Diablo® III

Under the Hood: Mystic Ally

In this thread, I will be taking a closer look at the monk skill Mystic Ally. The goal is to cast some light on this infrequently used skill so that (1) those use who use it can be better informed about how it stacks up with their other choices and (2) those who don't use it can decide whether it might be better than another skill on their toolbar.

This thread will be divided into several sections, which I will reserve with the next few posts:

1. How it works, including aspects that are common to all runes
2. The six ally types (unruned, water, fire, air, eternal, and earth)
3. Comparisons among the six types (what each gives you, which players might like them)
4. Comparisons to other popular skills
5. The Big Bug (at least, I hope that's what it is) and what it means to the value of this skill
6. Miscellaneous items, which will include answers to questions not covered above

I am in the process of writing these posts, and I'll update this thread as I finish them. I will also update it with additional information as it is uncovered. Please avoid posting in this thread until I have created posts 2 through 7.

Thanks!
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Right! It's time to resurrect this thread. This post will explain how the skill works and identify common features for allies, regardless of rune. Please note that this thread, including this post, is a work in progress; some of these unknowns may become clear in the future.

"How it works" is rather simple: you click the button, and your ally appears a short distance away from you. I haven't yet taken a stab at determining whether his facing is consistent or depends on your orientation like Cyclone's tornadoes, which always spawn in the direction you were facing when you activated Sweeping Wind. (Credit to Druin for that one.)

Here are some common features, regardless of rune, plus a couple that apply to all but one or two of the six allies:
  • Health: No one knows for sure how much health a Mystic Ally has, but the best guess is that it has your health. I've read one article online that tested this by stripping a character naked and getting hit; the character was almost dead in eight shots, at which point the player summoned the ally, who nearly died in eight shots. Of course, mobs do a range of damage, not a single number, so take that with a grain of salt.
  • Armor/mitigation: No one knows for sure how much mitigation is has, either! The best guess, again, is that it has your armor and resistances.
  • I've never seen an ally dodge a hit. Granted, I haven't been looking for it, but I saw a Risen take random swings at one for two minutes, and I think I'd have seen the ally dodge if it had my dodge chance.
  • Resummoning an ally brings it to full health. Given that you can resummon an ally at any time, you can essentially heal them any time you want.
  • Allies have innate LPS, but I don't know what the number is. I have tried summoning an ally after first removing all my LPS gear, including my LOH weapons, but this had no effect on the ally's ability to constantly regenerate during combat.
  • You can't see the ally's healing numbers or health. Even if the options are turned on in-game, they don't show for the ally.
  • Allies may be immune to fire; in fact, there's a chance they might be immune to all ground effects. One of my plans to test the ally's health was to invade the Keep Depths, get the ally to stand on a fire grate, and see how long he could last. Unfortunately (for me as a tester), my Fire Ally didn't seem to take any damage whatsoever. "Well, he's made of fire," I thought. "Maybe he's immune." So I summoned a water ally, and . . . same deal! Maybe I need to find a hotter fire, but I didn't see that bar budge. During combat against elites with a lot of ground affixes, he seems to die quickly, which suggests that he's not immune to those, but I haven't really taken a good look at that yet. It's on the list.
  • With the exception of the Air Ally's vortex and every ally's constant +50% CHD, allies don't snapshot. An ally is a dynamic follower. As you change your CHC, weapons, DEX, and APS, his damage will change. The Air Ally's vortex behaves like Sweeping Wind: it's dynamically affected by APS but snapshots the active weapon anyway.
  • Allies don't appear to benefit from LoH, and you don't benefit from LoH when they attack. I have not yet tested LS with them, but I don't expect it to work.
  • Each ally except the Air Ally has a special attack, and this attack has a cooldown of approximately 11 seconds. If the ally is not interrupted by a mob's attack, it will take 11 swings and then unleash its special attack, if it has one. If the ally is interrupted, it will lose 1 swing per interruption but unleash the special attack on schedule.
  • The special attack cooldown resets when you summon the ally. This means that spamming the Fire Ally, Water Ally, and Earth Ally gives you more real DPS than waiting until they die to resummon them.
  • In general, the special attack lasts 2 seconds. The exceptions are the Air Ally, which has a vortex in lieu of a special attack, and the Earth Ally, which has a single-target special attack that lasts only one second. (Oh, and the unruned ally doesn't have a special attack.)
  • Buffs to your damage wil affect the Mystic Ally in real time. Foresight, Combination Strike, and Blazing Wrath are additive, as you'd expect; Faith in the Light affects the base damage, just like it does for your player. Because Mystic Ally does not snapshot, these bonuses come and go in real time.

