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    Great Sword Guide by Anubis_Drac

    Version: 1.1 | Updated: 03/05/12 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    *GreatSword (GS) Guide for Monster Hunter (3) Tri*
    >Written By: Anubis_Drac
    [Imagine a cool logo here or something. The GreatSword is a predictive weapon,
    so if you cannot even imagine that much, and have difficulty picturing things
    that are not happening right in front of you, then you may wish to consider
    using another weapon class.]
    Table of Contents }TACO{
    -1) Title and Logo }XDXD{
    0: Table of Contents }TACO{
    1: README }READ{
    2: Intro & Pros/Cons }INTR{
    3: Controls }RTFM{
    4: Basics }BASI{
    5: Elements of GS Combat }ELEM{
    6: GS Combat "Classes" }STYL{
    7: GreatSword and Armor Skills }KILL{
    8: Noteworthy Armor }NORM{
    9: Comparing GreatSwords }COGS{
    10: Recommended GS Progression }REGS{
    11: General Thoughts and GS Philosophy }RANT{
    12: GS Time Values }TIME{
    13: Credits/Legal }CRLG{
    14: Version History }VSHS{
    15: Contact }HERE{
    >>>>> 1: README }READ{
    The following is a list of abbreviations, acronyms, and some miscellaneous
    terms in the guide:
    + aka: also known as
    + AuS, AuM, AuL: Respectively Attack Up Small, Medium, and Large.
    + AuX: Nonspecific term for any of the Attack Up abilities.
    + CC1 or CS1: Classic-Control Style 1.
    + CC2 or CS2: Classic-Control Style 2.
    + DPH: Damage-Per-Hit. This is the specific amount of damage dealt
    instantaneously as a result of a single hit.
    + DPS: Damage-Per-Second. This is the given amount of damage over a length of
    + FAQ: Frequently-Asked-Questions
    + GS: GreatSword
    + HGE: High Grade Earplugs
    + HnR: Hit-and-Run. Just what it sounds like
    + HR: May mean "High Rank" or "Hunter Rank (#)" depending on context
    + HUD: Heads-Up-Display. In this game, it is basically all the icons and status
    bars on the screen except for the Map.
    + KO: Knockout. Specifically, the status inflicted upon monsters when enough
    concussive damage is dealt to the head.
    + L1, L2, L3 Charge: Levels 1, 2, and 3 of the GreatSword's Charge Attack,
    + Q&A: Questions and Answers
    + SnS: Sword-and-Shield.
    >>>>> 2: Intro and Pros/Cons }INTR{
    Welcome to the Guide/FAQ for the GreatSword in Monster Hunter Tri (3).
    Hopefully the information in here will be of some use to those interested in
    picking up a GreatSword. The GS is a powerful, deliberate weapon that primarily
    delivers damage in concentrated bursts, but also has a few attacks that allow
    you to throw your weight around for some extra damage. Using the GS effectively
    involves equal measures of psychological warfare and melee combat. The ideal
    goal of the would-be GS adept is to become familiar enough with the monsters in
    the game to predict their movements in order to consistently land charge
    attacks for massive damage.
    Since it seems to be a popular way to give an overview of a weapon, have a list
    of pros and cons:
    + Out of all the weapon classes, the GS has the potential to deal the most DPH
    against a target, and a GS user can further capitalize on this fact by using
    the wide variety of attack buffs this game has to offer.
    + Unsheathe attack is fast, accurate, and has high DPH.
    + If in doubt, one can always fall back on hit-and-run gameplay; this makes the
    GS an excellent weapon for learning monster movement patterns or otherwise
    "playing it safe" while still doing reasonable damage.
    + High DPH makes it easier to count hits, which in turn allows you a high level
    of control over (read: potential abuse of) staggers and knockdowns.
    + Because of the high DPH, people who lack the reflexes or reaction time to
    keep up with the faster aspects of the game can still do a respectable amount
    of damage with a GS, provided they have some skill in predicting monsters'
    + The range of the GS can be exploited in many ways, and this offers some
    unique attack opportunities.
    + Great for cutting tails and breaking things in general.
    + Can make a reasonable contribution to exhausting/KO'ing a monster without
    nerfing overall DPS.
    + Can alter your line-of-attack mid-combo, allowing you to reposition yourself
    while still more or less holding your ground.
    + Wide area-of-effect attacks are great for clearing out minions or taking a
    (very) rare variety shot at a monster for some extra damage.
    + Because of the way a GS deals damage, a hunter can generally use one or two
    GSs against most monsters, rather than having to take the time to forge a
    different GS for every situation.
    + Attacking with the GS underwater does not require too much precision, and it
    is very easy to land hits during underwater battles as long as you can get in
    range (or stay in range).
    - With the weapon unsheathed, mobility is extremely bad and walking is
    dangerously slow.
    - Cannot use items with weapon unsheathed (props to SnS users).
    - Attack combo is slow.
    - The weapon is highly demanding of one's predictive sense of timing, and
    mildly demanding of one's reactive sense of timing.
    - Depending on one's specific weapon of choice and style of gameplay, sharpness
    can run down quickly.
    - Blocking reduces your GS's sharpness since the weapon itself is used as a
    - The GS is a terrible choice of weapon if you are trying to inflict status,
    and attempts to use it as a status weapon will diminish your damage output
    - If you are using a GS, you forfeit any right you may think you have to ask
    someone else to cut the tail.
    >>>>> 3: Controls }RTFM{
    Note that this section only covers combat-related controls, and not all of the
    in-game controls.
    *Wiimote and Nunchuck*
    Overhead Slash (aka Vertical Cut): Swing WiiMote horizontally and press A
    Rising Slash (aka Upswing): Twist WiiMote right and press A
    Wide Slash (aka Horizontal Slash or Sideswing): Twist WiiMote left and press A
    Charged Slash: Hold WiiMote vertically and hold A. Release A to unleash the
    Charged Unsheathe: With weapon sheathed, hold WiiMote vertically and hold A.
    Evade: B
    Block: Z
    Kick (tackle underwater): -
    Side Smash (aka Sword Slap): A immediately after a Kick/Tackle
    Strong Charged Slash (aka Smash Charge):  A immediately after a Side Smash
    Sheathe weapon: + or 1
    *Classic Style 1*
    Overhead Slash (aka Vertical Cut): x- Note that if you are running with the
    weapon sheathed, you must release R just before pressing x to do the normal
    unsheathe attack.
    Rising Slash (aka Upswing): x+a
    Wide Slash (aka Horizontal Slash or Sideswing): a
    Charged Slash: Hold x
    Charged Unsheathe: Press and hold x to charge when stationary. When moving,
    press R+x together to initiate the charge attack.
    Evade: b
    Block: R. If the weapon is sheathed, pressing R+a+x while you are moving or R+x
    while stationary will unsheathe your weapon into the blocking position.
    Kick (Tackle underwater): +
    Side Smash (aka Sword Slap): x after a Kick/Tackle
    Strong Charged Slash (aka Smash Charge):  Left Analog+x after the Side Smash
    Sheathe weapon: y
    *Classic Style 2*
    Overhead Slash (aka Vertical Cut): Up on Right analog. Same if weapon is
    Rising Slash (aka Upswing): Right on Right analog
    Wide Slash (aka Horizontal Slash or Sideswing): Left on Right analog
    Charged Slash: Down on Right analog. Same if weapon is sheathed.
    Evade: b
    Block: R
    Kick (tackle underwater): x
    Side Smash (aka Sword Slap): Up on Right analog after a kick, Overhead Slash,
    or Charge attack
    Strong Charged Slash (aka Smash Charge): Up on Right analog after a Side Smash
    Sheathe weapon: a or y
    *Other Control Notes*
    For the record, I use CC2, partly because I find it more useful for GS play to
    change the camera direction while attacking without resorting to the right-
    handed claw. However, other control styles are theoretically just as good if
    you can get used to them. I only make this note since it is likely that my
    control-style preference may also bias the recommended options in the following.
    After you have selected which control-style you are going to use, double check
    your options, since there are a few other fields that you may benefit from
    On page 1 of the in-game options, you can choose whether or not to turn "off"
    the HUD. The HUD consists of the health bar, stamina bar, oxygen bar, sharpness
    bar, clock, party list, and item scrollbar. Turning the HUD "off" in the game
    does not completely get rid of it; instead, it "hides" the HUD when it is not
    in use, and you can bring the HUD back up temporarily at any time by bringing
    up the item scrollbar (e.g. holding down L on CC2). I personally prefer to play
    with the HUD off, and I recommend turning it off for GS play. One reason for
    this is that I dislike having status bars and icons obscuring my view of the
    monster I am attacking.
    Also on page 1 of the in-game options, you can choose whether or not to turn
    the Map off. Unlike the HUD's "hide" function, this setting does actually turn
    the Map off until you turn it back on in the options menu. If you are familiar
    with the area you are hunting in and you do not mind watching where monsters go
    when they run, you may wish to turn this off as well.
    /Zoomed Map/
    On page 1 of the in-game options, Type1 makes the zoomed map stay still, while
    Type2 makes the map rotate with the camera. I personally recommend Type1, since
    Type2 can be distracting at times, and your player icon is an arrow pointed in
    the direction you are going, so shifting the map to reflect where you are
    looking seems redundant in my opinion.
    On page 2 of the in-game options, Orientation changes a few of the finer
    aspects involved in combat evasion. For a GS user, the key difference between
    the two options is that Type1 basically reverses the controls for dodging
    depending on what angle your character is facing at in relation to the position
    of the camera so that the character always rolls to "their" right or left,
    rather than a directional right or left on the screen. Type2 makes the rolls go
    in a direction correlating to the screen, rather than the direction the hunter
    is facing. For example:
    +Type1: If your hunter is looking "at" the camera (facing towards the screen),
    holding the Left analog in the right direction will make your hunter roll to
    the left side of the screen (their right), while holding the Left analog in the
    left direction will make your character roll to the right of the screen (their
    left). Similarly, if the character is side-on relative to the camera, looking
    to their left, holding the Left analog stick up and right will make them roll
    upwards on the screen (to their right), and holding the Left analog down and
    left will make them roll down on the screen (to their left).
    +Type2: Regardless of where your hunter is looking and what angle the camera is
    in relation to the hunter, as long as it is possible to roll in the given
    direction, holding the Left analog left will make them roll towards the left of
    the screen, holding the Left analog right will make them roll towards the right
    side of the screen, holding up when evading will make them roll towards the top
    part of the screen, and holding down will make them roll towards the bottom
    part of the screen. Personally, I recommend this type of combat evasion
    Orientation, since it does not require you to judge the position of the hunter
    relative to the camera to roll where you want to.
    /Swinging Draw and Swinging Attacks/
    If you use the WiiMote and Nunchuck, there are two options on page 3 of the in-
    game options that allow you to change whether or not swinging the WiiMote draws
    your weapon and whether or not just swinging the WiiMote initiates attacks,
    >>>>> 4: Basics }BASI{
    For the record, all GS attacks except for the Smash Charge can combo at any
    time after an attack into any attack other than the one you just used. There is
    also no limit to how many times you can combo attacks. However, as far as
    damage-efficiency goes, you should be aiming to minimize your attack combos and
    focus on using charge attacks.
    /Overhead Slash (aka Vertical Cut)/
    The overhead slash takes some time to execute if the weapon is already
    unsheathed since the hunter has to bring it around behind them before they can
    attack, but it has the highest DPH of all non-charged GS attacks and is
    minimally disruptive. Since it is a strictly vertical attack, it requires
    precision. This attack is only disruptive if another hunter stands directly in
    front of it. Note that the form of this attack is particularly useful for range
    abuse and hitting targets at a higher elevation than you. Also keep in mind
    that the hunter moves slightly forward with the force of the attack.
    /Unsheathe Attack (aka Draw Attack)/
    The Unsheathe Attack is identical to the Overhead Slash in terms of damage,
    except that it has slightly faster execution since the hunter literally attacks
    with the same motion that they use to draw their weapon. This is the bread-and-
    butter of the GS, and serves as a solid opening attack. The high DPH of this
    attack is one of the reasons Critical Draw is a favorite skill of GS users.
    /Charged Slash/
    The Charged Slash is the signature move of the GS. The form of the attack
    itself is identical to the Overhead Slash attack, and if you release the charge
    too early, the damage dealt will be equivalent to a regular Overhead Slash. The
    Charged Slash has 3 levels of power, indicated by flashes in the aura around
    the hunter and the buildup of sound for the charge's sound effect. The L1
    charge is fairly obvious and takes a bit of time to reach after the initiation
    of the attack, while the flash indicating that the L2 charge is ready comes a
    little after. The third level of the Charged Slash does not flash when it is
    ready like the first two levels.
    Instead, to get the full L3 charge, you must release the attack a fraction of a
    second after the second flash indicates that the L2 charge is ready, just
    before the charge aura shrinks. The timing for this attack is fairly easy to
    learn with a little practice. Note that if you hold your L2 charge too long,
    you will miss the window to unleash the L3 and you will "overcharge" when your
    charge aura shrinks, resulting in damage equivalent to the L2 charge. It is
    also worth noting that during the charge, a GS user has a certain degree of
    immunity to low-level disruptions that would otherwise trip a hunter. Last but
    not least, charging your attack to higher levels grants an effect similar to
    the ESP/Mind's-Eye ability, allowing the GS user to penetrate hitzones that
    would normally bounce inferior attacks.
    /Charged Unsheathe (aka Charged Draw Attack)/
    The Charged Unsheathe is identical to the regular Charge Attack, except that it
    is executed as the weapon is drawn from its sheathe. Because of the way
    multipliers affect the damage of the GS, the Critical Draw ability can be used
    to maximize the potential of the L3 Charged Unsheathe attack. This makes it one
    of the heaviest-hitting attacks in the game.
    /Rising Slash (aka Upswing)/
    This attack is slightly weaker than the Vertical Cut, and has a unique arcing
    area of effect that will damage anything in front of the hunter or behind them
    as long as the GS connects. The Upswing can be of some use, but is not
    recommended, partly due to the slow execution which locks down your mobility.
    Another reason using this attack is far from ideal is that it is a highly
    disruptive "launching" attack that will send small monsters and your fellow
    teammates alike flying through the air if it hits them. Note that this attack
    has good vertical range and pulls the hunter slightly back with the movement.
    /Wide Slash (aka Horizontal Slash or Sideswing)/
    This attack executes fairly quickly, all things considered, and does a moderate
    amount of damage. The attack itself arcs across a wide angle horizontally in
    front of the hunter. As such, it requires the least precision of all GS attacks
    to connect with an enemy on the ground, and it is great for clearing out small
    monsters. However, it is slightly disruptive, and it will trip fellow hunters
    who get caught in the arc. Note that the hunter can turn slightly during this
    attack to reposition mid-combo.
    /Kick (tackle underwater)/
    This is just a simple kick, or a quick rushing tackle underwater. The attack
    itself is fast, but does a pittance of damage. The key use of this attack is
    that you can immediately follow it with a Side Smash. The kick also has some
    support use, since kicking a fellow hunter in battle will cancel whatever
    animation they are stuck in, freeing them to move. For example, when a hunter
    is stunned, flexing after healing, or holding their hands over their ears after
    a roar, a swift kick should get them going again.
    /Side Smash (aka Sword Slap)/
    The Side Smash is a slightly horizontal forward thrust of the GS that is fairly
    fast in execution. It is a relatively weak attack comparable to a single slice
    from the SnS. However, this is also the only attack the GS has that naturally
    deals KO/Exhaust damage. The key value of this attack is that it can be
    followed by a Smash Charge. Note that the Sword Slap is slightly disruptive,
    and will trip a fellow hunter who gets hit by it.
    /Strong Charged Slash (aka Smash Charge)/
    The Smash Charge is a special charge attack that can only be initiated
    following the Side Smash. It is identical to the regular Charged Slash, except
    that it is slightly more powerful, and you cannot combo into another attack
    after it has been executed (you must either wait for the automatic reset or
    roll to cancel the delay after the attack). After a Smash Charge is complete,
    the impact of the attack also leaves the hunter in a momentary cooldown/stun
    before they can actually roll to cancel the natural post-attack reset. If you
    do not have Critical Draw, the L3 Smash Charge is the attack that has the
    highest reliable DPH of all available GS attacks.
    The GS user has 3 standard evasion options during combat after each attack,
    including a forward roll, and two side rolls to the left and right of the
    hunter on an axis perpendicular to the vertical strike-zone of the GS. There
    are no angled rolls, and there is no true backwards evasion (such as the
    Lance's backhop) for a GS user.
    Aside from using rolls to evade attacks and rolling through roars, rolling with
    the GS also allows you to reposition yourself fairly accurately, and is vital
    for moving around when the weapon is unsheathed since it is much faster than
    walking with the GS out. A GS user will also frequently use rolling merely to
    cancel the delay between attacks. Because of this, it is important that a GS
    user be mindful of the timing of their evasion, since monsters are quick to
    punish hunters who hastily roll after every attack without assessing the
    situation or failed to position themselves so that they could use the roll for
    non-evasion purposes.
    While I am on the subject of evasion, I would also encourage anyone using the
    GS to familiarize themselves with the movement GS attacks produce, keeping in
    mind that a correctly timed attack (or release of a charge attack) is just as
    useful to a GS user as well-timed evasion, and with expert use is nearly on par
    with counter-Lancing.
