Monk Basic Guide
Guide Info
Last Updated: 28 Oct, 2021
Patch Applicable: 5.58

A Monk Guide by Perfect Balance

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to Monkey, I am Perfect Balance and I am going to feed you the information you need to punch and kick at a decent level in the patch of our lord and saviour, 5.58. You can get in touch with me on Discord at wulf#8419, or on Twitter. at @RiddleOfFire. I’m not one for lengthy introductions, so let’s get to feeding.

Section One - Introduction

Acronyms and abbreviations

When discussing jobs typing out full skills names all the time is very time consuming, so for your reference here are all the Monk related acronyms and abbreviations currently in use.

Boot/BS - Bootshine
DK - Dragon Kick
TS - True Strike
Twin/TwS - Twin Snakes
Demo - Demolish
Snap/SP - Snap Punch
AotD - Arm of the Destroyer
FPF - Four-point Fury
RB - Rockbreaker
SSS - Six-sided Star
RoF - Riddle of Fire
BH - Brotherhood
PB - Perfect Balance
TK - Tornado Kick
EF - Elixir Field
FBC/TFC - The Forbidden Chakra
RoE - Riddle of Earth
TN - True North
FoF - Fists of Fire
FoE - Fists of Earth
FoW - Fists of Wind
GL - Greased Lightning
GCD - Global Cooldown
oGCD - Off-Global Cooldown
DoT - Damage over Time
AoE - Area of Effect
BiS - Best in Slot

Complementary Materials

For those of you who struggle to learn from simply reading a big wall of text, here is a video guide I produced with Valith Steiner.

Youtube Video

Click here to see stat breakpoints if you want to check what you should be melding on a current set as you progress to BiS, or simply want to understand the numbers a little better.

Somewhat similarly, these are the SkS thresholds for your GCD at GL4.

Here is a gear planner from Jahadaunt that you can use to figure out the best gear set for your situation as you gear up towards BiS.

Section Two: Basics

Positionals

It’s unlikely that you’ve made the decision to play Monk while remaining unaware of the P-word, but in case you’ve not come across it before; a “positional” is a skill that only gains maximum effect when used at a specific part of an enemies' hitbox, in Monk’s case, either flank or rear. All six GCD in Monk’s core single target rotation have a positional effect, so it’s important you know which is which.

Bootshine, True Strike, and Demolish all deal maximum damage when executed from behind an enemy.

Dragon Kick, Twin Snakes, and Snap Punch on the other hand are best used from an enemies' flank (side).

This might sound like a lot of movement back and forth from the enemy’s rear to side and back again, but in reality, you can simply stand near the borderline of where the enemy hitbox crosses from side to rear and step back and forth between that line as needed. The image below illustrates which part of the hitbox is classified as flank/rear, and also indicates with a red arrow which area to ideally stand for minimal required movement.

Forms

Forms are a concept unique to Monk, and is what separates it from standard combo-based melee jobs. Unlike other jobs that simply have combos that trigger each other in a static manner, you can combo any GCD into any other GCD - providing that you’re progressing your form forward. Each GCD also gains a bonus effect when used in the correct form, meaning you want to keep your forms advancing forwards and not break your combo, else you’ll drop your form and your damage will suffer.

You have three forms; Opo-Opo, Raptor, and Coeurl.

In Opo-Opo form, Bootshine, Dragon Kick, and Arm of The Destroyer gain additional effects.

In Raptor form, True Strike, Twin Snakes, and Four-point Fury gain additional effects.

In Coeurl form, Demolish, Snap Punch, and Rockbreaker gain additional effects.

Form GCDs

Uptime

Uptime is absolutely king, and 99% of the time when people come asking for help as to why they’re doing low DPS, it’s because they have poor uptime.

Now, I mean this in two different senses of the word. First and foremost is what you may be thinking of already when you hear the word “uptime”, and that’s simply making sure you’re in melee range as much as possible so you can continue to hit the boss. It’s okay to have poor uptime as you’re learning a fight, since you won’t know the timings on mechanics or the ranges on certain boss AoEs. As time progresses, however, you will start to learn these things, and you want to minimise downtime by only running out barely beyond the danger zone on an AoE so that you can get back in quicker, as well as simply running back in quicker once you know that damage has resolved and the AoE is now gone. This is where most people falter; they “respect” AoEs too much, meaning they run away too far and for too long.

Second is keeping your GCD rolling in general. Some people will choose to prioritise positionals more than rolling their GCDs, and so will stop hitting the boss for a second or so in order to make sure they’re in position to continue hitting. This is really bad and you shouldn’t do this. If you’re unable to hit a positional, keep your GCD rolling anyway, as the amount of time wasted waiting for the positional to become available will add up to an incredible amount of potential missed GCDs over a fight, which is far more punishing that missing the positional is.

