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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 Guide to Diablo: IncGamers site changes – Here’s what we’ve done

Regular readers will have noticed quite a few changes on Diablo: IncGamers since the launch of Reaper of Souls which was the motivation for us to make some of the changes we had been thinking about for a while.

When RoS launched we pushed the first stage of front page layout changes live. We know everyone likes to read their content in different ways so the site was changed to a similar layout to the main IncGamers site. Of course not every one will love that format so in the past week we set to work on the second phase which was giving you the option to read the content in the old format if you so desired.

In case you hadn’t spotted it, there are a couple of buttons above the news that allow you to switch to your preferred format.

change view

Probably the toughest job we had to undertake was the forums. We have used the same forum system for around a decade and there were millions of posts to port over. It was important to us to make sure that threads from the old forum were not lost, we’d have hell to pay from you guys if they went missing :) Remember the great forum crash of 2003? That was not pretty.

So why the change? There were numerous reasons, the next version of the same forum was bloated with features that were useless to the community here. Spammers were also a consideration and the previous software was starting to struggle with the rise in spammers over the last couple of years. We needed a system that could pro- actively catch them and then make life easier for IncGamers moderators to deal with anything that managed to slip through.

The end results once we switched were good. The forums are now easier to use, faster and more robust. It’s taken some time to iron out issues with posts moved over from the old system but I would say we are 95% there with most things now. The forum is now easier to use and has more features to track new content additions.

One of the main issues we had during the change was with your logins. We have a custom login system that ties your forum account to the main site. When we moved forums that obviously broke down and had to be recreated. One of the issues we came up against was the inability for guests to post in the news and members who were logged in seeing a captcha. This was not acceptable so it took a few days for me to sort out but thankfully it now all works.

Regarding commenting on news, originally we had the news post into the community forum but as things move quite quickly here as far as content is concerned, we thought it best to create a separate forum for the news discussions. This reorganisation prevents any community forum discussion being lost in a pile of news. Your discussions are important after all.

hardrock

Trophies

Regarding accounts. Some of you have been registered here for over a decade and we have been helping members who have had login issues since the switch because they no longer have access to the email they originally registered with. If there are any of you still caught in that trap then we can sort it for you. Send an email here and we will deal with it.

With the new forums came new features, and something we’ve wanted to do for some time is highlight pro-active members and also award trophies for actions by the community. Elly sat down over a few days to come up with the points and reward system. You may have spotted the icons on threads but so you know how it works I have posted all of the trophies below for reference.

There are still a few things to do but the core updates are now in place. Your feedback on anything we do is much appreciated and a special thanks to the PALS who have helped make all the changes possible with their contributions.

Threads

Thread StarterThread Starter -Points: 15 -You have started 5 Threads
Topic RaiserTopic Raiser – Points: 45 -You have started 20 Threads
Town CryerTown Cryer – Points: 90 -You have started 50 Threads
ConfabulatorConfabulator – Points: 91 -You have started 80 Threads

Setting the Agenda Setting the Agenda – Points: 120 -You have started 120 Threads

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Wyatt Cheng on The Pace of Diablo 3 Combat

Posted 26 Sep 2013 by

Wyatt Cheng dropped an article-length explanation about how they’re looking to adjust the pace of play to vary the style and function of the game.

I was reading in some posts about a slower paced game style and having to use defensive styles to a greater depth. Can somebody explain?
Wyatt Cheng: Let’s talk about combat.

From a big picture standpoint, it’s not healthy for the game when a player’s health pool goes from full to nearly empty and back to full on a regular basis very quickly, over and over, during regular play. I know not every character build plays this way – but I would assert that it’s not good for the game when this is a dominant or even common way to play.

Why?

Here are a few negative effects it has:

1. A health pool that quickly goes from full to nearly empty implies that there’s not a lot of room for variance in incoming damage. When incoming damage is that high, a 15% increase in monster damage would result in death. This leads to comments like “As soon as I turn up the Monster Power I get 1-shot”. I’d like to see a game where a clever player can handle a higher Monster Power by reducing incoming damage through good play. Unfortunately, if the combat pacing and dominant builds are such that all players are geared to survive the biggest possible hit from a monster and instantly heal to full then there’s no room for that differentiation.

Let’s use DiabloWikiMortar as a simple example.

