MHW: Iceborne Best Greatsword Build Guide

The Greatsword is an iconic fantasy weapon that lives up to its name in  Monster Hunter. It’s certainly one of the more generic weapon types, but it fits the mood of the series so well — a hunter faces off against overwhelming odds and towering behemoths, armed with an almost-comically massive sword to cleave their foe down to size. There’s a distinct appeal to it that the other weapon types don’t fully satisfy.

Not to mention that the Greatsword often has some of the coolest weapon designs. We were robbed of this a bit in MHW (the Zinogre GS could have been Usurper’s Storm, and I still haven’t gotten over this injustice). But the beauty and badassery of Wyvern Ignition “Steel” can’t be beaten.

This week, we’re focusing our build guide on the Greatsword. We’ll start by discussing the best weapons in the category and reviewing a few crucial skills for a GS build. Then, we’ll deep-dive into a few example builds that use this baseline to greatest effect.

Sound like a plan? Let’s get started!

Please note our Fatalis update is in progress for this guide. Stay tuned and happy hunting!

Best Greatsword in MHW: Baseline Build

To help us understand which weapons and skills are best for our build, we first have to consider what the Greatsword is best at and what role it serves during a hunt. The GS is a hard-hitting weapon that boasts the highest damage per hit of weapon type in the game. Its combos are also extremely versatile, meaning you can easily change up your attack plan on the fly without sacrificing too much damage.

Unfortunately, the GS’ high damage means it hits incredibly slow. Much like the Heavy Bowgun, the Greatsword suffers from low mobility that makes it a pain to lug around unsheathed. It makes up for this somewhat in its reach and lower rate of sharpness loss (as well as the weapon’s built-in Tackle and Guard moves), but it can still prove to be a hassle if you’re not practiced at evading and targeting the monster’s weakest spots. 

When setting up our builds, it’s crucial to focus on weapons that deal high damage and skills that make our hits more effective, while balancing out the lack of mobility. Even expert players are bound to slip up at some point, so skills that improve your evade chances are hugely helpful.


Great Sword Build Guide MHW

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the weapons that are going to serve us best on our Greatsword hunts! There aren’t many extra details to consider here — the GS is a pretty classic melee weapon, so keep an eye out for high base stats.

WeaponRaw DamageElement/StatusAffinity
Black Fatalis Blade1632180 (Dragon)-30%
Safi’s Splitter1296150 (Any)5%
Lightbreak Blade1440360 (Blast)0%

The Fatalis GS is an excellent option because of its high damage and decoration slots. It’s the best raw Greatsword MHW in terms of damage, though you have to take the extremely negative affinity into account when choosing skills.

The Safi’jiiva series will always be a solid choice for its base stats and its customization potential using Awakened Abilities. Most players prefer it for its raw damage, though the elemental options are helpful when you’re going up against a monster with an element weakness.

Finally, the Lightbreak Blade is a quality sidegrade for the Safi’jiiva weapons, as usual. You don’t get as much customization or innate affinity, true. But the base stats are high enough on their own that you can deal significant damage without having to grind out the siege or go up against the ever-daunting Fatalis.


Now that we have our weapons, let’s look at the best Greatsword skills MHW. The Greatsword doesn’t require anything flashy — it’s a pretty potent weapon without any gimmicks, so most of the fine-tuning comes down to the set bonuses we choose. That’s a good thing, as it leaves us more deco slots to boost attack power and other vital skills. We’ll want to slot in a few specific skills as a matter of convenience, though.

First up is Focus, which we’ve talked about in previous build guides. The Greatsword’s greatest damage comes from its charge attacks, so investing in a skill that helps you build your charge faster is always a good option.

Next up is Weakness Exploit. The Greatsword is a hit-and-run weapon, designed to deal massive damage in one solid blow before sheathing and booking it out of the monster’s line of fire. If you’re not targeting your attacks on the monster’s weakest points, you’re losing out on some valuable DPS. Investing in WEX will help you deal even more damage when hitting the monster’s soft bits, ensuring that your big hits are used to their greatest potential.

From here, it’s down to the usual must-have skills. We’ll want to boost our attack power and affinity as much as possible, as well as generally improve our survivability. Here are a few recommended options:

  • Agitator (increases affinity when the monster is enraged)
  • Attack Boost (increases attack power, boosts affinity at later levels)
  • Critical Boost (increases damage dealt by critical hits)
  • Critical Eye (increases affinity)
  • Divine Blessing (reduces damage taken)
  • Health Boost (increases health and max health cap)

That takes care of our baseline build! Now that we’re equipped with the best weapons and skills for the Greatsword, let’s put them into action with a few example builds. 

Great Sword Build Guide MHW 2

Best Greatsword Build: DPS w/ Punishing Draw

I want to preface the following builds by saying that there are a few different approaches to the GS meta right now. I’ll be going over a couple of them in more depth, but don’t worry too much about playing correctly. As long as you’re making good use of the baseline build and using your weapon effectively, you aren’t necessarily missing out if you’re not ready for the endgame armor yet!

