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Thinking About Diving Into Monster Hunter, Part 2 - Weapons


As a follow up to yesterdays blog, it looked like at least one person was interested in an explanation of equipment, and that�s more than enough reason for me to write another lengthy post with not enough images (Though I�ll try to add some to this one, it will be cheesy though!)

The first thing to keep in mind is that ALL of the weapons are good and capable. I wrote that yesterday, but I can�t stress it enough agains. Too many times I see people say certain weapons �suck� or �are worthless� and it makes me a little sad. Some weapons are better suited to some monsters than others, but all of the weapons are capable of taking down all the monsters in the game.

In order to avoid assuming too much I�m going to say a little about how weapons work and the control scheme. The x button draws your weapon and the y button puts it away. If you�re moving while you press x with the weapon sheathed, you will generally perform a �draw attack�. With the weapon drawn the attacks are generally x and a. R is a �utility button� which either blocks (for the SNS, GS, Lance and Gunlance) or changes function / performs a special attack , or toggles quick aim mode (Bowguns and Bow). Most weapons have a fairly extensive combo system, so pressing x -> x will result in different attacks than pressing x -> a, or even holding forward while pressing x -> x.

Some things to think about when choosing a weapon are: How comfortable are you with dodging and Do you want to be able to block? How comfortable are you with timing your hits and anticipating the monster�s movements? How much does mobility while the weapon is drawn matter?

Here is a quick rundown (which is really long) of all of the weapon types in MH3U. There are a lot of weapons and keep in mind that even the similar ones play significantly differently. I�m not an expert in every weapon, but I know the basics of each one.

Sword and Shield (SNS)

A �staple� MH weapon. This is what you start the game equipped with. This weapon received some significant improvements in MH3U and is a very capable weapon now. Generally one of the most versatile and easiest to understand weapons. The shield provides decent enough defense against small attacks but larger attacks will stagger you or be unblockable.

The sword and shield is, imo, the most mobile weapon in the game. Not only do you move quite fast while the weapon is drawn, it has the least �backswing� of the weapons, and combo attacks don�t take very long, making it exceptionally easy to roll out of the way to cancel a combo when compared to other weapons. This combined with the �leap� attack (unsheath also does this if you�re moving) makes it easy to get in and out of range.

In order to use items while the weapon is drawn, hold the R button and press y while blocking. This can save significant amounts of time when trying to set up traps, or throw bombs, etc.

Strengths - Can Block, Short Combos, Very Mobile, Can use items while the weapon is drawn.
Weaknesses - Short reach. Not bursty.

Gr-eatsword (GS)

The most famous and notorious weapon in Monster Hunter. Has a charge attack that is capable of dealing the most single hit damage if you can land it. Probably the most timing reliant weapon in the game though. The GS can also block by pressing R. To effectively use the greatsword you need to have excellent timing and positioning. Greatsword is, imo, the hardest weapon to start with, but as long as you go into it knowing what to expect it�s a good weapon to learn.

But when it comes to mobility the Greatsword is probably the least mobile. It slows down your movement significantly while the weapon is drawn, and while charging you are unable to move unlike with the hammer. One of the bright points of the Greatsword is that it has the best �unsheathe� attack. In order to take advantage of this, most GS players will put their weapon away when positioning themselves, then use their Draw attack primarily, often going straight into a charge attack from the draw. Because of this, Critical Draw and Fast Charge are the most popular armor skills for Greatswords.

Charging the Greatsword (hold x) is a great way to deal damage but charging �correctly� is an art. If you overcharge (hold the button too long) you won�t do as much damage. There are 3 levels of charge, each doing significantly more damage than the previous. You will notice the �aura� behind your character get brighter at 3 levels. The third is the highest but you have to be quick. If you don�t release the button, and the charge ends automatically, you will do damage equivalent to the level 2 charge. Not bad, but not as good as it could have been.

Strengths - Can Block. Has the highest Single Attack damage of any weapon in the game. Decent Reach.
Weaknesses - Slow to swing, Dramatically slows movement when drawn, can�t move while charging.


