Understanding Melee Damage
The way damage works in Monster Hunter is a complicated affair. You’ve got raw damage, which is modified by how sharp your weapon is, which in turn can be affected by affinity. And then, your weapon might have elemental or status attributes, and we haven’t even started looking at monster hitzones or quest modifiers…
This guide aims to give you a simple and accurate understand of how the main damage elements fit together, and how to use that information to choose the best weapon for your given situation.
This is a reasonably long guide, and I’ve tried to keep the math to a minimum, but it is pretty dense. You might need to read it a couple of times to get it, and if you don’t understand the whole thing right away that’s OK. Give it some time to sink in.
On the other hand, if this makes complete sense, I highly recommend Lord Grahf’s, Deathslayer31′s and HolywoodChuck’s Damage Forumla FAQs. They’re made for each MH game, and can be found on GameFAQs boards under the ‘FAQs’ tab.
Raw damage is pretty simple – it’s the main number displayed on a weapon’s description. Items like Powercharms and talons and Spa/Food buffs, as well as any in-quest buffs, will change this number. To see what it is after all these variables, just have a look at your status screen while in a quest.
Raw damage is important because every creature is weak to it. While creatures can have varying resistance to raw damage on different hitzones, raw is reasonably consistent, and a connecting hit will always do some damage. Elemental damage on the other hand is much less universally useful, and creatures can actually take no damage from some elements.
While raw damage is important, it’s only one factor in the overall formula, though often the most important one.
Every melee weapon has a certain colour of ‘sharpness’, which is displayed on the weapon’s information screen. These colours are:
Sharpness colour Multiplier (2G/Unite) Multiplier (Tri and P3rd)
Red 0.5 0.5
Orange 0.75 0.75
Yellow 1.0 1.0
Green 1.125 1.05
Blue 1.25 1.2
White 1.3 1.32
Purple 1.5 1.5
Each level of sharpness is a ‘multiplier’ for your weapon’s raw. For example, Purple is a 1.5 multiplier. This means that a weapon with purple sharpness and 100 raw damage would end up doing 150 raw (100 x 1.5), before you look at monster’s hitzones and defence variables. Sharpness multipliers are very important, since they can greatly increase the potential damage of your weapons. When your weapon dulls after hitting a creature, you will drop a sharpness level and then you’ll be doing less damage until you sharpen your weapon again. The skill Sharpness +1 (10 points into Artisan in FU/2G and 15 points into Handicraft in Tri) boosts the level of sharpness of your weapon, which in most cases elevates you one colour up. Also important is sharpness length, which tells you how long you can hit a creature before dropping a sharpness colour. A weapon with Purple sharpness is very powerful, but if it only has a very small amount of purple you’ll need to stop to sharpen it often to maintain optimum damage.
Affinity is the third major part of the player’s damage calculation. Affinity is a % chance to do a critical hit. A positive critical hit adds 25% damage (so, multiply your damage by 1.25) and a negative critical hit means you lose 25% damage (so, you multiply your damage by 0.75). Affinity increases or decreases in 5% increments.
Weapons all have a starting affinity value (many will have neutral, or no, level of affinity and so will never get critical hits by themselves) which can be modified by the skill Reckless Abandon (Critical Eye in Tri). You can have this skill in +1 (10 points into Reckless Abandon, RA) +2 (15 points into RA) or +3 (20 points into RA), and each level you have increases your affinity by 10%. This means RA+1 gives you +10% affinity, +2 is +20% and +3 is +30%.
Affinity is related to sharpness. When you drop a sharpness grade from hitting a creature, your affinity % will also decrease until your weapon is restored to maximum sharpness. When you are increasing sharpness, there’s a synergy associated with it in some certain conditions. For example, if you are using a Sharpness +1 and RA+3 set in FU, and your weapon is going from negative or neutral affinity to positive AND you’re going to Purple sharpness, you’ll get 40% affinity instead of the 30% RA+3 normally provides. This RA/Sharpness synergy works only in very few circumstances, so don’t worry if this paragraph doesn’t make sense!
While affinity hits are completely random, you can calculate them to average out over time. Every 10% of affinity you have is basically 2.5% damage over time added (10% chance of occurring x 25% damage). So, 20% affinity is +5% damage over time, etc. If you had -30% affinity, you’d lose 7.5% damage over time.
So even weapons with massive negative affinity are still worth using if they have good raw damage or sharpness.
Note that affinity doesn’t affect elemental damage. So if your weapon has affinity and element, and you get a critical hit, you don’t do boosted (or reduced) elemental damage.
The easiest way to work out your affinity multiplier is to use the following table:
Your affinity % Multiplier
0 (ie, no multiplier)
Elemental damage is listed on your weapon’s info page, next to your weapons’ raw. Not all weapons have elemental damage. Some only have elemental damage when you have the ‘Awakening’ skill active.
Elemental damage comes in five flavours: Fire, Ice, Thunder, Water and Dragon. Every creature is divided into hitzones in the damage formula, and each zone has a certain weakness to Cutting damage, Shot damage, Impact damage and each of the five elements.
