Tags: retired

Monk Sunwuko Exploding Palm Build (Patch 2.4)

Last updated on Jan 12, 2016 at 08:00 by Deadset 6 comments

Arisen from the latent synergies between the Sunwuko, Uliana and Inna sets, the Sunwuko Exploding Palm Monks have become a regular in high-content farming, as well as Leaderboard pushes.

This strictly multiplayer, glass cannon build relies on the following core set pieces:

After Patch 2.4, The Sunwuko set no longer has any Exploding Palm-related bonuses like it did in the past, destroying this build. We removed it from the menus, but decided to leave it on the site, for documentation purposes.


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 and streams on Twitch, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.



Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Way of the Hundred Fists Icon Way of the Hundred Fists Assimilation Assimilation Right Mouse Button Tempest Rush Icon Tempest Rush Northern Breeze Northern Breeze 1 Mystic Ally Icon Mystic Ally Fire Ally Fire Ally 2 Dashing Strike Icon Dashing Strike Blinding Speed Blinding Speed 3 Exploding Palm Icon Exploding Palm Impending Doom Impending Doom 4 Mantra of Retribution Icon Mantra of Retribution Transgression Transgression
Passive Skills

Strategy, Skills, and Runes

The build dives into fights directly following the puller support, applying Exploding Palm Exploding Palm either through a triple attack from your generator in speed rifts (when wearing 2 piece Uliana), or by manual use of the skill in progression (when wearing 2 piece Inna). To safely maneuver through combat you will channel Tempest Rush Tempest Rush, diving in and out of fights. This is not the be all and end all of your mobility however, as the Monk staple Dashing Strike Dashing Strike will reposition and grant you temporary Toughness through the Blinding Speed Blinding Speed rune. While in speed runs you will have to think little of your Mantra of Retribution Mantra of Retribution Transgression Transgression, its progression replacement — Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation Agility Agility — can bring a nice survivability boost when activated. Last but not least, keep your Mystic Ally Mystic Ally active throughout the rift, as the Fire Ally Fire Ally rune provides a passive buff to your damage.

The primary dynamic in the build will be between your generator, Way of the Hundred Fists Way of the Hundred Fists Assimilation Assimilation, and your spender, Tempest Rush Tempest Rush Northern Breeze Northern Breeze — both used for application of buffs rather than DPS. Keep in mind that the Sunwuko damage bonus is dynamic, so casting Exploding Palm Exploding Palm prior to obtaining the Assimilation Assimilation or Tempest Rush Tempest Rush damage bonuses will have no impact on the detonation intensity. Your primary concern is to get a good stack of Assimilation Assimilation by fighting big packs, and channeling Tempest Rush Tempest Rush through monsters at least once every three seconds to keep the Sunwuko 4 piece bonus active.

You will use Way of the Hundred Fists Way of the Hundred Fists as your generator to fulfil many purposes: keeping up damage buffs (Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint and its own rune, Assimilation Assimilation); maintenance of defensive procs like Spirit Guards Spirit Guards; set synergy with the Uliana 2 piece bonus for the speedrun application of Exploding Palm Exploding Palm. On top of that, it will fulfill its base function of resource generation with a standard 12 Spirit per hit.

Used for the Sunuwko 4 piece and Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint 2 piece damage bonuses, as well as general mobility in combat, Tempest Rush Tempest Rush is the preferred spender in the build. This skill is primarily taken for its Whirlwind Whirlwind-like maneuverability, ignoring enemy collision and allowing you fast passage through fights. The rune choice is less impactful, with the cheaper Northern Breeze Northern Breeze and the faster Tailwind Tailwind providing the most utility.

The actual damage dealer of the build is the signature Monk ability Exploding Palm Exploding Palm. The rune of choice is the Cold damage Impending Doom Impending Doom, towering over its peers with 6305% weapon damage per detonation, activated by the direct damage dealers in your group and spread with the Gungdo Gear Gungdo Gear unique property. In speed runs, you will not need to manually Exploding Palm Exploding Palm and pay the Spirit cost, as it will be applied with your generator through the Uliana 2 piece bonus. In progression however, Uliana will step down to the Inna set and manual application will be needed, putting an emphasis on careful Spirit management.

Dashing Strike Dashing Strike is an excellent, fluid movement tool and one of the best assets in the Monk arsenal; the Sunwuko EP Monk takes it strictly for survival needs. A charge-based skill on a low cooldown, it will allow you to skip low populated areas and unfavorable fights. With two charges stored by default you can cover good distances, or simply maintain the 40% Dodge buff of the Blinding Speed Blinding Speed rune — just keep in mind the absence of Cooldown Reduction in your build and use it sparingly.

