As you play your Monk through Nightmare and Hell you will have to make several important decisions about which abilities and skill runes to select. Typically the decisions amount to whether you want to survive more, do direct damage, AoE damage or reflect damage. You can easily adjust your build as you go to counter whatever weakness exist in your gear and based on your play style.
How do you come up with the best monk build for nightmare, hell and inferno? Simple, don’t be afraid to try new things and learn how the skills work. Here is what I recommend:
If you want pure Spirit Regeneration from your spirit generating attack Fists of Thunder with Quickening should be your choice. It’s a great. It’s a great compromise between AoE, direct DPS and spirit regeneration. Lightning Strike can also be used when you need more survivability, especially if your chance to crit is low which dampens the effect of Quickening.
Your secondary abilities’ purpose is to do maximum damage. In that case Wave of Light would be the perfect solution but it costs 75 Spirit. If you use Wave of Light also use the Empowered Wave skill rune to reduce the spirit cost. Otherwise Lashing Tail Kick is the best choice as it deals 200% damage for only 30 Spirit. The Scorpion Sting skill rune creates an immobilizing effect that will save your health and still allow you to do damage to you enemy.
The best defensive ability is Serenity, especially with either Peaceful Repose (heals) or Reap What is Sown (offensive ability). It’s really a choice of how much protection you want or how much damage you want o do. If you’re having problems staying alive use Peaceful Repose otherwise use Reap What is Sown to do an additional flash of damage after the shield wears off.
Second to Serenity is Breath of Heaven with Circle of Life, this is a powerful party heal that will also second your potion heal, giving you two heals. If you want to be a real survivor, use both Serenity and Breath of Heaven with elective mode.
Sweeping Wind with just about any skill rune except Master of Wind provides a damage dealing shield around you that is refreshed when you attack and strengthened when you land a critical strike. The Blade Storm skill rune will intensify the damage significantly.
Cyclone Strike is an effective AoE attack. It pulls all enemies in to you and then blasts them with a holy strike. The problem is that the holy strike is only 100% weapon damage and if you draw all the enemies to you, you better be damn sure you can handle the incoming attacks. This might not work very well on rare packs that do a lot of damage. You might want to pair this with Serenity or Breath of Heaven to make sure that you’re not committing suicide.
I’ll go with Implosion for the skill rune, which increases the range that the strikes pulls them in from. Otherwise Sunburst will reduce that damage you take since it fears 35% of the enemies and Wall of Wind will increase your chance of surviving.
You have a great deal of flexibility with your Mantra. Mantra of Healing and Evasion are the most popular as they offer another method of surviving attacks. If you aren’t having a problem with health management use Mantra of Retribution. Skill runes can be adjusted based on your gear and the content that you are playing.
You have a similar amount of flexibility with your Passives as you do with your Mantras. The problem is that there are very few oriented towards damage, they are almost all survival abilities. Some favorites are:
Transcendence - Creates more health regeneration to allow you to stay in combat longer.
Seize the Initiative - Adds 100% of your dexterity to armor. Very effective way to mitigate damage.
Chant of Resonance – Increases duration of Mantras and adds Spirit generation. Spirit generation will hep you do a lot more damage. This is about as close as you’ll come to increasing your damage with passives.
Near Death Experience – If you make it to level 58 on hardcore, good job, now use Near Death Experience.
Here is the base build in its entirity: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/monk#aZgifS!cYX!YYabZY
This is a strong dps monk build that will help you get through nightmare, hell and inferno. Let me know what you think.
Important: Many of the strategies and tips I share here were originally inspired by the people at the Diablo 3 Gold Secrets Forum. If you're serious about making the big bucks in Diablo 3, or just being the best players, you need to signup ASAP.