Friday, January 9, 2009

The Heavy Bowgun Guide, For non-HBG users!

Courtesy of skiesofcroda...

mazereon’s Heavy Bowgun Guide

Long days and pleasant nights, all!

I have had numerous discussions with experienced players about the role of the Heavy Bowgun and it strikes me as unusual that it is seen as a support class or a novelty. In my opinion, Heavy bowgun (HBG) is probably the most underrated class in 2G. Since it seemingly lacks the power of melee weapons or the mobility of bow, people tend to overlook it as a class. This guide is intended to open people to the potential of what is one of the fastest killing classes for some monsters, after it was buffed up from Freedom/Portable 2 to 2G.

Firstly, the downsides of HBG. As you’ve no doubt noticed, when unsheathed, it has limited mobility (comparable to a Gunlance). Limited ammo (ignoring the Normal 1 shot which does negligible damage) means if you aren’t accurate, you’re going to be stuck with bashing things with your bowgun, never a good look (HBG can melee attack with Tri + Circle, and the Felyne Blunt Force makes that damage rise. Before you ask, no, it isn’t worth using). And you’ll need to be stationary while firing, leaving you open.

But the fact is, with practice and skill, these issues can be practically negated.

The strengths of HBG are many, as it’s a class that can be played a number of ways. It’s got great elemental damage, great and underrated raw damage (did you know the Czar Lao Cannon does 588 raw before Kitchen skills, Charms, talons and any other buffs?), and ammo limits aren’t really a problem when you learn weak points. You can equip a shield and use the Guard Inc skill to constantly tank all hits – and even without it, the shield auto-blocks if you aren’t firing. You can go all out offence and use a power barrel for even more damage, or use a long range scope and snipe monsters.

The Basics

Unsheathe is Tri, and there’s no unsheathe attack. Reloading is Tri while unsheathed. Selecting ammo is by holding L trigger, then selecting the desired ammo with Tri and X, then releasing L. You must re-load if you switch out of your chosen ammo and then back to it. Circle to fire.

Your scope is R trigger once unsheathed, aimed with the analogue stick. R trigger again to unzoom.

If you hold R trigger while moving, you can aim on the fly, but it’s not easily done. Good for scoping surroundings in a pinch.

If you press R trigger, Tri and Circle at the same time, you'll unsheathe your gun and reload it. It's slightly faster than unsheathing then reloading normally.

When you fire your HBG, there are five ranges, from shortest (1) to longest (5). How far away you are from a creature impacts on how much damage you'll do. Ranges 2 and 3 do the most, 1 and 4 are next most and 5 (the furtherest away) is the lowest damage. To observe this, try sniping a prey at very long range - it takes around twice as may shots. You'll soon find the sweet spot to shoot from to maximise your damage.


To be a range master, you must understand your weapon. And to understand a range weapon, you must understand what you’re firing.

Normal 1 and 2 are simple shots: You fire them, and they hit and damage the hitzone they land on. Normal 1 is infinite ammo but does very little damage – if you end up with only this left on a quest, you should probably abandon if the monster you’re hunting isn’t almost dead. Normal 2 should be your standard shot, as it does good damage and is simply targeted and fired. Works well generally and on small, fast monsters or where pierce shots don’t work well.

Normal 3 is slightly different. It hits, then damages the hitzone it lands on and shards fly off. These will either hit adjacent hitzones or fly off. If you land shards, it’ll do a lot of damage, but otherwise you’re better off using Normal 2. Takes a bit of practice to master, but you’ll learn where to hit to land most shards.

Pierce 1, 2, 3: These all work the same. They hit one hitzone and travel through to the next one, then the next until they hit ~5 times or exit the wyvern. The higher level shots do more damage. These shots work best on long monsters like Gravios, Plesioth and Aka/Ucamulbas. If you’re fighting something small and fast like a Rajang, don’t use them. Has a recoil so beware.

Pellet 1, 2, 3: These shots are different from the above in that they require little precision. You fire, and the shot splits up and hits at random, though has a degree of auto aim if you fire close enough to a creature. Works excellently for dromes and Kirin: fire, and a half second later shards will hit a few points. Also good for firing at a Diablos’ tail, for example.

