Monday, June 25, 2018

How to Cheese Arch-Tempered Vaal Hazak

Arch-Tempered (AT) Vaal Hazak (VH) is upon us! Like the AT Kirin, AT VH hits very hard and can 1HKO, so I was surprised that I was able to one-shot her (defeat her on first attempt), though I carted twice.

General Guiding Principles
I would face AT VH solo as her health bar is reduced. In group, her health will be 2.5 times, and invariably, your teammates will faint three times, leading to defeat.
Whatever build you use, Effluvial Negate level 3 is a must. You simply don't have time to use Nulberry to get your life bar back to normal, and then heal after. By then, the Effluvial surrounding you would probably eat the rest of your health bar possibly killing you before you're able to heal.

Defense is absolutely crucial. Your armor should be fully augmented at maximum, because AT VH hits extremely hard. Despite my defense being 500s after all the food and item boosts, she has 1HKO with her Effluvial doing extra chip damage, leading to 1HKO before I can heal. Without the extra food and item boosts, I bet one of her attacks can easily 1HKO with my defense level in the 480s.

I would eat for Defense Large (to avoid 1HKO), and bring in the usual demon/armor drug, demon/hardshell powder, and might/adamant seeds.

The general combat strategy is to be very conservative since she can 1HKO, and remember you have 50 minutes which is more than enough time. Trading attacks doesn't work and can get you killed. 

What I did is after each of her attack, perform ONLY one combo, and then stop and guard (or roll/dodge if you're using other weapons) when she's about to attack again, in a plodding, methodical manner.

It's important to not get greedy and do not trade blows if you don't have your mantles on, because her swipes and when she runs over you were both able to 1HKO at vitality 150 when my powders and seeds ran out. This is the exact same method I use for Tempered and AT Kirin (regular Kirin you can kind of tank). 

Of course, if Vaal is stunned/paralyzed, or you have either the Temporal or Vitality Mantles on, you should spam your most powerful attacks.

When your health is very low, you may not have time to heal using the Mega Potions, before the Effluvial chip damage carts you, so I would just Farcast back to camp to regroup, or use max potion for the near instantaneous heal. I would abuse Farcasters and/or Max Potions for all of your healings. We're now in the big leagues, so Mega Potions don't quite cut it. Don't be stingy with your Farcasters and Max Potions, you can always replenish at the camp.

I actually have Farcaster or Max Potion ready, so I can just press Square (X on Xbox) to use for immediate access. I start out with using up the Max Potions, and then the Farcaster. Of course, if I Farcast, I replenish supplies.

I highly recommend the Lance. For me, when in doubt, I default to Lance, being easy mode. Indeed, I don't know how anyone can fight AT VH and Kulve Taroth with a shield-less weapon. If you can block AT VH's attacks, she's not that hard as long as you're not greedy. Further, with the Lance, you can be under her belly the whole time, shield up to guard, and when you attack, it invariably lands on her weak points.

If you're proficient with the lance, I found Guard level 3 and Guard Up sufficient, so you don't need to waste slots going to Guard level 5. However, if you don't use the lance, I would use your highest damaging weapon, and if possible one that has Health Regen augment, which really helps with viability.

It's highly recommended that you have Health Boost level 2 or 3, giving you more viability. I found at health 150, I've been fainting more than I'd like to, and actually failed a mission with a lower health bar.
If you're a Lance or Insect Glaive user, try to mount. AT VH is rather easy to mount, I usually get one in, most of the time 2 mounts.

Bring Mega Bombs x 2 and Small Bomb for the last phase. Astera jerky is vital in this last phase (see details below in Combat Specifics).
Realize that if we're facing AT Tempered Elders (TE), we probably have high-end gear including the amazing Temporal Mantle. If you don't have the Temporal Mantle, I would bring in the Rocksteady Mantle instead.

