This is my first Monster Hunter game, and I've taken the approach of mastering one weapon before moving to the next. After ~300 hours of GS play, I'm about to move on to Bow, so I figured now would be a good time to share builds and strategies I've learned for the greatsword along the way.
Some of you are likely coming across this post looking for a simple answer to the question "what's the mathematically best DPS GS build." Well, we'll get to that… but first I want to lay some groundwork and point out that there's a lot more to GS than just your raw DPS potential.
First, let's talk weapon. The answer to "what's the best greatsword in the game?" is a lot more straightforward, and most of you probably already know that it's the Wyvern Ingition "Impact". None of the other greatswords come even close to its potential. For this reason, it is a cornerstone of virtually every build I will discuss, and of the overall greatsword strategies I will cover. Unfortunately, unlocking it requires completion of a limited event quest "Every Hunter's Dream," so, if you haven't had an opportunity yet to do this quest, I'm sorry, but this guide won't be very helpful beyond general GS strategies. Without access to the Wyvern Ingition, your best second choice is likely to be Purgation's Atrocity (Nergigante Tree).
For augmenting the Wyvern Ingition (or any greatsword), your first augment should be Health Regen, and your second should be Affinity. This is because the GS's raw damagew output can be harnessed to return 10% of damage dealt as health (which can be further enhanced with the Recovery Up skill) to keep you in the fight without needing to take breaks to heal regularly. The Affinity is a natural choice because so much of your damage potential is going to be coming from critical hits.
Critmonster — mid-game (early high rank) build that leverages the Odogaron set bonus Punishing Draw for massive Stun/KO damage. Fun to play in solo even in to the endgame.
Critmonster 2 — late-game build that drops the Stun in favor of higher damage and weakness exploit.
Unbreakable — late-game health regen build that focuses on solid poise to prevent flinching etc (good for pickles, etc)
Unkillable — late-game health regen build that focuses purely on defense and team surviveability (good for Behemoth, etc)
Ultimate GS DPS — end-game maximum damage and crit procs with Master's Touch to preserve weapon sharpness.
GS DPS2 Glass — same as above, but higher crits, focus, maximum might instead of stun resistance (I am short 1 attack gem to complete this build, it would replace the last steadfast gem… this is effectively the closest you can get to an 'ideal' DPS build)
Elder Juggernaut — mid-game all-rounder elderseal build, mostly replaced by more specialized builds in late game but still good for things like Nergegante, non-tempered Teostra etc. Also the only build in this list to not use the Wyvern Ignition greatsword.
White Mane — mid-game Kirin hunting build based off odogaron set. Great build for HR49 Kirin hunt. Also works for AT Kirin.
White Mane 2 — late-game AT Kirin build, maximized thunder resistance, attack boost, part breaker.
Quiet Curtain — late-game AT Vaal Hazak build for solo hunting, and for tempered and non-tempered vaal hazak group hunts.
Quiet Curtain 2 — end-game AT Vaal Hazak build for group hunts, also good support build for tempered and non-tempered vaal hazak.
Scorn of the Sun — end-game AT Teostra/Lunastra build. Maximum fire resistance.
Eye of the Storm — end-game AT Kushala Daora build
Eye of the Storm 2 — improved end-game AT Kushala Daora build that requires some AT Daora armor pieces.
Kulve's Terror — end-game Kulve Taroth seige build, max crit damage and part breaker.
Explanation of Core Skills
There's a number of specific skills which Greatsword benefits greatly from, and which augment each other in different ways. There's more of them than you can possibly fit into one perfect build, so which ones you select will depend on your particular goals. Here's what I consider the most important skills for GS, and why:
Stun Resistance — You will see this on virtually every build I suggest. I consider it mandatory for a GS user since you will be toe to toe with the monster constantly during a fight, and will need to absorb some hits which could stun you, leaving you vulnerable to a follow up attack that could cart you before you have a chance to recover. Some builds may require giving up some or all of your stun resistance, but I would generally try and stay away from them as much as possible, because getting stunned just plain sucks.
