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Hey, I’m glad you’ve checked out this guide of mine and I think you’ll find what you’re looking for, if you’re looking for lots of builds that is!

  • TL:DR
    If you’re looking for the “best” possible all-around build, here it is;

    The Commando

    This build has every single important perk if you care about crafting, huge endurance and you can even pick up stuff like Bloody Mess, Sneak and Chemist once you find a few bobbleheads.

    S – 3
    P – 1
    E – 9
    C – 6
    I – 6
    A – 2
    L – 1+1

    Important perks – Armorer, Locksmith, Local Leader, Gun Nut, Scrapper, Science, Commando, Scrounger
    (Take Gun Nut, Commando, Perception, Perception, Locksmith, Locksmith, Armorer, Local Leader early on.)

    I’ll get more into each combat perk later on and why Commando is the best for survival.

So, the actual guide starts here.
When I plan out a new character the first thing I decide on is which combat perk/s I will use. The difference in playstyle is pretty huge and I genereally prefer only having one as each weapon perk has methods for all ranges. So, I will talk about one weapon perk at a time and then list a couple of builds. And first out is Gunslinger.

NOTE: I have played most of these though if it’s a VATS-heavy build I probably haven’t gotten past 20-25 with it. I don’t find VATS very enjoyable except for taking out mirelurks and ghouls. I realise how powerful VATS-builds are but that’s partly why I get bored. There’s rarely any challenges when you can kill most things before they can hit back.

Gunslinger

Gunslinger is both the best and worst all-around weapon perk depending on how you build around it. It’s a fine choice as a back-up weapon if you’re a rifleman but I prefer just using a shotgun. The upside is of course the low weight of all handguns and their low AP-cost.

Though overall, if you’re not playing with the Deliverer Gunslinger is the least impressive weapon perk I’d say, considering it only increases the range of your weapons. Disarming is nice but irrelevant against mirelurks and deathclaws…

  • The Professional

    Probably the most OP build in the game, Deliverer-based Gunslinger spends every combat inside the VATS-menu until everything is dead. The one downside is that you can’t afford neither high Int nor any Charisma, so crafting is out. In fact, if you’re gonna hang out with the Railroad mostly you can even skip Int entirely and go for Idiot Savant, freeing up two points for either Charisma (Lone Wanderer) or just more Endurance.

    S – 1
    P – 1
    E – 4
    C – 1 (alt.3)
    I  – 3 (alt.1)
    A – 9+1
    L – 9

    Important perks – (Lone Wanderer), Gunslinger, Sneak, Mister Sandman, Ninja, Gun Fu, (Idiot Savant), Better Criticals, Critical Banker, Grim Reaper’s Sprint, Four Leaf Clover, (Ricochet)

    The biggest issue here is of course defense. With no Strong Back/Local Leader, constantly repairing a Power Armor might not be feasible and no Armorer means you can’t modify it anyway. Kellog’s Outfit is probably your best bet until you’ve found good legendarys. And you won’t have much free perk points for other things since around 30 points is the bare minimum to max out the luck and agility perks.

    But still, the build clears rooms in a single AP-bar so defense might be that important. Word of warning though, unless you think VATS is the best thing ever you will get bored pretty quickly. I couldn’t make it past level 20 before tiring of this build.

  • Kellog Reborn

    Kellog’s Pistol is possibly the best weapon in the game, so it would be shameful to not base a build around it. The problem is that you need at least Gun Nut 3 to get the interesting mods and .44 is rare and expensive ammo. The work-around is using Righteous Authority as back-up. Any Relentless gun you find is of course just gravy (Kellogs Gun is a .44 revolver with the Relentless legendary mod).

    S – 3
    P – 1
    E – 4+1
    C – 6
    I – 6
    A – 1
    L – 7

    Important perks – Armorer, Local Leader, Gun Nut, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Better Criticals, Critical Banker

    (You can skip one point in Luck, get Aqua-Boy and just swim the whole way to the Luck bobblehead. Put the point in Int (Chemist, Robotics Expert) or just another Endurance.)

    This might look like a shittier Deliverer build but at least you can build and modify anything, making you way less of a glasscannon, especially early on. Also, Robotics Expert is fucking fantastic once you’ve beaten the Mechanist quest-line. It’s also really low on needed perks so you can branch out to more charisma or get heavy gunner to crit-snipe with a missile launcher. Getting some more agility to pick up Action Boy is of course also a good idea.

  • The Sharpshooter

    Concentrated Fire is one of the most awkwardly placed perks in the game, or maybe most awkwardly designed. Same difference. In any case it’s probably meant for a sniper build only rifles take a lot of AP to use. The rest of the perception tree is certainly meant for rifleman. But what about handguns? Most handguns barely uses any AP and gets increased range with levels. The problem is that beyond 9 starting perception we also need some agility as well as a bit of luck to be able to take a lot of shots per VATS meter and also get some use out of all those shots. So we’re VERY low on stat-points which means no crafting unless we’re gonna run 1 endurance (we are not). So my idea is this:

    S1
    P9
    E6
    C1
    I1
    A4+1
    L6

    Important perks – Pickpocket, Awareness, Locksmith, Demolition Expert, Night Person, Penetrator, Concentrated Fire, V.A.N.S, Gunslinger, Sneak, Action Boy, Scrounger, Idiot Savant, Better Ctiticals, Critical Banker

    We’re looking at 15 perception with +5% chance to hit in VATS without any gear. Playing this should be all about spamming the VATS-button until you see a target and then just kill it. I can’t promise you that you’ll be able to kill anything at any range but it sure looks like it. A big problem here though is that the truly good rank of Concentrated Fire can’t be taken until level 50! Until then you’re just a handgun VATS-sniper. That might not be something to scoff at but still, level 50 is a lot of work to get the build truly going. I’ve made over 30 characters and I think 2 has gotten past 50 as the game gets too easy long before that. I’d imagine that it’s one of the best builds in the game at that point however.(I put in pickpocket for the hell of it, you have 15 perception so it’d feel a like a waste to skip it. Pickpocket is of course a fucking hassle on survival so I’m not sure how much use you’ll get out of it.

    Same thing with Demolition Expert, though I’d imagine a missile launcher with huge hit-chance is pretty handy (it’d be awesome is what I’m saying))

Iron Fist

Iron Fist is obviously the manliest of the combat perks, irrelevant of gender really. Punching deathclaws with your iron-clad fist is goddamn hilarious and it’s quite easy to acquire the perks best weapon early on (Go to Swans Pond with 10+ mines and put them on the edge of the pond. Aggro him while sitting behind a corner and shoot him in the face with whatever gun you have handy).

The downside is the lack of variety in weapons. Big Leagues has three basic types of weapons while Iron Fist just has the one. There is slight variety in movesets but generally the Furious Powerfist is the best weapon you will have for most of the game, unless you’re extremely lucky and get a Mighty Deathclaw or something…

You can of course also modify your power armor and literally punch things, but you need Blacksmith 3 before it gets any good, so knuckles and power fist it is until then. This of course makes power armor less impressive for iron fist unless we’re going for Pain Train. So at least making different builds is easy!

Final notes: All these builds play sort of similar. Hand-to-hand has pretty much the worst range in the game so you have to count for that. Blitz is the easiest way around that of course, but power armor or simply running between covers works almost as well, for zero perk points.

  • The Dirty Wastelander

    Named after the drink, this is a Iron Fist crit build with some mild thematics. Think scruffy hair, a wifebeater and a broken nose. Rude and constantly fucking swearing. He also downs hard liquor like it’s water and injects all the drugs he can find.

    S – 4
    P – 1
    E – 5
    C – 7
    I – 1
    A – 3+1
    L – 7

    Important perks – Iron Fist, Armorer, Blacksmith, Attack Dog/Lone Wanderer, Cap Collector, Local Leader, Party Boy, Action Boy (Need a level or bobblehead), Idiot Savant, Better Criticals, Critical Banker, (Grim Reapers Sprint)

    Chemist would have been nice but you need some AP if you’re gonna do a crit build and endurance if you’re melee. I recommend focusing a bit on the settlements since you want bars everywhere, preferably the expensive ones as you need a ton of nuka cola and whisky for all your Dirty Wastelanders. If you can’t quite remember, it’s a drink that gives you 3 Strength, 1 Charisma and -1 Intelligence. Now Party Boy doubles this and adds 3 Luck so that’s 6 Strength and 3 Luck! With Party Boy rank 2 you should always have a supply of booze on you, remember to have a beer before each fight!

    And that’s it really, you can go Power Armor later on since you have armorer but during the early game you’ll want to pick up some metal armor asap. Keep your gear up to date, sell all ammo so you can afford more booze and make a ton of psychobuff.

  • The Pain Train

    Coming up with a name for each build is hard, ok? This is one of the few builds I’ve leveled past 50, I usually get bored around 35 since you by then know whether the build works and there’s nothing left to test. Well, Pain Train with a sprinting punch never gets old. This build barely uses any VATS except for finishing stuff off and doesn’t care about crits or sneaking either. It’s just a straight punching build and it is glorious!

    S – 9
    P – 1
    E – 9
    C – 1
    I – 6+1
    A – 1
    L – 1

    Important perks – Iron Fist, Armorer, Blacksmith, Strong Back, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Robotics Expert(1), Nuclear Physicist

    The awkward thing about the build is that it wants to craft but doesn’t have the stat points to afford Local Leader, so you’re gonna have to pick up strong back and haul as much as possible to one spot. Eventually you get vertibird access which makes it slightly less awful. Settlement crafting is out of the question, all that stuff goes to your power armor.

    Now as you can see you don’t have 10 strength from the start so you need to pick up the bobblehead. Get the intelligence one as well sooner rather than later, the library is a lot easier if you do it as soon as you reach Diamond City. Once you can get Pain Train you should get your T-60 armor from the Brotherhood of Steel. The earlier models don’t have enough structure for your sorry build, you need T-60 or X-01. There’s not much else to say. You’re a walking tank who punches things to death and you can make make your own murder-bot with a laser gatling-arm. What more do you want!?

  • The Quarterback

    Hey, at least I tried right? The third Iron Fist build will of course be a Blitz build. I’ve played Blitz once, I got bored around level 15 because of how crazy op it was. I also absolutely love dashing strikes, it feels so much better than just teleporting back and forth. Obviously Iron Fist can be switched for Big Leagues if you want but if you’re going for really high levels Iron Fist is probably better as you should start pumping luck after every other perk is maxed (Paralyzing anything is VERY powerful). It’s also easier to find the right mods for fistweapons as there aren’t very many of them.

    S – 9
    P – 1
    E – 5+1
    C – 1
    I – 1
    A – 9
    L – 1

    Important perks – Iron Fist, (Armorer, Blacksmith, Strong Back), Rooted, Sneak, Action Boy, Ninja, Blitz

    Armorer, Blacksmith and Strong Back can be taken if you’re fine with hauling everything to specific settlements. The problem is that you don’t have science or robotics expert so you can make a pack-mule so I’d actually forgo crafting entirely.

    The 9 strength might look a bit weird but Rooted gives you +50% melee damage when standing still, VATS counts as standing still and Blitz makes you teleport in VATS. Rooted Blitzed sneak attacks is something you can pull off around level 5. If this is something you’ll never get tired of this build is for you, but as I said I like dashing attacks and moving around mid-combat. Melee-VATS is BORING. :( The build is still incredibly good as you can just wait around a corner for your AP to fill up, pop out and kill something with your massive AP bar and then go hide again. Like a fucking pussy. *grumble grumble*

Heavy Gunner

There aren’t very many heavy weapons, they all weigh a ton and ammo isn’t very easy to come by. In other words Heavy Gunner is really awkward in survival. And it certainly doesn’t help that it’s the weapon perk that requires the highest stat. On the upside Strong Back is just one point away so you’re gonna have to pick that up no matter the build.

The upside of heavy weapons is that they’re awesome. Missile launcher is absolutely bonkers though you need Demolition Expert as well to max out the damage. There’s of course the mini nukes and we also have the Cryolator, probably the most powerful mid-range weapon in the game. And then there’s the Laser Gatling. Though it comes late it’s possibly the best all-around weapon in the whole game and ammo is cheap as dirt. AND you can get an absurdly good one from the Brotherhood of Steel.