    For example, a well-timed release of a charged attack or Vertical Cut will
    allow a hunter to both damage the enemy and avoid taking damage from an attack
    themselves, and this is useful against a variety of attacks ranging from the
    Raths' tailswings to Barioth's wall-jump. This is one reason why Evasion+
    skills are less-than-ideal for GS users, since it is almost indisputably more
    important for a GS user to focus on timing their attacks so that they don't get
    hit, rather than timing their evasion to avoid taking damage. Of course, it
    should never be one or the other with GS play, and a sense of timing in both
    areas is admirable.
    Blocking with the GS causes the hunter to raise their weapon up in front of
    them as a buffer to protect them from damage. I say "buffer," because there is
    usually some degree of chip damage to your health. Moreover, even if an attack
    or monster roar is blocked successfully, a GS user will experience a lot of
    knockback from roars and heavy attacks and still be put out of the fight. It is
    also worth noting that you can be knocked back a surprising amount of distance
    if you get hit with a teammate's attack while blocking, although in some cases
    (such as when a LongSword user chooses a bad time to execute their Spirit
    Combo), it may be best to block and ride the knockback to safety, rather than
    risk taking damage.
    The GS block kills your mobility entirely, locking you in place while you stand
    in a blocking position. However, it is worth noting that you can roll forward
    out of a block by pressing the evade button while you are blocking. You can
    also evade from one block to another by pressing the evade button while you are
    blocking and holding down the block button as you evade (this will cause you to
    bring up your weapon as soon as possible when you complete the roll). Keep in
    mind that this does not completely protect you from damage, since there is
    still a period of vulnerability between the time your invincibility frames from
    evading have passed and the time that the GS comes into the blocking position.
    As far as the mechanics of blocking go, you can also change the direction of
    your block as you come up into a blocking position. For example, if you roll
    into a block, holding a direction on the L analog during the roll while you
    also hold the block button will cause your hunter to turn in the direction just
    before they actually initiate the block. This mechanic can also be used
    underwater, and is quite useful when you wish to evade a monster without being
    T-Boned by the water current.
    Similarly, holding down the block button down while you are getting up (e.g.
    after being knocked down or using the superman dive) will cause your hunter to
    raise the GS into a block almost immediately when they get up. For example, if
    Alatreon spits a fireball at you while you are on the ground, holding the block
    button and facing the center of impact will prevent you from taking damage from
    the fire vortex that explodes from the fireball.
    Blocking with the GS annihilates your stamina and reduces your weapon's
    sharpness. As such, it is highly inadvisable to block combo attacks from
    monsters or otherwise over-use the block. The GS user should generally endeavor
    to minimize their blocking as much as they can, relying on attack timing and
    evasion to avoid damage whenever possible. How many attacks should a GS user
    block? Not many, if any.
    However, while I am on the subject of blocking, I will at least give it some
    credit and say that blocking can be slightly useful to keep yourself from being
    disrupted by wyvern wind or currents, and has some value if you wish to remain
    close to certain monsters, especially underwater. Generally speaking though, if
    you have to block an actual attack, chances are you have already committed
    yourself to taking a lot more damage. Another key note here is that while
    taking damage from a monster is almost never ideal, the GS is one of the few
    weapons in the game where attacking and taking damage instead of blocking may
    actually be worth the damage you take in some situations.
    >>>>> 5: Elements of GS Combat }ELEM{
    In this section I will discuss aspects of GS usage and try to present them in a
    somewhat organized manner to make it easier to apply tactics during a hunt
    instead of relying entirely on brute force. My opinion is simply that the
    Bowgun should not be the only weapon class in the game that involves breaking
    down aspects of potential weapon usage and reassembling them into a functional
    Another reason for this section is that I am tired of seeing the typical vague
    blanket statements on how to use a GS, such as things like "don't do anything
    but charge->kick->smash charge" or "just keep using hit-and-run tactics and get
    the occasional charge attack in when you can." The fact is that while there are
    indeed certain ideals of GS play to try to adhere to, depending on the
    situation, player skill, armor skills, and other such factors, there is no
    specific absolutely right way to use a GS in every situation.
    There are a variety of ways to use the GS, some more reliably effective than
    others in most situations, and some just as good depending on context. For the
    record, I would rather have a half-decent Reaver in my hunting party than drag
    along a wannabe Samurai who keeps missing opportunities and taking hits before
    dealing damage.
    tl;dr Maintain skepticism regarding blanket statements unless someone explains
    The following is a list containing some elements of GS combat as I see them,
    and some general discussion. Please keep in mind that discussion of using
    combo-attacks does not mean that I advocate the use of combo-attacks, and let
    me state for the record that I generally advise that people endeavor to learn
    the more advanced aspects of GS combat so that they do not feel that they can
    do more damage by using combo-attacks.
    Recklessness generally includes any spontaneous or otherwise practically non-
    strategic use of the GS that is simply meant "to get in a little extra (chip)
    damage." In the context of this guide, Recklessness does not necessarily mean
    that you are not paying any attention; it simply means careless improvisation
    with no specific intention, often resulting from general attempts to do more
    damage. Recklessness almost always leads to some form of comboing that does not
    include planned charge attacks.
    In my concept of Recklessness, I also include those attacks that lock your
    mobility down during time that can arguably be better spent repositioning
    yourself for a proper attack. At its core, truly Reckless GS use is
    characterized by a purely reactive hunter who makes little or no effort to plan
    ahead or evaluate their situation. "It seemed like a good idea at the time -
    and I do at least get some damage in this way - oh hey, another chance to get
    more damage in!" is the thought constantly cycling in the back of the mind here.
    When you randomly use a Sideswing to take a potshot at a passing monster, or
    when you use an upswing to get "just one more hit" on a tail flicking by on the
    screen or a monster flying around erratically, that counts as Recklessness.
    When you fall into the pattern of attacking a monster just because it suddenly
    came into range or you finally got to it, getting off a quick sideswing before
    it moves, and then comboing into a vertical because it still is in range, and
    then comboing into another sideswing because it is still in range, and you just
    did not expect your window of opportunity to last that long, you are indulging
    in Recklessness.
    A certain degree of Recklessness is excusable, and admittedly, some
    Recklessness can often raise your overall DPS, especially if the monster or
    your teammates are behaving relatively erratically. Nevertheless, by indulging
    in too much Recklessness, the hunter ultimately sacrifices their potential
    damage output while also often putting themselves at risk and likely
    disrupting other players in the process. There comes a critical moment in every
    hunt when a Reckless hunter has spent so much time getting knocked around,
    healing, disrupting teammates, or wasting time getting instant-gratification-
    damage that all of the damage from those "extra hits" is completely offset by
    the time (and damage) lost.
    This is exactly what it sounds like. One of the early fundamentals of GS
    gameplay is Tail-Cutting, and a hunter can get away with consistently taking
    precise potshots at the tail at every chance they get, while still doing
    reasonable damage and generally staying out of harm's way. Tail-Cutting is not
    true Hit-and-Run, and a good Tail-Cutter will do things like set up a charge
    attack when a monster is about to use a tailswing, hitting the tail mid-swing.
    Advanced Tail-Cutters will even set up charge attacks to nail the tail from an
    angle as a monster goes charging past them. Additionally, the dedicated Tail-
    Cutter keeps behind the monster, aiming for the stub after the tail is severed.
    The goal here is to stay out of the way of other hunters, stay out of the
    monster's way, and still get your damage in.
    Demolition is the systematic, deliberate destruction of breakable body parts.
    The Demolition GS user picks a breakable target and consistently attacks it
    with everything from potshots to charges until it is broken. Next, they proceed
    to whatever breakable body part still remains and repeat this process as needed.
    A Demolition GS user places breakable parts at the highest priority, with no
    regard for the defense of said parts.
    To some extent, in most cases the Demolition GS user inevitably sacrifices
    their potential damage output for the sake of breaking destructible hitzones.
    However, since the GS's charge attack is still capable of dealing respectable
    damage without bouncing to hitzones that would nerf many other weapons' damage
    output, there are a number of situations where a Demolition GS will prove to be
    very valuable to the team.
    Anyone who has spent more than a couple of days on Monster Hunter forums has
    probably heard the maxim "Hit it 'till it dies; don't get hit" prescribed as
    the be-all-end-all absolute strategy to defeating every monster. If there is
    one weapon class that stands as an exception to this golden rule of hunting, it
    is the GS. While getting hit a lot is hardly ideal, if a hunter is willing to
    take a little damage, they will increase the amount of attack opportunities
    they have significantly, and since the GS can deliver a lot of DPH, in many
    cases a good GS user can still out-damage average users of other comparable
    weapons for the small price of a little health here and there. The key
    difference between a Kamikaze GS user and a Reckless one is that the Kamikaze
    is deliberate, and attempts to maximize their damage by charging attacks.
    Where the Reckless hunter thinks "I might be able to get some more damage in,"
    the Kamikaze repositions and thinks "there's a chance for me to definitely deal
    some more damage, and I can afford to take the risk." The Kamikaze is the one
    that sees a monster cue that it is about to attack, and responds by charging an
    attack within the monster's range and line-of-attack, releasing so that the GS
    hits a fraction of a second before the enemy attack impacts (or with luck,
    unexpectedly misses) the hunter. The Kamikaze is the one that stands their
    ground during attacks that merely do chip damage, preparing to land their own
    heavy attack. Kamikaze GS gameplay is still moderately reactive, with the
    hunter making little effort to exploit anything other than guaranteed shots.
    While the Kamikaze may appear similar to a Reckless hunter, they have great
    skill in timing the release of their attacks, landing their hits in situations
    where the Reckless hunter would often miss or get hit before (and without)
    dealing damage. In spite of this however, for even the best Kamikaze GS
    gameplay there is still that critical moment in the hunt where the time lost
    getting thrown around or healing from excessive damage nullifies your efforts
    in the long run. On another note, because of their playstyle, the Kamikaze GS
    user may have quite some luck staggering the monster, taking no damage
    themselves, and sometimes even saving other teammates from damage and giving
    them a slightly longer window to attack.
    /Hit-and-Run (HnR)/
    At the simplest level of gameplay, the GS is the best weapon for HnR tactics,
    especially if a player has a set of damage-boosting skills. This involves
    consistently running into attack range, using the unsheathe attack, rolling to
    safety, and sheathing your GS. The hunter then runs well out of attack range or
    turns around to face the next target and repeats the process again when they
    next see an opening.
    The HnR hunter may make the occasional effort to land a charge attack, but
    generally plays in a manner that is highly reactive, relying on repetitively
    assaulting a monster with surgical strikes. Ideally, an HnR GS user will almost
    exclusively target the weakest (or some of the weakest) hitzones on the monster
    to counterbalance the fact that they are not attempting to get in more damage
    and are instead "settling" for each safe, reliable unsheathe attack, one at a
    time. The primary advantage of HnR is that a hunter may do a decent amount of
    damage while still "playing it safe."
    Since the unsheathe attack has a very clear range and a vertical attack zone,
    HnR GS use also has the bonus of being minimally disruptive to teammates. Of
    course, despite the advantages, this is far from the most efficient way to do
    damage with a GS in the long run. Relying solely on HnR is a way to almost
    guarantee an unnecessarily long hunt in many cases. However, it is a tried-and-
    true method, and due to the high DPH of a GS, a dedicated HnR hunter with
    precise aim will at least be guaranteed to see the completion of the quest
    This is more of a "miscellaneous" category. Support involves forgetting about
    dealing the most damage you can to focus on other minor goals and otherwise
    adjusting your use of the GS to support the team or make contributions towards
    other aspects of the fight. One aspect of Support is paying attention to your
    teammates and adapting to their attacks. For example, a GS user with Support in
    mind might put aside their own attack priorities and focus on attacking the
    same hitzones their teammates are, to increase the chance of staggering the
    monster frequently and expedite breaks, if that appears to be what the
    teammates are going for.
    Another prime example of GS Support is what I call "kickboxing," which involves
    repetitively spamming the Kick-Swordslap (roll, repeat) combo, and always
    making sure to use a slap after charge attacks and vertical slices, even if no
    other attack follows the slap. While it is no hammer, the KO damage of a
    kickboxing Support GS hunter is nothing to be scoffed at, and as long as the
    monster does not rage constantly, the contribution such gameplay makes to
    exhausting the monster or even inflicting KO status can also be worthwhile.
    This aspect of GS play is all about exploiting the high DPH of the weapon. This
    is also the part of GS use that equates math with skill. Control is all about
    crunching the numbers to know how much damage a few of your attacks will do to
    the prime hitzones of a monster, and coming up with a system to "count hits" or
    otherwise keep track of your damage. This allows the GS user to be sure when
    their next hit will stagger a monster.
    A Control GS user is the one you see double-tripping monsters, frequently
    knocking flyers out of the sky, cancelling roars with a deliberate slice to the
    head or tail, &c. A serious Control GS user may even go so far as to "reserve"
    a hitzone in multiplayer by asking others not to attack it, since it is
    difficult in most situations to exercise Control with uncooperative teammates
    (unless I suppose you have a brilliant mind capable of counting hits for all
    players, or if you are using a code or something to display monster stagger
    Dueling includes the aspects of GS use that give you a feeling of going toe-to
    toe with a monster, sticking close to them, constantly pressing the attack. The
    Duelist relies on the timing of their attacks in coordination with the timing
    of their evasion to remain in harm's way while dealing damage without getting
    A notable characteristic of Dueling with a GS is that the hunter can be seen to
    intentionally settle for L1 or the occasional L2 charges, timing the releases
    perfectly to avoid attacks or allow them to roll to a position where they can
    get in another L1 at least. In this sense, the GS Duelist is the "Lance" of GS
    users, aiming to deal consistent, reliable damage. Of course, for a GS, this
    type of gameplay in and of itself does not bring out the true damage potential
    of the weapon, but it still delivers a very respectable amount of DPS by the
    end of the hunt.
    This type of GS play involves setting up ranged attacks and charging your
    attacks from a distance outside of a monster's immediate attack range to hit a
    monster during its clearly-telegraphed movements. GS Longshots are dead center
    in the spectrum of reactive-predictive gameplay, since they involve only
    reacting to more-or-less guaranteed opportunities, such as when Rathian is
    about to charge towards you, but doing so in a manner that requires expert
    timing. Longshots are almost always aimed at a monster's head, although they
    can also be aimed at the feet or another body part.
    In effect, a Longshot is the perfect counter-attack for a GS. To be good with
    GS Longshots, it is vital for a hunter to be highly familiar with the speed of
    monster attacks and the distance covered as well to come up with the timing
    necessary to release a charge attack either with the correct timing to avoid
    damage (e.g. during Royal Ludroth's overhead pouncing attack) or with enough
    time to dodge to safety (e.g. rolling to the side immediately after landing a
    charge attack on Rathian's head). If the hunter gets hit, it is not a real
    Opportunism is essentially predictive HnR. The Opportunist GS user is a missile
    constantly aiming to intersect with the path of a monster, only charging when
    the monster is relatively immobile and if there is a guarantee that they can
    land their charge attack without taking damage. The Opportunist is also a lead
    attacker or "spearhead," so to speak. When the monster is away from the group,
    the Opportunist is the first one to land their hit on the monster when the
    group finally gets back to it, before the monster has had a chance to engage a
    target. The classic image of the Opportunist GS user is the hunter who runs up
    to a monster just as it targets another hunter, landing a quick unsheathe
    attack just before getting superpounded by the Hammer user who was also waiting
    to catch that opportunity.
    In this sense, in multiplayer the Opportunist is effectively a living attack
    buff, adding damage where damage is already going to be dealt by other players.
    While I do not mean to advocate a supremacist "Me First" attitude among GS
    users, and it is not my intent to say that a GS's damage is more important than
    other weapons' damage (and if you read my intent that way, congratulations on
    completely misunderstanding GS Opportunism), the simple fact is that an
    Opportunist GS user is a good lead attacker, and if they luck out and trigger a
    stagger- all the better. Of course, it is still a potentially inefficient way
    to get damage in, and the Opportunist is still relying on somewhat reactive
    gameplay and clear opportunities to deal damage for the most part. In a way,
    the Opportunist thinks like a monster, attacking with full force when they see
    Psi is the aspect of GS use that involves pushing your predictive abilities to
    their limits and exploiting your familiarity with monsters as much as you can.
    The GS user making good use of Psi is constantly aiming at thin air, releasing
    with perfectly-predicted timing, landing a charge attack the instant a monster
    moves into that patch of thin air. The Psi GS expert has learned that the only
    way to bring out the true potential of the GS and maximize damage output is to
    reach a state of gameplay where you are constantly getting monsters to run into
    your attacks, instead of just reactively trying to hit monsters where they are.
    To some extent, the Psi purist is always thinking ahead, and actually attacking
    is just something that happens in the meantime between each scripted, planned
    attack and the next.
    If a hunter properly studies the monsters' movements, they will find that Psi
    GS tactics practically double their attack opportunities. Thus, while not every
    Psi attack can be expected to hit due to the variance in the game, even
    moderately skilled use of Psi will dramatically increase the number of powerful
    hits (read: as opposed to "chip damage" hits) landed on a monster. Another
    vital component of Psi is knowing what kind of window there will be to dodge or
    perform another action after the Psi attack has landed. After all, landing an
    expert Psi attack slightly loses its value if a hunter is constantly getting
    punished by a monster immediately after the attack.
