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As you need a lot of single target damage and health, but also AoE, what attributes have you guys been building to survive reliably in the harder difficulties? I'm thinking going 50%/%50 Dex/Vita.

Maybe using Blind, Serenity as my main 'oh shi*' and doing damage with Mangle runed Crippling Wave. Thinking of either using Companion with the vitality rune or Seven Sided Strike to make me briefly untargetable while I have other things on cooldown.

Dodge mantra doesn't seem feasible since you can easily get a bad streak of RNG and blow up.

TL;DR; What's the optimum build for Monk when you want to avoid dying while still being able to dish out enough dmg?

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Voting to close this as too subjective and argumentative. Optimal character build depends largely on the play style of the user. –  ElfSlice May 20 '12 at 20:52
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I feel that there isn't that many ways to build one's character in Inferno, if we are talking about the most optimal build. I'm not asking what works for X, I'm asking what allround most optimal thing to use. Generally there is always the Cookiecutter build to go with, in any game that utilizes customization. –  red May 21 '12 at 7:28
    
What is the 'all around most optimal thing to use' for you might not be for someone else. I just don't think this question is a good fit for the Q&A format of the site. –  ElfSlice May 21 '12 at 20:28
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In this game there are a limited amount of random generated variables to consider - so most surely there is a best way to choose skills to counter said variables in the most optimal way. This question is about trying to find that answer, and while the answer can be subjective for some, we can decide what is most optimal by looking at which build counters most of said variables. That said, I believe we should really focus on Inferno where it actually matters as on the earlier difficulties, just about anything can work. –  red May 22 '12 at 9:05
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My mistake, I forgot this question was about Diablo 3, and therefore exempt from the site rules and guidelines. –  ElfSlice Jun 2 '12 at 17:02

10 Answers 10

up vote 28 down vote accepted
+100

I've been slowly working my way through Inferno, and I think I've come up with a respectable build. I'm focusing on a hybrid dodge/life regen build.

Skills

  • Primary: Fists of Thunder with Lightning Flash - the dodge is subject to diminishing returns, but it's still an extra ~8% while I'm attacking. That's not bad at all.
  • Secondary: Lashing Tail Kick with Hand of Ytar - this is mostly to keep Sweeping Wind from falling off. It also helps attract attention from enemies standing in damage spots.
  • Skill 1: Serenity with Instant Karma - mostly my panic button. But with Instant Karma, when I'm in the middle of a giant group, this helps thin the crowd.
  • Skill 2: Dashing Strike with Blinding Speed - This helps get me out of damage spots, and gives me a dodge boost while I'm at it.
  • Skill 3: Sweeping Wind with Cyclone - nothing like a group of guys trying to beat on you, and dying in the process. At max stacks, it provides a very respectable 45% AoE, with a chance to spawn tornados that do 20%. That's nothing to laugh at.
  • Skill 4: Mantra of Evasion with Hard Target - my armor isn't very high, so the 20% boost is very helpful. When I get my armor high enough, I'll be switching the rune to Backlash, for the AoE fire damage.
  • Passive 1: One With Everything - Pretty self explanatory. Focus on a single resistance.
  • Passive 2: Seize the Initiative - Adds Dexterity to Armor. Monks are all about the Dexterity. With this single passive, Dexterity provides Dodge, Damage, and Armor.
  • Passive 3: The Guardian's Path - Adds 15% dodge with dual-wielding. Since this is a dodge build, this is pure gold.

Equipment modifiers

Required, in order of importance:

Life on Hit is the saving grace of this build. It's what keeps you going in the middle of a giant group. If both weapons have 400+, then Fists or Daggers will give you over 1000 life per second just for beating on something. Slightly less for slower weaponry. Enough life on hit means you can basically ignore anything a boss throws at you (as long is it doesn't kill you in one hit), as the life regeneration will just heal you back to where you were before he even attacked.

Life Regeneration is the secondary concern. Life on hit heals burst damage. Life regeneration heals damage areas, keeps you up while you run over them to get to (or away from) something. Also, it's easy enough to replace the Mantra of Healing entirely with all of two or three pieces of equipment, allowing you to focus on dodging.

A single resistance; it doesn't matter which one. If you find a piece of equipment that has your chosen resistance and resist all, that's gravy. You can get 90+ resist from one piece of equipment. This will mitigate damage to a very large degree, which is absolutely required for Inferno, even for dodging. You are going to get hit. Make it hurt as little as possible.