A long, katana like weapon (or nodachi). Can be powered up by striking enemies then completing and connecting with a �spirit combo.� The longsword is quite versatile. It�s fast, has a good range, good damage, and a really nice combo (x -> x -> a -> x). What it lacks in mobility it makes up for in reach.

Effectively using the longsword requires you to use the �spirit combo.� When you hit enemies, the weapon will �power up� in a little bar under your stamina. If that�s full, you can press R to initiate a spirit combo. This is a fairly fast series of hits followed by a �roundhouse.� If the last hit (the roundhouse) hits, the weapon will be powered up to deal significantly more damage. You can do this up to 3 times (white - yellow - red). The bonus power will drain over time, and the higher your charge the quicker it will drain.

While the Longsword is a great weapon, it�s often frowned upon in groups. The spirit combo is integral to correctly using the Longsword, but if you have teammates you are likely to trip them up when executing it, which reduces their ability to deal damage. IMO it�s a better solo weapon than group weapon for that reason, but with a big enough monster and careful play it can work well in multiplayer as well.

Strengths - Good reach, Fast Swings, Good Damage per Second.
Weaknesses - Not particularly group friendly with �spirit combos�, Managing your spirit bar.

Dual Swords (DS)

Sort of like 2 of the Sword and Shield swords. Dual Blades sacrifices defense for increased mobility in �demon mode� which is triggered by pressing R. Dual Blades are one of the more intuitive weapons to use, having a variety of combos. The intuitiveness, though, is somewhat belied by managing the �demon mode� bar and the fairly long combos you can find yourself in which can leave you open to attack.

Pressing R enters �demon mode� which constantly drains your stamina. While in this mode, your combos are different, and you have a dodge animation which is a quick slide instead of the normal roll. It�s slightly shorter range, but much quicker in execution. Also, the little bar will fill up under your stamina whenever you connect with an attack. Once that bar is full, you get a permanent �semi� demon mode which increases your moves speed, and makes your dodge always the slide like when you�re in demon mode, without having your stamina constantly drain. Managing this bar and system is critical to fully utilizing the DS.

Dual Swords are quite mobile due to the movement speed boost you get in demon mode, and the nice dodge animation. Also, the draw attack is similar to the SNS, it can quickly close distance to the enemy with an attack. You can use this while the weapon is drawn by pressing x + a at the same time as well. Unlike the sword�s draw attack, this has a little bigger strike area, making it easier to hit with.

Strengths - Fast Attacks, Mobile, Good Damage per Second, Fairly easy to use.
Weaknesses - Short Range, Long Combos can leave you prone, managing demon mode bar.


As you probably noticed, like most other things in MH Hammers are big. With this size comes both high damage, and fairly low swing speed. Another aspect of the hammer is that by dealing �impact� rather than normal damage, it will exhaust the monster, and if you hit it in the head, will KO the monster giving you and your team precious time to deal damage while it flails about.

Using the hammer effectively requires hitting the monster in the face over and over. This means it�s important to understand how the monster moves, as well as positioning like the Greatsword. However, because you can move while charging the hammer, it�s a little more user friendly than the Greatsword, imo. (Hold R to charge). The 3rd level of charge while stationary (Important!) will �superpound�. This will deal substantial damage to the enemy, and will never �bounce.� This is what you want to use primarily to take monsters down. In general you can ignore the other 2 charge levels. They can be good for closing distance to the enemy, but are more situational and difficult to use properly.

Another notable attack is the �golfswing� which is the highest damage attack of the Hammer. There are two ways to do this. The first is to do the �tripple pound� which is x -> x -> x. The other is to use the 3rd level charge while moving. This will cause you to spin around for a while and if you press x after your 3rd rotation (I believe) it will follow up with a golfswing. It�s harder to execute this properly and you should be careful using both methods, generally reserving them for when the enemy is prone, until you are amazing at predicting what the enemy will do.

Strengths - Mobile while charging, Great �single hit� damage, can exhaust and KO enemies.
Weaknesses - Swings are fairly slow. Non-charge Attacks require enemy to be immobile to be effective.

