Monster Hunter World

Greatsword Guide – How to make a build.

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I seemed to have run into a lot of people who don't really have basic knowledge on making builds for Greatsword. I noticed a post that had a rather awful build has something like 300 up-votes, when all the veterans clearly demonstrated why it was an awful build. It had no synergy, and basically just stuck random things that sounded good together. I wont link the build, since I'm not about witch-hunting, but I do want to make a guide on how to make a build for Greatsword. Even though this is specifically designed for Greatsword, a lot of the information can be applied to other weapons. In this guide, you'll learn the useful skills for different goals, and how they correlate with each other, as well as effective weapons to use with those skills. I will not be posting any complete builds in this guide, as the goal is to make your own build and not copy someone else's build. If you want to copy other people's builds without understanding why they are good, there are plenty of links around to do so. I am listing them in no particular order.

Offensive Skills – These are skills designed to get the maximum damage output for greatsword.

  • Attack Power – This one increases your attack and at level 4, gives you +5% affinity. It does not give you +3 total attack for greatsword. Instead +3 attack is actually worth 14 points of attack after the greatsword modifier for calculating your final attack power. If you choose this route, always go for a minimum of level 4 to hit that +5% affinity. This can work in just about any build, and is a great skill to grab as a filler with decoration slots if you're lucky enough to get attack power decorations.

  • Critical Boost – This one increase the damage modifier of your critical hits by 5% per level. This is a fantastic skill to grab if you are running a build that has 60%+ or higher crit against weak spots. Otherwise you'll get higher returns with + attack. This gem is purely for offensive builds, as it offers the greatest returns when combined with attack AND crit. It is also a great decoration filler to complete builds, and not required for any build to pull good damage. Think of it like sprinkles on the ice cream cone, good addition but not part of the core food. Also, do not confuse this with critical eye, which is not a good skill.

  • Weakness Exploit – This is probably one of the best skills in the game, and I highly recommend it, in just about any build, offense, defense, anti-bs. The amount of damage this offers for such a minimal investment is very large, and the amount of ways to combo this skill with other skills is vast. Level 2 is recommended as almost a requirement if you grab this skill at all, but level 3 is more optimal. It offers 15/30/50% increased affinity when attacking weak spots.

  • Focus – This is a very good skill for TCS greatsword builds. It is a medicore skill for drawing attack greatswords. I highly recommend going level 3 with focus or not taking focus at all. It cuts an entire second off of a charged TCS combo, which is huge. It's probably right behind weakness exploit in terms of amazing in TCS builds. If you are running a draw attack build, its really just a "if I can fit it" addition, as it does increase the rate at which you do your level 3 charge draw attack, but its not a huge noticeable difference, since the window to land a level 3 charge draw attack is rather large and you can unleash it early in case the monster is about to move.

  • Handicraft – This skill depends entirely on which sword you use. If you choose the Leviathan, which is the second best greatsword in the game, only marginally behind the best, then this skill is a requirement. It increase the sharpiness of the weapon, but cannot increase it beyond the max gauge. What this means is if there is empty space in the gauge of sharpiness, it will extend that gauge and in some cases push you to the next tier of sharpness. This is only a good skill if it will take a chosen weapon's green sharpness to blue, or blue sharpness to white. Blue to more blue is not worth the investment. Then you'll want to see how many hits that sharpness state lasts and add handicraft levels until you're satisfied with the sharpness.

  • Critical Draw – This skill is ONLY good if your build revolves around draw attack. Meaning, you should only take this skill if you have no intention to use TCS, otherwise it is completely dwarfed by expose weakness. Finally, never take this WITH expose weakness as its a massive waste. It is a mandatory skill in a draw attack build. Also, I would only ever recommend 2 points into it as you can make up the last 40% affinity with either buffs from party, affinity booster, other gear ect. You never want to exceed the affinity cap of 100%.

  • Airborne – This is a niche skill that is very good in the jumping attack build. That build is for pro-players, so if you don't know what it is, and you're not a pro-player, don't worry about it.

  • Agitator – This is a fantastic skill, on par with attack power. The agitator effect kicks in when the monster is enraged, which happens a lot. Combining this and attack power is basically a staple for any pure damage builds. Don't invest too heavily into this, not because its not good but it pigeon-holes you into wearing specific pieces of armor, which block off other skills. Use this really as a filler, similar to attack power.