So all in all, Heavy Gunner is perfectly playable though has some clear drawbacks, so I don’t recommend any of these builds before you have a clear grasp of the game. That is, if you’re playing survival. If you’re on normal, go nuts with these!

  • The Big Banger

    This is the heavy gunner build that I’ve personally played the most, it uses a missile launcher, the Broadsider and the Cryolator foremost since none of them requires any Gun Nut to mod. Missile launcher CAN use Gun Nut and Science but none of the mods increases damage so a single-shot without a scope is good enough.

    Note that I played this on the old survival mode, crafting is as usual a bigger hassle when you can’t fast travel. The build is a blast to play as you can take out entire groups of super mutants with one missile, trick mirelurks with mines and slaughter raiders with the Cryolator.

    S – 6
    P – 4
    E – 6+1
    C – 1
    I – 1
    A – 5
    L – 5

    Important perks – Heavy Gunner, Strong Back, Locksmith, Demolition Expert, Aquagirl, Action Girl, Idiot Savant

    I’m specifiying Locksmith and Aquagirl because they both help you pick up weapons. You need Master lockpicking for the Cryolator and Aquagirl lets you swim to the castle  to pick up a missile launcher and a flamethrower. The basic flamethrower is kind of shitty but it works indoors against raiders. Make sure to pick up the Broadsider as well, it’s like a mid-range missile launcher. Arturo in Diamond city sells cannon balls once you’ve acquired the weapon. Also Myrna and Arturo sells ammo for the Cryolator, though it’s really expensive (Grape mentats are your friend).

    You can if you want switch your luck for 5 intelligence instead, pick up the bobblehead and get Armorer, Gun Nut and Science. This makes you able to mod stuff like the harpoon gun, fat man and gatling laser. Lots more perks though and slower levels. Really, the only thing the build NEEDS is 5 strength and 4 perception (you get the bobblehead early remember). You can go 6 charisma/intelligence to be able to mod stuff instead or even higher luck if you want to be a missile sniper. The point is just maxing out the missile launcher damage as it is absolutely insane.

  • The Laser Surgeon

    This is actually the build I’m most curious about right now, I came up with the idea very recently and have high hopes for it.

    As the name implies it’s a crit Gatling Laser build which of course is a problem, you need Science 3 (level 28) to start modding it and you need to pretty much beat the main story to get the best version of it. We’re also rather short on stat points so you need to put in some levels and find some bobbleheads. All in all, this build requires a lot of time to just get going but it should be oh so worth it!

    S – 5
    P – 1
    E – 3+1
    C – 6
    I – 6
    A – 1
    L – 6

    Important perks – Armorer, Heavy Gunner, Strong Back, Local Leader, Gun Nut, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Chemist, Robotics Expert, Nuclear Physicist, Scrounger, Better Criticals, Critical Banker

    So yeah. You need the strength, intelligence and luck bobbleheads and two levels in intelligence to just access all these perks. So what’s the actual point of the build? Overdrive is a chem that gives you a 25% chance to crit with any attack and gatling laser is the only heavy weapon with a boost to critical damage. Gatling laser isn’t all that good in VATS so you don’t really need Critical Banker even. Maxed out it deals really respectable damage, especially for its cheap ammo source (fusion cores (and we have Nuclear Physicist)). With Overdrive the damage should skyrocket and with rank 4 chemist Overdrive should have a 24 minute duration, so you can more or less have it up non-stop.

    Before you get ahold of the Final Judgement you should use whatever critical boosted weapon you can find. Getting a point or two in Gunslinger or Rifleman could be needed, the build can use Kellogs Gun for instance or Righteous Authority. If you’re gonna use the latter I recommend getting Aquagirl or a Hazmat Suit (Becky Fallon in Diamond City sells one) and swim to the Luck bobblehead asap.

  • Meat Grinder Joe

    The first thing I wanted to play in Fallout 4 – and this was before it had actually released –  was a Basher. What a glorious perk! To beat your enemies to death with the butt of your rifle or with a bayonet! I ran around with a double-barrel shotgun hitting raiders in the face and then blasting what was left. Alas, it was my first build and therefore sucked. Basher being a shitty perk didn’t help either.

    I’ve tried coming up with a working Basher build but it’s just so awkwardly placed in the tree. 8 strength for a perk that supports a rifleman or commando playstyle? Ugh. So that’s my stupid anecdote about the coolest but shittiest perk in the game. So have I found a working basher build? Hell yes! It turns out that if you have a minigun – a weapon I’ve never cared about – and put a shredder mod on it – a mod I’ve misunderstood the whole time – you get the best melee weapon in the game. You attack by wearing a power armor and removing all your 5mm ammo so you can hold the fire button and spin the barrel without shooting and without spending any AP. Now you get several hits per second and the basher perk lets you crit and cripple opponents at high levels.

    The silly thing is that the shredder damage doesn’t scale with heavy gunner, it scales with basher but heavy gunner gives you a chance to stagger things, so heavy gunner is still recommended and keeps this build in the right part of the guide…

    If you can bother get a harpoon gun as backup. Far Harbor should be a great place for this build anyway with all its crazy wildlife.

    S – 8
    P – 1
    E – 8
    C – 1
    I – 3
    A – 1
    L – 6

    Important perks – Armorer, Heavy Gunner, Strong Back, Basher, Gun Nut, Better Criticals

    That’s not many recommended perks which gives us some leeway for variations. You can for instance drop some endurance and get more intelligence for Scrapper and Science or more perception so you can have Demolitions Expert for better missile launcher damage. I just like having massive endurance if I’m gonna be a non-VATS melee build on survival.

    You can also get Rifleman/Commando and Big Leagues and mod a handmade rifle in Nuka-World. The melee damage shouldn’t be anywhere close but the handmade rifle is a fantastic all-around weapon.

Big Leagues

(It’s kind of awkward to make up more melee builds as there’s pretty much Blitz, crit or tank. You can switch any of the Iron Fist builds for Big Leagues without issues.)

Anyway, there’s a ton of different melee weapons out there that can be categorised in three “weight classes”. There’s knives, one-handed weapons and two-handed weapons. The move-set between a pool cue and a super sledge isn’t very different but there’s of course a big difference between a combat knife and a pipe.

Then again, there’s no special perks for using the different weapons so you just wield whatever’s best for the movement. The best weapon out there is probably the super sledge and the unique variant Atom’s Judgement. There’s also Kremvh’s Tooth, a fantastic one-handed blade. Funnily enough the Super Sledge is the best stealth-weapon while one-handed weapons are better suited for combat. The reason is simply speed and the fact that the bleed on Kremvh’s Tooth stacks. You can get stuck mid-animation with a super sledge while a mirelurk charges you. You always want to be able to block. But on to the builds.

  • Guardian of the Commonwealth

    No guide is complete without a tank melee-build. This is a slight variation that uses power armor as soon as possible, meaning once you’ve cleared concord you live in that iron coffin. Wearing a power armor increases your strength to 10 so we actually don’t need more than 4 if we’re gonna wear it all the time. This also frees up a LOT of weight.I made this build because I got so tired of having to slowly work myself out of the top left corner. Survival is confined as hell at times because everything deals such an insane amount of damage. Even with a upgraded T-45 power armor a mirelurk hunter can still kill you in a few hits, so without power armor they turn you into paste in two seconds flat. It’s actually the character I’m playing right now and I’ve turned it into a settlement-machine. Thanks to the power armor I can access way more camps way earlier which is great when you need to repair your crappy T-45 all the time. The build is also optimised for Atom’s Judgement. It’s a fun change of playstyle after a sniper.

    S – 4
    P – 1
    E – 6+1
    C – 6
    I – 9
    A – 1
    L – 1

    Important perks – Big Leagues, Armorer, Blacksmith, Cap Collector, Local Leader, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Chemist, Robotics Expert, Nuclear Physicist

    I love Local Leader with Robotics Expert! I actually picked Local Leader at level 6 and started grabbing all the settlements in the top left. With the power armor and Preston around you can grab pretty much all the junk and convert it to settlements. I place cheap bars eveywhere and a power armor station and medic here and there. Also pick Nuclear Physicist at lvl 4 or 5 and then increase it whenever you can. And look up where the fusion cores are early on. Running out is hard but it doesn’t hurt to have some to spare.

    Otherwise the build is simply a non-VATS melee build. The best weapon early on is a baseball bat as it can be modified with both blacksmith and science. This build really is for the crazy crafters out there. You can if you want remove one point in strength and put it into agility for commando or use rifleman for long distance engagements. I’ll probably get Heavy Weapons at some point instead.

  • Jack the Ripper

    Morbid name I guess but it fits a knife-build. Yes, this is a stealth VATS non-Blitz melee build, the shittiest of the melee builds. Before you have at least 5-6 of the stealth-manuals melee sneaking is awful. And wearing leather armor  on survival for its low weight is dangerous as hell. I’m also skipping crafting since you can pick up Pickman’s Blade and Kremvh’s Tooth instead. This leaves us with a LOT of points to spare so we might as well get some luck perks. I’ve tried leveling this build but I’m not very fond of it as it lacks all the things I like, like crafting, settlements and not dying all the time. I’m exaggerating but you need a seriously high level to become effective with this build. It’s probably great at that point but it’s really awful early on.

    S – 2
    P – 1
    E – 4+1
    C – 3
    I – 1
    A – 7
    L – 9

    Important perks – Big Leagues, Toughness, Lifegiver Aquaboy, Lone Wanderer, Sneak, Mister Sandman, Action Boy, Moving Target, Ninja, Bloody Mess, Idiot Savant, Better Criticals, Critical Banker, Grim Reapers Sprint, Four-Leaf Clover

    Knives have extremely low AP-cost so with Pickmans Blade you can stack ridiculous amounts of bleed and proc Four-Leaf Clover constantly. The strategy for most fights is trying to sneak the most powerful enemy and take him out with Ninja. If the other enemies don’t notice you, repeat. Once they see you stick to cover and rush one at a time with a VATS-combo. You can of course make this a Blitz build by just removing Lone Wanderer but where’s your sense of thematics, man? You’re a anti-social serial killer, not a jumpy ninja.

  • Sorry, five melee builds are plenty!

Rifleman

Rifleman is probably the “best” weapons perk. Rifles have high damage, the longest range and penetrates armor. The backside is that the best rifles all use rare ammo and that the weapons weigh a ton. You also need at least one rifle and one shotgun most of the time since a bolt-action rifle or a laser musket is pretty awful against a horde of ghouls. The combat rifle is a kind of compromise since ammo is plenty and damage is high-ish. Rifleman is also nice in that you don’t need any stat points to access it since you get the Perception bobblehead so early. They also have a huge amount of variation so making builds is thankfully easy!

  • Black Ops

    The sole survivor is actually a former black ops soldier, the lawyer plaque you see early on is just her way of adapting to civilian life. But all that training sure is a big help in the wasteland.This build focuses on long-distance rifles and mines to tactically remove hostiles from any location. It has a bit of everything really, the usual Armorer/Local Leader/Science for example but also ninja and action girl. I don’t care for VATS-sniper so this is my personal take on the playstyle.

    S – 3
    P – 4
    E – 3+1
    C – 6
    I – 5
    A – 6
    L – 1

    Important perks – Armorer, Locksmith, Demolition Expert, Cap Collector, Local Leader, Gun Nut, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Sneak, Action Girl, Ninja

    As usual you need the intelligence and perception bobblehead. You also need to spend one point in agility to access ninja. You could remove one point from endurance but you’re low enough as it is already. The recommended playstyle is finding a vantage point and using a silenced sniper rifle while putting down some mines  where enemies might try to reach you. As you can build and modify any gun or armor you have a huge variety of guns to pick from. A standard laser rifle can be turned into a really powerful sniper for instance, though not silenced. Having a shotgun as backup is also recommended. A lightly modded double barrel-shotgun is plenty against ghouls and most mirelurks and doesn’t weigh as much as a maxed out combat shotgun.

    Also a robot is a great addition to this build. They draw tons of aggro, so much that I’ve seen enemies sprint right past me while I’m sneaking to attack Ada. By ordering your bot to charge camps while you’re sitting on top of a roof, you can get stealth-damage indefinitely if you’re careful.