Hunting Horn

A weapon similar to the hammer, however instead of the ability to charge it can �buff� enemies and yourself. The Hunting Horn is slow, and deals impact damage which can KO, just like the hammer. Pressing R will �perform� a song based on what attacks you made which are indicated by �notes� under your stamina bar.

The Hunting Horn is quite challenging to use properly, imo, because you have to balance both your attacks against the enemies, and the time you spend �performing� to buff your allies, all while keeping in mind the order of your attacks so you can do so. When you perform, you can perform and if you press R again it will perform an �encore� which will slightly increase the benefit of the primary buff. Unfortunately, the performance leaves you prone for a long time, so use it carefully either away from the enemy, or while the enemy is stunned. The duration of the buffs can also be increased with the �maestro� skill.

The types of buffs you can give yourself and your allies are massive, and using the hunting horn without doing so is possible (it has extremely capable damage and a fun moveset, imo), but you won�t be using the weapon to its fullest potential particularly in a group. Each horn has a unique set of colored �notes� with 2 colored and 1 white which makes each one have a different set of songs to buff your allies. Having a variety of horns is important to both manage what buffs to counter the enemies (for example, negate wind and Earplugs) or which buffs based on your team (Hammer and Dual Sword users will love the �negate stamina use buff� available on some horns).

Strengths - Can KO enemies, Good single hit damage, Songs are very powerful.
Weaknesses - Slow to swing, slow move speed while drawn.


Long and Defensive - Can �rush� enemies hitting multiple times and increasing movement speed with the weapon drawn (Press x + a while blocking). Changes Dodge Roll to a Backstep / sidestep and has the best blocking capacity. The lance is an interesting weapon which I personally do not like using, so please forgive me if it sounds not as great due to my description. It is a great weapon and many experienced players enjoy and excel with it.

The lance has fairly good mobility with its attacks (many can put you in range of the enemy) as well as fairly easy to use and versatile attack set that gives you a lot of freedom in which part of the monster you attack. However moving while it is drawn is extremely slow, on par with the greatsword.

The notable �moves� with the lance are the rush, and the counter. My personal favorite thing to do is to rush a fleeing / limping enemy to take it down before it leaves the area. This will cause you to hit the enemy several times which is usually enough to stagger and slow it down, often giving you time to kill it before it escapes. Unfortunately I�m not as good with the counter (hold block and press a), which functions somewhat like a charge but essentially puts up your shield, and either when you are struck, or when a certain amount of time has gone by you will attack for significant damage.

Strengths - Fairly fast attacks, Good Range, Best blocking capability of all weapons, Versatile moveset
Weaknesses - reduces move speed significantly.


Similar to the lance but sacrifices mobility for firepower. Can fire off shells which do significant damage. While the lance works much the same way as the gunlance, they have dramatically different movesets. Both change your dodge roll into a backstep / sidestep, though.

The gunlance is slightly less mobile. It does have a good �step forward� attack, (forward + x) but it has nothing like charge of the lance. Instead the gunlance can �shell� enemies for significant damage, unmitigated by enemy armor. Along with shelling, you will need to keep in mind how much ammo you have loaded as well (r + a reloads). Note that depending on your lance you may have more ammo, or more range with your shelling, or more spread, but don�t think of the lance as a �long range� weapon as it is not.

The gunlance also has a notable �wyvern fire� attack. Holding block (r) and pressing x+a will release an short range explosion directly in front of your lance after a certain charge time. The charge time can be significant, so timing it properly is critical.

Strengths - Great damage output with the ability to �shell�, good range and defence like the lance.
Weaknesses - Even less mobile than the lance, combos take longer to pull off.

Switch Axe

IMO the Switch Axe is a somewhat complicated weapon capable of dealing great damage. It has a fairly basic moveset with a nice reach, in both modes. Pressing the R button will switch between �axe� mode and �sword� mode. Sword mode is always better, but your �phial� will run out eventually and you will be sent back to axe mode to recharge. Pressing R before it�s ready will play a short animation that speeds up recharge significantly. Notable about �sword� form is your weapon will never bounce, which can be very handy in the early stages of the game for fights like Qurupeco.