And I think that's it for common features, which means that's it for this afternoon.
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/20/2012 10:42 AM PST
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This post will compare the six ally types:

1. Unruned Ally
2. Water Ally
3. Fire Ally
4. Air Ally
5. Eternal Ally
6. Earth Ally

All allies share several features, which I noted in the previous post. This one will explain the differences. If I don't mention something from the previous post, like "all allies have a static +50% CHD" or "all allies have a static attack speed that is roughly 1.0," just assume it's still in effect.

To begin, I'll show you how you can calculate your ally's DPS contribution, based on an assumed 1.0 APS for the ally:

1. Look at your buffed paper DPS.*
2. Multiply your CHC by your CHD, and then add 1.
3. Multiply your CHC by 0.5, and then add 1.
4. Multiply the buffed paper DPS by the number you get in step 3, and then divide by the number you got in step 2.
5. Multiply by each ally's damage over time (DOT).

* If you use FitL, you'll have to use 80% of your non-FitL DPS and 20% of your FitL DPS to account for the dynamic nature of the ally's damage. Also, the Air Ally is a little more complicated than this because its vortex is snapshot, not dynamic, but I'm not going to go into the details right now.

Here are the DOT figures for each ally:

1. Unruned Ally: 40% damage every second
2. Water Ally: 560% damage over 13 seconds
3. Fire Ally: 600% damage over 13 seconds
4. Air Ally: 50% damage every second
5. Eternal Ally: 44% damage every second
6. Earth Ally: 500% damage over 12 seconds

For example, imagine a monk with a 52K buffed DPS who does not use Faith in the Light. He has a CHC of 30%, a CHD of 200%, and he's using Fire Ally. Following the steps outlined earlier, here's how he would calculate his ally's DPS contribution:

1. His buffed DPS is 52,000.
2. His own critical hit factor is 0.3 times 2.00 plus 1, or 1.6.
3. His ally's critical hit factor is 0.3 times 0.5 plus 1, or 1.15.
4. Thus, his ally's buffed DPS base is 52,000 times 1.15 divided by 1.60, or 37,375.
5. The Fire Ally does 600% damage over 13 seconds: 37,375 x 6 ÷ 13 = 17,250.

So the Fire Ally rune, unspammed, is worth 17,250 DPS to this player, or roughly 33% of his paper DPS. Note the following, however:

1. The player's real DPS is much higher than 52,000.
2. The ally is mostly a single-target DPS machine; it scales in a very limited fashion.

Alright! With that out of the way, let's continue.

Unruned Ally

Your basic ally has no special attacks. When summoned, he will aggro the nearest mob (the range is rather high) and begin attacking once per second for a standard 40% damage, scaled by the usual factors and limited by his innate 50% CHD. Not much to see here, so we'll move along.

Water Ally

The Water Ally does 40% damage per attack. It also has a special wave attack that hits one or more times for 120% damage. Like the Fire Ally's special attack, this one takes about 2 seconds to execute. The range is quite long, and the Water Ally is capable of hitting multiple targets, but I have tested it mostly in single-target scenarios. If the target is backed up against an obstacle, the special attack will hit only once, not twice, and I believe (but will confirm later) that it lasts only 1 second in this case.

Spamming the Water Ally should produce a steady pulse of 120% damage in a line, which can be very useful in certain circumstances. I need to test this more, however, as I doubt you can get the full effect of spamming the Water Ally against multiple opponents, which is a feature of the Fire Ally.

Fire Ally

The Fire Ally does 40% damage per attack. It also delivers a flame kick after the standard cool-down period. This flame kick will deliver 80% damage (twice its normal damage) to several enemies in a line. It also sets those enemies on fire for 40% damage per second, which is a DOT effect that drops the target's health continuously.

The first thing to note is that the tooltip for the Fire Ally appears to be bugged. If you look at the Game Guide, you will see 80% and 40% listed as the numbers for Fire Ally:

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/monk/active/mystic-ally

In-game, however, the second number (the 40% DOT) scales with attack speed. It's actually no more powerful than the expected 40%; it simply scales in the tooltip, unlike the other damage figures for the other allies. Yet all allies' damage scales with your attack speed, so it's not like the Fire Ally's DOT is some special snowflake made of fire; it's just an inconsistent tooltip design. (By the way, this damage ticks every half-second, like most similar features.)

