Diablo® III

Under the Hood: Mystic Ally

@stan: The answer would normally be Blazing Wrath, depending on your CHD. I'll be comparing all these skills later. The trick is, it's very player-specific because of the botched/locked +50% CHD. The higher your CHD, the more you're giving up by trading Blazing Wrath for Mystic Ally. On the flip side, having an extra tank can be invaluable, and it can free you up for more face-to-face DPS time with a percentage of the mobs on the field. It's a great EHP tool, which is why I dropped Blazing Wrath for it. Spam ability helps the DPS work out better than it looks on paper. But I'm getting ahead of myself :)
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I have been wondering if he is affected by your other skills. Does he benefit from things like guiding light etc? If so, it may be more worth while to do a buff/debuff build.
Edited by n0rain#1149 on 12/20/2012 1:17 PM PST
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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.


Serenity would most likely be the best choice to drop since you won't get surrounded as much given some of the group will go after your ally and/or follower and now that they have reduced the damage output of monsters in the game back a few patches ago the ally should stick around longer.

I have been wanting to run ally again, I tried using a maximus and equipming a maximus on my follower and using Litany and the Wailing Host to summon that skeleton to maximize my entourage. Was fun but DPS was lacking.

I look forward to the rest of your insights.
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Well, did a little testing with Earth Ally (replacing Serenity) in a game by myself. Went into mp10 to the Festering Woods and was able to kill two elite packs at the same time while only dying 3 times. Both had frozen too, which is the #1 reason I even still use Serenity. I feel undergeared (low dps) for mp10 too.
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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.


Serenity would most likely be the best choice to drop since you won't get surrounded as much given some of the group will go after your ally and/or follower and now that they have reduced the damage output of monsters in the game back a few patches ago the ally should stick around longer.

I have been wanting to run ally again, I tried using a maximus and equipming a maximus on my follower and using Litany and the Wailing Host to summon that skeleton to maximize my entourage. Was fun but DPS was lacking.

I look forward to the rest of your insights.


Arguably, if you're playing solo, you can try dropping your manta and spamming the Mystic Ally repeatedly, instead. I think they will do their bonus attack very shortly after summoning, so that might be an interesting use of Mystic Ally if you're looking for something to try out.
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12/20/2012 01:15 PMPosted by Vrkhyz
@stan: The answer would normally be Blazing Wrath

I think even Earth Ally would be more useful than Blazing Wrath. It really feels like the weakest dps buffing skill we have to me. Theres no reason whatsoever to be using it over FS+CS, as it offers more dps AND utility than BW. The next question is whether MA's dps + utility is worth as much as BW's dps. I'm really big on utility and being able to handle as many situations as possible, so I'm really leaning towards having DR + MA in my build even instead of DR + Ascension.
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Thanks for all the questions. Some of them are answered in that second post on the first page.

@n0rain: As stated in the last bullet of post 2, buffs affect the ally in real-time. If you put up Faith in the Light, it gets a big boost for 3 seconds; if you activate Blazing Wrath, it does 15% extra damage for 45 seconds; etc. These skills work the same way they do for your player—in other words, Faith in the Light increases the ally's base damage, and skills like Foresight, Blazing Wrath, and Combination Strike provide additive bonuses, not multiplicative ones.

@Carl: Serenity is another good choice. As you've noticed, the ally draws attention away from you. I gave my enchantress a Maximus, and I confess to being a little jelly at your Litany and the skeleton. The bigger the party, the better!

@Demiwraith: Dropping the mantra is an interesting idea, but I'm not at that point yet. Mantras are two bonuses rolled into one; they're hard to beat. The ally can be spammed, though, in which case he'll go into his special attack routine immediately. I haven't timed it with FPS software, but I have gotten the Fire Ally in an every-second routine that routinely spat out 160% of my DPS in 1 second. I'm going to talk about that in one of the next few posts.

