ZiPS' Unholy Monk

ZiPS' Unholy Monk

"Monks are sacred warriors who channel divine power through sheer force of will. Healing waves, mantras of protection, and attacks empowered with holy might are all within their purview."

Chance on Hit effects take the spotlight in this week's Theorycraft Thursday, where ZiPS#1834 throws out what you know about Monks and brings you a build that’s "poisonous, greedy, and everything a monk isn't!"

Dark, foreboding, and ready to cart off loot like a Treasure Goblin.

ZiPS has provided a variety of flexible options for this less-than-good-natured Monk build, but we'll be highlighting his main, beefy build with a focus on survivability and flexibility today.

About the Build:

So what's up with the Unholy Monk, and where did the concept come from? "This item build started from the idea to stack many 'Chance on Hit' effects with Life on Hit and a fair bit of Attack Speed," wrote ZiPS. With a fairly sturdy Andariel’s Visage in hand (or on head, in this case), our intrepid Monk player began looking for ways to capitalize on its Legendary effect, and to prepare for additional Legendaries with similar properties.

An Unholy Monk is never alone.

The idea of a monk who's strayed off the beaten path and approached things from a less than noble perspective is intriguing, and with additional drops that highlighted atypical Monk properties, such as high Gold Find, additional Poison damage effects, and a tricky little treasure goblin companion, the build began to take shape. ZiPS focuses on providing a great amount of utility, including slows, shields, group life steal, and a finishing move that packs a punch!

The Skills:

You can view the following build over on our skill calculator here, but let's get into the details! At level 70, this is what you want to equip and why:

Active Skills:
  • Fists of Thunder (Thunderclap)
    • Synergizes well with Strongarm Bracers
    • Darker tinted Lightning effect fits the theme well
  • Exploding Palm (The Flesh is Weak)
    • Primary pack clearing skill
    • Rune effect enhances the potency of Chance on Hit damaging effects
  • Mystic Ally (Water Ally)
    • Primary form of crowd control
    • Offers an almost permanent slow with certain skills
  • Sweeping Wind (Blade Storm)
    • Works beautifully with Mystic Ally (Water Ally) to provide AoE slows
  • Dashing Strike (Quicksilver)
    • Primary method of mobility and escape, when necessary
  • Mantra of Healing (Boon of Inspiration)
    • Excess Spirit Spender
    • Provides great group utility
    • Provides extra tankiness

Now you see them... Now you don't.

Passive Skills:

Build Variations:

The Items:

After personally playing around with this build, gear isn't necessarily a huge dependency—gameplay flows well at an appropriate difficulty, and any Chance on Hit item you might find on your journey is greatly enhanced by using this build. 

ZiPS' found items both encourage his build and play off of it!

That said, ZiPS offers a few suggestions on what compliments this build best:

If the greed aspect of this build is what calls to you, then be sure to keep an eye out for:

Lastly, if you need more survivability, any number of these beauties will be a boon:

Recommended Difficulty and Game Mode:

ZiPS primarily uses this build for soloing Torment I or tanking in group play. Providing bonus survivability to the group with shields and healing, offering substantial crowd control with constant up-time, and able to stand on its own to solo clear, this build can do a little bit of everything and always has some kind of utility to offer.

Why We Like This Build:

What caught my eye about this build was the focus on theme and how ZiPS embraced that theme while making his build work for him. It deviated from the traditional path in many ways, and while that might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's clear this build came from a place of passion for the game and for the Monk class. He unified his theme through abilities, items, and even his transmogrification efforts, thinking about everything that makes his character who she is rather than honing in on just her stats.

While there's always room for improvement from a mechanical standpoint, this build does everything ZiPS is looking for, and most importantly, he has a blast while doing it! With no fear of trying something new and a little out there, I commend this effort and I'm excited to see others break the boundaries of what Theorycrafting means.

Ready to Give It a Try?

Monks are masters of perfect combat and precise execution. ZiPS’ Unholy Monk exhibits this in a dark, twisted sort of way and it turns out that's a ton of fun! Be sure to give it a go on your own Monk, and don't forget to laugh manically after your Exploding Palms chain from pack to pack and clear the map.

Got questions or comments on this week's build? Post 'em in the comments below! Got a build you want to share? Well, send it in to me at and you might be next week’s feature!