    I don’t use VATS for much in this build except against close targets as I always have big scopes on my guns. It can be nice to fire a shot and then immediately going to VATS to fire another couple of shots. Works very well with a bolt-action rifle for instance. Speaking of a bolt-action rifles, the .308 pipe-gun is a terrific sniper and only requires Gun Nut 2 for a silencer. Once you have Gun Nut 3 you can go get Tinker Tom Special. Also like I mentioned any laser rifle can be modified into a fantastic long range-weapon.

  • The Marksman

    This is the opposite of the former build, a VATS-Luck rifle build. Instead of recon scopes you should put Reflex Sights on them as they lower the AP cost instead of increasing it. You also want short stocks and short barrels if you want to max out AP usage. Using all this might be overkill so experiment a bit to find the best set-up for your gun and playstyle.

    You get increased VATS hit chance from the sniper perk and McCready (who gives you a fancy +25% chance to hit heads in VATS. He’s in the side-room in the bar in Goodneighbour) instead of scopes. If you want to go crazy with it there’s Awareness, Night Person and V.A.N.S for a lot of extra hit chance. This is a very powerful build but takes a while to get going, it also lacks Local Leader which is a bummer if you’re playing survival un-modded.

    S – 3
    P – 7+1
    E – 1
    C – 1
    I – 3
    A – 7
    L – 6

    Important perks – Armorer, Rifleman, Awareness(rank 2), Demolition Expert, Night Person, Sniper, Penetrator, Toughness, (Lone Wanderer), V.A.N.S(rank 2), Gun Nut, Sneak, Action Boy, Ninja, (Quick Hands(rank 3)), Better Criticals, Critical Banker

    One endurance? Ouch. You can simplify this build by just removing 2 from strength and intelligence and get 5 endurance, Cap Collector and Idiot Savant instead. Cap Collector is because you now have to search the weapon shops in Diamond City and Goodneighbour for the parts you need, and one charisma means shitty prices. Another way to get around your low health is to equip a power armor, the T-60 you get from the Brotherhood of Steel is great but on the other hand the T-45 is very easy to repair, it just has sub-par structure.

    Anyway, once you have all these perks you should have pretty insane hit-rate on peoples faces and a shit-ton of AP. You can also hit heads through walls and fusion cores through power armor. Auto-critted headshots through walls is kind of disgusting to be honest! You just need to wait until around level 30 until you can do all this.

  • The Paladin

    This was the first character I finished the game with so I have high praises for it. It’s just a charisma build with power armor really, but I like the simplicity and the high charisma perks are a lot of fun. Nothing beats hiding behind a wall and telling super mutants through your scope to shoot their pals. You’ll love this build when you manage to incite your first legendary enemy. He’ll tear through an entire camp by himself!

    S – 2
    P – 1
    E – 5+1
    C – 10
    I – 8
    A – 1
    L – 1

    Important perks – Armorer, Rifleman, Cap Collector, Black Widow, Animal Friend, Local Leader, Inspirational, Wasteland Whisperer, Intimidation, Gun Nut, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Chemist, Robotics Expert, Nuclear Physicist

    The playstyle is centered around semi-automatic rifles with short scopes. Early on a heavily modded .38 pipe-rifle is fine. Then you want a Combat Rifle, a Assault Rifle and eventually the Handmade rifle. With perception and agility this low VATS is only for when stuff gets into your melee-range. Having a double-barrel shotgun is as always great backup for this.

    Try inciting as much stuff as possible before engaging any camp, you should be able to convert a few at least which usually means complete chaos, especially if you managed to grab a high one (or a legendary mob even because dude, they are sick as balls once they go berserk). Also inciting enemies indoors means they go back and attack their pals further inside the building. Win-win, except for the guy you just incited.

    Now you really want as many bobbleheads as possible for this but the strength, perception and intelligence ones are most important thankfully. The others can get your perks like Locksmith, Sneaking and Bloody Mess if you’re so inclined, but you have a lot of perks to cover anyway, so no hurries.

    Also, don’t bother with the intimidation perks until you can pick level 2 in them. Being able to calm stuff down is handy I guess but since your level certainly isn’t high early on, you should focus on crafting and settlements instead to build a strong base. Level three in Animal Friend, Wasteland Whisperer and Intimidation is barely worth it as inciting stuff is the best use of these perks, but intimidation at least helps with speech checks. You can even skip Animal Friend completely as it’s rarely that useful. I guess you can make radstags kill each other? It’s definitely better in the DLC areas so maybe wait until you go there.

    With 10 charisma you can also always ask for more money from whatever mission you’re doing, netting you a lot of extra cash and some bonus xp. Take McCready or a robot with you since they don’t care about your mercenary ways. 10 charisma also means clearing almost any speech check, especially since you have Black Widow (playing a girl is better as a heavy charisma builds as most NPC’s are dudes), have Intimidation AND should be wearing a suit, glasses and hat beneath your power armor.

    The build isn’t itself a powerhouse exactly but making your enemies kill each other is VERY powerful and also fun as hell. You can of course use Commando or Gunslinger instead, especially Commando uses similar weapons but shotguns with Rifleman is a great complement against the one weakness of this build, ghouls. A auto-shotgun drains too much AP for the builds measly 1 agility and most ghouls die in one shot anyway.

Commando

I think that for survival mode, Commando is the by far best all-around weapon perk. Automatic weapons have the highest DPS over long fights and they’re great in all ranges except extreme long-range which means you only need one rifle, saving you a lot of weight. They’re also the weapons best suited for sitting in mid-range behind cover, meaning they’re the best weapon in-doors (they don’t explode either). And if you can carry it a automatic combat shotgun is one of the most ridiculous weapons in the game. It’s simply hard to wrong with Commando. The one downside is the amount of ammo you need but Scrounger or building weapon stores with Local Leader takes care of that. Also most guns and rifles can be modded with a automatic reciever which means you’ll have the highest chance of all perks to get a useful Legendary.

  • The Commando

    Reposting the build from the top.

    This build has every single important perk if you care about crafting, huge endurance and you can even pick up stuff like Bloody Mess, Sneak and Chemist once you find a few bobbleheads.

    S – 3
    P – 1
    E – 9
    C – 6
    I – 6
    A – 2
    L – 1+1

    Important perks – Armorer, Locksmith, Local Leader, Gun Nut, Scrapper, Science, Commando, Scrounger
    (Take Gun Nut, Commando, Perception, Perception, Locksmith, Locksmith, Armorer, Local Leader early on.)

    In a way this build has the bare necessities for survival. Huge endurance and all the crafting perks. It also has great use out of all the bobbleheads (except maybe Charisma) so it’s a real late-game build. And thanks to having Armorer and Science you can deck out a power armor whenever you like, might as well wait until you have at least a T60 though.

    Now this is one of those builds that barely uses VATS and isn’t much for sneaking. You just find cover and spray until everything is dead. It’s great fun and makes Fallout 4 feel like an actual shooter, more so than any other build I’d say. Thanks to the constant use of cover and all that health surviving without a power armor is also really feasible, so you can find crazy legendarys instead. And unlike Rifleman you usually only need one weapon and you can often mod whatever your best legendary is for the moment.

    Side note: I think you should pick Local Leader around level 8 or even earlier, depending on how much crystal you find. The earlier you put down those  signal towers the faster you’ll get big settlements you can deck out with stores and farms for adhesive and food production. You usually make at least a few hundred xp just getting a signal tower up and putting down some beds and mutfruit trees which really helps on survival, you NEED those early levels to stop dying from errant molotovs and shotgun blasts.

  • The Feral Scientist

    This is cool build that I’ve modified from someone elses idea that solves the age-old question – “What the fuck is Nerd Rage good for?” For the longest time my answer was – “Not much…” It’s a decent perk at best, sort of a bonus when you’ve already picked the highest intelligence perks. But not here, here it’s on almost all the time and when it’s not you should probably take some jet until it gets going.

    S1
    P1
    E8+1
    C6
    I9
    A2
    L1

    Important perks – Toughness, Lifegiver, Ghoulish, Local Leader, Gun Nut, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, Chemist, Nuclear Physicist, Nerd Rage!, Commando

    I made this a commando build because I think automatics with big magazines are the best when you’re in slow-motion. I also got ghoulish because I liked the thematic and wanted high endurance anyway.

    The idea is to have so much rads that your remaining health is just above 20%. Any damage you take procs Nerd Rage! and you’re good to go. Of course having 20%  of your health remaining is dangerous as hell so you want as much defense and health as possible. I’d get the strength bobblehead and pick up Armorer once you can find a decent set of power armor. I’d also skip this strategy until level 12-15 at least so you can get decent health. This is also the reason I’m forgoing 10 intelligence from the start as setting this up early will just make for the most frustrating playthrough you’ve ever experienced.

    I don’t know if this is all that good before you hit 50 as Nerd Rage!’s best level is attained then. Healing a little bit every time you kill something means you will proc Nerd Rage! constantly in all fights. It seems like a pretty good build before 50 and a fantastic one after. Not finding out myself, but it was a great idea which is why I’m sharing it here.

  • Trench Foot

    Trench foot is a really awful afflcition that the soldiers in WW1 got from living in shitty, damp bunkers and trenches. Your feet basically rots while still attached.

    The build is not meant to have the smelliest feet but rather be a infantry-style character, wielding a machine gun with a bayonet attached. The build should be great at all ranges except ultra long-range and can make use of the handmade rifle’s highest bayonet. In fact the build is based around the hope that the handmade rifle’s last bayonet isn’t a piece of shit…

    S8
    P4
    E4+1
    C6
    I3
    A2
    L1

    Important perks – Big Leagues, Armorer, Blacksmith, Heavy Gunner, Strong Back, Steady Aim, Basher, (Rooted), Demolition Expert, Aquaboy, Local Leader, Medic, Gun Nut, Commando, (Sneak)

    As infantry you should be able to traverse and endure any condition. Through contaminated water, through a hail of gunfire or through a blighted wasteland. You should be able to do upkeep on your guns and you should respect and help the locals. You’re also able to use almost any weapon, from knives to heavy machine guns (miniguns).

    You’re always approaching by stealth, taking out what you can with a combat knife and dispersing the rest of the enemies with your machine gun. If the resistance is too heavy call in some artillery or use a missile launcher if there’s no artillery close enough. Indoors a silenced machine pistol and your knife is plenty for most enemies, though grenades might be needed for open areas. Always try to use the best tools for the situation. And don’t forget your bayonet, it’s great for taking out feral ghouls and stopping mirelurks in their tracks.

Miscellaneous builds

Here I put other strange builds that focuses on specific non-weapon perks, or just thematics builds.

  • Dook Nookem!?

    (Hilarious video by a guy with the same idea! It just lacks scantily clad women :( )

    This is the most ridiculous build I’ve ever come up with. Make the buffest guy you can with a crew cut. Get ALL the weapon perks, Scrounger and Strong Back. No crafting obviously. Also a scantily clad lady is a must, so one of the female companions in a red dress or a bikini if you can use mods. And get her a combat or assault rifle! Hail to the king baby!

    S – 6
    P – 4
    E – 8+1
    C – 2
    I – 1
    A – 2
    L – 5

    Important perks – Iron Fist, Big Leagues, Heavy Gunner, Strong Back, (Steady Aim), Rifleman, Demolition Expert, Toughness, Lifegiver, Chem Resistant, (Solar Powered), Lady Killer, Gunslinger, Commando, Scrounger, Bloody Mess

    Wearing armor is obviously non-thematic but suicidal on survival, so try getting armor that covers as little as possible. Leather should be fine as well as some synth-armor. Then just go nuts with whatever weapon you can find! Also try be nice to ladies and always use sarcasm with men. If you want party boy so you can decrease strength by 1 and endurance by 3 and then get charisma to 6. Then you just need the bobblehead. I don’t recommend this for survival though as Duke Nukem would never care about settlements when he can shoot raiders instead so the charisma points are sort of wasted beyond 2. Hell you can skip Lady Killer until later and just max out endurance instead. Other variations is getting Basher since it’s technically a weapon perk. Just lower endurance or charisma by 1.

    Again, the whole point is just emulating mr Nukems ways. No silly sneaking and only your biggest gun is good enough. Keep spraying and never slow down!