@stan: For me, the ally was about 2K real DPS behind Blazing Wrath with my old Serenity/BW/Transcendence build (I swapped BW for MA); he's now about 3K over, and all I did was switch those other two skills to Combi-Strike and Foresight. There's solid math behind this, but it's very CHD-dependent. I have only +118% CHD, so it works for me, but there's a point at which it starts to flip the other way. Players with very high CHDs will not want to make this switch from a DPS standpoint, although the mitigation/aggro the ally provides is huge. You can see my usual build here, assuming I'm not testing:

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/Vrkhyz-1472/hero/18947197
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/20/2012 2:22 PM PST
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I'm actually really looking forward to reading your guide as you get closer to finishing. I've never understood the effectiveness of mystic ally and so never really made it on my bar. Keep up the great work, Vrk!
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I think a lot of monks might want to give this skill another look when this thread is done, if they aren't using it already. Here, as a teaser, are my real DPS figures (assuming I'm fully engaged and not moving away) with my profile skills locked except for the slot currently held by Mystic Ally:
  • Faith in the Light: 170,993
  • Air Ally: 157,408
  • Fire Ally: 155,885
  • Blazing Wrath: 153,013

So why don't I have Faith in the Light on my toolbar? Because having another target handy maximizes my full-DPS time. I'm willing to bet that my real DPS, accounting for the time I spend face-tanking, is higher with Mystic Ally than with Faith in the Light.

And why Fire Ally instead of Air Ally? Spamming. Getting to a point in the fight, or even small points in the fight, where I can start spamming the Fire Ally ever second increases my real DPS by a shade over 33,000, give or take how you measure it. I can easily do this throughout the fight, so the Fire Ally is a lot better than he looks. (Credit to Lord Raahl for that one; I hadn't used Fire Ally when leveling and used a couple without special attacks.)

Edit: Originally wrote 45,000 instead of 33,000 in my rush to post this before I left the office. The main point remains, and I need to make sure that setting the target on fire lasts even if you resummon the ally. I'm rather confident it does; if it doesn't, the boost will be smaller, but still very significant.
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/20/2012 5:52 PM PST
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12/13/2012 10:18 AMPosted by Vrkhyz
which always spawn in the direction you were facing when you activated Sweeping Wind. (Credit to Druin for that one.)


I have known this since day one of being a monk, yall need to pay more attention
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This is very good, I typically use air ally for low MP farming as another method of spreading some dps around, though have more recently stopped as I had a few situations where legendaries dropped on the edge of the screen/almost off screen and I prefer to not miss something as I'm rushing through.

What is great to know about this is what exactly is being gained, this makes the ally look far more impressive than I original had thought.
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12/20/2012 03:03 PMPosted by Vrkhyz
And why Fire Ally instead of Air Ally? Spamming. Getting to a point in the fight, or even small points in the fight, where I can start spamming the Fire Ally ever second increases my real DPS by a shade over 45,000, give or take how you measure it. I can easily do this throughout the fight, so the Fire Ally is a lot better than he looks. (Credit to Lord Raahl for that one; I hadn't used Fire Ally when leveling and used a couple without special attacks.)

I agree that the math supports that spamming Fire Ally is more edps than using Air Ally, but I don't agree that its a wise decision to make. It seems like literally a 0% chance that the difference between the two Ally runes makes up anywhere close to as much edps as Overawe spam is worth.
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With that quote response aside, I've been using Air Ally (instead of Serenity) today throughout mp 6 ubers and mp 7 keys + messing around and have been nothing but happy with the results. I think from this point on unless I'm doing mp10 and my dps (and thus sustain too) is relatively similar to what it is now, I'll be using Air Ally instead of Ascension at all times. The utility is THAT good, that it only took me a couple hours playtime to be convinced.
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I've been using Fire Ally on my HC character (only level 45 so far) pretty much since I unlocked it. Fire Ally is a great utility in that he distracts enemies any provides that spamming burst of damage. Also, it's really nice to be able to have someone else run in there and do the fighting in HC :)

I wasn't aware that I could spam it as frequently as every 1 second and still get the burst of damage, so Im going to try starting to do that. Thanks for the tip Vrk.

12/20/2012 04:19 PMPosted by gotaplanstan
I agree that the math supports that spamming Fire Ally is more edps than using Air Ally, but I don't agree that its a wise decision to make. It seems like literally a 0% chance that the difference between the two Ally runes makes up anywhere close to as much edps as Overawe spam is worth.

This, I'm not too sure about. Overawe's 3-second bonus only addes 13% to 17% damage for most Monks who are using other +% damage skills. Spamming Ally looks like it may add considerably more than that. If you have to choose which to spam, Ally may come out on top. If you have enough APS, you could spam both, though.

