I thought I'd make a post on Monk Combos in order to explain the basics to newcomers, and confirm that my own understanding is correct. If any of this information is incorrect please let me know (constructively) and I'll fix it. If there is another post that already contains all of this (I looked but didn't find one) link me to it.
What are Combos?
Combos are a unique Monk ability through which certain skills can have extra effects when done in the right combinations.
According to the Game Guide:
Monks’ melee attacks are more potent when they’re used in careful succession; they generate additional spiritual energy, deal increased damage and produce unique effects that can enable a monk to defeat nearly any enemy
How do I do Combos?
Combos aren't difficult. If you've spammed any Spirit Generating Skill for awhile you've certainly done one even if you didn't realize it.
The only skills that can currently cause combos are the 'Spirit Generating' Skills (the top section of your skill area). When Spirit Generating Skills are hit three times in a row the third time will both generate extra Spirit and produce an extra effect. It doesn't seem to matter if you hit the SAME skill hit three times in a row, hit three DIFFERENT Spirit Generating Skills, or hit one Spirit Generating skill twice and another once; It only matters that you hit Spirit Generating Skills three times in a row.
For convenience sake for now let's refer to the third hit in the sequence as the 'Combo Attack'
Two things will reset the generation of a Combo:
1. You hit any NON Spirit Generating Skill
2. There is a large pause between any of the three hits
Any information on how long the pause can be is appreciated.
What do the Combos Do
The extra effect from a combo depends on the 'Combo Attack' (third Spirit Generating Skill) in the sequence. Here are the effects by Skill (According to the Game Guide):
Fists of Thunder (Level 1)
Deals damage to all enemies in front of you and knocks them back a short distance'
Deadly Reach (Level 4)
Damage extends out 25 yards
Crippling Wave (Level 8)
Damages all enemies around you and dazes them, slowing movement speed by 50% and attack speed by 35% for 5 seconds.
Exploding Palm (Level 12)
Causes the target to bleed for 65% of weapon damage as Physical per second for 3 seconds. If the target dies while bleeding, it explodes and deals 30% of the target's maximum Life as Physical damage to all other enemies nearby.
Sweeping Wind (Level 17)
Creates a vortex of air that surrounds you. The vortex of air lasts 5 seconds and deals 20% weapon damage per second to all enemies within 10 yards. This vortex effect can stack up to 3 times for a total of 60% weapon damage per second to nearby enemies.
Way of the Hundred Fists (Level 21)
In addition to the effects above, each combo also generates more spirit than the skill usually would. [Anyone know how much more?]
Combos also cause distinct visual representations when they're completed such as a circle of lightning or an extended kick animation. Some are much more distinct than others.
Blizzard Game Guide : http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/monk/
"I don't get combos" thread : http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3226842750
"Spirit Generator Attack Speed" thread: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3811455189
diablowiki : http://diablowiki.net/Combos