Act 1 of Hell difficulty started out easy, but quickly got hard. It was mainly champion monsters that were the hard ones. Their area damage attacks as well as basic attacks did massive damage to my Monk. The story bosses weren’t all that hard compared to the champions. I slogged through Act 1 with my weak stats and made it to Act 2. However, it got to the point that I was dying so often I was losing gold over time to repair fees. I decided it would be best to spend my gold now on better gear rather than let it waste away on repairs.
The new gear was like night and day. Before, even regular monsters could kill my Monk if he got surrounded or they used a special attack (charge instakills), but after, that was no problem. Act 2 went very smoothly in contrast. I only died a couple times, both from stupid mistakes.
While I got a new set of gear, I didn’t actually find any good items myself. I found a few rares I could sell on the auction house for 5-10,000 gold but nothing spectacular. I did get around 200,000 gold from the full clear of Act 2 though. Hopefully, I won’t need to buy any more gear until level 60. Then, I can put all my savings from then on into the really good gear.
Level 59 Monk
Strength: 327 (+160%)
Dexterity: 1480 (+63%)
Intelligence: 539 (+60%)
Vitality: 1108 (+246%)
Armor: 1945 (-15%)
DPS: 4662.58 (+112%)
While Dexterity went up a fair amount compared to the last update, Vitality was the attribute with the huge gains this time. I had not realized how low my Vitality was until I got a lot of new items from the auction house. In an attempt to keep my damage high enough, I was basically ignoring Vitality in favor of Dexterity. With a set of item with both Dexterity and Vitality, it went up massively.
My Monk’s health went from around 10,000 to 30,000. I didn’t think that would make much difference, but I found that Health Globes heal a percentage of max health. Not only did my Monk triple his health pool, he also gets triple Health Globe healing now. Most regular attacks barely touch him now. It is only a few champion monsters’ special attacks that can still take a good chunk of health.
The other big increase is DPS. My theory was mostly right that more DPS is the key to everything in Diablo 3. The faster you can kill monsters, the less you have to deal with all their nasty attacks. You also get health globes faster for more regular healing. This increase was mainly from a couple new Maces, both of which had higher DPS, Dexterity, and Vitality than my former weapons.
Skills & Runes (Indented)
I got the last two passive skills this week and almost all of the runes. There is just one level’s worth of runes left.
Fists of Thunder rune
- Bounding Light – This rune adds pretty good area damage to the third strike. The enemies that would be hit by the knockback are instead hit by a chain lightning. That roughly doubles the damage of the third strike.
Lashing Tail Kick rune
- Hand of Ytar – This is a really nice rune for giving a melee character a ranged attack. The Monk is almost exclusively melee. It is nice to have a way to attack at range. The rune also slows down the target, so you can catch up to them to do your big damage attacks.
Mystic Ally rune
- Earth Ally – This rune basically turns your Mystic Ally into a tank. He gains a taunt ability that forces an enemy to attack him for 3 seconds. I could not tell if it works against champions. Being able to distract champions would be a huge bonus. The other thing you get from this rune is 10% more Life. That doesn’t seem all that useful. It just won’t make much difference in most situations.
Mantra of Healing rune
- Time of Need – This rune adds a huge bonus to resistances. This stacks with any bonuses to resistances you already have as well. I am not there yet, but I’ve read that melee classes Inferno difficulty are all about having high resistances. This rune will really help prop that up while you are working on Resist All gear.
Deadly Reach rune
- Foresight – This rune gives a sizable damage boost on the third strike of Deadly Reach for 30 seconds. I think that’s the longest duration for these rune bonuses I have seen. Normally, it’s only 3-5 seconds. Thirty seconds you can really take advantage of. This would work really well with the Combination Strike passive and another Primary skill like Fists of Thunder. You would get 34% more damage with Primary skills and 18% more damage with all other skills.
