Monster Hunter World Great Sword Comprehensive Guide

Monster Hunter World Great Sword Comprehensive Guide by ApplefootCZ


In previous Monster Hunter games, the standard way of using the Great Sword was to wait for openings to charge a big attack in order deal maximum damage per second. However, the inclusion of the True Charged Slash and the tackle in Monster Hunter World has respectively added to the list of offensive and defensive options of the Great Sword.

It’s been less than a week since the game’s release, so it goes without saying that we’re all still figuring things out. In this thread, I want to discuss various approaches to using the classic over-sized Monster Hunter weapon. As a starting point, I will put my personal approach into writing, with the hope that it will refine itself with discussion.

I’m not going to detail the commands for the moveset, because I think there is a more in-depth discussion we can have. The focus here is what to use when, rather than how to do what.

This guide assumes you already have the surface-level knowledge of the Great Sword’s moveset. If you know the moveset, but you don’t have the muscle memory, it could be a good idea to play along in the training area while reading the guide.

Anyway, let’s get down to business.

Two basic questions

  1. What should I do to create a big opening?
  2. What should I do when there’s a big opening?

Let’s start with number 2 because we can approach the answer by way of experimentation in the new training area.

What should I do when there’s a big opening?

  • Go in and make sure you land the True Charged Slash (TCS) on a weak point.
  • Don’t charge the Overhead Slash (OS) or the Strong Charged Slash (SCS) for damage. Charging should be used to aim a swing or to time a tackle.
  • I do not recommend charging the True Charged Slash (TCS) unless you are sure it will connect cleanly in time.It goes without saying that it’s better to have an uncharged clean connection than a fully charged miss.

Landing a TCS is the only thing you should be concerned about, because it does more damage than both the previous hits combined. The goal is to land that at the end of the monster’s opening. Charging the OS and the SCS only to find that you’ve run out of time to land the TCS is putting the cart before the horse.

Below, I compare some ways to get into a TCS. Even without these tests, it’s easy to see that tackling twice is the quickest way to reach a TCS, but I wanted to show the damage and speed numerically.

Note: Frames are a measure of how long it takes to execute the combo up until you can roll cancel. All tests were run without armor skills or item pouch charms. I used a Giant Jawblade II.


ComboVideoFrames (30/s)Damage
OS -> SCS -> TCS (charged)gfycat298632
OS -> SCS -> TCS (uncharged)gfycat274578
OS -> SCS(t) -> TCS (uncharged)gfycat211474


ComboVideoFrames (30/s)Damage
OS -> SCS -> TCS (charged)gfycat315632
Kick(t) -> SCS -> TCS(uncharged)gfycat279507
Roll(t) -> SCS(t) -> TCS(uncharged)gfycat216431

Here is the link to the album of my tests. By no means are these all of the permutations to reach a TCS. I only took a few examples to compare against in order to determine how to string my attacks, based on the length of the opening.

Generally speaking:

  • If you want to get to a TCS quickly, tackle twice.
  • Don’t charge the OS or SCS at the risk of missing the TCS.

It might seem like I’m going into too much detail in this section, but if you’ve played the Great Sword for a length of time, I’m sure you have flashbacks of missing countless TCS’s by fractions of a second as well.

On the topic of charging

Originally, I included some data to back up my claim that taking the entire combo as a whole, charging for damage isn’t worth it unless you’re charging the True Charged Slash. After seeing how long this post ended up being, I decided to omit that section. I reckon it could be a pretty controversial statement considering the nature of the Great Sword in previous games.

Charging either the OS or the subsequent SCS only gets in the way of reaching the TCS. Landing the TCS is paramount, so you want to get to it as quickly as possibleThat is to not to say never charge the OS or the SCS. If there is absolutely no way you’ll get a TCS in time, charging any of the earlier slashes can be a good idea.

Charging should be used mainly to aim your slashes. You are allowed to aim roughly 60 degrees to either the left or right of your character during a charge. Aiming the slashes should be done with the short term purpose of landing it, and the slightly longer term purpose of being in a better position to land any following strikes.

