Better living through punching: A ‘Heroes of the Storm’ guide for the Monk, Kharazim

My name is Will Harrison and allow me to welcome you again for another Backlog Adventures character guide for the Blizzard MOBA Heroes of the Storm. In our last guide, we covered the awkwardly, awesomely adorable melee specialist Murky. This time around, I’ll be talking about the newest support character in the game, as well as the first support Hero from the Diablo universe: Kharazim, the Monk of Ivgorod.

Who? What? Why? I’m hungry.

Calm down. First: I am in no way a professional Heroes of the Storm player, just a video game journalist who has fallen in love with the game. As such, your mileage may vary in regards to my advice, play styles, and suggestions.

Having said that, my guide is for anyone curious about playing a unique type of healer in HOTS that possesses a great deal of mobility, burst healing, and a slightly high skill cap.

If you find yourself famished, I wholeheartedly suggest you find your nearest Korean restaurant. I’m craving drunken chicken noodles at the moment.

Moving on!

khara dance

Kharazim: At a glance

Monk is a highly mobile support Hero that can accomplish much. His ability to pick from one of three traits allows him to wear many hats, even while filling the role of healer. Thanks for a teleporting dodge and the ability to heal while retaliating, Monk is great at staying in a lane by himself and forcing back specific Heroes.

He also excels in team fights, able to stand in the thick of most encounters and provide area-of-effect healing while helping to pick off stragglers or trap enemies by pressuring them with attacks.

A rundown:

Positives

  • Monk is a great in-lane partner, giving Heroes that using lose the laning phase a fighting chance at pressuring.
  • A malleable team mate, able to fit into just about any composition thanks in part to his traits.
  • A surprisingly effective late-game fort pusher and jungler, able to take mercenary camps by himself without losing HP.
  • A great gank squad leader, able to initiate, flee, and attack enemies that lose their way in the woods.
  • One of the few Heroes (in my opinion) with viable Ultimates.
  • Can be hard to kill and can place himself into position with ease

Negatives

  • Lacks any kind of crowd control buttons.
  • Possesses a high skill ceiling and will require effort and patience to learn.
  • Extremely hindered by a number of ranged Heroes, as well as Heroes that can blind or stun.
  • While he can provide solid damage numbers, he has to work for it. Just about every Hero can deal with Monk’s attacks by simply walking away from him.
  • Both Ultimates require precision map placement, as they can easily miss.
  • Can be a frustrating team mate in solo queue, as some people will insist on taking a damage build when they should be healing.

TRAITS

Monk’s defining characteristic is that he can pick from one of three traits that change his kit in interesting ways.

monk traits

The trait will be picked as the Level 1 Talent. All three greatly change how Monk is played, but there isn’t a hard and fast rule yet as to what works best. For a healing build, it is obvious that Transcendence is the premium choice. However, providing off-heals or going for a damage/healing hybrid build makes Iron Fists and Insight both viable choices.

Regardless of what you choose, Monk’s trait will require him to find ways to punch things. In the early game, this is easy enough as Monk can dominate the laning phase, especially if using Transcendence. Against a majority of Heroes, this trait will allow Monk to stand in-lane and pummel minions, healing him of any errant damage that may occur.

His ability to get basic attacks in is much easier if laning with a friend, and as such he is a great second Hero to have with you during any phase of the game. His other abilities allow Monk to fill a variety of roles.

ABILITIES

monk abilities

Monk’s basic abilities give him access to unparalleled mobility, the only basic ability, AOE heal in the game, and a punishing barrage attack. Radiant Dash has myriad uses, from escaping a pack of enemies to teleporting to a hurt team mate and making the save. This ability can be used on Heroes, as well as minions, but not structures. In specific situations, Radiant Dash can be used to chase down and finish off a fleeing enemy, or if you’re fast enough, avoid stuns and captures from characters like Johanna and Kael’Thas.

Breath of Heaven is a great early phase heal that does so in an area of effect, as well as providing a movement bonus. The basic healing numbers provided can mean life or death for a team, which makes Monk most effective while standing in the middle of a scrum and actively healing with his W while providing additional heals via basic attacks.