  • Ducky the drunken cannibal

    This is stolen from a reddit build-thread but it’s so amazing I just have to share it. The idea is playing a complete idiot who stumbles through the wasteland, high as balls and always drunk. It has no weapon perks AND no crafting. It still has scrounger so you just use whatever ammo you have on hand.

    S – 1
    P – 1
    E – 10
    C – 7
    I – 1
    A – 4+1
    L – 4

    Important perks – Toughness, Lifegiver, Aquaboy, Cannibal, Ghoulish, Solar Powered, Lone Wanderer, Local Leader, Party Boy, Mister Sandman, Action Boy, Scrounger, Bloody Mess, Idiot Savant

    You should get Aquaboy as soon as possible, if you can stomach it grab it first and swim to the luck bobblehead before going to Concord. That way you can pick up Idiot Savant on level 3. Local Leader is actually really important as you need happy settlements. They’re an extra source of food after all. You can cure Dark Craving at a doctor as well if you want to play Far Harbor or something. A companion isn’t recommended as everyone but robots and Strong dislike it when you eat people (I thought this game was a judgement-free zone :(). Lone Wanderer is probably better than Strong but if you want his extra weight and big green muscles skip it. He’s in the super mutant building right outside Goodneighbour.

    Playing a cannibal on survival of course isn’t easy. You have to manage settlement happiness (they get sad when someone suddenly dies and has bits eaten off them), know what enemies inhabits what areas and traveling far means having to find people to eat all the time. Also no crafting means shitty defense and your damage will be pretty low, though hopefully it’s offset by all the ammo you find. Try using automatics mostly as their dps is usually the highest. You also have decent agility with Action Boy so hiding and using VATS is probably a good idea a lot of the time. I haven’t gotten around to playing this yet but it seems fun as hell!

  • The Scavver

    The idea for this was how absurd it is that a housewife quickly becomes the most skilled and dangerous individual in the whole Commonwealth wasteland. So I wanted a build that sort of explained why.

    Luck is of course the first answer. The Lone Survivor is ridiculously lucky just to survive the cryofreeze, and then just happens to come across all these important individuals and situations. Now, she (mine’s always a she!) is of course the main character in a game so I’ve accepted it long ago. It’s still really silly though.

    The other reason is just how healthy she is. Everyone in the wasteland must eventually die of cancer. We’re talking a 40 year life expectancy or something (I pulled that number out of my ass). The point is she hasn’t been affected by any of the MANY detrimental effects of the wasteland so she should be fit as a fiddle, hence 10 Endurance. So…

    S – 1
    P – 1
    E – 10
    C – 1
    I – 1
    A – 1
    L – 10

    Important perks – (Toughness, Lifegiver), Solar Powered, Every single Luck perk!
    The last four points (with You’re SPECIAL!) can be put into Perception for Locksmith/Explosives, Charisma for Lone Wanderer or Agility for Sneak/Action Girl.

    You’re not allowed to craft anything except maybe a Calibrated Pipegun. You’re only wearing stuff you’ve found lying around or that you’ve picked from corpses. And skip the Minutemen and settlements, you’re going to find your son goddamnit!

    Now how bad is this build really?
    Not very to be honest. Luck is a very powerful stat, it’s pretty much the only one where all the perks are useful. And 10 Endurance means you’re not dying from errant molotovs early on and once you’ve got some levels your health will skyrocket. It’s actually kind of fun to check bodies and chests for better stuff. I found a fantastic 10mm gun around level 12 and I can’t remember any non-legendary drops I’ve ever found except that one gun, and it made my fucking day! No settlement crafting means no powerleveling but Idiot Savant still means you’re getting levels, so your gear isn’t that shitty since you’re always finding more of it. You can also pick up more weapon perks and really use ANY gun you find.

    If you’re sick of having to haul stuff back to camps all the time, maybe try this out.

  • Mad Bomber

    Another pretty advanced build, this is explosives only. The drawbacks are pretty huge but it DOES work if you know what you’re doing. Sneaking around is very important and getting a pistol with a recon scope helps a lot for several reasons. You can see where all the enemies are located and you can use it to shoot your own grenades mid-air. We’re also picking up armor crafting so we can have shadowed leather with explosives protection. The worst part will be running into wild animals so Animal Friend can actually be a good investment. Ghouls will also be pretty awful at times but scouting and preparation is 101 for this build.

    S – 3
    P – 4
    E – 4+1
    C – 6
    I – 5
    A – 3
    L – 2

    Important perks – Armorer, Pickpocket, Locksmith, Demolition Expert, Toughness, Lifegiver, Aquagirl, Cap Collector, Black Widow, Lone Wanderer, Animal Friend, Local Leader, Hacker, Scrapper, Science, (Gunslinger), Sneak, Bloody Mess

    I’m getting Gunslinger because it increases range and therefore accuracy, but you don’t need it before rank 2. You can of course pick it anyway to make Concord easier… I’m also going Black Widow/Lone Wanderer/Bloody Mess for maximum freakin explosion damage. Even your molotovs should be pretty fearsome with all those perks. We are low on stat-points however so we need the intelligence, perception and luck-bobbles but thankfully they’re really easy to acquire.

    You could remove Lone Wanderer and get Inspirational instead as it lets you throw grenades on your companion without worries. Works well with tanky robots, Strong or just any companion with Power Armor. That screws with sneaking on the other hand so Lone Wanderer is the safer bet. But if you want Inspirational, get the Cha bobblehead and/or remove a point or two from Endurance.

    Local Leader is VERY important for this build. Brahmin produces fertilizer, which is used for most explosive recipes which means you want as many camps as possible full of Brahmin. Hell, you should probably plant carrots to make Brahmin cages even. You can also have Weapon Stores to buy even more explosives and missiles.

    Also Sneak and infiltration-manuals are really important for this build. You want muffled armor as well as getting seen before you’ve prepared your mines is a catastrophe. You can’t fight a horde of ghouls or mirelurks with a handgun. Remember that you have science so you can mod laser and plasma weapons just fine. Doing the first Brotherhood-quest early to get a institute-gun is a good idea. I’m saying institute-gun instead of Righteous Authority because they’re much easier to modify, and RA is a luck-weapon anyway.

    Now if you see a bunch of ghouls or lurks approaching, try sprinting the other way and putting down a mine in front of you, preferably after rounding a corner. Then prepare a molotov and throw it as soon as they round the corner. Later you can have cryo-mines for this purpose as well as shooting cryo-grenades midair when a yao-guai spots you. And finally, at level 38 (Sneak 5) you can just run when spotted by dangerous melee enemies and crouch to make them lose you. This might be a hassle indoors but in worst case you can just exit the location and go hide.

    Does all of this seems like needless gimping just to play explosives-only? Absolutely, but survival is generally too easy anyway…

That’s all for now, if you’ve read all of it through kudos to you, I hope you’ve found a build or two to play. I’m gonna start working on a perk-guide next, rating each and talking about what they’re good for. I’ll link it here so if you care, bookmark and check in later. :)

Talisman has never been a balanced game and it’s never been meant to I believe, though the difference in power levels is a bit ridicilous at times.
I’ve bought every expansion to fourth edition on release so far and have played easily over a hundred games. During this time I’ve tried to analyze what makes a character powerful and my answer so far has been this:

The biggest advantage a character can have is one that helps him get started. Talisman can be very slow sometimes, with you constantly losing fights and never getting stats from board encounters. All the expansions have of course helped with this so some characters who used to be absolute junkers have become playable with later expansions. And so this list is for playing with all the boards and pretty much all the cards (I’ve removed some of the worst cards as they just make the game drag out. I realise some like the extreme randomness and swinginess of Talisman and while I certainly haven’t removed it (as you really can’t), I’ve lessened it somewhat.)

Anyway, on to the list.

God Tier

These character are so powerful that they’ve won almost every game they’ve ever been in. Their advantages are just too big even in comparison to the next tier that we’ve just banned these.

Warlock
Dragon Priestess
Doomsayer

Notes: Doomsayer gets more and more powerful the more players there are and since I always play with four or more he’s simply too good. He’s probably the least powerful of these three but he won all four games he was in so we just banned him.
Dragon Priestess is crazy for two reasons. The first is of course that she can boost her prayers by a huge amount by just getting ahold of some followers *cough* City *cough* but there’s also the fact that she has a whopping 5 fate with evil starting alignment. She can just walk up to the graveyard and fill up five fate! Again she has won pretty much every game she has been in. We banned her to my frustration as she’s my favourite character.
Warlock is just stupid. He draws three spells per turn when he’s gotten one measly craft and he can pick up free cards from the purchase deck. He also starts in the middle which is always overpowered, but we’ve houseruled that all such characters start on the sentinel instead. If you don’t, he’s possibly the best character in the game. (Dragon Priestess also starts in the middle, go figure)

High Tier

These characters all have ways to get ahead early on and also probably some way to stay ahead. They often win as they don’t need luck to get going, they will always eventually get powerful.

Sprite
Prophetess
Conjurer
Fire Wizard
Leywalker
Minotaur
Troll
Barbarian

Note: You probably noticed that’s a lot of spellslingers. Always having spells is a huge advantage. There’s also a lot of character with a 5 in Craft or Strength which also makes a huge difference. The troll has crazy longevity, you can pretty much go farm the dungeon from the go. Same with the minotaur and barbarian. Conjurer, Leywalker and Prophetess just has big control over the game and Fire Wizard very quickly becomes a powerhouse who wins every fight he’s in.
I don’t consider any of these character overpowered, they’re just designed in a way to make up for bad luck which is huge in Talisman.

Mid Tier

All these characters snowballs once they get going but they all need som luck to get going. Again, some of these characters can be extremely powerful and quickly win the game IF you’re lucky, but they can also be Priest-levels of suckiness if you never win any fights. They are all good characters who have a decent chance to win, they’re just not as good as the above ones.

Mutant
Dervish
Dark Cultist
Alchemist
Gypsy
Swashbuckler
Assassin
Druid
Leprechaun
Bounty Hunter

Notes: I know some people consider Dark Cultist top tier but her 1 fate and crappy 3/3 start makes her subject to the whims of destiny. Same thing with Swashbuckler and Dervish. If you get some good equipment they’re both top-tier but if you don’t get any drops and no gold, you’re stuck. Alchemist is of course able to buy some of the most powerful equipment in the game early on if you have city expansion but even having a flail and a ring isn’t as good as the trolls natural abilities. You can also lose your gear at which point you have no abilities whatsoever.

Low Tier

These  characters can definitely be fun to play but they don’t have powerful advantages that lets them get ahead. There’s some characters with weird but mediocre abilities here, characters with powerful but too specific abilities as well as some all-around decent ones. Hell, I love the Vampiress and Tavern Maid but neither have any abilities that lets them get ahead or stay ahead.

Dragon Rider
Possessed
Jin Blooded
Warrior
Amazon
Tinkerer
Cat Burglar
Scout
Totem Warrior
Ancient Oak
Warlord
Spider Queen
Ogre Chieftain
Dragon Hunter
Tavern Maid
Ascendant Divine
Sage
Rogue
Scavenger
Philosopher
Gladiator
Valkyrie
Minstrel
Nomad
Vampiress
Cleric
Elf

Trash Tier

These characters are just generally awful. We’ve removed most of them them from the character pile because noone ever plays them anymore. They’ve pretty much never won and neither are they much fun to play. They’re dump characters in all ways, either they’re just straight up weak or their abilities look good on paper but rarely comes into play in practice or like with the Chivalric Knight just aren’t worth using. There’s incidentally a lot of the starting characters here which is indicative of some serious power creep.

Priest
Wizard
Knight
Ghoul
Dwarf
Dread Knight
Vampire Hunter
Spy
Grave Robber
Elementalist
Highlander
Chivalric Knight
Thief
Black Knight

Final notes: We always play with hidden ending which makes the Dwarfs abilities crappy. If you know there’s Hand of Doom or Thieves Guild or something he’s a powerhouse, but drawing Dragon King with 7 Craft means you just wasted 10+ turns, which can be two-three stats if you’re lucky.
I also want to like the Grave Robber and Spy since they have fun abilities but alas, they rarely are of any use.
Special shoutout goes to Dread Knight for being the possibly worst character in the game. He’s the Monk, an already mediocre character, only worse and he has shitty starting stats…

The Souls games can seem intimidating, just understanding the basics of the game is a daunting task, but once you do they’re all incredible experiences, or so you’ve heard!