Accounting for some human error in my input timing, I found that charging up the TCS roughly takes 10% longer and does 10% more damage in the grand scheme of the combo.

“What if I have the Focus armor skill? Doesn’t that change everything?” you might ask.

If you choose to use Focus, feel free to charge to your heart’s content, but I will elaborate on why I don’t like having Focus for the Great Sword in the armor skills section at the end of the guide.

What should I do to create a big opening?

When the monster isn’t in some way incapacitated, the goal is to deal enough damage to stagger or trip it in order to land some clean True Charged Slashes. The sensible thing to do is start off by playing safe, landing what hits you can land in between the monster’s attacks. When you feel the monster is about to stagger or trip, that’s a good time to ramp up the aggression and take risks.

Aggressive play revolves around the tackle. Tackling through a monster’s attack is an incredible way of creating openings. Playing in this tackle-centric fashion you are risking:

  1. Mistiming the the tackle
  2. The monster attacking quickly in succession

These two risks can be mitigated to some degree through experience against the monster. Of course, this applies to any weapon but learning monster attack behavior is synonymous with using the Great Sword. Take note of the times you are punished even after performing a successful tackle.

Aggressive play

Playing aggressively involves lining up moments when tackle is available to you with moments when the monster is likely to attack. In this mode of playing, you want to consistently string your moves back into a charging state. If your charge is about to release and you anticipate danger, tackling into another charge is the quickest way “reset the timer” so to speak. Click to see demonstration. Make sure to do it early, because resetting leaves you vulnerable for a little over 2/3 of a second. It should be noted that this uses a significant amount of stamina.

Regardless, the ideal thing to do is to have tackle available as much as possible to react with. In the following section, I’ll bring to your attention a move you have to be careful with because it works against that ideal.

The opening against you

You are very vulnerable during the Strong Charged Slash -> True Charged Slash transition period.

Below is a demonstration of the abnormally large window of vulnerability (left) compared to other regular transitions (center & right).

Click to see comparison

Note: The frames are measured by a video editing program under the standard of 30fps (frames per second). In retrospect, I should have done it under 60fps for more precision, but still I think 30fps illustrates my point.

Strong Charged Slash -> True Charged Slash(t)Overhead Slash -> Strong Charged Slash(t)Tackle -> Tackle
44 frames24 frames21 frames

The window of vulnerability is about twice as long as other transitions.

Therefore, each time after releasing Strong Charged Slash, there is a pivotal moment where you have to decide whether to bail out by rolling or double down by charging a True Charged Slash despite the window of vulnerability.

If you haven’t released the Strong Charged Slash, tackling out of it will effectively sidestep having to make the aforementioned decision. It quickly puts you into charging a True Charged Slash, which is a position with good options.

The takeaway: If you’re anticipating any kind of danger, make sure you always tackle out of Strong Charged Slashes. And if you do end up unleashing a Strong Charged Slash, give due consideration to rolling away.

One final note: We’ve established that this transition takes a long time, but it will also put you into a level 2 charge of the TCS.

Going into a raw tackle

Here I will comment on various ways to get into a tackle from a neutral position, and some of the nuances. In addition, I measured how quickly each method goes from 0 to tackle.

Note: All tests assume that the tackle super-armor takes effect on the first frame of input.


ComboVideoFrames (30/s)Comments
OS -> Tacklegfycat27Able charge & hold the tackle for better timing.
Guard -> Roll -> TackleWIPWIPSimilar to Kick -> Tackle, but covers more distance.
Kick -> Tacklegfycat24Quickest way to get into a tackle from sheathed.


ComboVideoFrames (30/s)Comments
OS -> Tacklegfycat31Slow, but you can charge & hold the tackle for better timing.
Roll -> Tacklegfycat20Quick unsheathed gap closer.
Kick -> Tacklegfycat19Fastest way to get into a tackle from idle. Keeps you stationary.

Note: The tackle gets more effective as it charges, like the Charged Slashes. I don’t know the details, but if anyone knows I’d like to include the properties here.