Dexterity is your all-around do everything stat. More is better, as always. Don't skimp on the above for this, though. You'll do more damage, yes, but you'll also have more trouble surviving the pain being thrown your way.

Vitality is the last required modifier. This one is last because you don't need a whole lot; enough to survive the biggest hits, but anything that doesn't one-shot you will die. This is why I currently have a grand total of 14,000 life.

Nice to have, but not essential:

Attack Speed is a no-brainer. Faster attacks mean more hits, which means more life. The damage boost is a side bonus.

Strength adds to armor, which is always good. Don't look for it, though, as that's all the bonus it give you.

Intelligence will boost your resistances, and that's never a bad thing. Your chosen resistance is better, though, as it takes 10 Intelligence to match a single point of resistance.

Higher Critical Chance synergizes very well with Sweeping Wind. If you can get this without sacrificing any required stats, get it. It will crank your DPS into overdrive.

Higher Critical Damage is just a damage boost.

Melee/Ranged damage reduction is gravy on top of your armor and resistances. I haven't tested whether this gets dumped on top of existing armor or not, leading into a straight damage reduction, but like I said earlier, less damage taken is a good thing.

Control Effect Reduction will unfreeze and un-jail you that much faster. Freeze is the critical one. Not being able to attack means you can't bring your life on hit to bear. This is not optimal.

Not required:

Thorns are not really needed. Yeah, you'll damage those that hit you, but between Sweeping Wind and your third hit, you'll already be doing much more to those in front of you.

Other resistances are entirely useless. They will provide no benefit whatsoever, unless it goes higher than your chosen. In which case, why are you diluting your equipment choices to that extent? You might as well focus exclusively on Resist All, then.

Playstyle

First up, this build will not let you stand there and take Arcane Sentries and Desecrators without moving. I don't think there's any build that will let you do that. So, get used to moving. Not to kite, but to pull away from damage spots, arcane sentries, that sort of thing. Move is your watchword. Moving is life.

You can stand and take it from enemies that have Reflect Damage, Fast, Vampiric, anything that doesn't drop a damage spot. Even Molten is fine, as long as they don't move. Just remember, they explode when you kill them.

Dashing Strike dashes you to the other side of the enemy that you are on. It can also dash you out of a tight spot. Use this to avoid boss attacks. Butcher winds up his big swing? Dash behind him, and keep going. This takes split-second timing, however, as I've found some enemies will wind up, and if you dash before they begin the attack animation, they'll turn to hit you. You may have better luck dashing away from your enemies. The dodge bonus from the rune only functions when you hit something. It will not work just dashing from one point to another. Also keep in mind that damage spots tend to interrupt the dash, so don't take it as a get out of jail free card.

When fighting bosses, champions, anything with over 100,000 health, turn on Sweeping Wind. You'll regain your Spirit, and be doing extra damage. If you need to run away, use Lashing Tail Kick on an enemy to keep it from falling off.

Don't worry about your life dropping; it's going to happen. It's when you're standing in a plague patch, or other damage area that you need to worry. Remember our watchword? Move. Why are you trying to imitate a Barbarian? Monks are about speed, grace, and balance. Flow around the battlefield. Let them come to you, away from their Arcane Sentries and Plague patches. A live monk is a happy monk.

Anything that can't kill you in one hit will die. You won't be able to stand there and take it from Arcane or Plague champion groups, but normal monsters provide no difficulty.

You are going to die from time to time. It happens. Don't get frustrated. Learn from it, and experiment. Vortex sucks you onto an Arcane Sentry? Hopefully Serenity is available. If not, take your lumps and try again.

Last tip: Have fun. If you're not enjoying having to run around to avoid Arcane sentries or Desecration patches, this build is not for you.

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Great post and just in time. Enjoy :) –  red Jun 1 '12 at 15:11
    
What acts are you able to clean up with this build ? –  pinouchon Jun 8 '12 at 19:18
    
I can tank Arcane Sentries and Desecrators, at least in Act 1. It's not about build; it's about gear. Once you're geared, you can use any build you want (as long as you include Serenity). –  StrixVaria Jun 26 '12 at 14:45
    
fantastic insight fbueckert! Just a quick one on Life regen... although more the merrier, how much do u suggest would be the minimum? excluding MoH's regen (assume not going to use MOH and use either MOE or MOC instead) –  David Jul 17 '12 at 3:00

Top one: Dual Wield Exploding Palm Cyclone Build If you would like to contribute damage for your team while pulling as well, Exploding Palm would be the one you are looking for. But this build, you can not prep the Decaying Crypt.