I brought in the Vitality and Temporal Mantle (if not available, substitute Rocksteady) and switch between the two in an aggressive manner. It's amazing how helpful they are, mitigating all damage so you can aggressively tank VH. Of course, if mantle's not on, abuse the conservative method of attacking only after she attacks, spamming only when she's incapacitated.

Palico Gadget and Weapon
Most likely your Meowlotov Cocktail is at level 10. I found this incredible in the VH fight since my Palico Niki's Mewlotovs have staggered her rather frequently, and the fire element cuts down the Effluvial miasma surrounding her, even more than my usual high elderseal Nergigante weapons when I was battling regular Tempered (T) VH. Even though AT has even more Effluvial than T VH! I may consider using Meowlotov whenever I want to grind T VH for stream stones in the future.

In other words, you should use your most powerful weapon even if it doesn't have Elderseal! 

I would equip any paralysis or sleep weapons. Obviously, when she's asleep, you can sleep bomb.

Combat Specifics
Once you have these preparations in place, you're ready to face Vaal Hazak.
  1. Spawn at Central Camp.
  2. Pick up the Slinger Torch which is right by the Supply Box.
  3. Vaal spawns in area 8 then moves to 9, so climb up the vines that are to the left of Supply Box and head to 8.
  4. Once you see VH, consume your item buffs, equip mantle. Odogaron will invariably show up during this first phase, and they'll engage in a turf war. Attack and/or mount when your mantle is on. Sometimes, the turf war is near the Palico who will trap VH if you mount her in area 9. But if both are on cool down, use the conservative combat methods, or even safer, just watch, letting Odogaron attack VH.
  5. Once Vaal's health is lowered sufficiently, she will move to area 12 or 14 depending on how much damage you and Odo inflict. Your camp will be on the way there, so replenish supplies on the way if needed.
  6. If she moves to area 14 and you forgot to pick up the torch pod at camp, there's a pile of stones that you can equip right before entering the area. This is vital! Slowly creep up into the area, she will be sitting directly under a boulder (they look like large VH cracked fangs). You can snipe the boulder, doing a massive 928 damage! I would not attempt the second, b/c positioning and luring her to the other boulder, I can see myself fainting, as that has happened to me many times when luring Lunastra and T Kushala Daora to the Elder Recess boulders, and AT VH is even more dangerous than them.
  7. Once her health is lowered enough, she will move to her nesting area 16. Unlike the other VH variants, she will nest in the acid pool! If your vitality mantle is on, it's safe to just sleep bomb her with your Megabombs x 2 and using Small bomb as ignition.
  8. If you do NOT have Vitality mantle ready, you still can sleep bomb, but almost all of your health will be red by the time you do so and get out of the acid pool. Therefore, make sure you have your Astera jerky equipped so you can immediately press Square (X on XBox). Astera jerky will regenerate all the red portion of your health bar.
  9. At the last phase, again, tank if you have mantle on, if not, use the conservative method if both of your mantles are on cool-down.
This worked really great with Lance, but non-Lance users, do you have any further recommendations against AT VH?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Freedom Of Speech Should Be Allowed in Video Gaming (MM49)

I did a marathon Kulve Taroth Siege run in order to obtain the Taroth Crest "Claw" Lance, which is widely considered the best lance in Monster Hunter: World. It's also beautiful and striking:

Taroth Crest "Claw" Lance
(PSA: if your weapon inventory box is full, you can't accept the weapons you've won after the siege. Make sure you sell your duplicates if your box is full. It would be very upsetting if I got that notification and the weapon I couldn't accept happened to be the "Claw". I thought there was infinite weapon space, since additional pages are added every time you obtain a weapon).

Since I've done quite a few runs, I've seen some really weird stuff that didn't make sense to me. The most puzzling is complete avoidance of Health Boosters that heal you very quickly to avoid carting. As we all know, if your team cart 3 times, you fail the mission, so fainting is the worst thing that can happen.