- Instant Karma – This rune adds an offensive element to the skill. It becomes a temporary Mantra of Retribution for the 3 second duration. This is a good combo because I typically use Serenity to avoid the massive damage. It would be nice if half that massive damage goes back to the attacker, though most area damage attacks are probably not reflected, only direct, single target attacks.
Blinding Flash rune
- Faith in the Light – These higher runes are starting to have some huge bonuses. This one gives you 30% more damage for the duration of the Blind. Max out your Spirit, then you use Blinding Flash with this rune for maximum potential.
Cyclone Strike rune
- Soothing Breeze – This rune adds a heal to the skill, but it seems too weak to make an impact. It only heals 1240 health, which is only one second of damage in Hell difficulty, let alone Inferno difficulty. I think the other rune options are much better.
Mantra of Conviction rune
- Reclamation – This rune adds a Life per hit mechanic to the mantra. Whenever you attack an enemy you get a 30% chance to gain 300 health. To because of that chance, it averages to around 100 health per hit. That’s not too bad, though Life per hit on gear can go much, much higher. You can also have strings of bad luck where you don’t get any health for a while. Most likely other rune effects are better.
Tempest Rush rune
- Bluster – Even though you can push through enemies with Tempest Rush, they can still deal a lot of damage to you. This rune helps that a bit by reducing enemy damage to 20% while you run through them.
- Against All Odds – This rune adds a chance to gain 3 Spirit whenever enemies take reflected damage. I don’t like that it only has a chance. I would prefer they just make it 100% chance, but reduce the Spirit gain to compensate. Mantra of Healing has a similar rune that gives 3 Spirit per second. I would assume this version is better for combat situations while Mantra of Healing’s version is better outside of combat.
- Collateral Damage – This rune is a nice to increase the reflected damage even further. Monsters have a 30% chance to take 45% weapon damage. This effect also has a small area range, so more than one monster can be hit. This rune is probably about equal to the one that increases reflect damage to 60%. This one has the potential to do a lot more damage when enemies are tightly clumped though.
Sweeping Wind rune
- Cyclone – Here’s an interesting rune that spawns little mini tornadoes hit nearby enemies for 20% weapon damage (in addition to the Sweeping Wind damage). The only problem is this only happens after getting the max 3 stacks of Sweeping Wind, so it’s definitely a critical chance dependent rune.
Crippling Wave rune
- Breaking Wave – This rune adds a debuff to monsters for 3 seconds that gives a 10% damage bonus. Three seconds is pretty short though. You probably can only use one other skill with that bonus before it drops off. I think of it as just a 10% boost to Crippling Wave.
Wave of Light rune
- Pillar of the Ancients – This rune changes the big bell into a big pillar. The initial pillar does good damage, but then it explodes for additional damage. It has the potential to do more damage than all of the other runes for this skill, but only if the same enemy stays near the pillar when it explodes. It seems to be really good against champions that like to clump up in melee range. They will take full damage. You can also use it when kiting enemies, if you time the explosion to hit enemies running behind you.
Mantra of Evasion rune
- Backlash – This is a fun rune if you can stack dodge chance from other skills. Whenever you dodge an attack there is a chance enemies take 35% weapon damage. It’s an area effect, so a lot of enemies can be hit. The only problem is it doesn’t say what the chance is. This is definitely best with more of a tank type of build rather than a kite build. Those seem to be the to options going into Inferno.
Inner Sanctuary rune
- Forbidden Palace – This rune simply gives you and allies a buff for 10% more damage as long as you stand in the circle of Inner Sanctuary. The circle only lasts 5 seconds though, so you can probably only use 1 or 2 skills before losing the buff. Pooling Spirit will work well here.
Breath of Heaven rune
- Penitent Flame – This rune adds a Fear effect to nearby enemies when you use the skill. Fear is kind of annoying for a melee class, but sometimes you can really use crowd control like this to survive. It’s a good combination with the heal from Breath of Heaven. Like that time I died because I got surrounded with enemies, this skill and rune could have saved me.