Two passive buffs occupy the last two slots of the build — Mystic Ally Mystic Ally Fire Ally Fire Ally and Mantra of Retribution Mantra of Retribution Transgression Transgression. With а lackluster active component, Mystic Ally Mystic Ally is primarily taken for the consistent additive damage bonus from the Fire Ally Fire Ally rune, doubled both by The Crudest Boots The Crudest Boots unique property (as a core piece) and the 2 piece Inna bonus (in progression). Similarly lackluster in its activation, Mantra of Retribution Mantra of Retribution is incorporated for the passive attack speed bonus of the rune Transgression Transgression, synergistic with the attack speed-dependent HotA Barbarians and Carnevil Witch Doctors. If Transgression Transgression is already taken by another Monk in the group, you can swap out for the defensive Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation Divine Protection Divine Protection, adding a party-wide "cheat death" on a decent, 90 second cooldown. Taking Divine Protection Divine Protection is still considered a more beneficial move overall, even though taking any runed Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation will halve the effectiveness of Mantra of Salvation Mantra of Salvation coming from an Inna set (say, from your party Healer Monk).

This concludes the overview of the Active Skills, now let us look through the Passives.

A mainstay in the Monk arsenal of passives, Harmony Harmony fuels your All Resistance with 40% of the single elemental resistance per piece of gear. (E.g. 100 Fire Resistance roll on the boots will add 100 to your sheet Fire Resistance and add 40 to your other resists.) A well geared Monk will usually sport secondary resistances in all the gear slots that are able to roll them, adding significantly to his overall Toughness.

To counteract some of the damage spikes the build is exposed to, we will be taking Near Death Experience Near Death Experience — the cheat death passive available to Monks. On the standard 60 second cooldown, it will prevent a lethal situation and restore you to 35% Life and Spirit instead. The 2 second immunity to damage and crowd control impairing effects is a nice bonus on top.

Straightforward and reliable for any Mantra-using Monk, the Unity Unity passive will contribute to your damage with a nice 20% additive bonus in a full 4 man party, and will boost your party members with an additional 5% damage.

Mythic Rhythm Mythic Rhythm is the final piece in the passives puzzle, providing a significant, 40% multiplicative damage increase to your next Exploding Palm Exploding Palm following a triple attack from Way of the Hundred Fists Way of the Hundred Fists. This is done to maximize your damage in progression, but in lower speedfarming difficulties you can substitute this passive with the safer Sixth Sense Sixth Sense, or the less fiddly Determination Determination.


Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives

The driving engine of the build lies in the Sunwuko 4 piece bonus amplifying your Exploding Palm Exploding Palm damage by 500%, making Sunwuko's Balance Sunwuko's Balance, Sunwuko's Paws Sunwuko's Paws, Sunwuko's Shines Sunwuko's Shines, Sunwuko's Crown Sunwuko's Crown, core inclusions in the setup. High Crit Chance and Crit Damage are mandatory on both the gloves and the amulet, while the helm is focused on Crit Chance and Exploding Palm Exploding Palm damage. Since the build relies on the group for survivability and does not rely on important cooldowns, the shoulder slot is dedicated purely to Toughness.

Depending on the content you clear — either XP farming or gem upgrading/Leaderboard pushing — you will have to adapt the remaining armor slots to fit the activity.

  • The bigger chunk of your playing time in a Season will be spent Paragon and gear grinding in speed rifts, so we will outline experience farming first. To ease the spread of Exploding Palm Exploding Palm and decrease the time spent fighting individual packs of monsters, incorporate Uliana's Heart Uliana's Heart and Uliana's Burden Uliana's Burden for the 2 piece set bonus, enabling Exploding Palm Exploding Palm spread through generator attacks.
  • For high GR content where additional damage is needed to maximize individual Exploding Palm Exploding Palm detonations, introduce Inna's Vast Expanse Inna's Vast Expanse and Inna's Temperance Inna's Temperance to the build; the 2 piece set bonus will double the effectiveness of your Mantra and Mystic Ally Mystic Ally damage bonuses.

Either way, the stat focus for all pieces remains on high Toughness.

Not skipping on any of the items required to obtain the 4 and 2 piece set bonuses leaves slots for the strongest offensive rings in the game: the Bastions of Will set, Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint. This ring set adds an impressive 2.25 independent damage multiplier as long as you alternate between a primary and spender attacks; along with the Assimilation Assimilation buff, it is a good reason to learn weaving your generator in between channeling Tempest Rush Tempest Rush. In the stats, aim for double Crit stats, an open Socket and high Dexterity.

Similarly to the secondary set choice, the belt slot is flexible with the content you are clearing. During fast clears for XP, you can optimize for convenience and safety of Pools of Reflection by wearing String of Ears String of Ears, the strongest melee mitigation belt in the game. When climbing the ladder you will swap out for the glass cannon powerhouse The Witching Hour The Witching Hour, pushing the limits of your damage per Exploding Palm Exploding Palm.

The inclusion of Gungdo Gear Gungdo Gear as the bracer of choice is unsurprising in a build that strictly relies on Exploding Palm Exploding Palm to deliver its incredible damage. With an effect both simple and devastating, this item applies fresh Exploding Palm Exploding Palms to enemies caught within the radius of a detonated EP, spreading like wildfire in an efficient party. The desired rolls are Cold elemental damage, Crit Chance, Dexterity and Vitality.

