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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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A Total Guide to Greater Rifts

Greater Rifts (GRs, initially known as Tiered Rifts) are a higher level of Nephalem Rift, meant to provide a greater challenge and greater rewards for players geared well enough to take them on. Greater Rifts are timed, and *must* be completed within 15 minutes to earn rewards. All treasure in Greater Rifts, with usually a legendary item or two, comes from the DiabloWikiGreater Rift Guardian (GRG) which is an upgraded version of the regular DiabloWikiRift Guardians.

Greater Rift CompletionDifficulty: Greater Rifts are numbered as a measure of their difficulty. A level 1 Greater Rift is very easy, equivalent to Normal difficulty (or less.) Greater Rifts scale up quickly though, and will become challenging for any player ability. Level 8 is equivalent to about Torment 1, Level 15 is equivalent to about [Torment 3, and Level 25 is approximately the same as Torment 6. There should be an infinite number or Greater Rift levels since each one merely increases the hit points and damage of the monsters by some percentage.

Shrines: There are virtually no DiabloWikishrines or DiabloWikipylons in Greater Rifts. Pylons are seen occasionally, but their bonuses last only 15 seconds (instead of the usual 30) and Blizzard specifically said that DiabloWikiConduit Pylons would not be found in Greater Rifts since they are so powerful they would skew the entire rift DiabloWikiLeaderboard system.

Dying in Greater Rifts

Revive at Corpse. No.

No Respecs: Characters can reallocate their Paragon Points while in a Rift, but can not access their inventory or skill menus (DiabloWikirespec) while in a Greater Rift. It is possible to return to town mid-GR, and players can respec and make repairs then, though it’s not recommended since the GR is a timed race. This is a feature designed to limit exploits via equipment or skill changes, so players can’t change gear or skills to be more effective against a single target before they reach the Greater Rift Guardian for instance.

Rewards: Items and gold do not drop in Greater Rifts, and there are no chests or other clickables. All treasure comes from defeating the Greater Rift Guardian, who drops a huge amount of stuff, about double that of a normal Rift Guardian, and has a very high probability of dropping at least one legendary item. (Note that the lack of gold and chests hurts the effectiveness of legendary items such as DiabloWikiGoldwrap and DiabloWikiHarrington Waistguard that proc up in effectiveness via gold pickups or chest/clickables opening.)

Progress Bar: The progress bar in a Greater Rift increases gradually from killing trash mobs, but jumps up by larger amounts for Elite kills. (Elites drop objects that look a bit like gooey health orbs, which count for big boosts in the progress bar when collected.) This is a feature designed to keep players from simply rushing past Elites to more quickly finish the rift by killing trash mobs, as can be done in normal Nephalem Rifts, and players will fill their progress bar more quickly by killing Elites than by skipping them, except in very rare long Elite battles.

Accessing and Process

  1. # Get a Greater Rift Keystone level 1 from completing a Nephalem Rift. – Drop rate still being determined.
  2. Use the GR Keystone to open a portal to a Greater Rift at the regular Nephalem Obelisk next to DiabloWikiOrek.
  3. Kill all the mobs in the Greater Rift before the timer runs out.
  4. No regular or champion mobs drop loot in Greater Rifts.
  5. The Rift Guardian will drop loot regardless if the timer has run out or not.
  6. If the Rift Guardian is killed before the timer runs out he will drop a Greater Rift Keystone.
  7. The Keystone’s level is determined by how quickly the Greater Rift was cleared. The quicker, the higher the GR key fragment.

Progress Bar and Rift Speed

The progress bar in a Greater Rift looks the same as the bar in a normal Nephalem Rift, with two added slider needles, displayed above and below the bar. The total bar coloured in orange, and the icon above it show your current progress towards completing the rift. The icon below it and any colour in blue shows how fast you need to progress to complete the rift in time.

greater rift progress bar

Ahead of the progress time

When players are battling through a Rift that’s just at the limit of their killing power, they will often see their progress dropping behind and the bar showing blue, before they kill a couple of Elites in a row and see the bonus from Elites shoot them back up ahead of schedule.