    The key to Psi for the GS hunter is closely watching monster movements and
    figuring out how to "fit in" with those scripted movements and attacks, and
    furthermore where to place themselves during and after the Psi attack so that
    they can deal a fair amount of damage while also not taking any damage. A good
    Psi GS user also knows that one can only go so far by listening to others'
    advice on how and when to hit a monster, and realizes that everyone eventually
    has to figure out what attack cues work best for them in accordance with their
    individual reaction times. In that, Psi involves more or less "personalizing"
    your GS use.
    As the name implies, Stealth is all about keeping out of sight, and dealing
    damage without being seen. The Stealth GS user often "shadows" their target,
    even appearing to copy the monster's stance. The general aim is to keep dealing
    damage while staying out of danger and sticking relatively close to the
    monster. If a monster turns toward a Stealth GS user, they run out of sight
    immediately and seek a better vantage point to launch the next attack
    (sometimes after landing a quick attack as the monster turns if their escape
    route allows for it).
    A Stealth purist does not commit to any attacks that might lock down their
    mobility if they are in the line of sight and attack range of a monster, but
    they are also familiar with the various "blind-spots" where they can be just
    out of range of a monster's attack and still deal damage by abusing the range
    of the GS. Make no mistake, the Stealth GS user still gets in plenty of charge
    attacks, and depending on the monster, they may actually get in more charge
    attacks than a GS user who spends all their time in the monster's line of
    sight. However, the Stealth GS user does not take the risk of getting in "a
    slightly higher charge," and follows their instinct when they feel it is time
    to release their attack early.
    Stealth GS play is fairly predictive, with the hunter constantly trying to
    estimate where the monster's attention will be or where its back will be turned
    to in a few seconds. When a monster initiates a charge, for example, the
    Stealth GS user is the one who runs off to a spot and sets up a charge attack
    exactly where they know the monster's back will be after the charge. In a way,
    Stealth GS play is the attempt to maintain a reasonable balance between staying
    in the fight while dealing damage and playing it safe while not taking damage.
    >>>>> 6: GS Combat "Classes" }STYL{
    Note that none of these "Classes" actually appear in the game. The following is
    an artificial system I have developed for sorting the various elements of GS
    combat into more workable preconfigured sets. Some of this is inspired by what
    I have seen of the GS use of other hunters, while other "Classes" here are
    developed in accordance with my own experience playing the game, arranged by
    putting together the strategies that I have found to be more effective in
    unison. Also note that Jhen Mohran and Ceadeus are not mentioned because
    neither monster really requires any weapon-specific strategy whatsoever.
    (Recklessness, HnR)
    Standard GS n00b; this seems to be the default combat style in the game for
    those who did not even read the manual. They still spam the Infinite Combo, and
    they constantly fall back on HnR whenever they might be in danger. The n00b is
    very adept at fighting small monsters and disrupting other hunters. They may
    also have some luck with Great Jaggi, but that is as far as their effectiveness
    (Support, HnR)
    The Monk is patient and precise, and this class represents what one might think
    of as the lowest acceptable level of GS combat. The Monk knows not to
    underestimate the various support features of the GS, and they also do not mind
    simply lending their power where it is needed. They rely on HnR tactics a lot,
    but they also make an effort to charge their attacks when they can get away
    with it. If only a Monk could get Punishing Draw and Critical Draw early in the
    game... The Monk is effective against Great Jaggi, Qurupeco, Royal Ludroth,
    Barroth, and to some extent Great Baggi and Barioth.
    (Stealth, HnR)
    The Assassin takes the first steps towards predictive gameplay and damage
    efficiency, blending a mix of Stealth together with HnR tactics. This
    combination makes for a simplistic level of GS use that serves as a good
    foundation for dealing damage while surviving. The Assassin is a great addition
    to teams throughout the earlier sections of the game, although they may fall
    into the trap of playing too evasively, and consequently struggle when they are
    the only ones facing the monster.
    (Tail-Cutting, Demolition)
    The Knight is the beginning hunter class that wields their GS "with a purpose."
    They know the power of their weapon, and they know some of the timings they
    need to deliver damage to their targets. The Knight focuses primarily on
    cutting tails and breaking parts. Their attack habits are relatively versatile,
    and this class can supplement a party against any monster, although it is only
    really effective for Qurupeco, Royal Ludroth, Barroth, Gobul, Rathian, Barioth,
    and Lagiacrus. Beyond those monsters (and even including some of the last
    ones), the Knight is likely to struggle with their limited playing-style.
    (Kamikaze, Dueling)
    The Berserker just wants to do damage, and from the start of the hunt they will
    use Kamikaze tactics to deal damage at every chance they see, even if it means
    exploiting a window where they are guaranteed to take damage for their efforts.
    As the hunt goes on (and/or as their healing items are about half out), they
    blend their Kamikaze tactics with some Dueling elements, staying with the
    monster to deal consistent damage. The Berserker is effective against Great
    Jaggi, Qurupeco, Royal Ludroth, Gobul, Rathian, Great Baggi, Gigginox, and
    Barioth. Other monsters are likely to hit too hard for the Berserker's limited
    and risky tactics.
    (Tail-Cutting, Demolition, Dueling)
    The Paladin is a step up from the Knight, and they have learned to efficiently
    deal damage between or after cutting the tail and breaking targets by sticking
    to a monster and weaving in and out of its attack patterns, continuously
    getting hits in. The Paladin is a little more effective, and can be useful
    against Qurupeco, Royal Ludroth, Barroth, Gobul, Rathian, Barioth, Lagiacrus,
    Rathalos, Diablos, Uragaan, and Agnaktor. Beyond those monsters, the Paladin
    will be pressing their limits.
    /Dark Knight/
    (Tail-Cutting, Demolition, Kamikaze)
    The Dark Knight is the player who attempts to be helpful by breaking targets
    and cutting tails, but also does not wish to give up the sheer amount of damage
    they feel they inflict by using Kamikaze tactics. As it happens, this can
    actually be a fairly useful class. The Dark Knight is effective against Great
    Jaggi, Qurupeco, Royal Ludroth, Gobul, Rathian, Great Baggi, Gigginox, and
    Barioth, Lagiacrus, Rathalos, and Agnaktor without pushing their limits.
    (Opportunism, Longshots, HnR)
    The Sniper can be a beast with a GS, and this class commonly comes into use
    when a GS user first gets the Critical Draw ability. Because of the combat
    tactics they use, the Sniper is one of the more versatile classes, and it is
    excellent for doing damage considering the sheer amount of time the Sniper
    spends more or less "out of the fight" (i.e. out of danger, not attacking). The
    Sniper is moderately effective against Great Jaggi, Qurupeco, Royal Ludroth,
    Barroth, Gobul, Rathian, Great Baggi, Barioth, Rathalos, Diablos, and Agnaktor.
    (Opportunism, Kamikaze, Recklessness, Demolition)
    The Reaver has accumulated many of the tactics that have served them well in
    battle, but still neglects to develop the finer aspects of GS tactics. As far
    as both experience and math go, the Reaver often has the most potential to deal
    damage out of any GS class that does not use Psi. The Reaver is a monster of a
    GS user constantly trying to deal damage without worrying too much about how
    much damage they take or what mistakes they make. Their Recklessness is
    somewhat calculated, however, and while they do use combo attacks, they do not
    spam the infinite combo. In the simplest sense, the Reaver is the pro-newb, and
    arguably represents the peak potential of a purely reactive GS user. The Reaver
    is moderately effective against all monsters except Alatreon and Deviljho.
    Note- the following classes are effective against everything. Once you
    incorporate a decent amount of Psi tactics into your overall gameplay, the
    tactics you use to supplement your gameplay become more a matter of personal
    preference and armor customization (i.e. choosing an armor skillset that
    maximizes your class, or vice-versa).
    (Psi, Kamikaze, Opportunism, Support)
    The Hero is a solid end-game GS user. They have learned to use Psi to optimize
    their damage output, but they still have a lingering affinity for using
    Kamikaze tactics to boldly deal damage in situations where no other hunter
    would. In addition to that, they are constantly hitting up every opportunity
    they see and trying to get the first strike in, topping it off with a bit of
    Support combat for good measure. The Hero is a well-rounded GS user, and "it's
    all about the glory, baby." They can be effective against anything in the game,
    although Deviljho is likely to cost them quite a number of health items.
    (Psi, Demolition, Longshots, HnR)
    The Dragoon is the expert multipurpose GS user, and the embodiment of the HnR
    "seek and destroy" mindset. They set up plenty of Longshots and rely on a blend
    of Psi and HnR to get in the bulk of their damage, destroying things as they
    go. This GS user aims to be more of a supportive asset to their group, allowing
    their teammates to deal the majority of the damage while they break stuff and
    pull of fancy stunt shots.
    (Psi, Longshots, Dueling, Support)
    The Samurai is the GS user who is constantly in the monster's face, or rolling
    around them getting in hit after hit, throwing in some Support tactics every
    now and then. They also use Longshots occasionally when the monster travels far
    away from them. The Samurai is all about consistency and action. They have very
    high damage potential, and will outperform most other GS users in many cases,
    provided that they have the skill to keep landing their attacks.
    (Psi, Support, Control, Longshots)
    A Wizard is the control freak of GS users, having done all the number crunching
    before every significant battle. The typical Wizard even stocks their inventory
    perfectly for attack buffs (such as the might pill and seed) which they have
    also calculated. The majority of their time in the match goes to delivering
    calculated, expertly-predicted blows and setting up Longshots that all
    contribute to staggering, tripping, and otherwise controlling monsters. In the
    meantime, they use Support tactics to help out the team and contribute some
    damage to areas that they are not trying to control so that they do not appear
    too single-minded. Wizards work very well together, especially with a common
    (Psi, Stealth, HnR, Control)
    The Ninja aims to deal damage with the consistency and skill of a Samurai, but
    without putting themselves in the danger zone for too long. With well-
    established Psi tactics the Ninja is capable of using Stealth throughout a hunt
    to remain just ahead of the monster and outside of its attention, landing
    strike after strike while enjoying the protection that comes from being "out of
    sight and out of mind." The Ninja also uses HnR tactics to continue landing
    hits while remaining virtually untouchable, often backed by plenty of power-
    boosting skills. This type of GS play also allows for a fair amount of Control,
    which helps round off the combination of tactics used here.
    (Psi, Control, Stealth, Dueling, Longshots, Support, and a little bit of
    everything else as needed)
    The Archon is the ideal GS user, placing a priority on consistently getting the
    highest charge attacks, pushing their gameplay to their predictive limits. In
    addition to this, they also aim to use some of the key specialties of the GS
    including Control, Longshots, and Stealth to increase their effectiveness.
    Meanwhile, their general tactics are in constant flux, allowing them to remain
    adaptive and use whatever strategy they will. The Archon is not hindered by
    lag, uncooperative teammates, aggressive monsters, or other such circumstances.
    However, the Archon may also appear erratic and difficult to work with.
    >>>>> 7: GreatSword and Armor Skills }KILL{
    The following is a list of recommended skills, listed in order of descending
    importance (according to both personal opinion and experience) with
    justification. Also note that I use the terms "skills" and "abilities"
    /Critical Draw (Crit Draw+10)/
    Not counting Adrenaline+2, this is the best skill for increasing the damage
    output of a GS. In Monster Hunter Tri, Critical Draw works by overriding your
    weapon's natural affinity and giving you a guaranteed critical hit (100%
    affinity) when you use any unsheathe attack (including charged draw attacks).
    /Adrenaline+2 (Potential+15)/
    Adrenaline+2 activates when your Health is under 40%, giving you a large attack
    boost and a good defense boost. This is one of the best ways to increase your
    damage output if you do not mind taking the risk, and I strongly recommend
    experimenting with this ability as soon as you can, if only to force yourself
    to learn the finer aspects of GS gameplay. If all else fails, a GS user with
    Adrenaline+2 can fall back on HnR tactics and still deal a very respectable
    amount of damage.
    /Sharpness+1 (Handicraft+15)/
    Later in the game, this is a general-purpose damage-boosting ability that can
    push many weapons into a higher tier of sharpness (e.g. from blue to white or
    from white to purple). Since Sharpness color directly affects damage and
    KO/exhaust damage, this is a useful ability. Of course, it is always worth
    doing the math to see whether a weapon is actually better with Sharpness+1
    instead of another ability, and it is never worth using Sharpness+1 if the
    ability does not push the GS's natural sharpness into a higher tier (i.e. if it
    just gives the weapon more of the same color sharpness).
    /Attack Up S, M, and L (Respectively Attack +10, +15, and +20)/
    The Attack Up abilities add fixed amounts to your weapon's raw value. In many
    cases this can be good to give your weapon a little boost in damage.
    /Earplugs and High-Grade-Earplugs (Hearing+10 and +15 respectively)/
    Earplugs and HGE make you immune to monster's roars. The only monsters that
    roar loud enough to require HGE are Ceadeus, Jhen Mohran, Alatreon, Deviljho,
    Gigginox, and Diablos; regular Earplugs will suffice for all other roars in Tri.
    These can be nice abilities that allow a GS user extra attack windows, but they
    should never be used as crutches for players who struggle without them, and in
    many cases these abilities are not guaranteed to be worth sacrificing a damage-
    boosting ability in terms of developing ideal GS technique. However,
    pragmatically speaking, if you are aiming for immediate results in typical
    combat instead of rigorously working on your GS technique, I won't deny that
    sets with hearing abilities will likely outperform comparable sets that have
    the basic AuX damage buffs. In many situations hearing abilities can be quite
    useful due to the extra damage potential you have from not having to worry
    about time lost when rolling/diving through a roar and being protected from
    having your charges interrupted by a roar during an attack. Of course, try to
    maintain a sense of caution. A key reason for the harsh initial criticism of
    hearing abilities is that hunters who rely on hearing abilities have the
    tendency to get careless, greedy with their charges, and often neglect to pay
    attention to what a monster does after it begins to roar.
    /Focus (FastCharge+10)/
    On a GS, Focus slightly reduces the time it takes to charge attacks. To
    describe it in words, it feels like it takes roughly the same amount of time to
    reach the first level of the charge, with the second level seeming to "spike"
    quickly after, and the third level ready at an instant after the second. In a
    sense, Focus can be a good ability in some situations since it can allow you to
    exploit certain windows where you would not otherwise have the opportunity to
    charge an attack. However, generally speaking the Focus ability is "training
    wheels" for a GS user, since each hunter ideally should be learning to time
    their attacks properly so that they can land L3 charges without Focus. Thus,
    similar to hearing abilities, Focus can be good and increase the number of
    heavy hits you land during a match, but it should not be used as a crutch for
    hunters if they have difficulty reaching L3 charges in general. Ultimately,
    there are only a few monsters in the game for which Focus reliably increases
    your attack opportunities to a significant extent (e.g. Barioth).
    /Taunt (Sense-10)/
    Taunt increases the chances of you being targeted by a monster in battle. It
    works by making the monster randomly choose another target whenever they target
    a player that is not you. As such, it does not guarantee that a monster will
    constantly be attacking you, but it does generally increase the number of times
    it attacks you. This can be particularly useful to a GS user, since it helps
    ensure that a hunter will land their attacks, especially in situations where
    they are trying to set up a head shot.
    /Punishing Draw (PunishDraw+10)/
    This ability adds KO/Exhaust damage to your unsheathe attacks. Since ideal GS
    gameplay already relies on a lot of unsheathe attacks, the effect of this
    ability can make itself fairly useful on a GS set, especially with a full party
    of 4 hunters. Of course, as far as damage goes, generally speaking it is not
    worth sacrificing a damage-boosting ability to have Punishing Draw on a set,
    and Punishing Draw is strictly an ability for support or variety play.
    Other nice abilities for a GS user include Marathon Runner, Evasion+1 and +2,
    Speed Sharpening, and Razor Sharp. However, I will not be including detailed
    discussion since, generally speaking, these abilities are not worth including
    in a GS set unless it is convenient to do so (for example if they already come
    with components of an armor set you are going to use or if they are just easy
    to gem in). The ability Fortify (which raises your attack after each time you
    faint) is also useful for increasing damage output.
    >>>>> 8: Noteworthy Armor }NORM{
    In this part I will list good options for GS armor arranged roughly in order of
    /Great Jaggi/
    This standard armor is simple to make, and you can gem the AuS to AuM very
    easily. This is a good attack set for players who do not feel the need for
    something less attack-oriented early in the game. Halve Stun is also a nice
    (also upgradeable) ability that is slightly convenient, especially if you are a
    new player who keeps getting knocked around.
    This is a very good beginning armorset. The defense and evasion abilities can
    both be upgraded, but they are also useful as they are. The Recovery Up also
    makes your healing items restore more health; it is very difficult to die in
    this set. As an added bonus, the set already has some inactive attack ability
    points, and it is very easy to gem AuS onto this set in addition to the
    already-amazing skillset.
    Barroth armor is decent, especially as a replacement for Great Jaggi armor. I
    personally like Marathon Runner, since it is nice to know that you can run from
    point A to point B without having to worry about stamina. The real potential of
    this set comes from gemming the Adrenaline+1 up to Adrenaline+2. However, as
    soon as you get Barroth armor, it is fairly easy to gem out the negative
    Critical Eye and gem the AuS to AuM.
    /Great Baggi/
    Capture Expert makes farming monsters a bit easier, and Focus is also a decent
    ability to have on a GS. It should be noted, however, that the real value of
    Great Baggi armor pieces comes from mixing them with other armors, rather than
    using the full set.
