One life to Live #34: Hardcore Monks

Two years ago I saw the Monk video and knew it was going to be my first class, maybe even my only class since I was so enamored. The quick attacks, the seven sided strikes, and the exploding palms all sucked me in. When I first got a chance to play in the beta I jumped right into a Monk and loved it. Having had that experience I held off on the Monk in this patch until now. Sadly things have changed, it’s still fun but the magic has faded.


So what happened in those few months? Well the skill system changed, the skills were re-mapped and changed..but I’m sure you know that.

I started my monk out like all my other characters and ploughed through everything I could. Killed zombies, saved Cain, Killed Haedrig’s wife and wiped the floor with just about everything.  In terms of complications I didn’t have too many. Blinding flash at early levels helps stop those situations in which you would normally get overwhelmed. Just about any spirit generator was good at taking down the enemies around me. Yet what was eating at me was the loss on exploding palm as a spirit generator and the concept creating combos with those generators. Now exploding palm is merely a spender, taking away the ability to dot all you see and sit back and watch it explode.

But when things started to look their darkest for the Monk and I patch 16 had to come and bring us back together again.

One simple rune was all it took. One rune to open up the monk again and help me see it will be all right.DiabloWikiFists of Thunder runed to Thunderclap. Within a second I was quickly dispatching enemies. I was flying around teleporting to them and killing them quickly and effectively. I was possibly having the most fun I’ve had in the beta in months. It felt like the gameplay videos I had seen years ago and I really enjoyed darting across the screen quickly disposing of enemies and then jumping to the quickest pack I could find nearby and repeating the process over and over and over. I never grew tired of it I actually had to pry myself off the computer that night because I did not want to stop.

Now I’m not saying that everything with the monk is perfect there are still some problems I still would love to see exploding palm be spirit generator and not a spender but it’s grown on me. I’d also like to see weapon animations to match the monk’s attack but for the most part I’m being nitpick. The best part is there’s still so much more potential this class has especially in the realm of hard-core.

So what was keeping me alive and one more importantly has kept me engrossed here’s the breakdown of the skills:

DiabloWikiDashing strike: this is your classic get out of Dodge skill you do not have to worry about being overwhelmed because you can dash out of the trouble surrounding you. This skill will not only save your life but It will speed up the process of getting to where you need to be.

DiabloWikiBreath of  heaven: When Health potions are on cooldown and there are no orbs to be found this skill again will come in in the clutch keep you alive most importantly keep you killing.

DiabloWikiBlinding flash: a nice skill to stun your enemies especially when you’re overwhelmed with those early levels and keep you alive. Once I was able to heal and use dashing strike I found myself using this less and less but it was nice to have it in reserve

I started off this column saying the magic had faded and now I can really say that’s untrue with patch 15 I was not content with where the monk was but I’m very optimistic for the future and now have a tough decision as to where I want to go first

Next week: The Witch Doctor

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

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35 thoughts on “One life to Live #34: Hardcore Monks

  1. Your opening paragraph is pretty misleading for what your article is saying. It’s makes for an unpleasant reading experience. Try to put some more time into structuring a good flow – without having to change what you want to say.

    • The article flowed fine.
      And the opening was not misleading.
      Its a style, a set up for what’s to come. Contrast and compare.
      It was a fine article.
      I doubt I’ll ever play the monk 🙂  But the article was good and informative. 

      • I disagree;  the opening says “The magic has faded”.  Since a past participle is used, rather an a simple past-tense, it portrays the feeling that the feeling is still currently bad.
        “The magic had faded”.  This is the appropriate way to make the statement.  Both the fading, and the state of being faded, are in the past.
        Perhaps you are not sensitive to linguistic subtlety, but for those who are, there is a world of difference.

    • I also felt the tone of this article was misleading, though I did enjoy it as a whole.

      What I expected from reading the opening was “Monks aren’t really cool anymore”, and what I read was “Previously my monk was amazing, and now he’s still good but less so”.

      Not trying to rip on the author too much, I did enjoy the read, but vinnie’s comment is true. 

  2. Good read, but could really use a comma or two 😉
    ,,,,,,,,,,,, – you can have these for free 😀 

    • Listen, i get that we’re all English majors here and not totally uber super geeks that think their INT is waay higher than it actually is… but stfu… next time you write the article, haters. 

      • Someone forgot his chill pill this morning – I wasn’t insulting the article nor the writer, just merely mentioning that it would have been slightly easier to read with a few commas…
        Guess people read what they want to read 

  3. It was a close toss up between Monk & Witch Doctor for my first play through, but having tried out patch 16, Monk just pips it for the first casual play through, getting to know the acts. I am slightly concerned that we are limited to 4 spirit generators on one skill slot (unless you go elective mode of course) but I’m sure it’ll all make sense & feel good at higher levels. I agree that Thunderclap is a great rune effect for Fists of Thunder. That, with Vulture Claw Kick runed on Lashing Tail Kick & the monk is seriously kick ass!

  4. How is an article this poorly written on the front page?  I think you have some interesting things to say, but Flux should really have his writers pass an English Comp 101 course before posting things.  It looks like a middle-school student wrote it. 