Avoidance of health boosters occurs even when someone is of very low health, the health booster is literally at their feet, but they move OUT of the booster range towards the monster. You know this will end in a faint.

The very opposite is true. Whenever there's an affinity booster, that can boost your critical hit chance, even across the other side of the screen, players beeline towards the booster like a moth to flame. Indeed, it helps to boost your attack, but if you're already near the monster, you'll do more damage if you continue to attack, as opposed to moving away from the monster and towards the affinity boost.

The avoidance of dropping boulders, which does incredible damage of 1500 with no effort, confused me. A lot of people tend not to lure Kulve to the two boulders in the third lava area. Because of that, I've given up going there unless someone signals that they're about to drop the boulders.

However, the oddest thing that occurred was during a hub session, where two back-to-back players joined, and had anti-Semitic slurs for their Hunter and/or Palico names. They were shunned, and left very quickly as a result. Due to the very offensive nature, I'll not give details here.

I know that video games are banning players who have racist user names, but I feel that this is unwarranted. The most obvious reason is you WANT to know who is hateful enough to use racist slurs, so you can avoid them like the plague. If they were censored, you'll never know and you missed the opportunity to block them.

Indeed, It would be a relief, as an Asian woman, if I see a player with the name Ch!nky_I_ChingChong, so that I can block the joker. If this were censored, he would've chosen an innocuous name and could potentially be on my friend's list.

I think one of the main arguments for banning is that hateful names will run rampant. Again, the solution here is to block from your friend's list? The other main argument is "What about the children?". But this could be a great opening for parents to talk to their children about racism, and teach them not to use hateful language.

What are your thoughts, should players be banned for using offensive names?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice by From Software (MM48)

E3 is upon us, and the new game from From Software, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, was sure to make headlines. We only have the trailer to go by, but so far, the game looks very un-promising, that is if it's anything like the trailer:

Fortunately, you can never tell how good a game or movie is based on trailers. But if we pretend that the trailer's going to be like the game, this will be the first post-Demon Souls From software game that I'll skip.

At first, I was very excited because the initial artwork of the statues was rather striking, but after the rather beautiful sculptures, we see From Software (Hype!) and then Activision, which broke my heart into a million pieces.

Activision tends to be rated as either the first or second worst video game company in the world, competing against the much-maligned EA for this dubious honor. Unfortunately, with that negative attribution, it may have colored my outlook.

Indeed, the first piece of the trailer with the lovely statues was compelling, but the reality is, you can hire any student from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) who can come up with something as, or even more bedazzling than what was presented.

Aside from the hokey, psuedo-macho narration, the following bits of the trailer showed combat, but it wasn't rousing or compelling because the action sequences were pulled out of thin air. Unlike Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima, which also takes place in feudal Japan, the Shadows trailer didn't establish a world and absolutely no emotional resonance. We are made to feel something (?) as we're to rescue one of the characters who is your master but my thought is, why should we care about him, I'd rather take a nap?

I didn't really feel the emotional pull to rescue the master, like you do in Tsushima. The enemy in Tsushima is truly frightening as he recounts your life in detail, that you're a samurai who has won countless unwinnable battles, since he has studied and stalked you, which really freaked me out.

So, while you're doing the run-of-the mill preparations for battle, actions as pedestrian as sharpening your sword, he went beyond the boundaries of normalcy into socio-pathy. Not only has he has studied your every move, he studied the culture of your people to gain psychological edge to be even more successful in killing or enslaving them, making determinations as to which villages to destroy and which to conquer, to glorify himself. So when he asks of you, "Do you surrender?", my immediate thought is "Hell No", my blood boiling to exact revenge and protect our people:

Shadows had cringe-worthy cliched lines, whereas the cliche in Ghost works in the context of the emotionality of the trailer, but the difference between them is that you feel fear from the socio-pathic enemy, and anger towards the injustice in Tsushima, but not so much in Shadows, except "the master looks weird", apologies for being looks-ist.