Switch Axe is one of the weapons I use primarily. Effectively using the switch axe requires you to spend as much time in sword mode as possible, and to be able to seamlessly switch between the two modes. To do so, simply perform a step-forward attack (forward + x). This will cause you to �jab� with your axe, if you follow that up with R it will transform the weapon while you are attacking. This is preferable to changing it any other time as there is a significant animation. Similarly, on the downswing of the sword attack, if you press R again it will change it to axe mode.

The �notable� attack for the Switch axe is the �overcharge.� Pressing x+a, and then mashing a after will jab the enemy and make little explosions which will finish in a larger explosion. It does a lot of damage in the time you do it, but keep in mind it uses most of your sword energy and often leaves you needing to sharpen. Since it takes a long time to get off (similar to a 3 charge for the greatsword) it�s recommended that you use it sparingly only when the enemy is prone.

Strengths - Good per hit damage, fast swings, versatile moveset, good range, sword mode never bounces.
Weaknesses - Slows move speed significantly, Managing the Power Bar, can take a while to �switch� between modes.

Unfortunately, going too much into ranged weapons would require its own blog post, so I�m going to keep the ranged weapons sections short and sweet. With all ranged weapons pressing R will toggle your aim mode, holding it down will give you a �quick aim� mode and adjusting the aim should be done (imo) with the directional pad. It�s not possible to change your aim while moving.

Heavy Bowgun

A bowgun that trades mobility for reduced recoil and increased accuracy. Can �siege mode� which allows you to put out a lot of damage quickly. Due to the nature of ranged weapons in this game, bowguns take a serious dedication to use, imo. The armor required to use them is completely different from the blademaster armor, and managing your ammo can be taxing and expensive.

With that said bowguns are very rewarding versatile weapons capable of putting out serious damage, or supporting a party by inflicting status ailments on enemies.

Siege mode works by pressing x + a. While selecting a siege-able ammo (highlighted green). Seige mode allows you to fire both more rapidly and reload less, the downside of course is that you can not move.

Strengths - High Damage bowgun, Siege mode fires very fast.
Weaknesses - Low mobility, can�t move during siege mode, ammo management.

Light Bowgun

A more mobile bowgun that has increased recoil and the ability to �rapid fire.� The light bowgun has the same caveats with respect to armor and ammo as the heavy bowgun. Instead of Siege mode, the light bowgun gets �rapid fire.� Ammo which is highlighted green with the light bowgun will fire 2 to 3 shots per �shell� at slightly reduced per shot damage. This effectively increases the damage you put out per ammo, at the slight sacrifice of taking longer to fire the rapid fire barrage.

The light bowgun also has typically higher recoil than the heavy bowgun.

Strengths - Rapid fire can put out good damage, movement is quick while drawn.
Weaknesses - higher recoil, higher deviation, ammo management.


(New to MH3U) A versatile ranged weapon which can be charged to fire a variety of different shots. The Bow doesn�t require quite as much ammo, but using it effectively requires you to �coat� your arrows using a coating. This gives the bow similar utility to bowguns, if not more.

To use the bow, hold down x to charge, you generally want to charge all the way to the 3rd level before firing. Aiming can be tricky with the bow, imo, because the way the arc is presented. The notable thing about the bow is that at level 3 charge, if you press a instead of letting go of x you will fire a shot directly up which will rain hits down a ways in front of you. This can deal great damage against larger monsters, but should be avoided against small ones.

Strengths - Versatile attacks, good mobility.
Weaknesses - Stamina management can be challenging, (imo) hardest weapon to aim with, coating management.

Whew. That was REALLY long and I still don�t feel like I went into really sufficient depth with each weapon, but it should give you an idea of what each weapon is about. It looks like armor will have to wait for another post, but I�ll talk a little more about weapon selection here.

Selected a Weapon Type or Three, Now What?

With any weapon type there are numerous weapons at any given �quality� level. Deciding which weapon to use can be confusing, so I�ll go through stats a little here. This may seem a bit pedantic but how the stats work with each weapon type can be counterintuitive.

