The Sweeping Wind Monk

This is the cookie cutter Monk build for max DPS. While it’s not the most fun build to play, it is definitely the most efficient. You will do more damage than any other build and much easier to. You pretty much just hold one button down the whole time while spamming damage buffing skills. Still, it’s definitely a flashy build. Anyone that sees you will know immediately what build you are using, and it does look pretty cool despite not being the most fun to play. A little critical hit chance is required for the build to work properly, but outside of that it’s a cheap build to gear for.

Strengths

  • The max DPS build for Monk, beats all other Monk builds for DPS.
  • Great, passive Area of Effect damage cleans up rooms full of monsters in seconds.

Weaknesses

  • Very few tactics needed, so it can become boring to play for long periods.
  • Holding one button down the entire time can tire out the finger.

Skills

Mouse Left Click – Fists of Thunder (Thunderclap)

Since Spirit is not that easy to come by, at least one Primary Skill is required for all Monk builds. Fists of Thunder with Thunderclap has 3 very good properties: It does high damage, teleports you a short distance, and has a high proc rate (important for Sweeping Wind). This is your spam skill. You pretty much use it all the time non stop. All other skills in this build can be used instantly at the same time as Fists of Thunder, so there is no need to ever stop Fists of Thunder spam.

Mouse Right Click – Sweeping Wind (Cyclone)

The signature skill for this build, Sweeping Wind provides your area damage. Keep Sweeping Wind up at all times except when there are no monsters around. Also, reserve some Spirit in case it runs out before you can get to the next group of monsters.

When fully stacked, it does 60% weapon damage per second plus 156% weapon damage per Cyclone (26% weapon damage x 6 hits over 3 seconds). Each additional critical hit after max stacks causes these Cyclones to spawn. Fists of Thunder’s high proc rate almost guarantees a Cyclone per critical hit. Entire rooms of normal monsters will be killed in seconds. Against melee Elites by the time you take down the first one, the rest will be at half health or less almost purely from Sweeping Wind damage.

Keyboard 1 – Breath of Heaven (Blazing Wrath)

Although Breath of Heaven is a healing spell, in this build it is used for the Blazing Wrath rune buff. Only Fists of Thunder and Sweeping Wind do damage in this build. Everything else is to support them with damage buffs. This buff gives a 15% damage boost to all attacks for a pretty long 45 seconds. The skill itself has a 15 second cooldown, but that doesn’t matter when the buff lasts so long. Always make sure this buff is up. You can use it early any time for the heal. Just don’t let the Blazing Wrath buff expire.

Keyboard 2 – Blinding Flash (Faith in the Light)

Blinding Flash by itself is a pretty good survivability cooldown. Blinding all enemies is basically the same as a stun effect in Diablo 3. The monsters don’t attack what they can’t see. It’s a great way to keep monsters in a tight pack for maximum area damage, but it’s the Faith in the Light rune that makes this skill golden. It’s a cool 30% damage boost for 3 seconds. The duration is pretty short, but you can take out an Elite or two within 3 seconds with this buff. You should avoid using for regular, weak monsters. The damage bonus will be wasted on them.

Keyboard 3 – Mantra of Conviction (Overawe)

As long as Sweeping Wind is up, you have extra Spirit with no use for it. That’s where Mantra of Conviction comes in. It provides a pretty good passive bonus to all damage done, but 3 seconds after using the skill doubles that bonus. So basically after Sweeping Wind and Blazing Wrath are up, use Mantra of Conviction every 3 seconds for a permanent, high damage boost. The Overawe rune simply doubles the damage boost for even more damage.

Keyboard 4 – Serenity (Ascension)

This is the only purely defensive skill in the build. Serenity makes you immune to all negative effects including taking damage for 3 seconds. Ascension raises that to 4 seconds. Even though it is a defensive skill, it is generally used for offense. Instead of having to dodge Arcane Beams, Poison Pools, or any other high damage spell, you can keeping DPSing them and kill them faster. That small efficiency boosts results in faster farming runs. You shouldn’t ever need to use Serenity when fighting the weak monsters.

Passive 1 – Resolve

With Sweeping Wind hitting all nearby enemies constantly, this passive skill is almost always debuffing the monsters around you. That 20% damage reduction is equal to a ton of Resist All. Not only that, it’s not subject to the diminishing returns that Resist All is.

Passive 2 – Seize the Initiative

Even though it was nerfed, Seize the Initiative is still a powerful defensive passive skill. Physical attacks, which Armor reduces, is the majority of damage taken. With good gear you can have 1500 or more Armor just from this passive skill. That’s usually 10-15% damage reduction for Physical attacks. It doesn’t look like much but ends up being a life saver when combined with Lifesteal or Life on Hit.

Passive 3 – One With Everything

The mechanics of this passive skill are confusing, but it basically doubles the Resist All that you can potentially get from a piece of armor. The extra Resist All is based on your highest resist, so you should pick one of the resists (Fire, Cold, Lightning, Poison) and stack it on all items, avoiding the resists that you did not pick. The Auction House is critical to finding these items. The defensive benefit of doubled Resist All per item is too good to pass up. It is the passive skill that all Monks take at level 60 no matter what.

Weapon Type

Sweeping Wind will work with any combination of weapons (Two Hand, Dual-wield, One Hand + Shield). If dual-wielding one hand weapons, Sweeping Wind only takes damage from the main hand weapon, not the offhand weapon. For this reason, maximum DPS is achieved by using a slow main hand weapon. The two weapon types with the slowest attack speeds are the Mace and Spear, though Maces seem to be more common on the Auction House. For the offhand most players prefer a fast attack speed to counteract the slower attack speed of the main hand. This is most commonly a Fist Weapon or Sword.

Good Stats

Like most builds, critical hits are necessary to proc special effects. In particular, that’s Sweeping Wind in this build. Around 15% critical hit chance is enough to fight elites. They take long enough to go down that Sweeping Wind will reach the maximum 3 stacks and contribute to a lot of damage. For the random weak monsters encountered in the world, around 25% critical hit chance is best. Those weak monsters don’t last long, and lower critical hit chance makes it harder to build Sweeping Wind stacks. 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.

Alternatives

  • Mantra of Evasion (Hard Target) instead of Mantra of Conviction (Overawe) – Mantra of Conviction is the primary way to increase DPS in this build. New Monks still gearing up might need more defenses though. The Hard Target rune of Mantra of Evasion is one of the best defensive runes.
  • Mystic Ally (Air Ally) instead of Blinding Flash (Faith in the Light) – The Air Ally produces its own mini Sweeping Wind. If you want to maximize the theme of the build, you can use this skill for a little more damage. Unfortunately, the Mystic Ally doesn’t survive well on high Monster Power levels, so most players will switch to Serenity once they are good enough to handle those stronger monsters.
  • Fleet Footed instead of Resolve – If you have good enough defenses, you can replace Resolve with Fleet Footed for a faster farming rate. This is most commonly used to farm lower Monster Power levels when you have good gear. You might farm Monster Power 10 for good loot, but switch to Monster Power 6 with Fleet Footed for faster experience point gains per hour.
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