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7:41 PM on 03.27.2013

Thinking About Diving Into Monster Hunter? Part 4 - The Hunt

This blog is a follow up to my previous three posts: Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter?, Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? Part 2 - Weapons, and Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? Part 3 - Armor. If you’re thinking about getting the game, or got it and are a little bewildered by it I would suggest you check out both of those posts!

It occurred to me I perhaps should have done this blog second or maybe third. What I've posted is getting a little long and I think this will be my last post on the Monster Hunter. If anyone is still interested or has questions feel free to drop a comment as I try to follow all the comments on my blog posts.

This blog post will be all about the hunt, sort of the namesake of MH. Hunting is really divided up into two portions: Preparation and Execution, and this post will outline those aspects separately.


Monster Hunter is a series that is as much about planning as it is about execution. This aspect is one of the key things that sets it apart from any other action based game. My previous points somewhat foreshadowed that, talking about Weapon Choice and Armor Choice, both of which are in essence preparative acts. But the immediate preparation for a hunt is another layer of preparation that a lot of other games don’t have and is sort of a defining characteristic of Monster Hunter.

The primary aspect of hunt prep is consumables. If you play a little you will often notice little nodes strewn around the map where you can gather things like herbs, mushrooms, whetstones, stones, and a panoply of other things. While some of these things are used to craft/upgrade gear, a majority of them are intended to be combined with other things to make consumeables which will help you take down monsters easier.

Item Collection

Most people see item collection for consumables a bit of a burden in MH, including myself (seriously I need more spider webs!!!). Luckily, the Farm and the Fishing Fleet in the single player campaign give you a steady stream of materials to make consumables. Both the farm and the fishing fleet are unlocked as you play through the beginning stages of the early game.

Take advantage of these, even if you play on line, make an effort to get through the offline portion of low rank stuff to upgrade your farm / fishing fleet. It pays off bigtime once you get to high rank saving you both time and money in game.

Consumables and Item Combos

The obvious question I wanted to get to quickly is this: What do I need to make consumables which are useful? The answer to this is that it depends on the monster. But ultimately, consumables are massively effective and should not be avoided. A well placed / timed flash bomb can be the difference between a 5 minute kill on a rathalos, or a 15 minute kill. Bombs can do more damage than you can in a short amount of time, etc. While not all monsters are affected by all consumables, most are by one or two. Here is a short list of what I think is most important, along with their combinations. (Note that before trying to combine them, it’s recommended that you buy the combination manuals from the vendor so that when combining in your box the combo rate will be 100%).

Shock Trap - Thunderbug + Trap Tool

Pitfall Trap - Net + Trap Tool

Flash Bomb - Flashbug + Bomb Casing

Sonic Bomb - Gunpowder + Screamer

Dung Bomb - Dung + Bomb Casing

Potion - Herb + Blue Mushroom

Mega Potion - Potion + Honey

Barrel Bomb L - Large Barrel + Gunpowder

Barrel Bomb L+ - Barrel Bomb L + Scatterfish

Barrel Bomb S - Small Barrel + Fire Herb

Using these consumables at the right moment can render monsters incapacitated for 5-20 seconds, giving you ample time to beat on them to break their parts, or just put out damage. A lot of new players don’t understand the use of consumables, but one of the keys to quick runs is utilizing consumables to increase your effective time to damage monsters. Just note that when monsters are ‘enraged’ (next section) the consumables will have diminished or no effect, and also after using one type on an enemy the next one of the same type may have diminished effect (e.g. using 2 shock traps on an enemy in 1 hunt).

The Hunt (Execution)

The other big aspect of hunting is actually taking on the monster itself. I don’t want to go too much into combat mechanics here, but rather things to keep in mind while hunting. One of the most mystifying things for many new players is things like trapping enemies, or why they sometimes become more dangerous or ferocious, and that is what this section will be about.

Monster States

Monsters have 5 states, more or less, and each one indicates something different.


A patrolling ‘unalert’ state, which is what they are in default before they have detected you as the hunter. A monster going from their unalert state to alert will always have the cheesy red exclamation point, as well as some sort of “fanfare” which you can usually take advantage of to deal a little damage, though this will often be a Roar, which will leave you prone unless you are using the armor skill Earplugs or Earplugs HG.


The next state is the “normal” combat state. This is the state the monster is in by default when the fight starts. This state will last depending on the rate at which you damage the enemy and honestly I don’t know all the details for this state change.


The next state is when the monster is most weak. For most monsters, after about 5 minutes it will become Exhausted (though, this depends on the monster and the weapon you are using). You can tell when a monster is exhausted by two things. Not only will it be more slow or docile, but it may attempt to attack and end up flopping on the ground at the end of its attack,’ but the better tell is to look at its mouth. If the monster looks like its drooling, it’s probably exhausted. Take advantage of this state as much as you can. Exhausted monsters are more affected by consumables (Traps last twice as long, for example) and are generally much easier to connect with in terms of attack.

Exhausted monsters will often try to do something to regain some of their stamina. In order to do this they either need to a) eat or b) sleep. If you can interrupt either, you can prevent the monster from regaining stamina and you will probably have an easier time killing it. So, if a monster ‘flees’ an area, try to chase it as best you can (paintballs come in handy here). They tend to move faster than you, but if you are diligent you can generally catch up before its too late.


Monsters will also enrage. This is where monsters are much more problematic. Enraged monsters move more quickly, and often deal more damage. They have less “recovery time” after each attack, and consumables will last less time or not work at all. If a monster just started kicking your ass seemingly out of nowhere, it probably went into rage mode.

Monsters go into rage mode for various reasons, though it’s usually marked by a large roar to indicate that it’s pissed. Additionally, enraged monsters also have puffs of smoke either white or black that will come out of its face or other body parts. Some monsters it’s very easy to tell if they are enraged (deviljho), while others may need a more trained eye (diablos). But look for that smoke coming out of the monster’s mouth or head orifice, as that’s usually the tell.

Triggering enrage mode is tricky and I believe it is a combination of time spent fighting, damage taken, and “staggers” or “breaks” (See below). Often, once you break a monster part, they will stagger, roar, and then go into full rage mode.

Note that rage mode overrides exhausted, so even if the monster was exhausted it can still be dangerous if it goes into rage mode (which it will) so be alert.


