat inflated here because I am using a Shield. In Act 4, I found a pretty good rare one-hand mace. Dual-wielding was not an option because I didn’t have a second similar quality weapon to equip, but I did happen to find a Shield with a good Vitality bonus. This turned out to be essential in the final areas. There was a lot of damage thrown about that the extra Vitality and Armor really helped deal with.
Skills & Runes (Indented)
I got 6 more active skills in this update and of course a bunch of new runes. Level 30 ends the active skills, but I will still be getting more runes and passive skills going forward. I’ve already put my thoughts down for the 1-20 Skills & Runes in the previous update, so I’m not going to cover them again. However, I will be covering the new runes I got for 1-20 skills.
I also decided to change the formatting for this section to make it a little bit easier to read. All skills (both passive and active) are in this section. Runes are still indented beneath their parent skill, but I don’t include my thoughts for the parent skills I already discussed in the previous update. I wish I could put a link directly to the runes, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that. I just have the link to the parent skill, which has the rune information on the same page.
Inner Sanctuary (Active) – This skill creates an circle on the ground that is impassable to enemies. It seems to be a really nice skill in a group with ranged heroes. Ranged heroes in the center can’t be reached by most melee enemies. It is also really nice to make a chokepoint. You can make it small enough that only one enemy can attack your Monk, giving you ability to pick off one enemy at a time safely.
- Safe Haven – Allies that stand in the circle area, including yourself, gain a nice chunk of health per second. This will greatly help the ranged heroes, who can attack in peace for 5 seconds. It doesn’t help the Monk all that much though.
- Sanctified Ground – This rune kind of extends the duration of the skill. When the first effect wears off, a second effect, enemy movement slowed by 60%, occurs for 6 seconds. You get an improved crowd control aspect but lose the healing of Safe Haven. This rune seems better for the solo Monk, whereas Safe Haven is better for a party.
Sweeping Wind (Active) – This is a fun skill for doing area damage. Once activated it does area damage to all nearby enemies, but it can also gain 3 charges to do more damage when you get critical hits. It seems best if you stack lots of critical hit chance. The Scoundrel’s passive skill, Anatomy, will also help. With this skill fully charged, you can focus on the big targets while all the little minions get killed automatically in a few seconds.
- Master of the Wind – Normally Sweeping Wind falls off while you are looking for another pack of monsters to attack. This rune almost doubles the duration, so the buff is more likely to stay up. It’s especially nice with lower critical chance, since you have more time to gain charges. It still falls off quite a bit though. Sometimes there just aren’t any monsters nearby, such as when you are in the corner of the map.
- Blade Storm – This is a nice rune that increases the damage a little bit, especially with the charges. Each charge gains 5% damage for a total of 60% weapon damage in an area around the Monk. High critical chance makes becomes even better.
Mystic Ally (Active) – Unlike Followers, the Mystic Ally actually does pretty good damage. The Ally seems to be a pretty effective tank too. He will definitely die when surrounded by enemies, but he lasts quite a while. In that time you can pick off enemies instead of them all going towards you.
- Water Ally – Most of the runes for this skill are dedicated to specific magic elements. The Water version gets a Tidal Wave skill. It is an area damage attack that hits enemies in a pretty long line and slows their movement speed.
- Fire Ally – The Fire Ally gets a Flaming Kick skill. It functions the same as the Tidal Wave but a Fire damage over time debuff replaces the movement speed debuff. The overall damage counting the debuff is a little bit higher than the Water version.
Mantra of Retribution (Active) – This skill is much like Thorns Aura in Diablo 2. Since it is dependent on you taking lots of damage to reflect back at enemies, I think it will require a tank build. With any other build you will just be killed too fast before the enemies kill themselves with the damage.
- Retaliation – This rune increases the damage reflected, but more importantly skill now reflects ranged damage in addition to the default melee damage. I am pretty sure this includes spell damage as well, so this skill suddenly becomes a lot more useful on higher difficulties. I still think a tank build will work best though.
Mantra of Healing (Active) – This is a nice defensive Mantra. I think it is better than Mantra of Evasion at lower levels and difficulties. My Monk is not taking tons of damage from monsters, so the passive healing keeps his health topped off most the time. I can’t see it being viable at high difficulties though. The healing just doesn’t scale with any stats. Actually, I think Breath of Healing might suffer from this problem as well. I think really high Armor, Dodge, and Resists with a small health pool will be required for this skill to remain effective.
- Sustenance – This rune doubles the healing rate of this Mantra. The healing rate still seems too low to be that useful. It goes up to 620 health per second, but you can get a lot more than that just from affixes on items. I have read a single item can have a max 500 health per second affix, and that doesn’t require a coveted skill slot.