Crag: A simple shot: You fire, it hits and a split second later explodes. Does good damage and acts like a sonic bomb. It’s useful for fishing out Plessy/Cephadrome. Also, enough damage from this and Clust (see below) will KO a monster like a hammer (see VioletKIRA’s stickied guide) if you hit the head. It’s not much use in solo play, but it’s very good for ad hoc battles. Again, has recoil to watch out for. Good for smaller monsters.

Clust: You fire, and when it hits it does minor damage. But then it fragments into several bomblets which explode. If all hit, it does severe damage, but will take practice to land. This works very well on bigger, slower creatures, but again on a monster like a Rajang or Blangonga it’s not great because the bomblets won’t stay on it if it moves. Another shot with recoil.

Elemental Shots

Fire S: Is a fire elemented Normal 2.
Ice S: Is an ice elemented Pierce shot.
Water S: Is a water elemented Pierce shot.
Thunder S: Is a thunder elemented Pierce shot.
Dragon S: [Captain Obvious] is a dragon elemented pierce shot.

HBG gets great mileage from elemental shots since they don’t have recoil, meaning they can be spammed.

Upgrading your HBG

So congratulations, you’ve decided to get into the mysterious and new world of Heavy bowgunning. Off you run to the creation store and plonk down your Lao Shan Ruby for that Emperor Lao Cannon. Now you’ve made it, what are those options you get?!

Modding: The first one is simple, it upgrades the damage of your weapon. As soon as you can afford it, get all the way to Mod level 5.

From here, you may only attach one of the two possible options.

Power barrel: Gives a good boost to damage. When you have defensive skills on your armour, this is probably the attachment of choice.

OR, a

Shield: A great item to have if you have offensive armour skills and need some protection. While you aren’t attacking, you’ll auto block attacks, including screams. The residual damage you take is higher than other classes, but it's better than getting run over by a Diablos.

And with both of those, you can equip a

Zoom Scope: When in zoom mode, you can zoom your gun in further. Not really that useful in most situations, since without the Target range down skill, your shots won’t reach as far as you can see. But hey, why not? emo-smile.gif
Armour Skills & Combos

Just like how blademasters tend to have favourite skills for their weapons (Sharpness +1, anyone?), there are several skills that greatly increase HBG’s potential:

Evade +2: This is a staple skill that you should learn to use. You can use the split second of invulnerability to roll through roars and most attacks, allowing you to remain in the thick of battle and play very aggressively.

Evade Inc: This is a good skill to boost mobility. It’s simple: you roll further. Allows for aggressive play.

Taunt/Sneak: Both of these can be good. Taunt means that in ad hoc games, monsters target you 25% more often, and Sneak means that you targeted 25% less often (they mean nothing solo). If you know you’ll get targeted more often, it means you can equip defensive skills or a shield so you can take some heat while your friends can more safely wail on the monster. Conversely, you can hide out and pump out damage with Sneak and not worry about playing defensively. Neither are *really* worth gemming in, but if they’re on an armour you want, they can be used well.

Speed Fire: With this, you don’t have to reload until you change ammo. Though there is a recoil associated with it, Normal 2/3 and elemental shots don’t suffer from it. It’s not on many armours, but when used properly it massively ramps up your damage over time (DoT).

Peirce/Pellet/Normal S Up: These all boost the damage of their associated shot. They have enough of a bonus to make them worthwhile, but are best suited to use on specific monsters. For example, an armour with Peirce Up is great for long monsters but not much use versus Kirin.

Reloading Speed+ : Much like it suggests, increases your reloading speed. A good skill, but a poor cousin to Speed Fire IMO.

Reckless Abandon +1/2/3: A simple damage skill. RA +1 increases your DoT by 2.5%, +2 by 5% and +3 by 7.5%.

Elemental Attack Up: Increases the damage of your elemental shots. This can be a great skill for fighting element weak monsters, but for creatures that have low elemental weaknesses (like Kirin) it’s not helpful.

Guard Inc: With the shield equipped, your HBG will auto-block if you aren’t attacking. Guard Inc works the same as it does for Blademasters, it allows you to blows previously unblockable attacks, like Gravios' beam or gasses. Helpful if you're fighting something like a Grav that can scream and freeze you in place, then launch an unblockable attack before you can evade.

