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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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Diablo 3 Strategy: Gearing Up for the New and Poor

One day soon, you will be penniless.

One day soon, you will be penniless.

A forum question from VeeSe spurred an interesting forum discussion; what’s the best way to gear up for a new player in Reaper of Souls? It’s largely a hypothetical question for most of us now, but that’ll change when Patch 2.1 goes live and and Ladder Seasons begin. If you create a seasonal character you start with nothing; no gold, no materials, no gems, no gear, paragon points, no leveled up artisans… you’ll even be scrounging for gold to buy your stash tabs!

Here’s the question from VeSee in our Diablo 3 community forum. Diablo 3 Strategy: Gearing Up for the New and Poor?

I was just wondering what the best way to build wealth was for someone who was new and didn’t have great items yet. I read a lot of these threads and guides and the recommended items are just so far out of reach, like I don’t have any of them pretty much. I have one character up to 70 but he’s not strong enough to really do anything besides Normal bounties and rifts.

Is the best way of building wealth just to keep grinding bounties and the occasional rifting in Normal? I’m at the point now where if I try to enchant a legendary I have, I better get it in 2-3 tries because I don’t have the materials to keep going after that and I have to grind for awhile to get enough to try again a couple times, and that doesn’t seem too productive. I’m still expecting the answer to be just to keep grinding bounties since they are the most rewards per time spent and at some point it will exponentially get better once I am able to get to do Torment rifts or something.

So what’s the best way to go about it? Where are the fastest places to level, what are the best ways to find gear, and where can you earn the most gold?

RoS =/= D3v

Considering the question made me to realize how much different the answer is in the current version of the game, whether Reaper of Souls or D3v2. Back in D3v the best way to gear up was via the Auction House (though that would have been different if we’d had seasons then). I spent my first couple months of D3 playing softcore, and when I switched over to Hardcore the best way to gear up was… to grind Act One Inferno on MP0 and collect gems and Tomes of Secret, which sold for very large amounts of gold in the Auction House. I could play a dozen hours like that and find 1 or 2 good items, while earning enough gold to buy good items for all my other inventory slots. (Which is why going DiabloWikiIronborn in D3v was such a bold commitment.)

That economic model is entirely gone in the game today. Not only is the Auction House gone, but everything you find that might be worth selling is BoA. Hell, even the gold itself is BoA. On the other hand, you find good gear about 50x as often as we did in D3v, which was the whole point in Blizzard making those changes. Because it’s more fun to farm your own gear and use only what you find yourself, than it is (was) to find gear and sell it for the gear you really wanted. (At least that’s the theory.)

Reaper of Souls Gear-Up Tips

So for the OP’s question… there’s no simple, obvious answer, but it’s interesting to consider. The overall key to gearing up in RoS is difficulty level. In D3v players needed a lot of DiabloWikiMagic Find to start finding a decent amount of legendary items, and characters could boost their MF by raising the difficulty level, and/or via Paragon Levels + gear. In the current game, MF is pretty much irrelevant, and almost all increased gear benefits come from higher difficulty level. Thus the question, “how do I gear up past level 70?” is really asking, “how do I survive on higher difficulty levels past level 70?”

Some question suggestions:

Stick to one Character
Smart Loot means that most of the gear you find will be themed for your class. That means regular upgrades, and also more Souls, since you’ll be salvaging redundant gear, rather than spreading legendaries around to multiple different characters. Plus with all the game rewards tied to difficulty level, you can get one character up in Torment and build wealth quickly… then your alts can gear up very quickly with plenty of Souls and Shards at their disposal.

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What if Diablo III Allowed More Skill Hotkeys?

Posted 26 Nov 2012 by

During much of Diablo III’s development, the game had seven skill hotkeys. 1-5, LMB, RMB, and you could even stick another skill on the TAB key to switch it with the RMB. As development progressed the 5 key became the default button for health potions before health pots were moved to their own dedicated key, and the Tab skill switch was removed as well, dropping the total skill hotkeys down to six.

Eight skill hotkeys; PvP Arena demo movie.

Back in those days players mostly thought of that change in terms of skill point allocations, and wondered how the total skill points would be tweaked to spread across one or two fewer skills. That consideration became irrelevant not long after when skill points were removed as well (though some players still want them back), and the total number of skills was dropped to six. (This is not ancient history — check the DW Interface article — the belt had 8 skills as of Blizzcon 2010 and 7 as recently as mid-2011.)

The number of skills became an issue shortly after release, when players first hit Inferno, found how hard it was (before all the nerfs in post-release patches), and felt overwhelmed by the difficulty and underwhelmed by their build options. Inferno was a big adjustment, in those days, since most players loved the smorgasbord of offensive skill choices while they leveled up, and it was common to use 3 or 4 or 5 different offensive skills to slaughter the Normal and Nightmare and even the Hell enemies in multifaceted varieties. And then came Inferno and any build without at least 3 or 4 skills devoted to defense, escape, movement, debuff, CC, etc… was a failed build.

This provoked much fan outrage and anger (and death) and many were the complaints from players who felt “straitjacketed” by the required play style in Inferno. At that point, in a number of podcasts, we pondered the issue of more skills. I don’t recall the exact wording of my questions, but I remember asking several guests if they thought the end game builds would still feel limited in attack variety if there were 7 or 8 skills, instead of just 6… or if everyone would just add more defensive skills and still use just 1 or 2 offensive skills?

Click through for the rest of the discussion and a vote.