The second thing to note is that spamming the Fire Ally is very, very powerful. Each time you summon the Fire Ally, it begins with the special flame kick attack. If you spam the ally too fast, you'll outpace the animation, and it won't attack at all. If you time it right, however—one second seems to be the threshold—you can get it to launch a constant stream of flame kicks. The 80% damage from the kick itself is instantaneous, and the DOT, as far as I can tell, is tied to the target's being aflame, not to the existence of the ally that kicked him.

What does this mean? Well, let's look at that 52K DPS monk we examined earlier. On paper, the DPS contribution from Fire Ally is 17,250 for that monk. But that assumes that he's doing 600% damage every 13 seconds. What happens if he's doing 160% damage every second instead?

Well, what happens is that we're no longer multiplying by 6 over 13; we're multiplying by 1.6. This raises the Fire Ally's DPS to 59,800 under the spam-every-second scenario. Yes, that's right—the ally's DPS will exceed the monk's paper DPS if summoned every second.

This has numerous applications during a battle. The most obvious is that you can start spamming more frequently toward the end of the fight. (That big rare that didn't take much damage during the fight is going to fall quite fast when you start killing him with fire.) But it also means that you can use the spam feature in limited doses throughout the battle—say, when you've cornered one member of the pack and want to finish it quickly, or when you have several mobs nearby, as the flame kick has a very wide and long range (unlike the Water Ally's special attack, which appears to have a much narrower range).

Air Ally

The Air Ally does not have a special attack. Instead, it has a vortex, similar to the Sweeping Wind vortex. This vortex is noteworthy because it works on the same snapshot principle as Sweeping Wind but resets every 11 seconds or so—right when the ally would be winding up for his special attack if he had one. (Thanks to Timmy for this information.) For this reason, the Air Ally gets a slight boost if you summon him with a temporary buff like Faith in the Light active (because he will get a buffed vortex for 11 seconds or so), but he isn't quite as powerful as you think during combat because casting FitL during combat probably won't affect his vortex.

The Air Ally is also noteworthy because it, unlike the other allies, scales somewhat with the number of mobs you're fighting, thanks to its vortex. Its single-target DPS contribution, on paper, is the strongest of all the allies at 50% damage per second. However, its lack of spam support means it can fall behind the Water Ally and the Fire Ally under certain circumstances.

Eternal Ally

The Eternal Ally does not have a special attack. Instead, it will do a constant 44% damage per attack. It also has a 50% chance to be reborn 5 seconds after it dies.

On paper, its damage output is average; in practice, it is substantially lower because it lacks a special spam attack and doesn't scale with the number of mobs you're fighting. For a monk who wants to fire and forget, however, this isn't a bad option. It might be a good option for spirit-spending monks as well because they will spend less spirit resummoning it. And, if you're in a particularly challenging area, this limits the number of times you'll find yourself getting swarmed, look up, and discover that your Mystic Ally has been killed again.

Earth Ally

The Earth Ally does a basic 40% damage per attack. Its special attack, unlike those of the Water Ally and the Fire Ally, affects only one target and lasts only 1 second. As a result, it does 500% damage over 12 seconds, which makes it, on paper, the lower-DPS ally.

The Earth Ally offers two big advantages, however. First, it automatically adds 10% to your VIT when summoned; second, the target of its special attack is forced to attack the Earth Ally for 3 full seconds.

The VIT boost is nice, but note that it only raises your life ceiling—it does not heal you. In other words, if you're a level-60 player with 1,000 VIT, summoning the Earth Ally will increase your maximum life by 1,000 x 10% x 35 = 3,500 points, adjusted by whatever +X% Life gear you're wearing. But it won't heal you by that amount—you'll have to fill that globe on your own.

The special attack makes the Earth Ally great for taking heat off you when faced with a champ pack, or when trying to close off a doorway. Unfortunately, the attack is single-target only, but many other mobs will attack the Earth Ally anyway. Toward the end of a fight against a champ pack, however, you can constantly spam the Earth Ally, which boosts its DPS significantly (from 42% to 60%) and prevents whatever it's attacking from attacking you.