Breath of Heaven becomes even more important as the game goes on, gaining the ability to clear most status effects, heal twice, or provide additional health for each team member affected. In my opinion, one of the best basic heals in the game, if not the best.

Deadly Reach is a curious ability due to how hard it can be to effectively use it. Because the ability is merely activating a period of basic attacks, it means that you can’t move while channeling attacks through the spell’s duration a la Tychus’ Overkill. For attacks to come out, Monk will have to be standing still. As such, it is quite easy for enemies to just walk away and avoid conflict all together.

This is where Monk’s complexity and high skill ceiling come into play. he lives and dies by being able to generate basic attacks, and you won’t always have the luck of a skirmish or team fight breaking out in the middle of a pack of minions that provide stationary targets to batter. Deadly Reach is best applied in situations where Monk has been placed in opportune areas, such as when an enemy has no choice but to walk completely around Monk.

Deadly Reach is also the key to Monk’s surprisingly effective siege damage and mercenary camp skill. Left to his own devices, Monk can whittle down the health of a structure with ease, thanks in part to his ability to heal himself while attacking. Likewise, Monk can take late game mercenary camps by himself and in specific situations.

ULTIMATE ABILITIES

monk heroics

While it looks like Monk’s two Ultimates are healing and damage-spec exclusive, I don’t consider this to be the case 100% of the time.

Seven-Sided Strike can be a powerful attack if Monk is in the right position; doubly so in ganking situations. If a single target is in the circle of effect, Monk can take off as much as 50% of a Hero’s health. As such, it is a great tool to use against a wandering or isolated tank like Chen. Likewise, Seven-Sided Strike can serve a purpose during massive team fights in that he becomes Invulnerable, being taken off the board as a target.

As with Deadly Reach, Seven-Sided Strike has a massive flaw, in that avoiding the attack is as simple as walking away. Proper application of the ability requires a stun-focused team composition and, as with everything Monk does, great map positioning.

So, which Heroic ability is the right choice? It comes down to a matter of personal preference and confidence in skill, as I find both to be worth choices. Seven-Sided Strike can be great in a team fight because it will allow Monk to stand in the middle of a scrum while dealing damage and avoiding being hit. Likewise, if you catch the enemy tank out of position or in a ganking scenario, Strike can eat around half of their health before they even have a chance to react.

Your mileage may vary on Divine Palm, as a perfect confluence of actions need to come together for the ability to shine. While the easiest use of Divine Palm is to save yourself from certain doom, there is no better feeling than popping it on your team’s tank during a team fight. That being said, the ability has a few caveats. First, it is entirely possible that if you place Divine Palm on a team mate that the enemy heroes will just stop attacking their target, voiding your use of the Heroic. Secondly, the range of use on Divine Palm is incredibly small, so Monk players must be cognizant of how many uses of Radiant Dash they have available. Finally, the timing can be downright terrible to figure out, and even the smallest amount of lag means the difference between a dead tank and a team fight turn around, all thanks to Divine Palm.

The choice is yours, but more often than not I find myself choosing Seven-Sided Strike, even in healing builds. There’s a lot of utility there if you’re able to get a team stun chain going or position yourself in the enemy escape route and Strike them as they entire your attack area.

Talents

Since I’ve already covered the Level 1 Talents in the Traits section, I’ll add a small note about the frustration that can arise while playing Monk. Because of the nature of his basic attacks, it can be hard as games progress to make use of whichever Trait you choose. This is due to the fact that team fights happen more often, and applying Deadly Reach/basic attacks becomes much more of a choice for Monk, forcing you to pick your moments of attack carefully.

If you find that your numbers in regards to damage, healing, or siege are not where you wish them to be, consider taking a look at how and where you are positioning Monk at any given phase of the match. Monk is not the type of healer that can be played from the back line, unless your plan to is to spam Breath of Heaven. However, at that point the enemy has already won, as they are forcing Monk to stand out of attacking range, neutralizing any additional healing from your Level 1 Trait pick.

