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The State of the Monk: Additional follower or future OP class?

state of the monk in diablo 3It’s no surprise that the Monk class has been in need of some love pre 2.1. However with the second iteration of the patch on the PTR that need has not yet been abided. People are still clamoring for more sweeping changes(pun intended).

I was a heavy Monk user pre ROS and took a break with the xpac to delve into my first love(WD) and my new fling(crusader). I returned to the Monk only a few weeks ago and what I found was a shell of what I had left. After suffering for a long time as a WD it was nice when they finally rose to prominence. After a while on the top I wanted a new challenge and set my sights back on my monk, however even this challenge seems to daunting then all that time as a struggling WD. Diablo Forum MVP Druin put together an eloquent look at the myriad issues facing the class:


Hello everyone!

I am back from vacation and I am looking to write up a concise review of where we stand in 2.1.

My plan is to give a quick overview of our major issues then discuss the 2.1 changes and how they affect the various facets of our class.

I will be using this thread to fine-tune what we want to communicate to the devs and then I will make a major “state of monks in 2.1″ thread on the PTR forums to attempt to get some help for our lovely class! :D

1. Current Monk Issues

Damage

This is really at the forefront of the monk issues.

Since the release of RoS, monks have been having a tough time with DPS. We have a very limited range of options mostly centering around the skill Exploding Palm. (Un)fortunately EP is being changed as it breaks greater rifts (along with Rimeheart and Furnace) so our only source of widely competitive damage is going away. This leaves monks in a pretty bad spot.

Our spenders do very little damage (I mean VERY little) relative to their cost and our generators are used more as proc-vehicles for Odyn Son, Thunderfury, Shard of Hate and Rime/Furnace more than as sources of damage themselves. This leaves us with our 6pc Raiment of 1000 Storms which makes DS proc a 3000% weapon damage attack on cast. 3000% damage is a lot and it scales with lightning damage gear but DS has a flat-immutable 6 second cooldown. This can be mitigated to some extent by using Jawbreaker to give “free” dashing strike charges but that interaction is quite clunky.

Basically, monks will be forced into a clunky, hard-to-use situationally terrible Storm-breaker set in order to compete with other classes in damage. If they don’t want to use this mechanic, they will do very poor damage.

Durability

Next on the list is our ability to survive. This is a more controversial topic with some finding survival to be quite easy and many others finding it to be quite hard. In 2.1 with the change from dex giving dodge to dex giving armor and the change from OWE to Harmony, many monks who had minor synergy with OWE will see a minor tankiness boost. (my Raiment set for example)
On the other hand, monk who are deeply invested into OWE will see a major tankiness loss. (my Shatter-palm set). In either case, both types of monks probably have a lot of trouble living in T6 without 2x Unity or the constant dashing from Storm-breaker. Why is this? Because monks have to face-tank so much stuff.

Our primary source of resource generation comes from skills that require you to be up-close and personal with mobs which means a lot of damage can’t be avoided. To compensate for this, end-game monks are forced to take defensive passives (Harmony) defensive skills (Epiphany-shroud / Serenity / Inner Sanc / Blinding Flash) and CDR in basically every single spec. This is extremely limiting to the monk playstyle though arguably less of a problem than the DPS as the defensive skill/CDR solution does exist.

Additionally, sustain is nearly non-existent. LoH requires primary affixes which takes away from our already terrible DPS, LPS is the same, LPSS both takes primary affixes AND is extremely poor and Globes took a pretty big hit in 2.1. Monks actually have access to healing skills but, for some reason, they are tuned to be SO weak that they are essentially non-existent.

Resource Management

This is a more fundamental problem than the other two issues. Mere number tweaks would likely not result in this issue being resolved.

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Ring of Royal Grandeur Farming Exploit?

You want? You take!

You want? You take!

The DiabloWikiRing of Royal Grandeur (armory) has become the most sought after item in Diablo 3, as its legendary affix is basically mandatory for all end game gearing decisions, given the power of partial Item Set bonuses. The hard part is finding one, as it’s one of the five legendary items that can only be obtained from Act One Horadric Caches. This is good in a way, as it’s the sole remaining item/profit-based reason players have to do *anything* other than RiftRiftRift. (Given the game’s design direction in recent months, I’m frankly surprised the RoRG hasn’t been turned into a Greater Rift Guardian drop.)