Sadly, that special attack limits the value of the Earth Ally to some degree. Because it will always draw the full wrath of whatever it hits with the special attack, it gets killed rather quickly, especially against more powerful mobs. And, when it goes—POOF! There goes your 10% VIT bonus.
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/29/2012 8:35 AM PST
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In this post, I'm going to identify some factors that might lead a player to pick one ally over another.

Unruned Ally
There's not much to this guy, really.

You might prefer the unruned ally if . . . you're level 22–26, and you haven't unlocked any of the other runes yet. (What? You thought there might be some secret trick to unlock?)

Water Ally
The Water Ally is rather interesting in that he has the potential to do a lot of damage to a large number of mobs in a very short time. I just took him into the Vault of the Assassin on MP5, and he was hitting several mobs with each spam, although his hit box seems a bit wonky and erratic. (It would be easier to determine with FPS software, but I don't have any.) He definitely doesn't have the single-target output of the Fire Ally, and I haven't yet found any rhyme or reason to his facing when summoned, so he's tougher to train on a particular target.

You might prefer the Water Ally if . . .
  • . . . you're in a high-density area in which the mobs are likely to be packed very deep, allowing the Water Ally to do his thing to a large number of mobs at once (e.g., Fields of Slaughter).
  • . . . you're level 27–30 and haven't unlocked the Fire Ally yet.
  • . . . you anticipate a lot of kiting in an open area, and you want to slow down mobs as you move away from them or concentrate on another group (e.g., Fields of Slaughter, Desolate Sands).

Fire Ally
I've had the most fun with this guy. His special attack is very powerful, and I can summon him roughly every second and still get his special attack to launch. I haven't confirmed this yet, but I am reasonably confident that his flame kick sets the target on fire and that the lingering fire damage occurs even if he's respawned. This means that you can greatly amplify your DPS against nearby mobs, as I'll explain in a later post. He's also good for hitting several mobs at once. This makes him less effective against fast-moving targets that won't stay in one place: sand wasps, imps, fallen, lacuni huntresses, etc. But the Fire Ally has the best single-target DPS figure, hands down.

You might prefer the Fire Ally if . . .
  • . . . you prefer face-tanking to kiting and always have a large number of mobs in your face.
  • . . . you have plenty of spirit available for spamming this skill.
  • . . . you're wearing some kind of freeze, immobilize, or stun gear that will keep mobs locked in front of you from time to time, thus providing more spam opportunities.
  • . . . you plan to kill any bosses or mini-bosses during your run.
  • . . . you're playing in an area with a lot of slow-moving mobs (Act 1, parts of Act 3, etc.).
  • . . . you like killing things with fire.

Air Ally
The Air Ally has the best DPS contribution on paper (50% of your paper DPS, modified by the static 50% CHD). He also has a very good AOE at all times due to his vortex. And he has the ability to generate 100 spirit for you. At a 2% proc rate and 1.0 APS, you can expect this to trigger every 50 attacks, but it's more helpful, in my opinion, to examine the likelihood that this event will trigger over a series of N attacks:

10 attacks: About 18%
20 attacks: About 33%
30 attacks: About 45%
40 attacks: About 54%

But you can consider it somewhat equivalent to 2 spirit per second if that helps.

You might prefer the Air Ally if . . .
  • . . . you're using Exalted Soul, giving yourself more bang for the buck when the ally's 100-spirit proc triggers.
  • . . . you have a spirit-spending build, so you don't plan to spam Mystic Ally.
  • . . . you're fighting in close quarters, where the Air Ally's vortex is likely to do the most damage (the Keep Depths, the Vault of the Assassin, etc.).
  • . . . you have a very slow spirit-generating build and plan to spend your spirit spamming Overawe or another mantra.
  • . . . you like the visuals of the vortex, and you secretly wish the Air Ally could proc tornadoes as he attacks.
  • . . . you're using a slower primary, such as Crippling Wave, and need the extra spirit the Air Ally provides, even if it's not a regular thing.

Eternal Ally
The Eternal Ally doesn't have a special attack, doesn't have an AOE, and doesn't lead the Mystic Ally League in DPS. But he hits reasonably well, and his chance to be reborn limits the number of times you'll end up fighting solo because your ally died while you were paying attention to something else. Sadly, the 5-second count-down to his phoenix moment means that I never really use it if I notice he's missing. If he's gone, I want him around, so I resummon him immediately if I notice he's not; and, if he's not there, did the 5-second count-down expire? I can't tell, therefore I have to use the skill again. I think he needs a one- or two-second count-down to make this ability useful.