My advice for getting your basic attacks in and making the most of your Trait is to know when to fight and when to run. Monk’s healing and damage from his Trait tends to be a slow build, so attempting to jump in to save your stupid Diablo team mate from a 1 v 3 situation is just going to get both of you killed in most situations. Be aware of what Heroes have the hardest time getting away from auto attacks, and be ready to strike when you see those characters blow their cooldowns. Targets like Nazeebo can be easy marks in hectic team fights because they’ll have to decide between attacking the Monk or going after a higher priority target. What Monk lacks in burst, he makes up in accruing damage/healing and getting better as team fights grow in length.

With all that said, let’s move on and talk about the Level 4 and up Talents.

Level 4 Talents

Foresight
Foresight

A situational pick, for obvious reasons. There’s utility in Foresight if you’re going against Zeratul, but the talent should otherwise be avoided.

Overtake
Overtake

One of the biggest flaws of Deadly Reach is using it to attack a mobile target. In most cases, an enemy Hero can literally walk away from Monk, thus stopping the attack. If you’re not in an area where you can Radiant Dash to a target that allows you to attack with the full duration of Deadly Reach, taking Overtake will not only help get the most out of your barrage, but also provide a burst in speed for the purposes of retreat. This is the talent to take if you’re going with an Iron Fist build.

Healing Ward
Healing Ward

Healing Ward has really been put through the wringer when it comes to nerfs. Once a staple choice for each and every healer, the totem is now relagated to an “Eh.” pick. While Ward is probably more useful as a team pick-me-up before or after a team fight, away from any potential enemy that can snipe it before the full 10 seconds is up, it does have applications during battle. Dropping the Ward during a tightly packed team fight may be enough to cause distraction to or away from it, potentially saving a  team mate from focus fire.

I consider it a toss-up between this and Protective Shield, but usually go with Healing Ward. It can help while taking mercenary camps and provides enough health to keep people from Hearthing back to base before a major push.

Protective Shield
Protective Shield

On paper, Protective Shield appears to be the obvious pick. In application, I find that the ability doesn’t jive with the hectic, always doing something nature of Monk’s play style. The Shield can prove to be useful if you have a major heavy on your team such as Diablo or Stitches, but otherwise I find that Healing Ward provides more of an overall benefit.

Level 7 Talents

Echo of Heaven
Echo of Heaven

Whether you’re going with a healing or damage build, Echo of Heaven is the Talent of choice for Level 7. The second burst of healing in an already great AOE heal adds up quickly, no matter if you’re helping friends or hurting foes. The Talent has great synergy with Iron Fist builds, as it provides a great healing burst that more than makes up for not taking the healing Trait. Nothing else in the Level 7 tier is really worth your time.

Way of the Hundred Fists
Fists

The biggest problem with Hundred Fists is that it directly hinders Monk’s ability to activate his trait. At Level 20, this will deal a little over 400 damage upon Dashing to an enemy. While this may sound like enough to finish off a retreating foe, it goes against Monk’s ability to stand stalwart in the middle of a fight, generating healing/damage through continuous attack. It also doesn’t help that this has no applications for tower diving, as Radiant Dash can’t be used on buildings.

Clairvoyance
Clairvoyance

One of two redundant picks in the Level 7 talents, Clairvoyance is rendered a moot pick by the mere existence of Foresight in the Level 4 tier. While the area of effect isn’t as large with Foresight, it can be used more often. If you’ve already picked Foresight, I cannot ever see this as a pick, and certainly not over Echo of Heaven.

Cleanse
Cleanse

Another Talent that has been beaten black and blue with the nerf bat, Cleanse just isn’t as strong as a utility pick as it once was. On a character that already has a bevy of skills and abilities that require precise activation and reflexes, Cleanse can be seen as an inferior pick when the Level 16 Talent Soothing Breeze exists (even if Breeze doesn’t remove Stuns.)

Level 13 Talents

Quicksilver
Quicksilver
Movement speed bonuses are rarely, if ever, a bad thing. The added bonus to this, well, bonus, is that it can mean the difference between alive friends or food for your enemies. There may possibly be some overlap between this Talent and Overtake, allowing you to get ahead of a retreating enemy as you’re attempting to Deadly Reach them. This Talent is a good choice for healing builds, but some may prefer taking Fists of Fury, purely for basic attack generation.

