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Monk Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 7)

Last updated on Aug 03, 2016 at 09:00 by Deadset 20 comments

Table of Contents

The purpose of the beginner Monk guide is to provide you with a build and item recommendations that will reliably carry you from leveling, through the pre-Torment difficulties and get you into low Torment farming, without requiring specific legendary or set bonuses. The guide also includes a section for Season 7 Monks, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.

1. About the Author

This build is presented to you by Deadset, one of the very few professional Diablo 3 players. Deadset regularly publishes video guides on Youtube, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

2. Leveling and Fresh 70 Build

2.1. Beginner Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Fists of Thunder Icon Fists of Thunder Quickening Quickening Right Mouse Button Lashing Tail Kick Icon Lashing Tail Kick Vulture Claw Kick Vulture Claw Kick 1 Sweeping Wind Icon Sweeping Wind Inner Storm Inner Storm 2 Dashing Strike Icon Dashing Strike Way of the Falling Star Way of the Falling Star 3 Exploding Palm Icon Exploding Palm Shocking Grasp Shocking Grasp 4 Mantra of Healing Icon Mantra of Healing Circular Breathing Circular Breathing
Passive Skills

Note that while the skills and runes recommended in the build are specifically chosen to be available at an early level and remain a solid pick throughout the leveling and early character progression, you will have to temporarily work with other skills as the build gradually unlocks. To familiarize yourself with the class, experimentation is strongly encouraged. If you are unsure of how to slot more than one skill from the same skill tree, enable Elective Mode under Gameplay Options.

2.2. Rotation

The build revolves around the AoE efficiency of Exploding Palm Exploding Palm Shocking Grasp Shocking Grasp, whose explosion is triggered by Sweeping Wind Sweeping Wind for minor enemies or Lashing Tail Kick Lashing Tail Kick for elites and big packs. The basic strategy is to close the gap into a pack of enemies using Dashing Strike Dashing Strike, and begin applying and triggering Exploding Palm Exploding Palms with your offensive abilities. While the resource costs will be massive, especially for undergeared characters, the build will successfully maintain Spirit through the highest Spirit generator, Fists of Thunder Fists of Thunder Quickening Quickening, the constant regeneration coming from Inner Storm Inner Storm, the Exalted Soul Exalted Soul passive and the synergy between Mantra of Healing Mantra of Healing Circular Breathing Circular Breathing with Chant of Resonance Chant of Resonance.