So you’ve made a character and maybe you’re getting your ass handed by Iudex Gundyr, the very first boss in the game that you meet about five minutes in. Or maybe you’ve progressed a little bit further but think everything is confusing as hell. Well, I’m here to help!

(There’s some build-ideas further down if you only want that)

First off, forget everything about classes. There are no classes in Dark Souls, just general starting points that gives you a set of gear. With that said, if you hate bosses Pyromancer is your best bet as his starting fireball spell melts everything until you get better gear. Also, your starting weapon might matter as some of them can’t be found until the third major area.

Anyway, instead I will talk about stats and weapons and how to make a working build. All of this will mostly be relevant for PvE as I have very little interest in PvP. If you want to know why for some reason, I simply don’t enjoy it, though I have done some PvP, mostly in Dark Souls 2.

 

Planning your character

That sounds hardcore as hell, like you’re supposed to plan out every single level and your weapons and gear. You CAN do that but there’s very little reason to unless you’re trying to optimise a PvP build.

First off you should pick at least one offensive stat to focus on.

 

Strength – The stat for big, slow weapons. Strength only increases your damage and lets you equip bigger, heavier weapons. Light swords require around 12 strength while axes and greatsword require maybe 16-20. For ultra greatswords and similar extreme weapons you need at least 32 strength to onehand them. Remember that when you twohand a weapon (Press Triangle or Y) you count your strength as 50% higher for being able to wield it, though not for damage.

The “soft-cap” for Strength is 40, after that you barely get any more damage by increasing it further but if you’re focusing on strength, you should get it to 40 at some point. Any build except pure caster needs some strength to equip their weapons. You also need some strength to use a shield and a shit-ton of it if you want to use great-shields.

The Warrior is the best choice if you really don’t care about spells or weapon skills or fancy Dex-weapons. It’s a fine chioce really as it has great starting gear as well. The Knight has a bit of everything, the big upside is probably his low luck and a shield with 100% physical block. He also has the heaviest armor of the lot, it takes a lot of farming or progress to get armor as hefty as his. Finally there’s the Cleric who starts with a great healing spell as well as low int and dex. Cleric is due to his healing one of the most newbie-friendly classes, you just stack Strength, Faith and a bit of Vigor and you’re pretty much set.

Look for a Heavy Gem, it makes your weapon scale even better with Strength by Infusing it at Andre the smith.

 

Dexterity – This is for quicker weapons like dagger, scimitars and spears. There’s also a few two-handed swords that scale well with Dex. Dex might seem like the harder stat but some the easiest, most powerful weapons like rapiers and spears use Dex. If you’re going to skip shields altogether the Mercenary class is a great choice as it starts with dual scimitars. There’s also the assassin which starts with Spook, one of the best support spells in the whole game and a estoc, a gigantic rapier. And finally there’s the Thief with the pretty much shittiest starting gear of all classes. If you love parrying and backstabs the Thief might be a good choice, but otherwise steer clear.

Bows also use Dex and they’re terrific at finishing off enemies or taking out snipers.

Look for a Sharp gem, it makes your weapon scale better with Dex.

 

Intelligence – The stat of choice for the caster. Soul magic has a ton of different spells for various situations and it’s often great against bosses. If you’re going full caster you should pretty much only focus on Intelligence, Attunement and a bit of Vigor. The rest of the stats are more or less useless to you. The Sorcerer is definitely the choice for this playstyle while the Assassin is more of a Dex/Int-hybrid and the Pyromancer is Strength/Int.

The Pyromancer is probably the best overall starting class if you just want to try things out. The starting fireball melts faces and all their stats except Dex and Luck are moderately high. Pyromancy is extremely effective against a lot of bosses and they increasingly crazy spells.

Look for Crystal gems if you’re going high Int and want a backup weapon, it makes the weapon scale with Int.

 

The Herald is a hybrid class with semi-heavy armor, a good shield and a spear. Only Int is low and while the class starts with a healing spell, it’s pretty crappy. Still Herald is a good choice if you want to go Dex/Faith while still using a shield. Spear, shield and healing spells is an extremely powerful combo that’ll last you the whole game.

Finally there’s the Deprived who starts at level 1 with 10 in all stats. The starting weapon, a club is actually a really good one. Your lack of armor will however be a problem early on. Deprived is a great choice for certain builds, but it’s terrible if you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t blame me if you pick this and get stuck on the first boss.

 

Faith – I put Faith down here because it’s not a offensive stat. There’s a lightning spell and a few other offensive ones but they’re support attacks for specific situations, not your main attack (I’ve tried, compared to soul magic and pyromancy offensive miracles blow). Faith-magic does however have all the best support spells, like healing and cleansing. Unless you start as a cleric it will however take a while until you can get decent spells so don’t pump it early on.

 

Now let’s cover the other stats. You can make builds around them but none of them increase your damage except in special circumstances, and a lot of bosses in Dark Souls are basically wars of attrition where you try to not run out of healing, so damage will always be important. With that said, don’t skimp on…

VigorIncreases your health. You should always mind your vigor and make sure you increase it a little here and there. There’s no reason to pump it early but even a pure caster should have around 25-30 when getting close to the end. As melee there’s no shame in getting it up to 40, and if you’re gonna PvP you probably need at least 40.

Endurance – I’ll probably ruffle some feathers by calling this a dump-stat but for most builds it is. Don’t increase your Endurance if you’re gonna PvE. You start with around 100 stamina and each point in Endurance increases your stamina pool by 1 or 2 point. Since weapons use 10-20 and sometimes up to 40 stamina per attack, you’re gonna need a huge amount of Endurance to be able to do longer combos. Again, this is better in PvP since stunlocking people or making sure you can always chase people down is integral. But in PvE your points are generally better spent elsewhere.

Vitality – Increase your weight limit by 1. How much Vitality you want is highly dependent on what kind of gear you want to use. All equipped gear weighs and the heavier your gear is in comparison to you maximum weight the slower your stamina regeneration is and the worse your rolls will be. Paradoxically, if you want to use a big shield, heavy armor and a spear you don’t need much Vitality, if any, as you only need to keep your weight at 65-70% of max. If you’re gonna use a medium-sized shield and moderately heavy armor keeping your weight at 45-50% is recommended so you get better rolls and stamina reg. This means a bit of Vitality is a good idea. Your defenses actually increases by a little bit when putting points in Vitality so if you want to be a supertanky hunk of iron with a ultra greatsword, get it to 40 or higher. You keep getting 1 point of max weight even above 40, though you don’t get much defense anymore by that point.
You can of course try keeping your weight below 30% or even lower by only using light weapons, a light shield and light armor AND increasing your Vitality.

Luck – Increases your chance of getting loot and increases the effects of bleeding and poison.
I want to love Luck, Arcane was my favourite stat in Bloodborne but it was a lot better there. For one, poison is useless in most situations. It takes quite a few hits to poison enemies and then it deals 3 damage per second. THREE! Bosses can have several thousand points of health while normal monster will have died long before they are poisoned. Bleed instead deals one third of the targets health when it procs. A lot better but you still need a lot of hits before it works. In short bleed and poison are at best support-effects for specific situations. Katanas for example deal high physical damage and applies bleed, so a Dex/Luck-samurai could work for example.

With that said, there’s a few weapons out there that scales with Luck, there’s even a staff that makes spells scale with luck. There’s also a gem you can infuse that makes a weapon scale with luck, though you won’t be able to infuse Hollow gems until somewhat late. (And no, you can’t rush it)

TL;DR – Luck is for specific, advanced builds or something you can increase later if you want to farm rare materials.

 

Making a build

You’ll be around lvl 80-100 when you reach the final boss and your stats start around 10 so you can probably get three stats to 40 or two to 40 and some Vigor and Attunement or something. Here’s some basic ideas.

Strength/Vitality/Vigor 40 – You’ll be a walking tank who can use the biggest weapons and the heaviest shields without breaking a sweat. The Warrior is your best starting class.

Strength/Dexterity/Vigor 40 – “Quality build”, you’ll be able to use pretty much all the weapons. Look for Refinement gems that makes weapons scale better with both Str and Dex. Any class but Sorcerer works, depending on if you’re gonna do some variation on the build with support spells, otherwise Warrior is probably best.

Dexterity 40, Strength/Vigor/Faith/Attunement ~25 – Dex/Faith with healing spells and lightning spells and weapons. Lower strength depending on your weapon of choice. Herald is probably the best choice but Cleric is plenty fine as well.

Dexterity/Endurance 40, Vigor/Vitality ~25 – Rapier or scimitar-wielder with huge amounts of stamina. Mercenary, Assassin or Thief.

Intelligence/Attunement/Vigor 40 – Pure soul-caster with huge mana-pool. Sorcerer or maybe Assassin if you’re gonna use daggers or the special Int-scaling bow later.

Intelligence/Faith/Attunement/Vigor/Strength ~25  – Pyromancer with a bit of everything. You can use a crossbow against smaller enemies and some extra “free” damage, a shield against some bosses, healing spells and powerful fireballs. A blast to play really! Cleric and Pyromancer are the best choices as you only need 8 Dex for most crossbows.

Intelligence/Faith 40, Vigor/Attunement ~25 – If you want to use all the spells all the time then this is for you. Look up where the NPC’s who sell spells are and where all their books are located. Also use a medium-sized shield with shield bash to push enemies away in a pinch. Pyromancer, Cleric or paradoxically Warrior are good starting classes, the last one gives you most of the defense you’ll ever need so you can focus on increasing you magic stats. Pyromancer is still probably best due to low luck and vitality (less wasted points).

Dexterity/Luck/Vigor 40 – Use katanas mainly as they can be infused with Hollow gems for great Luck-scaling. There’s a dude with a katana right outside the Firelink shrine, he is pretty hard though whan you first get there. Pick Mercenary or Thief as starting class.

There’s of course a ton of other builds out there but this should help you get started. If you have any questions you can just ask, I’ll answer within a day.

Starting gift

Nine times of ten you should pick extra souls, it’s two free levels. That tenth time you should pick Fire Gem since you can use it to infuse a weapon as soon as you reach Firelink Shrine. Fire weapons don’t scale with stats at all so you could have a backup fireweapon as a caster or use it as your main weapon if you’re gonna pump Endurance or something weird like that early on.

 

I’ll try to expand on this, I’ll probably post some builds or talk about a specific weapon-type, but for the moment this should be good enough for anyone to get started.

A friend of mine claimed the Tigrex and Seregios bows are great. I’m a skeptical guy by nature and this was against everything I knew about bows from MHFUnite, so I decided to look up his claims and thought I’d might as well create a guide out of it.

There will be a shit-ton of raw data at first. You have been warned!

First off we have the motion values which are integral to understanding bow damage.
As you probably know you unleash multiple arrows at a time when firing a bow and each arrow deals separate damage. This also means that each separate arrow deals its own elemental damage. As for the exact amount of damage, well here you go!

(The numbers represent how clumped together the hits are and the optimal range. Rapid 5 has a huge window for optimal damage while Pierce 5 wants to stand pretty far away and the damage is clumped up to the first one or two areas. Spread 5 wants to be a bit further away than Spread 3 but deals a lot more damage and the arrows are more clumped up(?).)