Load Up: Means your ammo limits per clip are increased. You get this skill from many armours but also from wearing the Barrage Piercing, which you get free from completing all normal trainings. I can’t recommend training school highly enough – go complete it now if you haven’t already.

Adrenaline +2: When you get very experienced, this is a great skill. When at less than 40% health, your damage increases by 30%, the single biggest boost of any skill except Felyne Heroics. Since Heroics no longer stacks with Adrenaline +2, I would suggest this one instead since Heroics only activates when you’re under 10 health, making it very dangerous. Being under 40% health isn’t fun but at least if a Cephalos gets niggly, it won’t one-shot you Being an experienced range player means you need never get hit, so being on reduced life isn’t an issue.

Defensive Manoeuvres: With HBG, you’ll need to roll a lot since you don’t move all that fast. This skill decreases the stamina used when rolling, which you’ll find very handy.

Recoil reduce: the Pierce and explosive shots have a big recoil, and different guns have different recoil rates. You should always be careful about when you shoot, but this skill can help you get more hits in.

Survival: in G rank, your gunner armour will have poor defence, and creatures in rage mode can kill in you one hit. Survival means that with 65 or more HP, no one hit in the game will kill you, it’ll leave you with 1 HP instead. From there, take one mega potion and one regular one, and you’re back to 65 HP

Earplugs: Not as essential for blademasters, but a great skill to have. You shouldn't often be within scream range or be able to evade through it if you are, but everyone makes mistakes. The difference is that for gunners in G rank they can be fatal

There are many other skills that can aid your HBG playing immensely, but the above are the ones I get the most mileage out of.

Combining Skills & Sets

There are some skills that are great by themselves and better in conjunction (Evade +2 and Evade Inc) and there are others useless when mixed (Reloading Speed + and Speed Fire). Here are some sets I use:

Naruga X with Blango Z helm, gemmed for Speed Fire, Evade +2, Evade Inc and Trap Master: possibly the most broken gunner set out there. Great defensive skills in Evade and a huge damage boost with Speed Fire. Looked down on by some because of the great skills, but if blademasters can have Sharpness +1, HGE and RA+2 sets, why can’t we have this?

Kirin X with Barrage Piercing, gemmed for Elemental Attack Up, Load Up, Runner and Divine Protection, with space for a 5 slot skill: A good all round set for element weak monsters. With the five slots, you can put in +5 to a resistance of your choice. Recommended for female characters .

Volganos X, gemmed for Pierce, Rapid or Scatter Up, Survival, Concentration: Obviously concentration is wasted on non-bow users, but the ability to have Survival plus an ammo Up skill, plus great defence is a good set.

Dragon Z, Black Belt X head, gemmed for Evade +2, Survival, Load Up and Adrenaline +2: The best advanced gunner set out there. Load Up is always good, and the Survival/Adrenaline combination match up is versatile: You can play defensively and use Survival as normal, or let yourself get hit so Adrenaline activates. Then, with Evade +2 you can avoid almost all attacks with some practice. While this set is notoriously hard to make (farming G rank Crimson Fatalis, anyone?), the skills make up for it.

Clearly, these are all G rank armour sets to aim for. In the early/mid game, the Obituary sets stand out as excellent with their Evade skills and free slots. The Final Invitation (Dual Rajang) can simply be done with the Daora HBG and Obituary armour gemmed for Evade +2 – how many other weapon classes can easily do dual Rajang with only Village Elder equips?

Other sets to aim for depend on your play style. For newer HBGers, I would suggest Guard skills combined with the Shield attachment, till you get more used to the playing style – the Hermitaur sets are good here. I’m an aggressive player, so I tend to go for the power barrel. Death Stench S is one of the few High rank sets with Speed Fire, so it comes highly recommended.

General Tactics

For each monster, you’ll need careful preparation and thought before heading off into a quest. Rocking up with whatever gun and armour can be the difference between a five minute quest and multiple failures. Once you’ve decided what monster to hunt, there are a few simple steps to make sure your quests are fast and fun. Basically, for anything you fight, you want at least three shots that will devastate that creature.

Firstly, is what you’re fighting elementally weak or not? Every creature has a weakness to an element, but if the creature in question is slightly weak to an element, then finding a gun that fires that element should be a secondary priority. But if you’re fighting something like a Khezu, Naruga, Blangonga or Chameleos, then bring your Fire S by all means. If it has two big weaknesses, then an elemental gun should be your first priority.