    This is not really a good armor specifically for GS use, but it is a good
    general-purpose armor, and it has a ridiculous amount of slots, giving you a
    lot of options to gem it with various abilities. If you like pain, later in the
    game you can even gem it for Critical Draw, making it a passable GS set. At
    least it makes underwater fights go by faster.
    This is great armor for a GS user; at the very least it easily replaces pretty
    much all of the previous armor options, unless you are running Barroth with
    Adrenaline+2 (in which case, carry on with that). The real value of this armor
    is the sheer amount of attack skill points it has, and it can easily be gemmed
    up to have AuL. The Defense Down ability on it is nothing to worry about.
    However, it should be noted that at this point in the game Rathalos armor is
    not ideal, and the primary value of Rathalos armor is in mixing it with other
    This is THE armor for a GS user. Aside from the fact that it has the Critical
    Draw skill, the armorset is only 3 pieces, making it easy to mix with other
    armors to throw on a few more skills. The power of this set can be further
    increased by mixing it with Rathalos parts. Depending on your resources, it is
    also possible to combine Diablos with Great Baggi armor to get Focus.
    /Jhen Mohran (Yamato/Hinata)/
    Technically speaking, this is good armor if you have a talisman that allows you
    to gem the armor to have Critical Draw. However, I personally do not care much
    for this set since it is outclassed by its High Rank counterpart, and by the
    time you can make Jhen Mohran armor, you will probably want to make a set of
    High Rank armor instead of trying to drag Low Rank armor around anyway.
    +Note that I am not going to include low-rank Ceadeus (Helios/Selene) armor
    because it really has little-next-to-no value for a GS user except in mix sets
    after hr51+. Until very late in the game, the Sharp+1 ability simply does not
    benefit a GS user that much compared to other alternatives.
    After you reach High Rank, I suggest overforging Qurupeco for your first High
    Rank armor, if you made the armor in Low Rank. As you progress through High
    Rank, your Great Baggi, Lagiacrus, Rathalos, and Diablos armor pieces are also
    worth overforging. However, in High Rank there are also some other armor sets
    you may wish to consider, as follows.
    /Great Jaggi+/
    Great entry-level armor that lets you start of High Rank with an easily-gemmed-
    in AuL. If you have a good enough Critical Draw talisman, you may even be able
    to gem Critical Draw onto this set instead.
    This is a great set of armor, and unlike its Low Rank counterpart, it already
    has Adrenaline+2. Depending on your talisman, you can gem Critical Draw onto
    this set to make it an absolute powerhouse, or failing that, you can at least
    gem up the Attack Up skill on it.
    /Great Baggi+/
    Fairly redundant as a stand-alone armor and underpowered, but you may find some
    use for its pieces in future armor mixes, especially the helm.
    Even if you already made the full Low Rank set and overforged it, you will want
    to make the Diablos+ armor, or at the very least make the vambraces. This is
    still the best way to get the Critical Draw ability on a set, unless you have
    an amazing Critical Draw talisman. The triple-slot on the vambraces gives you a
    lot more options to gem abilities into this armor, and it should also be noted
    that you can gem the vambraces with a critical jewel to get Critical Draw just
    from the helm and vambraces of this set.
    I personally like Dober armor. It has the must-have Critical Draw ability, in
    addition to a personal favorite "convenience" skill of mine (Marathon Runner).
    It also has absurd resistance to Dragon Elemental attacks, making it great for
    farming the likes of Deviljho and Alatreon until you can mix together some
    better sets. It is also worth noting that Dober armor has a great set of armor
    slots, and it can even be gemmed with Sharpness+1 if you can get a decent
    talisman to squeeze some extra Handicraft skill points in. For the record, I
    did my 5* Urgent in full Dober, gemmed with Focus, with Speed Sharpener as an
    added bonus thanks to a rather nice talisman.
    +Before I list the HR51+ sets, let me just say that at this point in the game,
    the best sets involve mixing pieces of various armors. As it is, I have no
    interest in regurgitating the same mix sets that are in the armor guides on
    GameFAQs. There are plenty of good armor configurations in said guides for
    those who wish to go and see.
    /Jhen Mohran (Yamato/Hinata)+/
    Good set with decent gemming potential, and it also outclasses its Low Rank
    counterpart completely. However, this set is more for collectors' purposes,
    since at this stage in the game it is itself completely outclassed by other
    potential mix-sets you can make.
    /Ceadeus (Helios/Selene)+/
    The full set itself is garbage, but many mix sets require pieces of it, often
    mixed with pieces of (overforged) Low Rank Ceadeus armor.
    /Deviljho (Vangis)/
    Prime endgame armor material. If you have a good enough Critical Draw talisman,
    full Vangis with Critical Draw will be more than sufficient as an endgame
    armorset. The pieces of Vangis armor are also used in a variety of mix sets for
    the GS, especially the coil.
    *Other Sets...*
    /The Everyman GS Set/
    Any weapon, slots don't matter.
    Any talisman, slots don't matter.
    Diablos Helm+
    Dober Mail [Sprinter Jewel]
    Diablos Vambraces+ [Marathon Jewel]
    Barroth Faulds+ [Empty Slot]
    Black Leather Pants
    Skills: Adrenaline+2, Critical Draw, Marathon Runner
    Yes, this set does not have Sharpness+1. No, I don't care. Yes, the set has
    natural negative Potential skill points. No, I still don't care.
    I particularly like this set because it levels the end-game playing field to
    some extent. This is a set for those GS users who have been unable to get a
    good Critical Draw talisman. This set out-damages many end-game GS sets, and it
    does not care what weapon or talisman you use. You even have a free armor slot
    and a couple of potentially useful inactive skill points to work with (Tremor
    Res +6, Dragon Res+2, Attack+2). Also, if you are lucky enough to have a good
    talisman for an ability such as attack or evasion, you may be able to put it to
    use here.
    If you want to work with a slightly different set, you can use Dober Helm
    instead of Diablos Helm+ for a different set of options. It is worth noting
    that substituting the Diablos Helm+ for the Dober Helm will allow you to free
    up one of the triple slots on the armor. This gives you a variety of great
    options depending on your talisman, or you could just slap an onslaught jewel
    on there and get an attack up with even a mediocre talisman. This set also
    looks cool. There are, however, better sets available, and of course, if you
    have a good Critical Draw talisman you could just use Barroth+...Also, please
    note that this set was thrown together for casual/variety purposes, and it's
    primarily about the looks. It is not intended for any serious gameplay.
    >>>>> 9: Comparing GreatSwords }COGS{
    First: GameFAQs has a great Damage FAQ courtesy of Lord Grahf, so if you don't
    understand any of the following, I suggest you read said FAQ or at least search
    it for the information you need.
    Generally speaking, at any given point in the game, the best GS available to
    you will be apparent. You want power, and lots of it. However, for those points
    in the game where your circumstances make the choice of weapon less-than-clear,
    I will briefly discuss a good way to compare GSs so that you do not wind up
    carrying around a piece of rubbish that leaves you with the thought that "it
    seemed like a good idea at the time."
    The first thing you want to look at in your weapon is what I call the
    "Pragmatic Raw." This is simply the Raw power of the weapon multiplied by the
    sharpness modifier. It does not matter whether you work with the in-game Raw,
    or the real Raw (that is, the Raw divided by the weapon class modifier), as
    long as you compare weapons equally.
    "This one has X attack and blue sharpness, while that other one has Y attack
    and white sharpness; therefore the one with Y attack is better" is the kind of
    statement you want to avoid making. Do the math, or have a computer do it for
    Raw and Sharpness are the two most important factors to look at when comparing
    one GS to another. This is because ideal GS gameplay focuses on getting the
    most out of Raw power by abusing charge attacks and unsheathe attacks. After
    you have calculated the "Pragmatic Raw" of a few GS options and compared them
    to each other, the better weapon should be clear.
    Generally speaking, things like natural weapon affinity and elemental damage
    are fairly unimportant when comparing. Furthermore, as far as picking the most
    powerful GS goes, weapon slots should never be considered more important than
    Raw and Sharpness unless the additional slots will allow you to add an attack-
    boosting skill to your armorset that makes your weapon more powerful than
    another option (with fewer slots and higher natural damage) would be.
    The exceptions to the above rule of thumb are the crystal path GS (i.e. the GS
    with "vulca" names). Since crystal path GS are outclassed by other equal-tier
    GS in terms of damage potential, pretty much the only reason to forge them is
    for their slots. In that, it is redundant to forge a crystal path GS for power.
    If you want power, don't use a crystal path GS.
    Elemental damage is generally ignored on a GS because it does not attack
    quickly enough to stack up elemental damage like weapons such as the Lance or
    SnS, and affinity is generally ignored for the same reason. Another reason
    affinity is usually ignored is because a GS user will likely have the Critical
    Draw skill, which makes natural affinity obsolete in most cases.
    However, for the sake of completion (and so you do not have to take my word for
    it when I say element and affinity are not that important), I will make some
    points about elemental damage and affinity.
    Several elemental GS do have relatively high amounts of elemental damage, so if
    you are fighting a monster that is particularly weak to an element, it may be
    worth calculating the extra elemental damage, or otherwise factoring in an
    "average expected elemental damage" and making note of it next to the Pragmatic
    Raw of the weapon for comparison. The general way to do this is to take an
    average of all the elemental weaknesses of a monster's main hitzones, and then
    calculate the average expected elemental damage the same way you would
    calculate normal elemental damage, only using the average value instead of a
    specific hitzone value.
    As for affinity, the formula for calculating the average effective Raw of a
    weapon, taking affinity into account (X) is:
    X= R(.25A+1)
    Where R= given raw, real raw, ATP, or real ATP and A= the affinity % in decimal
    The formula above works by the general principle that the Law of Large Numbers
    is based on. It should be noted, however, that the GS is actually the one
    weapon class in the game where this formula may not apply very well, since the
    formula technically gains validity the more frequently a weapon hits. That
    being said, the above formula should be used with a degree of skepticism.
    Last but not least, I would like to point out that when people say "affinity
    does not matter for a GS," that primarily refers to making a choice between a
    weapon with [higher raw and little/no affinity] versus a weapon with [slightly
    lower raw and a bit of natural affinity]. In other words, it means "don't
    sacrifice raw for affinity." I say this because when a weapon (such as High
    Siegmund) has relatively high affinity when compared to weapons of similar or
    equal raw, that does not make it bad. Similarly, when a weapon has absurdly low
    affinity (such as the Barroth path weapons), it does make a difference.
    >>>>> 10) Recommended GS Progression }REGS{
    Please note that GameFAQs and the Monster Hunter Wiki both have comprehensive
    weapon charts that show what weapon path you have to follow to get to a certain
    weapon, when you can forge weapons, what materials you need to make them, and
    other data. It is not the purpose of this guide to copy and paste other
    available resources en masse. Therefore, I will primarily be focusing on
    beginning and end-points of weapon paths.
    /Minimalist Progression/
    This progression is for the absolute minimalist who wants to use the GS
    throughout the game but does not want to spend resources making too many
    weapons, and/or is working on using another weapon class in addition to the GS.
    Make a Bone Blade, and keep upgrading it as you can, with your end goal being
    High Sieglinde P.
    The benefit of following this weapon path is that you will generally be using a
    relatively powerful GS at most points in the game, although at certain points
    the GS you are using will be inferior to some other choices on other paths
    (that is the price of sticking to one weapon path). Another bonus of the Bone
    Blade -> High Sieglinde P path is that you can make High Sieglinde P as soon as
    you hit High Rank online, which means that you will not be stuck dragging a
    relatively weak GS through early High Rank.
    While it is not the best way to go through the game, the path ending with High
    Sieglinde P is solid and reliable, and High Sieglinde P can beat any monster in
    the game in relatively decent time, lasting you at least up until Hunter Rank
    51. Of course, once you get past Hunter Rank 51 you would do well to make
    Anguish P, the best GS in Monster Hunter Tri.
    /Efficient Progression/
    For the GS user who does not wish to be a strict minimalist, but still wishes
    for some degree of efficiency, I recommend juggling a couple of weapon paths
    and alternating use of weapons to get the most out of each path. For this
    progression, the two paths I recommend are the one beginning with the Iron
    Sword and ending with Mutilator Blade, and then the one beginning with Bone
    Blade and ending with High Siegmund.
    If you forge the Iron Sword and Bone Blade, upgrading each sword towards their
    end goal as soon as you can at each point in the game, you will find these two
    paths to be a relatively efficient complementary set. The only significant
    disadvantage of this progression is that you will not be using the best GS for
    early High Rank (the High Sieglinde P).
    As such, you will need to rush through early High Rank, or else forge a High
    Sieglinde P if you are struggling too much. However, on that note, it is much
    easier to forge a High Sieglinde P after you have already reached High Rank
    than if you had been working towards one throughout the entire game, so even if
    you do forge one to supplement this progression, it will not cost you too much
    time. High Siegmund should serve you well until HR 51+, at which point you
    would do well to make Anguish P.
    /Variety Progression/
    This progression is for the GS user who wishes to have a little more variety,
    and collect a few more weapons along the way. Let me say in advance, this is
    more or less the progression with "other ideal swords worth mentioning." The
    swords named have all been useful to me at a particular point in the game. I
    strongly advise that you use your own discretion, since several of these swords
    may not be worth making in your particular situation.
    Make the same paths I recommended in the "Efficient Progression." In addition,
    other weapons that are not on those paths that will serve you well (if only for
    a limited point in time), should you choose to make them when you can are -
    Rathalos Firesword, Ancient Blade, Lagia Lightning R, Vulcanvil B, Vulcamagnon
    P, Diablos Hornsword, Ancharius, Alatreon Revolution, and Epitaph.
    /Ideal Swords/
    As far as Offline/Low Rank Online weapon availability goes, your best options
    are Sieglinde, Siegmund, and Lagia Lightning R. I strongly recommend Siegmund
    due to the high raw and natural affinity. I personally finished Offline before
    I went Online, but for those of you who wish to play through Online from
    scratch, the Efficient Progression or Variety Progression should serve you well.
    As for High Rank Online, your best option in 4* is High Sieglinde P. Your best
    option in 5* is Diablos Hornsword if used correctly. However, it should be
    noted that because of its natural white sharpness, the Epitaph Blade is very
    close to approaching the power of Diablos Hornsword, and against monsters that
    have significant weakness to Dragon element, Epitaph may often close the gap
    between its Raw and Diablos Hornsword's, outperforming the theoretically better
    GS in practice. After 5*, the best end-game GS in terms of reliable damage
    potential is Anguish P.
    Because it amuses me, I will also point out that the Deviljho GS path in
    Monster Hunter Tri is so powerful that even Anguish G is superior to most other
    fully-upgraded GS options by the time you reach end-game.
    >>>>>11: General Thoughts and GS Philosophy }RANT{
    This section was initially conceived as a mini-guide (which at this point is
    admittedly a bit of a bad joke) to concentrate the information that I viewed as
    central to using the GS. It later developed to include new information that did
    not seem to be sufficiently covered elsewhere in the guide. By the time I
    actually got around to writing this section, it became an assorted list of
    general pointers and GS-related ranting. Some points in this section are going
    to be redundant, some of them may be useful, many may seem common-sense to
    experienced players, and a number of those same points may be exactly what new
    players overlook or otherwise need to hear. I've tried to include something for
    everybody in this section, and ultimately decided that this is the format I
    want to present it in.
    For anyone wondering where the Q&A section is, this is what's left of it. While
    I was writing the Q&A for this guide, I decided that I didn't like the format
    and rolled it into the rants you find here. Most of the answers to 'questions'
    that would have been in the Q&A are in here. As for the format, I decided not
    to have subject tags or descriptive headers (or sub-sections, so to speak) for
    this section because it doesn't fit the intended style. However, many of the
    paragraphs indicate the subject of discussion in the first sentence, so that
    should help counter-balance that fact.
    I humbly ask that you take this section as it is, and if you're looking for
    something specific, use the Ctrl+F search function (for example, terms like:
    teamwork, ideal, tactic, charge, positioning, and timing will all lead you to
    some pretty decent points). This section is written a bit chaotically, although
    there is some order to it, so my suggestion is to read it a bit chaotically. If
    you don't feel like reading it all at once, feel free to skip around and read
    any random paragraph you scroll to.
    First, familiarize yourself with the non-weapon-specific basics. Do some
    research on hitzones, read up on the theory of monster aggro and learn when
    monsters are likely to attack you and select targets for various attacks, and
    learn the typical attack and movement patterns for the monsters in the game. Go
    into combat armed with knowledge. Also, read the MH3 Damage Formula FAQ by Lord
    Grahf, and at least check the GS section in it to get an idea of the standard
    damage potential of the GS and where it stands relative to other weapons. Try
    to mind the basics of combat - keep your weapon sharp, use attack buffs if you
    can, don't heal or use items carelessly, and when you are hunting with others,
    work with your teammates effectively (don't constantly interfere with them
    because of bad weapons etiquette and don't try to one-man-army the monster if
    your tactics are going to cost your teammates opportunities to deal damage).