The matter of distance

Remember, landing a True Charged Slash is what this is all about. Base all your distance decisions on that goal. Here are the general rules of distance:

  • Tackles will move you a little further ahead than releasing a Overhead Slash or a Strong Charged Slash
  • Going from Strong Charged Slash to True Charged Slash will move you backwards
  • Rolling into a tackle is a quick long distance option

Here are three examples of TCS’s that land in varying distances.

Click to see comparison

OS -> SCS -> TCSOS(t)-> SCS(t) -> TCSRoll(t) -> SCS(t) -> TCS

Let’s now move on to specifics.

The Jumping Wide Slash (JWS)

This move is in the distance section because it significantly affects the position of your character.

After every tackle, you have the option to use this move with the circle button. There are two reasons you would choose to use this move instead of going into a charge:

  1. You predict the charged slash is too slow to safely land, this move is used to guarantee some damage and advance offensively. After tackling through an attack, you might find that the opening you’ve created is too small to continue into a charged slash. This is an overwhelmingly common scenario. If the tackle in question is charged to level 3, the damage is quite significant (although still less than an uncharged TCS).
  2. Your tackle is facing a bad direction, and you need to disengage. This is not an immediately obvious use of the JWS, but the JWS can be a way of bailing out, because of how it positionally affects your character. In this case, it’s directly comparable to a dodge roll.

When you’re trying to create an opening with a tackle loop, you can often end up facing the wrong direction as the monster moves about. Instead of trying to steer yourself to face the monster with more tackle resets, the better call is to reposition. I’ll now compare the two options for bailing out of a tackle.

Click to see comparison

Jumping Wide SlashDodge roll
Goes in a forward direction with some lateral controlCan choose between 4 different directions
No stamina costCosts stamina
No invincibilityRoll invincibility
Slower but deals damageFaster (better defensively)

The distance differences are slight. I’ve included a clip demonstrating the usage of the JWS in the video section at the end of the guide, but you can also view it here.

Note: This move does not bounce.

Waking monsters from a slumber

We know that the first hit to wake up a sleeping target deals double damage. We also know that the last hit of the TCS is the strongest by an extreme differential. Putting these two facts together, it’s safe to say that we should wake a sleeping target with the last hit of a charged TCS.

The easiest way to do this is to measure the distance with the sword swings that lead to the TCS (don’t cancel any of them with tackle). The margin for error is quite small, and the visible models don’t line up with the invisible hitboxes exactly, so this can be quite tricky (especially under multiplayer pressure). Err on the side of being too far away, because you can abort and move closer.

Click to see demonstration of the measuring technique

Alternate technique (requires more space) courtesy of /u/okuRaku.

Note: Equipping your Palico with a sleep-status weapon is a good way of inflicting this status effect in solo-play.

A note on guarding

You can block with the Great Sword. It’s common belief that you shouldn’t do this often because it decreases weapon sharpness. I personally tend to take this belief too far and forget about blocking altogether. Each time you get hit, ask yourself if it could have been blocked. In 99% of situations, losing weapon sharpness is more desirable than taking a hit.

The moves I didn’t really talk about

I think the Wide Slash and the Rising Slash are extremely situational attacks that are meant to sneak in a little damage here and there. The Strong Wide Slash after a SCS is in this category as well. I don’t try to work these in yet because I already have enough trouble implementing the basics of this guide.

The actual TL;DR

  • Charging will allow you to aim up to about 60 degrees left or right for each hit of OS->SCS->TCS combo.
  • When there’s a big enough opening, landing a True Charged Slash is the main goal of any of your combos.
  • If there are no openings, counterattack with tackle to create one. Alternatively, use a hit-and-run tactic utilizing draw attacks to work for a stagger/trip.
  • Keep tackle available as much as possible when playing aggressively
  • Keep yourself out of the vulnerable transition between Strong Charged Slash -> True Charged Slash if the monster can attack you in that period.
  • Use the Jumping Wide Slash to bail out of a tackle.

