Act 3 actually ended up not being much harder than Act 2, but Act 4 definitely had some hard parts. I now know about the annoying monster affixes that cause my Monk problems and the best way to get around them. With lots of moving around and picking off single targets, I can usually slowly kill anything. Mass spellcaster champions are the only monsters that give me trouble, particularly these ones in Act 4 that could teleport, knock me back, and cover the ground with meteors.
I didn’t really find any amazing item upgrades this time. I found a Blacksmith recipe for a Legendary belt, but it was for level 25, not something I could use. Perhaps on an alt. I eventually found a couple weapon upgrades, but they could be a lot better. I had a lot of trouble with one boss fight that extra damage would have helped on. After enough tries, though, I succeeded and didn’t have any more trouble after that.
Level 51 Monk
Strength: 126 (+28%)
Dexterity: 907 (+18%)
Intelligence: 336 (+54%)
Vitality: 320 (+17%)
Armor: 2279 (+5%)
DPS: 2198.78 (+54%)
I am disappointed that my Strength and Intelligence went up much more relative to Dexterity. Sure, an 18% increase in Dexterity is probably more than the 50-100 more I got in the other attributes, but I just didn’t find any amazing Dexterity items. Now those other attributes aren’t horrible. They give Monks Armor and Resistances. I still would prefer more damage though.
I did get a couple modest weapon upgrades (switching to dual-wield) that boosted my DPS a fair amount. That required me to ditch my shield. My Armor was lower for a while until I got a few small Armor upgrades. They made up for the ~300 Armor lost without the shield.
Skills & Runes (Indented)
I am just about finished with getting new skills and runes.
Tempest Rush rune
- Slipstream – This rune improves the skill’s use as an escape mechanism. When your health gets low, you run away with Tempest Rush with the added benefit of 25% reduced damage. Sounds nice, though I haven’t used Tempest Rush all that much.
Sweeping Wind rune
- Inner Storm – This is another Spirit gain rune that requires maximum Sweeping Wind stacks. While ineffective at lower difficulties, I think it will be great on the higher ones. When it takes a long time to kill monsters, you are going to have a max stacks often. At lower difficulties this would only be useful against bosses.
Mystic Ally rune
- Eternal Ally – This rune makes the Mystic Ally almost “fire and forget” with a 50% chance to automatically come back to life when killed. It gets a small damage boost, but this rune is really to make the skill more into Mantra of Mystic Ally. You use it once and just need to refresh it every so often.
Deadly Reach rune
- Strike from Beyond – This is another critical hit based Spirit regen rune. I think critical hit chance is going to be required for Monk at high levels because of all these skills and runes that depend on it to trigger various effects.
- Ascension – This rune adds a tiny buff to the duration of Serenity, just one second more immunity to damage. One second longer duration doesn’t seem that good compared to the utility you can get from the other runes. I will experiment with it eventually, but I can’t see myself using this rune much.
Mantra of Conviction rune
- Dishearten – This is one of the few Monk skills that slows down movement to groups of enemies, so I like it a lot. At higher difficulties, spellcasters and archers become a real nuisance. This rune can really help keep them from getting too far away.
- Spirited Salvo – This rune rounds out the Spirit regen runes for the Primary skills. The other runes scale with critical chance, but this one is purely 15% chance. I think this rune will be best while gearing up when you don’t have access to a good supply of critical chance.
Mantra of Healing rune
- Heavenly Body – This rune feels fairly useless to me. For the most part, I don’t see 10% Vitality making a difference unless you can somehow heal 10% more health as well. On Normal difficulty maybe you can be hit 50 times before dying, so 55 times makes a difference. When you can only be hit 10 times before dying, 1 more hit feels very weak.
Dashing Strike rune
- Blinding Speed – This rune can help a lot when you teleport to a spellcaster surrounded by monsters. Normally, I have to target casters that are outside of the pack, but this rune might give me a chance to attack the caster in the middle of a group. I am pretty sure 20% dodge would not be enough though.
Wave of Light rune
- Blinding Light – This rune adds a Stun effect for 3 seconds when you get a critical hit with this skill. Three seconds is quite a long time for a Stun. This is another rune based on critical hit chance, so I expect it to be one of my main stats at max level.