Earplugs 5/Flinch-Free 1/Tremor Resistance 1 — These are situational, but they all serve the same purpose: preventing your combo and charge attacks from being interrupted, and allowing you to deal consistent damage despite what the monster may do to incapacitate hunters. In all cases, the goal is complete negation of expected effects–anything less is pointless, since your attack will be interrupted regardless of whether you stagger a little or a lot. To that end all builds should either have earplugs 5, or no earplugs at all. Tremor resistance 1 is enough for most monsters, and is unnecessary for others. Flinch-free 1 is more about preventing you from being knocked around by other players than by the monster. You can skip it for most solo hunts.
Non-Elemental Boost — mandatory for Wyvern Ignition, this single level 2 decoration is a solid 10% damage output increase, and a no-brainer for any build.
Protective Polish/Handicraft/Master's Touch — Wyvern Ignition only gets 10 hits of white sharpness by default. Utilizing just one of the above skills will greatly improve your staying power and overall effectiveness in any hunt, by reducing or removing the need to stop mid-engagement to sharpen.
Minds Eye — not included in any of my builds — I've never been lucky enough to find a Minds Eye/Ballistics Jewel 2. Maybe you have. This skill greatly improves any fight with an armored monster (nergigante, laviosoth, urugaan, etc..) by preventing your attacks being interrupted by staggering when your blade bounces off. Other than the decoration the only path to it is a set bonus, which is impractical for any GS build, sadly.
Focus — Seems like a no-brainer for getting to your True Charge faster, although it's a difficult enough skill to work into other builds that I generally only bother tagging it on if the opportunity readily presents itself.
Critical Draw/Critical Eye/Weakness Exploit/Maximum Might/Critical Boost — One of the core "discretionary" stats of any GS build, you should sink as much of these into your build as you can manage after you've covered the other necessary skills. The goal is to maximize crit procs and damage. Critical Draw in particular is often overlooked, but since GS needs to sheath constantly for mobility, something like half of all your attacks will be draw attacks, so you really can't ignore the massive 100% affinity boost of Critical Draw 3. I usually try and spec most builds around the combination of Critical Boost 3, Weakness Exploit 3 (50% affinity on weak spots) and Critical Draw 2 (60% affinity on draw attacks) so if you focus on weak spots you get 100% crit on draws, and 50% crit on all other hits. Maximum Might can further boost your crit proc rate by a respectable amount as long as you conserve stamina. Critical Eye is nice to have, but overall very expensive in terms of decoration slots with respect to the return. It's the last one of those skills I would work in to most builds, and only if I have spare lvl 1 gem slots with nothing else to put there.
Attack Boost/Peak Performance — Like Critical Eye, attack boost is an expensive skill to maximize, but it does contribute to your raw DPS output. If you're lucky enough to have some Attack Jewels, it's a great way to spend a level 1 decoration slot. Peak Performance is really only useful if you have a high health regen build like with Vaal Hazak set bonus, as GS tends to take a lot of chip damage which will deactivate the skill until you heal. Don't neglect to eat meat platters and bring along demondrug, might seed, etc on hunts, it all adds up!
Punishing Draw & Slugger — GS's bash attack deals stun/KO damage. The Odogaron set bonus adds stun/KO damage to draw attacks (great with critical draw…), and slugger enhances stun/KO accumulation. Add an impact mantle into the mix and you can basically keep a monster on the ground for most of the fight with this combination.
Partbreaker — GS is great for harvesting tails, teeth, etc… it's rather nice to have, especially on group hunts so you can provide the team with all those extra breakages.
Wide-Range —Wait, Wide range?–Yes, Wide Range! GS is not a fast weapon to sheath, so you wouldn't necessarily think of it as a support build, but consider the fact that GS is always needing to keep the weapon sheathed when running around, and needing to heal up chip damage, or apply damage buffs, and it becomes apparent the utility this has for sharing your heals and buffs with other team members. GS makes a fantastic supplementary combat medic.
Quick Sheath/Speed Eating — on the subject of support roles, these can be useful, however, in general, I think it's better to just git gud at managing your time sheathing, and taking less damage so you don't need to speed eat.
Health Boost/Recovery Up — GS is constantly in harm's way, and being able to tank damage is crucial in any hard fight. The more you can tank, the less time you need to spend dodging and healing, and the more time you can spend dishing out the pain. It's counter-intuitive, but the most reliable offense is an impenetrable defense.
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