Spell Shield
Spell Shield

I always seem to be at odds when potentially picking Spell Shield. While the idea of a burst of damage reduction while in the thick of it seems like a solid talent pick, it never really seems to be enough to warrant it’s choosing over other Talents. It is nice to have a defensive Talent for Monk that lets him keep his feet in the fire for a bit longer, thus increasing his productivity as team fights grow in length. I’m just not too sure if it is a more valuable choice over the likes of Relentless or Fists of Fury.

Relentless
Relentless

Monk is incredibly weak to any kind of stun or crowd control due to the nature of how he deals damage. As such, Relentless does a great job of keeping Monk mobile and punching. This ability is another great choice for healing builds. If you aren’t looking to bolster the duration of Deadly Reach, Relentless is, as always, a solid choice.

Fists of Fury
Fists of Fury
Four seconds of Deadly Reach means more healing, damage, or mana, depending on which Trait you’ve chosen. A longer duration also means more of a chance of catching up to an opponent that is either attempting to flee or is trying to walk out of Monk’s attack range. I feel that this is the go-to choice for damage builds, and not necessarily a bad choice for healing builds, given that the healing Trait gets a nice boost from a longer Deadly Reach duration.

Level 16 Talents

Soothing Breeze
Soothing Breeze

Do you like the sound of an AOE mini-Cleanse? I do. Soothing Breeze is one of two Talents at Level 16 that really makes Monk’s healing utility stand out and turn Breath of Heaven into possibly the best basic ability heal thus far. While this doesn’t do anything for stuns, Soothing Breeze will still keep everyone on your team moving, talking, and seeing during team fights. This is the Talent to pick if your team has an abundance of crowd control. Especially useful against teams with Sylvanas, Malfurion, Stitches, Johanna, and more.

Circle of Life
Circle of Life

Perhaps the biggest weakness of Breath of Heaven is that it has too many viable Talent choices. Circle of Life is an amazing boost in raw healing numbers if you’re the type of Monk that prefers standing in the middle of the dog pile. The added healing from Circle of Life in straight up 5 v 5 situations can literally turn the tide in a fight and makes the second burst of healing from Echo of Heaven into an amazing Talent choice. If the enemy team is full of bursty damage, Circle of Life is the way to go, and probably the best overall Talent in the Level 16 tier.

Blinding Speed
Blinding Speed

While I don’t think Blinding Speed is a bad Talent, it is hard to argue taking it over Soothing Breeze or Circle of Life, even in damage builds. I do appreciate that this Talent allows Monk to be even more mobile and allows him to be a little more reckless with his Dashes, which is usually something that will get most Monk players killed quickly. Blinding Speed may be a decent beginner ability, but I can’t see it being a better choice than the previous two Talents.

Blazing Fists
Blazing Fists

With this Talent, Deadly Reach turns into a spammable ability on a short cooldown that turns Monk into a constant melee threat. In damage builds, Blazing Fists will increase Monk’s ability to take mercenary camps and push against buildings tremendously. Exclusively for damage builds.

Level 20 Talents

Transgression
Transgression

Transgression is a great choice if your team is lacking in damage output or already has some team-wide shielding options. While Transgression won’t increase the amount of time Monk is Invulnerable, the amount of damage it allows Seven-Sided Strike to churn out is impressive, even in healing builds. If you don’t need Storm Shield and you’ve already chosen Strike, this Talent is the way to go.

Peaceful Repose
Peaceful Repose

I feel like this ability is meant for beginners who are trying to get used to the timing, reflexes, and positioning required to effectively use Divine Palm. In a healing build, I’m not sure it provides better utility than Storm Shield, but if you’re having problems against a team that is sly to the timing of Divine Palm and continue to switch targets before KOing the Palm recipient, this may help ease your woes.

Storm Shield
Storm Shield

As a former Discipline Priest raid healer, I know all too well the value of a well-timed shield. Storm Shield is a momentum shifter, and one that, when combined with Breath of Heaven, turns Kharazim into an absolute wall of a healer who can do what few healers in HOTS can do: stand his ground. If you’re going healing build, this is the Talent to take.