Mantra of Conviction (Active) – The opposite of Mantra of Healing, this one increases the damage with all of your skills. I think one of the defensive Mantras will have to be used on Inferno difficulty, but I could see this one being good for farming Hell difficulty.
Breath of Heaven runes
- Circle of Life – This rune boosts the healing power by about 20%, but I still don’t think it will be enough for Inferno difficulty. Monsters are doing 5-10,000 per hit against a character with high Armor, Magic Resists, and Blocked damage. This ability only mitigates one hit in that situation with a 15 second cooldown.
- Blazing Wrath – This rune gives you a nice damage boost to all your attacks whenever you use the skill. The damage boost is 15% and lasts 45 seconds. That’s actually a really good length for a rune effect. The skill would no longer be used for the heal, but for the damage boost.
Cyclone Strike runes
- Eye of the Storm – Cyclone Strike normally uses 50 Spirit. That’s one third of your total 150 Spirit, quite a bit. This rune cuts that cost to 20. I’m still not sure if this skill can be used on high difficulties. I just don’t think my Monk could tank a bunch of monsters being pulled in.
- Implosion – This simply extends the radius of the skill to 34 yards, instead of 24 yards. I don’t know how big yards are, but I would guess 24 is around 1/2 the screen and 34 is around 3/4 of the screen. It seems really nice for maximum area damage when combined with other area skills.
Dashing Strike runes
- Flying Side Kick – This adds a 60% chance to Stun the target you hit with the skill. The Stun only lasts one second, but it seems like a nice way to catch up with Treasure Goblins or even stun powerful monsters. It’s only a chance to stun, and the stun only lasts 1.5 seconds, so it can’t be relied on.
- Quicksilver – This rune is a nice reduction to the Spirit cost. This skill doesn’t have a cooldown. A reduced Spirit cost makes it that much more powerful.
- Peaceful Repose – This rune gives you some healing bonus when you use the skill. Just like the other healing skill though, it doesn’t seem to be enough healing for Inferno difficulty. The 3 seconds of immunity from the base skill definitely makes this bonus more likely to be used though.
- Reap What Is Sown – I really like this rune add an offensive element to the skill. On Inferno difficulty, I could see this doing massive damage. This rune could save up 10-20,000 damage in the 3 seconds, and then it’s reflected back to all the nearby monsters.
Seven-Side Strike runes
- Sudden Assault – This rune adds a teleport to the skill and increases the damage by roughly 30%. This is a very good improvement for focus firing on a single target. The base version just hits whatever is in range of your character, but now you can target a spellcaster in the back to have a better chance of taking out a critical target.
- Several-Sided Strike – This rune makes the area damage better by increasing the number of strikes to 9. Note that the damage remains the same. It just spreads out the damage to more targets. Best used against lots of weak enemies like Fallen. This also makes it a better defensive cooldown because 9 strikes takes a little bit longer than 7 strikes.
Way of the Hundred Fists runes
- Hands of Lightning – This rune makes the second part do 10 hits instead of 7, but it doesn’t say anything about damage. I assume the damage is the same. It just does more hits. Because of this, I can see it only being useful for on-hit effects like +health on hit or 1% fear chance on hit. It seems useless other than that.
- Blazing Fists – This rune is another critical hit-based effect. Like Sweeping Winds, you can stack charges up to a maximum 15% faster attack speed and movement speed with 3 charges. It lasts 5 seconds, so you could probably use a couple skills before going back to this skill to refresh it.
Mantra of Evasion runes
- Hard Target – This is a nice 20% armor boost whenever you have Mantra of Evasion. This further moves me to think it is the better defensive Mantra compared to Mantra of Healing, though I have not looked at all the runes yet.
- Divine Protection – This rune provides a last ditch survival mechanism. Whenever your health gets below 25%, you take 80% less damage for 3 seconds. The only thing I don’t like is that it has a 90 second cooldown. Since it is a passive ability, you don’t get to control when it activates. Your health may be at 25%, but you are in control of the situation and want to safe it for later.
Wave of Light runes
- Explosive Light – This rune drops the single target aspect and makes it a full on area damage skill. The damage is reduced slightly but it now it’s everything in a circle around your character. It looks like arrows of light going out in all directions. The further the arrows get the further apart they are spaced meaning long range enemies are unlikely to be hit, but there is a chance.
Exploding Palm rune
- Strong Spirit – This rune gives you 5 Spirit for everyone hit by the Exploding Palm blast. I don’t see this being useful at all for bosses, but definitely good for mass area damage situations. Usually, you run out of Spirit pretty fast with area damage because those skills require the most Spirit, but this rune mitigates that somewhat.
Crippling Wave rune
- Concussion – This rune adds a debuff to enemies hit by Crippling Wave that lowers all their damage done. It’s a nice defensive bonus for an area damage skill. That’s really the problem with area damage skills; you have to be in melee range where enemies can deal a lot of damage to you fast. This rune does a nice job to prevent that.