This isn’t exactly a monster “state” but I list it as one anyway. Once a monster has taken 90% of its hp in damage it will begin limping. This is only visible when it is either a) walking around unalerted, or b) transitioning from one area to another or retreating.

Limping is important because it is the indication that you are almost done with the fight, or that you need to capture the enemy. Some players mistakenly think the “drooling” tell is an indication that a monster is ready for capture (At least I did as a newb), but that is wrong. When the monster begins to limp, that is your signal to capture it. If you’re on a capture quest (or just like capturing because of the rewards / reduced time) keep an eye out for this tell.

Hurting Monsters

Monsters have two types of health pools. First, the general health pool. This is the monster’s total HP. Once it is depleted to zero, the monster dies. But as you may have noticed, monsters do not have HP bars, so guaging how much damage you are doing to them is more nuanced. You can see if you’re doing effective damage by staggers, breaks, (below) and the limping from above.


(Qurupeco Hitzones)

In MH every monster consists of multiple “hitzones.” Each hit does damage depending on how vulnerable that part is. In general, monsters tend to be most vulnerable in the head or the stomach and least vulnerable in the back or the wings (though there are exceptions to this rule). Hitting a monster in the head might do 4 times as much damage as hitting it in the leg. However, hitting in the leg may be significantly easier, so don’t pass on opportunity for free attacks just because it isn’t the weakest point.


In many action games, combos are dependent on “staggering” the enemy, where the first hit knocks the monster back a little, and the next hit continues this knockback animation. MH has a stagger system but it’s nothing like this. Generally, once a body part reaches a threshold of damage, it will stagger. This generally applies to all body parts. Staggering an enemy at the right time can knock them down, giving you free time to wail on them, though timing staggers is generally impossible (or doable with an insane amount of practice vs a single monster).

This is one of the key indications that you are actually hurting the monster and progressing. Additionally, as the monster becomes more injured, the stagger threshold reduces. This means that if you seem to be knocking the monster down a ton in a short amount of time, it’s probably close to dead, so keep at it!

Breaking / Cutting

(Rathalos with tail vs. tail sever)

Breaking is one of the key aspects of MH. Breaking monster parts serves three purposes. First: it indicates that you are making progress toward taking down a monster, second: it often reduces the effectiveness of a monster, and third: it increases your rewards at the end of the fight (even more if you capture).

You may have noticed this as all large monsters have at least 1 breakable part. Great jaggi’s “frill” around his neck will break if you hit him in the face enough, Azuros’ claws will break if you hit his hands, etc. etc. Some monsters will be seriously impaired if you can break their parts, for example Barioth becomes a pushover if his wings are broken, and most monsters have a ‘tail whip’ which is reduced in range if the tail is cut off.

Breaking and Cutting is key to getting the parts of the monster you need to make gear, as well as making the monster easier to fight, so go for those breakable parts!

Capturing Monsters

One last note, because I found it completely mystifying when I was new, is on capturing monsters. To ‘cap’ a monster, you need to have 3 conditions: It needs to be trapped, it needs to be tranquilized, and it needs to have 10% or less of its life left. When I was new, this seemed overwhelming and when I was hunting for materials I often chose kill quests over cap quests, but now that I’m more experienced I almost exclusively capture monsters.

It is simply much faster because it’s 10% less damage that you have to deal. Admittedly, you have to be careful if you can kill monsters quickly, but by paying attention (or taking the skill Perception / Capture Guru and using a paintball - the mark on the minimap will flash when it’s ready to be captured) you can reduce the time to finish the hunt by 10% which is significant. Additionally, you get better rewards at the end of the mission, typically more rare materials which is often more useful than the normal materials you can gain from the 3-4 carves you get on monsters normally after killing them.

One of the other problems can be preparation and trap placement. When going on a cap quest keep in mind the following: You will always be “gifted” with a free trap. However, always take one of your own as well. While it is nice to have the free trap, nothing sucks more than beating a monster into submission then failing a mission because the monster didn’t trigger the trap, or while it was trapped you couldn’t tranq it.

Second, don’t be hasty with your traps! While it may be tempting to try an “intercept” a monster before he leaves the area, make sure you have time to set the trap up to stop it before it does, otherwise the trap will be wasted and any time you saved from doing a cap quest is lost (because you can only have 1 trap down at a time). When you are trapping an enemy do it either when they are in a long animation (i.e. the Qurupeco Buff Dance) or put the trap in a place you KNOW the monster will step on or wait until it runs off to take a nap and trap it while it’s sleeping.

Once trapped, toss your tranq bombs or shoot your tranq shots and thats it.

Welp, that concludes my MH beginners stuff. It’s huge, almost essay like and I apologize for that. I’ve tried to strike a balance between being clear and comprehensive, and being concise and easy for beginners to understand. So I hope you enjoyed it, and as long as I reached one new player I will consider this forray worth it.   read

8:21 PM on 03.23.2013

Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? Part 3 - Armors

This blog is a follow up to my previous two posts: Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? and Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? Part 2 - Weapons. If you’re thinking about getting the game, or got it and are a little bewildered by it I would suggest you check out both of those posts!

This post is about armors. Armors are one of the most exciting parts of any MH game in my opinion because the armor designs are wild, colorful, and varied, and because the potential for customization is through the roof. While not quite as integral as weapon choice, armor does have a significant impact on the game, and different armors similarly work best with certain weapons and playstyles - making armor choice fairly important.

Unfortunately, armor isn’t well explained in the game, and the armor skill system, and defense system can be a little opaque for beginners. A lot of people who are just starting make the mistake of thinking that armors will primarily be purchased outright, and that they should just follow the “progression” of armors from the vendor (or later monsters), but that isn’t necessary or a good idea.

This post will hopefully demystify the ways armors work in Monster Hunter. I’ll start with basics and stats, followed by a section on how to make and upgrade armor sets, and finally a fairly robust guide on armor skills.

Armor Stats and Basics

Armors have 5 basic aspects that should be considered: Blademaster/Gunner, Armor Value, Elemental Resistances, Slots, and Armor Skills. All aspects are important and should be paid attention to, though different people will value some aspects over others.

Blademaster / Gunner

The first thing to note is that there are different armor sets intended for blademasters and gunners. Some sets don't have multiple variants (i.e. Leather) but most do have two versions, and that's because one is intended for gunners and another intended for blademasters.