Epiphany
Epiphany

I honestly don’t see the use in this ability. In my experience, Monk doesn’t have much trouble with mana, especially if you’ve somehow taken the third Trait. Far better choices in the Level 20 tier.

BUILDS

First, the healing build:

healing build

This is a fairly standard healing build, though a few changes can be made based on the enemy team composition. The choice of Ultimate is really up to personal preference, but I find Seven-Sided Strike’s damage to be beneficial, especially in the all too common 2 tank meta-game.

At the Level 13 tier there is some room for customization, as an argument can be made for the benefits of an increased duration in Deadly Reach. if you aren’t planning on picking the mini-Cleanse at Level 16, Relentless is a good way to protect yourself. Spell Shield is also viable if you find yourself being bursted down into oblivion.

The Level 16 pick will also depend on the enemy team. Do they possess a bunch of slows and non-stun crowd control? Go with Soothing Breeze. If not, the healing increase is absolutely the way to go.

Level 20 is pretty cut and dry in my opinion: Storm Shield in combination with Breath of Heaven is a strong combination that can turn a team fight. If you’re having trouble hitting Divine Palm, go that direction. I’m not gonna tell you how to live, yo.

Now for the damage build:

damage build

Damage builds with Monk have to be treated with some finesse, and playing him with killing intent requires a different approach than just playing an Assassin class. Monk’s strength is focusing fire on enemies that have blown cooldowns or foes that have been properly crowd controlled. Because of this, damage builds can sometimes be make or break depending on your team composition.

Strong communications is key, as Monk players will want to form 2-3 person gank squads that float between lanes during the pre-Level 10 phase of the match. Laying in wait in stealth while calling for the move to kill is where Monk is strongest, allowing him to play clean-up and either finish off a retreating enemy or jump in and heal his squad mates if the fight turns ugly.

Don’t be afraid to run away. Monk has to pick the most opportune moments to act, and acting alone or attempting to singlehandedly sway the flow of a battle is nigh difficult. Provide constant, efficient damage and help thin the herd. As with the healing build, Monk is able to get better as team fights progress.

As for the build, it’s all pretty straight forward. Once you reach 16, you’ll pretty much be able to handle mercenary camps on your own thanks to Deadly Reach basically never being on cooldown. The Level 4 and 7 picks are up for grabs, You may very well want to go with Healing Totem and Hundred Fists, but keep in mind that Hundred Fists will be shortchanging the flow of your basic attacks (but can be an effective killing strike.)

Tips, Tricks, and Kung-Fu Fighting

  • Monk’s best dance partners: Illidan, Anub’Arak, Johanna, Malfurion, Uther, Kerrigan, Tyrande.
  • Those most likely to kill Monk’s master: Illidan, Anub’Arak, Johanna, Malfurion, Uther, Kerrigan, Tyrande.
  • Just plain annoying: Murky, always Murky.
  • I’m not sure if this is a known tip, but you can buffer Deadly Reach by popping it when an enemy isn’t within reach, then using Radiant Dash. You’ll immediately start attacking the target you teleported to.
  • There are few things more satisfying than having a lumbering, high-health oaf like Diablo or Stitches wander at you by their lonesome, thinking you’re helpless, only to Seven-Sided Strike half their health off.
  • Any enemy with range is going to grab your goat during the laning phase. Either grab a partner who is adept at handling ranged or find something to rotate lanes with.
  • Anyone with stun will ruin Monk’s day. Thus, don’t forget that Radiant Dash can be used on friendly and enemy minions alike; handy for getting out of trouble if your team mates are nowhere to be found.
  • Best maps: Spider Queen, Haunted Mines, Infernal Shrines, Garden of Terror.
  • Worst maps: Battlefield, Dragon Shrine.

Professional footwork

I hope this guide will help anyone out who is considering going down the path of enlightenment. Personally, I think Monk is a great character who is a lot of fun once you get around his learning curve. It may take some practice, but you too can learn better living through punching.

Will Harrison is a freelance video game industry journalist, as well as the games critic for the Toledo Blade, a daily Pulitzer-winning newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. Contact Will via email through backlogadventures@gmail.com or on Twitter @DoubleUHarrison

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