"Dwayna guides me through the darkness into the light. Balthazar strengthens me by setting dark places in my path."
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when setting up a team. One of them is "why am I bringing this profession?". Each profession has a number of advantages and disadvantages when used, whether as primary or secondary. Here I've outlined a few things that make the monk a valuable member of the team.
Monks bring strong, varied support: When the monk was originally designed, it was the only support/backline class in the game. As a result, they were given some very powerful spells to handle their role. Today, all three monk secondary attributes provide powerful skills for supporting the team (mostly in the form of keeping them alive).
Monks make a difference: Even the more offense-oriented monk builds typically carry two or three skills that help keep their teammates alive. Dedicated defensive monk builds provide some of the best party survival in the game; there's very few monk builds that don't significantly increase their team's survivability.
Monks are unique: Protection Prayers make monks play differently from healers in other games. Playing a monk can be a refreshing change of pace.
Monks have powerful skills for secondaries: If you're dipping into monk as a secondary profession to pick up a few support skills (such as a hard res), you won't be disappointed. Just remember that many of them will require a significant energy and/or attribute investment.
The monk is primarily a support character, though they do respectable damage when built towards it. However, monk skills have practically no way of controlling opponents.
Survivability: Your self-defense isn't the best. With a base 60 AR and a reliance on focus items for spellcasting, your saving graces are your ability to hide in the backline, keep a shield set for when you're not casting, and use your own spells to save yourself.
A note about damage: Monks have no damage skills outside of the Smiting Prayers line. Therefore, non-smiting monks are terrible at anything regarding damage (wanding has good range and is sustainable, but doesn't do notable damage).
Damage output: Smiting damage is surprisingly strong - almost all of it is holy damage and has the potential to hit a number of opponents.
Inflicted effects: This really isn't your thing. There's a hex or two you can bring to the table to annoy the other guys, but that's about it.
Sustainability: You could be stronger here, but given that most of your damaging spells do a lot of damage or keep your allies up (or both), it's really not something to complain about.
Targeting capacity: Almost all of your offensive spells are either full range or affect an area around an ally (such as the melee in the middle of all the baddies). It can be annoying landing some of the more powerful aoe or touch spells, though.
Debuff removal: Monks have a number of powerful skills to keep the team clean, almost all of which have a nice secondary effect (such as healing or a defensive buff when you get something off the guy). The better ones remove a lot of problems at once.
Defensive buffing: Only two skills in the game can compete with monk defensive skills, and they're both PvE-only skills. Smiters are worse at this, though still capable if they choose to be.
Offensive buffing: As with anything to do with damage, Smiting monks are very good at this; other monks, not so much.
Healing: Once again, you're the gold standard for this sort of thing. You have a number of powerful skills across a number of attributes designed to keep red bars up; even smiters are pretty good at this.
Caster punishment: You have no skills that do this.
Denial: You also can't do this.
Melee punishment: There's less than half a dozen monk skills that discourage or stop melee attackers, and most of them aren't strong enough to make the other guy think twice.
Like most casters, you use weapons for their upgrade bonuses, not for their inherent damage.
- Axe: Martial weapons have a variety of good inscriptions and can be used for an energy boost, energy hiding, defensive bonuses, and increasing the duration of your enchantments, which is critical for getting the most out of your Protection Prayers. Depending on your build and what you're facing, any or all of these can be critical.
- The caster weapon article has more information on this topic.
- Sword: Because you should never be using a melee weapon to actually attack, these are essentially the same as axes to you (outside of skin).
- Daggers: Like swords and axes, but you can't use a shield or focus.
- Hammer: Exactly like daggers.
- Scythe: Exactly like hammers.
- Spear: Like axes and swords, but you can also autoattack things if it becomes necessary.
- Bow: Surprisingly good for you, because Distracting Shot is very good at preventing damage to your team. It locks out your secondary, though.
- Wand: There's two critical reasons to use a wand: for a 40/40 set and for a high energy set using "Sieze the Day".
- Staff: A 40/40/20 staff is critical for prots and helpful for some of the long-term buffs.
- Focus: Same as the wand, but with "Live for Today". You also get an energy boost to make up for not using a staff.
- Shield: You're squishy, so you need all the armor you can get. Switch to your shield set when you're about to take damage (a melee closes to you, for example).
- |Survivor Insignia: This is as good for you as for anyone else.
Like other professions, your choice of attribute runes will mostly depend on your build. In most situations, you can afford a major rune in your most important attribute if you stick to the backline and avoid undue attention, though in PvP or similarly high-risk situations you may choose to stick to minor runes.