You may have noticed if you’ve ever been crafting any armors that some have 1/2 the defense of others, but have increased resistances. This is because armor is divided into these two classes. Blademaster armor = more defense, Gunner armor = more resistance.

It should be noted that sometimes blademaster and gunner armor can be mixed and matched to sacrifice some armor or resistance for better armor skills, so keep an eye out. But in general also blademaster armor will have skills focused toward blademasters if not exclusively for them, particularly in the later levels, while the gunner armors similarly have skills exclusively for gunners, so it's smart to stick with armor appropriate for your weapon.

Armor Value

This is the most straightforward aspect of armors. Each piece has an armor value that increases your overall armor level. As mentioned in my original blog post, MH3U is the most beginner friendly MH ever because for the first time ever the game starts you off with 50 base armor, as well as a full set of leather armor (which only adds 5 to that base).

As you progress, the armor value increases, as you would expect. While each piece of leather is only 1 armor, you will notice that Hunter’s is 6, and if you get further, Great Jaggi is 10, etc.

The armor value makes a great deal of difference. While it’s relatively easier to take down a Great Jaggi and Qurupeco in Leather Armor than previous entries, the damage reduction is very noticeable when wearing Great Jaggi armor, and even more noticeable at higher defense. So, in short, don’t skimp on defenses as a new player.

Elemental Resistances

Each armor also has a set of elemental resistances. You may have noticed that most bosses have some sort of “elemental” attack, even in the early levels. For example Royal Ludroth is obviously water based, Rathalos is obviously fire based, Lagiacrus is obviously lightning based. The element of the monster is essentially transposed as the elemental resistances of the armor.

For example, while Rathalos is strong against fire (positive fire resistance), a full suit of rathalos armor will be very weak against lightning (negative lightning resistance even for the gunner version).

It’s generally accepted as fine to wear a weak elemental resist armor against its counter, but in doing so you must be more careful about avoiding the monster’s elemental based attacks because they will hurt much more.


Slots (or sockets) are fairly straightforward. Like in other games, you can get Jewels (primarily from mining though also quest rewards), which can be crafted into decorations at the blacksmith. Decorations can be put into these slots to improve the armor skills you have, or add entirely new skills to armor sets.

Armor Skills

Armor skills are one of the most important things most people consider when choosing armor. Armor skills do things like increase your stats, or reduce / increase the time spent doing various things. They really give a multitude of buffs, but it should also be noted that almost all armor skills go negative as well, and the negative skills are all detrimental.

It should also be noted that armor skills only “register” once you have at least 10 points (for some it’s 15) and this also applies for the negative skills. So keep that in mind when making armors. Generally armor sets will give you 2-4 skills at 10, and one at -10.

More on Armor Skills below, as it’s, imo, the most in depth system for armor.

Making and Upgrading Armor

Crafting Armor

So, hopefully if you’ve played a little you’ve talked to the blacksmith and noticed that he can craft things for you - weapons and armors. What shows up on his crafting list is based primarily on the items you have in your box and inventory.

In some cases, it may seem weird - like you can’t complete an armor set. An example is the Great Jaggi Armor. While the Hat, Gloves and Leggings show up pretty early, sometimes people don’t see the chest or waist piece show up. This is because often you need a specific “piece” of a monster to craft it, which you haven’t gotten yet. For Great Jaggi that piece is the “King’s Frill.” Once you get one, those two armor pieces will show up and you will be able to craft them.

This is one of the reasons some people consider Monster Hunter to be ‘grindy.’ You have to kill monsters multiple times, often, to get them to drop the items you need, and often you need to kill them in a certain way, for example with Great Jaggi you need to injure / damage his head for a shot at his King’s Frill (the best chance is to break his head and then capture him, though).

Crafting Armor is the backbone of upgrading your character, but you shouldn’t get hung up on crafting every armor set in the game, that is beyond unnecessary, particularly given the fact that you can upgrade armors as well.

Upgrading Armor

Pretty early in the village (offline) mode, the blacksmith will give you 5 ‘Armor Spheres.’ The way Armor Spheres work is that they upgrade armor. Throughout the game you will get armor spheres either as quest rewards or from mining. There are multiple levels of spheres which are used to progress armor. One thing you may be worried about if you are super attentive is that you will find an armor set with skills you LOVE but may not be able to use it later because the armor value is too low. Never fear! That’s why we have armor spheres! (ugh so cheesy).

Selecting “Upgrade Armor” at the blacksmith will let you upgrade different armor with armor spheres. What this does is essentially takes the ‘level’ of the armor up. So, if you like the Great Jaggi armor, but find you are taking too much damage later, you can upgrade it with armor spheres to be more in line with stronger armor. Each sphere will increase the Armor Level of the armor by a certain amount, and you can upgrade each piece a certain number of times. Though there are limits. You can’t expect your lower rank armor to last you forever, but in general most low rank armors can be upgraded to last you more than long enough to find a new set of armor with new skills that you like.

Keeping armor upgraded is critical to keeping up with damage, so don’t forget to do it!

Armor Skills

Activating Armor Skills

Armor skills are really the lifeblood of MH character customizeability. The way armor skills work is that each armor piece gives a number of armor skills. You can check this when looking at armor (or your character sheet). It will usually say something like: Great Jaggi Gloves - Gluttony +2, Attack +2, Stun +3, and Cold Res -2.

If you just put on one piece of Grat Jaggi Armor (like the gloves) it actually won’t do anything for you (other than giving you the defense bonus for the armor level). For these skills to “activate” all of them need to be at least at +10.

For this reason, finishing armor sets is very important for new players. In order to access the specific skills they give you, it’s critical that you finish the set (or almost finish and supplement with decorations / talismans).

Once you have 10 of an armor skill, it will give you a bonus. If you look at your character status, for Armor Skills it will have what armors have what skills on the left, and what bonuses you have on the far right column. So, for example Great Jaggi pieces each have Gluttony, Attack and Stun. Once you have the full set you will activate - Attack up (S), Gourmand, and Halve Stun. These represent the “active” skills that are benefitting your character.

Some Armor skills will also benefit from going above 10. For example with Jaggi armor, it’s possible to gem in “attack” decorations, and reach +15 for Attack up (M) which is more effective than Attack up (S). +20 gives Attack up (L). Though not all armor skills benefit from going over 10, so it may be important to ask around or do a little research on it.