    A lot of experienced GS users have a tendency to tell new players to practice
    charging their GS first and foremost. This is the right direction, but not
    necessarily the best starting point for all players. Charged or uncharged, the
    form of the attack - the vertical cut - is the same. Your range and targets
    will be pretty much the same. Being able to perfectly charge your GS means very
    little if every attack lands on a damage-resistant hitzone or misses entirely
    because you are unfamiliar with using the GS in relation to the size and shape
    of a given monster. The charge is undoubtedly important, but completely new
    players should not be afraid to take their time experimenting with the simple
    unsheathe attack to learn where and when the attack can land. After enough
    experimentation with the basic draw attack, a player will be familiar with the
    common opportunities to deal damage, and when they do start using charge
    attacks, they will be able to know what the monster looks like and what cues
    they can respond to when they need to trigger an attack regardless of what
    level of charge they may be at.
    Naturally, charge attacks are at the core of GS gameplay, and charging the GS
    is among the basic techniques hunters should master as soon as possible when
    learning to use the weapon. Ideally, a hunter wants to get to the stage where
    triggering a desired charge is practically a reflex. In most cases, you want to
    be able to trigger a charge attack at the desired level as soon as you can,
    without needing to see or hear the game. That's the level of familiarity with
    the GS charge that you should be aiming for, because when you are working with
    other hunters to take down a monster, it is never an acceptable excuse if you
    fail to trigger an intended charge attack because you could not see the charge
    aura or hear the charging sound. Of course, a hunter is not expected to have a
    perfect mastery of the GS immediately. While you are working your way up to the
    ideal familiarity with the timing of the charges, use whatever you need to
    learn the timings. The charge aura flashes when the L1 and L2 can be triggered,
    and for each charge level there is also a subtle shift in the intensity of the
    charging sound. When the charging sound reaches its peak shortly after the L2,
    the L3 charge can be triggered, resulting in a white spark.
    In the past I have advised new players who have trouble familiarizing
    themselves with GS charge times to come up with a mnemonic device (usually a
    phrase) that, for example, takes them the same amount of time to say/think as
    the L3 charge takes to trigger. For example, I have found that saying 'shoop-
    da-whoop' a few times while charging until I get used to saying it within
    roughly the same length of time it takes to charge up the L3 leaves me with a
    useful phrase that can be used to approximate how much time is needed in
    certain situations to charge the L3. By substituting the L3 charge time with an
    internalized phrase or word, some players may learn to play successfully based
    on their own timings rather than try to react to external cues such as the size
    of the charge aura for the GS.
    Another advantage of synchronizing and substituting charge time with a phrase
    is that your phrase of choice can be used to plan attacks or practice the
    charge timing (in a sense) without actually practicing the charge. For example,
    if a monster is across the map, while you're running to attack it, make the
    trip a learning opportunity. Try to fit your L3 charge time substitute phrase
    in while you are watching the monster move, and try to use that as a measure to
    figure out where you need to be relative to the monster to land your L3 attack
    whenever the monster is doing [whatever it is doing when it seems like you have
    enough time to get your L3 attack in]. Granted, not all players will need this
    level of practice, but some players may benefit from it and even find unique
    attack windows. Either way, if a hunter is having a terrible time of matching
    their charge times to the flow of combat in an actual hunt, this method may
    As with many aspects of using the GS, the goal when mastering the charge is to
    be predictive rather than reactive with respect to cues such as the aura
    flashes and the changes in sound that less experienced players rely on to
    trigger their desired charge attacks. MH3 is a relatively fast-paced game, and
    ideally your attention should be on the monster, your teammates, where you are
    going to be after your attack has landed AND how you are going to attack next,
    your items menu, &c. When you are in combat, you should be thinking about
    pretty much everything except what the GS sounds like or what the aura needs to
    look like when you want to release the charge attack. Charging the GS should be
    practiced until you have it down as an automatic thought process- not something
    you need to actively think about in the heat of battle.
    If you do think about charging in combat, it should only be a fleeting thought
    of intent. You should begin your charge attack with the intent to deal the most
    damage you are capable of in that situation, and the rest should be automatic.
    You have already committed to the attack, so there is no point in thinking
    about trying to get it right once you have started charging. If you cannot
    trust yourself to trigger the desired charge attack without thinking about it,
    then you are not familiar enough with the attack, and you need to practice the
    basics on your own until you are better at charging. By now I probably sound
    like a broken record, but I feel that I cannot stress this point enough.
    Similar to the above, the timings necessary to trigger the L3 charge attack in
    particular can be fairly demanding for players unfamiliar with the GS. The
    window for triggering the L3 is pretty short, and if a hunter is reacting to a
    cue in the game rather than unleashing the charge at the soonest moment they
    EXPECT the charge to be ready, there is a good chance that they will overcharge
    and miss the chance to trigger the L3. This is especially true if you are using
    Focus, in which case the window you have for triggering the attack pushes
    pretty close to typical human reaction times.
    The idea when charging is to cheat your own reaction time. When you want to
    trigger the L3, you should not be releasing the attack when you see Anguish
    grow or when you see the aura flash- you should release the attack just BEFORE
    you think you will see those cues. In other words, if you (are aware that you)
    see a cue such as the aura flash or Anguish grow in size before you have
    released the desired charge, you're late unleashing the attack, and you're
    slowing yourself down. Again, don't look to the game to tell you when your
    charge is ready- know when it SHOULD be ready, and release it at that point.
    Practice getting down to the perfect charge time until you are confident that
    you can trigger the L3 as soon as possible. For players who can record their
    gameplay and wish to test themselves with Anguish, if you step through your
    video frame-by-frame, you should be able to see the L3's white spark
    immediately after Anguish grows in size corresponding to the L3. If the white
    spark consistently appears later than the frame immediately after Anguish grows
    the last time, then quite simply put, you are not above practicing the basics
    of charging the GS, and you are not playing at top form in terms of your
    ability to trigger the L3 as soon as possible.
    Positioning, accuracy, and familiarity with monsters' movement patterns are
    vital for a hunter, and this is especially true for a GS user. I try to
    emphasize a balance between mastering not only the charge times, but
    positioning and targeting as well. Use the resources available online to find
    damage calculators or at least be familiar with the damage modifiers (or
    weaknesses, if you prefer) of various hitzones on the monsters. The fact is
    that there are many cases when the L1 charge will do more damage if you hit the
    weak hitzone your are aiming for than the L2 or L3 charge will do to a nearby
    hitzone that you might accidentally hit when/if the monster moves. Things like
    this will happen, and getting greedy with charges is a temptation that all GS
    users must learn to keep in check. Of course, it helps to push yourself towards
    the predictive>reactive mindset and practice until you have learned what cues
    you need to look out for to judge whether you need to release early to hit your
    target for superior damage rather than risk losing damage to a stronger hitzone
    or missing altogether. Once you think you have that covered, make note that you
    might also want to work on the positioning and timing to do all of the above
    and leave yourself with enough time (or space) to avoid taking damage from the
    While landing the L3 charge on the weakest hitzone within reasonable range is
    an ideal goal, don't let that goal control you and rob you of dealing damage.
    The fact is that even if you hit your charge perfectly, there is a fair amount
    of time (often about 2/3 of a second) between the moment the attack is
    triggered and the moment the GS actually registers a hit on the monster. Add
    that time to the time it takes to reach a higher level charge, and you really
    have some uncertainty when it comes to landing your attack. During that time,
    monsters can often shift just enough to make the vertical/charge attack miss
    its mark, sometimes costing you damage. Moreover, this uncertainty strikes
    while you are already committed to a position, so there is little you can do to
    fix the situation after you have started charging other than modify the timing
    of the attack itself. It may help to keep one of the main anti-rules of GS
    gameplay in mind: A higher charge does not guarantee more damage. However, this
    is not an excuse to neglect reaching L3s or ignore prime targets in general; it
    is merely a reminder to make the most out of your situation and try to
    compensate for mistakes instead of accepting them as failures.
    While all monsters have moments of obvious vulnerability and give hunters
    opportunities to hit a relatively stationary target, there are many other
    opportunities to deal damage that will become apparent during the flow of
    combat. A GS user who relies upon the more obvious moments of vulnerability and
    never takes risks or learns to fit into the more dangerous and demanding
    movement patterns of a monster will ultimately lose out on a lot of potential
    damage. Try to balance your priorities. Don't just go for easy marks. Exploit
    the monster when you can, but also push yourself until you can get damage in
    even when the monster is in rage mode, running all over the map, or otherwise
    giving few easy/safe opportunities to deal damage.
    For some players, if you can get the Distraction (FastCharge-10) armor skill,
    it may help to train against monsters offline and work on fitting your charge
    attacks into their attack and movement patterns in the timeframe you have with
    Distraction. When you can consistently land L2 and L3 charges without getting
    hit, then you will have learned a number of opportunities you have to land a
    regular L3 charge, most likely with time to spare. Of course, a charge with
    Distraction is pretty slow, and this weight-training-esque method may be more
    trouble than it's worth for many players. I only suggest it if you are really
    struggling or frequently getting hit after landing your attacks or consistently
    failing to land the L3 charge attack.
    On the subject of taking damage, obviously you want to minimize the amount of
    damage you take if your priority is a quick and clean hunt, and this is
    especially true if you are working with other hunters. However, as far as
    developing your weapon technique (on your own or with competent teammates)
    goes, the simple fact is that damage incurred ought to be a lesson learned. Any
    undesirable consequences of your actions have potential as learning mechanisms.
    Let the damage you took remind you of dangerous situations, but also use those
    situations as points of reference and stepping stones to test your next
    hypothesis about when and where you might be able to deal damage.
    A good GS user will not be afraid of taking damage, and when refining your
    technique, you should push yourself into high-risk situations and try to
    discover unique opportunities to deal damage. You may even try placing yourself
    in situations where you (think you) are sure to take damage in hopes of
    developing or luckily discovering a way to avoid getting yourself destroyed.
    Practice your technique and experiment, and (again, on your own or with
    competent teammates) try operating under the assumption that you can do damage
    at all times when it is in range- you just need to find out when and how you
    can deal damage while minimizing the amount you take. "I cannot hit the monster
    right now" and "it is too dangerous to attempt an attack" are worthless
    thoughts for a GS user developing their technique.
    Always try to know what hitzones take the most damage for every monster, and
    try to have a strategy before the hunt starts. Make a decision before the hunt
    begins as to whether you are going to be breaking hitzones that might nerf your
    damage or primarily using your GS to deal damage against weaker targets. The
    most obvious and common hitzones for a GS user will usually be the head and the
    tail for most monsters, and other prime targets such as the stomach are fairly
    easy to intuit. Know what you are aiming for, and always try to think about
    your next target and be ready to strike when a monster presents itself as
    vulnerable. Also remember, once you have started your charge attack, you are
    committed to it, and the rest of the attack should be so well-practiced that it
    can be left to automatic thought processes. Your mind should already be on what
    you are going to do after the attack, and you should continue moving from there.
    In many hunts you will have a clear option to trade some immediate damage
    output by tripping the monster or otherwise controlling it with staggers by
    exploiting frequently vulnerable hitzones that typically take less damage than
    other weaker targets. Try to develop a feel for a reasonable trade-off between
    the obvious damage you can do regularly and the damage potential you can do
    when the monster has been tripped or staggered, especially when you are in a
    team. Similarly, while it is the ideal to frequently and consistently hit the
    weakest points on a monster, sometimes it is unreasonable to cling to that
    ideal. There are numerous situations when obsessively and exclusively targeting
    the weakest hitzone on a monster will slow down a hunter's overall attack pace
    and interrupt the process of weaving in and out of a monster's attack pattern.
    Other decent targets often present themselves between the moments that the
    prime targets on a monster are open for a clear shot, but don't get carried
    away with selecting inferior targets either.
    Try to aim for the ideal damage output, but also try to be a good judge of when
    the ideal is going to cost you more damage than it is worth in the long run.
    The most obvious example of this is when you are hunting with scattered
    teammates and/or an enraged monster and the monster routinely charges all over
    the map or uses attacks that rarely or briefly present a prime target. In such
    situations, it may be best for some hunters to settle for reliable damage in a
    few instances rather than rely on false hope, wait too long, and deal no damage
    at all while waiting for an easy target. The main idea here is not to rely on
    easy targets if they are going to cost you damage in the long run. Try to build
    a balance between being reasonable about straying from the ideal, but also
    strive to be able to frequently hit the prime hitzones even in high-risk
    situations. Make sure that it is primarily a matter of reason and confidence
    and not simply fear that leads you to target or avoid targeting a given hitzone.
    Some hunters may find it useful to write down or otherwise keep track of
    monsters' frequent movements and attacks, and have planned responses for them.
    I suggest keeping track of such things for yourself, and learning the cues or
    'tells' that give monsters away on your own. The GS benefits greatly from
    planned tactics, but the monster-specific tactics of another player may not be
    the best for you depending on your reaction times, predictive sense of timing,
    preferred playstyle, &c. Every monster has a pattern of typical behavior, and
    for every such pattern there is a clear counter to that pattern. Learn to work
    with the ebb and flow of combat. Tactics that involve receding when a monster
    advances, pulling them in, and then crashing towards them to strike during a
    brief moment of vulnerability when they recede will serve a GS user well.
    Similarly, the GS can also be a good brick wall, and if you build your position
    correctly, there should be many opportunities to strike a monster with little
    or no movement beyond the attack on your part, essentially allowing you to
    break down a monster with a practically immovable force of will. Stagger
    control helps a lot there.
    Learn to make good use of the range on a GS, and familiarize yourself with the
    dynamics of moving with the weapon. The GS is a fairly intuitive weapon in
    terms of its attack physics and techniques for wielding it, and the hunter
    moves with it just as you could expect a person to move while wielding a weapon
    equal to their size. Keep in mind how the hunter moves with and is moved by the
    GS attacks. In particular, familiarize yourself with the 'extra' range you gain
    when the hunter steps forward to unleash a vertical attack.
    Depending on the timing of the attack and the positioning of the hunter, it is
    possible for a GS user to frequently abuse the range of the GS to land strikes
    on monsters while being just outside of a monster's attack range before
    deploying their own attack. Look for opportunities to do this while the monster
    is attacking, and try to develop a natural pattern of synchronizing your
    attacks with a monster's such that their attack narrowly misses you and your
    hunter moves forward and lands their attack just as the enemy misses you. Also
    note that if you are willing to sacrifice the extra damage you get for hitting
    with the center of the blade, you have that much more range to abuse during
    brief windows of opportunity that allow you to do damage by exploiting your
    range. However, try not to do this very often, since just about the only reason
    to hit with the tip of the blade is if you are in a situation where an attempt
    to hit with the center would almost guarantee missing entirely.
    As with any game that has moving targets, it is important for hunters to know
    how to lead targets (in a sense). This is especially true for GS users, since
    the target's position can vary quite significantly over the time it takes to
    charge a GS. Because a charging GS user essentially becomes a fixed point,
    unable to move or even aim, the basic theory of leading a target and
    compensating for enemy movement must be incorporated almost entirely in the
    positioning of the hunter and the timing of the charge attack release. Every
    aspect of positioning is critical, and a GS user should pay attention not only
    to the distance they are from their target and where they expect their target
    to be when their charge is ready, but also take into account the angle they are
    standing relative to the current and expected positions of the enemy. In some
    cases, a GS user may need to be angled perpendicular to a monster's facing
    position or even have their back slightly turned to the monster. Play a lot,
    build up experience, and try to become a good judge of where you need to aim to
    hit where you think the monster is going to be.
    With enough time using the GS and some experience putting yourself in risky
    situations for the sake of experimentation, you will probably find numerous
    windows of opportunity to deal damage during moments that appear dangerous but
    will actually allow you to remain unharmed. Over time I have alternated between
    referring to these positions using various terms such as 'anti-hitzones' and
    'blindspots.' Many of these positions are fairly intuitive since they are found
    in what actually appears to be a monster's blindspot (to use the vehicular
    meaning of the word), and by positioning yourself where you will be within
    range of the monster's attack, but also just out of sight when they attack, you
    can often deal damage to them during their own attacks. Monsters that use a
    claw-swipe attack, for example, tend to have exploitable blindspots roughly to
    the side and behind their front legs. Similarly, anyone who stands their ground
    or subtly shifts out of the way without rolling or diving during a monster's
    tailswing attack will have a good opportunity to learn plenty of blindspots and
    vulnerabilities commonly presented by that monster.
    When you are trying to avoid damage or get an attack in during a brief window
    of vulnerability in a risky situation, it is important to keep in mind that for
    a GS user, the timing of the attack itself can be just as important as the
    timing of a roll after an attack can be. The slight vertical and horizontal
    distances the hunter moves when they release an attack can be used to
    effectively dodge enemy attacks in various situations. I would encourage GS
    users to focus on developing a flow of combat that allows them to attack with
    the correct timing to fit into the enemy attack pattern and minimize damage
    taken rather than having to strictly adhere to HnR tactics to get damage in
    briefly, and roll out of the danger zone. These higher aspects of GS use can be
    pretty demanding of a hunter's sense of timing, but constantly rolling to avoid
    enemy attacks will ultimately cause your ideal damage output to suffer in the
    long run.
    As far as typical combat goes, chances are that it will be useful to reserve
    your rolls for offensively repositioning yourself and/or cancelling the passive
    time spent resetting the GS after an attack, so it is ideal to learn to use
    rolls to avoid damage sparingly. While the mindset of "hit it 'till it dies;
    don't get hit" might be the golden rule for other weapon classes, the fact is
    that if you are using a GS and having to roll a lot to adhere to that rule,
    then you need to work on your weapon technique. Ideally, a GS user should not
    frequently have to roll to avoid damage, and I would encourage hunters using
    the GS to reinterpret their roll as an offensive/tactical manoeuvre and train
    their mind out of habitually thinking of the roll as a means to escape damage.