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Diablo 3 Design Update Arrives from the Devs

Posted 28 May 2012 by

It’s been a mad couple of weeks since release and the community has been debating many of the game mechanics since the launch on 15 May. Everything from items to Inferno has been under discussion, and as promised, Blizzard has revealed their findings and what they are planning to work on moving forward.

With Diablo III out for nearly two weeks now, millions of players around the world are storming Sanctuary and joining the battle against the Burning Hells. At the same time, we continue to work around the clock to make sure you have an epic online gaming experience.

As more and more players begin to perfect their character builds and progress into Diablo III’s higher difficultly levels, some of the most prominent feedback lately has been about game balance and design, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. As with any new game, gameplay issues are inevitable, and we hear a lot of feedback regarding what‘s balanced, what’s not, and everything else in between. We recently made some decisions to adjust (or outright nerf) a few class skills, and today we wanted to explain our overall philosophy on design changes — as well as give some insight into some more changes that are coming up.

Before we get to that, though, we thought it’d be fun to share a few interesting stats we’ve collected since Diablo III’s release:

  • On average players have created 3 characters each
  • 80% of characters are between levels 1 and 30
  • 1.9% of characters have unlocked Inferno difficulty
  • 54% of Hardcore players chose a female character
  • The majority of Hardcore deaths (35%) occur in Act I Normal
  • The most common level 60 build in the game is only used by 0.7% of level 60 characters of that class (not including Passive diversity)
  • The most used runes for each class at level 60 are Barbarian: Best Served Cold, Demon Hunter: Lingering Fog, Wizard: Mirror Skin, Monk: Peaceful Repose, Witch Doctor: Numbing Dart

These are just the teasers. Click through for much more useful info.

When it comes to making game changes, in general, our intent is to react quickly to critical design and balance issues, bugs, and other problems that seriously conflict with our design intent through hotfixes. For issues which aren’t as severely out of line, we plan to react in a more measured fashion — through client patches. We have a patch coming within the next week (patch 1.0.2) that has been in development since the game’s launch and is mainly aimed at addressing service issues. The first real game balance changes, outside of hotfixes, will be coming in patch 1.0.3. We expect that because the game is new, some other issues will arise that will need to be immediately addressed through hotfixes, but in general, most changes will arrive through patches.

Regarding the changes to Lingering Fog, Boon of Protection, and Force Armor: we determined these skills were simply more powerful than they should be, and we felt their impact on class balance and how each class was perceived warranted hotfixes as soon as we were able. However, we don’t want you to be worried that a hotfix nerf is lurking around the corner every day. If a skill is strong, but isn’t really breaking the game, we want you to have your fun. Part of the enjoyment of Diablo is finding those super-strong builds, and we want players to be excited to use something they discovered that feels overpowered. A good example of this is the monk Overawe rune, which many players have identified as being quite good. We agree it’s good, but we don’t think it’s so far out of line that we’re going to swoop in and hotfix it out of existence.

Inferno is intended to be extremely difficult, but with some specific skills, a few classes were simply able to progress far more easily than intended. This made the classes, which were about where they were supposed to be, seem very underpowered. It also created the perception that the classes doing well were intended to rely on specific runes in all their builds, and the other classes were just broken. This is the opposite of what’s true. If any single skill or rune feels absolutely required to progress, it means that skill is working against our goal of encouraging build diversity — and those “required” skills need to be corrected. We know these hotfixes snuck up on people, and it took us a day or so to communicate that they had gone live. However, our intent moving forward is that when there are circumstances where a hotfix is necessary, we’ll communicate changes that could impact your ability to play your class through ‘Upcoming Changes’ posts in the General forum. Ideally, we’ll let you know as soon as we even have the idea that we want to make that kind of change.

