I love the nearly fail-proof defensive (I'll call it "fail-proof" for short) build that I wrote about in the past post, as anyone can use the build and succeed as long as you have at least 30 minutes to complete the mission, no practicing required.
Since I finally got another Hero's Streamstone for my Hunting Horn, I needed a missing Nergigante gem to augment it with health regeneration. Therefore, it was time to farm regular Nergigante. Regular monsters are the best way to get parts, whereas their Tempered counterparts are the best way to get Streamstones and Jewels.
Using the fail-proof build while farming regular Nergigante, I noticed that he wasn't doing much damage, not even his notorious dive bomb (Tempered Nergigante is a different matter) was able to 1HKO as long as my health bar was at least half-way full (also I was never stunned due to stun negate). Therefore, it didn't seem like I really need all those defensive skills.
Because it takes a lot of farming to get the rare Nergigante gem, in order to save time, I decided to make an offensive build to kill Nergigante quicker (Alternatively, you can buy the gem from the Elder Melder if you have Gold Wyverian Print, but I wanted to practice and farm Nergigante to "git gud").
I decided to revisit the Deviljho (Pickle) Hunting Horn line, ending with Deep Vero, for a more offensive build, as his weapon has the highest raw damage if you build for it, along with the Heavy Bone Horn II.
Deep Vero has the Attack Up Large To Extra Large song, as well as Defense Up Large to Extra Large, which is wonderful because that means I can tank hits more.
The issue I had with Pickle previously when constructing the fail-proof build is its lack of gem slots, which were needed for all the skills. But I can see why the Hunting Horn gurus find Deep Vero the best because they don't need all that defense and utility due to their skilled game play.
At any rate, in my first outing, wielding Deep Vero, I was taken aback at the huge damage numbers, on average hitting 100. I often see even higher numbers upon song recital and encore which hit multiple times (not sure if this added to 600?). Because this horn was hitting so hard on Nergi's weak spots, the Pickle horn appeared to exhaust, stun and/or KO Nergigante more frequently than with a weaker damaging horn.
He KO'd whenever I broke parts or trip him which is due to the huge amount of damage Pickle's horn was doing. Stun procs by number of hits rather than damage. Whenever he's fallen down from KO, I can easily hit him on the head many times. By the time he gets up and I hit him a couple more times on the head, he tends to stun. Niki, my Palico, also paralyzes him once per mission. As you can see, this leads to quick kills.
Excited about the prospect of killing Nergigante fast, I then made a build around the Pickle horn. You really need to build around it to bring out its true potential.
I also watched this really great YouTube guide that breaks down Nergigante's moves and attack patterns. Indeed, if you really know all of his moves and can anticipate and counter all of his attacks, you can cruise through even Tempered Nergigante with an offensive set, or even a naked run!
How To Build for the Pickle Horn
Upon researching Pickle Horn Builds, Handicraft and Protective Polish skills are needed to get it to the highest level of sharpness, which is White. Protective Polish allows your weapon to lose no sharpness after sharpening, for an impressive 1 minute. Due to the Pickle horn's negative affinity of -30%, it's recommended to have Weakness Exploit to offset it. Lastly, my Pickle horn has health regeneration augments.
I opted for a second health regeneration augment, though most would argue for health regeneration and affinity for the 2 slots. However, since it's easy to gem out the negative affinity, I went for extra health regeneration instead.
I think if you can only augment your weapons once, the health regeneration augment seems to be the best choice out of the other augments of Attack, Defense, Affinity boosts, and extra slot. Instead of wasting time to heal, you can hit the monster to not only do extra damage, but also heal at the same time. Not only will you be attacking, but you'll be healing, preventing the possibility of carting.
Protective Polish is a gem that's very rare, so I recommend watching this YouTube video as a fail-proof way of getting precious gems.
And then VERY carefully read this reddit post before you start gem sniping.
After building for Deep Vero, my time was actually really fast for me (I think it was around 10 minutes). Excited, I practiced and tinkered with builds some more. Through experimentation, I found, at the same skill level, my times were significantly faster with a mix offense/defense build than a purely offensive build!