    Another way of thinking about it is, for the GS user, the rule is "hit it 'till
    it dies; find tactical offensive positions and time your attacks so you won't
    get hit." Alternatively, "if you have to think about avoiding damage from the
    monster during or immediately after your attacks, you're doin' it wrong."
    Do not mistake my statements on rolling and GS use to mean that rolling after a
    GS attack should never result in you avoiding damage because of the roll. The
    idea is to execute your attacks with a foundation of experience and foresight,
    and if you execute a roll after an attack, the roll itself should ideally be
    "part of the plan" (so to speak), rather than a reaction that you realized was
    necessary to avoid damage after you had already committed to the attack. If you
    rolled after an attack and were honestly able to say "it was all part of the
    plan" or followed the tactical roll with another successful, well-planned and
    well-executed attack, then good for you. If not, then you know what you need to
    work on.
    The most obvious example I can think of for incorporating a tactical roll into
    a planned attack is when Diablos charges directly at you. Because of the speed
    at which Diablos travels and the fact that it is tall enough for you to stand
    under, it is possible for you to roll straight into its charge attack (through
    its horns and head, so to speak) without any evasion armor skills and remain
    unharmed. That being said, it is possible to land an attack on its horns
    immediately followed by a roll through its head when it charges at you. This
    can be particularly useful for hornbreaking and getting consolation damage in
    when you don't expect Diablos to stay still for long (although it is arguable
    that if you can get the right angle and position, the wings, chest, or even
    legs would be better targets for consolation damage when hornbreaking is not a
    Of course, when it comes to ideals vs practicality and regular combat in MH3,
    obviously it is still useful to maintain some reasonable judgment as far as
    considerations of evasion and positioning go. Keep in mind that in some cases
    it is more advantageous to compromise and use a roll to avoid taking damage.
    However, the saying that "when it rains, it pours" applies not only to taking
    damage in MH, but also letting your technique slip. Be careful when you make
    compromises and stray from ideal GS technique, because if you find yourself
    constantly settling for low-level charges, frequently using the roll to avoid
    damage, and commonly resorting to attacks on easy targets that have higher
    defenses than your usual prime targets, then you will reach a point where even
    if you haven't been hit a single time and appear to be attacking the monster a
    lot and pulling your own weight in the hunt, you are actually sacrificing too
    much of your GS's damage potential.
    By now it should be abundantly clear that the GS requires a lot of foresight
    and fine execution based on experience and planning, and there is a lot that
    can go wrong (so to speak) while attempting to get your attacks in. As
    previously discussed, there are a lot of things you can do to push your GS to
    its ideal damage output based on how you respond to or exploit monsters'
    regular movement and attack patterns. However, keep in mind that it is also
    possible and sometimes necessary to take a more active role in manipulating
    your target. Be watchful at all times and look for opportunities to lead the
    monster into an ambush, provoke and intercept a clearly-telegraphed charge or
    similar attack, get into a mindset of making the monster follow you rather than
    accepting that you have to chase it, work out how to kite monsters in
    consideration of their typical movement patterns, and know how to bait the
    monster into making itself vulnerable to an attack.
    On the subject of monster/target manipulation, when you are considering where
    and how to position yourself and time your attack, do not merely rely on
    experience and expectations of how the monster is going to be positioned and
    where your target is going to be when you are ready to attack. Try to have a
    proactive attitude in attacking, and position yourself where you think you need
    to be to make a monster turn or otherwise move however it needs to in order for
    a prime target such as the head or the tail (for most monsters) to be in your
    strikezone when your attack can hit it. Taking a shot at the monster's tail
    when it diverts its attention elsewhere or standing roughly behind a monster
    and landing a perfectly-timed charge attack on its head once it turns around
    are the bread-and-butter tactics of a successful GS user. Familiarize yourself
    with every aspect of a monster's movement such as how many times it turns or
    how much time it tends to take to reposition itself for another attack or
    initiate a new attack from a stationary position, and learn to make use of this
    knowledge to work your attacks in.
    Learn to use points of reference for your attacks based on the monster's
    anatomy. For example, to remember a good position, examine 2 points relative to
    your position (say, where the monster's feet are and where the head is) when
    you land a successful ideal attack, and from that point on, locating that
    position and exploiting that attack opportunity should be a matter of rough
    triangulation. Use similar systems and points of reference for working out the
    lead times for your attacks. For example, the rough mid-point of a wyvern's
    tail tends to correspond to the same space that its head will occupy when it
    turns around. So if you take that convenient fact and account for the time it
    takes the wyvern to turn in your direction, by starting behind the monster and
    aiming directly at the center of the tail, with correct timing you should
    almost be guaranteed a center-of-the-blade hit on the monster's head when it
    finally faces you.
    I find passive-aggressive combat styles to be particularly effective in
    underwater battles. It is even more useful to let the opponent come to you and
    set up attacks with an ambush mindset in many situations underwater, and
    chasing after a monster can leave you quite vulnerable. The GS has several
    advantages over other weapon classes underwater when properly used, and you
    should try to make the most of the fact that you can position yourself anywhere
    around the monster instead of being limited to a 2-dimensional plane of
    movement. Try to use the underwater roll and block tactically to maintain or
    modify your position so that you can simultaneously stay close to the monster
    and avoid hazards such as the current effect that will temporarily immobilize
    Underwater combat tends to have a slower and more forgiving pace compared to
    combat with monsters that are more adept on land. Alternate your depth relative
    to the monster and try not to be too close to the surface or the bottom of a
    water environment at any time as either extreme will limit your movement
    options. Know your escape route, and use the water to your advantage. Keep in
    mind that there are new blindspots and other vulnerabilities that you can
    exploit underwater, and underwater combat allows for a number of additional
    opportunities to bait monsters into your attacks and otherwise lead your
    targets. In short, don't be fooled by appearances- just because a monster seems
    to be at home in the water, you can be more dangerous underwater as well.
    If you are going to one-man army a monster, or want to demonstrate how much
    damage you alone can do to a monster, or mean to show off how much experience
    and mastery over a given monster you have and that you can fit in to all of
    their most predictable patterns effortlessly while constantly pouring on
    damage, that's great. However, do it on your own time. It should be obvious,
    but if you're going to solo a monster, actually solo the monster. When you are
    playing with other hunters, like it or not, MH3 is a class-based, team-oriented
    action game with RPG elements. In short, don't be the guy who treats a
    multiplayer hunt like nothing but an opportunity to show off their solo'skills'
    for a cameraman in a slightly complex environment even when no one is recording
    the hunt.
    Learn your role(s) in combat, develop your weapon technique, use team-based
    strategies, and work together with your teammates to bring the monster down.
    Try to appreciate the fact that when you are working on a team, there are other
    factors aside from any kind of personal score and egoistic concepts of
    individual damage output that determine the success of the team. While it is
    possible to keep track of individual progress and immediate damage output in a
    hunt to some extent, there are finer aspects of overall teamwork that cannot be
    determined by using the basic damage formula alone and pretending that every
    hunter is only responsible for their own damage and deserves full credit for
    the damage that the formula says they do.
    As a basic example of teamwork: if a player works together with another hunter
    to lead the monster into the other hunter's attack, both players essentially
    deserve credit for the damage done. In such cases, what is good for the team is
    good for every individual. Each individual should ideally assume an equal share
    of the credit when anyone in a team succeeds as well as equal responsibility
    when anyone fails. Generally speaking, 'individual' success in a team only
    deserves respect if the execution of their technique makes optimal use of team
    dynamics and if the outcome is good for the group as a whole. In theory it
    sounds like a simple enough idea, but online you are likely to find teammates
    who seem actively opposed to the idea of doing well in a team by working with
    their teammates and practically try to solo the monster in a multiplayer hunt
    while doing more damage to the team's synergy and overall damage potential than
    they do to the monster. Abandon them or try to work with them if you think it
    might be worth it.
    A strong value for teamwork is especially important for hunters using the GS,
    and both 'individual' and team damage can suffer greatly when a GS is used by
    someone with no consideration for their teammates. A GS user should try to
    maintain good weapon etiquette and avoid using the sideswing and upswing when
    around other players and also keep in mind that even the vertical attacks can
    trip a teammate if they get caught in one. Try to get an idea of your
    teammates' strategies and play to the strengths and weaknesses of every member
    of the team.
    In a solo hunt monsters tend to move in fairly predictable patterns, and
    baiting monsters into your attacks or otherwise manipulating targets is a
    relatively simple matter. However, in a multiplayer hunt the additional targets
    for the monster, variations in monster behavior, and different playing styles
    of your teammates can make for a significantly more complex situation. As a GS
    user, your contribution to the team can be assisted greatly by competent
    teammates, but you are also at high risk for losing out on a lot of damage
    opportunities if you are in a multiplayer hunt with hunters that are scattered,
    recklessly attacking, or otherwise ignoring their teammates.
    Because of the time it takes to charge the GS, once you commit to an attack,
    your success is greatly dependent upon how your teammates are playing and
    whether or not you are taking them into account when you make your own combat
    decisions. A GS user who fails to use their teammates' positions to their
    advantage to maintain an advantageous position relative to the monster will
    drag themselves down along with their team. For example, if you are using
    anything that takes the form of HnR tactics, try to be mindful of your
    teammates and make sure that the 'run' portion of your tactics involves running
    to teammates that are ready to attack the monster or attempting to provide the
    monster with an alternative target to a gunner or a teammate on low health.
    Again, keep ambush tactics in mind at all times.
    Try to make yourself useful to the team as a sort of offensive rally point when
    you can. A GS user is a stationary target while they are charging, but that is
    not entirely a weakness. In many cases, the team may benefit from gathering
    around a GS user charging their weapon, and similarly, if you see your
    teammates converging around one point, head in that direction. Competent
    players should look at a GS user as a rally point and do their part to lead a
    monster into the GS user's attacks, and the GS user should in turn do the same
    and use the moments that they are mobile to lead the monster into their
    teammates' attacks. Aside from the obvious point of hunters concentrating their
    position and using ambush tactics to force the monster to behave more
    predictably, having multiple teammates at one attack point also capitalizes on
    the GS's high DPH and significantly increases the likelihood of staggering a
    monster frequently.
    While the GS is typically viewed as a 'slow' weapon because of its attack speed
    and the charging times necessary to reach ideal damage potential, one of the
    advantages of its attack style is the fact that you almost never need to have
    the weapon unsheathed when you are not in the middle of attacking in typical
    gameplay. That being said, a hunter using the GS is ideal for the role of
    leading the monster into teammates' attacks or otherwise using kiting tactics
    to benefit ranged attackers or other hunters pursuing the target when they are
    mobile. When developing their teamwork skills, a GS user should focus on
    working these aspects into the flow of their regular combat tendencies. Just
    because your weapon isn't out doesn't mean that you can't contribute to the
    damage output of your team. However, be sure to pay attention to your
    teammates' positions and stay on the offensive - even though you can serve your
    team by baiting the monster when you are mobile, the GS's ideal damage output
    is better served by your ability to act as a stationary offensive rally point
    with competent teammates who can lead the monster into your attacks or at least
    avoid leading it away from you.
    Every hunter should develop some sense of monster aggro management. Try to pick
    up on how you can minimize the monster's chance of targeting you and how you
    can maximize its aggro to the point where it is almost guaranteed to attack
    you. Also, pay attention to the order monsters select targets and what attacks
    they use at various ranges. Try to come up with a system or at least get a feel
    for when a monster is going to attack or move, and how they are going to do it.
    As with just about everything, the idea is to be an asset to your teammates
    rather than a liability.
    The Focus (FastCharge-10) armor skill has been a controversial subject for as
    long as I have played MH3. Many players often wind up arguing various points
    that reduce to the idea that it sounds better in theory than it is in practice,
    and other players often wind up making arguments that basically reduce to the
    position that for them in practice it's actually better than the theoretical
    'Focus is unnecessary' ideal. This has led to a general rule of thumb that the
    usefulness of Focus for general gameplay is based on the skill of the player,
    and that more experienced players have no need of Focus, which is essentially a
    "training-wheels" skill. To some extent there is a lot of truth in this, and
    the real problem has typically been the risk of players using Focus as a crutch
    and never attempting to get better at using the GS. When it comes down to it,
    even Focus has its uses, but it is important not to get carried away with the
    benefits of the skill.
    When you are using the focus skill, you reach the L3 charge about half a second
    before you would reach the regular L3 - that's all. Half a second can make a
    difference in some situations, but in regular combat, and as far as developing
    your GS technique goes, it should not be needed. If you choose to use Focus as
    a support skill for your GS, try to avoid thinking that it makes you attack
    faster or guarantees more attacks. The fact is that in most cases, regardless
    of how fast you charge, the attack itself will need to strike the same hitzone
    and land during the same time as a regular non-Focused attack would. Focus
    gives you the chance to show up to a monster up to half a second later than you
    would normally have to in order to successfully land your L3 charge, and that
    is about the extent of the guaranteed value of Focus.
    One of the more controversial points regarding Focus stems from the idea that
    Focus will let you get more charge attacks in the long run. Assuming perfect
    conditions (the player is able to trigger the L3 charge as soon as possible and
    cancel into the next action after the attack as soon as possible, and also
    assuming that no time is spent between attacks), the cumulative number of
    regular charge attacks compared to the cumulative number of Focus charge
    attacks that could ideally be performed in a given period of time points to a
    rough ratio of 7:8 (again, that's being generous, based on some other rough
    calculations, the ratio is closer to 9:10 or 10:11, and that is still assuming
    fairly optimal conditions). From the results of some basic number crunching,
    that means that at best, Focus might reliably be worth 8 L3 charge attacks for
    every 7 L3 charge attacks you would normally get.
    While Focus may seem like it would improve overall damage output, any 'extra
    damage' that the potential number of extra attacks might translate into is far
    from certain, and one should not make the mistake of comparing it to guaranteed
    extra damage from an attack buff. On a practical note, the key point in the
    idea that Focus may do more damage over the long run lies in the 'long run'
    part. When it comes down to it, Focus might be justified in solo hunts or even
    duo hunts, but for regular gameplay, assuming every player is contributing a
    roughly equal amount of damage to the monster, the simple fact is that you will
    not be likely to get enough attacks in against a monster for any 'extra'
    attacks you get from Focus to justify choosing the skill over a reliable attack
    buff or an alternative support skill. Simply put, if you choose to use Focus,
    you are relying primarily upon luck, much as you would be in an attempt to make
    Anguish G outperform Anguish P (which is theoretically possible, but pretty
    I'll put aside the ideal GS technique for a moment to be a bit pragmatic. I
    won't entirely deny that for a quick fix when you care more about getting
    results than developing your GS technique during a hunt, Focus does make it
    much more likely that you will land L3 charges in situations where you might
    struggle to. However, beware of getting greedy with your charges; just because
    you can charge faster doesn't mean that attacks will be slower coming your way.
    Also keep in mind that Focus does not generally 'create' extra attack
    opportunities. The benefit to overall damage potential that you get from Focus
    comes primarily from being able to completely charge an attack in situations
    when you might normally have to release early.
    I'd like to make it clear that I don't have anything against variety and if you
    use Focus as a matter of personal taste or even because you firmly believe that
    you can do more damage with it than without, then fine. The main point of
    controversy has typically been when it comes to using a Focus set over a
    similar skill set with a reliable AuX attack buff, and when it comes down to
    it, the hunt will decide which set would have been better, and depending on how
    a person plays, the differences are relatively insignificant for regular
    gameplay and casual purposes (although personally I would point out that higher
    DPH from a reliable attack buff builds stagger potential faster than slightly
    weaker Focus attacks, and that tends to favor GS strategy more often).
    As far as 'acceptable' uses of Focus go, here is a brief summary: Focus may be
    more useful than a comparable basic AuX set in solo/duo hunts and/or when
    hunting monsters with very high or very low mobility (respectively monsters
    such as Barioth that tend to travel all over the place quickly leaving you with
    short windows to attack them and monsters such as Qurupeco that can stay
    roughly in the same spot for most of the time). Similarly (and still
    technically a 'low mobility' situation), Focus may also be of value as an armor
    skill when the team strategy involves status abuse (e.g. multiple hammer users
    ensuring a KO-fest or multiple status gunners paralyzing and trapping the
    monster) and you are guaranteed to have a simple fight against the immobilized
    Hearing abilities (Eargplugs and HGE) and the question of whether to choose
    them over AuX attack buffs or other support skills (such as Focus and Punishing
    Draw) have been slightly controversial subjects when it comes to GS technique.
    At face value, arguments that hearing abilities will let you more attacks (or
    at least more higher-level attacks) in are valid to a point. Moreover, there is
    also a fair bit of value to the practical argument that by the end of the hunt
    the amount of time saved by the extra damage from raw attack buffs is fairly
    insignificant. It is also worth noting that the extra damage from even a few
    more attacks landed thanks to a hearing skill will typically outweigh the
    cumulative extra damage a hunter with similar skill might deal thanks to AuX
    attack buffs. Again, for general gameplay it comes down to a matter of personal
    taste, so the key question is whether you are actively trying to improve your
    GS technique or whether you are just going with whatever seems like it will
    work best for you and make it easier to enjoy the game and deal damage in a
    casual capacity.
    I won't deny that in general gameplay, sets with hearing abilities can often
    outperform the average GS set that has a simple raw buff from an AuX skill.