Lashing Tail Kick rune
- Spinning Flame Kick – This is a pretty cool rune that transforms this skill into a different one entirely. The Monk hurls a column of fire at enemies in a line doing fire damage to all enemies in range. The damage is also boosted even more than Vulture Claw Kick rune. The only loss is the Knockback effect.
Blinding Flash rune
- Blinding Echo – This rune adds a second Blind effect to the skill that occurs 6 seconds after the first one. However, the duration of the second Blind is only 1.5 seconds. The monsters can react instantly after the 1.5 seconds, but players won’t. That’s why I think this will only be good for PvP situations.
Fists of Thunder rune
- Static Charge – This rune feels like a reverse area damage skill. A lot of area damage skills have a primary target that takes the most damage and then secondary targets that take less damage. This rune reverses that so you attack all the weak minions while the big monster takes a little damage as well.
Tempest Rush rune
- Flurry – This rune simply slows the movement speed of enemies to 80% instead of the base 60%. The duration is still only 2 seconds, so you really can’t take advantage of it much. I guess it is better for chasing down Treasure Goblins though.
The Guardian’s Path (Passive) – In the last update, I concluded that one-hand weapon and shield was almost always better damage than two-hand weapon or dual-wielding. This passive skill seems to address that by giving a good bonus to those other weapon styles. Two-hand weapon gets extra Spirit generation, so they can use more skills. Dual-wielding gets some extra dodge to aid with defenses without a shield.
Sixth Sense (Passive) – This is another skill that depends on having a high critical chance. For this skill 30% of critical chance is added to dodge chance. I think 50% critical chance is possible with the best gear, so we could expect 15% dodge maximum from this passive. However, I am pretty sure dodge is multiplicative, not additive. Two sets of 15% dodge for example, is not 30% dodge total, but27.75%. The more little bonuses of dodge you have, the lower benefit you get from it.
Pacifism (Passive) – I think will be a core PvP skill, but that’s not in the game yet. I have seen Fear from Nightmare affixed monsters, but I have not seen any Stun or Charm effects from monsters. Those two I think only come from other players. This passive I don’t see much use until we get the PvP Arenas added to the game.
As for general stats I am still looking for the same Dexterity and Vitality. I also saw that rings can have +X-Y Damage affixes. If I can find some of those that also have +Dexterity, I should be able to greatly increase my damage.
It also seems that two-hand weapons are not inherently better than one-hand plus shield. I can’t see any situation where a two-hand weapon would be better. They don’t seem to do any more damage. Maybe the two-hand weapons have more affixes, so they have potential to be better. That requires a lot of luck though. Dual-wielding can do better damage but both weapons have to be similar DPS. If one weapon has low DPS, it actually lowers your DPS compared to just using the one, high DPS weapon with a shield.
Even though I only gained 13 levels (level 20 to level 33) from the last update, it felt like I did a lot more. In that first update I only finished Act 1 and half of Act 2, but this week I finished Act 2, Act 3, and Act 4. Now, Act 4 was quite a bit shorter than the other acts, but I still made good progress. I think it is just me getting more comfortable with the game. I spent a lot of time in the beginning learning the controls and all the new skills.
I found out a way to help with my index finger getting stressed from clicking. I did some web searches and saw that Diablo 3 has a Move key bind separate from the main Mouse button. I mapped this function to the W key. I can now have my left hand control most of the movement with the right hand just for activating skills. I still use the mouse to move during most combat, because the W hotkey feels clunky in combat. I also mapped the Hold Stance key to E, right next to W. That is a lot easier for me to reach than Shift. I’m not using E much with Monk, but I probably will with other classes.
As far as difficulty, Act 2 was a little hard because of these insect monsters that shoot mini-insects. Once I realized the mini-insects only go in a straight line, I found them easy to dodge. They are more annoyances than dangerous now. The end of Act 2 went pretty smoothly overall. I noticed the difficulty starting bump up in Act 3 a little bit. Some monsters could take me down to half health with one hit. Luckily, that good one-hand mace and shield dropped. The mace started out with good damage, but got even better after adding the Ruby gem. Azmodan was a cakewalk with that setup.
Act 4 ended up being fairly easy too. There was one boss early on that spawned massive amounts of shadow creatures. He proved to be difficult just because of how many minions he spawned. It was hard just clearing a path to get in melee range. The rest of the act was a cinch though. I killed Diablo on the first try with no trouble just like Azmodan. It was a longer boss fight due to the multiple phases, but I was never close to death.
That’s it for this week’s update. I’m not sure if I will have an update next week. Some relatives are going to be visiting for a week and a half. I will be spending a lot of time with them. I don’t think I will have much free time to play games, so worst-case the next update won’t be until Wednesday, the 20th of June.