Since we now know with absolute certainty that there is no Paladin class in Diablo 3, many players have been wondering what the suitable replacement for the class would be.
Since the Witch Doctor is similar to the Necromancer, the Wizard to the Sorceress, the Demon Hunter to the Amazon, and the old Barbarian to the new Barbarian, many have conjectured that the Paladin’s replacement would likely be the Monk, if only by default.
However, is this actually the case? After checking out the mechanics and current abilities, it turns out there there are two viable replacements for the Paladin: both the Monk and the Barbarian.
Both classes have features of the Paladin, but neither class completely can replicate the Diablo 2 Paladin’s abilities. In this article, you will learn exactly how the Paladin’s roles seem to be split between the two classes so you can better decide which one is right for you.
Diablo 3 Paladin Class Replacement: Monk versus Barbarian Overview
As a general rule of thumb, the Monk’s abilities tend to consist of buffing and protecting party members, whereas the Barbarian’s talents focus on increasing his own defense.
The Monk has all the group buffs you would expect from the Paladin class and then some. It has abilities which boost party resistance, defense, damage dealt (and increasing the damage taken by enemies). It can even heal and provide shields for himself and party members.
Meanwhile, the Warrior seems much better equipped to wear a shield, reflect damage (via Thorns-type abilities, which cause attacks to take damage on a successful hit), soak up damage, and leech life from opponents. The Warrior can also have a taunt spell which forces enemies to focus on him (the only spell of its type in the game for players).
However, do not count the Monk out of being a tank just yet. Below, we will walk about some of the Paladinesque abilities of both classes and how this might effect which class you want to play if the Paladin was your favorite class in Diablo 2.
Diablo 3 Paladin Replacement: The Monk
The Monk has a huge variety of defensive and support abilities – almost an overwhelming number when you factor in runes. You will actually have to select which defensive, healing, and buffing spells you want to equip because you will not be able to use them all.
The Monk excels at protecting teammates. One example of this is the Mantra of Evasion with an Alabaster Rune: not only does this always increase your party’s dodge rate by 30%, but whenever a teammate drops under 20% health, it places a shield on them for 10 seconds which reduces incoming damage by 80%! It is like automatically protecting your team from death.
If you do not want to use that Mantra, you can put up a healing aura, which when talented, increases all resistances by 50%. This increase to all types of resistances was always a treasured Paladin aura from Diablo 2.
Additionally, the Monk possesses the Mantra of Retribution, which functions a lot like Retribution Aura (deals damage on enemy hit). When runed, this can also increase party attacking and casting speed by 40% (all the time).
Perhaps the best offensive aura of all is the Mantra of Conviction, which when runed properly increases the damage that enemies take by 55%. In a 4-person party, a 55% increase in damage taken by enemies will massively speed up your killing rates.
Speaking of damage buffs, Breath of Heaven can be runed to increase all healed party member’s damage by 20% for 33 seconds. Breath of Heaven by the way is a powerful group heal, which can be used very frequently as it only requires spirit and has no cooldown.
Another interesting technique the Monk possesses is a variety of debuffs. For example, a Monk can blind enemies around him, reducing their chance to hit by 65% with a rune. Combined with Mantra of Evasion, this is 95% miss rate. I am assuming there must be some sort of hard cap on dodge (in Diablo 2 things like resistances were hard capped at 75%, but special gear which was released with the Expansion could raise this hard cap).
Additionally, when the Monk’s basic attack Fist of Thunder is runed, it has a 15% chance to interrupt enemy attacks. It also increases the Monk’s chance to dodge by up to 15% when used repeatedly. Another passive ability reduces the damage enemy’s deal by 10%. Simply by attacking, the Monk is able to significantly reduce enemy damage output and increase his own dodge.
The Monk also has a few trump cards which the Barbarian does not possess. One is the Serenity ability, which makes you immune to damage and effects for 3 seconds. This can be runed to effect all party members.
The Near Death Experience passive skill revives the Monk at 35% health and spirit when you die (cooldown between activations). Combine this with Breath of Heaven when you revive and you can get a heal off, allowing you to survive quiet easily from that which had just killed you.
Monks also do get to deal holy damage, but it does not seem to be in the way of a primary attack like it was with the Paladin. As a Monk, certain abilities generate spirit, whereas others cost spirit. Abilities that generate spirit are physical damage attacks, whereas there are a few spirit-spenders which deal holy damage.