Rapid

  • LV1: 12 / 12 / 12 / (none)
  • LV2: 12+4 / 12+4 / 12+4 / (none)
  • LV3: 12+4+3 / 12+4+3 / 12+4+3 / 12+4+3+2
  • LV4: (none) / 12+4+3+2 / 12+4+3+2 / 12+4+3+2
  • LV5: 12+4+3+3 / 12+4+3+3 / 12+4+3+3 / 12+4+3+3

Pierce

  • LV1: 6×3, 6×3, (none), (none)
  • LV2: 6×4, 6×4, (none), (none)
  • LV3: 6×5, 6×5, 6×5, 6×5
  • LV4: (none), (none), 6×5, 6×5
  • LV5: (none), (none), (none), 6×5

Spread

  • LV1: 4+5+4 / 4+5+4 / (none) / (none)
  • LV2: 5+6+5 / 5+6+5 / 5+6+5 5+6+5
  • LV3: 4+5+5+4 / 4+5+5+4 / 4+5+5+4 / 4+5+5+4
  • LV4: (none) / 4+5+6+5+4 / 4+5+6+5+4 / 4+5+6+5+4
  • LV5: (none) / (none) / 5+5+6+5+5 /  5+5+6+5+5 /

Arc Shots

  • Focus type: 7×5
  • Wide type: 7×5
  • Blast type: 6+35

Melee

  • Bow hit 1 – 10 (13 with close coating)
  • Bow hit 2  – 13 (17 with close coating)

 

Next we have charge levels. If you unleash the arrow immediately that’s charge lvl 1. If you instead hold the attack button it’ll flash after a very short while. Each flash makes the arrow deal more damage. Charge lvl 3 is generally the highest but with the Loading skill or certain bows you can reach charge lvl 4.

Charge Level Modifications

Level    Attack   Element   Poison   Paralysis/Sleep

Lvl.1  0.4      0.7      0.5   0.5
Lvl.2  1.0      0.85   1.0    1.0
Lvl.3  1.5      1.0      1.5     1.3
Lvl.4  1.7      1.125     1.5     1.3

As you can see, in most cases charge lvl 3 is perfectly fine. Loading is a really expensive skill and you need Fast Charge as well to make it work optimally as it takes longer to charge from 2 to 3 than from 3 to 4.

The final thing you should know is that arrows deal a varying amount of damage depending on how far you are from the monster.

  • Way too close/too far ~ 70%
  • Too close/too far – 100%
  • Optimal distance – 150%

As far as I know the optimal distance only increases your physical damage. This still makes a huge difference in the long run. When you hit a monster at optimal distance there will be a large yellow flash. You should of course experiment to find the exact range for yourself as well as practice practice practice…
Anyway, the optimal distances are:

  • Spread: 0.5-2 backhops
  • Rapid: 2-3.5 backhops
  • Pierce: 3.5-6 backhops

The optimal distance for Pierce shots increases with levels, so with Pierce level 5 you can stand pretty fucking far away and still deal optimal damage.

Unlike all other multipliers, distance is not taken into account when firing arc shots.

Power Shots

Power Shots are used by pressing the alternate fire button after unleashing a normal shot. It fires a second set of arrows at one charge level higher. It cannot however fire anything higher than what your bow has. It also costs a lot of stamina to use.
The upsides should be obvious. If you have a ton of stamina (like say unlimited thanks to Dash Juices) you can almost double your damage output!

Jesus fucking fuck! You can almost double your damage output!

I played a ton of bow back in MHFUnite when we didn’t have any fancy arc shots or power shots so I haven’t thought too hard about it. But that’s bloody insane!
I guess come g-rank your bow must have Power Shot for it to be worth using. You don’t even need Fast Charge when you have Loading as you can just fire lvl 3 charges instead and Power Shot lvl 4 charges.

Coatings and status effects

Moving on to something less exciting and only slightly less relevant we have all the coatings, the thing that makes bows great for multiplayer.

Power coatings – Max 50 – Increases your physical damage by 50%. Power coatings are ridiculously important due to how damage works in monster hunter. Optimal distance and charge level stacks with power coatings for 337% physical damage. Yes, you do more than twice the physical damage if you apply power coatings and shoot from the right distance compared to just spamming lvl 3 shots. Add power shots and you do another 382% physical damage if you have Loading. That’s 719% physical damage instead of 150%.

Close-Range coatings – Max 20 – Increases physical damage by 20% and melee damage by 50%. It also extends the optimal distance so that it’s the furthest or closer. The Seregios bows boosts close range coatings so that it increases physical damage by 50%.

Paint coatings – Max 99 – Applies paint to the monster. Personally I prefer just throwing a paint ball as you need to apply a new coating mid-combat after painting otherwise.

There’s also Poison, Paralysis, Sleep, Blast and Exhaust coatings – Max 20 each – They all deal their respective status effects. The downside is that it negates the bows element if any.

Bows with Coating Boosts increases the amount of status effect applied by 50%.

Bows deal (roughly) the following amount of status effect:

O===========O=============O=============O=============O
| Shot Type |    Rapid    |   Scatter   |   Pierce    |
O===========O=============O=============O=============O
| Shot Lv 1 | 13 x 1 hit  |  5 x 3 hits |  5 x 3 hits |
|-----------+-------------+-------------+-------------|
| Shot Lv 2 |  7 x 2 hits |  6 x 3 hits |  4 x 4 hits |
|-----------+-------------+-------------+-------------|
| Shot Lv 3 |  5 x 3 hits |  4 x 5 hits |  4 x 5 hits |
|-----------+-------------+-------------+-------------|
| Shot Lv 4 |  4 x 4 hits |  4 x 5 hits |  4 x 5 hits |
|-----------+-------------+-------------+-------------|
| Shot Lv 5 |  4 x 4 hits |  4 x 5 hits |  4 x 5 hits |
o-----------o-------------o-------------o-------------o

I’m saying roughly because it’s from an earlier game but bow damage hasn’t changed much so it’s probably very close.

And for your comfort I’m reposting this:

Charge Level Modifications

Level    Attack   Element   Poison   Paralysis/Sleep

Lvl.1  0.4      0.7      0.5   0.5
Lvl.2  1.0      0.85   1.0    1.0
Lvl.3  1.5      1.0      1.5     1.3
Lvl.4  1.7      1.125     1.5     1.3

So for example a Charge 3 Rapid 4 shot applies 24 Poison per shot, if it’s boosted it deals 36 Poison per hit which is really good. As far as I know coatings apply the status with every hit, not every third hit.

I suspect Blast gets the same modifier as Poison while Exhaust gets the same as Sleep and Paralysis. It’s just a hunch, feel free to correct me.

So Pierce is generally the best at applying status effects, it’s also the best for multiplayer as the monster is often attacking other players which again means that Pierce is best for multiplayer as Paralysis is only interesting with more players.

Also remember that Poison deals damage while the monster is poisoned so you might as well use all the coatings as this extra damage is most likely higher than the amount it takes to poison the monster a second time.

 


 

And I think that’s it for raw data, but what does all this mean?

(Another data-dump incoming, if you don’t care about seeing me play with the calculator, skip ahead.)

Let’s say you’re fighting Tigrex. He takes 55% shot and 20% lightning damage to his head.

With Kama Sedition you do 384 x 0.22 x 1.075 x 0.55 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 140 damage, double that if you use Power Shot.

Archbeast Paragon instead does 360 x 0.3 x 0.4 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 121 damage plus 180 x 0.20 x 5 / 10 = 18 thunder damage, so 139 damage.
(It would deal even more damage if it only hits the head but it’s impossible to check this)

Wide Weblivion does 312 x 1.125 x 0.26 x 0.4 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 102 damage plus 170 x 0.20 x 5 = 17 thunder damage for roughly 119 total, double with Power Shot. If you have Wide Up you deal 132 physical with 17 thunder for 149 damage.

(I’m using Loading for all the weapons here and assumes you’ve unlocked Weblivions thunder element)

So which is he best one?

The fancy thing about Archbeast Paragon is that you don’t need Loading nor Dash Juices to make it work and it lets you deal damage from further away so I’d say it’s the best for multiplayer. And Tigrex takes most thunder damage in his back which is easy to hit with Pierce if you can’t hit his head.

Kama Sedition is better for soloing, especially if you bring Dash Juices or similar.

There’s also Sacred Bow and Oppressor’s Wing  if you like coatings (like I do).

Let’s take another example, Black Gravios, whom elemental bowing used to be perfect against.

We’ll do Kama Sedition again. 384 x 0.22 x 1.075 x 0.3 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 76 damage. Once you break his belly you do almost twice that. Also Power Shot.

Great Purple Emperor also has Power Shot and Pierce 5 at Charge lvl 4. The fancy thing about Pierce shots is that it goes through his hide and into his unprotected belly. So 312 x 0.3 x 1.025 x 0.4 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 107 damage plus 230 x 0.40 x 5 / 10 = 46 for 153 total damage. And you can do Power Shots.

We can also, for fun do Enraged Dalamadur. 372 x 0.3 x 0.4 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 125 damage plus 170 x 5 x 1.5 / 3 / 10 = 42 Blight on average. You need 3 hits for a Blast which deals 200 damage so that’s 70 extra damage per hit, but this increases by 45 per Blast which is 1 more attack each time. So 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and so on. G-rank B.Gravios has 6000 health and a Defense of 0.7 which is 8571 effective health. Of course, after 50 shots your damage drops to 83 damage and you should have been able to cram in 6 blasts in that time which would be 7450 damage. On the other hand the stomach is probably broken so 372 x 0.3 x 0.55 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 115 damage. This is another 10 shots so maybe you’ll do another Blast and finish it off. So 60 shots? That sounds pretty fucking effective. Sadly it can’t be acquired yet as you can’t fight G-rank Dalamadur yet, only Shah Dalamadur.

Great Purple Emperor – 5350 + 2300 = 7600 and then 312 x 0.3 x 1.025 x 0.55 x 1.5 x 1.5 / 1.2 = 98 damage plus 230 x 0.45 x 5 / 10 = 51 for 149 damage. So another 6 shots? 56 shots? Sounds pretty crazy. Something doesn’t add up here, I’ll have to build this bow and try… (I did, I suck with bow against Black Gravios!)

I could go on but the point is that elemental damage is still pretty good. Kama Sedition and the lower versions are terrific all-purpose bows if you have Loading and preferably Fast Charge as well, and especially if you bring Dash Juices, but against the right enemy elemental bows are still superior as well as not requiring extremely specific skills and consumables.

But let’s move on to less data-intensive stuff.

 


 

Shot types

With Rapid shot you can often stand just outside of tail-range which makes it a lot easier to avoid attacks. It has a lot in common with bowguns that way. Rapid is also good at attacking flying wyverns as well as running ones. Shooting things mid-charge is by far easiest with Rapid as with Wide you’re likely to miss half the arrows and with Pierce you’ll have no idea what you’ll be hitting without A LOT of practice. Try it to see what I mean.

Rapid is also excellent at attacking heads and tails. It’s really good against Khezu, Rathalos and other dragons who like charging and shooting fireballs. You can often hit monsters in the head with all the arrows while it’s turning so that when it’s about to charge you’re already moving.

Also Rapid is of course great at destroying parts. The Tigrex and Hero’s bow can even put on Blast Coatings to make it even easier. For the final word in destroying parts there’s the Teostra bows, Bow of Hope and Valor & Courageous Wish. They have Rapid shot, Blastblight inherent and Power shots!

Spread shot is the most aggressive of the shot types as you have to stand at most 2 backhops away from your target. This is usually inside tail range so it’s not as impressive against dragons with tailswipes. Spread shot only deals slightly more damage per volley than Rapid but never hits only one area, unless that area is huge, like Gravios wings or Akantors face. This means Spread is good against monsters without a clear weak point, like Seregios or Seltas Queen.

The best thing about Wide is of course that you never have to aim and that you want to stay extremely close to the monster. For this reason Arc shots are probably best with Spread shot bows as it gives you a good attack for when the monster sprinted to the other side of the screen.

Spread shot is probably best when solo’ing as the monster keeps going for you meaning you have to move more so not having to aim is a blessing as well as being able to stand close.

Pierce shots  work entirely different than Rapid and Wide and requires a lot more practice. The optimal distance zone is not much wider but there’s a lot more space between you and the dragon making it harder to gauge. It’s also more important to aim so that the arrow shits all the best areas which means knowing the dragons weak points is more important. The upside is that it deals the most damage per shot and that you can reach hidden weak points/shoot through areas to hit its head etc.

Also, the fact that you should stand a bit further back works nicely in multiplayer as monster A.I gets way more random with more players. The lower focus on you gives you more time to aim correctly. Multiplayer also means coatings gets more interesting, especially Paralysis. The Dah’ren Moh’ran and Zinogre bows both have high pierce and a ton of coatings, including Paralysis.

Finally Arc Focus shots can be decent with Pierce as well since you’re shooting from afar anyway. The only ones are the Rajang, Kushala Daora and Diablos bows however.