      • Yes.  The sentence structure, grammar, and spelling are all incredibly poor.  It makes for a very unpleasant reading experience.  There have been numerous articles on this site that are similar.  

        There doesn’t seem to be any QA, but if I was being snubbed by Blizzard, I wouldn’t care either. 

        • Its an awesome article and I’m glad I read it. Excellent screenshot and very insightful as I was planning on using the monk first as well. I hope he scales well into the later levels of the game rather than becoming a wolf summoner. I’m still unsure if I’ll play a barb first though as I know for sure the barb can tank which will be important to have at some point or another. 🙂

  5. What did this article have to do with Hardcore play?
    What’s with the weird flow and lack of punctuation?
    Final comment: enough with the Hardcore talk and emphasis – Very Few of us would actually be foolish, yes foolish, enough to invest time into a character that, after over a hundred hours invested, could be lost completely in two seconds.
    For those of us who grew up with this and now have jobs, a social life, and family, hardcore would be a thrilling but completely stupid way to play. This is how most people feel, so enough about hardcore this and hardcore that. 😀 

    • “What did this article have to do with Hardcore play?”

      uh, maybe the part that says, “So what was keeping me alive … here’s the breakdown of the skills:”  

      ” Very Few of us would actually be foolish, yes foolish, enough to invest time into a character that, after over a hundred hours invested, could be lost completely in two seconds. ”

      DOH ! 
      A LOT of people want to play hardcore. People were upset they had to complete Normal before making a HC char. Blizzard responded by lowering the requirement to “completing the first 10 levels of Normal” 

      Blizzard wouldn’t have changed their “rules” to satisfy a small group of people.


    • “Very Few of us would actually be foolish, yes foolish, enough to invest time into a character that, after over a hundred hours invested, could be lost completely in two seconds.”

      I used to think just like you about hardcore. Why put in so many hours into a character that might just be gone in an instant? Well, the answer is, as long as playing the game itself is fun, it doesn’t really matter if you have to start over occasionaly. You might say it’s a waste of time if you lose your character, but isn’t playing videogames a bit of a time waste in the first place?

      For me, the thrills of HC – as laid out in other articles – sounds like a lot of fun and time well spent. For you, that time well spent might come in the form of SC endgame content. To each his own yeah?

    • This may have been covered earlier, but, how does one build a hardcore character in D3, now that the ability to distribute stat points has been removed?

      A “classic” D2 hardcore character would invest heavily in Life. Will this be replaced by item selection?


      • Item mods no doubt.  But it just means that D3 HC will be that much harder than what we’ve been used to.

    • I think you missed the fact that Xanth is’s Hardcore mode columnist.  😛  Would you rather his column not exist at all?

      Though it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s the only column i read religiously.

  6. Haven’t looked much into the skills and also won’t but just a question regarding the Monk.

    With Diablo 2 you could have a Paladin and really skill him as a healer (with the synergies/aura’s combination). Is the Monk a character you can also skill that way? 

  7. Nice read, looking forward to the WD feature next week!  I can’t say that I will be rolling a HC until a few years down the line, but it is good to read about that approach to the gameplay.

    • I tend to agree with this I was a late blooming HC player in D2 and found the initial Softcore experience invaluable.  However in D3 with the shared stash and shared artisans at least everything is not lost.  It makes it more appealing from the off as you don’t lose everything and make progress on some aspects of the game before getting your head squashed by some OP fire breathing imp

      • Most were already “stashing” on mules, so it’s not really different.  Just more convenient/streamlined now.

  8. Did you miss where the entire ‘One Life to Live’ series is about Hardcore (permadeath) play?  It’s even implied by the catchy title… If you don’t wanna read about Hardcore, I recommend just skipping the ‘One Life to Live’ articles completely.

  9. Blaargh: Hardcore mode is the only reason I enjoyed D2 for so many years. Throwing yourself at mobs in softcore is no challenge, and bores me to tears. In HC, Its the risk that makes the game so rewarding. Playing softcore is like eating food with no flavor. Also, I found the HC community to be (generally) more mature, and knowledgeable about the game. Just because you (Blaargh) are too afraid to play HC mode, it doesnt make it a ‘stupid’ way to play. Without fear of dying, there is no challenge, and the game becomes monotonous very quickly, for many of us.

    Btw, Xanth, I enjoy your articles, and the main reason I check the news here is because I enjoy reading the HC articles, and its nice to see the mode becoming more mainstream. Clearly, HC is popular, as more games are featuring this mode. POE, Salem, Torchlight, etc. Please continue the HC articles!

    • And you are okey with the fact that if you die, you will lose everything u did with that character? not saying HC is a bad thing. but for *ME* its not worth the effort. 

      • Yes, that is an inextricable part of the experience.  If there was nothing to risk losing, then there would be no adrenaline rush when things get hairy.

  10. I’m really glad to know other people feel the same way I do about the monk, and about the change to exploding palm. Plus, it seems to stack up as well as I’d hoped for HC.

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