Finally, the Monk gets access to a few Paladin-like passive abilities:
- A passive which increases your chance to dodge by 10% when dual-wielding;
- A passive which increases your chance to dodge by half of your critical-hit rate;
- A passive which makes all your resistances the same as your highest resistance (this allows you to put on a piece of gear with just fire resistance and become resistant to all elements);
- A passive which increases damage dealt for both you and the person healed after using a Breath of Heaven.
With all this in mind, you may be thinking that the Monk is the perfect replacement for the Paladin. Well, before you get too far ahead of yourself, know this:
- Paladins focused on having very high armor ratings, a high chance to block, and were overall very good at mitigating damage via defense. Monks primarily reduce incoming damage by having a high chance to dodge.
- Paladins were able to create fairly powerful thorns sets. The Monk is unable to do this; even with Mantra of Retribution, it does not add up to much considering that Monks dodge most attacks and a dodged attack results in no damage dealt.
- Paladins use shields. Monks can equip shields, but it seems dual-wielding fist weapons or using a Daibo (2-handed staff) is their ideal set-up.
Diablo 3 Paladin Replacement: The Barbarian
The Barbarian has a lot less support abilities available to it than the Monk, but its abilities are powerful and should not be so quickly discounted.
First off, there is the War Cry ability. This is a buff of decent duration which requires that your teammates are nearby when you use it. This increases armor of your teammates by 100%. When runed, it can either increase their resistances by 80% (much more than the Monk’s Mantra) or increase their regeneration significantly and increase their life by 50% (also much more than the Monk’s Mantra).
Furthermore, the Barbarian has an ability known as Threatening Shout, which decreases the damage that enemies deal by 50% for a short time. Additionally, this can be talented so effected enemies have to attack you for 9 seconds, making the Barbarian the only class in Diablo 3 which can taunt enemies.
The Barbarian lacks the trump cards that the Monk possesses for bailing out teammates. However, the Barbarian’s Ignore Pain ability can help him tank a high-damage enemy. When runed, this will reduce damage taken by 65% for 13 seconds.
Finally, the Barbarian does have two of the best passive tanking abilities in the game:
- Superstition, which reduces all non-physical damage by 20%;
- Tough as Nails, which increases thorns damage and armor by 100%.
The Barbarian does not have the large variety of support abilities that the Monk has, but it certainly does have the ability to handle taking a lot of damage.
Now that we know the basic defensive and support abilities of both classes, we can compare them and tell you about their playstyle compared to the Diablo 2 Paladin so you know which class you want to pick.
Monk vs Barbarian – Comparing the Classes
By looking at the two sets of abilities, some clear distinctions arise:
- Monks can heal party members, Barbarians cannot
- Monks provide shields for party members, Barbarians cannot
- Monks boost party member damage, Barbarians cannot
- Barbarians have less buffs than Monks, but their War Cry is more powerful than buffing Mantras
- You can stack both a Mantra and a War Cry though for double buffs, though runes of the same type (i.e. both +% to resistance) are not likely to stack. This allows you to use Warcry for buffing and Mantra of Conviction to increase the amount of damage the enemy takes.
- Barbarians can create better and more effective thorns sets; Monks dodge too much
- Barbarians can taunt, Monks cannot
- Both classes can wear shields, but they fit better with Barbarians as Monks dodge quite a bit and shields tend to offer large bonuses to thorn-type effects
Diablo 3 Paladin Replacement : The Bottom Line
To sum up everything discussed so far, both classes can buff their teammates and tank enemies. However, when it comes down to it, the Barbarian is more suited towards the high vitality, high armor, and high mitigation role should there be any enemy difficult enough to require that it need to be tanked.
On the other hand, the Monk has far superior buffs, as it is the class with the best healing abilities for teammates and can actually buff party-member damage, whereas the Barbarian is unable to do this.
As a result, if you want to play a tanking class which manages enemies rather than buffing its teammates, the Barbarian is for you. If you want to play a melee DPS class which heals and buffs its party members while debuffing its enemies, then the Monk is for you.
Regardless, both classes can deal plenty of damage. You can do great damage and buff at the same time or just as easily focus exclusively on dealing damage.