Most players hunt RoRGs with brute force, by grinding hundreds of Act One bounties as quickly as possible, which usually means split-farming on Normal difficulty. That’ll work, eventually, but is there a better way? A user in our Diablo 3 community forum named Horadrimm says yes, there’s a trick to it, by following a method players are calling the “Junger Rules.” Quote:

I got 5 RORGS with very minimal effort and so can you!!

How it works: The game has a pity timer, meaning that if you don’t get a legendary within an hour or so it drops one for you automatically. The goal the aforementioned method of farming is to ensure that pity drop is in your horadric cache and not in the world.

What to do:

  • Do not kill any mobs except those required for objectives.
  • Do not kill goblins.
  • Do not open chests including resplendent chests.
  • Do not destroy breakables (pots, barrels, looting bodies etc).
  • Do not pop fortune shrines.
  • Do not kill mobs from required cursed chest and shrine event objectives until the timer has run out.
  • Avoiding a legendary drop in the world increases the chance the pity timer drops one in your cache.

    First off, the guy who invented this was apparently named Junger, so now it’s called the “Junger Rules.” Which is fine, but how the hell did they avoid the obvious pun and call it the “Junger Games?” So that’s what I’m calling it, since I’m all about obvious puns.

    As for the technique, the theory is that since the game has a “pity timer” that increases your chances of finding a legendary item the longer you go without finding one, you can exploit this by obtaining a Horadric Cache after not finding any Legendaries for some time. Hence not killing Goblins, not opening golden chests, avoiding random Elites, etc. This is a sacrifice since it’ll lower your total legendaries found, but boost your chances of finding that all-important RoRG.

    Does it work? Some players swear it does, others say it doesn’t. And thus we’re plunged back into the conspiracy theories that are inevitably spawned by item hunting in a game where we don’t know exactly how item drops work. I think the principle is sound, as the pity timer is real, but I’m not at all sure the stated rules are how it should be done.

    First of all, we don’t know when items in a Horadric Cache are determined. The Junger Gamers say the legendary pity timer works when you find the Cache, but that seems contrary to what we know about how Horadric Caches determine their item drops. Remember early in RoS, when players were storing Caches up in Normal and opening them on Torment 6? That was a real exploit, easily observed since it caused Imperial Gems to drop from Caches found in Normal. (Which made it seem that items in Caches were determined when the Cache was opened. NOT when it was found.)

    Blizzard confirmed that exploit by hotfixing it and adding an internal tag to unopened Caches that tracked what DiabloWikidifficulty level they were found on, and the level of the character that farmed them. (So if you find bags with a lvl 70 and open with a lvl 60, all the items will be lvl 70.) Bliz later expanded on that in Patch 2.0.5 when they boosted the chances for legendary items to drop from Caches found on Torment 2 and higher.

    Furthermore, Bliz recently confirmed that items from Caches roll their smart drop according to the class of the character that opens the cache. It doesn’t matter who farms the cache in terms of what items drop. That matches my experience and testing as well, as I once farmed a bunch of caches with my DH and my Barb, and then opened them with a WD and got almost all INT gear, plus several Witch Doctor-restricted items.

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    Blizzard Post: The Salvation of Diablo 3

    Posted 1 Mar 2013 by

    Diablo 3 Right Questions

    Gosu’s novella-length “Diablo 3 Salvation” fix-it article has drawn a lot of attention over the past couple of days, and has now spurred a long and very informative reply from a member of the Diablo 3 dev team. This blue post by Travis Day comes with a promise of more information regarding items and related topics that will affect the game’s ultimate longevity. Gosu’s post not only drew the attention of Blizzard, but it brought a lot of hard-hitting questions to light. What I took away from this is that they’re aware of some very real issues that are affecting Diablo 3′s ability to flourish. Some of the answers cover problems that have been fairly thoroughly canvased, though he addresses them with what I felt were promising answers.

    TL:DR version of this is they’re looking to make more appealing affixes to rival DiabloWikitrifecta, they’re looking to implement new and varied systems to allow for further character customization, and there is an item blog coming next week.

    Below is the response to the original post.

    Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper for us. There are a lot of topics here that deserve attention and I want to share our views on them with all of you. Stay a while and listen.

