Monk Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.6.9 / Season 21)
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 Seasonal Monks, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.
Why choose the Monk?
Choose the Monk if you want to gain mastery over the dexterous, hand-to-hand melee combat, and channel the built up powers of your melee pummeling into crushing blows of sacred energy. The Monk is the master of engagement, dashing through the battlefield and exerting utmost control through pulls, pushes, and mantras. Your crippling blows overpower the adversaries like the sweeping tides, as you finish them off with flurries of spiritual power. The Monk embodies the duality of natural evasion and sacred destruction in Diablo 3.
Progression (Seasonal or Not Seasonal)
Your progression on a given character always start with leveling to 70. To help you with that, we have a beginner leveling build that you can access using the link below.
Haedrig Gifts' Season 21 Starter Build
After reaching Level 70, the easiest way to start gearing up and progressing towards the end-game is by using the set given by the Haedrig's Gifts. Haedrig's Gifts are cache-like rewards that drop 2 pieces of a fixed class-specific set after completing chapters II, III, and IV of the Seasonal Journey. Having a full 6-piece set bonus available to you will skyrocket your character's power well in the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching Level 70.
In Season 21, Monks will find the Sunwuko set in their Haedrig's Gifts. We have an early progression build for this set, which you can find by clicking the link below.
Other Starter Builds
While you get a fixed free set at the start of every Season, it is not unreasonable to assume you will attain other sets in quick succession. If you are interested in switching around your playstyle, take a look at the beginner points for other sets below, and note to which endgame builds they point you after.
Gear To Look For
To learn how to gear up quickly and approach a character's progression in general, check out our Beginner Seasonal Guide. It includes advice and tactics related to gambling Blood Shards, doing Bounties, Regular, Greater and Challenge Rifts, and using Kanai's Cube for easy upgrades.
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 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 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 and Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
- 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 reasonably attractive to the class.
- 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 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 or transition into light-spending specs like Raiment set and Uliana set builds.
- 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, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs are often flexible enough to fit the item in.
- 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 is a decent option for a Cube effect in the weapon slot.
- 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 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:
- Sets: While the seasonal journey will reward you with a complete set through Haedrig's Gifts, gambling for armor set pieces still makes sense — to improve lackluster
pieces, or complete class sets other than the gifted one. The Monk sets are:
- Raiment of a Thousand Storms: Mask of the Searing Sky, Mantle of the Upside-Down Sinners, Fists of Thunder, Heart of the Crashing Wave, Scales of the Dancing Serpent and Eight-Demon Boots;
- Inna's Mantra: Inna's Radiance, Inna's Hold, Inna's Vast Expanse, Inna's Favor, Inna's Temperance, Inna's Sandals and Inna's Reach;
- Uliana's Strategem: Uliana's Spirit, Uliana's Strength, Uliana's Fury, Uliana's Heart, Uliana's Burden and Uliana's Destiny;
- Monkey King's Garb: Sunwuko's Crown, Sunwuko's Balance, Sunwuko's Paws, Sunwuko's Soul, Sunwuko's Leggings and Sunwuko's Shines;
- Patterns of Justice: Decree of Justice, Mirrors of Justice, Lamellars of Justice, Bazubands of Justice, Mountains of Justice and Weaves of Justice;
- Shenlong's Spirit>: Shenlong's Fist of Legend and Shenlong's Relentless Assault.
- The weapon is by far the most impactful item on your damage output, putting a priority on the weapon slot as the first to obtain an ancient item for. Due to its higher bloodshard cost (75 for weapons vs. 25 for armor pieces and offhands), you should delay weapon gambling — avoiding it at the start of character progression and only considering it when you start perfecting your gear. If you simply need a specific weapon, you will get a much better deal with the Upgrade Rare recipe in Kanai's Cube. The Hope of Cain recipe (1 rare item, 25 Death's Breaths, 50 of white, blue and yellow crafting materials) will only produce the type of item you put in (i.e. fist weapons), cutting out all other weapons from the RNG pool that you would have to deal with through regular gambling at Kadala. Fist Weapons and Daibos are the Monk-specific weapons you can easily target through upgrading rares, with valuable and build-defining pieces such as the Shenlong's Spirit set ( Shenlong's Fist of Legend and Shenlong's Relentless Assault), Crystal Fist, Fleshrake, Scarbringer, The Fist of Az'Turrasq, Kyoshiro's Blade, Lion's Claw, Vengeful Wind, The Flow of Eternity, Incense Torch of the Grand Temple and Flying Dragon. Other weapons valuable to the Monk include In-geom, The Furnace and Istvan's Paired Blades set ( The Slanderer and Little Rogue).