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http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/monk#WTXgQd!XUZ!Zcaacc

^ My Monk Inferno Build. It is heavily based on survivability. I go 1 hand / shield because it helps loads and go 25% dex/ 75% vitality. I also max out one resistance, obvious for all monk players because of the passive. Also, enemies will be doing -45% dammage to you because of runed crippling wave and passive.

I finished inferno with this btw. Yeahhhh

Also, i didnt find sweeping wind too useful in inferno. It did damage in original and nightmare, but its usefulness died out in hell and nightmare. Let me know what you think

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edit: Check the accepted answer for an even better (..or different) way to play. :)

In my opinion this is the strongest build for Monk in Inferno.

http://d3db.com/tool/calculator/monk/21610

Deadly Reach with Keen Eye for a 50% Increase to armor and a slightly increased range so you can keep attacking while standing inside Inner Sanctuary. Swap for Crippling Wave with Breaking Wave or Rising Tide for easier areas to increase damage output.

Seven Sided Strike with Pandemonium for 25% chance per hit for a 7 second stun and another skill that basically makes you immune to damage briefly (Very valuable for dodging Lasers for example, while you are Walled or Jailed into Lava or whatnot). Always pop Mantra of Conviction before using this.

Serenity with Peaceful Response for brief invulnerability and a heal.

Breath of Life with Circle of Life for the heal.

Inner Sanctuary with Safe Haven to keep enemies away from you and to heal. (If you know you are getting stunned, pop this beforehand)

Mantra of Conviction with Overawe for the extra damage output that is required due this build is all about having a moment of safe time in the fray to dish out damage before retreating to wait for cooldowns.

Transcendence for extra healing while using skills. (Spirit Dump to heal with Mantra spam for example.)

Resolve for extra damage reduction.

One With Everything (use one item with a high resistance value) to reduce a lot of the magic damage.

Stats: Instead of pushing to get immense amounts of vitality, the aim is to get high resistances and high armor value so that your heals are more effective (you will always want to be able to top your health to full with your heals and have high damage reduction to survive). So pick up gear with Dex, Vitality and one type of resistance and let "One with everything" do it's job.

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This is very similar to what I use. I take the +100% Dex as armor passive, and I use the Mystic Ally (Earth), and I just don't use a spirit dump at all. When I get more towards where things get hard (soon into act 2) I switch to Mantra of Evasion with the +armor rune. The ally is great as he can tank for you very effectively for many elites, and you just keep spawning him right back every time he dies. He's also good against Act 2 bugs. –  fcrick May 29 '12 at 9:35
    
Thanks, I will experiment with the Ally. :) –  red May 29 '12 at 11:39
    
Interesting build, started using it but switched out Inner Sanctuary for Earth Ally and Mantra of Conviction for Mantra of Healing(Shield)...a much more effective spirit dump, and less reliance on CD's –  Domocus May 30 '12 at 19:47
    
And what about 50-50 Dex/Vita? Not any good? Only playing on Normal so far. –  ヴァイシャリ Jun 1 '12 at 14:30

I'm in act 3 inferno and have solo'd inferno butcher many times hes cake now. Get to 60+ % resist all and 35k+ life and you can survive easily. I have 10k dps at the moment and I walk through act 1 inferno. This morning I solo'd 6 blue mobs and 1 yellow and the butcher and didn't come close to dying. I run with 1 hander and shield for the block and extra armor. Resist is easy to get for us. Find some resist all gear that has like 50 resist all and 45 lightning and use the one with everything passive and you just added 95 resist all to your stats. Do this on 5 piece of gear and you'll be over 60% resist all.

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What does this answer provide that hasn't already been said? –  Frank May 31 '12 at 20:22

I've been doing act 1 for 20-30 hours and I can tell you there is no best build for monk but here are a couple of tips.

Gear

Armor

50/50 split is good, I'd put dexterity slightly in favour. Dodge will save your life more often than a bit more health and DPS is really important.

Resistances are the most important thing though. They are essential in the next acts too, so try to buy gear with good resists. I'd say sacrificing some vitality is worth it if you can get more resists. Stack 1 kind of resist with resistance to all elements and use One With Everything passive, e.g. +100 poison resist and +100 all resistance to all elements will give you 200 resists on everything.

