Get Monk’d: The Pros and Cons to All of the Diablo 3 Monk Builds

Season 16 is now live. It’s time to put on your hand wraps, pray to the High Heavens and roll out your Monk class.

Whether you’re a filthy casual or a hardcore nutter, it doesn’t matter. It’s about time you got up to speed on the best Diablo 3 Monk builds that will have you smashing Diablo’s minions back down to hell.

But not all Monks are created equal. There are a lot of builds out there and you need to separate the wheat from the chaff. Don’t worry, we’ve got you.

Stay a while and listen as we go through the best Diablo 3 Monk builds to find one that’s right for you.

The Monk – A Brief History

Before we get started, let’s give a quick introduction to the Monk as a class. You might imagine that the Monk got his (or her) debut in the 2012 release of Diablo 3, as one of the five original classes.

But you’d be wrong.

Those of you (like me) old enough to remember as far back into the distant past as 1996 might remember the launch of the original Diablo.

What you might not know is that in 1997 Sierra Entertainment released an expansion pack to Diablo entitled Hellfire. While not actually developed by Blizzard themselves it was an official expansion pack and was released as part of a bundle together with the original Diablo two years later in 1998.

Hellfire introduced a single new playable class. It was, you guessed it, the Monk.

According to the Diablo Fandom wiki, the Monk in Hellfire had one of the highest base attack speeds in the game. Higher even than the Barbarian. He (for it was only a he back in the olden days) also gained a bonus to Armor Class as he gained levels, making him suitably tanky even in lower armor gear like splint mail or even studded leather.

Monkeying Around – Monk Basics

You may already know the Diablo 3 basics, but creating your first Monk class might hold new surprises for you.

Starting your Monk journey in Diablo 3 will see you emerge into New Tristram rather scantily clad. But fear not, this will soon change as you level up and acquire gear.

As with most character classes in Diablo 3, your abilities are split into primary skills (typically bound to M1 on PC) and secondary skills (typically bound to M2). The purpose of the primary skill (often called a generator skill) is to generate your primary resource which you then spend with your secondary skills.

The Monk’s primary resource for casting secondary skills is Spirit. Spirit generation will become important later in this guide as it is the key to maximizing your DPS, especially when running Greater Rifts once you reach max level.

Many of the builds below focus on either the Crippling Wave or Way of the Hundred Fists skills. It will be important to familiarize yourself with these skills as you level up so you get the most out of them when you reach max level.

A Foreword on Gear

As we mentioned, season 6 is now live. By completing all of the special objectives in chapters I through IV you will unlock the full Monk armor set Uliana’s Strategem. (You also get a nifty set of butterfly wings and a new portrait frame, but these are arguably less important…unless you’re into that sort of thing?).

The set focuses heavily on optimizing the Seven-Sided Strike skill, which we will explore later. The bonuses for this set are as follows:

  • 2 Piece Bonus – Every third hit of Spirit Generators applies Exploding Palm
  • 4 Piece Bonus – Seven-Sided Strike deals 777% of its total damage with each hit
  • 6 Piece Bonus – Increases damage of Exploding Palm by 9000%, and Seven-Sided Strike detonates Exploding Palm on hit

Veteran players may already have this set available to their non-seasonal Monk characters. However, as season heroes start from scratch you will not be able to use your already obtained gear.

It is possible to reduce the number of pieces required to activate each set bonus by one by equipping the Ring of Royal Grandeur. The ring is a bounty cache-only legendary ring obtained by completing bounties in Act I.

However, with the launch of season 16, players can now obtain the ring for free simply by playing as a seasonal character. When attempting to optimize your build or include bonuses from multiple sets (as covered below) it is imperative that you obtain and equip the Ring of Royal Grandeur.

That’s Quite a Treasure You Have There – Kanai’s Cube

In order to optimize the builds below, you will need to utilize the full power of Kanai’s Cube. The cube provides a wide variety of benefits, but the one we are most interested in is the Extract Legendary Power ability.

This ability allows you to extract the power of any legendary you find and store it in the Cube’s internal library. You can then select up to 3 stored powers and apply them as ‘Kanai’s Cube Powers‘ in the Cube’s main interface. This gives you the benefits of the stored item without needing to wear it, essentially providing you with free gear.