Near Death Experience (passive) – This long cooldown ability gives you a free Revive for 35% Life and Spirit whenever you would be killed. This could definitely help against hard enemies you are borderline able to kill. It is probably even better now that Blizzard increased repair costs. Cutting down on deaths will save a lot of gold over time.
Most of the new items are from level 54, my Monk’s level when starting Act 2. Luckily, most of these were only around 50,000 gold. I knew I needed Dexterity and Vitality. Those are the core Monk stats for everything, but there are lots of other affixes items can have. Since I was having so much trouble surviving, I decided to go with healing affixes.
The four healing affixes are Life per monster killed, Life per hit, Life Regeneration per second, and Health Stolen per hit. Life per monster killed seems to be only good in certain situations, like lots of weak Fallen around that you can kill quickly to get fast healing. I specifically wanted a stat I could use against champions that take forever to kill.
The stats based on hitting enemies both seemed good, but I wasn’t sure which would be better. I did some research and found that Health Stolen per hit has penalties in higher difficulties. When I did the numbers, Life per hit was just plain better. As I searched the auction house for items with Life per hit, I found that only weapons and jewelry could have that affix on them. It was the same for Health Stolen per hit, but Life Regeneration per second could be found on other items. It turned out that Life Regeneration also stacks nicely with the Life per hit.
So the ideal gear had high Dexterity, Vitality, and Life per hit. If Life per hit was not available on that item, I got Life Regeneration per second instead. In all I spent 700,000 gold on upgrades and replaced almost all of my items. I may have been able to get by with just the weapons, but I had the gold and wanted to test these healing stats out.
Most of these items were massive upgrades over my previous ones. My Dexterity was already fairly high, but my Vitality was neglected by a ton. My Monk was able to get through Act 2 with ease. There were a few deaths of course, but they were all workable situations. e.g. I put my Monk in a corner and got surrounded; then area damage killed him. That could easily avoid that with better awareness and movement.
The Life Regeneration per second plus Life per hit kept my health at max almost the whole time. The Life Regeneration is around 400 and the Life per hit is 600. That’s about 1000 life per second while attacking. Life per hit seems to work with some skills that hit more than one enemy as well to give more than just 600 life. Life per second of 1000+ is good enough against almost everything so far. I am hoping I am good for the rest of Hell difficulty and can just save for the really expensive level 60 gear.
Hell difficulty didn’t seem that hard at first but quickly got too hard to continue. In the first half of Act 1, I did die here and there from champions but never more than one death per pack. This changed in the second half of Act 1. Champions started being able to kill me in just 3 normal attacks or 1 special attack. Despite this, I was determined to finish the act without buying any items from the auction house. I was level 54 going into Act 2.
The problem became that I was dying so often, I was actually losing gold over time. That was basically my decision point to buy items from the auction house. If I started losing gold, I would eventually become broke and have to go back to Nightmare to farm gold to buy items on the auction house. I re-ran the early part of Act 1 a few times for gold and then replaced as many items as I could with the auction house.
With almost a completely new set of current, Rare-quality gear, I pretty much cruised through Act 2. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was. The heavy life gain stats paid off as most enemies couldn’t touch my health pool. Some champions were still quite difficult, but they went down easily compared to Act 1 before the new gear.
Because of the extra runs, my Monk is now overleveled for the rest of Hell difficulty. I was already a couple levels over the recommended level 50 for Hell difficulty through my meticulous killing every monster during previous acts and difficulties, but the re-runs of Act 1 Hell added a couple more alone. All said by the time I had finished Act 2, my Monk was sitting at level 59.
I plan to get through Act 3 and 4 next week. I hope I won’t have to buy better items, but it is always a possibility. I think most likely I will only need to buy a couple better weapons though. My armor items are still pretty good. I should be okay with just increasing my DPS a little bit if I need to do that.