A bit of a departure from what I usually write, but what I can I say; I fucking love Monster Hunter. It’s basically the perfect game for me. It somehow manages to combine the “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality of Pokemon, with the fear and difficult of Shadow of the Colossus with Dark Souls-esque fighting system, all while drawing you in fight after fight with the many surprises the game can throw at you hunt to hunt. But I could go on forever about why I think Monster Hunter is genius, simply because there is no end to the genius within it. </end dramatization>
Today I want to write a comprehensive guide for my main weapon: the Charge Blade. This is mostly because 1) it is one of the newest weapons featured in the game, 2) the in-game tutorial is next to useless, and 3) and most surprising, is that there is a lack of good internet resources on it. Some of the videos are ok (this one I like, but it’s 15 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=645&v=J1LE1D5YSZM). I kind of hate trudging through videos when I just need a quick tip. This is a collection of tips I’ve gathered from playing the game over the last few months.
PART ONE: The Basics
So the hunter notes give you a good outline of the basic controls. The weapon operates on switching between a sword and shield mode to a giant axe mode. Mobility in sword mode is very similar to the sword & shield weapon (as you might expect) while the axe is much slower: comparably slow or slower to the greatsword. As a result one must be very careful to time when you should enter one mode or the other. But before I get into that, let me just review some of the basic controls and principles.
In sword mode:
All sword attacks charge the weapon
- X—basic attack
- X, X, X—basic sword combo, ends with a roundslash
- A (held then released)—double slash attack (careful, if held too long, or not long enough, you will only do a single slash leaving you open)
- Any attack , X+A—shield bash
- X, X+A, X+A—shortcut to the Amped Element Discharge for maximum damage (see axe controls)
- R—shield (VERY IMPORTANT)
- R+A—store charge for use with axe (described in next section)
In Axe mode:
- X—standard attack
- ↑ X—slightly faster attack
- X, X—a (very slow) basic combo
- A—alternate attack (if charged, consumes a phial)
- A, A (or X, A)—round slash axe attack (if charged, consumes a phial)
- A, A, A—the two above attacks with a finishing attack called “Amped Element Discharge” (AED) for maximum damage (described in the next section).
- X+A—shortcut to amped element discharge
- R—change to sword mode (similar to running attack with sword). Also used to cancel an AED mid-swing which stores charge in a second tier, making the weapon glow red and do extra damage (described in next section)
When sheathed (while running):
- X—roundslash running attack
- X+A—Axe running attack
- X (while jumping)—sword attack
- X+A (while jumping)—axe attack
Charging the Blade
Obviously, the weapon is called the “charge blade” for a reason, so you’re likely asking how charging the weapon comes into play. Near your health bar, you’ll notice five little bottles (called phials) that, as you attack and block in sword mode, start to glow (first yellow, then red). If you press R+A while in sword mode, you will fill up three (if yellow) or all five (if red) phials. If you do not charge eventually, the word “CHARGE” will flash red, and attacks will bounce. There is no penalty for overcharging so be sure that you do not put off charging for too long even if your phials are full!
With some amount of phials full, you can unleash the power in your axe attacks dealing extra damage (blast and stun damage for impact phials, elemental damage for element phials). You are also enabled to do the power attack called an “Amped Element Discharge” dealing even more phial damage AND ignores defense (but careful—it’s quite slow).
But there is a second aspect to charging that the game’s tutorial does not go over in detail. When you have any amount of phials filled, instead of using axe attack, you can store your charge in a second tier. While doing an AED attack, you can instead choose to cancel the attack using the R button. Not only does this switch back to sword and shield (allowing you to block), but also makes the shield (and axe) glow red. This mode has several benefits:
- Shield bash and axe attacks do extra raw damage
- You can still fill your phials and expend them in axe attacks
- Shield bash also does impact phial damage (but DOES NOT use phials)
- You can block almost anything excepting unblockable attacks like lasers, fire, or elder dragon bullcrap
- You can do an extra powerful Super Amped Element Discharge by pressing X after doing a normal one. This expends both the phials and the stored charge from the blade, sending you back to square one (so make it count!)
After storing your charge, the weapon will glow red for a time proportional to the amount of phials you had—thirty seconds for each phial, meaning with all phials full, you can stay in this mode for 2 and a half minutes. During the last thirty seconds, your weapon will flash yellow as a helpful reminder to charge again. If you even have one phial when the weapon flashes yellow, I would recommend storing it because having the extra blocking power (among other things) is totally worth it (more in the next section).