In the build section below we will clearly indicate which powers should be applied in the Kanai Cube’s interface if applicable.

Kanai’s Cube can be found in Act III in Sescheron Ruins, specifically in the Elder Sanctum area of the map. Once you obtain the Cube (by clicking on it) it will be available to you in any major town.

Paragon Levels

The last consideration, now that you have your skills and your item sets in order, is where to spend your Paragon Levels. While Paragon points, to a certain extent, come down to personal preference, there are some universal tips for all Monk builds we can offer.

Core – All of the builds below will see you maxing movement speed (up to the 25% cap) in the Core section of the point system. This will almost always be followed by Dexterity (a Monk’s primary stat), then Maximum Spirit and finally Vitality.

Offense – The first skill to max will usually be Cooldown Reduction to ensure you get the most uptime on your skills. This is followed by Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage. Finally, finish by maxing Attack Speed.

Defense – Always start by maxing Resist All. After that, it comes down largely to personal preference between either Armour, Life or Life Regeneration. Consider where you are falling short and allocate points accordingly – you can always re-roll them if necessary.

Utility – The final category is fairly universal across all builds. Start by maxing Area Damage. You will then want to allocate points into Resource Cost Reduction, Life on Hit and lastly Gold Find (sorry Greed).

Here We Go – The Best Diablo 3 Monk Builds

The metagame is constantly changing and evolving. As Blizzard boost or nerf various sets, items and builds, so the player base adapts. As we mentioned earlier, Uliana’s Strategem is the current ‘free’ set for season 16, but it is by no means the only Monk class set.

One set that received some buffs going into this season was the Inna’s Mantra set. This makes it a viable alternative to the Monkey King’s Garb (Sunwuko) set when focused around the Wave of Light skill. We’ve featured a diverse section of the best builds available to you during your season 16 adventures.

Power-Level Up – Levelling Build

The key to getting the most out of any season is to reach the maximum level quickly. This build covers the best items and the optimum skill build needed to get you to level 70 and into those Rifts fast.

Gear is less of a focus here seeing as you will be gaining experience so quickly that no item you obtain will be equipped for more than three or four levels. If you’re playing non-stop then you are unlikely to hold on to a single piece of gear for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

With that in mind prioritize items that offer increased experience per kill. Those ruby gems socketed into helmets really help with this.

A Real Chill Build – Uliana’s Stratagem

With Uliana’s set being the ‘free’ set of the season for Monks, this build is incredibly viable right now. You won’t need to do any additional grinding after completing the bonus objectives for each chapter and obtaining this set will catapult you into decent level Rifts and Greater Rifts immediately.

The build is excellent for both speed runs and pushing higher level Greater Rifts. It has been utilized in previous seasons but it is now more viable given the ease with which we can obtain the full set.

  • Skill 1 – Way of the Hundred Fists (Assimilation)
  • Skill 2 – Cyclone Strike (Implosion)
  • Skill 3 – Epiphany (Desert Shroud)
  • Skill 4 – Seven-Sided Strike (Sustained Attack)
  • Skill 5 – Exploding Palm (Impending Doom)
  • Skill 6 – Dashing Strike (Blinding Speed)
  • Passive 1 – Near Death Experience
  • Passive 2 – Harmony
  • Passive 3 – Beacon of Ytar
  • Passive 4 – Mythic Rhythm
  • Kanai’s Cube 1The Flow of Eternity
  • Kanai’s Cube 2Lefebvre’s Soliloquy
  • Kanai’s Cube 3Unity (ensure your follower has a Unity too, as well as the follower-specific amulet which renders them invulnerable for maximum benefit).

Special Notes – This is a very cooldown-dependent build. To maximize damage here you will want to be using Seven-Sided Strike as often as possible. With this in mind ensure you maximize Cooldown Reduction in your Paragon Skills if you haven’t already.

The main damage output of the set is cold, so try to maximize your damage while the cold portion of the Convention of Elements buff is active. The full cycle of all elements will take 28 seconds meaning 4 of those 28 seconds will be cold.