The purely offensive build had the near almost"ideal" offensive stats for the Pickle horn: Weakness Exploit 3, Maximum Might 3, Handicraft 2, and even the optimal Attack Boost level 7 (highest level possible).
The only utility skills were: Protective Polish and Horn Maestro. I carried the Rocksteady and Impact Mantle. My Palico, Niki, was using the Coral Orchestra for stun negate.
The problem with this offensive build occurs when the Rocksteady mantle wears off. Without the mantle, I routinely flinch from the roars, which prevent me from hitting huge damage numbers on his head.
I also got hit by his spikes and his dive bombs since dodging without evade extender wasn't far enough to avoid these attacks.
Further, without Niki's stun negate (often she doesn't play the song), being stunned has led to carting (albeit rarely), but even though I didn't cart, being immobile prevents attacking.
Because of all these interruptions, my time was actually MORE than 10 minutes with this purely offensive build, even during missions when I didn't faint. Time was also taken away from drinking healing potions.
With the pure offensive build ranging at best 10 mins without carting, there might be times when I do cart, which would lead to panic, rushing to kill him before the 15 minutes are up, which can feasibly lead to yet another faint due to carelessness.
So, for me, I feel that utility and defensive skills are more effective. With these extra skills built in, my best time was 6 minutes 42.68 seconds, which isn't "amazing", but actually amazing for my skill level.
I consistently get under 7 minutes for regular Nergigante (no carts), which gives a huge safety net if I ever need to do regular Nergigante 15 minute no faint investigations. The absolute worst time was around 10 minutes when I was really loopy and not hitting him on the head.
A mixed offensive and defensive build is safer and more relaxing, and paradoxically faster than the purely offensive one.
With testing, I found that these skills led to the safest and fastest times for regular Nergigante:
This is essential for faster times. Every time Nergigante roars, which is a lot, there's a huge window where you can attack his head, landing at least 1 Super Pound. His roars give you enough time to position yourself perfectly near his head to land these hits (even when I was flailing about), which eventually leads to breaking his horns and spikes, exhausting, and/or stunning him. This lets you attack his head even more.
The pros wear the Rocksteady mantle to avoid his roars, and in the event that he's alive after the mantle wears off, they can effortlessly dodge them. Even so, why dodge his roars when you can use that opportunity to hit him on the head instead?
Evade Extender 3 and Handicraft 2, Protective Polish
To fit these skills in, I couldn't have Handicraft 3 and Evade Extender 3 at the same time, so one of them had to be level 2. I tried a build with Evade Extender 2, and there were times when the rolls didn't go far enough to avoid his spikes. Being hit by the spikes leads to less time attacking. But, with Evade Extender 3, you can clear the spikes and even his dive bombs, and immediately roll back to Nergigante's head and attack.
Interestingly, with Handicraft 2 and Protective Polish, the Pickle horn stays white most of the time, until he moves to another area. There are few times when it dips into blue sharpness, but that's for a pretty short time. You can sharpen again before entering the next area.
This is a must, because so many times I could've been carted but by sheer luck, I survived. The times I was stunned and survived, that was time I could be attacking. You can't really count on your Palico to play the stun negate song (Niki often doesn't play this song for entire missions), so I decided to gem this in.
Deep Vero's Attack Extra Large boost doesn't last long, so I gemmed in Horn Maestro. When I left this skill out for the purely offensive build, in order to max out Attack boost, I noticed that I didn't have the buff on for the entirety of the mission, losing out on massive damage of 20%.
Health Boost or Attack Boost 3
When I first practiced, I carted, so I put in health boost 3 giving my health bar 200 instead of 150, which made the hunt much smoother and faster, because no faints.
However, since practicing against regular Nergigante and no longer fainting, I don't need that extra health boost, so I left that out and put in Attack boost 3. Divine Protection is not needed as none of his attacks will 1HKO as long as your armor is fully augmented and upgraded, you're dodging reasonably well, and you're not stunned.