That said, we also wanted to let you know we’re keeping a close eye on Inferno. The intent of incoming damage is that it should be a very consistent drain on your health, and mitigating that drain is a major part of what makes Inferno mode difficult. Right now, there’s a lot more damage “spikiness” occurring than feels right, and that’s one major area we’re looking to adjust in patch 1.0.3. While we don’t have any specifics yet, our design goals are to support and promote build diversity; continue to ensure that a mix of champion packs, rare packs, and boss fights are the most efficient way to acquire the best items in the game; and ensure that all classes are viable in Inferno.

From a high-level perspective, we think a more fundamentally fun way to approach difficulty in Inferno isn’t seeing how much incoming damage you can avoid or mitigate, but rather to see how efficient you can be while voluntarily taking on a challenge that pushes you. For anybody who’s ever died because they chased a Treasure Goblin too aggressively, you know what we mean; dying because you got greedy or overconfident can actually be a lot of fun. Now that the skills mentioned above have been brought more in line, we’ll be keeping a close eye on balance.

We’ve also seen some people saying our intention with Inferno is just one-shot you to make it difficult. While damage is a bit spikier than we’d like, we’re actually seeing a pretty significant number of people attempting Inferno without sufficient gear. There’s a good chance that returning to the previous Act to farm upgrades will do the most to help you survive. That said, we’d like to shift some of the focus away from survival and more toward using a variety of offensive tactics to succeed. Survival will still be important, but finding ways to maximize your damage while staying alive is more exciting. We’re not particularly concerned with whether or not a boss is “beatable,” though it should feel epic and challenging to defeat it. We’re more concerned with ensuring that acquiring 5 stacks of Nephalem Valor and taking on as many Champions and Rares as you can remains the most challenging and rewarding way to play.

On to items! One of the biggest pieces of feedback we’ve received regarding items is the relative power of Legendaries. This isn’t a simple issue to address, as it involves some intentional design decisions as well as expectations built by other games. First and foremost, Legendary items are not designed to necessarily be the best items in the game. They’re just one additional type of item as you level up, and they are not meant to be the primary items you’re chasing at the end-game. They can — and should — be exciting to find, but they’re not supposed to serve as the single driving force of the item hunt. Rare items, for example, have the possibility to roll up “perfect” stats that can, if you’re lucky, outpace the predetermined stats of a Legendary. That’s by design.

One problem we’ve seen — and intend to correct quickly — is players comparing high-level Magic (blue) items to lower-level Legendary items as “proof” of an imbalance. To help correct misconceptions of the actual stat budgets allocated to items, we’ll be exposing item levels (ilvl) of 60+ items in patch 1.0.3. Comparing an ilvl 63 blue to an ilvl 60 Legendary will hopefully make a bit more sense afterward. In addition, we’re planning to just straight-out buff Legendary items in a future patch, likely the PvP patch (1.1). These buffs will not be retroactive, and so they’ll only apply to new Legendary items found after the patch. In the long term, we’re looking at simply expanding the affix diversity and unique bonuses of Legendary items, and we’ll be able to share more details after the PvP patch.
Other areas of concern have been both the gem combination system and Blacksmith leveling and crafting costs. The intent, especially with the Blacksmith, is that he’s leveling with you, you’re able to use him as an alternate source for upgrades. Our design goal is that once you get to level 60, his recipes are actually good enough to help fill a character’s potential itemization gaps. To correct these issues, we’re looking to adjust the Blacksmith costs for training (gold and pages) and crafting from levels 1-59, and reduce the cost of combining gems so that it only requires two gems instead of three (up to Flawless Square). Both of these changes are scheduled for patch 1.0.3.

Of course, these are just a few of the more prominent issues we wanted to let you know we’re working on. In addition, we’ll be addressing a number of specific game bugs and other issues through future hotfixes and patches. We’re going full steam ahead on the PvP patch, which will also include a number of game changes unrelated to PvP, and we look forward to sharing more about that as we get closer to opening up a PTR, where you’ll be able to test out our changes — and enjoy mercilessly slaughtering one another in the PvP arena.


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