Armor Skill Choices

So now that you know about armor skills, how do you choose? This is primarily up to you as a player to choose skills that synergize with the way you like to play, as well as the weapon you selected. It would be WAYYY to long to write out each armor skill, and how each one is useful. But I will list some key skills for each weapon and general use in the Early Game.

Generally Desireable Skills

Skill (Activated) - Description
Attack (Attack up (x)) - This increases your attack power. Straightforward and always useful.
Expert (Critical Eye (n)) - This gives you a chance to “crit” enemies dealing additional damage
Defense (Defense up (x)) - Increases your armor.
Evade Dist (Evasion Up) - Increases the distance your dodge rolls and/or backstep/sidesteps go
Evasion (Evasion +x) - Increases the time in which you are invincible while dodge rolling
Hearing (Earplugs) - Prevents your hunter from grabbing your ears when some loud monsters roar.
Status (Status +x) - Increases the rate at which you inflict status effects like Poison, Paralyze, and Sleep. (Only applies if your weapon is capable of those things)
Element (Element +x) - Increases the elemental damage you deal.
Handicraft (Sharpness +1) - Increases the sharpness level of your weapon.

Prefered skills by weapon

Sword and Shield
Sharpener (Speed Sharpeneing) - SnS dulls quickly, so being able to sharpen it quicker is nice.
Sharpness (Razor Sharp) - Same as above but now you sharpen less instead of faster.
*multiplayer* Wide Range (Wide Area) - SnS gets to use items drawn and this lets your potions heal nearby teammates as well.
Guard (Guard Up) - makes it so you can block much bigger attacks with your tiny SnS shield

Dual Swords
Sharpener and Sharpness for the same reasons as SnS.

Critical Draw - Causes all of your unsheathe attacks to deal critical damage.
Punishing Draw - Causes all draw attacks to deal KO damage
Sheathe (Speed Sheathe) - Lets you put your weapon away more quickly
Fast Charge (Focus) - Charge more quickly to get to those big level 3 hits faster

Earplugs - Lets you start and finish spirit combos during the monster’s roar.

Hearing (Earplugs) - When monsters roar, they universally put their heads low. Since playing hammer well is all about hitting monsters in the head, this is an ideal time to hit them and earplugs lets you do that.
KO - Increases the KO damage you deal letting you knock enemies out more quickly.

Hunting Horn
Maestro (Forget its name) - This gives all the performance buffs you play increased duration by 30-120 more seconds, depending on the buff. Incredibly useful.
KO - Increases KO damage

Lance and Gunlance (Generally the same armor skills are good for them)
Guard Up - Lets you block almost everything.
Guard +x - reduces stamina and life lost when blocking heavy attacks.

Switch Axe
Fast Charge (Focus) - lets you maintain your sword mode more often by increasing the amount ‘reloaded’ and general charge speed when not in sword mode.
Razor Sharp - Since sheathing is slow, razor sharp can avoid wasted time sheathing and drawing to sharpen.

Ranged Weapons
As always, ranged weapons really deserve their own blog post. I’ve aimed this post mostly toward blademaster users, but without going into the ammo specific buffs:

Light Bowgun
Rapid Fire (Bonus Shot) - Gives you another shot on your rapid fire ammos

Heavy Bowgun
Evade Dist - Makes up for the slow move speed to some extent, as well as helping avoid damage when dodge rolling out of siege mode.
Sheathe - Increases the speed at which you put the bowgun away. Since HBG slows you down a lot, many players play without it drawn until they need to fire.

Fast Charge (Focus) - since playing bow well is reliant on charing, Focus gets you to the big hits quicker.

Thanks for Reading!

In short, 2 points I hope stick with you if you’re a new player - 1) Remember to upgrade your armor! Armor spheres (particularly non+) are very common so don’t worry about using them up! 2) Full Armor Sets give you Skills which are very good and have a large impact on gameplay, so go for full sets whenever possible when you’re new.

I hope any new players can find this information useful and I hope it makes the game’s systems a little less daunting. Some people love digging into mechanics and finding out how stuff in games works, and for them MH is truly a wonderful game. Others just want a basic understanding so they can enjoy the game, and if that’s you, I hope these blogs have helped.   read

7:29 PM on 03.21.2013

Thinking About Diving Into Monster Hunter, Part 2 - Weapons

As a follow up to yesterdays blog, it looked like at least one person was interested in an explanation of equipment, and that’s more than enough reason for me to write another lengthy post with not enough images (Though I’ll try to add some to this one, it will be cheesy though!)

The first thing to keep in mind is that ALL of the weapons are good and capable. I wrote that yesterday, but I can’t stress it enough agains. Too many times I see people say certain weapons “suck” or “are worthless” and it makes me a little sad. Some weapons are better suited to some monsters than others, but all of the weapons are capable of taking down all the monsters in the game.

In order to avoid assuming too much I’m going to say a little about how weapons work and the control scheme. The x button draws your weapon and the y button puts it away. If you’re moving while you press x with the weapon sheathed, you will generally perform a “draw attack”. With the weapon drawn the attacks are generally x and a. R is a ‘utility button’ which either blocks (for the SNS, GS, Lance and Gunlance) or changes function / performs a special attack , or toggles quick aim mode (Bowguns and Bow). Most weapons have a fairly extensive combo system, so pressing x -> x will result in different attacks than pressing x -> a, or even holding forward while pressing x -> x.

Some things to think about when choosing a weapon are: How comfortable are you with dodging and Do you want to be able to block? How comfortable are you with timing your hits and anticipating the monster’s movements? How much does mobility while the weapon is drawn matter?

Here is a quick rundown (which is really long) of all of the weapon types in MH3U. There are a lot of weapons and keep in mind that even the similar ones play significantly differently. I’m not an expert in every weapon, but I know the basics of each one.

Sword and Shield (SNS)

A ‘staple’ MH weapon. This is what you start the game equipped with. This weapon received some significant improvements in MH3U and is a very capable weapon now. Generally one of the most versatile and easiest to understand weapons. The shield provides decent enough defense against small attacks but larger attacks will stagger you or be unblockable.

The sword and shield is, imo, the most mobile weapon in the game. Not only do you move quite fast while the weapon is drawn, it has the least ‘backswing’ of the weapons, and combo attacks don’t take very long, making it exceptionally easy to roll out of the way to cancel a combo when compared to other weapons. This combined with the “leap” attack (unsheath also does this if you’re moving) makes it easy to get in and out of range.