So the beauty of this build, but ONLY for regular Elders, is that you can swap the three gem level 1 slots for other skills of your choosing. For example, instead of three attack boost jewels, for Vaal Hazak, gem in Effluvial Negate 3, for Teostra, gem in Fire Resist 3, and for Kirin, Lightning Resist 3.
I'll be practicing this build against the remaining normal Elders to see the viability, and will write a post about my findings. I may have to use another build for Kushala Daora, using Kushala 3-pieces for the All Wind Negate armor set bonus, if I want to use the Deviljho instead of the Xeno'Jiiva horn (which has All Wind Negate song).
Food and Buff Items
I eat the meat platter for Attack large. I bring in the following buff items: Armor and Demon drug, Demon and Hardshell powders, and Might and Adamant seeds for extra Attack and Defense boosts. Immunizer for recovery speed.
Rocksteady and Impact. I find, psychologically, it's best to put on the Impact mantle when you first start the battle, and try to mount to knock him over. Even if you can't get the mount, the Impact mantle will help you stun him so you have a good start.
Coral Orchestra since your Palico can buff you with stamina, health recovery, tremor resist and other helpful songs. With regular Nergigante, you don't need heals from Vigorwasp as long as you dodge reasonably well.
Niki wears the Kulve armor (Xeno armor is just as good) and wields the Butterfly wand. If you missed the spring event when you can get this paralysis weapon, you can alternatively use Kitty-of-the-Valley Rod. She procs paralysis at least once per mission.
You can also have your Palico equip the Baan Ball (Radobaan) hammer which inflicts sleep. You can then sleep bomb. I preferred the paralysis route because there are times when I can't cancel my hits in the middle of recital when he falls asleep, waking him up.
The Kulve event is coming this Friday, so you can get your Kulve sets and weapons!
With all these skills in mind, here's the build, but ONLY good for regular Nergigante.
Regular Nergigante 15-Minute Build
|Pickle Horn for Normal Nergigante|
The skills include:
1. Earplugs 5
2. Horn Maestro
3. Stun Negate 3
4. Attack Boost 3 (or swap out for Health Boost 3)
5. Evade Distance 3
6. Weakness Exploit 2
7. Handicraft 2
8. Protective Polish
9. Critical Boost 1 (from Kulve Armor)
Tempered is a different ballpark altogether. I carted quite a few times using the Pickle build even with Health Boost 3. But if you're better at dodging and you know his attack patterns, you won't faint. Tempered Nergigante hits really, really hard and I haven't gotten to that level of anticipating each of his attacks.
As a result, I felt I needed more defensive skills such as Health Boosts, Regeneration, and Recovery speed to comfortably beat a Tempered Nerg investigation in under 15 minutes with no carts.
When I ran the above Pickle build, replacing Attack Boost Level 3 with Health Boost 3, my best time was around 8 mins and 30 seconds. Average is around 10 minutes but if I cart, it might go to 12 mins, which is pushing it a bit too close to the 15 minute time pressure. Further, it's really easy to cart if you're not paying full attention, so there's the stress.
Now the interesting thing is that when I made this new, more defensive build, I don't faint (unless doing really thoughtless things). It's less stressful because the defense allows my health bar to never fall to near 0. I don't have to waste time healing as much, or even at all when I'm on point. Surprisingly, I got better times than the more offensive Pickle builds.
My best time using this build is 7 mins 47.00 seconds, and it may improve with more practice. I was averaging around 8 to 9 minutes with no faints. If I'm playing very sloppily, my worst time was around 10 minutes.
Because of this safety net, I never feel stressed and I know I could finish well under the 15 minutes time limit. I also feel that I have more control over the mission. I don't flail about trying to hit as much as possible as I do with the more offensive build (often missing the weak spot) as I feel the pressure to incapacitate him as fast as possible. Rather, because of the defense, I don't necessarily have to immobilize him immediately, so I have the space and time to thoughtfully and more accurately land the attacks on weak spots.
When I get better at reading Nergigante, I can always opt for more offense down the road. Even so, finishing the mission easily within 8 to 10 mins allows a lot of cushion for a 15 minute investigation. I never feel panicked or rushed, and I can even take my time to buff again right before entering the next area, though it's not needed due to Horn Maestro.