The Arc shots are kind of awkward. They do deal good physical as well as elemental damage but only Focus shots are worth using in multiplayer. Wide arc shots cover an area as big as a Rathalos and any other player in the arrow rain will flinch. Blast arc shot is even worse as it’s a explosion that will fling other players away. The upside is that they all deal K.O damage so hitting a dragon in the head with Arc Focus shots is great. They’re also good for breaking monsters backs. With practice Arc shots can be pretty good, especially with the right element but they’re hard to hit with, doesn’t account for distance (which means 50% less physical damage) and often hits other players.

 

Playing

The most important thing when playing bow, except for learning to always be at optimal distance, is using your mobility. Since you can move while charging your shots, well, you should. While you are firing the shot you should check for visual clues and figure out what the monster is doing next. Most of the time you can start charging another shot immediately but don’t make it a habit as it’ll end with you taking a lot of hits. It takes a lot of practice to “know” whether you can move out of the way in time or not but it’s an important skill. Especially early on when you’re not chugging Dash Juices, rolling drains a lot of stamina that could be used to charge a shot instead.

In short, try to anticipate where the monster will attack and move out of the way before. This is basic stuff with all weapons but it’s extra important with bow as your stamina is your damage. One roll is pretty much one shot less before you have to recharge stamina. It also takes time away from charging.

There’s also a little trick you can learn that’s especially useful in multiplayer. After firing a shot, charge another and walk in a circle so that you’re fully charged when you’ve completed the circle. Then unleash the shot and repeat. The reason for doing this is that you take a small step forward when charging an arrow, so eventually you’ll move out of the optimal distance zone if you just stand and shoot. By doing this you’re always firing from the same range AND you’re already moving which makes it easier to react to attacks.

TL:DR – Always be moving!

Aiming should however not be disregarded. You can’t always be at optimal distance and firing from the right height at the right hitzone, so you should certainly practice aiming. The goal is to be quick enough at it that you don’t lose time.
It’s like this: Bow damage, even with all those extra modifiers still isn’t the highest in the game. It’d be pretty op if it had the highest damage and great mobility. So optimizing damage is practicing until you’re always firing as soon as you see the second flash. With enough practice you know the exact timing and will fire the exact moment it flashes instead of 0,3 seconds later or for that matter 2 seconds later because you’re aiming your shot and the dragon is moving. This leaves you with more time to move and react as well as cutting down your killing times. It’s also of course important to miss as few shots as possible. You only have 50 Power Coatings, missing 10 of them is a noticeable damage decrease.

Also, don’t skimp on using status coatings. Unless the dragon is really vulnerable to your element poisoning it is a definitive damage increase, the same with Blast coatings if you can use them. Also Paralysis coatings are awesome in multiplayer. They’re enough for at least one application, sometimes two which is ample time for the rest of the team to unload. Just make sure to remove the coatings as soon as the monster is paralyzed.

Exhaust coatings are great with arc shots and flash bombs. A exhausted monster is flashed a lot longer, and if you manage to get it into a pit trap and KO it with arc shots it’ll stay there for a hell of a lot of time.

Sleep coatings can be used if you’re bringing bombs but it’s better in solo as people have a tendency to not notice the dragon falling asleep and thus ruining your sleep bombing. Really nice against Gravios for example.

 

Armor skills

The most basic offensive skill is Fast Charge. It makes charging your shots faster… I can’t tell you exactly how much faster but know it’s noticeable. It’s not however recommended if you’re new as it leaves you with even less time to aim and move.

Loading unlocks the bows next charge. With Kama Sedition this is a must as it only has two charges but Loading is a extremely expensive skill (meaning it’s hard to slot in and talismans with Loading are really uncommon). Most of the time though the fourth charge isn’t worth the extra time it takes to fire each shot. In some cases however you’re getting another type of shot which could mean having access to both Wide and Pierce shot at high level. Basically Loading is really circumstantial and requires some know-how. So again, not for beginners.

Expert is pretty nice, especially with physical bows like the Tigrex or Garuga ones. A crit is another 25% damage which stacks on top of everything else. It’s just straight damage and so great for beginners.
Works wonders with Crit Element if you like elemental bowing.

Tenderizer increases the zones damage by 5% meaning if the zone takes 30% damage it now takes 35% which in this case is a ~16% damage increase. It’s less impressive if the zone already takes 50% damage but 55% is still a 10% damage increase. Tenderizer is best with Spread Shot as you seldom only hit optimal zones.

Stamina is a great early choice, it makes charging arrows cost half as much stamina and is pretty common. There’s also Constitution which makes rolling cost less stamina. Again, stamina is damage and early on it can be pretty daunting to manage.

Normal/Pierce/Pellet Up increases the damage of Rapid, Pierce and Spread shots respectively, Pellet Up by a respectable 30% while the other two increases damage by 10%.

Mycology is a strange skill that lets you eat mushrooms for various bonuses. In particular, Mopeshroom starts acting as a Dash Juice. Mopeshroom can be traded at the wyporium so it’s basically free instead of requiring Gypceros materials. You cannot however acquire it before reaching G-rank but it’s a really cheap skill when you do reach G.

Guts makes it so that you cannot die in one hit if you have more than 60 health, instead you’re reduced to 1 hp. It’s a great skill when learning the ropes and when fighting high G-rank monsters who can kill you in one hit even when you’re at 150 hp…

Similarly, Evade +1/+2/+3 helps surviving really aggressive monsters by just rolling through their attacks. It does cost stamina but with Dash Juice or Mycology… Also, you can roll through screams with Evade.

Evade Up isn’t recommended however as your mobility is plenty fine without it.

Arcana unlocks latent elements and increases all elemental damage as well as status effects. Dream-skill with Sacred Bow G, Kelbi Deershot and others but the only Gunner set with Arcana is the Gogmazios armor. Free Element is the cheaper alternative and only unlocks elements.

Earplugs +1/+2 can be decent, especially against Rathalos and in general on G-rank when monsters start being able to attack you while you’re recovering from the scream. Good with Spread as you’re always close. With Pierce shots you can usually move out of the screams area of effect instead.

 

Good early bows

Crow Bow is a good physical bow, it’s pretty much the only one with Power Coatings. It also boosts Poison which is nice.

Later on the Tigrex Bows are a good choice but eventually you’ll want to build the Seregios bows. This is however late high-rank so I’m getting ahead of myself.

Supplication, the Dahren Mohran bow is a great choice if you get the Power C+ skill as it can’t use Power Coatings.

Entbehrung, the Gore Magala bow is the only Power Shot bow with Wide shots and it has this from the start. Great weapon against anything that’s weak to dragon damage.

Scylla Fist, the first Nerscylla bow  is another Power shot bow that’s even earlier than Entbehrung but you need Power C+ for this as well.

If you can be assed, Dios Flier is the first Brachydios bow and has the Blastblight status effect inherent and fires Wide shots.

You’ll get plenty far with just the Garuga and Seregios bows but if you want to really get into bowing I suggest building a wide variety of them, preferably at least one of each element.

Really, really late-game you can get relic bows from guild quests that can have any variation of shot types. So you can get a Wide 5 Thunder bow with Power Shots. Considering the amount of variables bows has relic bows really can produce the absolute best weapons, it’s just totally random…

 

And that’s goddamn enough. I might add more at some point, if you have an idea please say so in the comments. Also point out errors if you find any.

One definition of art is that great art tells the observer something about humanity.

Well, the Wachowski siblings new series Sense8 desperately wants to be fine art. In the first episode you’re greeted with 8 different main characters in vastly different situations who all have their own small supporting cast. We’re talking 20-30 characters in the FIRST EPISODE. We have a cop in Chicago, a bus-driver in Nairobi, a businesswoman in Seoul, an Icelandic DJ in London and so on. The basic premise is that the characters suddenly start experiencing things from each others lives and through telepathy they lend their viewpoints and skills to each other.

Sounds ambitious? That’s just the start…

The cast is not just from different countries but also of different sexual preferences and of course economic as well as parental backgrounds. We have a trans-woman with awful parents, a guy whose father was killed by a rival gang, a super-manly secretly gay Mexican actor and a Indian woman with loving parents who is about to marry the perfect guy only she’s not in love. They have done their absolute best to create a cast that’s supposed to in a way represent humanity as a whole. And man are they proud of it!

A type of scene that keeps showing is up is on where two characters are doing similar things. The camera pans in and out, spins around the room or whatever they feel like for the moment while switching back and forth between the characters. And the first time it’s fine. “Yeah cool, different people still have things in common, no matter where they’re from.” Then you realize the creators thinks this is the best thing ever as they have at least two of these scenes in every episode, just two people with vastly different backgrounds doing a similar thing…

Furthermore, they also over and over again have two characters face similar situations and because of this telepathic link-thing they suddenly find themselves together so they can talk their situations out with each other. And the writers want this to be the most profound thing ever seen on TV as they often play on all the heartstrings whenever there’s a dramatic moment. But the writers simply aren’t that good, though they wouldn’t know it!
There’s pathos in every other scene with characters staring longingly at each other and whispering sweet nonsense. Love conquers all, especially distance! I audibly groaned and exclaimed “Oh come on!” multiple times when it got too over the top.

The final point is that much of it is also too on the nose. The transsexual has a bitch of a mother who refuses to call her by anything but her old male name and the mother staunchly believes that her now-daughter should just come to her senses. Yes we get it, people haven’t been very nice to transsexuals but please, some subtlety would be nice! This is far from the only example. Did you know Mexican macho culture looks down on gays? It’s true! Also Korean business culture is sexist and Africans are all poor, except the guys who sell drugs.

With all of this said, I couldn’t stop watching. When the show is funny I find it hilarious and a lot of the characters are well-written, if a bit stereotypical. The mystery surrounding the telepathy is interesting and it’s cool seeing them lend their abilities to each other. The show also have breathtaking visuals and amazing camerawork as well as good music.

The one downside to the overarching story is that the secret conspiracy is ridiculously evil. They kidnap people and pretty much kill them for no other reason than that they are telepaths. Oooh, a oppressed minority!

So it’s good and it gets better but the writers refuse to realize that they aren’t world-class artists and that their attempts to be thought-provoking often feels contrived and silly. When they keep it grounded and just lets the characters interact it’s great but sadly, unintentionally funny is the best descriptor for a lot of the drama.

G-rank is the name of the highest difficulty in MH4U but there’s little information out there on how it actually works. Or well, all the info is out there but it seems no-one has compiled it. So here I am.

Most of the information has been nabbed from GaijinHunter.com who in turn have nabbed his info from various japanese sites (I don’t speak japanese so thank god for GaijinHunter). There’s also some stuff compiled from Reddit threads.

A couple of things happen once you start playing G-rank quests.

  • Monster have higher hp
  • Monsters have higher defense
  • Monsters are harder to capture
  • Monsters deal way more damage
  • Monsters have new attacks
  • Monsters have better A.I
  • There are more sub-species with new attack patterns
  • Goddamn apex-monsters

I’ll get into each of these points but first off, to reach G-rank you need to beat a ton of quests in the Gathering Hall.

Rank 1

  • Bug Burger
  • Kecha Konondrum
  • Tackling a Tetsucabra
  • The Gypceros Project

Urgent – Web Sighting

Rank 2

  • Royal Assasination
  • A Ghastly Gift
  • Zamtrios of the Deep
  • Nix the Najarala

Urgent – Dark Wings, Dark Work

Rank 3

  • Tigrex Tough Love
  • Temper Tantrum
  • Royal Audience
  • Tuff Turf
  • The Royal Guard

Urgent – Sand Sailor

Rank 4

  • Face Two Face
  • Purple People Eater
  • Buffoonish Baboon
  • Dastardly Duo

Urgent – Rathians Wrath

Rank 5

  • Writers Block
  • The Red Menace
  • Dread Locked
  • Advanced: Frenzied Foe

Urgent – Ore D’Ouvre

Rank 6

  • Bring Down the Sky King
  • Infernal Overlord
  • Ear Ache
  • Brimstone and Brachydios

Urgent – Advanced: Stop the Wheel

Rank 7

  • Advanced: Grim Tidings
  • Advanced: Storm Front
  • Advanced: Teostra Tanglee
  • Advanced: Fleet Action

Urgent – Advanced: Speartip Menace

Urgent – Advanced: Glacial Grinder

And there you go! Now you can go to the Elder Hall where all the G-rank quests are. But before you jump into them you should know a few things.
First off, all the wyverns have a lot more health in G-rank. How much more?

