The goal of this build is simply to be the fastest at everything. We want to have the fastest attack speed, the fastest movement speed, and enough defensive stats to pull that off. Monk skills have their own attack speeds based on their animations, but they are modified by the attack speed of your weapons plus attack speed bonuses. This means the fastest attack speed is possible by dual-wielding the fastest weapons with lots of attack speed bonuses from items. Movement is a lot simpler. Boots can have a movement speed buff, and there is a passive skill that provides a passive movement speed buff.
On the defensive side of things, we take advantage of the faster attack speed by stacking Life on Hit affixes on items. This gives a massive amount of healing just through the regular attacks. This healing offsets the amount of other defensive affixes you need. With all that healing, you can get away with less Resist All and Armor. You still need a lot for Inferno, but you can go with a little less, saving some gold (and farming time) early on.
- Your great speed gives you a lot of control over the battlefield. You choose when and where to attack enemies. Battles are always on your terms.
- Less need for Resist All and Armor makes this build cheaper to gear for than others.
- Positioning and kiting is necessary to survival. You can’t tank enemies very long. You must do attacks in between movement. This can be tiring in long periods. Some extremely fast moving monsters cannot be kited.
- Lack of escape skills means you can be killed by bad combinations of Waller, Teleporter, and Prison champions or Belial Phase 2 explosion spam.
Mouse Left Click – Deadly Reach (Piercing Trident)
This is your main attack for kiting enemies. It has excellent range for a melee skill. Combined with your fast attack and movement speeds, you can easily do a few hits, run back, a few more hits, etc. until the monsters are dead. In dungeons it works great in choke points to hit all the monsters in a line. You won’t even have to kite in those situations.
The Piercing Trident rune is used to give it some extra area damage. This helps in those outside areas where you can’t funnel enemies through choke points. You will have a better chance of hitting more than one enemy and can handle a lot more situations.
Mouse Right Click – Fists of Thunder (Thunderclap)
This is your main attack for single target killing. It attacks faster than Deadly Reach, and so, does more DPS than Deadly Reach. However, it can usually only hit one or two targets at a time, and you have to be in melee range to hit them. You can also use it in choke points, but Deadly Reach will probably do more DPS in those situations.
It is also great for focus fire on a critical target, such as Fallen Shaman. This is also what the Thunderclap rune is for. With it you can keep in range of all those monsters that try to run away. Usually, those are the ones that are the most dangerous. For example, Winged Mooks in Act 3 tend to spread out a lot and Deadly Reach becomes useless, but Fists of Thunder + Thunderclap makes short work of them one at a time.
Keyboard 1 – Wave of Light (Empowered Wave)
This is your main Spirit spender for area damage. When you are using Deadly Reach to attack groups of monsters, Wave of Light goes perfectly with it to hit those large groups. They are both area damage skills. Wave of Light has another great bonus in that it knocks back enemies in a line. It makes kiting that much easier. Combined with your fast movement speed, Deadly Reach and Wave of Light are the perfect kiting combo.
The Empowered Wave rune lowers the Spirit cost. This means you can take advantage of the knock back effect more often. This is also a DPS increase due to being able to use the skill more often. Deadly Reach also has slower attack speed compared to Fists of Thunder, so the lowered Spirit cost really helps.
Keyboard 2 – Exploding Palm (The Flesh is Weak)
Just as Wave of Light is the best alongside Deadly Reach, Exploding Palm is the best with Fists of Thunder. Exploding Palm is really the only single target damage skill the Monk has, but it tends to be pretty good. The Spirit cost is somewhat high, but you gain quite a bit of Spirit from Fists of Thunder’s fast attack speed. In between Exploding Palm, you will have just enough Spirit to cast the occasional Wave of Light for more damage.
The Flesh is Weak simply increases the single target damage more. That’s a +12% damage bonus from all sources of damage. All your skills do more damage. More importantly, all of your party’s attacks do more damage. It’s amazing against bosses and rare monsters when everyone is hammering on the same target.