Secondly, are you fighting a long monster, fast monster or one with a big weak spot? For long monsters, look for guns that fire Pierce 2 and/or 3. For fast ones, Scatter 2 and 3 and Normal 2, and for ones with an obvious weak point (like Rathalos’s head or Rajang’s horns), then take Normal 2 and 3.

Always bring your strongest explosive (crag/clust) shot for if you get bored or for some quick damage, or to KO creatures in Ad hoc.

Once you start brawling and you’ve painted your creature and had all your buffs, start by emptying your elemental shots, then moving through your normal shots from best to worst. If you’ve planned correctly, it should be dead long before you run out of ammo. I often take combines for more NormalS lvl2 (see your combo book) since each combine gives you 2-4 Normal 2, and it should be your staple damage shot.

Let’s look at an example: Black Gravios.

It’s weak enough for Water S to be a good choice (less so on the normal one, but you’d still take it since it’s a pierce shot and Gravios is a long monster), and it’s long, so you want a gun with Pierce shots. The Daora HBG series has Water S capability and Pierce shots, with good damage, so you could take that. Or the Ceanataur guns would work too. Bring Clust S, since Gravios is open to being Clusted when it beams and the Black Grav tends to beam constantly.

But something like the Lao cannons, even though they have superior raw, wouldn’t work that well here. They fire Pierce 3, but not 1 or 2, and there’s little elemental support. You could use the Pierce All Add skill (adds shots to your weapon) but it’s a huge waste of 15 skill points.

For Rajang, you’ll want Ice S and Normal 2 and 3, since it’s fast. Scatter shots will work too since they require little aiming and Rajang doesn’t have much health. But Clust S won’t work since it doesn’t stand still often, though Crag S would work.

As long as you have your three good damage shots, an explosive shot for fun (not often needed though) and combines for more if needed, with a good armour set and an understanding of your prey’s moves, you’ll quickly own things.


Firstly, if you want strategies for any monster, post here and I’ll advise.

A good rule of thumb for creatures is that if it’s frustrating to melee, it’s great to gun. Plesioth is a great example: most people shudder when they need to do a plessy quest, but range players laugh. It’s such a simple fight it’s laughable. You Crag S to damage it and force it out of the water, then you loose Thunder S at it, then Fire S, then Pierce 3. By this point, all going well it’s well and truly dead, and it’s about 15 mins into that G rank plesioth quest

If you’re playing multi, then your status shots are worth bringing. Para S Lvl 2 and Sleep Lvl 2 become massive damage potential dealers. Also, Recover S shots will mean your team mates will love you, but be careful not to hit the monster as your shots actually will heal it too…

Hate fighting Blosses? Equip a shield! This way, the roars won’t be an issue, and the constant charges can just be tanked: let it run over you (you auto-block), then turn and Scatter the tail (the weak spot). Of course, if you’re in a zone with a ledge, use it. No more Blos problems! You’ll need Evade +2 ideally though, since those rage mode charges hurt even if blocked.

Think outside the square with what you gun. Most people gun creatures like Plessy that are obvious. But what about Naruga? Take in an Evade +2 set and some Fire S. I’ve done the Dual Naruga G rank quest in 17 minutes, solo, with the Czar Lao Cannon. Even the solo HR8 Naruga can be killed in 5 mins flat like that! Remember that MH is designed so every class can solo every monster.

I find the Marathon quests are great to take guns on, since you can take many types of shots to tailor to different creatures. The Black Blos, Black Grav and Naruga quest is a great example: Pierce the Blos, scatter the tail when you can, Water S the Grav and use the rest of your pierce S. Fire S and Thunder S the Naruga. When done with the Czar Lao cannon, it’s done solo in ~20 mins. A great way to farm for Naruga and Grav plates.

Heavy Bowgun is a great class, but does require practice and thinking outside of your usual Blademaster comfort zone. While you can do a lot of damage constantly, you’ll need to get used to evading more and getting hit less. Even in G rank, Blademasters can usually afford to get hit a little bit, that’s why your defence is doubled. But for gunners, one hit can simply be death.

If you have any question or suggestions, by all means post them and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Analysis © mazereon 2008

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