The 3 stats you should think about are Sharpness, Attack, and Element / Status Effect.


Sharpness is the rainbow color �gauge� you may have noticed. It's indicated on the field by the weapon under your stamina bar, a sword that 'flashes' the color of your current sharpness. Sharpness goes from least to most sharp, just like a rainbow Red -> Orange -> Yellow -> Green -> Blue -> (White) -> Violet. As you attack enemies, your weapons sharpness will decrease after a certain number of hits, this sharpness can be restored by sharpening the weapon with a Whetstone.

Sharpness increases your weapons damage, the elemental damage, and reduces the chance your weapon will �bounce� or be deflected by the enemy. As such, keeping your weapon sharp is very important. The number of attacks you can make before your weapon dulls is dependent on how much of the bar is the specific color. If you�ve only got a sliver of green, you will only be able to hit 3-5 times before you end up in the yellow.

Ultimately, sharpness is in my opinion the most important stat to consider for both damage and quality of life. Always prioritize sharper weapons and keep in mind how much sharpness each weapon has. A weapon with slightly lower damage but much more green sharpness will be more effective than one that has more damage but only a sliver of green sharpness because you will spend less time running around trying to hone your weapon with a whetstone.

Weapon Power

The next obvious stat is attack power. The way weapon power works in MH is actually extremely counter-intuitive and I don�t know the exact formula for MH3U. But attack isn�t made equal for each weapon. What this boils down to is this very important point DO NOT COMPARE ATTACK POWER BETWEEN DIFFERENT WEAPONS! Just because your hammer has 500 damage and your SNS only has 300 doesn�t mean your hammer is more powerful. In fact, a SNS with 300 will probably out-damage a hammer with 500 significantly because of the way the damage formulations work. Ultimately, and I have to repeat this, don�t compare weapon power between different weapon groups, compare it to previous weapons of the same type to get an idea of how strong it is.

The way the weapon power numbers work leads a lot of new players to the Greatsword or Hammer due to the higher numbers, which they find difficult to use and unintuitive. If only they knew that just because those weapons had bigger numbers didn�t mean they were stronger, I feel like so much complaining about MH could be averted. Weapon power is generally the second most important stat for most weapons, but don�t be concerned if your weapon power looks low because you�re using an SNS or DS. As long as you have been diligent in upgrading them, you will keep up just fine!

Elemental and Status Attack

The final stat of importance is the weapon�s elemental damage or status effect. This is kind of a �bonus� on some weapons, and honestly matters more on some weapons than others. Because of the way the damage formula works, the Elemental damage or status effect is more important on fast swinging weapons like the SNS and DB, and less important on slow weapons like the Hammer and GS. Picking the right �element� weapon to counter an enemy is always smart play, but it really matters most with the smaller weapons. If your best weapon has a bunch of water damage and your going up against a water monster, don�t fret, particularly if you�re using a slower weapon like hammer or greatsword. It is more worth worrying about if you end up relying on SNS and DS though. Similarly, with status effects like Paralyze, Poison, Sleep, and Blast you will be better off with faster weapons like the SNS and DS as well.

For this reason, it�s ALWAYS useful to have a variety of weapons. In the early game when you�re just starting focus on having a weapon with decent damage and getting something with green sharpness (Around when you�re fighting Qurupeco and Ludroth). As you progress, keep in mind the elements and try to make a weapon for each element so you can �counterpick� the enemies.

Wow this turned out to be really long. I hope to follow up with a page about armor and armor skill selection tomorrow!

Also, I figure I may as well put my money where my mouth is. My nintendo ID is famous_trip. Feel free to add me if you can figure out how!
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About Collateral Eone of us since 5:04 PM on 06.20.2012

Hi, I'm a generally exuberant person who prefers to talk about games I love rather than games I hate. Luckily, I have pretty varied taste.

I've been gaming since the mid 80's and don't plan on stopping any time soon. I think it's a great form of expression and am generally excited to see which way the industry goes next!