Putting the Toothpaste Back Into the Tube

Thanks to D3′s lack of modding options, those questions had to remain hypothetical. Furthermore, they’re largely moot at this point, since the game has moved on and grown easier (from in-game nerfs and the spread of better equipment, builds, and player skill) and we’ve all sort of grown used to playing how we have to play.

This is true even though we could vary it now, if we wanted to. Not just rerolling (hah!) and trying different builds on the lower difficulty levels, but with high level characters in easier parts of Inferno. Most players with good gear can blast through Inferno on MP0 at this point, but does anyone do that with a weird build just to test out more offensive options? Not often; mostly players use their same build and put on more Magic Find gear, or turn up the Monster Power a bit to add challenge and more key finds.


Playing in a Straitjacket

I really noticed this over the weekend while trying out a new “Bottle Rocket” Wizard build. See the thread for full details and movies and stuff, but basically it’s DiabloWikiArcane Torrent and DiabloWikiHydra for offense, DiabloWikiDiamond Skin and DiabloWikiEnergy Armor for defense, and DiabloWikiMagic Weapon and DiabloWikiFamiliar for buffs. The resulting Wizard has no mobility and not much variety, but can deal huge burst damage to chew up bosses, and does even better against packs with heaps of splash Arcane damage.

Which is fine and quite effective… but it’s boring. The play style is very repetitious since you’re doing nothing but fishing ahead with Hydra and nuking anything that gets closer with Arcane Torrent. My Wizard is basically my 4th character, and she’s entirely Ironborn so the gear isn’t overwhelming, but I had zero trouble chewing through Act One and Two on MP0. Act Three got more challenging since I couldn’t kill everything so quickly before they could hurt me, when switching Diamond Skin to DiabloWikiMirror Image wasn’t enough to keep me from dying I eventually added traded damage for mobility by swapping Magic Weapon out for DiabloWikiTeleport.

With that I stopped dying and feeling helpless against any kind of DiabloWikiJailer or DiabloWikiWaller or DiabloWikiVortex bosses, and I enjoyed the play more since I had to move around and dodge stuff rather than just standing still and winning through superior DPS… but even as I was making those changes, I kept thinking, “Imagine if I had another hotkey and could add in some big AoE like Blizzard! Or could have kept Magic Weapon’s damage buff and still had Teleport for escape! Or could have added Wave of Force or Frost Nova for close range panic button assistance!”

Ferret Companion! Sort of…

And sure, I was only thinking those thoughts since my Ironborn Wizard has 40k DPS instead of the 100k I could easily increase her to by investing 5 minutes and 500k on the GAH, but my Demon Hunter and Witch Doctor are strong enough to faceroll through Act Three… and I still wish they had more skills in their builds. I know the DH the best and I switch around offensive skills fairly often, whether I’m in the mood for DiabloWikiMultishot vs. DiabloWikiBall Lightning, or DiabloWikiGloom or DiabloWikiMarked for Death, or DiabloWikiEvasive Fire vs. DiabloWikiHungering Arrow vs. DiabloWikiBolo Shot, etc…. but I still wish I could use 2 or 3 of those at once, instead of just one or the other. Or that I could carry DiabloWikiRapid Fire or DiabloWikiCluster Arrow around for just occasional burst damage. Or that I could tack on the DiabloWikiFerret Companion for the bonus gold and retrieval.


Balance, Balance, Balance

That said, there’s one big obvious drawback to adding/allowing more skills. And no, I don’t mean that it messes up the stupid, late-game tacked-on, training wheels, arbitrary categorization system that DiabloWikiElective Mode mercifully allows all non-noobs to avoid. The problem is balance.

That there are only six skills allowed forces players to make hard decisions about which skills to enable. If you want more offensive options that means you have less defensive power. If you want two CC skills then that’s going to limit your offense. And so on.

Yes, it would be a blast to have more skill slots to tack on situational skills, and it would let us use those fun skills that just aren’t good enough to break into your real build. But it would also mean players could add two more CC or debuff skills, and we can all imagine a character using one of the powerful builds and getting to tack on two more skills to make the build just comically overpowered.

Happily, I have a solution. Skill points. Those are the traditional method to limit skill power, and we saw them leveraged to that purpose in that other popular ARPG… what was it called? Oh yeah, Diablo 2.

We had not six but sixteen hotkeys in that game, and could use damn near every single active skill at once… but not very well, since they needed multiple points invested in them, 20 in most cases, to become really kick ass. I’m not suggesting that D3 go back to that system and throw out the entire new skill design, but even a simple 1-3 point (per skill) mechanism, where players could max our 3 or 4 skills, but had to have at least one point in everything, would seem to give the devs enough knobs to twist to keep balance at least semi-balanced. (And since perfect balance is neither possible nor desired, that’s good enough.)


Conclusion

So, there’s the argument presented as a conversation-starter. Would you like to see more skill hotkeys in D3? Would you enjoy adding a skill or two to your build? Can you imagine all the new builds that would be invented, and changes the devs could make to add variety to rune effects, if they were freed from trying to make everything “good enough” to fit into just the handful of skills a build can now include?

I think it would be awesome, though obviously compensating changes would have to be made across the board. It’s certainly not something to stick into a patch, but as we’ve been talking about potential Expansion features lately, I’d love to think of this as one of them. New class, new act, new play modes… and a new skill slot! (Or two!)


Should Diablo III add more skill hotkeys?

  • Definitely. At least 7 or 8. (56%, 414 Votes)
  • No way. Six is a better design. (27%, 196 Votes)
  • Not sure / no opinion. (17%, 124 Votes)

Total Voters: 734

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