You might prefer Eternal Ally if . . .
  • . . . you're experimenting with this skill for the first time and want some help keeping the ally alive while you get used to having another thing to monitor during combat.
  • . . . you have a spirit-spending build, so you don't plan to spam Mystic Ally.
  • . . . you have a very slow spirit-generating build and plan to spend your spirit spamming Overawe or another mantra.
  • . . . you really like the ally as a "fire and forget" weapon.

In truth, only the first item on this list is a legitimate reason to use him. For the rest, the Air Ally is a better choice because he provides more spirit and higher DPS. I considered adding "you're playing on the highest MP level you can, and your ally keeps dying," but my experience suggests that this won't work.

Earth Ally
The Earth Ally is great for pulling a single mob off you. Sadly, this feature helps get him killed in large combats when he uses it against the sorts of mobs you want to distract, and it's somewhat wasted when he uses it against random whites. However, there's no denying that he is, potentially, your best friend against a single boss or champ because he can force that mob to attack him for a full 3 seconds (assuming that bosses are not immune to this feature, which I don't know for certain but will test on Belial some day). You could literally take no damage for an entire fight like this against the right bosses, and it means that champ fights are always you against one or two mobs because the other one is busy taking out his frustrations on your little buddy.

You might prefer Earth Ally if . . .
  • . . . your monk is a little light in the pants and could really use the 10% VIT boost.
  • . . . you plan on killing any bosses or mini-bosses.
  • . . . you want to test the effectiveness of spamming this guy every 3 seconds against champs.
  • . . . you kite a lot against champs and would like to keep some of them distracted.

If you've got any other scenarios to suggest, please do so!
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/29/2012 10:20 AM PST
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This post compares Mystic Ally to other skills, including Blazing Wrath, all Sweeping Wind runes other than Cyclone, and Faith in the Light. I'll be updating it in pieces, and I'll concentrate on the best damage-dealer (Fire Ally). Keep in mind that many of these comparisons are gear-dependent and that I'm examining these skills, more or less, in a single-target vacuum.

Note: This post is currently incomplete, although it presents a complete picture of calculating real Thunderclap/Cyclone DPS in the most basic case. I will resume later today or tomorrow.

To keep the comparisons relatively simple, I'm going to assume that the monk is using many standard skills:

Thunderclap
Serenity (any rune)
Sweeping Wind (typically Cyclone; when I compare Fire Ally to non-Cyclone, I'll omit this)
Hard Target or Overawe
Seize the Initiative
One with Everything

That leaves space on the toolbar for two skills, plus another passive slot. In order to keep this post from sprawling in even more directions than it will anyway, I'm going to assume that one of the toolbar slots is filled by some sort of escape skill (typically Dashing Strike or Tempest Rush) and that the passive is something like Transcendence, Resolve, or something else aside from Combination Strike. This allows me to focus on one-to-one comparisons of Fire Ally against various skills.

For each comparison, I'll outline the relevant factors, explain the breakdown, and then post the real DPS changes for Hard Target, Overawe at 50% up-time, and Overawe at 100% up-time. I'm only going to explain the real DPS calculations and the Fire Ally damage calculation for the first comparison, so pay special attention to that part.

Anyway! Let's begin.

Mystic Ally vs. Blazing Wrath
Blazing Wrath provides two benefits:

1. It provides an additive buff of 15% to all damage.
2. It heals the player for 6202–7442 life every 15 seconds.

Because this bonus can be captured in the Sweeping Wind snapshot, and because it's almost always active (45-second duration, plus a convenient timer icon), it's essentially a straight 15% damage buff. By contrast, Fire Ally provides 600% paper DPS over 13 seconds, modified by Mystic Ally's static 50% CHD.

Let's examine a sample monk. I'll borrow one I used for some calculations for Fitz, but dressed up a little bit:
  • Average weapon damage (incl. damage gear): 650
  • DEX: 1900
  • Base attack speed: 1.40 (fist weapons)
  • IAS: 30% (15% from dual-wielding, 15% from gear)
  • CHD: 30%
  • CHD: 250%

This monk's paper DPS is calculated as follows:

650 AWD
x 20 (1900/100 + 1)
x 1.4 (base attack speed)
x 1.30 (IAS)
x 1.75 (1 + 0.3 CHC x 2.5 CHD)
= 41,405.00

So that's his paper DPS. But we need to calculate his real DPS, which includes Thunderclap's damage modifiers and haste modifier, his Sweeping Wind vortex, and the tornadoes from the Cyclone rune. Fortunately, it's not hard to do.