Black Fatalis BladeFrostfang Helm β+
Challenger Charm VDragonhide β+
Temporal Mantle+Dragonclaws β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Dragonbarbs α+
Dragonfeet α+

We get a few useful set bonuses from this particular armor set, which is among the best Greatsword armor MHW. Equipping four pieces of Fatalis armor gives us both Inheritance and Transcendence. Inheritance removes the level cap for all skill secrets, meaning that you don’t need to equip certain monster parts to access the upper levels of Agitator, Divine Blessing, and other skills. Transcendence boosts health and stamina at the beginning of hunts and after fainting and gives us True Razor Sharp/Spare Shot. 

The Frostfang Barioth helmet gives us access to Punishing Draw, which is especially useful for the Greatsword. It boosts attack power and adds a stun effect to draw attacks — since you’ll be sheathing your GS a lot for mobility, getting an extra bit of damage and KO potential on your draw attacks is a fantastic bonus.

The armor pieces themselves offer a handful of useful skills, giving us a few points into Critical Eye, Evade Window, WEX, and Handicraft. Equipping the Challenger Charm V for a few points into Agitator makes our skill list (before decorations) as follows:

  • Agitator 5
  • Critical Eye 5
  • Evade Window 2
  • Handicraft 2
  • Weakness Exploit 3

From here, we can slot in other baseline skills as the decorations become available. Maxing out certain skills where you can is always a bonus, especially if they raise your overall affinity — you always want to be as close to 100% as you can get. We’re especially going to need to counteract the BFB’s negative innate affinity. Here are a few other skills you can slot in:

  • Attack Boost
  • Critical Boost
  • Divine Blessing
  • Focus
  • Health Boost
  • Peak Performance
  • Recovery Up

Best Greatsword Build: Frostcraft

Another common meta GS build revolves around Frostcraft. This is another draw-related build, but the skill focus is a little different.

Safi ShardsplitterRimeguard Helm γ+
Challenger Charm VDragonhide β+
Temporal Mantle+Dragonclaws β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Rimeguard Coil γ+
Rimeguard Greaves γ+

We have to do a bit of finagling when it comes to the set bonuses on this armor set. We get the Inheritance set bonus from equipping two pieces of Fatalis armor, and Critical Element (which increases element damage on critical hits) from equipping more than two pieces of Velkhana Gamma armor.

We don’t quite have enough pieces of Velkhana to get Frostcraft, which is the skill that this entire set revolves around. Frostcraft builds an aura of frost around your weapon when it’s sheathed, adding extra damage to your draw attack and subsequent attacks with diminishing returns. You can always replace one of the Fatalis pieces and lose out on the Inheritance set bonus. But the nice part of using a Safi GS is that we can slot in the Velkhana Divinity Awakened Ability to get Frostcraft without sacrificing any other useful skills.

Once again, we get a handful of useful skills from the armor pieces themselves. The Fatalis pieces give us WEX and a point into Evade Window, and the Velkhana waist gives us a few points into Focus and Quick Sheath (which isn’t a supremely useful skill, but can help you start building the frost aura a bit faster). After equipping the Challenger Charm V, our skill list (before decorations) is as follows:

  • Agitator 5
  • Coalescence 3
  • Evade Window
  • Focus 3
  • Peak Performance 3
  • Quick Sheath
  • Resuscitate
  • Weakness Exploit 2

From here, we can max out some of our skills and slot in a few others to round out our baseline build. I recommend adding the following when they become available:

  • Attack Boost
  • Critical Boost
  • Critical Eye
  • Health Boost

Best Greatsword Build: Transition Set

Great Sword Build Guide MHW 3

Something to keep in mind is that added damage on your draw attacks are just a bonus on GS builds. Like I said before, the charge attacks are where you’re dealing the most damage — as long as you’re utilizing those properly, you don’t necessarily need skills like Punishing Draw and Frostcraft.

In fact, relying solely on draw attacks just for the added damage on those skills isn’t the most effective way to play the weapon.

But it is fun. It’s reminiscent of how the Greatsword worked before MHW. And since the GS is a hit-and-run weapon, you’ll likely be getting a few draw attacks off that deserve to be boosted. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need endgame armor to do it! Here’s an example of the best Greatsword set MHW that uses both P Draw and Frostcraft without the need to brave Fatalis or the Arch Tempered Velkhana.

Safi ShardsplitterRimeguard Helm γ+
Challenger Charm VRimeguard Mail β+
Temporal Mantle+Frostfang Vambraces α+
Rocksteady Mantle+Rimeguard Coil γ+
Brachydium Greaves β+

This armor set gives us Punishing Draw from the Frostfang Barioth arms and Critical Element from equipping at least two pieces of Velkhana armor. Once again, we’re going to use the Safi GS Awakened Abilities to slot in Velkhana Divinity and get access to Frostcraft. However, you could always trade some armor pieces around at the risk of losing a few valuable skills.

Speaking of skills, this armor set has a lot of good ones. When combined with the Challenger Charm V, we get Agitator, Critical Eye, Divine Blessing, and WEX from our baseline build, plus a handful of others. Before decorations, our skill list is as follows:

  • Agitator 5
  • Coalescence
  • Critical Eye 2
  • Divine Blessing 2
  • Flinch Free
  • Quick Sheath 2
  • Slugger 2
  • Weakness Exploit 2

From here, we can round out our build by maxing things out and adding in the last few skills from our baseline. I recommend the following:

  • Attack Boost
  • Critical Boost
  • Focus
  • Health Boost

The Hunt Begins

That’s it for our Greatsword build guide! Let us know what you think — if you have any other build suggestions that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment for us.

Happy hunting!

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