2.3. Skills, Runes and Passives

The basis of every build lies in its chosen damage dealing skills. As they invariably require resource or cooldown management mechanics of some sort, and such are scarce for low level and less geared characters, you will focus on fewer damage dealing abilities early on. The typical early game build will feature a dominant damage dealing skill, a mobility skill, buffs and utility skills, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — AoE Damage: The AoE effectiveness of Exploding Palm Exploding Palm (level 13) is the focal point of the build; this signature Monk ability applies a 9-second DoT on an enemy, with a powerful explosion triggering if the target dies within the duration of the bleeding effect. While you can temporarily work with lower level runes like The Flesh is Weak The Flesh is Weak (level 18) and Strong Spirit Strong Spirit (level 25), the recommended rune for early game is Shocking Grasp Shocking Grasp (level 44), which applies Exploding Palm Exploding Palm to an additional target for each cast, doubling its efficiency per Spirit spent. You will be assisting the Exploding Palm Exploding Palm DoT to trigger the explosions with a hard-hitting Spirit spender and some supplementary DPS.
  • Slot 2 — Damage Spirit Spender: Lashing Tail Kick Lashing Tail Kick is the first Spirit spender to unlock for Monks, available at level 2. It also has the highest DPS per Spirit point spent ratio, especially with its Fire rune Vulture Claw Kick Vulture Claw Kick — helpfully unlocking at level 7. You can skyrocket its damage even further with a gambling strategy outlined below, in the gearing section.
  • Slot 3 Supplementary DPS/Utility: Against enemies with smaller health pools, the Exploding Palm Exploding Palm trigger can be realistically achieved with a helpful push from Sweeping Wind Sweeping Wind (level 21). Sweeping Wind Sweeping Wind will provide you with a constant source of AoE damage and is a great learning tool for Diablo combat dynamics, as it sustains for free as long as you keep fighting. This encourages you to stay mobile and aware of the playing field. You can experiment with the runes as you go up in levels, but it is recommended that you stick with Inner Storm Inner Storm as soon as you hit level 46; this rune will provide you with 8 Spirit per second, and will still deliver enough DPS for trash enemies.
  • Slot 4 — Spirit Generator: With hefty costs of 50 Spirit per Vulture Claw Kick Vulture Claw Kick and 40 Spirit per Exploding Palm Exploding Palm, you will have to balance your resources carefully; early on, the best tool at your disposal are simply the class' base generators. You can boost the damage of the default Fists of Thunder Fists of Thunder with the Thunderclap Thunderclap rune at level 6, and stick with it all the way to level 42. At that point, you unlock the Quickening Quickening rune, increasing Spirit generation to 20, a value only rivaled by Crippling Wave Crippling Wave Rising Tide Rising Tide (level 36). You will stay with Quickening Quickening for the remainder of your leveling.
  • Slot 5 — Mobility: Monks are blessed with the most fluid movement tool in the game, Dashing Strike Dashing Strike, as early as level 9. With two charges stored by default and the additional speed utility of the Way of the Falling Star Way of the Falling Star rune (first rune you attain at level 15), Dashing Strike Dashing Strike skill will take you in and out of danger better than any other skill in the game.
  • Slot 6 — Mantra: Last but not least, picking a Mantra will provide background benefits with little need of active control, and will also grant a powerful synergy with your passives. Earlier on you can gain some decent protection out of Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation (level 19), augmented by the Armor boost of Hard Target Hard Target (level 24). As soon as you hit level 38 however, swap to Mantra of Healing Mantra of Healing Circular Breathing Circular Breathing to add another source of Spirit regeneration to the build. Note that you can viably alternate this slot for Mystic Ally Mystic Ally Air Ally Air Ally and your Chant of Resonance Chant of Resonance passive for Unity Unity, depending on your success with a gambling strategy outlined below, in the gearing section.
  • Passives: At level 13, you will expand your pool with 50 Spirit and add a 4 Spirit per second regenerative effect with Exalted Soul Exalted Soul. You will get another 4 Spirit per second at level 20, from the synergy between Chant of Resonance Chant of Resonance and your currently active Mantra (likely Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation at the time). The staple Toughness passive of Monks, Harmony Harmony, arrives at level 45; it fuels your All Resistance with 40% of the single elemental resistance per piece of gear (i.e. 100 Fire Resistance roll on the boots will add 100 to your sheet Fire Resistance and add 40 to your other resists.) You can finalize your passives at level 66 by adding the Momentum Momentum, a 20% additive damage increase as long as you stay mobile when fighting. The 25-yard requirement is not a long distance and occurs naturally when farming, while also serving you as a gear check. If you rarely benefit from its bonus, it means you are pushing against the limits of your gear and lowering the difficulty for efficient farming speed is highly advisable.

2.4. Gear and Stats Priorities

As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are impossible. During leveling finding upgrades is frequent, so your gear will be swapped in and out within the span of a few minutes. Following the in-game comparison system and the stat priorities outlined in the tables below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.

Note that skill damage and elemental damage recommendations only apply if the majority of your damage is done through that skill or element. For alt characters however, sockets take priority above all other attributes, since you can slot high level gems and benefit massively from their stat increase. For the purposes of an alt character, leveling a Gem of Ease Gem of Ease to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.