In order to use items while the weapon is drawn, hold the R button and press y while blocking. This can save significant amounts of time when trying to set up traps, or throw bombs, etc.

Strengths - Can Block, Short Combos, Very Mobile, Can use items while the weapon is drawn.
Weaknesses - Short reach. Not bursty.

Gr-eatsword (GS)

The most famous and notorious weapon in Monster Hunter. Has a charge attack that is capable of dealing the most single hit damage if you can land it. Probably the most timing reliant weapon in the game though. The GS can also block by pressing R. To effectively use the greatsword you need to have excellent timing and positioning. Greatsword is, imo, the hardest weapon to start with, but as long as you go into it knowing what to expect it’s a good weapon to learn.

But when it comes to mobility the Greatsword is probably the least mobile. It slows down your movement significantly while the weapon is drawn, and while charging you are unable to move unlike with the hammer. One of the bright points of the Greatsword is that it has the best “unsheathe” attack. In order to take advantage of this, most GS players will put their weapon away when positioning themselves, then use their Draw attack primarily, often going straight into a charge attack from the draw. Because of this, Critical Draw and Fast Charge are the most popular armor skills for Greatswords.

Charging the Greatsword (hold x) is a great way to deal damage but charging “correctly” is an art. If you overcharge (hold the button too long) you won’t do as much damage. There are 3 levels of charge, each doing significantly more damage than the previous. You will notice the “aura” behind your character get brighter at 3 levels. The third is the highest but you have to be quick. If you don’t release the button, and the charge ends automatically, you will do damage equivalent to the level 2 charge. Not bad, but not as good as it could have been.

Strengths - Can Block. Has the highest Single Attack damage of any weapon in the game. Decent Reach.
Weaknesses - Slow to swing, Dramatically slows movement when drawn, can’t move while charging.


A long, katana like weapon (or nodachi). Can be powered up by striking enemies then completing and connecting with a “spirit combo.” The longsword is quite versatile. It’s fast, has a good range, good damage, and a really nice combo (x -> x -> a -> x). What it lacks in mobility it makes up for in reach.

Effectively using the longsword requires you to use the “spirit combo.” When you hit enemies, the weapon will “power up” in a little bar under your stamina. If that’s full, you can press R to initiate a spirit combo. This is a fairly fast series of hits followed by a “roundhouse.” If the last hit (the roundhouse) hits, the weapon will be powered up to deal significantly more damage. You can do this up to 3 times (white - yellow - red). The bonus power will drain over time, and the higher your charge the quicker it will drain.

While the Longsword is a great weapon, it’s often frowned upon in groups. The spirit combo is integral to correctly using the Longsword, but if you have teammates you are likely to trip them up when executing it, which reduces their ability to deal damage. IMO it’s a better solo weapon than group weapon for that reason, but with a big enough monster and careful play it can work well in multiplayer as well.

Strengths - Good reach, Fast Swings, Good Damage per Second.
Weaknesses - Not particularly group friendly with “spirit combos”, Managing your spirit bar.

Dual Swords (DS)

Sort of like 2 of the Sword and Shield swords. Dual Blades sacrifices defense for increased mobility in “demon mode” which is triggered by pressing R. Dual Blades are one of the more intuitive weapons to use, having a variety of combos. The intuitiveness, though, is somewhat belied by managing the “demon mode” bar and the fairly long combos you can find yourself in which can leave you open to attack.

Pressing R enters “demon mode” which constantly drains your stamina. While in this mode, your combos are different, and you have a dodge animation which is a quick slide instead of the normal roll. It’s slightly shorter range, but much quicker in execution. Also, the little bar will fill up under your stamina whenever you connect with an attack. Once that bar is full, you get a permanent ‘semi’ demon mode which increases your moves speed, and makes your dodge always the slide like when you’re in demon mode, without having your stamina constantly drain. Managing this bar and system is critical to fully utilizing the DS.

Dual Swords are quite mobile due to the movement speed boost you get in demon mode, and the nice dodge animation. Also, the draw attack is similar to the SNS, it can quickly close distance to the enemy with an attack. You can use this while the weapon is drawn by pressing x + a at the same time as well. Unlike the sword’s draw attack, this has a little bigger strike area, making it easier to hit with.

Strengths - Fast Attacks, Mobile, Good Damage per Second, Fairly easy to use.
Weaknesses - Short Range, Long Combos can leave you prone, managing demon mode bar.


As you probably noticed, like most other things in MH Hammers are big. With this size comes both high damage, and fairly low swing speed. Another aspect of the hammer is that by dealing “impact” rather than normal damage, it will exhaust the monster, and if you hit it in the head, will KO the monster giving you and your team precious time to deal damage while it flails about.

Using the hammer effectively requires hitting the monster in the face over and over. This means it’s important to understand how the monster moves, as well as positioning like the Greatsword. However, because you can move while charging the hammer, it’s a little more user friendly than the Greatsword, imo. (Hold R to charge). The 3rd level of charge while stationary (Important!) will ‘superpound’. This will deal substantial damage to the enemy, and will never “bounce.” This is what you want to use primarily to take monsters down. In general you can ignore the other 2 charge levels. They can be good for closing distance to the enemy, but are more situational and difficult to use properly.

Another notable attack is the “golfswing” which is the highest damage attack of the Hammer. There are two ways to do this. The first is to do the “tripple pound” which is x -> x -> x. The other is to use the 3rd level charge while moving. This will cause you to spin around for a while and if you press x after your 3rd rotation (I believe) it will follow up with a golfswing. It’s harder to execute this properly and you should be careful using both methods, generally reserving them for when the enemy is prone, until you are amazing at predicting what the enemy will do.

Strengths - Mobile while charging, Great ‘single hit’ damage, can exhaust and KO enemies.
Weaknesses - Swings are fairly slow. Non-charge Attacks require enemy to be immobile to be effective.

Hunting Horn

A weapon similar to the hammer, however instead of the ability to charge it can “buff” enemies and yourself. The Hunting Horn is slow, and deals impact damage which can KO, just like the hammer. Pressing R will “perform” a song based on what attacks you made which are indicated by ‘notes’ under your stamina bar.