    However, in terms of damage output, the hearing abilities are at best
    'alternative damage buffs' in the form of support skills. Try to avoid falling
    for the misconceptions about the hearing skills, and don't get stuck in a
    mindset that they will undoubtedly improve your gameplay. For example, a common
    argument for hearing skills is that they will increase the number of charge
    attacks you will land on a monster. While this may appear true, technically it
    is a misrepresentation of what the hearing skills actually do. Having a hearing
    skill may prevent you from being interrupted during (and losing out on) attack
    opportunities, but it does not guarantee that you will land any more attacks
    than you are theoretically capable of without the hearing skill. Also, note
    that I'm not overlooking the argument that hearing abilities may save you from
    taking damage- I just don't think that argument needs to be addressed since
    there are so many other ways to avoid taking damage when using the GS that I
    can't get behind that argument if it's going to be used to justify using the
    armor skills over developing ideal GS technique.
    In typical combat against most monsters, it is possible to recognize that a
    monster is going to roar in time to release your attack. Even if you wind up
    being stunned from a roar, it is very rare to be unable to get damage in before
    the roar hits you, and if you find yourself frequently being interrupted by
    roars while you are charging attacks, then you need to work on developing a
    better feel for when you need to release an attack early. Similarly, based on
    positioning and timing, the closer you are to ideal GS technique, the less you
    should have to rely upon easy targets and blatant opportunities to deal damage
    such as a monster's roar. Granted, it is nice to have a clear shot at a
    monster's head or another prime target when they roar, but ideally, you should
    already be at the monster charging an attack and ready to release as needed
    instead of hovering around the monster waiting for it to make the fight easy
    for you. As some readers may guess, this is also a roundabout way of saying "if
    you want to use hearing skills, fine, they can help; but don't let them teach
    you bad habits, and try to work on your GS technique even if there isn't as
    much pressure to develop your personal skills since you can rely on armor
    skills instead."
    In case my position on the 'support skills' Earplugs/HGE and Focus (and to a
    lesser extent, Punishing Draw) is not clear: the main concern with regards to
    these skills is what might be called the 'crutch factor' associated with using
    them. After carefully considering the arguments for and against the skills and
    doing some rough number-crunching, as a general rule of thumb: it is fine to
    use these skills as long as they do not become crutches for you, and it is
    possible for them to increase your performance relative to your overall
    potential, but it simply is not ideal to have them on a set as far as pure GS
    technique and player skill go. If you use these armor skills, be reasonable
    about it and keep track of your own performance. Be aware of the 'dangers' of
    each skill and make sure that you are not using them as crutches to get you
    through situations that you would not be able to handle without the skill.
    In a sense, the support skills are only as bad for the player as they are
    needed by that player as crutches. In other words, the key to justifying your
    use of support skills is to use them offensively rather than passively and
    ensure that they are convenient tools rather than necessary crutches. If you
    use hearing skills, I suggest keeping track of how many times you hit the
    monster when it is roaring in situations that you would not have been able to
    without the armor skill and compare that to how many times you hit the monster
    when it was not roaring. Moreover, while testing the crutch-factor of your use
    of hearing skills, try to be an honest judge of whether it might have been
    possible to get an attack in without the hearing skill or whether the hearing
    skill actually did contribute to your damage output.
    If you are using a hearing skill and your attack patterns indicate an inability
    or unwillingness to hit a monster when it is not vulnerable because it is
    roaring, then that is probably a clear indication that you are relying upon the
    skill more as a crutch rather than using it as an alternative damage buff.
    Similarly, for Focus, if you notice that you are unable to land regular charge
    attacks on monsters or are frequently taking damage or narrowly missing targets
    because of bad timing and positioning and have turned to Focus to make things
    easier for yourself rather than try to develop your GS technique, be honest
    with yourself about it.
    The fact is that what I call 'support skills' can be used to a player's
    advantage, but a support skill used as a crutch not only prevents a player from
    reaching the standard ideal for GS technique - it also prevents them from
    reaching the potential they have WITH the support skill. That is the real
    danger. Try not to let your technique slip when things are made easier for you.
    >>>>>12: GS Time Values }TIME{
    First I want to say that this section should be regarded as highly
    experimental. As much as I've tried to make sure the values here are fairly
    accurate, I haven't done as much verification as I would have liked to. The
    values reported in this section are derived from the values that I obtained
    consistently in my own gameplay.
    The goal for this section was to have a relatively simple list of time values
    for GS attacks and perhaps some other relevant animations/moves in the game.
    The process for obtaining these values involved recording gameplay, doing a
    frame-by-frame analysis of the raw recorded material, and keeping track of the
    durations of various attack and movement animations. From there, I looked for
    various markers in the attacks and broke them down as it seemed useful to do
    so. Finally, I took the most consistent attack times that I could frequently
    reproduce and used the various observations I had made along the way to
    simplify all the raw data I collected into this section.
    What you have here is a set of time values that should theoretically give you a
    basic 'guideline' time or time range for just about any attack or combo you
    might care to use. I have tried to reduce and present these values in a form
    that allows for them to be added together to yield the guideline time(s) for
    the duration of the attack(s), or even subtracted from the duration of attacks
    to yield a good approximation the duration of a portion of the attack sequence.
    Nearly every attack in this section will have a range of sorts for the time
    values. After evaluating my data, I decided to include minimum,
    medium/recommended, and maximum times when I found it reasonable to do so.
    *Note that all the time values are given in frames, as recorded on a 30fps
    setup. For those who don't like maths, that means you'll have to divide your
    results by 30 to obtain the duration of whatever you want in seconds.
    For anyone who might be interested in the technicalities and methodology
    relevant to this section, I have done a basic write-up after the time values.
    More detailed explanations of the time values and what they actually correspond
    to can also be found there.
    *GS Attack Time Values & Other Relevant Animation Durations*
    Attack/Animation Name
    Lower Value / Recommended Value / Upper Value
    General Error per item (excluding charge windows)
    1 / 2 / 3
    Hitlag Constant per hit registered (on a weak hitzone)
    -- / 8 / --
    Primary Attacks-
    Running Draw Attack including Running Attack Lead
    28 / 29 / 30
    -- / 58 / --
    -- / 44 / --
    -- / 62 / --
    8 / 9 / 10
    Basic Combo Attacks-
    Overhead in Combo
    45 / 48 / 50
    Sideswing in Combo
    35 / 36 / 38
    Upswing in Combo
    54 / 56 / 59
    28 / 30 / 32
    Main Attacks-
    Any Charge Attack
    -- / 25 / --
    Smash Attack without Stun
    -- / 30 / --
    Post-Smash Attack Cooldown Stun
    11 / 12 / 13
    Smash Charge Attack including Stun
    41 / 42 / 43
    Smash Overhead including Stun
    42 / 42 / 43
    32 / 36 / 40
    30 / 32 / 40
    Ready Block
    -- / 10 / --
    Running Attack Lead
    4 / 4 / 5
    Sharpen Weapon
    183 / 185 / 190
    Charge Trigger (Error) Value
    Any value from 1 to the value of the relevant charge trigger window.
    Regular Charge-
    Initiation Time
    -- / 49 / --
    L1 Trigger Window
    -- / 30 / --
    L2 Trigger Window
    -- / 10 / --
    L3 Trigger Window
    -- / 10 / --
    Overcharge Window
    -- / 10 / --
    Focus Charge-
    Initiation Time
    -- / 43 / --
    L1 Trigger Window
    -- / 24 / --
    L2 Trigger Window
    -- /  8 / --
    L3 Trigger Window
    -- /  8 / --
    Distraction Charge-
    Initiation Time
    -- / 55 / --
    L1 Trigger Window
    -- / 36 / --
    L2 Trigger Window
    -- / 12 / --
    L3 Trigger Window
    -- / 12 / --
    Charge Series Templates
    Charge Sequence : IN/L1/L2/ L3/ OT/OL
    Regular Charge  : 00/49/79/ 89/ 99/109
    With Focus      : 00/43/67/ 75/ 83/
    With Distraction: 00/55/91/103/115/
    Your reaction time:
    Depending on what you're using these values for, you may want to measure your
    general reaction time to spontaneous triggers- the kind where you know what
    you're looking for and how to react, but don't know when you'll have to react.
    It's a good thing to know in any case so you have a better idea of how you
    might relate to these time values. As for anyone who might use these values for
    planning attacks or further analysis of their own, obviously you would do well
    to add your own reaction time to the attack value for a more pragmatic value
    that better indicates how much time you will actually need to do [whatever] if
    you are spontaneously reacting to [whatever cue works best for you].
    *Basic Calculation Instructions*
    Once you've decided what you want to calculate, break it down into its
    individual components and find the value(s) you will need to calculate what you
    The first thing you should do with any calculations that use these values is
    keep count of every animation you add together that is not a charge window. Use
    this total to keep track of the total error to add to a combination of values.
    Note that if you use the recommended values, doing this isn't really necessary
    for theoretical purposes since those values effectively have the error included.
    However, if you are using these values for planning attacks or feel like
    allowing for the fact that sometimes the attack execution might not be perfect,
    then you might want to add the couple of extra frames for each item in your
    The advice about adding in error excludes the charge trigger windows because
    those are fixed in the sense that you can't accidentally be a few frames over
    the L3 charge window and still trigger the L3 since you will have gone into an
    Overcharge. However, error can be added to a charge's initiation or a
    summarized charge sequence.
    Similarly, keep a running total of every hit that will theoretically be
    registered on a significantly weak hitzone and use this total to calculate the
    cumulative hitlag for your attacks. Unfortunately, I haven't done thorough
    testing for different hitzones, but common sense and some hitzone charts go a
    long way for making an educated guess about whether hitlag will occur or not.
    The values are reduced so that they can (theoretically) be used or added
    together and added to any relevant error and hitlag to yield a fairly reliable
    expected value for whatever attack(s) or other movements you are working with.
    The charge trigger value is named as an error value to avoid confusion- you
    don't need to add error to it because it is error. The actual trigger is
    assumed to be instantaneous for these purposes.
    Note that charge attacks can be triggered at any time during a charge trigger
    window, so if you refer to the Charge Series Templates for example, the value
    for the charge sequence from the L3 ready point up to the end of the L3 charge
    trigger window can be taken as anything from 89 to 99 frames. The value you use
    could be 92, 95, and you get the idea- it's up to you as long as you stick to
    the window. If you're adding manually without the templates, naturally you
    should use the 'full' values for every lower charge level window that you would
    pass through to trigger your desired level of attack, and then decide how many
    'extra' frames (as trigger error) into the window of the desired charge level
    it would take you to trigger the attack.
    Also note that it may help some people to work 'backwards' by stacking values
    from the end of their attack sequence, working their way to the beginning while
    adding everything up.
    *Calculation Examples*
    Example 1:
    First, I'll go through the 'ideal' regular draw/unsheathe L3 charge attack
    sequence (cancelled by a roll after the attack) performed from a stationary
    Since the attack is going to be the L3 charge attack, use the full values for
    the components leading up to the L3 trigger window. This breaks down to:
    49 [Regular Charge Initiation Time]
    30 [L1 Trigger Window]
    10 [L2 Trigger Window]
    49+30+10 = 89. This is going to be the value up to the attack being triggered.
    Note that if you refer to the Charge Series Templates, you will see that this
    89 is the same value listed as the L3 (ready) value. Feel free to use the
    templates to avoid this tedious part of the calculation. In my own notation I
    tend to summarize this part as:
    89 [L3 Ready]
    Now, since this is an ideal sequence, just add the attack value:
    89 [L3 Ready]
    25 [Any Charge Attack]
    So 89+25 = 114. Pretty simple. The expected value for the ideal L3 charge
    attack up to the point that you can roll after the attack is 114 frames. Of
    course, that describes a theoretical attack that missed.
    If the ideal attack is meant to hit a prime target, account for hitlag:
    114+8 = 122. The expected value for the ideal L3 charge attack sequence that
    registers up to the point where you can roll after striking a prime target
    (weak hitzone) is 122 frames.
    Now, if you want that time in seconds, you divide the amount by 30:
    122 [frames] / 30 [frames/second] = 4.1 [seconds] (approximately)
    Example 2:
    Now for a less-than-ideal example. This time, I will calculate the general
    expected value for a sloppy Focus L2 charge attack sequence that combos into a
    sideswing (cancelled by a roll after the sideswing) from a stationary position.
    Break the sequence down and add it up as usual, or use the Charge Series
    Template value.
    43 [Focus Charge Initiation Time]
    24 [Focus L1 Trigger Window]
    43+24 = 67. Or use 67 = [Focus L2 Ready] (from Charge Series Templates).
    This time, the hypothetical attack is triggered 4 frames later than the ideal
    L2 could have been triggered, so in this example we have to include a trigger
    error value:
    4 [Charge Trigger (Error) Value]
    67+4 = 71. So based on this value we are calculating a theoretical value for a
    sloppy L2 charge attack sequence that is triggered a little late resulting in
    71 frames passing before the L2 is triggered and the attack begins. Add the
    value for the attack that was triggered. Since this hypothetical attack also
    combos into a sideswing, that value also gets added and remember to use the
    value for the combo sideswing and not the regular one. I'm using the
    recommended value and not the min/max for the [Sideswing in Combo] because this
    is a less-than-ideal example, not a worst-case-scenario one.
    71 [Charge Time for a late L2]
    25 [Any Charge Attack]
    36 [Sideswing in Combo]
    71+25+36 = 132. This is the value for the attack sequence with no regard for
    context, so I will skip the description and account for error. Assuming both
    attacks hit a prime target, count 2 instances of hitlag (8 frames each).
    Furthermore, add the recommended general error value (2) for each of the 3
    relevant components:
    132+2(8)+3(2) = 132+16+6=154.
    What this means is that a good general theoretical value for a sloppy L2 charge
    attack sequence from a stationary position, followed up by a combo sideswing
    and terminated by a trusty roll is 154 frames. The error included in those 154
    frames should allow for possibilities such as the player being slightly off on
    comboing into the sideswing or terminating the sequence with a roll, and it
    accounts for hitlag and the late L2 charge attack trigger.
    And if you want that time in seconds, again, the conversion is a simple
    division by 30:
    154 [frames] / 30 [frames/second] = 5.1 [seconds] (approximately)
    Hopefully these two examples are sufficient for anyone who might be unsure
    about some of the slightly more complex calculations.
    *Notes for Time Values & Charge Series Templates*
    /Time Value Notes/
    General Error: This is the general error for attacks based on a combination of
    what I thought would be reasonable, and based on some trial calculations of
    expected values based on the values in this section compared to my raw data
    obtained at the beginning of the recording process.
    Initiation Time: During each charge there is a brief initiation period while
    the hunter positions for the attack and begins charging. Triggering an attack
    by releasing the charge will result in a regular uncharged overhead attack.
    L1 Trigger Window: The time that you have to trigger the L1 after Anguish and
    the Aura Flash indicate the charge is ready. Releasing the charge at any frame
    during this window results in the L1 charge attack.
    L2 Trigger Window: The time that you have to trigger the L2 after Anguish and
    the Aura Flash indicate the charge is ready. Releasing the charge at any frame
    during this window results in the L2 charge attack.
    L3 Trigger Window: The time that you have to trigger the L3 after Anguish
    indicates the charge is ready. Releasing the charge at any frame during this
    window results in the L3 charge attack.
    Overcharge Window: Once you've gone into overcharge you can trigger the
    overcharged attack any time during the window, and if you don't, the attack
    will be triggered for you.
    Primary Attacks: These values are to be used when the given attack is performed
    as the first or only attack from a neutral position (hunter stationary with
    sword unsheathed).
    Basic Combo Attacks: Use these values when the given attack is performed after
    a primary attack.
    Main Attacks: Pretty straightforward. I included a separate value for the
    'full' version of the smash attack including cooldown stun for simplicity's
    sake. The (stun-less) Smash Attack is reported simply to show how the attack
    breaks down; hopefully it isn't confusing to readers this way.
    The Roll: Measured as the combined time of the obvious roll animation in
    addition to the time spent up until the hunter is fully mobile to the point
    where they can attack or roll again.
    Sheathe: The animation was measured up until the point where the hunter is
    mobile enough to run (instead of that little walk they are forced into while
    sheathing the GS) or attack again.
    Ready Block: This was measured up until the point when the GS is in the
    blocking position and theoretically capable of blocking. I neglected to
    thoroughly investigate the block animation, and so I have no satisfactory reset
    time to report for it.
    Running Attack Lead: This is a special kind of error that I suggest adding to
    draw/unsheathe charge sequences (technically, add it to the initiation part of
    a draw sequence, because that is where it is expected to be). I have a few
    theories about why the time values for sequences started from a running
    position appear to be longer- one of the most obvious possible explanations
    might be that the extra frames result from the hunter having to come to a halt
    before initiating the attack- but I can't say for sure. In any case, it's
    probably best to add these extra frames to the beginning of anything that
    starts with a running draw attack or charge.
    /Charge Series Template Notes/
    Initiation (IN): Beginning of the animation; the moment you first get into
    position to begin charging.
    L1 Ready (L1): This is the first frame that the L1 can apparently be triggered.
    Aura flash follows and Anguish GS grows.
    L2 Ready (L2): This is the first frame that the L2 can apparently be triggered.
    Aura flash follows and Anguish GS grows.
    L3 Ready (L3): This is the first frame that the L3 can apparently be triggered.
