On day 8 of my D3 marathon I went on a roll on the Monk and managed to level from 44 the previous day to 51. My DPS also jumped by a lot, from 900 to 2200. Current health is 14K.
I'm afraid he's an ugly-looking bastard at this point, with that nasty helm and hodge-podge equipment he's wearing. Oh well, good looks don't kill monsters.
I also finished Nightmare on my own and beat Diablo easily on the first attempt (also at level 51). I can tell you that 2200 DPS really makes a difference. I wouldn't have been able to plough through the last two acts in Nightmare if it hadn't been for the dagger/sword I am now wearing. I found both of these on the AH for about 6K each. I slapped some Rubies on them and there you have it: uber-DPS.
I have moved on into Hell but I'm still at the very first quests in Act 1. What's interesting is that the monsters aren't that hard to kill but their hit points have jumped up significantly. Also, when they hit, they hit hard. Luckily, those zombies at the beginning are slow as molasses and hit once in a blue moon. I'm pretty sure that, in order to beat Hell, I'm gonna need a lot more than 2K DPS, perhaps more along the lines of 5K-10K.
Speaking of weapons, I much prefer 1-handed fast weapons to the 2-handed polearm I was wearing yesterday. The Monk becomes a machine-gun with these fast weapons.
Now, the cool thing is that I got Azmodan (Act 3 boss) on farm mode in Nightmare. From levels 47-50 I farmed this dude exclusively. The reason why this works so well is that when you pick the quest "Kill Azmodan" and complete it, you get two different quest credits (along with XP and gold rewards). One is right after killing Azmodan, while the other is after going back to town, speaking to the guard dude and then climbing on the ramparts.
So the "farming" part is solely for the XP. Azmodan himself doesn't drop anything of worth, nor does he give much XP. But I also take the time to clear the mobs in the zone leading up to him. Another cool thing about this quest is that the zone that spans from the waypoint to Azmodan's lair is static. You could even rush through it without engaging mobs, if you can stun/slow them somehow. But I wanted to kill them each time, both for XP and items/gold.
It's pretty cool, if I start having difficulties in Hell I'm definitely going back to farm Azmodan for some more XP. At level 50 you need about 3 of these runs to gain a level. Pretty nifty. A run shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes, depending which champions/rares you run into. It happened that I came across some nasty Arcane enchanted mobs with another dangerous affix, and instead of risking dying (I knew they would be trouble), I simply started a new game after porting back to town.
Auction House adventures
If it hasn't sunk in already, I highly recommend looking for bargains on the AH. It's a very easy way to increase your damage and survivability and it shouldn't cost you a lot. After all, that's how I bought my two nice weapons, as well as other upgrades. I paid a total of 17K for these two weapons. Totally worth every little penny.
Build and skills
My build has continued to evolve, little by little. Now I just run with a single build instead of having a grinding and a boss build. Things have become tougher and I am trying to play more defensively. It amazes me sometimes how the Monk can escape some very hairy situations.
Build @ level 51 (available at 39)
(Sorry about linking it this way, I'm still having trouble with linking the build properly)
The main highlight is that I picked the Sweeping Armada rune for Lashing Tail Kick because it helps a lot with those nasty mobs. If I get surrounded or my health is dangerously low or if I'm facing champions/rares with dangerous affixes, I can just kick them away and they are thrown much farther thanks to the rune, not to mention that their speed is also slowed for 2 seconds. This allows me to regroup/escape/heal or simply pick them off one by one.
I'm keeping Mystic Ally for now because this little dude continues to impress me. First, I don't have to micro-manage him. Second, he seems very tough and very often can take more damage than me. For example in Act 4 there are some huge monsters called Mallet Lords. These dudes can kill me in 2-3 hits, despite my Monky Zen and they also have a lot of health. But with the Mystic Ally, I can use him as a meat shield. I will stay back, let him engage, and then rush to engage the monster myself. My dude will take 2 hits and die while in the meantime I can whittle the monster's health down to 50% or so. Then I can pop a Serenity and finish him off.
So that's about it for now. I'll be fighting my way through Hell, next.
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