Elemental damage is also calculated much more consistently per hit. While each raw damage hit uses a set % of your weapon’s raw, each elemental hit is calculated the same. That means if a Long Sword with 500 fire hits a Ludroth, it’ll do the exact same Fire damage as a Sword and Shield with 500 fire (as long as both weapons have the same sharpness). This is why element is often recommended for faster weapons – they tend to use smaller raw damage %’s, but can do a lot of elemental damage quickly.
Elemental damage is helpful, but should rarely be the main damage you look for. A rule of thumb is that elemental damage is helpful if you’re able to consistently hit a creature’s hitzone that’s at least 30 ‘weak’ to it (you can find these numbers in the melee damage FAQ on GameFAQs). Below that number, you’ll want to not really bother with elemental damage unless it’s required to break a certain part on a monster.
Conversely, if you’re using a Sword and Shield or Dual Sword set, you don’t need elemental damage, and raw SnS/DS sets can be very effective. If you’re attacking a hitzone that’s ’50′ weak to cutting damage or above, then you can actually successfully use a raw SnS/DS.
It’s really important that you look up the Melee Damage formula to see a creature’s elemental weakness, as simply looking at the resistances on its armour isn’t accurate, and it won’t tell you where on its body a creature is weak to an element.
How these all fit together
It’s an overwhelming picture at first, but understanding how these different aspects of damage work together will really help you choose weapons much more appropriately if you’re looking for maximum efficiency.
The basic formula – and this does not include monster’s elemental weaknesses or hitzones, or defence and quest modifiers – is:
Raw x sharpness x affinity.
So, say you have a Great sword with 400 raw, green sharpness and 10% affinity in MH Tri. Plugging those numbers in, using the affinity and sharpness multipliers from the tables above, you get:
400 (raw) x 1.05 (green sharpness) x 1.025 (average bonus from 10% affinity) = 430 (always round down to the nearest whole number as the game engine does this.)
Another example would be a Switch Axe, with white sharpness , with 1180 raw and -20% affinity.
1180 x 1.32 x 0.95 = 1479.
As you can see, the more your raw increases, the more effective a high sharpness multiplier will be. And since affinity uses a proportion of your weapon’s raw, the higher your raw, the more effective affinity boosting skills are. Since these three numbers are all multipliers, they can go in any order, but I like raw/sharpness/affinity.
Now, you have a method for comparing damage for weapons, but only for weapons from the same weapon class. You can’t use this to directly compare a Great Sword to a Switch Axe, because those weapons have different class modifiers and use different %’s of the weapons’ raw damage. Just use it to compare within a class. Elemental damage though is simple, you can compare it directly since all classes use the same formula for elemental damage.
If you really do want to compare raw damage within classes, take your final result and divide it by the ‘class modifier’ for each weapon. After you’ve done that, you’ll have a more even (though still flawed) comparison. The class modifiers are (for Tri onwards):
Bowgun and Bow 1.2
Sword and Shield, Dual Swords 1.4
Lance and Gunlance 2.3
Hammer and Hunting Horn 5.2
Switch Axe 5.4
So, let’s say you want to fight a Barioth in Tri, and do it with either a Long Sword or a Lance.
Let’s say your Lance is 276 raw, blue sharpness, and no affinity, with 100 Fire.
The imaginary LS is 429 raw, green sharpness, 10% affinity, and 120 Fire.
Firstly, let’s work out the lance.
276 x 1.2 x 1.0 = 331. Dividing by the class multipler: 331 / 2.3 = 144, with 10 Fire (because elemental damage is divided by ten in the formula for most MH games – more on this below!).
Secondly, the Long Sword.
429 x 1.05 x 1.025 = 461. Now, we divide by the class mod: 461 / 3.3 = 139, with 12 Fire (again, 120 Fire divided by 10).
So, in a very rough way, we’re looking at 144 +10 on the lance and 139 +12 on the LS, making the Lance slightly superior, even though it has much lower raw. This is a very crude calculation, but it should show you that there are a lot of factors going on in damage, and just looking at the raw is very deceptive.
Special Notes About Portable 3rd
If you’re playing Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, you’ll quickly notice that the raw and elemental damage numbers look much smaller. So what’s going on?
The reality is that weapons function the same as before and aren’t all suddenly nerfed - it’s just that Capcom are trying to be a bit more transparent about how the weapons work.
The full damage formula always ends up dividing Elemental damage by 10 in previous games, so if you want to see what a weapon’s elemental damage would have been displayed as in previous games, just add a ’0′ on the end (so, 40 becomes 400, for example).
Raw damage has always been artificially inflated in previous games because it’s multiplied by the class modifier, and then later the damage formula divides it by the class modifier. So if you’d like to see what a hammer’s raw in P3rd would have previously been displayed as, just multiply it by 5.2 (as per the class modifier numbers above).
What you see when the numbers are divided by the class modifier is called the ‘True Attack Power’, and it’s what P3rd displays.
So, the main points you should be happy with now:
· Damage is a relationship between raw, affinity, elemental and sharpness
· A weapon with very low affinity can still be great if it has good raw and or sharpness
· Elemental damage can be useful, but is not as important as raw damage.
· Elemental damage is calculated the same for all weapons, and more hits does mean more elemental damage. That’s why it works well on weapons that hit fast.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by the forums and ask questions about it.
Thanks for reading!