Mantra of Evasion rune
- Perseverance – This is a pretty good passive bonus to the rune. I am noticing on higher difficulties that I usually die because I get hit by Frozen or Stun effects and am killed before I can do anything. This rune gives you just a bit more time to use a potion or run away. That might be the difference between living and dying.
Crippling Wave rune
- Tsunami – This rune gives further bonuses to the third strike. The area is increased to 17 yards and the movement speed reduction is increased to 60%. I’m not sure how useful the movement speed reduction is though considering this skill is best used against large groups of enemies. If the enemies are running away, they aren’t in a group, and another skill might be better.
Exploding Palm rune
- Essence Burn – This is a very good upgrade over the base effects. The damage is increased on the primary target. The explosion is transformed into a damage over time effect, but monster killed by this effect can trigger additional explosions. If you can kill a high health target, it could chain to lots of low health targets for massive area damage.
One With Everything (passive) – I really like this passive but it will require a very specific set of gear. Finding gear on the auction house will be required. You simply pick gear all with the same Resist stat (such as +Fire Resistance). Then take this passive to convert it to Resist All Elements. This passive will eventually become obsolete with the best gear; Resist All Elements is a possible affix on Inferno items.
Combination Strike (passive) – This one requires a specific build to take advantage of. Using the Primary Monk skills, you can get damage boosts of 8% depending on how many you use. With 4 you could get a 32% damage boost, but that probably ties up too many skill slots. I think 2 Primary skills for a 16% bonus will be best. From what I’ve read, you don’t have to alternate between them. You just use one Primary and the other. Then you can keep using the same Primary to maintain the buff.
The highlight of this period was the Blacksmith Plans for the Quick Draw Belt Legendary Item. I have not made any since my Monk is already far past level 25, but it might be good for an alternate character. Attack speed is considered to be one of the best stats right now. That was really the only neat item I got, except maybe for these two weapons:
While these weapons are pretty good, I think I could have much better. I did a quick search on the auction house and found rare versions with with 200 DPS and higher stats, but these should be good enough for a little while. The only thing I really miss is the gem slots. A gem slot with a Ruby can easily add 20-30 DPS to the item.
I am really aiming for Dexterity now. With my damage and kite option, I can kill pretty much everything. The faster monsters die, the less kiting I will have to do. That doesn’t mean Vitality is useless though. I want enough Vitality to survive about 10 hits. Anything more is great, but I am fine with attacking and kiting until defensive skills are off cooldown. Ten hits is more than enough to do that successfully.
Act 3 was fairly easy overall. My DPS was good enough to kill most monsters with ease. Of course there were deaths caused by a few annoying champion packs, but they were pretty rare. When I did die it wasn’t more than once per pack. The repair costs are pretty low so far, so it doesn’t set me back much.
Act 4 started out pretty easy. The first two major bosses were cake and none of the regular monster caused any problems, but Izual felt like a major gear check. Basically, I usually can’t tank bosses and champions indefinitely. I damage until my health gets low, then use healing and defensive cooldowns, then run until the cooldowns are up. This works on pretty much all the bosses except Izual.
He happens to have this annoying charge attack that was an instant one-hit kill every time. The worst thing was that there was no warning of when he would do this attack. He only used it when I was at range, but that was part of my strategy. I could only take 3 hits from him before needing healing and defensive cooldowns. Once I used all the cooldowns, I had to run around until they were ready again.
That means I frequently got hit with this charge attack. It wasn’t a guaranteed attack, but it happened at least once in each fight. That was usually when I died. My successful attempt finally came when he, for once, didn’t use the charge attack in the whole fight and a bunch of lucky dodges that allowed me to tank him a lot longer than normal.
I expect Izual to be more of what I can expect in Hell difficulty. Maybe not in Act 1, but definitely at some point there is going to be an impossible or near impossible fight. If I don’t get some good item upgrades soon, I will have to buy items on the auction house. I have spent most of my gold on leveling my artisans and upgrading my stash, but I also bought a few of the cheaper Blacksmith recipes from the auction house. From now on I am saving all my gold in case I need to spend a lot on Monk upgrades. I can always go back and farm Nightmare if I need more gold, but that will really slow my progress.
Next week I hope to be through Act 1 and 2 of Hell difficulty, but that is definitely hope. I expect I will need to buy a bunch of items soon to keep progressing and don’t have a lot of gold saved up for this. Maybe I will get lucky with drops though.