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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 Patch v1.07 Crafting Plans Strategy

Posted 15 Feb 2013 by

We’ve had nearly two days to explore the patch and much of the early player interest and conversation concerns the Diablo 3 Patch v1.07 crafting plans/designs, where to find them, and what to craft from them. We posted all the official details about plans, Demonic Essences, and more in the patch analysis article yesterday, so I’m not going to restate all of that here. There is some new info though, or at least clarification to stress.

Cydaea double plan drop.

Cydaea double plan drop.

1) A Blizzard CM assured me that Siegebreaker is *not* one of the bosses getting a bonus chance to drop the new Crafting Plans. Only Ghom and Cydaea get that bonus in Act 3, so I guess my RNG has just been weird, since I’ve done about 6 fast runs of Ghom-to-Azmodan in Act 3, and Siegebreaker remains my best source for the new plans, having dropped 5 or 6 of them thus far. (Ghom and Cydaea have coughed up 4 or 5 each.)

2) The new Marquise Gem Designs are *not* given a bonus drop chance from those Elite Eight special sub-bosses. That drop bonus only applies to the 4 new crafting plans for amulets, shoulders, gloves, and bracers. You might get a Marquise gem plan from one of those bosses (I did, an emerald from Ghom), but they have no specially-better odds to drop them.

Vaeflare made both these points in a forum post, for the link or it didn’t happen. The big eight, to restate:

  • Act One: Skeleton King, Spider Queen
  • Act Two: Maghda, Zoltun Kulle
  • Act Three: Ghom, Cydaea
  • Act Four: Rakanoth, Izual

 

Demonic Essences

I didn’t ask why Demonic Essences are yellow when every other stackable crafting material in the game is light blue (color of the name when they drop), but it does seem odd. I also didn’t ask why they only stack to 100 when the other mats go to 1000, but I guess they’re more akin to jewels, which only stack to 100.

demonic-essence-stack100That said, here’s a cynical theory. Unless you’re really into crafting (and self found players are justifiably wild about the new crafting recipes) and have tons of gold to burn on that gamble, you’ll soon have DEs stacking up way beyond anything you can do with them. You can’t sell them on the AH, they only vendor for 25 gold, all the crafting recipes that use them cost a lot of gold and other mats, etc.

Basically, in a month (or less) Demonic Essences are going to seem like another useless rare item type which you’ll just leave on the ground when it drops. Thus yellow is the perfect color for them!

 

Plan Finding

The best way to get the plans quickly is to buy them in the Auction House. They’re all for sale and none cost that much, certainly not compared to how much you’ll spend in dozens/hundreds of crafting rolls required to roll an upgrade. (And their prices are falling very rapidly. I’d actually argue they drop too commonly, compared to how hard it was to find crafting recipes during the first 8 months of Diablo 3.)

I stressed in the article yesterday that you shouldn’t buy now but should wait for prices to drop. Happily for my bank balance, most people didn’t take that advice and every new plan has been selling briskly. Though all of the plans are selling immediately, my biggest profit by far came from Emerald Marquise plans. I found one not long after the patch went live and it sold for 12m. I found a second hours later that night and it sold for 5m. I found a third the next morning and it sold for 2.1m. I’m no economist, but I bet you could plot those points on a graph measuring time/price, and get a textbook example of a supply and demand curve.

So, how do you find plans from monsters, rather than the DiabloWikiAuction House? Kill the 8 special sub-bosses with MP turned up, and/or kill a lot of other monsters with as much MF as possible. I’ve found about half my new plans from regular bosses and even trash mobs, so it’s not at all just the Elite Eight that are worth farming. Those guys do have better odds though, and there are plenty of theories about the best runs.

Remember that you must have 5 stacks for their bonus odds to kick in, so you can’t just use the waypoints right by their levels and endlessly farm DiabloWikiZoltan Kulle and DiabloWikiGhom. That said, those two are conveniently located right near waypoints, so it’s not hard to start a game on their quest, stack up earlier in the act, then leap to them once you’re five’d.

If you want something more of a run, it’s easy enough to do an Act Three clear from Ghom on through. That’s what I’ve been doing since my TR Monk moves *very* quickly, and as I keep saying, Siegebreaker has been better to me, for new plans, than the other two. YMMV, of course.

Another good option is to take advantage of the fact that DiabloWikiNephalem Valor stacks now persist between acts, and continue on into Act Four. Cydaea is very near the end of Act 3 and Rakanoth is very near the start of Act 4, which makes those two the closest (chronologically) of any of the Elite Eight. (Plus lots of players are citing Iskatu (the purple right at the start of Act Four) as another great way to get plans, and I’ve found a few from him myself. Regardless of Blizzard’s insistence that only those Elite Eight have a plan drop bonus, many players feel other special purple sub-bosses have the same bonus, or at least a much higher chance than regular random Elites.

There are lots of other theories and first hand player reports in the big Patch v1.07 feedback thread in the forum, if you want additional ideas.

 

Crafting Items

As for making the crafting recipes, all you can do there is cross your fingers. There’s no skill or any way to influence the results, though fashioning an empty can of Dr. Pepper into a small and sticky dark altar devoted to the capricious gods of DiabloWikiRNG probably wouldn’t hurt. Various players on the B.net forums have been posting pics or reports of their superb crafting luck, but that’s not real informative in terms of how many tries it took them and how many players have crafted a dozens of rolls with no success to show for it.

Personally, I’ve done little crafting with no success. I rolled 12 of the Dex gloves and got 2 items that were almost decent, with maybe a 500k sale equivalence (if they hadn’t been BoA), but nothing I could consider using. Others have had more luck and/or persistence than I, and quite a few pics and reports have already been added to our new Crafted item showoff thread. Feel free to report your success or frustration and serve as an example and/or cautionary tale to others.