Click through for the rest of the post; this is only point #1 and there are 4 more of them, so lots of absorb.

If a wave of mortar hits takes me from full to nearly dead, and then I instantly heal back to full, then mortars don’t pose a realistic threat to me. In this state, there’s no way for a clever player (who wants to dodge mortars) to differentiate themselves from somebody who doesn’t care (and just decides to get hit). In both cases you’re healing instantly to full and surviving through the damage no matter what, and in both cases turning up the monster power results in you dying no matter what if you take a single mortar wave. It becomes a pure gear check.

2. For players who push the MP up anyways, it makes the game feel like it was designed around one-shots. In my previous example with mortar, some of you may be thinking “There’s room for turning up the Monster Power, just don’t get hit at all!”. This isn’t great either. It means my death feels very binary. One moment I’m at full health, the next instant I’m dead. It also means that once you decide you are going to accept being one-shot, you don’t care about your health at all. Who cares if you have 20K or 40K health if you’re going to die either way? We’d be in a better place if the mortar-dodger was allowed to take the occasional hit, but can handle a higher monster power as long as a majority of them are dodged.

3. Healing very rapidly back to full also loses all the fidelity of small attacks. If players are regularly going from full to nearly empty and back to full again on a regular basis, then there’s no room for mechanics which act as a slow drain on your health. Plagued is a great example of this. We don’t want Plagued to be something that kills you quickly, but it also shouldn’t be something you ignore forever. Standing in a pool of poison should be something that adds tension to the fight. You know you’re not going to die now, but you can see the threat looming. When healing rates are very high, there is no room for the slow drain damage sources – they become insignificant.

4. My current health loses meaning. Being at 95% health should mean you’re relatively safe. Being at 5% health should mean you’re almost dead. Being at 50% health should mean you’re somewhat in danger and you should play it safe, but as long as you do you should be fine. These are all concepts that make intuitive sense. Unfortunately, they are not at all true in the current Diablo environment. When health pools are rapidly going from empty to full and back again, these health values all blur together.

5. You lose a lot of tactical combat opportunities. Tactical combat requires that the player can properly assess the situation and react accordingly. When your health pool moves up and down rapidly you are no longer reacting to dangers. A rapidly changing health globe means you are playing in a predictable pattern and crossing your fingers hoping that you live through it. You are playing in a way that avoids situations that will instantly kill you, but there’s no tension associated with being low on health that would cause you to make a tactical decision to change your play pattern.

I’m saying all of this without pointing at any specific solutions. That’s because there are no instant-fix solutions. It’s a challenging problem that we’re actively working on. Things aren’t going to be perfect overnight, but improving the pacing of combat is something we constantly work on.

I will say that the first line of defense is reducing the rate at which players heal. After we pull in the rate of healing, next we analyze the patterns in which monsters deal damage. Ultimately, defensive stats will play a role in all of this. If some life regeneration, damage mitigation or (gasp) life on hit lets me play a little more aggressively, that’s a good thing.

He doesn’t mention incentives or punishments, which I think could be a big deal. As we know, for non-HC players, the death penalties in D3 are negligible. If the devs think it’s a problem that players gear all for DPS and don’t care about being one-shotted once in a while, I can think of an easy way to alter that behavior — by making it matter if you die. Since gold isn’t a real incentive at this point, and docking exp D2-style is way too harsh for today’s casual-friendly video games… how about each death knocks off a DiabloWikiNephalem Valor stack? You can’t go to negative values, but something like that would certainly influence players to take the health system a bit more seriously.

I’m curious what you guys think of that concept, since I really don’t know. I’ve been playing exclusively Hardcore for months, so much of Wyatt’s post was totally outside my frame of reference. In HC, no one runs with gear that puts them at risk of being one-shotted, or in a style that has their health regularly dropping to 5% — at least no one does it that way for long…

That said, I guess the basic principle does exist in Hardcore. It’s just that we gear up a lot better on Vit and Res and play on MPs we can handle, so instead of yo-yoing from 5% to 100%, we yo-yo from 50% to 100%. Thus the “empty-or-full” paradigm is the same, there’s just a larger margin for error.

I don’t find this a terrible state of affairs though, so I’m not sure I agree with Wyatt on the need for structural change. What do you guys think? Is it more obvious in the all-or-nothing Softcore style he’s referencing?