The big question, though, is what comes off your toolbar to get the Ally to spam. When I do unlock BF:FitL, I'm unsure that the utility+damage of Ally will beat the utility+damage of FiTL snapshot. Especially if you're doing the CS-Foresight-Thunderclap thing, you're really in a place where it's hard to find room for that Ally in your skill set.
Edited by Demiwraith#1534 on 12/20/2012 4:51 PM PST
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This, I'm not too sure about. Overawe's 3-second bonus only addes 13% to 17% damage for most Monks who are using other +% damage skills. Spamming Ally looks like it may add considerably more than that. If you have to choose which to spam, Ally may come out on top. If you have enough APS, you could spam both, though.

I would think this could only be mathematically possible if you were playing by yourself. Remember, as your group size increases, so does Overawe's value. Thats why its the most valuable dps skill in the game.
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Great stuff Vrk, and all of the other contributors to this thread. At the moment I don't have much interest in an ally, but I love reading through threads where people really explore skills and their potential. And some day I might just have a hankerin' to run with an ally, at which point the information people are sharing in this thread will be a gold mine.

One of the things I really like about the Diablo series is that it is extremely playable even if you choose not to min/max. So whether or not ally is "better" than any other particular skill, it's great to see that it provides a viable alternative for those who wish to play with it.
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12/20/2012 04:59 PMPosted by gotaplanstan
This, I'm not too sure about. Overawe's 3-second bonus only addes 13% to 17% damage for most Monks who are using other +% damage skills. Spamming Ally looks like it may add considerably more than that. If you have to choose which to spam, Ally may come out on top. If you have enough APS, you could spam both, though.

I would think this could only be mathematically possible if you were playing by yourself. Remember, as your group size increases, so does Overawe's value. Thats why its the most valuable dps skill in the game.


Definitely. Ally seems really designed for solo play. If you're in a big group, the added distraction bonus of Ally isn't really relevant either.
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12/20/2012 05:17 PMPosted by Demiwraith
If you're in a big group, the added distraction bonus of Ally isn't really relevant either.

Unless you're playing with other monks who are just as curious as you (figuratively, not YOU you) are. In which case it actually does distract them enough to have them stop moving and type out asking you why you're using it LOL :D
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With what you're saying
this- http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/monk#bjXRZk!fWX!cbbcca
...is a viable option and possibly a fun one at that.
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More good points all around. Overawe is one of the skills I'm going to compare Mystic Ally to when I write the comparison post--not because I think anyone should really play without a mantra (I don't, really), but because it will indicate how good Mystic Ally can be for certain monks, especially in solo play. (In group play, you ought to be using Blazing Wrath and Overawe if you're trying to support the group by buffing DPS.)

I'll use my monk as an example. If I were to spam Overawe constantly with my Combi-Strike/Foresight/Thunderclap setup, my real DPS would be roughly 187,000. If I were to spam Fire Ally instead, it would be a shade higher.

Now, there are some major caveats here:

1. I don't have life steal, which favors Overawe if Mystic Ally doesn't combine with life steal.

2. I don't have a very high CHD, so the ally's 50% CHD isn't a big loss.

3. I run that trifecta, which means that Overawe provides the same raw benefit as it would for a monk without buffs but a lower percentage increase. In other words, if my base weapon damage is 700 per hit, Overawe spam is always worth 336 extra damage per hit, but that 336 is a much lower percentage of what I do now compared to what I'd do if I used Blazing Wrath as my only buff (or even no buffs). The ally's damage scales directly with my buffs, not counting his defective CHD.

4. Spamming the ally every second is harder than refreshing Overawe every time the dial spins itself out of existence.

5. Spamming the ally every second costs 75 spirit every 3 seconds; Overawe costs 50. That's significant.

6. Overawe's bonus scales with multiple targets; the allies are mostly single-target missiles.

7. Summoning the ally constantly puts him next to me and thus mitigates his ability to pull mobs away from me.

There are almost certainly other factors I'm overlooking here. Even if I could catalog them all and measure them in concrete terms, the point wouldn't be proving that one skill is clearly superior to the other--it would be in learning about just how good (or not) some of these skills can be, as well as identifying when they might be better than the alternatives. After all, I'm sure few of us considered it possible that Mystic Ally could, in single-target terms, meet or exceed Overawe's DPS contribution for a monk with a viable build. (I'll be honest: it surprised me a bit.)

More tomorrow.

Edits: Stupid iPad!
Edited by Vrkhyz#1472 on 12/20/2012 7:18 PM PST
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