*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
time.
+ 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,
respectively.
+ 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:

*PROS*
+ 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'
movements.

+ 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).

*CONS*
- 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
"shield."

- 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
drastically.

- 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
attack

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
sheathed.

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
adjusting:

/HUD/
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.

/Map/
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.

/Orientation/
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,
respectively.

>>>>> 4: Basics }BASI{

*Attacks*

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.

*Evasion*
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*
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
whole.

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
them.

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/
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.

/Tail-Cutting/
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/
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.

/Kamikaze/
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
safely...eventually.

/Support/
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.

/Control/
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
limits).

/Dueling/
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
hit.

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.

/Longshots/
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
Longshot.

/Opportunism/
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
clear
vulnerability.

/Psi/
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.

/Stealth/
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.

/n00b/
(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
goes.

/Monk/
(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.

/Assassin/
(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.

/Knight/
(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.

/Berserker/
(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.

/Paladin/
(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.

/Sniper/
(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.

/Reaver/
(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).

/Hero/
(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.

/Dragoon/
(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.

/Samurai/
(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.

/Wizard/
(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
strategy.

/Ninja/
(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.

/Archon/
(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"
interchangeably.

/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.

/Others/
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
availability.

/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.

/Qurupeco/
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/
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.

/Lagiacrus/
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.

/Rathalos/
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
armors.

/Diablos/
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.

/Barroth+/
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.

/Diablos+/
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.

/Dober/
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
you.

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
form.

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
help.

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
monster.

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
priority).

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
you.

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
unlikely).

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
target.

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*

Format:
Category-
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
Overhead
-- / 58 / --
Sideswing
-- / 44 / --
Upswing
-- / 62 / --
Kick
8 / 9 / 10

Basic Combo Attacks-
Overhead in Combo
45 / 48 / 50
Sideswing in Combo
35 / 36 / 38
Upswing in Combo
54 / 56 / 59
Slap
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

Misc-
Roll
32 / 36 / 40
Sheathe
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
want.

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
calculation.

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
position.

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
values-to-be-reported.

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.

*Important/Legal*
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.