At any rate, after the goal of saving your master has been established, the Shadows trailer goes into battle after battle of various enemies, which out of context, does not have that rousing feeling you get when you fight against truly evil and cruel enemies in a victorious rally.

All this could just mean that Activision (since they're footing the bill) really needs to hire better writers because the trailer for Shadows is quite bad. 

The next red flag is that From Software is also working on two other IPs, so that means the company will be stretched thin, in a quantity over quality way.

Mathematically, we have two red flags already. One, the stomach churning presence of Activision, and two From Software being stretched way too thin. Negating these rather glaring red flags, is the positive green flag of Miyazaki being the principal director.

Hopefully, it will turn out that Miyazaki will be allowed as much time, full creative and financial reign to create a masterpiece. But if Activision micro-manages, not even the great Miyazaki can pull a decent game out of this black hole of a company.

The good news for my backlog is that my hype for this game is so low that I'll have the willpower to avoid it and stick to my one game a year goal. So, the only game I'll get next year is Kingdom Hearts 3, and watching the trailer, Sora is exactly as how he always is, Bae, rather than changing his personality to the tired, old and stale brooding teenager cliche that I was afraid of:

What do you think of the Shadows trailer? Do you think that Miyazaki can overcome the soul crushing odds of a bad publisher in Activision and being stretched too thin, and create another masterpiece?

Monday, June 4, 2018

Hunting Horn Mains: Recommended YouTube Channel (MM47)

In addition to Gaijin Hunter's wonderful tutorial on Hunting Horn, which is a great starting point, I recommend Griffted's Hunting Horn series.

I happened upon his channel when I wanted to see how people were able to kill these monsters under 5 minutes with what is considered a "support" weapon in the Hunting Horn, and fortunately chanced upon Griffted's channel.

I was struck by his videos because he reminded me of Monster Hunter: World's Huntsman, possibly the only likeable NPC in the game, which I discussed why in this post.

To summarize, the Huntsman doesn't have the hypocritical viewpoints of all the other NPCs who claim they care so much about these monsters (even though we nearly kill them, then put them in an arena to be slaughtered), and how we must value life. Rather, he relishes the sport of Hunting.

The Huntsman appears to have elevated the sport of Hunting at the level of a Michael Jordan, as the new Temporal Mantle was specifically made based on his moves. This Temporal Mantle lets you evade all attacks, so you're invincible for 90 seconds. He would be considered the GOAT, as we say in Sports circle, until of course, our Hunter comes along. 

Because he loves the sport so much, he wants others to eclipse him since he wants Hunting to advance to even more spectacular levels. He does this by having a friendly competition to see who can "Bag the Teostra first, you or I". When I first heard his dialogue encouraging you, I was actually hyped and pumped up, thinking, "Yeah let's do this!"

When you succeed, he applauds your victory, relishing the"triumphant" moment (I put this "triumphant" in quotes because it really isn't, but rather made me gag). 

Upon witnessing this Hunting "masterpiece", instead of being salty and now NOT considered the GOAT, the Huntman wholeheartedly applauds you because you "advanced" the field and the Sport he loves so much. Even though he's cray cray, he truly is selfless in this way.

I've noticed that all other Speed Run videos do NOT have running commentary on how they achieved their times, which I suspect they don't want to do because someone can rob them of their records. This is so unlike the generosity of the Huntman who wants to witness exploits greater than his, for the love and glory of his sport.

So I was struck by Griffted's speedrun videos when he explained each step and the rationale as to how he got to his sub-2 or 3 minute runs. I also applaud him by saying how long it took him to practice, as a lot of speed run videos make it look easy, and we don't see how much dedication it takes to get to that level.