Thunderclap DPS
Thunderclap's damage is 145% of your actual damage. We're considering single-target damage, so we can ignore the AOE and primary attack components and just consider it a straight 1.45 multiplier.

Thunderclap's three-attack sequence also has its own haste modifier. Now, because no two people have agreed on the specifics, I'm going to make things simply and just use 1.5 as the multiplier.

This means that Thunderclap's damage is this:

41,405 (paper DPS)
x 1.45 (rune damage modifier)
x 1.5 (haste modifier)
= 90,055.875

(It's technically 45,545.50 in primary-attack damage on the first two punches and 44,510.375 on the 35%-35%-145% AOE sequence, but who's counting, right?)

Vortex Damage
Except for Blade Storm, Sweeping Wind's vortex damage is 15% of your paper DPS, not your real DPS, per stack. We'll assume three stacks, which means:

41,405 (paper DPS)
x 0.15 (damage per stack)
x 3 (stacks)
= 18,632.25 vortex DPS

Cyclone DPS
Each tornado spawned by Cyclone does 20% weapon damage per strike, modified by (DEX/100 + 1), and delivers that shock every 0.5 seconds for 3 seconds. That's really Cyclone in a nutshell: each strike has a chance to crit for your standard CHD buff, and IAS affects the tornado rate. Most of the factors that go into it, however, are included in your paper DPS:

1. Average weapon damage
2. DEX
3. APS
4. IAS
5. CHC/CHD

As a result, when you group those factors together as "paper DPS," you're left with this for damage:

Cyclone = Paper DPS x 0.2 x 6 x haste mod. x CHC x TC proc rate
For our sample monk, this means:

41,405 (paper DPS)
x 0.2 (20% AWD per strike)
x 6 (strikes per tornado)
x 1.5 (haste modifier)
x 0.3 (CHC)
x 1.25 (proc rate for three-strike Thunderclap sequence against single target)
= 27,948.375 tornado DPS

So, in a vacuum, our monk's real DPS with that sixth toolbar slot unfilled is the sum of these factors:

90,055.875 (Thunderclap DPS)
+ 18,632.25 (vortex DPS)
+ 27,948.375 (tornado DPS)
= 136,636.50 (real DPS)

Blazing Wrath
Blazing Wrath provides a straight 15% damage buff to these numbers. It also heals an average of 6,822 life every 15 seconds, or 454.8 LPS. Therefore, this monk's real TC/Cyclone DPS with Blazing Wrath, assuming 3 stacks of Sweeping Wind and maximum face time, is this:

136,636.50 x 1.15 = 157,132 (rounded)
Fire Ally
Left to its own devices, Fire Ally will generate 600% of your paper DPS over 13 seconds, modified by the ally's static +50% CHD.

To determine its value, we have to account for that CHD number. Our sample monk's CHF (critical hit factor) is 1.75:

1 + 0.3 x 2.5 = 1 + 0.75 = 1.75
The ally's CHF is 1.15:

1 + 0.3 x 0.5 = 1 + 0.15 = 1.15
Therefore, the ally's DPS contribution is this:

41,405 (paper DPS)
x 1.15/1.75 (ally's CHF divided by monk's CHF)
x 6/13 (600% DPS over 13 seconds)
= 12,558

We can add this to the monk's unbuffed real DPS to determine his real DPS with Fire Ally:

136,636.5
+ 12,558.0
= 149,194.5

At first glance, then, Blazing Wrath appears superior to Fire Ally:
  • Blazing Wrath: 157,132
  • Fire Ally: 149,195

But, as it turns out, that's not the entire story.

Maximizing Fire Ally
The Fire Ally DPS I just calculated assumes that you activate the skill and let the Fire Ally do his thing until he dies, at which point you respawn him. Technically, this is a worst-case scenario: if the Fire Ally dies after 5 normal attacks, and you respawn him 2 seconds later, you'll immediately get his special attack, so his production will be better than 600% over 13 seconds, although we can't say how much better.

What we can do, however, is say how much better Fire Ally can be if we activate the skill every second, which is roughly how fast I'd say you can do it. If you activate him and wait about a second after he appears before reactivating him, he'll wind up and deliver the flame kick just before you dismiss him and bring him back Although Fire Ally's special attack takes 2 seconds during his normal attack sequence—i.e., he uses his special attack, and he takes his next attack 2 seconds after he begins it—he actually delivers the damage after he makes the kick, which then sets the target on fire for 2 seconds of fire damage at 40% paper DPS per second. So you can essentially get a 160% contribution every second. (Note: I haven't yet fully confirmed that the target burns and continues to burn, but I'm working on it.)