Video demonstrations

The following are clips that demonstrate the points I made throughout the guide.

youtubeBig opening on a Rathalos tail. I went for a charged high damage TCS. But because I didn’t charge the OS, or the SCS, I was able to sneak in another quick TCS.
youtubeGood example of aggressive play when anticipating staggers. I should have tackled though the roar.
youtubeSome examples of repositioning with the Jumping Wide Slash from a tackle. At 1:23, I used a roll instead of a JWS because I wanted the invincibility frames, but the attack missed anyway. Again I was in position to tackle through the roar in the end, but I missed it mechanically.
youtube1101 damage with proper spacing of the TCS on a sleeping Nergigante.
youtubeDemonstration of charging to aim attacks rather than charging for damage. An example of a multiplayer environment where opportunities to counterattack with tackle aren’t as frequent.
youtubeIt really doesn’t seem like I should be able to tackle through this… I want to compile a list of these and I bet you madmen have tried crazier things, so help me out!

Armor Skills

Keep in mind that these are only my rough thoughts in the first week of the game’s release. I haven’t made very many armor sets yet. And the truth is, I’m a fashion hunter.

The elephant in the room: Focus

FocusA max level of Focus causes charging to be 20% faster. I don’t think that fast charging is as important as it was in older games, because it takes so long to reach a TCS even without charging. Reducing the charging time also comes with the downside of reducing the time you have tackle available. When you’re waiting to counterattack with a tackle, this can cause the charge to release sooner than you’d like. Those are the reasons why I hesitate recommending Focus. Focus is by no means a bad skill, but it isn’t unquestionably good like in previous games. Depending on your playstyle (especially the old GS style), you may find that the benefit of 20% faster charging far outweighs the downside, justifying the skill points.

Just plain good

Weakness ExploitHigher damage output means higher chances of a stagger (which can create an opening, or bail you out after releasing a risky TCS). /u/0nion0 did some math and concluded which damage skill is optimal. If you’re interested, you can find the thread here:
Attack BoostSame as above.
Critical BoostSame as above.
AgitatorSame as above.
Critical EyeSame as above.
Maximum MightSame as above, although you do have to watch your stamina if you’re too tackle happy.
HandicraftYou can get more damage if Handicraft gives you a new level of Sharpness.
EarplugsCreates free openings. It lowers in value the better you get at tackling through roars, although sometimes you’re just not in a position to tackle.
Quick SheathYou end up sheathing the Great Sword a lot. This is just plain good, but by no means necessary. You may find that you sheath less and less as your play becomes more confident. If you play the old GS style though, Quick Sheath is always good with Critical Draw.
Evade WindowOne of the best skills defensively, but again, by no means necessary.

Theoretically good

Critical DrawCritical Draw doesn’t improve the TCS, but the draw attack is still a considerable source of damage. It’s incredible if you decide to play the old style of Great Sword (in that case, Focus and Quick Sheath is fantastic as well).
ConstitutionThe tackling-centric playstyle is quite stamina dependent. This skill can make stamina management easier.
Stamina SurgeSame as above.
Super RecoveryThis is Vaal Hazak’s armor set bonus. You’re going to lose bits of health while you’re tackling through attacks. This skill can reduce the amount of time you spend disengaging to drink a potion.

Worth talking about

Punishing DrawIt can get a KO or 2 during a fight if you try for it.
Speed SharpeningThis can be useful if your weapon only has a sliver of top sharpness. Typically, the monster changes area before sharpening is necessary.

… and the others

  • Hey man, if you want to take Health Boost or whatever, it’s all good—I get it. Sometimes I want to take Stun Resist.

I’m definitely missing a lot here. Please let me know if there are other Armor Skills you think should be mentioned.

Closing thoughts

This goal of this guide isn’t to get everyone to play correctly, because I don’t think Monster Hunter is meant to be a competitive game at all. The games are becoming increasingly easier, and I think that’s a result of Capcom’s effort to expand player options. Play the way that’s the most fun to you. This is a playstyle that I’m having a lot of fun with (enough fun to write an arduous guide about it, anyway). I hope you experience that same sense of flow that I do when all the right reads are made with the Great Sword!

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