  • Peak Performance – This skill is a bit niche. It offers good attack power for minimal investment, however it only applies when your health is full. This is really a skill for pro-players, and even then its niche. If you dedicate a build around staying at max HP, it might be worth the investment, but aside from that I would recommend staying away from it, unless you have no other option. It combos well with Vitality mantle, and some kind of health regen/life steal to keep you topped off. Just keep in mind, 2 of the 4 elder dragons you farm consistently have an unavoidable damage aura around them that breaks this effect.

  • Quick Sheath – This is a staple for the draw attack build. Its only medicore to bad on the TCS build. The draw attack build relies on maximum damage on the first hit, then sheathing immediately after to do it again. This combos well with critical draw, odogaron 2 set bonus (or decoration), and mind's eye.

  • Bombardier – This is an extremely niche skills I would recommend staying away from in almost all cases. If you are running a sleep build, or are playing with someone who is, then this skill becomes mediocre at best. If you are running solo, it will only ever trigger once in a fight against an elder dragon. Even so, you don't need it. If you time an attack build TCS to hit the head of a sleeping dragon it can do upwards to 1,700 damage, while 2 Mega Barrel Bombs wont even come near that. Yes, you can combo barrel bombs immediately after that, but its not required as a monster sleeps at 20% health, and 1,700 damage is like 10% of that health. A skill that only triggers once a fight is not worth a 3 skill investment in my opinion.

  • Maximum Might – This is a good skill on TCS builds only. When you are charging a TCS it is likely your stamina bar is full to trigger the extra affinity. It is not a staple, as reaching 'high enough' affinity is fairly easy with expose weakness alone, its just a good option if you want to mix things up. Combos well with Focus, expose weakness and critical damage. If you ever were thinking of taking critical eye, take this instead.

  • Non-Elemental Boost – This is a great skill depending on the weapon you use. It is required to get maximum damage out of the best greatsword, Jagras Hacker 3 and the third best greatsword, Great Wyvernblade. It only works on weapons that do not have a status or element damage. It will work on weapons with latent effects that aren't activated, like the barroth greatsword. If you are using a weapon this effects, grab this skill for a damage build. Its a 10% boost of damage, which is huge. Its highly recommended you grab it in decoration form.

  • Bludgeoner – A niche skill that works well with certain builds. If you choose a weapon that has horrid sharpness, like the Zorah Magdaros greatsword this skill works well with it. In order for this skill to be effective, you need to build around it. Works well with Mind's Eye.

  • Master's Touch – This is another niche skill that works well with certain builds. It performs the best when you have a weapon with white sharpness, like Xeno Jiva's greatsword. Similar to Bludgeoner, you have to create a build that revolves around this skill for it to be effective.

  • Punishing Draw – A staple in the damage draw attack build. It offers everything you want. Works best in decoration form. This can combo well with slugger, mind's eye, critical draw, and quick sheathe.

Defensive Skills – These are skills designed to keep the player alive.

  • xx Element Resistance – I would not recommend this skill, regardless of who you're fighting. Resistances do not increase your defense that much. The difference between having 14 of a resistance and 0 will not cause you to survive an additional attack from any tempered elder dragon. However, having -14 resistance is not a good idea as you can be one shot with -14 resistance by say a stray kirin lightning bolt, so shoot for at least 0 resistance on armor, but don't invest in skills that have said resistance.

  • xx Status Resistance – This depends on the fight. If you're fighting Kirin then paralyze and stun resistance are extremely useful as the major means in which Kirin kills is by hitting you, which causes a stun or paralyze then hitting you again. If you eliminate that CC then his potential to kill you flies down. Against Vaal Hazaak, you'll definitely want Effluvial Resistance at level 3. If you can't hit at least level 2, I wouldn't recommend taking it at all, but level 3 is a huge boost in survivability against him. Against every other boss, I would not recommend status resistances.

  • Stun Resistance – I would not recommend this jewel. It is true that 9 times out of 10 when you died, its because you were stunned. However, more times than not after a stun the monster either hits you with a weak chain attack immediately after it, breaking you of the stun or he turns and attacks your Palico, making the benefit of this skill extremely rare. As an alternative, if stun is a major issue for you, I would recommend giving your palico the shieldspire gadget, I guarantee you will almost never die to stun again and you lose a lot less than 3 skill points.