    The white spark follows for a perfect L3 and Anguish GS grows.
    Overcharge Threshold (OT): This is the first frame that the GS will overcharge
    on if the L3 was not triggered. Aura dims following shrinking of an Anguish GS.
    Overcharge Limit (OL): This is the maximum duration a charge can be held. Upon
    reaching this limit, the overcharge attack will automatically trigger.
    *Methodology & Miscellaneous Details*
    I won't pretend that the values in this section are absolute. I have tried to
    account for personal and measurement error as much as I could, and rather than
    limit this section to what I think are the best values, I have decided to
    present them in the range described at the beginning of this section. As for
    the range of time values overall, the minimum and maximum values listed are not
    (or rather, may not be) the true minimum and maximum durations for something.
    The time values are effectively pragmatic min/max values, selected from the
    values that I could frequently reproduce, removing outliers and possible flukes
    or otherwise rarely-occurring values from consideration.
    In other words, the reported minimum value for an attack is something that a
    skilled player might be able to beat, but something that is fairly unlikely to
    be beaten according to the experimental data. Likewise, the reported maximum
    value for an attack is not necessarily the actual maximum amount of time an
    animation will take, but it does amount to what should be the maximum time for
    you. In other words, if you're frequently taking longer than the maximum time
    reported, you might want to work on your technique, rather than think about
    whether the value listed might be wrong. For most of the maximum time values
    listed, I had to intentionally try to make my attacks take longer, and I
    already have slow reaction times and a pretty casual pace when it comes to
    games like this.
    The values reported as medium/recommended are consistent with the overall mode
    obtained from the set of data relevant to the animation. These are the values I
    have found most ideal to work with, as they have taken me little effort to
    reproduce despite error/reaction times, and they tend to be just long enough
    compared to the reported minimum values to pragmatically (read: in terms of
    utility, not in terms of mathematical validity) account for typical error that
    might occur even when a player is aiming for the minimum reported values. That
    being said, I think the medium/recommended values would generally be the most
    reasonable values to use for DPS calculations (although if you're having an
    argument with someone, obviously you will want to use the maximum values as
    well for a 'worst case scenario' DPS to really back up your point).
    All of these durations are the apparent and approximate durations of the named
    animation. All durations were measured from 0 with the 0 value corresponding to
    the frame immediately before the first frame of the given animation. The
    termination of each value was recorded as the last apparent frame of a given
    animation before it transitioned into either a roll animation or the animation
    of the next move in a combo. On that note, in general these values can be
    thought of as the expected duration of the given attack or combined
    attacks/movements cancelled by a roll.
    The general aim while measuring these values was to be practical about them. If
    an animation appeared to override a previous animation and the associated
    movements, then it was considered the transition from the end of one animation
    to the beginning of another. For example, the 'start' of an unsheathe attack
    was considered to be the moment that the GS was in-hand and the hunter's stance
    or running pace had visibly changed from that of the regular running animation.
    On that note, all charge initiation times and non-combo times include the
    inherent 'passive' time it takes to position the weapon before actually
    attacking with it. For example, the overhead attack value includes the time it
    takes for the hunter to bring the GS around and behind their head from the
    neutral position, and the charge initiation time includes the positioning time
    as well as the time spent holding the attack in that position before the charge
    aura even appears.
    On another note of practicality, I did not do a thorough analysis of the
    natural reset times for when no further input is received after an attack is
    executed (i.e. the periods during which the hunter and weapon return to a
    stationary neutral position after a single attack or action). I figured that
    the reset times would only be useful if they were shorter than the duration of
    a roll, because if that were the case, then it could be said that waiting for a
    weapon to reset was more efficient than rolling to cancel the reset time.
    However, the reset times appeared to be grossly longer than the combined values
    for attack + roll durations, so I deemed it unnecessary to investigate reset
    times further.
    When I first started recording, I did do some initial tests to get rough values
    for these times by recording the time it took for a given animation, measuring
    the termination of the animation (and end of the reset time) as the moment that
    I was able to perform the same attack. For example, the Sideswing+reset time
    took ~100-103 frames from initiation to the moment that I could perform another
    sideswing. Similarly, I have rough times of the Upswing+reset time taking ~153-
    164 frames. Again, I haven't found any practical reason to thoroughly test and
    report the reset times for the core of this section.
    Unfortunately my setup did not measure for any potential difference between
    when the input to execute an attack was processed and when the corresponding
    animation for the attack actually began. That being said, the measurements were
    effectively made under the assumptions that there was no inherent delay working
    in the background that might force a previous animation to continue after
    receiving new input and that other such fine details related to animation
    transitions and processing times would be reasonably accounted for in the
    recommended general error.
    As for other odds and ends...Charge attack values appeared to be the same for
    all levels of the regular and smash charge attacks, or at least, if any
    difference exists, it appears to be small enough to be counted as part of the
    regular extra frames assumed to be error (and recommended as part of the
    general error for calculations). There also did not appear to be a meaningful
    difference between charge attacks from unsheathed or sheathed positions. With
    regards to the cutoffs for the overcharge thresholds, I have some old notes
    that suggest that the overcharge windows are 10, 8, and 12 frames long for the
    Regular charge, the Focus charge, and Distraction charge respectively. However,
    I did not verify these values sufficiently to be comfortable with including
    them with the other time values.
    I have tried to address potential errors in the data throughout the recording
    and data-analysis. Near the beginning, I tested multiple GS equips and armors
    to roughly check the possibility of different swords or armors yielding
    different times. I did not find sufficient data to suspect differences in armor
    or GS choice to yield a noteworthy (read: beyond regular human error and time
    value variance) difference in the time values. Of course, that does not mean
    that GS choice and armor make absolutely no difference- it just means that as
    far as I know, there is no reason to account for such a difference because if
    it exists at all, it seems to be accounted for in the general range and error I
    have already associated with the animation time values.
    After establishing the above point, most of the testing (obviously not counting
    Focus and Distraction testing) was done with no armor or talisman, using
    Anguish. Aside from the obvious reasons to use Anguish, the unique property the
    Anguish swords have that cause them to change in size relative to their
    potential charge level proved very useful during recording and data-analysis.
    Specifically, the change in size gave me another marker to use in order to have
    an even more accurate way of verifying when a charge was ready and, more
    importantly, account for the difference between when a charge was triggered and
    when it was actually ready. This allowed me to properly map the windows during
    which a player has an opportunity to trigger a given charge, as well as better
    understand the mechanics of the charge itself.
    Specifically, the charge works like this: When a charge is initiated there is a
    brief period of time during which the attack is set up and the sword is
    positioned, and the charge aura begins glowing. For the L1 and L2 charges,
    Anguish changes in size on the frame just before the frame on which charge aura
    flashes (and increases in size to mark the next charge level being ready). As
    far as I can tell based on the experimental data, the earliest frame that a
    charge attack animation can begin is on the frame after Anguish changes in size.
    For the L1 and L2 charges, there is one frame that corresponds to when the
    attack animation begins during which the charge aura disappears completely
    before reappearing on the next frame and breaking up as the attack animation
    proceeds. I have found this frame during which the charge aura disappears to be
    the most useful marker for keeping track of when a charge attack is triggered
    and measuring the difference between when a charge is triggered versus when it
    is actually ready (i.e. when it could be triggered in an ideal situation).
    Additionally, when an overcharge attack occurs, it is also marked by a frame
    during which the charge aura temporarily disappears. On that note, because an
    overcharge held to the maximum time will automatically release after the
    overcharge window has expired (you cannot hold a charge indefinitely- even the
    overcharge has its limits, and if you do not trigger the attack it will trigger
    itself), and the frame during which the charge aura disappears always
    corresponds to the expected frame based on the limit of the overcharge window,
    I think it is fair to say that frame (that the charge aura disappears on) does
    indeed mark the first frame of the triggered attack.
    Similarly, the earliest I have been able to record the characteristic 'spark'
    that occurs when the L3 attack begins is on the frame immediately after Anguish
    changes in size to mark L3 charge potential. On that note, if it is not clear,
    my use of Anguish meant that I could consistently measure the difference
    between when the L3 charge attack was triggered and when it was actually ready,
    even though the L3 has no automatic aura flash to indicate that it is ready
    (being a 'secret' charge that does not indicate that it is ready with the same
    aura flash the L1 and L2 do).
    So, for those who were wondering- yes, I do have a way of accounting for human
    error when it comes to charge times and making sure that the values I am
    looking at keep track of the difference between when a charge is triggered and
    when it is actually ready and can be ideally triggered. On that note, if
    nothing else, I can at least say that I can consistently trigger charges as
    soon as they are theoretically possible as far as my own performance is
    concerned. However, to account for the fact that I was fairly consistent with
    my charge times, I did make sure to go out of my way and dig through the
    recorded data to find cases in which I pushed a charge to its limits, so to
    speak. That is, I did carefully review the recorded data to find instances
    where a charge was triggered on the last frame that it was theoretically
    possible (according to my data and charge windows).
    On a related note, the latest frame a charge attack animation can begin seems
    to correspond with the frame at which Anguish would otherwise grow, essentially
    overriding that unique animation. All things considered, I think it may be more
    useful (if not accurate) to think of the frame that shows Anguish has grown in
    size as being the last frame that the attack for the previous charge level
    could have been triggered, rather than thinking of it as the first frame that
    the attack for the next charge level can begin. Of course, that is said in
    terms of observation of GS mechanics. As for actual gameplay, the ideal moment
    of triggering the attack is that moment when you expect Anguish to grow.
    Charges and charge attacks aside, regular movement and attacks were less
    complex, but considerably more difficult to account for. While charge sequences
    have clear and consistent markers and animation transitions, with regular
    attacks and combos the data is less reliable, and with my setup I have little
    way of knowing for sure when some attacks initiate, terminate, and likewise I
    have little way of accurately knowing which frame specifically marks the
    transition from the end of one attack to the beginning of another attack in a
    combo, and so my analysis of combo attacks and associated animation time values
    unfortunately does not have a perfect method to account for 'extra' time during
    which an attack was finished and the next attack in a combo could have been
    initiated but was not because I had not yet input/triggered the next attack to
    be in the combo. The good news is that I did notice a unique series of
    consistent camera perspective shifts that occur when an overhead or upswing
    attack lands, and the timings of these camerashifts were also consistent with
    patterns I had noticed when cancelling attacks with rolls and the like. In
    other words, these camerashifts were used as proxy-markers for the termination
    of attacks, allowing me to get a better approximation of what the guideline
    time values for those animations might be. Of course, since the GS does not
    impact the ground at the end of the sideswing, kick, and slap animations, those
    the ground-impact camerashifts could not be used as reliable proxy-markers for
    the termination of those attacks.
    On a specific note- the camerashifts I refer to are independent of controls
    (i.e. they have nothing to do with normal camera movement and occur without any
    input from the controller). They occur as small shifts in camera perspective
    which some players may notice as a 'shaking' motion during impact while playing
    the game. During frame-by-frame analysis, the camerashifts are apparent when
    the entire recorded scene translates slightly from the focal point of the
    previous frame. A similar camerashift also occurs when a hit registers on a
    monster's hitzone.
    In an attempt to reasonably address (if not ideally account for) the errors
    associated with combo attacks and the like, in the process of sorting out and
    simplifying the time values in this section I have taken into account two forms
    of time values: raw values and derived values. The core of this section is
    based on raw values that correspond exactly with the data I recorded from
    gameplay- what you see is what I got. Raw values come from multiple repetitions
    and tests performed during recorded gameplay, and no averages were used. Raw
    values are only those that were actually obtained based on frame-by-frame
    analysis of recorded gameplay. Derived values include time values that were
    calculated based on more complicated attack combos (for example, some derived
    values come from recording combo attacks and subtracting the value of an attack
    I had reliable raw values for to obtain the value of attacks that I did not
    have reliable raw values for).
    For other derived values I used values I had determined from observation to
    shave off reasonable fat/error to get an idea of what the ideal/error-less
    value for a combo or questionable attack might be. However, it was never my
    intention to fabricate or just guess time values for the animations in this
    section, and as such- I have only used simplified derived values that were
    consistent with raw values I obtained for relevant attack sequences. In other
    words, most of this section includes values based strictly on raw data, and in
    the few cases (sideswings and other in-combo non-charged values) where I did
    effectively make up the reported value, even those values are backed up by raw
    data and re-reviewed gameplay recordings (that is, for example- after obtaining
    a derived value for a sideswing, one of the first things I did was find a
    recorded sideswing and see if the derived value appeared to match the length of
    the sideswing animation). On a similar note, derived values were used more for
    the purposes of double-checking raw values than they were used to approximate
    As for hitlag, it appears consistent. Right now this section only has one value
    reported for hitlag because as far as I can reliably tell, and as far as I am
    concerned, it is the only value I have found that is reasonable to work with. I
    will admit right away that I have not done enough validation or testing to
    determine whether hitlag is variable or perhaps scales with damage, and I will
    acknowledge that I even have a few recorded instances in which hitlag appears
    to be less than the amount reported based on theoretical attack times
    accounting for hitlag.
    However, for the time being I advocate one constant for hitlag, and most of the
    reasoning there comes from the utility of the value I have reported. First, the
    value reported in this section directly corresponds with the portion of the
    attack animation responsible for apparent hitlag. Specifically, when hitlag
    undeniably occurs, the attack animation freezes completely when it the hit
    registers and the animation does not continue and pass through the target until
    after 8 frames have passed from the frame that the hit was registered (and,
    presumably, calculated). A rough guess and some double-checked recorded
    gameplay support the idea that these 8 frames are all there is to hitlag.
    Furthermore, the reported value for hitlag was obtained based on testing
    attacks against some of the weakest hitzones for various monsters I tested
    with, so even if there are other possible values for hitlag, it is arguable
    that the constant I propose is still the most pragmatically reasonable one to
    use, that is- assuming you're trying to do the ideal amount of damage with your
    GS technique. Similarly, based on my recordings I can say that if hitlag is
    actually longer than the constant I have provided in this section, the 'extra'
    frames are accounted for already by the animation time values and other error
    rates I have suggested in this section. Moreover, if there are instances when
    hitlag and overall attack animations actually have slightly lower time values
    than I have reported based on damage done, based on the short timeframes we're
    dealing with, a few rough calculations support the position that intentionally
    hitting a hitzone with more defence in order to have [less hitlag/a faster
    attack] is not justified over hitting a weaker hitzone and doing more damage
    instead. Long story short- my hitlag constant may not be right, but I have a
    nice stack of evidence that supports it as the most useful hitlag value for
    ideal GS gameplay and damage-output. If it bothers anyone, throw the
    recommended error in with it.
    Have fun.
    >>>>> 13: Credits/Legal }CRLG{
    Thanks to...
    Capcom for the game.
    Nintendo for the Wii.
    GameFAQs for the boards.
    The Monster Hunter Wiki for being there.
    Obligatory thanks to Lord Grahf and VioletKIRA for all their hard work and the
    resources they made available to the community, as well as both the direct and
    indirect benefits that follow from that work.
    Particular thanks to ElectricDoodie, Souretsu, and omega bahumat of GameFAQs
    for the discussions, arguments, explanations, clarifications, and the
    occasional hunts as I learned to use the GS.
    The positive feedback and general support and motivation to update the guide
    are appreciated. Casual thanks to the likes of [Title] Roche (and various
    incarnations of), Doktoroktopus, Divine_Exodud, Newts_Ute, Unobservant, and
    others for keeping things interesting both on the boards and in regards to MH3
    in general. Previously-thanked users also count for this section.
    General thanks to the rest of the GameFAQs Monster Hunter Tri player community
    for stuff. Additional thanks to the community over at Unity for the hunts and
    occasional dialogue.
    Thanks to Diablos for giving me materials to make various sets with the
    Critical Draw skill.
    This guide is not protected by copyright of any sort as far as my say in the
    matter goes. That is, I grant this to the public domain. Any and every reader
    may not only copy any portion of this document or indeed the document in its
    entirety and use it as they will, but furthermore, they are especially
    encouraged to do so.
    >>>>> 14: Version History }VSHS{
    1.0 -January 13, 2011. Preliminary release with the planned guide finally
    written up. Omitted some parts I thought of including at the last minute until
    I refine them somewhat, but the guide is already everything I intended to write
    (and a little more) when I first decided to write a GS guide. I may or may not
    add a Q&A section and in-depth damage, timing, and monster-specific strategy
    sections in a future release.
    1.1 -January 04, 2012. Fixed some formatting problems, spelling mistakes, and
    added a few details here and there. Also added the general philosophy section
    and a new section for the time values. As far as new sections go, this should
    be considered the final version of this guide. All other potential/planned
    sections related to this guide are now dead projects, and if for some reason
    there are further updates to this guide, expect them to be revisions or
    expansions of what is already here. To be honest, this is a forced update of
    sorts. I had a fair bit of extra material, but I realized a while ago that if I
    didn't pick a set deadline and stick to it, the guide would likely go on
    without an update indefinitely. No real plans to continue working on this guide
    though. Thanks to everybody for the support up to this point.
    >>>>> 15: Contact }HERE{
    I'm not much one for giving people too many reliable means of contacting me. I
    Any discussion regarding this guide can be posted on the Monster Hunter Tri
    GameFAQs board with "REGSGUIDE" somewhere in the topic header. I make no
    guarantee at this point that I will see it or do anything about it at this
    stage, but I do check the board from time to time.