PART TWO: How to Exploit Combos and Guard Points
Important Offensive Strategies
- ALWAYS BE CHARGING
As I alluded to in the last section, your goal is to keep your weapon red as long as possible for maximum damage. Remember, there is no penalty for overcharging, in fact the more you store charge and keep that weapon red, the longer you’ll keep of all the buffs. If your weapon is red and you have some phials full, you do both the extra raw damage PLUS the damage from the phial, not to mention that in this mode, you have the best block in the game. Some tips: If you start up an AED and you’re worried it may not land, store the charge. If you don’t get enough openings to land some axe attacks, store the charge. I would argue it’s probably better to keep your weapon red than try to use all your phials for axe attacks unless you’re certain you can hit the Super AED.
- SHIELD BASH IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Shield bash is great for so many reasons:
- It charges the weapon really quick
- It’s crazy fast and essentially unblockable
- When it glows red it can deal impact phial damage without using phials
- You can easily block after using it (since you’re still in sword mode)
- You can combo it directly into an AED or Super AED (depending on your charge level) by pressing X+A once more
There are some monsters I almost exclusively use this attack for, for example, the Oroshi Kirin. Since it’s so quick you’re almost never going to hit an axe attack on it. Not to mention, using the axe is going to leave you wide open for one his quick attacks. Staying in sword mode is often the best option so you have better mobility to run away from him and also a better chance to block his attacks.
- IMPORTANT AXE COMBOS
The axe is often too slow to hit mid-combat except on low level monsters, but there some points when you can sneak it in. I’ve found one of the most helpful is the running axe attack. While sheathed, run up to the monster when vulnerable and press X+A instead of X and you’ll draw out the axe almost as quickly as the sword (and the damage of course is better). Even better than that, you can immediately switch to sword mode right after (by pressing R)—allowing you to instantly block or do a sword combo attack. It’s two running attacks for the price of one!
Also important to note, most monsters use attacks that leave them wide open for a few seconds (e.g. Apex Rajang’s giant boulder, Brachydios tail attack, Zinogre’s charge). At these times, it is easy enough to sneak in a double A axe combo (a single slash followed by a double). This is especially useful if the monster’s head is in the right place, because you have an increased chance to stun.
- IMPORTANT SWORD COMBOS
Using the charged A attack with the sword is the quickest way to get it to max charge. In addition to its quick double slash, you can add a third roundslash attack by pressing X (and you can block at the end of this attack). On many occasions, this has instantly gotten me to full charge.
Switching between shield bash and normal sword attacks also speed up how quickly you can bash. It’s like an infinite combo! X, X+A, X, X+A, X, X+A ….
- THREE WAYS TO DO SUPER A.E.D.
Using an Amped Element Discharge takes so much time, it’s usually only usable after the monster uses an exploitable move or the monster is toppled. It’s even worse for the Super AED which takes nearly twice as long since it needs to look cooler. As a result, you need to know the timing of this attack and all the ways you can combo into it. I’ve divided this into three speeds:
- Shield Bash method
After a shield bash, press X+A again (and X again if you’re trying to do Super AED). This is the quickest way to get in the combo and most useful if the monster is just giving you a few seconds of time (like during a move or if they’re tired).
- Direct from axe
While in axe mode, you can do an AED at any time by pressing X+A. However, the only time this is faster than the shield bash is when you already have the axe out. Generally I don’t use it, unless I only have one phial full and don’t want to waste it on the axe’s weaker attacks OR the monster is asleep and I don’t want to awake it with a weaker attack.
- The Slow combo
To deal the most damage, you can combo into an AED after the A combo attack from the axe. This requires at least three phials (one for the first, one for the double, and one for the AED). It’s also super slow so I can only advise using it after toppling a monster OR during a roar (if you have earplugs). The damage is definitely worth it though!
Important Defensive Strategies
- KEEP THAT SWORD OUT
Weapons typically take a while to sheathe, and the charge blade is no exception. But in most cases it’s quicker, easier, and often more reliable to just block the attack, the only exception being unblockable attacks, like the Dalamadur’s laser (these you need to dodge). Plus, you move around fairly quickly in sword mode, enough that you can usually just walk out of the way of an attack at the right distance. This is why it’s so important to have your weapon red as long as possible—it buffs sword the shield’s attack and defenses.
- THE SIDESTEP
By pressing B together with a horizontal direction in sword mode, your character will do a small hop to the side. Immediately after doing this, press X to do a roundslash attack similar to the running attack. You can keep sidestepping this until the monster is out of range (in some cases, indefinitely) AND you can block immediately at the end of any roundslash. I can usually get three good sword attacks in like this on most monsters, which charges the weapon rather quickly while staying safely out of the way of attacks.
- BLOCK WHILE ATTACKING
At the end of any roundslash attack: the X,X,X combo, the charge A, X combo, the sidestep (B) then X attack, or any change from axe to sword; you can instantly block simply by holding down R. This comes in handy when monsters suddenly charge at you, especially if you are caught in axe mode.