Besides single target, I also take advantage of Exploding Palm when a champion monster is close to death. Dealing 50% of the target’s maximum life to all other targets, it can single-handedly destroy entire groups. You can even chain Exploding Palms by putting it on more Exploding Palms on monsters near the first. The maximum life does not scale with health bonuses that monsters get in multiplayer though.
Keyboard 3 – Inner Sanctuary (Consecration)
This is to help with kiting. Especially in outer environments, a lot of times there are no chokepoints around to give you an advantage. Inner Sanctuary helps in that situation. If you are standing in the center, a lot of enemies can’t even hit you, while you still can with Deadly Reach and Wave of Light. It is also great with chokepoints to completely prevent monsters from getting through an area to attack the weak Wizards and Demon Hunters behind.
Consecration increases the duration. A higher uptime means you can maybe kill a few more enemies before it wears off. That can be the difference between life and death against really fast monsters.
Keyboard 4 – Mantra of Healing (Boon of Inspiration)
IIt’s always nice to have a Mantra in every build. Since this build is about surviving through fast attacks, Mantra of Healing with Boon of Inspiration fits the bill. Mantra of Healing itself heals 310 life per second. That’s somewhat low, but it’s okay passive healing. What we really take this skill for is the rune.
Boon of Inspiration used to be Boon of Protection. The effects of that old rune were weakened and made baseline (the short-term shield), and this new rune took its place. Boon of Inspiration gives you 186 Life per hit. With fast attack speed that is close to 320 life gained every second in addition to the base 310 life per second the Mantra provides. That’s a nice passive 630 life per second in a skill lot we wouldn’t have the Spirit to use otherwise.
Passive 1 – Combination Strike
This passive gives an 8% damage boost for 3 seconds for each Primary Monk skill you use in a row. What I thought was that you had to alternate between the skills to keep the buff up, but I found out you only have to use each skill once at the beginning of the combo. Then, continually using any Primary skill will refresh the buff duration.
For the purposes of this build, that means use the Primary skill you don’t want to use first, followed by the one you do to get a cool 16% damage bonus. So for kiting, start with Fists of Thunder. Then you can attack as much as you want with Deadly Reach with the 16% bonus. If you want to attack single target, start with one Deadly Reach followed by Fists of Thunder as much as you want.
Note that the duration is only 3 seconds. That is long enough to buff a non-Primary skill, but you can probably only use one before having to switch back to Primary skills again. That is usually okay though. You usually won’t have so much Spirit to use multiple skills in a row. I almost always just use one skill and go back to Primary skills. The Monk is designed to use Primary skills for a good portion of their damage.
Passive 2 – Fleet Footed
This passive is purely to help with kiting. Single target is never really a problem. You will have more than enough Life per hit to survive one monster hitting you. It is the groups of monsters that are the trouble. Faster movement speed really makes a difference in getting out of scary situations. It also helps even the balance when fighting fast monsters. You can prevent yourself from getting surrounded. It isn’t always possible, but it will help a lot.
Both of these are solid defensive passive skills. Seize the Initiative gives you good damage reduction, so melee attacks just do less damage from the start. Transcendence, on the other hand, gives you healing per Spirit spent, so it is also damage reduction to an extent but happens after the damage is done. I think Transcendence is probably best in Hell difficulty, where the passive healing is enough to keep you topped off almost all the time. In Inferno, the raw damage is so high that Seize the Initiative is probably better.
Two fast daggers are the best weapons for this build. They have the fastest attack speed among melee weapons (1.5), and thus, you get the fastest regeneration from Life per hit. Dual-wielding itself gives you +15% attack speed for a base attack speed of 1.73. Combined with attack speed affixes, you can get over 2.0 attack speed. That means Life per hit is not just the listed value, but closer to 2x what is shown.
It’s all about attack speed and movement speed in this build. Your daggers and skill choices will give you most of the attack speed you need. Just find a few items with attack speed to boost it. As for movement speed, look for a pair of boots with +12% movement speed. That is the highest it can roll. Also, there are some legendary items that give movement speed bonuses that you can look-up on the official Diablo 3 website. For general gearing that applies to all characters, check out The Stats You Want in Diablo 3, my quick guide to stats that all characters should have.