  • Health Boost – I call this skill Baby Guard 2. It is second priority on the baby guard list. Its basically there, if you're unable to heal up effectively after being attacked. This skill really only has two benefits, one you can not be one shot by any skill in the game and two, it increases the window at which you can heal after receiving damage. That sounds nice, but in reality there are only a handful of attacks even capable of one shotting someone without health boost, and as a greatsword they are all very easy to dodge, more so than any other weapon because of how often greatsword sheathes. Health boost can also be 'instant combo'd' from a stun, similar to non-health boost. Also, on the increasing the window to heal damage, well its pretty easy to heal. Just pop a potion, then sprint diagonally away from the monster. This will dodge almost every attack, allowing you time for the potion to heal you up. Its a very forgiving game when it comes to healing. In short, only take this skill if you're having issues being one shot by attacks that shouldn't one shot you (which probably means your gear isn't upgraded) or if you are struggling to heal after taking damage. Do not take it to be 'tankier' as it does not make you tankier.

  • Resuscitate – This is an amazing skill. Whenever you receive a status ailment, it essentially gives you level 3 Evade Window for a single skill point investment. Against bosses with non-damaging status effects, like Legianas, Barroth and Jyrutodas there couldn't be a better defensive skill, as ice and water blight are conditions not worth removing. Against bosses that can poison, like the Rath-family and Pukei-pukei, its a great skill that prevents them from landing a follow up attack until you cure that poison. This is best in decoration form.

  • Evade Window – This is a great skill that essentially gives you dark souls 2 rolling i-frames. If you're struggling to dodge attacks, this is like training wheels to teach you. If you decide to use this skill, put a minimum of 3 skill points into it, but 5 and 3 have a significant difference in terms of iframes. I'd say if you were building defense this is one of the top two go-to abilities.

  • Divine Blessing – This is the bread and butter of defensive builds, Baby guard 1. This is by far the best defensive skill in the game. If you only want one defensive skill, take this one. 50% reduced damage when it triggers and it triggers a lot. If you're uncomfortable with a fight, grab this. Combos well with Evade window and just about any hybrid or defensive build. Reduces the chance of being one shot by anything to a very very low number.

  • Nergigante Hunger – This is a rather niche skill. The healing amount isn't that great, but it does heal. Combos well with a healing augment on your weapon, peak performance and vitality mantle. The goal would be to take damage, use vitality mantle, then heal it back up.

  • Defense Boost – Not a skill I recommend. The difference in damage you receive is abysmal and most major threats are from elemental damage and not defense, for the exception of Nergigante. The only time I would even consider this skill is exclusively against Nergigante, but even then making sure your armor is capped is more than enough.

  • Guts – A great skill to have but at a heavy investment, its basically one get out of jail free card. Consider this if you're dying a lot, but also take into account what you're fighting. If its something with poison or a damage aura like Teostra or Vaal Hazak, do not take this skill as it will not work. It will trigger at 1 health, then the damage aura, burn or poison will immediately kill you.

Utility Skills – These are skills that offer benefits to Greatswords through various means that don't involve increasing attack power, or defense power.

  • Earplugs – The bread and butter utility skill. This thing is amazing. I highly recommend using this until you unlock Rocksteady mantle. The purpose of this skill is to allow you to get in free TCS or even Level 3 Draw attacks in during every single enemy roar. It doesn't offer status, but it does offer TCS and you have to ask yourself, is that +12 attack really giving me more damage than 2 extra guarantee'd TCS a fight at a minimum? Note that its only worth going earplugs if you hit level 5.

  • Windproof – A niche skill effective against Bazel and Daora. If you're struggling against those two then consider investing 5 points into this. Not highly valued as anyone who has attacks that cause wind pressure can be countered hard with flash pods.

  • Tremor Resistance – A niche skill effective against Nergigante, Urgaanan, Barroth, Diablos, and any other person that slams the ground and as a result you stumble back and forth. If you are struggling against those, or just farming them, consider this skill. The benefit to it is if you resist a tremor, its a guaranteed TCS as all attacks that cause tremors force the monster to stand in place for a good amount of time.

  • Free-Elem/Ammo-Up – If you are using a weapon that has latent effects such as the Barroth line, consider this. I would only recommend it if the latent ability is a status effect and not elemental damage. Also keep in mind, if you use this, you lose the ability to gain damage from elementaless decoration.

  • Partbreaker – A great skill for farming parts, particularly against Xeno'Jiva, Vaal Hazak and Daora who have heads that are small mobile targets.

  • Free Meal – I absolutely adore this skill. It really has no place in an end game build, but if you just happen to have a decoration slot and get this decoration its amazing. The amount of time I've saved not having to farm ingredients for Mega Demondrugs, Ancient Potions and the likes because of this skill is amazing. It says 25% but it feels like 75%.

  • Mushroomancer – A core item in just about any build. It is highly recommended you obtain level 3 Mushroomancer in some fashion and at the beginning of every quest you find challenging, equip it, eat all the mushrooms for the buffs, then switch gear. You'll retain the buffs and they use far less ingredients by using this method.