The Hunting Horn is quite challenging to use properly, imo, because you have to balance both your attacks against the enemies, and the time you spend ‘performing’ to buff your allies, all while keeping in mind the order of your attacks so you can do so. When you perform, you can perform and if you press R again it will perform an “encore” which will slightly increase the benefit of the primary buff. Unfortunately, the performance leaves you prone for a long time, so use it carefully either away from the enemy, or while the enemy is stunned. The duration of the buffs can also be increased with the “maestro” skill.

The types of buffs you can give yourself and your allies are massive, and using the hunting horn without doing so is possible (it has extremely capable damage and a fun moveset, imo), but you won’t be using the weapon to its fullest potential particularly in a group. Each horn has a unique set of colored ‘notes’ with 2 colored and 1 white which makes each one have a different set of songs to buff your allies. Having a variety of horns is important to both manage what buffs to counter the enemies (for example, negate wind and Earplugs) or which buffs based on your team (Hammer and Dual Sword users will love the “negate stamina use buff” available on some horns).

Strengths - Can KO enemies, Good single hit damage, Songs are very powerful.
Weaknesses - Slow to swing, slow move speed while drawn.


Long and Defensive - Can “rush” enemies hitting multiple times and increasing movement speed with the weapon drawn (Press x + a while blocking). Changes Dodge Roll to a Backstep / sidestep and has the best blocking capacity. The lance is an interesting weapon which I personally do not like using, so please forgive me if it sounds not as great due to my description. It is a great weapon and many experienced players enjoy and excel with it.

The lance has fairly good mobility with its attacks (many can put you in range of the enemy) as well as fairly easy to use and versatile attack set that gives you a lot of freedom in which part of the monster you attack. However moving while it is drawn is extremely slow, on par with the greatsword.

The notable ‘moves’ with the lance are the rush, and the counter. My personal favorite thing to do is to rush a fleeing / limping enemy to take it down before it leaves the area. This will cause you to hit the enemy several times which is usually enough to stagger and slow it down, often giving you time to kill it before it escapes. Unfortunately I’m not as good with the counter (hold block and press a), which functions somewhat like a charge but essentially puts up your shield, and either when you are struck, or when a certain amount of time has gone by you will attack for significant damage.

Strengths - Fairly fast attacks, Good Range, Best blocking capability of all weapons, Versatile moveset
Weaknesses - reduces move speed significantly.


Similar to the lance but sacrifices mobility for firepower. Can fire off shells which do significant damage. While the lance works much the same way as the gunlance, they have dramatically different movesets. Both change your dodge roll into a backstep / sidestep, though.

The gunlance is slightly less mobile. It does have a good “step forward” attack, (forward + x) but it has nothing like charge of the lance. Instead the gunlance can “shell” enemies for significant damage, unmitigated by enemy armor. Along with shelling, you will need to keep in mind how much ammo you have loaded as well (r + a reloads). Note that depending on your lance you may have more ammo, or more range with your shelling, or more spread, but don’t think of the lance as a “long range” weapon as it is not.

The gunlance also has a notable “wyvern fire” attack. Holding block (r) and pressing x+a will release an short range explosion directly in front of your lance after a certain charge time. The charge time can be significant, so timing it properly is critical.

Strengths - Great damage output with the ability to ‘shell’, good range and defence like the lance.
Weaknesses - Even less mobile than the lance, combos take longer to pull off.

Switch Axe

IMO the Switch Axe is a somewhat complicated weapon capable of dealing great damage. It has a fairly basic moveset with a nice reach, in both modes. Pressing the R button will switch between “axe” mode and “sword” mode. Sword mode is always better, but your “phial” will run out eventually and you will be sent back to axe mode to recharge. Pressing R before it’s ready will play a short animation that speeds up recharge significantly. Notable about “sword” form is your weapon will never bounce, which can be very handy in the early stages of the game for fights like Qurupeco.

Switch Axe is one of the weapons I use primarily. Effectively using the switch axe requires you to spend as much time in sword mode as possible, and to be able to seamlessly switch between the two modes. To do so, simply perform a step-forward attack (forward + x). This will cause you to “jab” with your axe, if you follow that up with R it will transform the weapon while you are attacking. This is preferable to changing it any other time as there is a significant animation. Similarly, on the downswing of the sword attack, if you press R again it will change it to axe mode.

The “notable” attack for the Switch axe is the “overcharge.” Pressing x+a, and then mashing a after will jab the enemy and make little explosions which will finish in a larger explosion. It does a lot of damage in the time you do it, but keep in mind it uses most of your sword energy and often leaves you needing to sharpen. Since it takes a long time to get off (similar to a 3 charge for the greatsword) it’s recommended that you use it sparingly only when the enemy is prone.

Strengths - Good per hit damage, fast swings, versatile moveset, good range, sword mode never bounces.
Weaknesses - Slows move speed significantly, Managing the Power Bar, can take a while to “switch” between modes.

Unfortunately, going too much into ranged weapons would require its own blog post, so I’m going to keep the ranged weapons sections short and sweet. With all ranged weapons pressing R will toggle your aim mode, holding it down will give you a “quick aim” mode and adjusting the aim should be done (imo) with the directional pad. It’s not possible to change your aim while moving.

Heavy Bowgun

A bowgun that trades mobility for reduced recoil and increased accuracy. Can “siege mode” which allows you to put out a lot of damage quickly. Due to the nature of ranged weapons in this game, bowguns take a serious dedication to use, imo. The armor required to use them is completely different from the blademaster armor, and managing your ammo can be taxing and expensive.

With that said bowguns are very rewarding versatile weapons capable of putting out serious damage, or supporting a party by inflicting status ailments on enemies.

Siege mode works by pressing x + a. While selecting a siege-able ammo (highlighted green). Seige mode allows you to fire both more rapidly and reload less, the downside of course is that you can not move.

Strengths - High Damage bowgun, Siege mode fires very fast.
Weaknesses - Low mobility, can’t move during siege mode, ammo management.

Light Bowgun

A more mobile bowgun that has increased recoil and the ability to “rapid fire.” The light bowgun has the same caveats with respect to armor and ammo as the heavy bowgun. Instead of Siege mode, the light bowgun gets “rapid fire.” Ammo which is highlighted green with the light bowgun will fire 2 to 3 shots per ‘shell’ at slightly reduced per shot damage. This effectively increases the damage you put out per ammo, at the slight sacrifice of taking longer to fire the rapid fire barrage.

The light bowgun also has typically higher recoil than the heavy bowgun.