    Challenge

    Challenge is certainly something that has value; players can’t feel a sense of accomplishment if everything in the game can be face rolled. I think many people would agree that, at launch, the game was too challenging. It was very difficult to progress through Inferno depending on your class or items and the challenge was a large part of the reason players felt like they were driven to the AH in the first place. When you present players with difficult content they will find a way to overcome it which usually means using only the most powerful items and abilities. The unfortunate side effect is it also drives players away from the play styles they feel are “just fun”. We have taken steps to improve this problem a number of ways; reducing the overall difficulty of Inferno, improving the potency of underused skills to allow players more diversity in their gameplay, and introducing Monster Power to allow players to set the game to a level which they feel is enjoyable. I think the right way to introduce challenge is to make it optional, for example having difficult content for the players that enjoy it without penalizing the players who prefer a more relaxed gameplay experience.

    Read the full Blue post after the fold.

    Items and AH

    Items are a topic with a tremendous amount of depth and also a very sensitive subject, so I’ll do my best to provide some of our insights into the matter. Removing “bad” affixes is certainly a suggestion that surfaces from time to time, another suggestion is to group all the good affixes into a shared category so that they can’t all roll on the same item. I think on the surface those sound good but the reality of what they would do to the itemization isn’t what we want. I addressed the topic of the “bad” affixes in a prior post about items so I won’t go into too much more detail here, but I think it’s well within our ability to make those affixes compelling for some people, Pickup Radius and Witch Doctors are a good example of this. Specifically as it relates to Thorns, no one will disagree that in its current state is pretty lackluster, but it supports a play style that I’m sure we can capture with enough alterations to both the core mechanic and some supporting class abilities and passives.

    As it relates to bucketing affixes so Crit Chance, Crit Damage, and Attack Speed are mutually exclusive, yeah that would add more choice to item selection, but it would be artificial. I think this issue has some underlying causes that we should look at before going to the extreme of preventing them from existing on the same item. One of the first reasons trifecta items are an issue isn’t that they are so good; it’s that they are the only thing that is good. Of course you want the only three stats that increase your character damage in a meaningful way on the same item, because there are ONLY three stats that increase your character damage in a meaningful way other than your primary stat. I don’t want to derail this by getting into why primary stats were introduced or debate whether they are good or bad. I do want to say that Diablo 3 has been through much iteration during which a vast number of approaches to stats and items were tested and in the end we felt primary stats were the right thing for Diablo 3. I think a better approach to this issue is to introduce more affixes that players are interested in, so there is a sense of tension over what the six affixes are on your “ideal gear”. When a perfect pair of gloves is “Core Stat, Vit, Res All, Crit Chance, Crit Dmg, Attack Speed” and you can’t even imagine another stat you would want instead of one of those, we have a bigger problem. Introducing more choice instead of less and giving players more ways to feel like they are customizing their character is what we want to see. If gloves also had the ability to roll +% School Damage, +Life on Hit, Skill specific affixes, plus a couple more things you want, than players may find themselves in a situation where trifecta isn’t as clearly defined anymore.

    The “problem” with trifecta items can’t be discussed without also pointing out that it is only a problem because the AH makes obtaining these items so easy. On a basic level, I have no problem with items existing that players highly desire, but when it is a forgone conclusion that you will have those items then we have problems. If the auction house never existed, players wouldn’t be upset that trifecta exists, they would be upset that they haven’t been lucky enough to find their own trifecta items. To summarize, I think the right solution to this problem isn’t cutting trifecta items from the game, but rather it’s about getting to a point where you want more things than you can fit on an item.

    I think your affix ideas are cool, and we have spent a lot of time lately talking about what kind of awesome effects we could put on items that we don’t currently have. I’d even say that as cool as some of these ideas are, we can go even further. We are putting a lot of effort into coming up with really awesome item ideas for future content. I’ll give one quick example of my personal favorite so far before moving on and also to give context to the direction we are moving in. Imagine a pair of Legendary boots that read “Makes you ethereal, allowing you to freely move through enemies”. Whether or not that idea makes the final cut is hard to say, but we want to really push the boundaries as much as we can, so legendary items become things that players can get really excited about.

    Character Customization

    Your system idea for Nephalem Power Stat is basically a roundabout way of suggesting we re-implement the Diablo 2 skill system. The old skill system was fun, back in the day, but I think it’s honestly dated in today’s landscape. People fondly remember making tons of characters and trying out different builds, and while I have a lot of those same fond memories, I also remember that usually the end result of my time investment in my “cool new character” was complete and utter disappointment.