  • Flinch-Free – Another stable anti-bs skill, just below ear plugs for TCS build. This skill will prevent small attacks from interrupting your TCS, which is amazing. Basically the purpose of utility skills are to get more TCS in and that's exactly what this does. If you get hit mid-TCS swing, you will no longer be thrown across the room and delivered no damage.

Top 4 Weapons and other useful weapons –

  1. Jagras Hacker III – This is the highest damage greatsword in the game. You wont be winning any beauty competitions with her, but she sure does pack a mean punch. In order for it to obtain the highest damage, you need to have 3 augments on it and a non-element boost gem. Until that point, its rather average. It can only obtain blue sharpness, but has 2 level 3 decoration slots, which is amazing.

  2. Leviathan's Fury – This is the second highest damage greatsword in the game and every edgy cosplayer's wet dream. The damage difference between this and Jagras Hacker is extremely minimal. In fact, if a fight is prolonged and you cannot, or choose not to, sharpen your weapon this will pull out ahead in damage. When Jagras Hacker 3 drops to green sharpness, and Leviathan drops to blue sharpness, this does more damage. Leviathan can reach white sharpness with the help of handicraft. Its basically required to run handicraft if you choose this weapon. It offers dragon damage, which is abysmal for greatsword and elderseal. It has 1 level 3 decoration slot, which is the ultimate factor that puts it behind the Jagras Hacker, as level 3 decoration slots can make or break a build.

  3. Great Wyvern Jawblade – This is the third highest damage greatsword in the game. The damage is similar to the Jagras Hacker, just slightly lower. It has latent blast effect in case you wanted to build a blast build, 20 extra defense and a level 3 decoration slot. It can only reach blue sharpness and be augmented once, but it looks a helluva lot better than Jagras Hacker.

  4. Purgation's Atrocity – This is basically the most versatile greatsword. It works with every build, has blue sharpness, high elderseal, high base damage, and a level 1 decoration slot. Its not the best in any category but can fit into just about any build. Don't need handicraft, works well without augments, works against every opponent ect.

Other mentions of greatswords that are good, but require builds that revolve around them are….

  • Malady's Kiss III – This is my favorite progression greatsword in the game. You can progress to Malady's Kiss 2 immediately upon entering high rank, and its a great sword. Has 20% affinity built into it, which makes up for the lack of gear. The paralyze triggers ALOT if you have a palico with a paralyze hammer, and it can reach white sharpness with handicraft, which means you wont bounce much, if at all. Not only that but it looks super edgy. The paralyze will help people learning greatsword and maximize your window for getting in TCS. In a build that focuses on getting TCS windows in, like an anti-bs build, I'd recommend this sword.

  • Rathalos Glinsword – This sword was designed for a single purpose. To kill Tempered Lavasioth. It can reach white sharpness, has high base damage, with affinity while still having fire damage and looks amazing. Lavasioth may be highly resistant to fire, but by doing fire damage he cannot harden so you will cut through him like butter, or well stagger him a lot. It is the only elemental greatsword I will ever recommend.

  • Barroth Shredder III – This is a go-to sword on niche builds that want to maximize free TCS. Builds that use things like earplugs, tremor resistance, flinch free, ect. It has very high base damage, and latent paralyze. Its a great training sword. You can unlock the paralyze with free ammo/Elem skill and when you feel comfortable enough to no longer need the paralyze, switch it with non-elemental decoration to enhance its damage. It has good decoration slots and adds defense. All around great sword.

  • Radobaan Slab III – This sword would require a build focused on sleeping the target. Taking things like the Ban Hammer on your Palico, Bombardier, carrying around might pills. The goal of this weapon is to put the target to sleep, then explode them with a massive TCS to the face for double damage with might pill effect. Its an effective strategy, but very niche.

  • Magda Protestas II – A sword that requires a build around it. It has insanely high base damage, blast and a level 3 decoration slot, with +20 defense. The biggest downside to this weapon is it has absolutely horrid sharpness and -20% affinity. So you'll either want to focus on the blast build up and take a palico with a blast weapon, or focus on enhancing your damage with low sharpness, with mind's eye to prevent deflects. You can make fun builds with this weapon.

  • Xeno Maliq – I have only ever seen one build with this weapon that was effective. It used Teostra's set bonus to not lose its white sharpness on crits. Aside from that, not much opinion on it. I personally feel its outclassed by the top 4, but if you like the appearance you can make a build I suggested.

Alright, so we talked about the useful skills for greatsword and what category they fall into, and we talked about all the useful greatswords. Now Mr. Fish, how do I make a build?

