Monk build: Hardcore Monk Act 1
See the build: The Hardcore Monk Act 1
Hardcore mode requires patience. Death is permanent here, so you'll need to take it slow and stock up on defense. Be content to use the slow-but-steady approach and you have a chance to make it to level 60. But anything can happen, so my Hardcore Monk build is all about hedging the bets so that you have the tools to survive as many bad-luck encounters as possible. As soon as you hit level 3, change your primary skill to Deadly Reach . It's a mid-range attack that'll let you kite slower enemies without taking a scratch. At level 5, add Tempest Rush --another mainstay in the Hardcore Monk's arsenal. It may not seem incredibly useful at first glance, but it can be used to escape almost any situation--and unlucky situations are what kill the vast majority of Hardcore characters. At level 8, you can add Breath of Heaven, a fantastic healing ability to your toolset. Spam it as often as you have health missing. You'll unlock the final skill Wave of Light at level 12 at exactly the same point as you need it: when you start encountering those huge packs of goat-men in the desert. Use Tempest Rush to corral them into a tight pack and then smash 'em with one well-placed bell. Of the three passives available to you at this point, Resolve is the only one worth considering--it's a flat defense boost.
Preferred stats: Dexterity, Vitality, Experience
Monk build: Inferno Monk
See the build: The Inferno Monk
Inferno isn't easy as a melee class, but the Monk's got a lot of awesome tools to keep himself safe. Your two attacks are both spirit generators— Deadly Reach and Crippling Wave —runed to debuff your attacker's damage and boost your armor. Swap back and forth between both of these attacks habitually as you fight so that you always maintain both buffs at all times. Serentity is your go-to defensive ability for it's low Spirit cost and runed healing. With a different build, large packs of enemies charging at you is a guaranteed death in Inferno. Here, Breath of Heaven and Blinding Flash are runed to give you the CC, healing, and burst firepower you need to burn down packs before they can mob you. Having high resistances is absolutely vital in Inferno, and Mantra of Healing (runed for 20% all resistances) and your One with Everything passive ensures you can take a hit--I'd still recommend equipping a shield though. Sieze the Initiative is a passive armor bonus and the Transcendence passive will give your most regular healing.
Preferred stats: Attack Speed, Life per Spirit spent, Vitality, Resistances
Monk build: The Tonk
See the build: The Tonk
She's a Tank Monk! She's a Tonk! Get it?
Yeah, well, to hell with you too. The Tonk is nearly impossible to hit, unleashing Crippling Waves and Blinding Flashes that make the attacks that do hit her deal a mere pittance in damage. Dashing Strike and Cyclone Strike let you control the flow of battle, chasing down and rebuking enemies who go for your squishier team mates. Serenity is a great "Oh gods, I'm about to die!" button, as all experienced tanks know that sometimes the damage is just too much, even for you. You should dual-wield to make the most of your Guardian's Path passive, though a 2-hander is not a bad choice since this build sucks spirit down like a dehydrated fish.
Preferred stats: Dodge chance, Dexterity, Armor, Vitality, Max Spirit
Monk build: The Z Fighter (Melee)
See the build: Monk Z Fighter
The week of theme builds continues with inspiration from Akira Toriyama's Dragonball universe! Note that you will be required to yell the names of your attacks loudly into your monitor for this build to function. Use Fists of Thunder and Seven-Sided Strike to dish out rapid-fire blows while teleporting all over the place as only a Toriyama character can, before blinding your enemies with Blinding Flash (SOLAR FLARE!) and knocking them back (preferably through a mountainside) with Lashing Tail Kick . Mantra of Conviction is guaranteed to raise your power level when it counts, and Sweeping Wind will let you become a bona-fide Super Monk for a limited time.
Preferred stats: Weapon Damage, Dexterity, Vitality, Max Spirit
Monk build: The Tornado of Death
See the build: Monk Tornado of Death
Turn your Monk into an unstoppable wave of pain who jumps into the middle of groups to kick-punch everything around him. Every skill in this build hits multiple targets. Soften them up with broad Crippling Wave kicks, and follow it up with a fierce Lashing Tail Kick to cut 'em down and knockback any left standing. Mantra of Conviction rewards you for fighting in the middle of the enemy pack, and Seven-Sided Strike let's you show them that superior numbers won't help them. If you bit off more than you can chew, Serenity 'll absorb damage and reflect attacks back at the hellspawn. Best of all, Sweeping Wind turns your metaphorical tornado of pain into a very literal one, creating lightning tornadoes when you score critical hits—very likely with so many aoe attacks. The passives, Chant of Resonance, The Guardian's Path and Combination Strike , give equal boosts to your defense and attack.
Preferred stats: Critical Chance, Dodge, Armor, Vitality, Dexterity
Monk build: The Balanced Healer
See the build: Monk Balanced Healer - Updated 5/16
This is as close as Diablo III gets to a full support character, but you still have to punch people to build up the Spirit needed to fuel those refreshing glowy lights. This isn't a viable solo build, but because it's so easy to hop into friends' games, you could easily progress as a healer. Fists of Thunder is the perfect primary skill because it regenerates Spirit faster than the others. Inner Sanctuary and Serenity are solid preventative measures to keep your friends out of harm's way, and Breath of Heaven and Cyclone Strike will help you refill those health bars when preventative measures aren't enough. Mantra of Healing 's heal-over-time is brought to set-it-and-forget-it status thanks to the Chant of Resonance passive that triples its duration to 10 minutes. The best part is that every one of those support skills will hit all allies within range—so everyone's safe. Lastly, Exalted Soul and Transcendence passives boost your Spirit efficiency to let you hang in there on those long boss fights.
Preferred stats: Attack Speed, Spirit Regeneration, Max Spirit