The bloodshard gambling strategy mentioned in the gearing section hinges on a key gearing slot for Monks, the boots. Two pairs of boots with extremely powerful legendary effects — The Crudest Boots The Crudest Boots and Rivera Dancers Rivera Dancers — have a level requirement of 8, making them available to drop very early on, or be gambled as early as level 1. This enables the gambling strat of creating a level 1 Monk alt on the side, and gambling the bloodshards from your main on low level boots — quickly yielding The Crudest Boots The Crudest Boots and/or Rivera Dancers Rivera Dancers from the tiny RNG pool of a starting character. There is another crucial legendary for the class, but in another slot — Gungdo Gear Gungdo Gear, an Exploding Palm Exploding Palm-augmenting bracer with a level 10 requirement, meaning it can also be gambled at level 1. Though the pool of Monk bracers is diluted even early on, the other possible gambles can also be quite helpful (Pinto's Pride Pinto's Pride and Cesar's Memento Cesar's Memento), so do not be shy to gamble leftover bloodshards on the slot. All these items will sport level 1 stats that will make them obsolete for endgame, but their bonuses are powerful enough to carry you throughout leveling, and are to be cubed immediately at level 70.

3. Season 7 Starter Build

3.1. Raiment Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Crippling Wave Icon Crippling Wave Mangle Mangle Right Mouse Button Dashing Strike Icon Dashing Strike Radiance Radiance 1 Epiphany Icon Epiphany Desert Shroud Desert Shroud 2 Cyclone Strike Icon Cyclone Strike Implosion Implosion 3 Exploding Palm Icon Exploding Palm Shocking Grasp Shocking Grasp 4 Mantra of Retribution Icon Mantra of Retribution Transgression Transgression
Passive Skills

3.2. Haedrig's Gift

Completion of certain seasonal chapters (II, III and IV in Season 7) yields Haedrig's Gifts, a cache-like reward that drops two pieces of a fixed class-specific set. With the completion of these chapters, you will have a full 6- piece set bonus available to you, skyrocketing your character power well into the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching max level. The Season 7 Haedrig's Gift for Monks is the Raiment of a Thousand Storms set.

3.3. Rotation

Raiment builds fight with no-nonsense martial prowess, pummeling demons down with fists alone; the chosen primary for the purpose will be Crippling Wave Crippling Wave. You will retain Exploding Palm Exploding Palm from the leveling build, applying it on lower health enemies and punching them into living AoE detonations. Your battle opener will be to Dashing Strike Dashing Strike into a fight, triggering damage bonuses from Momentum Momentum, Radiance Radiance and, when attained, the 6-piece bonuses of Raiment. Draw enemies in with a Cyclone Strike Cyclone Strike, then mow them down with Crippling Wave Crippling Wave and Exploding Palm Exploding Palm. Due to its long cooldown in beginner builds, only pop Epiphany Epiphany Desert Shroud Desert Shroud when you engage in prolonged, dangerous fights.