The Crudest Boots The Crudest Boots will occupy the feet slot, effectively doubling the damage bonuses from the Fire Ally Fire Ally rune by increasing your Mystic Ally Mystic Ally summons to 2. Stat-wise, try to obtain high Toughness stats, Resistance roll in the secondaries, and most importantly — Exploding Palm Exploding Palm %.

Weapon choices are split between Paragon farming and Leaderboard pushing. When aiming to progress, skipping elites becomes a common tactic, as well as maximizing your damage against trash. The best weapon against normal enemies is Wrath of the Bone King Wrath of the Bone King, rolling with up to 30% additional Cold damage. The preferred weapon for speed runs is The Furnace The Furnace, the strongest generic two-handed weapon in the game. With the high two-hander damage range and rolling up to 50% additional elite damage as a free fifth affix, it is an optimal choice when efficient leveling is your primary concern, and killing elites is still considered optimal behavior.


Stat Priorities per Gear Slot

Slot Pieces Stat Priority
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Socket
  4. Exploding Palm Exploding Palm Damage
  5. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. Life %
  4. All Resistance (guaranteed)
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. Reduced damage from Elites
  4. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  5. Armor
  6. Life %
  1. Cold Damage
  2. Dexterity
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  5. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
  5. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. Armor
  4. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  4. Armor
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. Exploding Palm Exploding Palm Damage
  4. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  1. Critical Hit Chance
  2. Critical Hit Damage
  3. Cold Damage
  4. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  5. Melee Damage Reduction
Ring #1
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Dexterity
  5. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
Ring #2
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Dexterity
  5. Single Elemental Resistance (Physical prefered)
  1. Socket (preferably from Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift)
  2. Weapon Damage
  3. % Weapon Damage
  4. Dexterity
  5. Vitality

To help you with farming the gear you need for your builds, we have two very useful guides that you can access by clicking the links below: a Salvage Guide to help you quickly check whether or not you can safely salvage a piece of gear and a Legendary Farming Guide to help you efficiently farm legendaries and set items.


Paragon Points

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


Your three jewelry sockets will be taken up by the legendary gems Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped, Zei's Stone of Vengeance Zei's Stone of Vengeance and Esoteric Alteration Esoteric Alteration.

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped is a potent source of additional damage, as it is its own multiplier in your total damage calculation. The gem procs itself with its level 25 property, and is otherwise triggered by the numerous sources of slow and crowd control effects present in a group, making it an excellent fit for this burst oriented spec.
  • Zei's Stone of Vengeance Zei's Stone of Vengeance is another independent multiplier, whose range-dependent amplification can be easily maxed out by Tempest Rush Tempest Rushing out of combat before the Exploding Palm Exploding Palm detonation. The level 25 property will add some minor control and safety to the build, as well as another proc for Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped.
  • Esoteric Alteration Esoteric Alteration is the strongest mitigation gem available, and its impact is noticeable in glass cannon builds like the Sunwuko EP Monk. Improving your elemental resistances with every gem level, as well as providing you with a near-impenetrable last line of defense through the level 25 property, Esoteric Alteration Esoteric Alteration can deliver that extra bit of Toughness when facing hard elemental affixes. An alternative (especially if you are running Sixth Sense Sixth Sense) can be found in Moratorium Moratorium, helping a spec that generally struggles with damage spikes.
Slot Gems
Torso and Pants

Kanai's Cube

The core Kanai's Cube items are The Fist of Az'Turrasq for the weapon slot and Convention of Elements for the jewelry slot. In speed runs, your armor slot will be taken by a Leoric's Crown, while in progression you will need to cube Spirit Guards.

  • The Fist of Az'Turrasq The Fist of Az'Turrasq increases the on-death explosion damage of Exploding Palm Exploding Palm by up to a 100%; as a true multiplier to the base damage of the skill, it essentially doubles the output of your primary source of damage. Cubing this legendary fist ensures the you get the maximum value of the unique property, and frees your inventory for a hard hitting two hander.
  • Bonus experience is top priority in speed rifting, and no other helm will empower a Ruby quite like a Leoric's Crown Leoric's Crown cubed in the armor slot. Essentially doubling the effect of the gem slotted in your helm, your cubed Leoric's Crown Leoric's Crown will bump your experience up by 82% with a Flawless Royal Ruby Flawless Royal Ruby.
  • An armor slot alternative for progression, Spirit Guards Spirit Guards will multiply your damage reduction by 40% for 3 seconds after using a spirit generator — another significant reminder to use your Way of the Hundred Fists Way of the Hundred Fists on a regular basis. Stacking with your other sources of damage mitigation, these bracers will be a solitary mitigation item in a build that heavily relies on party buffs.
  • The jewelry slot will be best taken by the pure damage boost of Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, whose rotation of elemental bonuses you will need to learn and time to maximize the benefits of the short-lived Cold proc. Note that similarly to the Sunwuko damage bonus, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements is a dynamic buff and can be missed, but will still provide substantial damage boost when timed correctly.


  • 12 Jan. 2015: Build no longer viable after Patch 2.4.
  • 21 Oct. 2015: Updated the guide following community recommendations.
Show more
Show less