I'm sitting comfortably in Act 1 at 330 resists, 40k health and 15k damage (1300 dexterity, 1000 vitality), I can solo the whole act 1 without any problems.

Weapons

Dual wielding is viable (especially in Act 1) but board and plank (shield and one-hander) is a lot better for other acts, mostly because resists and defensive stats are easier to come by on shield and the dexterity they have off-puts the damage loss.

DPS stat on the weapon is the most important one, right now me and most of my friends are using cheap blues with no stats other than high dps. Another priority should be attack speed because your class is basically based on this. I wouldn't touch anything with less than 1.40 attack speed with a 10 foot pole.

Build

Basics

Serenity

Much of Inferno is based on kiting and dealing damage while you can't be hurt, this is where Serenity comes in. A consequence is that a lot of builds are based on burst damage, you pop Serenity, your damage boosting buffs, do da damages and then use some sort of escape skill to wait for your cooldowns. I'd say Serenity is absolutely essential and any build without is dumb. I don't think I've ever seen anyone post a build without this. It's a get out of jail free card, it would be silly not to use it.

Spirit regeneration and life regained per spirit spent

High spirit regeneration also works particularly well with gain x life per spirit spent abilities and gear. Let's say you gain 70 life per spirit spent and you have 150 spirit. That's 10500 health regenerated and you can generate a full spirit pool every couple of seconds, making this the best heal our class has. It actually scales with stats you can improve.

The most efficient spirit regenerator is Sweeping Wind Inner Storm, because it doesn't sacrifice damage or some other beneficial effect for it. When you crit for the third time (if you crit while doing AOE, you get all the stack immediately) it's like you go on another level. You become a super saiyan.

Spirit Dump

When you go super saiyan, you need to use that spirit on something. I prefer Lashing Tail Kick with Scorpion Sting, because the stuns are super spammable. My friend prefers throwing bells around. Basically think up combos that you would like to do while you have 3 stacks on Sweeping Wind.

Defensive vs offensive builds

The concept is the same, you get some spirit regeneration from somewhere and then you use it either defensively or offensively.

An example of a defensive build would be some sort of health/dodge mantra with increased resists or armor and heal with extra spirit regeneration or extra healing power, primary ability with the best aoe and sustained damage.

An example of an offensive build would consist of the damage aura, heal with damage boost, primary ability with damage boost. When all my buffs are off cooldown my damage goes from 15k to 20k, and that's without the 24%-48% percent increase of the offensive mantra.

I used the defensive build when I first started because I couldn't handle the mobs. Now that my defensive stats are better, I switched to dps. When I first went through Act 1, I needed help on the Butcher because he would enrage since my dps was so low. With the offensive build I got the 2 minute achievement.

Dodge builds

I tried the dodge builds when my gear was crappier and I wanted more dps even though I was sacrificing vitality. It's just super annoying to play because everything will one shot you, but you will do a lot of damage sooner. I guess this can be mitigated by skill, but I had much more consistent clearing times with the defensive build because I would rarely die there. Basically go for this if you want to kite all day.

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I designed the following build, named "Explosive Regen", for Hell on my monk:

http://d3db.com/tool/calculator/monk/23028

I ran this with a one-hand and a shield. I basically went 50/50 on Dext/Vita. The basic idea of this build is that you have quite some spirit regen to spam AoE's with. I would also recommend getting a weapon with life steal or life per spirit spent.

Basically what you do in a fight is pop Mantra of Healing and Sweeping wind for spirit regen. Then you spam Beacon of Light with Explosive Light and everything dies at your feet. When shit gets serious you cast Serenity or Seven-Sided Strike. You will be invulnerable half of the time in fights, so you have quite some time to deal damage.

Fist of Thunder with Thunderclap: It has teleport and quite some AoE damage. Also, the spirit generation on it is huge. However, if you feel like you need more defense, switch it for Cripling Wave with Concussion.

Wave of Light with Explosive Light: Deals tons of AoE damage in a massive area (the tooltip says nearby enemies, while the range is actually quite large). Spam it when all your spirit regeneration buffs are up for nice damage and healing (with Transendence).

Serenity with Reap What Is Sown: Reap What is Sown does 30% of absorbed damage in AoE around you, with a maximum of your maximum life. It deals quite some damage against elites with high damage abilities like Arcane Enchanted, Molten and Consecration. If you feel like this build does not give you enough healing, swap the rune for Peaceful Repose.