- ATTACK WHILE BLOCKING
Also a good strategy, after certain attacks that you block, you can often counter-attack with the axe with R+X (you can actually see the position of the shield if you attack towards the camera). Even if you mistime this, the weapon will automatically block during the startup of the attack.
- USE THE AXE SPARINGLY (especially on tough end-game monsters)
The axe is slow, in fact it’s one of the slowest weapons in the game. As a result, I would avoid using the axe attack unless 1) the monster is toppled, 2) the monster flinches, 3) the monster is fighting someone else, 4) the monster uses an exploitable move (e.g. Brachydios tail attack), or 5) the monster is tired or trapped.
PART THREE: Armor Sets
Armor skills matter. Even from monster to monster, you might find that the difference between armor sets can mean the difference between life and death. However, what set you decide on depends largely on how you like to play the game. Do you play offensively or defensively? Do you like special skills that make it easier to use equipment?
Based on my own experience and what I’ve read on various sites, I think these skills are arguably the best/most important for a charge blade, but you may be more creative than I!
The ultimate skill for this and pretty much any blade. Grants Attack Up XL and Handicraft (ups the sharpness level of the blade, i.e. white to purple). Since you can rely on blocking with this weapon, sharpness is a MUST
If you can’t get Edgemaster, Handicraft is a MUST for all your shield use
Decreases the rate your weapon dulls HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for the same reason
- Status, Elemental, or Artillery
A big feature of the charge blade is that it buffs its own phial damage with certain attacks like the shield bash, the AED, or the alternate axe attacks (either impact or elemental depending on the blade). Depending on what weapon you use, you’ll probably want one of these to give your charge attacks more oomph. Artillery is best for impact phials. Status for poison, paralyze, sleep, and bomb blight (although artillery seems to work well with this last one too). Elemental for fire, ice, water, and dragon.
Increases affinity. Since the charge blade allows you to block almost any attack and relies on combos for the best damage, you really want to be up in the monster’s grill for most of the fight. If you increase affinity, you increase the chance that you make a monster flinch or even get knocked over, allowing you to sneak in a few axe attacks for super damage
- Gloves Off
Like expert, this is important for the affinity boost and also the extra stamina. It turns off and on, but who cares? You’re getting triple the affinity you normally get from Expert +1
Negates monster roars. Great for any weapon, but particularly useful for monsters that are hard to hit a Super AED on.
- Guard Up
If you like playing defensively, this skill can come in handy when facing off with elder dragons since they have an array of unblockable attacks. With this skill, most of those attacks will become blockable
If you can’t get any other sharpness skills, then this is highly recommended. You will need to be sharpening your weapon quite often
Useful for any weapon, but particularly for charge blade so you can get in some more axe attacks.
Just to give you an idea of how to build sets, I’ll tell you a little about my own strategy.
The Chameleos set (Grand Mizuha Set) works fantastically well with status-based charge blades including: poison, sleep, blast, and paralyze. I’ve noticed that, excepting elder dragons and tougher monsters, I can induce a status effect within under a minute with a few good shield bashes (especially great for sleep). With gems and talismans, I have gained the following skills from this set:
- Status + 2—greatly increases damage from status attacks
- Status Crit—increases status damage from critical hits
- Handicraft—Ups the sharpness level of the weapon
- HG Earplugs—Negates all effects of roars
- Windproof (Hi)—Negates effects of wind based attacks
- Latent Power + 1—Ups affinity by 30% and decreases stamina depletion under certain conditions (health loss or 5 minutes past)
Since I can inflict status damage rapidly, it makes this set great for Apex monsters and hard to hit elder dragons so that you can either 1) poison and do damage over time or 2) put them to sleep or paralyze them when they are vulnerable.
For my other blades I use a mixed set with the following pieces: Grand Gloaming Plate, Kujula Grip, Vangis Coil (for Torso Up, doubling the effect of the torso piece), Rathalos Greaves, and a special Akantor Casque I found in a guild quest with Edgemaster +4. I’m confident there are multiple ways to get these skills, however. All together with gems and talismans I get the following skills:
- Artillery +2
- Sharpness +1
- Expert +1
You can see how I came up with the top skills for charge blade… This is a great all around set for Impact Phial Based charge blades. I often use this with a bomb blight blade so I can do not only bomb damage, but extra impact phial damage for breaking parts and stunning monsters. It also makes it much easier to block monster attacks over a long period of time. This is also great for monsters with resistances to status effects like the Fatalis, Ukanlos, Akantor, or Dalmadur.
I hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any tips to add, please comment!