But, how do you cram in Health Boost, Health Regeneration, and Recovery Speed? Further, to KO Tempered Nergigante consistently, you need the high attack damage numbers, so how can you fit some offensive skills in as well?
The answer lies with the under-rated Nergigante Hunting Horn, ending with Desolation's Overture, with Health Regen Augment. Desolation's damage is in the top 4 along with, alphabetically, Bazelguese, Deviljho, and Heavy Bone II. Again, we need the damage numbers for KO purposes so I had to chose among these 4. I settled upon Desolation because it has the Earplugs Large (equivalent to max level 5) which saves up so much space for the skills I wanted.
Further, you don't need Handicraft since Nergi's horn doesn't go to White sharpness, as you do with the Bazelguese and Deviljho. The Heavy Bone Horn II, from my understanding, also doesn't go to White sharpness, but it may need Handicraft and/or Protective Polish due to its short blue sharpness. Indeed, unlike the Bone horn, there's no need for Protective Polish since Desolation has a very long blue sharpness bar.
Lastly, Nergigante's horn has affinity 0%. With its Affinity Up Large/Health Recovery Small song, it goes into positive affinity to 20%. There's no need to gem against negative affinities like with the Deviljho's.
I also equipped the Attack Boost Level 3 Charm, further slotting in Attack Jewel for level 4, granting Attack +12 to true raw damage values. At level 4, there's additional 5% affinity. We're now at 25% Affinity with song.
Because of the Nergigante horn's features, it allowed me to equip the meta Dragonking Eye Patch and gem in Weakness Exploit for level 3, giving 50%Affinity when attacking weak points. Since we're tending to attack the weak spots, the affinity is 75%. So it's 75% chance of crit when hitting weak spots, and 25% chance when not hitting weak points with song. My understanding is that Critical hits incur extra 25% damage.
This build uses the 3-piece Vaal Hazak armor which provides, along with Regeneration, additional offensive boost with Peak Performance 2, giving you attack +10 when your health is full.
The build is rather flexible. You can always swap out the Attack charm and the Attack Jewel for other skills! Ironically, despite my fetish for Defense, when I swapped the Divine Protection Charm for the Attack Charm, this led to my best times. Having the increased attack was just as safe and comfortable as having Divine Protection. Due to the extra damage I was dealing, I was able to immobilize Tempered Nergigante more frequently and for longer periods of time so he couldn't attack me as frequently.
I use the same mantles, food, items and Palico gears as the normal Nergigante build. The Coral Orchestra is especially helpful here, since you can get attack and defense boosts that the Nergigante horn doesn't have.
With all that being said, here's the build.
Tempered Nergigante 15-Minute Build
The build has the following skills:
1. Vaal Hazak Vitality
2. Attack Boost 4
3. Weakness Exploit 3
4. Stun Negate 3
5. Health Boost 3
6. Recovery Speed 2
7. Evade Extender 3
8. Peak Performance 2 (from Hazak armor)
9. Horn Maestro
Practicing Tempered Investigations
I was only able to use these builds after practicing. If you don't have time and/or investigations to practice, than the past post's build will work near flawlessly for 30 and 50 minute hunts with no effort. I think it may work for 15 minutes solo with practice, but I haven't tested it since coming up with these new more offensive builds.
I was able to practice using the save scrum method. I finally got the Tempered and Regular Nergigante investigations (as well as all the other elders). I saved this file on a USB as the "master Practice" file.
I have another separate USB that has the most current "real" file in case I make a mistake. I also make sure I save the real file to the Cloud storage.
Whenever I want to practice, I download USB master practice file to system file. Once finished practicing, I then download the Cloud's real file back to the system file to resume game play.
If I make a mistake by downloading what I thought was the real file to the Cloud file (in other words, both save files are now the Practice files by accident), I have the back-up USB real file to overwrite.
I will test and post builds for the other Elders, both tempered and normal versions, as my goal is to be able to complete all Tempered Elder missions comfortably, under 15 minutes with no faints!
Are you a Hunting Horn main and if so, do you have any recommendations to improve upon these builds? Please feel free to comment below!