Section Three - Building the Rotation

Single target GCDs

As previously mentioned, Monk has six core single-target GCDs.

Bootshine has a potency of 200, or 370 when you have Leaden Fist. When in Opo-Opo form, Bootshine will always crit if executed from the rear of an enemy.
Dragon Kick has a potency of 230, or 260 when executed from the flank. When in Opo-Opo form, it will grant the Leaden Fist buff.
True Strike has a potency of 270, or 300 when executed from the rear. It can only be executed from Raptor form.
Twin Snakes has a potency of 230, or 260 when executed from the flank. It also grants a 10% damage increase buff that lasts for 15 seconds, and can only be executed from Raptor form.
Demolish has a potency of 80, or 110 when executed from the rear. It applies an 18 second duration dot with 80 potency, for a combined total of 110+480 potency. It can only be executed from Coeurl form.
Snap Punch has a potency of 270, or 300 when executed from the flank. It can only be executed from Coeurl form.
Form Shift is a unique GCD, as it’s not directly a part of our rotation, but it does enable our rotation. Form Shift grants the Formless Fist buff, which allows you to use any GCD and gain its additional form effects. Since this GCD does no damage, we only ever use it before pulling an enemy or during downtime.

There are a couple of minor things to keep in mind here. First is that at every form you have two options for which GCD to use. Second, is that all positionals are worth 30 potency except for Bootshine, where you instead lose the guaranteed crit effect if you miss the positional. Therefore Bootshine is the most important positional to land, as it’s potentially the biggest loss.

Opening Your Inner Chakra

Chakra is Monk’s job gauge, which stacks up to five times. At five stacks of Chakra, we can spend them to execute either The Forbidden Chakra, a strong single target oGCD, or Enlightenment, a weaker AoE oGCD.

There are multiple ways that we generate Chakra.

First is Meditation, a GCD with a one second cooldown that opens a single chakra upon being pressed. When outside of combat it generates five stacks of chakra instantly.
We then have two traits; Deep Meditation I & II. Deep Meditation I grants an 80% chance of generating a chakra upon landing a critical weaponskill. Deep Meditation II turns that 80% chance into a 100% chance.
Finally we have Brotherhood. Brotherhood has multiple effects, but in this section we’ll just talk about the effect pertaining to Chakra generation. Upon execution, party members within 15 yalms will gain the effect of Meditative Brotherhood for 15 seconds. While this buff is active on an ally, every time they execute a weaponskill or a spell there is a 20% chance that you will gain a stack of Chakra.

oGCDs

In terms of oGCDs, Monk is somewhat simple.

We have three buffs:

Icon Name Cooldown Duration Effect
Riddle of Fire 90s 20s Increases damage dealt by 25%.
Brotherhood 90s 15s Applies 2 effects to you and all party members within 15 yalms. The first is a 5% damage increase. The second is Meditative Brotherhood, which helps generate chakra.
Perfect Balance 90s 10s / 6 stacks Enables the use of any GCD as if you have its form bonus.

We have five damaging oGCDs at our disposal.

Icon Name Cooldown Effect
Elixir Field 30s Deals 250 potency to all enemies in a 5 yalm radius around the user.
Tornado Kick 45s Deals 400 potency to a single target.
Shoulder Tackle 30s Deals 100 potency to a single target, with 2 charges. This is also our gap closer, and so should be used to traverse long distances quickly as opposed to walking across a room and wasting time.
The Forbidden Chakra 1s Deals 340 potency to a single target. As previously mentioned, The Forbidden Chakra costs five stacks of Chakra to use.
Enlightenment 1s Deals 200 potency to all enemies in a straight line in front of you. Enlightenment also has a cost of 5 Chakra.

We never hold any of our oGCDs. You’ll notice that every skills cooldown is a multiple of 90; this means that if we press them all exactly when they come back up, they will realign perfectly every time.

Openers

We currently have two different openers: the Standard and the Early opener. Generally you’re better off using the standard opener, the early opener is better for specific situations based on fight/phase length where you’re able to get an additional use of oGCDs, extra time on a buff, or better buff timings for your group. If you have the ability to double weave without clipping your GCD, this allows you to consolidate your Brotherhood and Perfect Balance into a double weave, freeing up an oGCD slot for potential Forbidden Chakra procs. This can be done for both the standard and early opener, however it will change your Brotherhood timing, so you may wish to let your group know in case anyone was planning around your Brotherhood.