What does this mean? It means that we can activate the skill every second and get the following benefits:
  • 80% paper DPS via the flame kick
  • 80% paper DPS from fire damage

That's 160% weapon damage. This means that the maximum value of Fire Ally, once the combat is down to you against a single mob, is this:

41,405 (paper DPS)
x 1.15/1.75 (ally's CHF divided by monk's CHF)
x 1.6 (160% DPS over 1 second)
= 43,534.4

We can now add this to the monk's unbuffed real DPS to determine his maximum single-target real DPS with Fire Ally:

136,636.5
+ 43,534.4
= 180,171

This means that Fire Ally has the potential to give us a very, very big advantage over Blazing Wrath:
  • Blazing Wrath: 157,132
  • Fire Ally: 180,171

That's almost a 15% buff! It means that, in certain situations that you will routinely encounter, Fire Ally is like a multiplicative Blazing Wrath buff of Blazing Wrath.

Blazing Wrath is roughly 8,000 DPS better than Fire Ally without spamming, but Fire Ally's ceiling is roughly 24,000 DPS higher than its floor. This means, roughly speaking, that if we spawn the skill 4 or 5 times for every time we let the ally run through his cycle, we'll equalize the output of Blazing Wrath:

(149,195 x 13 + 180,171 x 4.5) ÷ 17.5 = 157,160
You can also look at it another way by asking, "How often must I activate Fire Ally so that its average damage per second equals Blazing Wrath's contribution?" To answer that, we simply need to solve for Y in the following equation:

1.6 x 41,405 x 1.15/1.75
+ 0.4 x 41,405 x 1.15/1.75 x Y
÷ 2 + Y
= 157,132 - 136,636.5

The first term (1.6 x 41,405 x 1.15/1.75) is the amount of damage Fire Ally does during the 2-second flame kick and subsequent burn damage, accounting for the ally's CHF; the second (0.4 x 41,405 x x 1.15/1.75 x Y) is the amount of damage done over the course of Y seconds, given that Fire Ally's basic attack does 40% of your paper DPS, accounting for the ally's CHF. The third term is simply the number of seconds total (2 for the initial attack plus Y seconds of standard attacks), and the fourth is what we're solving for (Blazing Wrath's total real DPS minus the monk's unbuffed real DPS.)

Okay—now that I've finished explaining all the boring stuff for the few people who are interested, here's the solution: Y equals roughly 0.25. This means that if you spam Fire Ally every 2.25 seconds—roughly as often as you spam a mantra—you'll equal the single-target DPS of Blazing Wrath.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that this isn't terribly difficult across the course of a normal fight against an elite pack and several whites. In a single-target fight, it's easy to maximize Fire Ally and thus guarantee that 180,171 real DPS.

But What about Multiple Targets?
So far, we've only considered single-target DPS. As you add targets for Thunderclap, the sample monk's real DPS, aided by Blazing Wrath, grows. Assuming that you can catch each target in both your Sweeping Wind vortex and Thunderclap's AOE, here's how it scales:
  • One target: 157,132
  • Two targets: 249,030
  • Three targets: 340,929
  • Four targets: 432,827

(In case you're wondering, I change the number-of-opponents field in my spreadsheet, and POOF, instant scaling.)

Personally, I'd consider the maximum range as roughly two or three targets for Sweeping Wind's vortex in this scenario, and probably three or four targets for Thunderclap's AOE and the resulting tornado procs, but I'm posting the numbers here for a more complete picture. For the most part, players typically wade through whites and focus on champs and bosses, so the big numbers are one, two, and three targets, with the occasional four.

Fire Ally doesn't scale nearly as well. Even if we assumed that the ally could light the first two targets on fire reliably (and it can't, as it occasionally aims in unintended directions), spamming it every second will produce the following real DPS figures:
  • One target: 180,171
  • Two targets: 223,705

So it's typicaly at least as good as Blazing Wrath for up to two targets, but less so after that because it doesn't create any extra value if it doesn't hit a third target reliably.