3.4. Skills, Runes and Passives

Due to the focus of the Raiment set on generator skills for damage, you will modify the beginner build to drop spenders and resource regeneration skills, and focus on attack speed and utility instead. The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Primary Damage Dealer: The preferred primary skill (which you can take all the way into the endgame) is Crippling Wave Crippling Wave, and you will best match the skill's base debuffing utility and excellent AoE with the additional damage of the Mangle Mangle rune.
  • Slot 2 — Supplementary DPS: Early in character progression, you should keep Exploding Palm Exploding Palm Shocking Grasp Shocking Grasp for some additional AoE damage, as you will have plenty of Spirit to work with in a generator-focused build. Later on, when you transition into a Shenlong set generator build, you will swap this slot for the bursty Spirit regeneration of Breath of Heaven Breath of Heaven Infused with Light Infused with Light.
  • Slot 3 — Mobility: Naturally, you will keep the Monk signature mobility skill, Dashing Strike Dashing Strike — not only for farming efficiency, but also taking the Raiment 6-piece bonus (primary skill damage increases for 6 seconds after Dashing Strike Dashing Strike) into account. You will feed into the focus of Raiment builds by picking the Radiance Radiance rune, whose Attack Speed bonuses will add nicely to your damage.
  • Slot 4 & 5 — Utility: You will be using the Monk's strongest pull ability, Cyclone Strike Cyclone Strike Implosion Implosion, to draw enemies right into your Mangle Mangle radius. Notably, Cyclone Strike Cyclone Strike will also trigger Lefebvre's Soliloquy Lefebvre's Soliloquy once you acquire the item, which is an important endgame factor. Epiphany Epiphany Desert Shroud Desert Shroud offers powerful damage mitigation and utility bonuses, but its long cooldown (even longer for beginner builds) needs to be accounted for; only trigger the skill when fighting enemies that are either significant in number (large packs) or difficulty (elites with hard affixes and Rift Guardians).
  • Slot 6 — Mantra: You have decent flexibility in your Mantra choice early on; you can bolster your damage with the attack speed bonuses of Mantra of Retribution Mantra of Retribution Transgression Transgression, your survivability with Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation Agility Agility, or your mobility with Mantra of Conviction Mantra of Conviction Annihilation Annihilation. Adjust according to your needs and preferences.
  • Passives: Seize the Initiative Seize the Initiative and Alacrity Alacrity are Raiment set staples, as they both feed multiplicatively into the all-important Attack Speed of the build. You will retain Harmony Harmony and Momentum Momentum from the leveling build, which add significant survivability and a minor damage increase respectively. Note that you will swap out Momentum Momentum as soon as you get a decently geared character and try to push into the endgame; Beacon of Ytar Beacon of Ytar (for Epiphany Epiphany uptime) and Exalted Soul Exalted Soul (for more Shenlong set damage) are far more important than Momentum Momentum's additive damage increase.

3.5. Gear and Stats Priorities

Certain items can be targeted through the completion of bounties or boss kills. The following is a list of such items, in order of importance for the class.

  • Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur is a legendary from Act I caches that reduces the number of set items required for set bonuses by one. While it might not be immediately useful, obtaining powerful bonuses (such as the 4- and 6- piece set bonuses of the Raiment of a Thousand Storms set) as early as possible for a huge spike in character power is an opportunity you should not pass up. Doing bounties will be inevitable for crafting materials anyway, so optimize your farming time and get this ring as soon as possible.
  • Avarice Band Avarice Band is an Act III cache legendary ring that extends your pickup radius by up to 30 yards as you pick up gold. This unassuming bonus has the potential to turn in the strongest source of defense during normal rifts due to its synergy with Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
  • Illusory Boots Illusory Boots are an Act II cache legendary item that removes enemy collision — a staple of support builds in Greater Rifts, as their precise positioning for party-wide buffs and enemy disables dictates the course of Greater Rift progress. Monks have been staple supports for many patches now, with several party-wide damage buffs and plenty of damage reduction to add to the group, making Illusory Boots Illusory Boots reasonably attractive to the class.
  • Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are meant to assist classes and builds with resource management problems. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Spirit reserves when you get healed by a health globe — an easy trigger if you keep an eye on the battlefield. Note that these bracers are craftable, and the plan for their creation drops when you kill the Act V boss Malthael on any difficulty. Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are reasonably attractive to Monks, as they frequently suffer from resource issues in the early game, before they acquire Spirit management legendaries like Incense Torch of the Grand Temple Incense Torch of the Grand Temple or transition into light-spending specs like Raiment set and Uliana set builds.
  • Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship are an Act II cache legendary that extends the duration of Shrines to 10 minutes, a very decent farming effect that is usually stored in Kanai's Cube. The combined power of Empowered Shrines (doubled resource gain, halved cooldowns), Frenzied Shrines (25% Attack Speed) and Fleeting Shrines (25% increase to Movement Speed and 20-yard pickup radius), often refreshing before their 10-minute duration, is a huge buff during normal rifts. Monks are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs are often flexible enough to fit the item in.
  • Envious Blade Envious Blade is an Act II cache dagger with one of the most powerful speedfarming bonuses in the game — a guaranteed Critical Hit against enemies at full health. A well equipped character using this dagger can oneshot entire screens of enemies in a suitable farming difficulty. While class-specific legendaries are generally considered more important to Monk builds, Envious Blade Envious Blade is a decent option for a Cube effect in the weapon slot.
  • Pride's Fall Pride's Fall is a helm obtained through Act III cache bounties, whose legendary effect reduces resource costs by 30% after not taking damage for 5 seconds. Almost never fighting at a range that can abuse this power, Monks do not consider farming Pride's Fall Pride's Fall a priority.