Rathalos for example has a base hp of 4200.
On normal rank monsters have roughly half of that, Rathalos have 55% so 2310 hp.
On high-rank it’s about two-thirds and Rathalos have 70% so 2940 hp.
On G-rank however monsters have about 130% hp, Rathalos having exactly that so 5460 hp!

Not only that, but monsters also take less damage.

Village:                  100%
Low Rank:             85-95%
High Rank:            75-85%
High guild/event:    70%

Sadly I can’t find the number for G-rank but assume it’s lower than high-rank. So yeah, not only do you have to deal twice the amount of damage to kill anything in G-rank, attacks also bounce a lot more. Add the fact that the point where monsters start limping are lower in G-rank and the time for soloing can spike from 15 to 40 minutes.

Of course, the weapons also get more powerful and you’re able to sport purple sharpness so with some work you can solo most things in about 20 minutes even on G-rank. You’re just pretty much starting over from scratch as you need G-rank weapons to not go insane.

Next up, monster damage is also way higher. There aren’t any tables for this but let’s just say that without at least 400 defense early G-rank is almost unplayable. I run with about 650 defense on G3 quests which isn’t even that high, it’s possible to reach 1500 defense and even higher with all the possible buffs. (I always use Evade 2 or 3 so while I don’t get that THAT often, I still run low on Mega Pots pretty often)

Finally, the monsters have new attacks and better A.I. All the wyverns are more aggressive, leave shorter openings and use their best attacks way more. All wyverns are constantly on the move and some of them are just plain unfair (Stygian Zinogre, Black Gravios, Tidal Najarala). You can only really experience it to get it but even a joke like Lagombi requires you to focus.

Add all this up and you’ll realise G-rank is exhausting. It’s perfectly possible to solo (I did all the quests including the elder dragons up to the final urgent Gogmazios who takes 15-20 minutes for a four-man party to take down) but you’re not really meant to as G-rank is WAY more difficult than high-rank.
You need to use the right weapon and the right skills, you must know the monsters attack patterns and you have to focus to not get reamed by a goddamn Kecha Wacha. In G-rank the game is more about the challenge than pure enjoyment as some of the new attacks are just plain cheap, some of the monsters deal an absurd amount of damage and takes a ton of time to kill. Of course, with four players it’s still not that hard before reaching the final missions but I’ll get to that later.

G-rank “ranks”

G-rank has its own slightly different way of tackling ranks at first and later a wildly different one. You start with a G1 permit and need to beat a number of quests to unlock all the G1-quests. You then beat an urgent and get a G2-permit at which point it starts over. So…

G1-permit

  • Sculptural Seltas
  • Seeing spots
  • Berserker Rage
  • Line in the Sand
  • Fashion Victim
  • Hit List: Plum Daimyo Hermitaur
  • Grand Finals Confrontation
  • Serpent Serenade
  • Hunter in Green and Red

Urgent: Seer of Swords

G2-permit

  • Course Correction
  • The Azure King and the Tyrant
  • Temper Tantrum
  • How to Zap Your Zinogre
  • Brute Force
  • Pestering Pest
  • Hollow Promise
  • Fire Drill
  • Showdown at High Noon
  • Showdown at Midnight

Urgent: Advanced: A Plague Awoken

G3-permit

  • Advanced: A Formless Fiend
  • Advanced: Icy Investigation
  • Advanced:Emperor of Embers
  • Advanced: A Storm of Steel

Urgent: Advanced: Quagmire Quarrel

(Source: http://www.rgj.com/story/life/2015/02/25/monster-hunter-4-ultimate-key-quests-technobubble-mh4g-mh4u-guide/24031323/ )

In Quagmire Quarrel you must defeat Gogmazios, the last new monster with a staggering 18000 hit points.

Once you do, the final part of MH4U opens up, namely scroll deciphering. Each time you clear a quest you get a new screen with a scroll, depending on the difficulty of the quest you get zero to five runes filled out on the scroll. The first scroll doesn’t need that many but the more scrolls you fill out the more runes you need for the next tone. Each completed scroll awards you with a new special quest.

On average you get one rune for a G1 quest, two runes for G2 and three runes for G3. Apex Monsters and similar can net you four or five runes. High-rank and lower generally give you zero runes.

Scroll 1: The Sky is Falling – Molten Tigrex
Scroll 2: Dark Domination –  Akantor
Scroll 3: 1001 Shards – Apex Seregios
Scroll 4 : Wings of Woe – Super Chaos Gore Magala (Always enraged)
Scroll 5: Eternal Emperor – Shah Dalamadur
Scroll 6: Beyond Brawn – Apex Rajang
Scroll 7: Achy Brachy Heart – Raging Brachydios
Scroll 8: Silver Cataclysm – Special Ucanlos
Scroll 9: Act of Gog – Special Gogmazios
Scroll 10: A Final Battle Cry – Crimson Fatalis
Scroll 11: Monster Hunter – Frenzied Tigrex, Apex Zinogre + Raging Brachydios, Super Chaos Gore Magala, Apex Seregios

The other Apex monsters are unlocked by “just” beating all the G-rank quests.

Apex Monsters:

Most of the gathering hall and elder hall quests are scaled for two players, Apex monsters however seems to be made for a full party.

Some facts:

  • Apex monsters take 80% less damage on most areas and have around 15% more health.
  • They take zero elemental damage.
  • They also ignore status effects.
  • Cannot be captured, flash bombed, sonic bombed etc.
  • CAN be mounted which is a pretty good tactic since it gives you ample time to unload with a Wystone.
  • They deal even more damage!

In-world, Apex monsters are monsters who have instead of dying from the frenzy (it’s rabies or something) overcome it and become even stronger. The monsters start out in Apex mode that like frenzy mode can be canceled for a little while. By completing the single-player campaign and a couple of G3-quests you get hold of Wystones, special items that help against frenzied monsters in different ways.

  • Wystone: Brace increase defense against frenzied monsters for 110 seconds and has a 90 second cooldown.
  • Wystone: Force increase your attack by 20% against frenzied monsters for 70 seconds and has a 110 second cooldown.
  • Wystone: Element lets you use status effects and elemental damage against apex monsters and increases your elemental damage by 20% for 80 seconds. It has a 90 second cooldown.
  • Wystone: Drive improve your sharpness by 16% and makes you not bounce on hardened areas. It works for 65 seconds and has a 130 second cooldown.

(Source: http://monsterhunter.wikia.com/wiki/MH4U:_Wyceum )

All wystones also makes you suppress the frenzy or apex effect. It’s calculated on your motion value so weapons that deal big physical damage are generally the best (Lance, Hammer) at suppressing frenzy. Once it’s suppressed the monster works like a normal version of it for a couple of minutes, after that it goes back to apex/frenzy mode and you have to cancel it again. This suppression effect is not applied twice if you have two wystones active so try and use one stone at a time.

Now, the first bullet-point is the most important one. Each apex monster has a few weak spots that take damage as normal while attacks bounce on the rest of the body due to only dealing 20%. Even with Wystone: Drive active you still deal shit damage on the non-weak areas so you mostly need it if you’re having a hard time hitting the weak spots. And as you see, elemental damage and status effects are terribly unimpressive unless there’s four of you and you can knock it out of apex mode consistently. Also, while you cannot mount, capture or flash a monster in apex mode you definitely can when it’s suppressed. Remember that an exhausted monster is often flashed for 30 seconds which is huge in a teamfight and it can’t switch back to Apex mode as long as it’s flashed. Status effects and element damage also works as normal when apex mode is suppressed.

All in all, apex monsters are not meant to be solo’d. They can and I have but it’s a huge pain in the ass as the suppress effects of the wystones stacks with multiple players, just like any status effects. Status effects are also sort of useless even with Wystone: Element when you’re soloing as the monster will be in apex mode way more than half the fight.

 

So all in all, G-rank is not for the faint of heart. At least not if you’re gonna solo or duo all of it. Monster take less damage, have more hp, deal more damage and have new attacks and better a.i. And when you’ve beat all of the monsters Capcom extends a big middle finger and presents apex monsters, hopped-up versions of the already way more dangerous G-rank opposition. It’s rewarding but also so very exhausting. I barely touch the game right because I’m waiting for some friends to start deciphering scrolls so we can beat up apex monsters together, because fuck soloing those assholes…

MHWeaknesses

I love Kiranico but it’s a bit of a hassle to look up every monster separately which is why I’ve compiled a spreadsheet with all the monsters and their respective weak spots as well as how much elemental damage they take in those spots. But due to self-imposed constraints there’s a buttload of information in very little space. So to get any use out of it you need to know what you’re looking at.

Anyway, I first list the monsters weak points, the spots you should try and hit as much as possible. When I have multiple ones I use slashes and when there’s something between brackets like for example – Head(I)/Wings(C), it means the head is weak to Impact damage (Hammers, Hunting Horns) while the wings are weak to Cutting damage. When there’s an (E) it means I added that area because it’s weak to elemental damage, good for Bow, SnS and LBG users among others.
If I haven’t added any letters in brackets and there’s multiple areas they take roughly the same amount of physical damage.

Then there’s each element and if I used slashes for the weak points each area has its own number separated by the same amount of slashes.
Nerscylla has Head/Belly/Torso(E) as weak points and 15/15/25 in Fire so the head takes 15% fire damage, the belly also takes 15% fire damage and the torso takes 25% fire damage.

After that there’s the status effects where it gets really confusing as I’ve tried cramming the necessary info into just a few numbers.
Tetsucabra for example has 100+100, 60s, 240d in Poison. The first number is how much poison you need to apply the first time, the second number is how much more you need to apply after the poison has run its duration. So first you need 100 poison, then you need 200 poison and then 300 poison and so on. There’s a maximum number as well for each monster but it’s rarely relevant.

If that tells you nothing either here’s a basic rundown about status effects.

Each time you hit a monster with a melee weapon that has a status effect you have a one-in-three chance for the status to apply. If it does you do 1/10 of the weapons actual status to the monster. Hazy Caster for example has 480 Poison, extremely high for a Insect Glaive. It does 48 Poison whenever you see a small poison explosion after a hit. So on average you do 16 Poison per hit ((480/10)/3).
Poison is also special in that when the monster is poisoned, you deal the status effect as flat damage whenever poison procs i.e you do 16 damage on average per hit with Hazy Caster while the monster is poisoned.
None of the other status effects work like this.

So again 100+100, 60s, 240d means that you need 100 poison effect to poison the monster, then 100 more to poison it again and it stacks so 300 the third time, 400 the fourth and so on. 60s just means that the monster is poisoned for 60 seconds when it’s poisoned. 240d is the amount of damage it does over its duration so it’s 4 damage per second.

Sleep and Paralysis are simpler, 150+100, 40s means you need 150 sleep effect to make the monster fall asleep the first time and 100 more for every time after the first so 250, 350 etc. 40s is of course the amount of time the monster is asleep.

Paralysis works exactly the same only the monster is usually paralyzed for 10 seconds, not 40…

Blast is a simpler kind of poison, whenever you’ve applied the required amount of  Blast effect there’s an explosion and the counter is reset.
70+30, 100d does of course mean that you need 70 blast effect for the first explosion and then 30 more per explosion so 100, 130, 160 etc.

Mounting works exactly the same as status effects only I’m not sure how much Mounting effect each different jumping attack does.

And finally I added Flash Bombs as some enemies ignore them (Gypceros) or are flashed longer (Zamtrios). Do note that it’s the amount of time for a non-enraged monster. Enraged monsters are often flashed for 5 to 10 seconds longer while exhausted monsters are often flashed for 5 to 10 seconds longer. Of course, I usually flash monsters because they’re enraged and a hassle to deal with but such is the numbers.

There’s also a lot of numbers in Bold, those are the ones the monsters are extra weak to. Each monster has a element that’s bolded, with the status effects they’re sort of all over.

That’s it really, I also apologise in advance for the wall of numbers…

D.S – The file is not printer-friendly AT ALL.