The reason the openers work the way they do is as follows; Form Shift prepull, so we don’t have to do a non-form GCD. Leaden Fist is the single most important buff to gain as it grants an additional 170 potency to our guaranteed crit Bootshine, so we want to get that ASAP. Twin Snakes following this because its a 10% damage buff and we want that up as our next priority. Riddle of Fire next because Demolish is our highest potency GCD and by applying it as our first GCD in Riddle of Fire means we can do a second Demolish as our final GCD under the buff. Following Demolish is The Forbidden Chakra so we don’t overcap on chakras and waste any potential stacks, as our next Bootshine is a guaranteed crit so would otherwise be wasted. After the Bootshine we use Perfect Balance, which allows us to alternate between Dragon Kick/Bootshine for 6 GCDs. This is simply the most damage efficient way of spending our six PB stacks. Once Perfect Balance falls off you should always use Dragon Kick, reapply Twin Snakes, and finally end with a Demolish.

You’ll notice that the Early opener is practically the same, with two minor adjustments. First, everything is one GCD sooner because we started on Twin Snakes instead of Dragon Kick. Second, as a result of this all of our Opo-Opo GCDs invert, so Bootshines become Dragon Kicks and vice-versa.

Weaving

When weaving Riddle of Fire and Brotherhood, their placement in the oGCD window matters a lot. Riddle of Fire should be late-weaved, meaning you press it when the GCD roll is about 70% complete. This ensures that it will last long enough to cover your final Demolish cast.

Brotherhood on the other hand has such a long application time you want to weave it as early as possible in the GCD roll to ensure that it’s actually on you before your next GCD happens.

Double Dragon

As previously mentioned, your first GCD after a Perfect Balance should always be a Dragon Kick. This is because when Perfect Balance falls off, you no longer have any form and so are forced into doing a formless GCD. If your final PB GCD was a Bootshine, then you’ll be coming out of PB without any Leaden Fist stacks. In this instance, an uncomboed Dragon Kick is higher potency than an uncomboed Bootshine, so you would use Dragon Kick.

If your final PB GCD was a Dragon Kick then you will have a Leaden Fist stack, but you don’t want to spend it on an uncomboed Bootshine as it won’t be a guaranteed crit, hence you do the Dragon Kick so as not to waste the Leaden Fist. In very niche, finely optimised scenarios, it may be okay to do an uncomboed Leaden Boot here instead, but in 99% of scenarios, you should just use Dragon Kick and keep your Leaden Fist for your next Bootshine.

This means that following a Perfect Balance window, you will always do a double Dragon Kick. If the PB window ended on a DK the double DK is instant, as you’ll be doing DK - DK -TwS - Demo - Boot.

If the PB window ended on a Boot, then it’s a “delayed” double DK, where instead you do Boot - DK - TwS - Demo - DK.

Drifting 101

You’ll also notice that only one Forbidden Chakra is included in the image, yet you’ll be using between three to four of them during each RoF window. This is because the procs are entirely random, and so we can’t assign any them to any particular spot as they may not be available where planned. The general rule of thumb is that Forbidden Chakra has the highest priority of our oGCDs, as overcapping on chakras could lose us multiple uses of Forbidden Chakra throughout a fight.

However, if you’re in a situation where you’re getting a lot of chakra procs, you may notice that your other oGCDs begin drifting further and further back in your Riddle of Fire window until it reaches a point where they’re entirely misaligned from your buff window. I’ll preface this by saying that if you’re able to double weave without clipping your GCD, this is entirely a non-issue as you can just weave your oGCDs with your chakra as they proc. If you can’t double weave, however, you’ll have to begin making concessions and changing your priorities. In this case, you prioritise Forbidden Chakra until you reach a point where delaying Elixir Field or Tornado Kick any further is going to push either one of them out of your Riddle of Fire window. When you reach this point, EF and TK become your new highest priority oGCDs.

While in a vacuum, getting two Shoulder Tackle charges in each Riddle of Fire window is optimal, they’re such low potency that it’s okay to let them drop out of RoF in exchange for a Forbidden Chakra.

Core Gameplay Loop

Now that we’ve covered the core GCDs and oGCDs we can piece together what our rotation is going to look like following the opener.

Its effectively a three-step flowchart, where at each step you make a decision between GCD A or GCD B.

When in Opo-Opo form, you check if you have Leaden Fist active. If you do, use Bootshine, if you don’t, use Dragon Kick.

When in Raptor form you check the duration of your Twin Snakes. If it’s at nine seconds remaining or more, press True Strike. If less, reapply Twin Snakes.

When in Coeurl form, check the duration of your Demolish. If it’s at two seconds remaining or less reapply Demolish, else press Snap Punch.

Now on the face of it this might seem really confusing and like you’re constantly having to check things, but in reality it’s very simple. You’ll notice that when applying this system, the rotation actually falls into a very repetitive pattern. Your Opo-Opo GCDs will always alternate between Bootshine and Dragon Kick. Your Raptor GCDs will always alternate between True Strike and Twin Snakes. Your Coeurl GCDs will always have two Snap Punches in-between every Demolish.

