Guide [Monk]: Cyclone DPS Monk

Posted by Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev 2 years, 37 weeks ago
Enough fooling around! Melee Wizards, tank Demon hunters, sprinting Barbarians: we put them all aside and build a simple, brutal and effective high DPS Monk.

Build, Concept and Playstyle

Cyclone Monk

Build Characteristics:
Required Level 56
Difficulty: Inferno, Hell
Core skills: Sweeping Wind [Cyclone]
Hardcore Reliability: Moderate

Extremely high damage
Good mix between offensive and defensive stats
Perfect for clearing large mob packs

Expensive due to required crit chance / crit damage gear
Lacks customization options
Fragile when undergeared

Cyclone monks are high DPS characters that rely on crit chance for Sweeping Wind [Cyclone] procs which in turn amplifies the overall DPS output by dishing out heavy critical hits, enhanced by the +Crit Damage gear. The skill build has implemented mobility thanks to [Thunderclap] and high potency to deal with packs of mobs due to the Sweeping Wind AoE damage aura.

A few important notes on Sweeping Wind

As Sweeping Wind is the core skill of this build, it is important to know how the damage of the AoE and the tornadoes is determined.

When activated, Sweeping Wind will register the damage of the currently active weapon, meaning that dual wielders will have to be extremely careful about this. The tornadoes generated by Cyclone are not affected by attack speed so Sweeping Wind should always be activated with the high damage (not high DPS) weapon being active
Upon activation of Sweeping Wind, its damage is modified depending on the buffs currently active on the Monk and this boost affect Sweeping Wind for its whole duration and not just for the duration of the buffs
Once active, Sweeping Wind does not change its damage if the character receives buffs in the process. Thus, all buffs must be applied before casting Sweeping Wind
Due to being a monster debuff and not a character buff, Aura of Conviction will change the DPS output of Sweeping Wind accordingly

Having the aforementioned bullet points in mind, before engaging a mob pack a Cyclone monk will need to 1) switch to its high-damage weapon, 2) apply all buffs in his possession (such as Blinding FLash [Faith in the Light] and Breath of Heaven [Blazing Wrath]) and only then activate Sweeping Wind to maximize its DPS.

Skills and Justification

The Cyclone Monk uses a healthy combination of offensive and defensive skills to balance between DPS and survivability. His active skills are mostly geared towards the first (seeing how even Blinding Flash and Breath of Heaven are runed for damage increase) while his mix of passives is entirely defensive, aimed to provide armor and resistances and to reduce enemy damage.

Fists of Thunder [Thunderclap]
Sweeping Wind [Cyclone]
Blinding Flash [Faith in the Light]
Breath of Heaven [Blazing Wrath]
Serenity [Ascension]
Mantra of Conviction [Overawe]


Fists of Thunder [Thunderclap] - The teleportation effect of Thunderclap will become your best and most beloved friend. The mobility it provides will help the Cylcone Monk jump from target to target to maintain Sweeping Wind; will make it easier finding your way to high-prioriy but well protected targets; and will serve as an escape tool for dodging arcane lasers, plagued/desecration pools, frost bombs etc. by simply hopping to an enemy that is outside of their range.

Sweeping Wind [Cyclone] - As the build owes its names to this skill, it's not hard to deduce that this is the primary damage dealer here. Unlike Wizard's Energy Twister or Barbarian's Run Like The Wind/Dust Deviles, the tornadoes generated by Cyclone will damage nearby enemies and not just those standing directly in them.


Blinding Flash [Faith in the Light] - Blinding Flash with the [Faith in the Light] rune will provide both a defensive and an offensive bonus. As we mentioned beforehand, although the buff affects autoattacks for three seconds only, it will amplify the damage of Sweeping Wind for all of its duration if cast directly before activating.

Breath of Heaven [Blazing Wrath] - Analogical is the case with Breath of Heaven. Unruned, the skill is a simple 7.5K heal with 15-second cooldown. Runed with Blazing Wrath, it's a direct 15% damage buff to sweeping wind and to all auto attacks.


Serenity [Ascension] - The majority if not all of the monks in Diablo 3 use Serenity [Ascension] as the "Oh, shit!" panic button. Cyclone monks are no exception.

Mantra of Conviction [Overawe] - It's a straightforward 24% (48% for three seconds after activation) damage buff which, with high crit chance and crit damage, can almost get out of control.



Seize the Initiative - The Monk version of Barbarian's Nerves of Steel. No brainer!

One With Everything - A most valuable buff to all resistances. Another very logical pick.

Resolve - As Resolve is not limited to "damage from auto attacks" but to all types of damage, that automatically means that every enemy in the Sweeping Wind area of effect will have its damage reduced by 25%.

Skill Build Customization

Deadly Reach [Foresight] - As substitution for Fists of Thunder. Just like Blazing Wrath and Faith in the Light, after the third attack Foresight will give a permanent 18% bonus to Sweeping Wind's damage. Still, the larger part of the monks prefer Thunderclap's mobility to Foresight's DPS increase.

Cyclone Strike [Wall of Wind] - As substitution for Blinding Flash. The next two skills always go together to provide a different coloration to the Cyclone build, giving it a combination of high Dodge chance and hefty AoE damage. Vacuum all enemies with a Cyclone Strike [Wall of Wind] for +20% dodge...

Mantra of Evasion [Backlash] - As substitution for Breath of Heaven ...and enjoy the waves of 35% AoE damage that Backlash will produce. Those two skills come in to introduce a more active spirit rotation in the place of the passive bonuses provided by Blinding Flash and Breath of Heaven.

Near Death Experience - As substitution for Resolve. Usually reserved for hardcore characters and almost never used in softcore as the 25% damage reduction by Resolve will usually provide more survivability than NDE.



The Cyclone Monk is a dual wielder
On both weapons, search for +Crit damage and sockets
For main hand, search for high damage (not high DPS!) weapon and cast Sweeping Wind with it active

Prioritize Crit Chance over Crit Damage over anything else
For the other stats, prioritize Dexterity over All Resist over Vitality

Gearing on a Budget

Similar to the approach we took with the just as expensive Tornado Barbarian, we set a limit of 2 million to gear our Cyclone monk. Our first build had a good All Resist (~600) but too little hit points (below 25K), so we went back to make adjustments. Although we got the number on Hit Points a little higher, optimally a Monk should have at least 40K hp to be safe in late Act II and beyond. We used this Monk calculator to get the numbers we could not get by hand.

The total:
Gold: 1,935,000
Armor: 3,540
All resist: 463
+Dexterity: 967 (1154 total)
+Vitality: 728 (855 total)
+Crit Chance: 29% (35% total)
+Crit Damage: 178% (228% total)
+Life %: 12% (with Flawless Square Amethyst in Helm)
DPS: 25,2K unbuffed
Hit points: 34,000

ItemGold costSearched forImage
Main Hand300K+Crit Damage
Has Socket
Off Hand300K+Crit Damage
Has Socket
Crit Chance 7%+
Belt10KDexterity 80+
All Resist
Boots80KAll Resist 70+
Dexterity 90+
Crit Chance 3.5%+
Chest25KDexterity 60+
Vitality 60+
All resist 60+
Gloves295KCrit Chance 8%+
Crit Damage 30%+
Dexterity 60+
Helm35KHas Socket
Crti Chance 4%+
Pants200KDexterity 160+
Vitality 150+
Ring 1:
Crit Chance 4.5%+
Dexterity 100+

Ring 2:
Crit Damage 30%+
Shoulders100KVitality 100+
Dexterity 130+

GosuGamers thanks HDNewt for all the helpful tips on Sweeping Wind mechanics!
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