    Today the availability of web sites or posts about character builds would mostly overshadow any of that old character rerolling. You would read a post saying someone else tried the build that you had imagined would be amazing, only to find out it was awful, or you would find out it was great and build it also. The skill system today allows people the flexibility to try out things they enjoy without penalizing players who want to experiment with new ideas. The only difference is if their idea doesn’t pan out, you didn’t waste hours leveling a bad character.

    Character customization is fun. People want more ways to feel different from their neighbor, and we want to help provide players with more options in this regard as well. There are lots of things that we have discussed and some ideas we have for long term system additions to the game to help in this regard. One of them which I mentioned in another post is the plan to eventually introduce a system to allow players to customize their character appearance more. Another system we haven’t talked about before is the long term plan to change the way the Paragon system works to allow it to offer more character customization in the form of actual power. The details of that system are still being worked out and players probably won’t get their hands on it for quite a while. We do agree that customization is important and we want more ways for players to both express themselves and differentiate themselves from their friends and other members of the community.

    Too many items

    I cover this topic in some depth in the upcoming Item Blog that community is in the process of getting ready for release next week. I will briefly say that we agree that too many items drop and we have plans to eventually reduce the rate that players see items, while also taking measures to improve the general quality of items you do see. The end result should be fewer items that are better instead of tons of items you don’t want.

    Legendary and Set items

    This is a topic I’ve touched on some in this thread and it is also a talking point of the upcoming Item Blog, so I’ll just say that we agree and we want Legendary items to feel game changing.

    Finding your own gear

    Whenever we talk about what the fantasy of Diablo is and what we want the core gameplay to be, never do we say “we want players to farm gold and go buy items off the auction house”. The AH definitely has made an impact on Diablo 3 and we talk about it constantly, but our conversations are usually in the context of “how can we get players to find their own loot instead of just buying it”. The new crafting recipes and Demonic Essences were added to provide a little bit of this gameplay but we have a lot of ideas for the long term about how we want to go about addressing this. At the end of the day, it is our intention that players are able to find their own items, because we feel the game is just more fun that way. There are several reason why it might not feel that way right now. One is the inherent randomness of our loot system. Another is the fact that the AH completely removes all friction between player trades. And another is when players DO find items they should be excited about, they are often disappointed because this items are not very good. All of these are very important and we hope to address them over time.

    Skill Diversity

    This is something we constantly strive to improve. Yes, there are a lot of runes and abilities that are lacking, but as you can see with our patches, we try over time to improve the balance of them regularly. In some cases runes are designed just to be fun or cool. In other cases, we try to make a large spectrum of runes competitive, but the math ends up favoring one over the others. In some cases, certain abilities or ability combinations are so potent that they overshadow almost every other option available. WW/Sprint/Battle Rage is a good example of this. There are some cool ideas here, but I don’t want to turn this post into a discussion about specifics of design. This is a problem that we can’t fix overnight, but we are confident that over time we can constantly improve the situation and hopefully the community can see that we are making efforts on this front with every patch we release.

    Crafting

    What crafting was meant to be and what it ended up being aren’t necessarily the same. Again there are a long list of reasons why it turned out to be a bit underwhelming for some people. Not the least of which is the existence of the AH. Why make random things when you can buy exactly what you are looking for? We are constantly exploring new ideas for how to make crafting more relevant and trying to carve out a more defined role for it within the scope of Diablo 3 itemization. We have discussed ideas such as letting players have some control over what stats will appear on the item they are crafting, using the crafting system to allow players to reroll the values of affixes an item already has, etc. This is a system that, with time, should be able to find a better place in the overall gameplay experience of Diablo.

    Social Features

    This is an area that has a lot of room for improvement. I personally used to talk about the fact that when I would play with my brother and two of my good friends, I constantly felt like they were a detriment to my ability to farm, which is at the core of my enjoyment of the Diablo series. Since then, we have made changes to improve the coop experience like reducing the health multiplier of additional players and removing the damage scaling when more players join the game. However, we need to do more to improve both the in and out of game experience. We want it to be easier for players to find other like-minded people to play with and this is a topic we are actively trying to improve in the near future.

    Conclusion

    Ok I’ve reread this thing enough times that my brain is starting to melt. The Diablo team is incredibly passionate and constantly striving to make the game we love even better. I hope this post helps clear the air about where we stand on a lot of these topics and I also hope I never find myself never feeling the need to write a post this long again lol.

    TLDR – Travis has crit Gosu with Wall of Text for 1 Billlllllllion damage.