Because Griffted reminded me so much of the Huntsman, I actually laughed when near the end of one of his videos, he mentioned how you can improve his times and gives you real specific advice, much like the Huntsman giving you the most expert advice given the context of the game.  (Note: the Hunstsman's advice is supposed to be a revelation in-game context, however, because of the poor writing, in reality, it wasn't helpful b/c of his vague directive of being one with your weapon. This is similar to my advice to a professional quarterback that all you need to do is protect the football, throw no interceptions, make sure your offense is on the field as long as possible to rest your defense, and to throw "a lot of touchdowns" to win the game--easier said than done).

Again, like the Huntman's superb and exacting advice (as intended by the writers but again falls flat, Capcom needs to hire better writers), Griffted gives extremely detailed tips and tricks on how to improve on his times. He also writes in the Video description that he wants you to be able to smash Odogoran as well. Here's the clip:

Additionally, by watching his speed runs, I've come to understand the monster's moves better and how/when to be aggressive to get a KO in.

Because of Griffted's expertise and knowledge of the monsters and the Hunting Horn (anyone who can do a sub 2-minute Rathalos is a pro), it's refreshing that he's sharing his experiences so that we can come to appreciate the Hunting Horn even more, and revel in the glory, truth and love that is the Hunting Horn. Indeed, so we can "bag more Teostras".

Monster Hunter World: Regular Kushala in 15 MIns With Some Practice (MM46)

The best weapon against Kushala Daora is Flash Pods. What you want to do is flash him every time he's in the air, taking care that he's not in his cyclone, but completely outside.

I found that bringing in a weapon with high Elderseal helps enormously in getting rid of his wind shield, otherwise the wind will push you off upon approach, even when you flashed him outside of his cyclone.

I noticed I only became good at fighting him when I was on point with managing my flash pods.  

First, my Kushala item loadout include 3 flashpods and 10 flashbugs for combine.

Second, on customized radial menu, I make sure there's the flashpod to equip, which you must do before you can fire them. Often, I would forget even that basic step and rush towards Kushala to instigate the fight, without having the flashpod ready to be fired.

For the third step, I make sure that under flashpod hotkey, I hotkeyed crafting flashpods. The technique is that after flashing Kushala, as I run towards him, I make sure I craft the flash pods on the way. Often, I would forget to craft in my rush to attack him.

The times when I didn't manage to land a successful flash and he runs to his nest, I go back to camp to refresh items.

Once I got this easy Flashpod management routine down, Kushala became the easiest Elder to fight.

The flash pod nerf only applies to Tempered monsters, not to regular, so the key strategy against vanilla Kushala is flash pod, flash pod, flash pod!

I used the same equipment as my previous post against regular Nergigante to start out with. While using this build, I found that he doesn't really do that much damage, less than Nergigante's strongest attacks. 

However, the issue is the time. Using the regular Nergigante build from the previous post, I can beat him within 15 minutes, but sometimes it creeps up to as long as 13 minutes, on average between 11 and 13 minutes. I wanted the same cushion of being able to reliably defeat him comfortably and safely around 10 minutes with no carts.

Therefore, since you don't really need the defense for regular Kushala, I decided to focus on offensive builds! Since for some reason, I don't get stunned against Kushala, I don't need stun negate, and there may be a chance that my trusty Niki, with her Coral Orchestra, will buff us with stun negate, just in case.

Divine Protection and Health Boosts weren't necessary either, so I can save these slots for offensive skills. Further, the hunting horns I was considering have health regeneration augments for defensive considerations.

Kushala's most dangerous attack is his unblockable wind breath. But it's very easy to tell when he's going to use his strongest attack. Further it's narrow, goes straight, so it's rather easy just to dodge to the left or right of it.

Therefore, I didn't feel like I needed Evade Distance skills. However, Kushala roars a lot, so Earplugs 5 is a must as that will give you so many openings to attack. When he roars and you have a chance to hit him on the head, he staggers a lot. 

Finally, I included Horn Maestro to make sure Attack Boost Extra Large is up at all times.