Of course, Fire Ally has extra value against multiple mobs: it gives them another target, which reduces the amount of heat on your monk. Less heat means more face-time with your preferred target, which can help make up some of this DPS difference. As I mentioned earlier, the point of these comparisons isn't to say that one skill is demonstrably better than another (except when it clearly is)—it's to give you an idea of how they compare and the ways in which one might be better than another.

This creates a small paradox. When you have more mobs, you'll do more damage with Blazing Wrath, but you'll have a lesser amount of effective life because you'll be taking more damage; when you have more mobs, Fire Ally's DPS role is reduced, but its tanking role is enlarged. When you consider the sustain factor, I think Fire Ally is usually a clear-cut winner in situations where you need healing/sustain: Blazing Wrath adds a 6,800-point shot in the arm every 15 seconds, but a Fire Ally that draws even one-third of the mobs toward it extends your effective life by 50%. Life steal favors Blazing Wrath, however, so you should consider that if you're using LS weapons. But Blazing Wrath's LPS figure (454.8) is better on paper than it is in practice because you will not be using it every 15 seconds. On the other hand, it's rare to go more than a few seconds with a dead Fire Ally, which means that his tanking role is more or less always maximized. On the flip side, spamming Fire Ally means that you're standing right next to it, which minimizes its tanking role. So the whole thing has a big "rock, paper, scissors" component to it.

Tomorrow, I'll add another comparison or two, starting with the 50% and 100% Overawe figures for Mystic Ally and Blazing Wrath.
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/31/2012 11:26 PM PST
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The Big Bug, which I have posted to the bug forum:

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/7393109749

For those who don't want to click the link, Mystic Ally's CHD appears to be a static +50%.
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Reserved for miscellaneous questions and comments that don't fit into any of the categories above. If you've got a question you'd like to see answered, let me know!
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Nice.
Another can of whoopass. Surprise me!
this should be good, let's see wassup. >:D

/sips coffee
Edited by LordRaahl#1733 on 12/13/2012 10:28 AM PST
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Wait ... LordRaahl is Ritalyn?!

Mind = blown.
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Wait ... LordRaahl is Ritalyn?!

Mind = blown.
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Wait ... LordRaahl is Ritalyn?!

Mind = blown.


Ritalyn? who dat?
I am LordRaahl.

Head = explode.
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IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!!!!!!!!

IT IS HIM!!!!
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O.o?

/rolls a joint.

wwssshhhhh... aaahhh..
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This is literally making me LOL at work. You guys are awesome.
Edited by Nameless#1537 on 12/13/2012 11:38 AM PST
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I'm bumping this thread because I updated post 2:

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/7392649912#2

I'll be updating this post periodically over the next few days. Apparently, edits don't bump threads!
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When I read mind = blown I though of a meme I saw recently:

mARK HAMill

mind = blown

You're welcome Ritalyn.
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- Diablo III (Monk)
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Interesting.

I honestly tried my best to get a good Air-Ally SW:Snapshot and I couldn't do it ... looks like I am back to the drawing board there :D

I wonder if it does its damage based on the APS you YOUR weapon or the 1APS of the ally?
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Keeping an eye on this as I do use the skill and like it, so learning more will be a good thing :)
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The more you talk about Mystic Ally, Vrk, the more intrigued I get. I've always liked the skill and it was one of the main reasons I finished the game relatively early (april). I would love to use it again, I've always loved passive sources of increasing your damage, regardless of game.

The biggest problem is figuring out which skill to give up for it though. My first instinct is to be offensive and try dropping Serenity for it lol... If that doesn't work though, the only other real option is FitL and its hard to imagine MA can make up the difference especially considering SW snapshotting. Another idea I suppose, would be Earth Ally for the EHP boost, perhaps that might be enough to make up for dropping Serenity while also adding some dps in the process.
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@Druin: The Air Ally's vortex changes as your APS changes. The snapshot is based on your weapon stats, though. It works the same as Sweeping Wind, insofar as we can get an approximation of SW's true value because of the sampling behavior. It's also DOT, just like SW's vortex.

@Sinafae: I used allies all the time when I was leveling up, and then I got away from them for other things. I think it was in 1.0.3, which explains why the ally became less useful—at a certain point, he just got one-shot. I'm back in love with him now, although he's starting to get pounded a bit more frequently at MP6. That might not be his fault, though—Eirena is dying much more frequently at that level, which leaves the ally and me on your own for large portions of each fight. So maybe it's not him. Regardless, I'm still loving life with my little buddy by my side.
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