- Jewelry has a huge influence on your DPS, but similarly to weapons it is expensive to gamble (50 shards for rings, 100 for amulets). When searching for specific jewelry rolls, you should consider upgrading rares instead. The jewelry set that is most important for Monks with progression in mind is the Endless Walk set, The Compass Rose and The Traveler's Pledge. The other two jewelry sets, Bastions of Will ( Focus and Restraint) and Legacy of Nightmares ( Litany of the Undaunted and The Wailing Host) are helpful mostly for speedfarming builds. Complementary jewelry for those sets are often Unity, Convention of Elements or Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac.
- The head slot for Monks can be occupied by both regular Helms and the class-specific Spirit Stones, with plenty of important and build-defining legendaries for the slot: Gyana Na Kashu, The Laws of Seph, Tzo Krin's Gaze, Madstone, Leoric's Crown. The cheap gambling price for the slot makes it attractive to spend bloodshards on.
- As previously mentioned in the gearing section, the Monk has only two important pairs of boots, but they both feed into powerful Monk playstyles: The Crudest Boots for Inna set Monks and Rivera Dancers for Sunwuko Lashing Tail Kick Monks. If you are attracted into any of these playstyles, consider investing bloodshards into the slot even after the early game gambling strat, in order to obtain endgame versions of these two items.
- Bracers have surprisingly many pieces valuable for Monks; aside from those mentioned in the gambling early game strat ( Gungdo Gear, Pinto's Pride and Cesar's Memento), you have other attractive items like Spirit Guards, Bindings of the Lesser Gods and Nemesis Bracers. Cheap to gamble like any other armor slot, bracers are a good slot to go for when spending bloodshards.
- While the slot lacks a quantity of valuable legendaries, belts make up with quality: Kyoshiro's Soul is crucial for any Sunwuko build, Binding of the Lost is a vital part of the Uliana playstyle, and the cross-class The Witching Hour and Goldwrap are a centerpieces for certain Progression and Torment builds respectively.
- Most remaining armor slots only have one or two desirable items for Monks, and it is preferable to leave them to drop from normal farming instead of wasting shards and materials on the numerous possible duds for the slot. In the long run, you will want to find Cindercoat (chest piece); Lefebvre's Soliloquy (shoulders) and Depth Diggers (pants).
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:
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, Pain Enhancer and Gem of Efficacious Toxin will yield the best result per gem level.
- Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. The gem will proc itself with its level 25 property in melee range (where most Monk builds fight), or through item effects like the slow from Pinto's Pride.
- Bane of the Stricken — almost mandatory gem for Greater Rift progression, as it is designed to whittle down the scaling health numbers of monsters with a percentage-based increase on successive attacks.
- Boon of the Hoarder — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band and Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
- Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm counterpart to Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful offers a solid overall damage and survivability increase as long as your killing speed does not fall behind the timer of the gem.
- Situational gems — Simplicity's Strength is crucial to any primary-skill dominant build, like Shenlong/Raiment specs. Esoteric Alteration is sometimes added to melee specs to counteract bursty elemental affixes, especially in Hardcore. Gogok of Swiftness is part of cooldown-centric setups like Uliana's Seven-Sided Strike, Zei's Stone of Vengeance is included in the ranged Wave of Light Sunwuko builds, while Enforcer is slotted for pet-based Mystic Ally Inna specs.
|Torso and Pants||
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, In-geom, The Furnace, Envious Blade, The Flow of Eternity, Cindercoat, Depth Diggers, Lefebvre's Soliloquy, Spirit Guards, Gungdo Gear, Nemesis Bracers, The Laws of Seph, Goldwrap, Convention of Elements, Unity, Avarice Band and Ring of Royal Grandeur (outside of Season 16).
The Kanai's Cube can be used for much more than simply extracting Legendary powers from items. Please refer to our Kanai's Cube guide for more information.
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.
- 03 Jul. 2020: Reviewed for Season 21.
- 13 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Season 20.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Overhauled the guide and updated it for Season 19.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Updated for Season 18.
- 16 May 2019: Updated for Season 17.
- 18 Jan. 2019: Updated for Season 16.
- 20 Sep. 2018: Updated for Season 15.
- 14 Jun. 2018: Updated for Season 14.
- 23 Feb. 2018: Updated for Season 13.
- 08 Nov. 2017: Updated for patch 2.6.1 and season 12.
- 30 Jun. 2017: Updated for patch 2.6 and season 11.
- 31 Mar. 2017: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 10 free set, Inna's Mantra.
- 06 Jan. 2017: Updated the guide with a minor note on a beginner Sunwuko build.
- 21 Oct. 2016: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 8 free set, Uliana's Strategem.
- 03 Aug. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
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