The majority of the gear will be found by random chance as you farm normally, by killing monsters, opening chests, gambling at Kadala and upgrading rare items at the Cube. While the list below is not exhaustive, these are some of the pieces to seek, spend blood shards on, or upgrade yellows for — in order of priority:

Items that are recommended and should be priority to obtain for the Raiment of a Thousand Storms set (which Season 7 Monks obtain in full from Haedrig's Gifts) are: Lefebvre's Soliloquy Lefebvre's Soliloquy (shoulders), Spirit Guards Spirit Guards and Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers (bracers); The Witching Hour The Witching Hour and Goldwrap Goldwrap (belts), The Traveler's Pledge The Traveler's Pledge (amulet); The Compass Rose The Compass Rose and Unity Unity (rings); Shenlong's Relentless Assault Shenlong's Relentless Assault and Shenlong's Fist of Legend Shenlong's Fist of Legend (fist weapons). Combined with the set, these items will produce the Shenlong/Raiment Crippling Wave Crippling Wave build, a top tier progression and decent speedfarming build.

Slot Stat Priority
  1. Dexterity
  2. Socket
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Area Damage
  1. Dexterity
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Elemental Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life %
  1. Dexterity
  2. 2 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Dexterity
  2. Movement Speed
  3. Vitality
  4. Skill Damage if applicable
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Elemental Damage
  5. Dexterity
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Dexterity
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Dexterity
  3. Socket
  4. % Damage
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Attack Speed
  4. Skill Damage
  5. Vitality

4. Paragon Points

Slot Paragon Points
  1. Movement Speed up to 25% cap
  2. Dexterity
  3. Maximum Spirit (depends on build)
  4. Vitality
  1. Critical Hit Damage
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Attack Speed
  1. All Resistance
  2. Armor
  3. Life %
  4. Life Regeneration
  1. Resource Cost Reduction
  2. Area Damage
  3. Life on Hit
  4. Gold Find

5. Gems

Your armor and weapon sockets should be taken up by the highest tier Emerald gems you can afford at the time, while the helm is best filled by a Diamond gem for a boost to Cooldown Reduction. When you stumble upon jewelry with good primary stats and a socket, you should start dabbling into Legendary Gems. The Legendary Gems to consider for Monks are, in order of importance:

6. Gems

Your armor and weapon sockets should be taken up by the highest tier Emerald gems you can afford at the time, while the helm is best filled by a Diamond gem for a boost to Cooldown Reduction. If you stumble upon jewelry with good crit stats and a socket, you can also start dabbling into Legendary Gems. At the lower gem levels, ones with individual damage procs like Wreath of Lightning Wreath of Lightning, Pain Enhancer Pain Enhancer and Gem of Efficacious Toxin Gem of Efficacious Toxin will yield the best result per gem level.

Slot Gems
Torso and Pants

7. Kanai's Cube

Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Monks should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: Flying Dragon Flying Dragon, In-geom In-geom, The Furnace The Furnace, Envious Blade Envious Blade, The Flow of Eternity The Flow of Eternity, Cindercoat Cindercoat, Depth Diggers Depth Diggers, Lefebvre's Soliloquy Lefebvre's Soliloquy, Spirit Guards Spirit Guards, Gungdo Gear Gungdo Gear, Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers, The Laws of Seph The Laws of Seph, Goldwrap Goldwrap, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, Unity Unity, Avarice Band Avarice Band and Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur.

8. Follower

For more information regarding followers, we advise you to read our Follower Guide, which contains detailed advice for choosing the skills and the gear of your follower.

9. ChangeLog

  • 03 Aug. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
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