The only real con of this build is focusing on your rather short window of burst damage. The 4 seconds in 28 means you have to be watching the clock and your buffs to ensure you hit those big numbers.

Don’t Forget to Wave – Wave of Light Build

This build will be utilizing the Monkey King’s Garb and the associated set bonuses to deal huge amounts of damage with the Wave of Light skill. Unlike the other builds, none of the pieces of this set will be given to you. This means you will need to rely on luck or Kanai’s Cube to reforge them yourself.

If you’ve ever wanted to roleplay as a monkey in Diablo 3, then this Monk(ey) themed build is about as close as you’ll get.

  • Skill 1 – Crippling Wave (Tsunami)
  • Skill 2 – Wave of Light (Explosive Light)
  • Skill 3 – Dashing Strike (Blinding Speed)
  • Skill 4 – Sweeping Wind (Inner Storm)
  • Skill 5 – Mystic Ally (Air Ally)
  • Skill 6 – Mantra of Salvation (Agility)
  • Passive 1 – Seize the Initiative
  • Passive 2 – Sixth Sense
  • Passive 3 – Harmony
  • Passive 4 – The Guardian’s Path

Special Notes – In the current metagame this build is pushing top tier. As we mentioned, it is slightly harder to obtain all of the items required. However, the increase in damage if played and optimized correctly will speak for itself.

The downside of this build is the fact that you will need to hunt down a lot of items. The items mentioned here have very little crossover with other sets mentioned in this guide.

It’s also very meta-intensive. The build is excellent in the current season but a tweak or a nerf could see this build become less viable.

Holy Cow – The Holy Hybrid of Uliana and Inna

This set is a little more complicated. It focuses on a combination of Uliana’s Strategem and the recently buffed Inna’s Mantra set. For the build to work correctly you will be looking to benefit from the 4-piece set bonus of Uliana’s Strategem. In addition to this, you will be benefiting from the 6-piece set bonus of Inna’s Mantra.

For this to be possible you will need the Ring of Royal Grandeur we mentioned earlier. The ring will allow you to wear 3 and 5 pieces of Uliana’s and Inna’s sets respectively but still received the bonuses for 4 and 6 pieces.

  • Legendary Gem 1 – Bane of the Stricken
  • Legendary Gem 2Esoteric Alteration
  • Legendary Gem 3 – Bane of the Trapped
  • Skill 1 – Way of the Hundred Fists (Assimilation)
  • Skill 2 – Dashing Strike (Blinding Speed)
  • Skill 3 – Blinding Flash (Faith in the Light)
  • Skill 4 – Seven-Sided Strike (Fulminating Onslaught)
  • Skill 5 – Cyclone Strike (Implosion)
  • Skill 6 – Serenity (Ascension)
  • Passive 1 – Mystic Rhythm
  • Passive 2 – Harmony
  • Passive 3 – Beacon of Ytar
  • Passive 4 – Relentless Assault
  • Kanai’s Cube 1 – Lion’s Claw
  • Kanai’s Cube 2The Crudest Boots
  • Kanai’s Cube 3 – Ring of Royal Grandeur

Special Notes – This hybrid set focuses on pumping out huge quantities of holy damage. Seven-Sided Strike is the main damage output of this build, so be sure to use it whenever it is off cooldown. This is especially true when you have a large number of enemies grouped up.

Where possible try to find or reforge gear to increase holy damage to further increase the damage potential of this set.

The set bonus for Inna’s Mantra benefits your Mystic Ally skill (despite it not being necessary to put any points in the skill). Maximizing the number of Mystic Ally’s you have out will hugely improve the damage potential of this hybrid set.

The downside of this build is the fact you are not fully utilizing the ‘free’ set bonus of Uliana’s Strategem. You may also find it slightly more complex to play as you are trying to juggle two different set bonuses and their passive effects.

Make Deckard Proud

And there you have it. You now know all the best Diablo 3 Monk builds in the game. You have everything you need to go out there and make Deckard Cain proud. Diablo 3 is constantly evolving and changing, with new builds becoming viable with every changing season.

Do you think we missed something? Disagree with anything you’ve seen here? Get in touch and have your say?

Why not take a look at our other great RPG guides, and be sure to check out our other top builds for all Diablo 3 classes.

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