Well Hunter, glad you asked. The first step to making a build is to find something you like. This can be anything. Pick your favorite sword, pick a status condition, pick a theme. Here are some recommendations….

  1. Pure Damage.
  2. Pure Survivability
  3. Hybrid
  4. xx Weapon
  5. Blast Damage
  6. Paralyze
  7. Anti-BS
  8. Anti-Kirin
  9. TCS build
  10. Draw Attack

Then from there, pick skills from the list that fit with the thing you picked. Say your favorite skill is TCS, well you'll want to list everything that benefits TCS. First lets look at offense – Focus, Weakness Exploit, Attack, Agitator. Try to ignore things that require specific equipment, unless you picked a sword as your thing. Then look at defense – Nothing really in defense benefits TCS. Finally, look at utility – Earplugs, Flinch Free. Alright, so you have a basic list of skills that benefit TCS. Then you need to ask yourself, how good am I at the game? Do I die a lot? Do I take a lot of hits? If you do, ask yourself what is hitting you, one shot abilities, harass abilities or abilities that chunk your life but aren't one shot like Teostra's fire breath. Then consider adding some defense traits. If its a one shot ability, consider something like Divine Blessing or guts, if its weak attacks consider something like divine blessing or if its chunking abilities, consider something like evade window. If you don't die much, and don't get hit, then you don't need any defensive items.

After you have your list of skills that benefit TCS, prioritize them based on the text I wrote and your own personal preference. Like this…

  1. Weakness Exploit
  2. Focus
  3. Earplugs
  4. Attack/Agitator
  5. Flinch Free

Next up, look at what weapon you want to use. What's your favorite looking what? Whats your goal, max damage or fashion? What can your build accommodate as each weapon does have a requirement to make it useful. If you have no room to take skills to make the weapon useful, then I recommend either Malady's Kiss or Purgation. For my build, I'm going to choose Leviathan because its super edgy. So what do I need to make Leviathan useful? Handicraft. Well I mentioned in the comments, you need to test how many Handicraft levels reaches the next sharpness level and puts you in a comfortable spot of the sharpness level. I'm going to say its level 3.

That changes my list to…

  1. Handicraft 3
  2. Weakness Exploit 2-3
  3. Focus 3
  4. Earplugs 5
  5. Attack/Agitator
  6. Flinch Free 1

Alright, so I have the skills I want in my build, now the hard part which personalizes with you. You have to look for gear that has these skills, compare them to the decorations you have and create a build to hit as many skills as you can. An easy way to do this, is start at the top of the list. Go to the blacksmith, open up the forge armor page, press R3 and sort by skills. Pick the skill and write down each piece of equipment that has that skill, separating by the armor type. Then look at the list and find a way to get as many skills as you can on your personal list. After you feel you did, then go to your charm. Your charm can essentially give you level 3 of any skill you desire. Fill in the gap with the charm. After that, fill any holes with attack power/crit damage. A few notes to keep in mind is Rocksteady mantle will negate the need for earplugs and flinch free on my list, but only for 90 seconds so I need to consider how long my fights are and decide if that window is long enough to be acceptable and how reliant you are on it. Personally my fights are on average 4-5 minutes, but I imagine most people's fights average between 8-10 minutes. For me, that's a 40% up time, for the average player that's about a 30% up time (you can use it twice in 9-10 minutes). Also, affinity booster provides +50% affinity for 60 seconds on a 3 minute cooldown. I think it also lasts like 30 seconds if you leave the smoke or something. Remember, you don't want to go passed 100% affinity, so consider this item, the duration, your fight time and teammates that use this item as well when making decisions. Congratulations! You made an effective greatsword build with synergy!


Everyone will have a different build. Not every player is on the same level. Some people can dodge every single attack so the only obvious build for them is pure damage. There are definitely plenty of options for pure damage, between crit, pure attack, TCS, jumping build, draw attack build ect. For other players, they struggle against certain mechanics and need to build more defense items or utility items to counter that mechanic. Some players struggle landing TCS so its better to build something that can keep your TCS from being interrupted or a status to prevent the enemy from moving. Tailor your build to yourself. Don't rely on other's to make a build for you, and if you still do copy someone else's build, I hope after reading this you can understand why its a good build or make the decision that it's not a good build. Just because there are lots of build options doesn't mean there aren't bad builds. Some things just don't synergize with each other, or don't accomplish a goal as effective as other skills. If you have any questions, please ask below and I'll reply when available. If you would like me to critique your build (or skill choice), then comment below, or send me a private message. Good luck Hunters!

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