Strengths - Rapid fire can put out good damage, movement is quick while drawn.
Weaknesses - higher recoil, higher deviation, ammo management.


(New to MH3U) A versatile ranged weapon which can be charged to fire a variety of different shots. The Bow doesn’t require quite as much ammo, but using it effectively requires you to “coat” your arrows using a coating. This gives the bow similar utility to bowguns, if not more.

To use the bow, hold down x to charge, you generally want to charge all the way to the 3rd level before firing. Aiming can be tricky with the bow, imo, because the way the arc is presented. The notable thing about the bow is that at level 3 charge, if you press a instead of letting go of x you will fire a shot directly up which will rain hits down a ways in front of you. This can deal great damage against larger monsters, but should be avoided against small ones.

Strengths - Versatile attacks, good mobility.
Weaknesses - Stamina management can be challenging, (imo) hardest weapon to aim with, coating management.

Whew. That was REALLY long and I still don’t feel like I went into really sufficient depth with each weapon, but it should give you an idea of what each weapon is about. It looks like armor will have to wait for another post, but I’ll talk a little more about weapon selection here.

Selected a Weapon Type or Three, Now What?

With any weapon type there are numerous weapons at any given ‘quality’ level. Deciding which weapon to use can be confusing, so I’ll go through stats a little here. This may seem a bit pedantic but how the stats work with each weapon type can be counterintuitive.

The 3 stats you should think about are Sharpness, Attack, and Element / Status Effect.


Sharpness is the rainbow color ‘gauge’ you may have noticed. It's indicated on the field by the weapon under your stamina bar, a sword that 'flashes' the color of your current sharpness. Sharpness goes from least to most sharp, just like a rainbow Red -> Orange -> Yellow -> Green -> Blue -> (White) -> Violet. As you attack enemies, your weapons sharpness will decrease after a certain number of hits, this sharpness can be restored by sharpening the weapon with a Whetstone.

Sharpness increases your weapons damage, the elemental damage, and reduces the chance your weapon will “bounce” or be deflected by the enemy. As such, keeping your weapon sharp is very important. The number of attacks you can make before your weapon dulls is dependent on how much of the bar is the specific color. If you’ve only got a sliver of green, you will only be able to hit 3-5 times before you end up in the yellow.

Ultimately, sharpness is in my opinion the most important stat to consider for both damage and quality of life. Always prioritize sharper weapons and keep in mind how much sharpness each weapon has. A weapon with slightly lower damage but much more green sharpness will be more effective than one that has more damage but only a sliver of green sharpness because you will spend less time running around trying to hone your weapon with a whetstone.

Weapon Power

The next obvious stat is attack power. The way weapon power works in MH is actually extremely counter-intuitive and I don’t know the exact formula for MH3U. But attack isn’t made equal for each weapon. What this boils down to is this very important point DO NOT COMPARE ATTACK POWER BETWEEN DIFFERENT WEAPONS! Just because your hammer has 500 damage and your SNS only has 300 doesn’t mean your hammer is more powerful. In fact, a SNS with 300 will probably out-damage a hammer with 500 significantly because of the way the damage formulations work. Ultimately, and I have to repeat this, don’t compare weapon power between different weapon groups, compare it to previous weapons of the same type to get an idea of how strong it is.

The way the weapon power numbers work leads a lot of new players to the Greatsword or Hammer due to the higher numbers, which they find difficult to use and unintuitive. If only they knew that just because those weapons had bigger numbers didn’t mean they were stronger, I feel like so much complaining about MH could be averted. Weapon power is generally the second most important stat for most weapons, but don’t be concerned if your weapon power looks low because you’re using an SNS or DS. As long as you have been diligent in upgrading them, you will keep up just fine!

Elemental and Status Attack

The final stat of importance is the weapon’s elemental damage or status effect. This is kind of a ‘bonus’ on some weapons, and honestly matters more on some weapons than others. Because of the way the damage formula works, the Elemental damage or status effect is more important on fast swinging weapons like the SNS and DB, and less important on slow weapons like the Hammer and GS. Picking the right “element” weapon to counter an enemy is always smart play, but it really matters most with the smaller weapons. If your best weapon has a bunch of water damage and your going up against a water monster, don’t fret, particularly if you’re using a slower weapon like hammer or greatsword. It is more worth worrying about if you end up relying on SNS and DS though. Similarly, with status effects like Paralyze, Poison, Sleep, and Blast you will be better off with faster weapons like the SNS and DS as well.

For this reason, it’s ALWAYS useful to have a variety of weapons. In the early game when you’re just starting focus on having a weapon with decent damage and getting something with green sharpness (Around when you’re fighting Qurupeco and Ludroth). As you progress, keep in mind the elements and try to make a weapon for each element so you can “counterpick” the enemies.

Wow this turned out to be really long. I hope to follow up with a page about armor and armor skill selection tomorrow!

Also, I figure I may as well put my money where my mouth is. My nintendo ID is famous_trip. Feel free to add me if you can figure out how!   read

6:58 PM on 03.20.2013

Thinking about Diving into Monster Hunter?

As Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (MH3U) just launched in the US and is on the verge of launch in Europe, I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog for anyone who is on the fence about picking it up, or anyone who has picked it up and is fighting with its steep learning curve. As a note, I wrote this primarily before the wonderful review dropped today on destructoid so much of the content is somewhat repeated.

MH is probably my favorite console franchise, (tied with Dark Souls, really) so I figured I would do my part and try to make up for some of the shortfalls of the game itself. It’s incredibly rewarding, and most people get a ton of good play time out of it as long as they can get over the initial “hump.” I hope this post makes that hump a little less foreboding.

Who Would Like MH?

Well, the game appeals to a few different types of ‘drives’ to play games. The first is the desire to improve your skill as a player. Monster Hunter is one of the few games with light RPG elements which rely so heavily on skill that there’s a huge gap between what a new player can do, and what even a moderately experienced player can do with the exact same character.

The second is the desire to customize and build your character. While Monster Hunter has no levels or experience, it does have equipment (weapons and armor) which does progress (the light RPG elements). If you like the idea of building a character and doing actual customizing in both effectiveness and appearance, MH will probably be enjoyable.