Depending on the opener you used, your ensuing rotation will end up looking like one of the two following images;

Post-Opener RoFs

Now, you may wonder what do you do when your buffs come back up, and the answer is thankfully quite simple - you simply redo your opener. Now when I say redo I don’t mean exactly redo it, as you’ll notice that your Opo-Opo GCDs have naturally flipped since the opener. This means that if you started the fight with the Standard opener, your first RoF usage will look exactly like the Early opener. If you started with the Early opener, you’ll end up doing the Standard opener. This continues to alternate throughout the fight.

Your Opo-Opo GCDs flipping doesn’t just effect your burst though, it also effects your rotation. As a result you’ll find that every 90 seconds your rotation flips between the 2 images previously shown. Eventually you will build muscle memory to the point of not having to consciously consider which GCDs to be using when, you will simply press the right buttons at the right time.

Utility/Situational Skills and How To Use Them

Monk has a number of utility skills that range from very useful to almost entirely useless.

First is Six-Sided Star, a GCD with a potency of 540. It also grants a movement speed buff for five seconds, isn’t locked to a form, and has no positional. At first glance, this move seems very strong and like something you’d want to use frequently, however it’s unique in that its GCD is twice as long as any other GCD, 5 seconds at base. Simply put, using 2 GCDs is always better than using one SSS, so you will only ever use SSS in scenarios where you cannot use 2 GCDs. This means before a boss goes invulnerable, as the last GCD before an enemy dies, as the last GCD before you have to disengage from an enemy, or before using a Limit Break.
We then have Anatman, which is basically useless. Anatman is a skill on the GCD, which when used puts you in a channel state that will be broken if you move, use any other skill, or even just turn your character. Upon use, your Twin Snakes buff will be refreshed to 15 seconds, and will remain there for the duration of the channel. If this sounds useless, it’s because it is. At its absolute best, it will gain you 50~ potency.
True North is one of our best friends. It’s a 45 second cooldown with two charges, and nullifies positional requirements for ten seconds. This is incredible for those situations where, for whatever reason, you’re not able to get behind/to the side of an enemy, and will save you a lot of lost damage when used correctly.
Riddle of Earth is effectively a mini True North, with three charges and a 30 second cooldown. Upon activation, you gain three stacks of Riddle of Earth, each of which provides 10% mitigation and nullifies the positional of a single GCD. This should primarily be used for its positional nullification, but in emergencies can be used for its mitigation.
Arms Length is a 120 second cooldown that nullifies knockbacks, it doesn’t apply to all knockbacks, but it should cover most of them. Very nice skill to have, as it makes sure you don’t get knocked away from the boss so you can keep punching.

We also have a couple of skills that help our friends in the party out, and they’re as follows:\

Mantra, a 90 second cooldown that increases healing received by 10% on yourself and anyone nearby at the time you pressed it. Generally best to confer with your healers as to when they want it, but if for whatever reason there’s no communication going on there, just use it before big AoE damage comes out on the group.
Feint, another 90 second cooldown that lowers the targets strength and dexterity by 10% for ten seconds. Useful on enemies that deal physical damage, but again, it’s best to ask the tanks or healers when they want you to use this skill. In general, do it for big physical hits. Be careful not to overwrite a Feint another melee DPS has already applied.
Bloodbath, another 90 second cooldown. For 20 seconds, you’ll heal for a portion of your damage dealt. This is nice if your healer is struggling, or if you took some single target damage.
Second Wind, a 120 second cooldown that instantly heals you for 500 potency. See description of Bloodbath.

How to Effect Areas

Now that we’ve broadly covered how Monk works and looked at the single target rotation, how to AoE will hopefully be much easier to understand.

Monk has a third GCD option on each of its forms – these are our AoE GCDs.

Opo-Opo form has Arm of the Destroyer, a circle AoE around you with a 110 potency, or 140 with form bonus.
Raptor form has Four-point Fury, another circle AoE around you with a 140 potency which also extendes Twin Snakes by 10 seconds.
Coeurl form has Rockbreaker, another circle AoE around you with 150 potency.

To AoE, you start by applying Twin Snakes and then simply begin using your AoE GCDs instead of single target, based on the amount of enemies.

At two targets, you continue to alternate Bootshine and Dragon Kick. Four-Point Fury replaces Twin Snakes, but you’ll still use True Strike when Twin Snakes doesn’t need extending. You apply Demolish to both enemies (provided they will live long enough for it to tick), and Rockbreaker will replace Snap Punch.

At three targets, Arm of the Destroyer replaces Dragon Kick/Bootshine, Four-point Fury replaces True Strike, but you’ll still be rotating Demolishes between each enemy, again providing they will live long enough for it to tick.

At 4+ enemies you shift to entirely using only your three AoE GCDs.


Still have questions? Check out the FAQ page where some may be answered.