Sweeping Wind With Inner Storm: Deals damage to all enemies close to you. At maximum stack count, gives you 3 spirit regen per second (with the rune). As long as you keep hitting shit it remains at 3 stacks, so only pop it once per fight.

Seven-Sided Strike with Sustained Attack: No, not pandemonium. Elites are the main problem in Hell and you won't be stunning them for very long. The whole point of using this ability is dodging lasers (also Diablo's lightning beam), so you want to be able to use it often.

Mantra of Healing with Circular Breathing: It has nice health regen and with circular breathing gives you 3 spirit per second regen. Together with Chant of Resonance this adds up to 5 spirit per second. This way you can spam Explosive Light (Beacon of Light) in peace. If Beacon of Light does not heal you enough, you can cast this Mantra every 3 seconds for more health per second.

Transendence for healing with skills. With this build you can heal a lot with beacon of Light, which is awesome because it deals tons of AoE damage.

Beacon of Ytar for survivability. You will be able to pop your Seven-Sided Strike and Serenity more often.

Chant of Resonance for increased spirit regen. Also, your Mantra of Healing will last 7 minutes, which is handy because you will spam Explosive Light for healing instead. You can swap this out for a defensive passive if you feel like you are taking to much damage.

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Just started hell an my survivability took a serious dip. Played around with my build for a while and ended up sticking with the following:

http://d3db.com/tool/calculator/monk/20174

NOTE: you may want to try a 2hander for this build. The passive skill bonus to 2hander spirit generation can come in quite handy.

The trick to this build is to keep your spirit generation high so you can spam your Mantra whenever you have more than a few enemies on you. The mantra has no cooldown, meaning you can spam it for HP regen/absorption shield over and over again.

Sweeping wind and Breath of Heaven should ensure you have the constant supply of spirit you need. Serenity can tide you over in the "OH $H!7". I personally like having inner sanctuary (i HATE dying) but you can get away with swapping it out for a damage skill. (7-sided is great because you are damage immune for the duration). You may also want to consider a skill that gives you some mobility so that you can maintain your sweeping wind longer.

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Its hard. I am on hell and I noticed considerably less survivability. I would start doing a gear check. You will need to look for dex and vitality and stack them together.

My build is similar to above poster. Mine is http://d3db.com/tool/calculator/monk/20754

And I work with a barbarian most of the game. Have hardest time with Molten champions.

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Molten isn't that tough, it's the combo of Jailer/Waller with Molten, try "One With Everything" passive and get one pice that yields high resistance to any school of magic. –  red May 21 '12 at 7:21

I'm working through hell now, almost finished with Act2. I'm researching the same thing. Right now, I'm stacking Dex as primary and Vita as secondary for gear stats, and gemming Vita in every open socket. I'm doing slightly less damage than most the other players I play with, but I'm able to actually survive more than a few seconds into a large pull now.

For skills, I'm using Breath of Heaven with the Circle of Life rune, Sweeping Wind with Blade Storm rune, I was using 7-sided strike with the stun rune but just unlocked the healing rune for Cyclone strike. I'll let you know how that works out since I just now unlocked it and haven't played around with it much yet. And for my Manta, unless there is another Monk in the group, I always use Mantra of Healing with the bonus healing rune.

And for damaging spells, Deadly Reach with Foresight and Lashing Tail Kick with Scorpion Sting

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Could you please, add the benefits monks get with DEX attribute ? Thanks –  Marcello Grechi Lins May 18 '12 at 12:27
    
@MarcelloGrechiLins DEX is the Monk's primary stat. That means each point adds 1% to their damage, along with what DEX usually does, which is +.1 to dodge per point. –  Frank May 18 '12 at 13:27
    
@fbueckert So for each point in DEX i end up with + 1% Damage, + 1% dodge ? What about defense / Critical ? I thought that DEX would boost these stats aswell –  Marcello Grechi Lins May 18 '12 at 14:00
    
@MarcelloGrechiLins You are correct about damage. You need 10 points of DEX for 1% dodge, though. See this answer for more information. –  Frank May 18 '12 at 14:02
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@fbueckert That is wrong. You don't get 1% dodge for every ten points of dexterity. The amount of dodge you get from a point of dexterity is higher at lower levels, but at the levels your dexterity will be on in inferno, adding 10 points of dexterity will most certainly not give you 1% additional dodge. –  Alderath May 29 '12 at 17:44

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