Ultimately, both of these aspects are tied very closely to each other. You won’t be able to improve your gear if you can’t effectively kill monsters, and as you progress, being able equip your character with better equipment makes the progression significantly faster. A good litmus test is Dark Souls. Monster Hunter shares many similarities, though ultimately has a bit steeper learning curve and you can’t fall back on grinding out levels. Also, there is no PVP in MH.

Getting Started - Tutorial

One of the common complaints about Monster Hunter is that it is slow to get started. This isn’t a problem for everyone (some people love to explore the little environments) but particularly in single player, it can feel like a bit of a slog for the first hour or so and additionally the way the ‘tutorial’ stage of the game is delivered is through small, annoying text boxes which pop up in the very corner of the screen.

It should be noted that the tutorial stages of the game can be completed VERY quickly. In around 40 minutes if you are driven and know where to go, but tackling it in an hour should be easy even for a new player.

Without going too much into what each stage of the tutorial entails, the best way to keep on track even if you’re skipping all the irritating-to-read text boxes is to go into the menu (press the - button) and look at “Quest Info.” It will tell you your one line objective like Mine an iron ore, or deliver a raw meat to the Chieftain’s son. If you stay on track, and don’t get sidetracked trying to gather and mine everything, it will go very quickly. If you try to harvest the whole world, you are going to both run out of space, and slow your pace way down. So if you’re worried about the game starting too slow - Stay Focused!

Getting Started - Equipment


MH3U graciously is the best game for a newcomer to the series to get into for a few reasons. One of them is the fact that you start with one of every weapon along with a full set of leather armor (which is great for gathering!).

MH3U has 12 weapon types (more than Tri) which all play dramatically differently. Choosing a weapon is largely down to player preference, and honestly there is no ‘bad’ weapon types. If anyone is interested I’ll write another blog post on weapons and their differences. I fear doing so in this one would make this less readable.

Ultimately the most important thing to consider is your personal playstyle. Try all the weapons, pick a few that you like best, and focus on upgrading and learning the ins and outs of those weapons.

You don’t have to become an expert in every weapon. Some of the best players use one weapon type exclusively. Every weapon can kill every monster, so no matter what you choose you won’t be hurting yourself in the long run.


As far as armor goes, MH3U also is quite gracious in that it gives you a base defense of 50 instead of 0 in previous games. This means you can take a lot more hits from low level monsters before you die, but you will still need to upgrade your armor to do well against even the later large monsters of the first ‘tier of quests.

There are two ways to improve armor - upgrade existing armor with armor spheres, or to craft entirely new pieces out of the monsters you kill and items you gather. Ultimately you have to do both.

Again, going into armor in too much detail would make this post far too unwieldy, but if anyone is interested I will make another post to go into more detail on equipment and the armor skill system.

Getting Started - Combat

This is the other primary complaint from new players - the game’s ‘clunky’ controls. However, it’s probably the most polarizing topic because most experienced players regard the combat as extremely tight, while it’s one of the common reasons new players would quit playing entirely.

Trust me on this one though, the controls are good even if the layout is less than ideal.

The thing people need to put out of their mind is playing Monster Hunter like it is some run of the mill action game like Ninja Gaiden or God of War. In those games the boss often has ‘tells’ which indicate stuff like “attack now!” That is fine for those games, but combat in MH is much more deliberate. Not only is timing important, but equally important are positioning and anticipation. To excel at Monster Hunter you need to know where the monster WILL be when your attack ‘lands.’ This is even more true with the Hammer and Greatsowrd and Hunting Horn. Being able to time hits to the face is critical to using those weapons. But if you wait until the monster’s head is in range to press the attack button - you’re gonna have a bad time (to use a meme).

The important thing to consider is where the monster will be rather than where he is right now. If he is mid attack, trying to hit him is pointless because you will either miss, or you will get hurt yourself. What you need to do is try to anticipate where he will be when his attack finishes, and put yourself in position there, ready to get a hit or two off while he’s recovering from his attack. This applies to EVERY weapon. Even the weapons which attack quickly.

Another thing about MH is that many players want to go into full “combos” every time they attack, but MH simply isn’t the type of game where your first hit staggers an enemy and then you rely on the follow ups to deal a bunch of damage. The long and short of it is this: Don’t try to do long combos unless you know you have time to do so, i.e. the enemy is exhausted, trapped, stunned, etc. Focus on getting one or 2 good hits in on the enemy, then moving out of the way of their attack. Going into full combos will often get you into trouble.

Backswing is a big deal in MH which prevents you from instantly going into a block or roll. It will only be available after the full animation, or at certain points in the animation if you interrupt it properly.

Dodge Rolling is the most important and effective defensive tool in MH. Critical in that is the ability to cancel animations. It lets you get in more hits, or get to safety after an attack. To do this, essentially you mash on the “dodge” button (b) while pressing the direction you want to go while the animation is playing. There is a small window to cancel the animation, so if you wait too long, you won’t be able to roll out of the backswing, and if you press the button too early, nothing will happen - which is why I say mash it, until you can time things perfectly.

It’s worth noting the camera in this section as well as it’s also a common complaint, particularly because MH3U doesn’t have a lock on like many other action games (including Dark Souls). The camera controls and controller layout are my biggest gripe of the game. However, MH3U introduced a “target cam” feature that lets you mark a monster, then center the camera on it with the press of a button (L by default). This can really help players line up their hits, particularly when the enemy is immobilized. Pressing the target camera button and then pressing forward on the left analog will ensure you are walking directly toward the monster. Perhaps it’s pedantic to mention this but it can really help when you’re learning the game.

Getting Started - Co-Op

In my opinion, MH is one of the pinnacle co-op experiences in modern gaming. The way the game makes you rely on your teammates along with the benefits you get from playing with other people makes it exciting and rewarding and well balanced compared to the single player counterportion of the game.

Also, Monster Hunter is a game which has an incredibly deep amount of information that can help players. For these two reasons, it’s highly suggested that if you get the game you should find someone to play with who knows their way around the game. Not only will you benefit from their knowledge as a starting player, you will be able to see what it looks like to play the game well (or at least better than you can as a beginner) and you will have a slightly easier time taking down monsters due to being able to rely more heavily on a friend.

If you can, it's worth it to seek out someone more experienced to play with.

Ultimately, Monster Hunter is truly one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming, and that stands for both single player and multiplayer. It is definitely not a game that holds your hand though, which when combined with the fairly slow start, and the tedium of reading all the little text boxes can drive a lot of people away.   read

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