Monk Leveling Build Guide (Patch 2.7 / Season 23)
Welcome to our Monk leveling guide, where we give you an efficient build for easily leveling to Level 70, with plenty of explanations.
This guide is part of our Monk Seasonal Progress Guide, which also includes early builds for fresh 70 characters.
|Fists of Thunder Quickening Lashing Tail Kick Vulture Claw Kick 1 Sweeping Wind Inner Storm 2 Dashing Strike Way of the Falling Star 3 Exploding Palm Shocking Grasp 4 Mantra of Healing Circular Breathing|
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.
The build revolves around the AoE efficiency of Exploding Palm Shocking Grasp, whose explosion is triggered by Sweeping Wind for minor enemies or Lashing Tail Kick for elites and big packs. The basic strategy is to close the gap into a pack of enemies using Dashing Strike, and begin applying and triggering 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 Quickening, the constant regeneration coming from Inner Storm, the Exalted Soul passive and the synergy between Mantra of Healing Circular Breathing with Chant of Resonance.
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 (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 (level 18) and Strong Spirit (level 25), the recommended rune for early game is Shocking Grasp (level 44), which applies Exploding Palm to an additional target for each cast, doubling its efficiency per Spirit spent. You will be assisting the 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 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 — 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 trigger can be realistically achieved with a helpful push from Sweeping Wind (level 21). 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 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 and 40 Spirit per 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 with the Thunderclap rune at level 6, and stick with it all the way to level 42. At that point, you unlock the Quickening rune, increasing Spirit generation to 20, a value only rivaled by Crippling Wave Rising Tide (level 36). You will stay with Quickening for the remainder of your leveling.
- Slot 5 — Mobility: Monks are blessed with the most fluid movement tool in the game, 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 rune (first rune you attain at level 15), 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 (level 19), augmented by the Armor boost of Hard Target (level 24). As soon as you hit level 38 however, swap to Mantra of Healing Circular Breathing to add another source of Spirit regeneration to the build. Note that you can viably alternate this slot for Mystic Ally Air Ally and your Chant of Resonance passive for 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. You will get another 4 Spirit per second at level 20, from the synergy between Chant of Resonance and your currently active Mantra (likely Mantra of Salvation at the time). The staple Toughness passive of Monks, 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, 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.
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 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 and 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 and/or 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, an 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 and 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.
- 02 Apr. 2021: Reviewed for Season 23.
- 13 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Season 20.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Page added.
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