This offensive build allows me to safely kill normal Kushala within 10 minutes, and I felt comfortable and not rushed at all, even during the times when I miss the flash pod and he heads to his nest, which prolongs his last phase considerably.

The Deviljho horn offensive build seemed to more consistently lead to shorter times, whereas the Nergigante horn build was around 11 to 12 minutes. Also, Deviljho's horn has wind resist which prevents some of Kushala's wind pressure.

Regular Kushala Daora 15 Minutes Build
Deviljho Horn for Normal Kushala

Skills include:
1. Attack Boost 7
2. Earplugs 5
3. Weakness Exploit 3
4. Handicraft 2
5. Critical Boost 1
6. Horn Maestro
7. Protective Polish

I really feel that any solid offensive build will allow you to clear 15 minute investigations, as long as you liberally use your Flash Pods.

Because of the Kulve Event and the new Lunastra, I haven't practiced enough to find an adequate build for Tempered Kushala Daora. Once I get all the Lunastra parts, I'll definitely work on Tempered Kushala Daora. I do want to mention that the Tempered counterpart will be considerably more difficult as he becomes immune after only 4 flash pods.

What builds do you use for Kushala Daora?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Monster Hunter World: Hunting Horn, Regular and Tempered Nergigante Under 15 Minutes With Some Practice (MM45)

TL/DR: Click on the pictures of the builds below

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. Time was also taken away from drinking healing potions. I had to use potions more than the mixed build.

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.

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:

Earplugs 5
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.

Stun negate
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. 

Horn Maestro
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.

Palico Niki
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 Nergigante
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!

Kulve Taroth Siege Friday, May 23rd

Don't forget, during the same day as the Dark Souls Remastered release, Monster Hunter: World is bringing back Kulve Taroth, so it's a great opportunity to get her armors for you and your Palico, many unique weapons and your two armor overlay (though they look almost identical) for Fashion Souls purposes!

I hope I can get the Kulve Taroth Lance "Claw", the rarity 7 weapon that's considered the best lance in the game.

The Lance is really perfect for Kulve, and will ensure that you don't faint as long as you can equip stun negate. The only times I fainted was when I was stunned. I'm not sure why I didn't equip stun negate for the last event.

The reason why the Lance is perfect is because you can guard dash toward Kulve, and while dashing you'll constantly hit up and down her body, breaking off parts. It also has the best guard in the game so you can guard against her lava and body checks.

I'm thinking of using this build. It has Part Breaker 3, as the mission objective is to break off her horns. It also includes Guard up and Guard Level 5. Though I found out you really need only level 3 but 5 allows for less knock back and less stamina drain. Of course, Stun Negate. 

Due to guard dashing eating up sharpness, I'll be using Protective Polish and the Nergigante lance due to its large blue sharpness. Mind's Eye so the lance won't bounce. Weakness Exploit 3 makes a lot of sense, but I couldn't fit the jewels in, since I prefer more health and defense. Mission failures always occur from too many faints, and I don't want to cart.

I've also been fishing for a lot of whetfish scales for faster sharpening. This usable item sharpens in 2 swipes (equivalent to speed sharpening 2), whereas the whetstone takes a long 4 swipes. During the last Kulve event, it was very annoying that whenever I had to sharpen, the Gajalakas would always interrupt due to the long sharpening animation.

Kulve doesn't seem to roar that much so I'm not using Earplugs.

Skills are:
1. Uragaan Protection (blocks all unblockable attacks)
2. Guard 5
3. Stun Negate 3
4. Health Boost 3
5. Partbreaker 3
6. Divine Blessing 3
7. Fire Resistance 1
8. Critical Boost 1
9. Mind's Eye
10. Protective Polish

I'll be eating for Elemental Resist Large. I'm bringing in Fire Mantle for the last area 4, and Health booster for party members.

Are you excited about Kulve's return?

How to Cheese Arch-Tempered Vaal Hazak

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