This guide still can be served as a basic tutorial on how to use the weapon and what armor skills are needed for a proper meta build.
In the meantime, you can check out the MHW Iceborne Guide in the posts below
Looking for Pre-Fatalis Great Sword build? Check out our previous guide for Great Sword. Table…
MHW Switch Axe Overview
Switch Axe Basic Attacks
The starting form of MHW Switch Axe. Axe mode attacks are slow, but deal high damage and has long reach. While it should not be your main combo for this weapon, knowing how to utilize Axe form is the first step to master the Switch Axe.
- Vertical Swings
Three axe swing finished with an overhead slash, can be looped indefinitely, but mostly used as a starter for combos.
This is also used for reaching monster part like tail (just like the gif above)
- Forward Slash
The hunter will move forward covering a wide distance with a thrust. This can be follow by the basic combo.
- Wild Swing
You will widly swing the axe until your little yellow bar (stamina) run out. While it can be a good damage dealer, the animation will lock your hunter in a place and widely open to attacks.
With that said, this is mostly used as a starter for the Sword combo (will discuss more below)
- Fade Slash
- Sword Morph
You can press during any combo to fluily switch to Sword mode by a quick slash. There is another effective way to trigger this down below.
Similar to the Charge Blade – which you need to charge up the shield part with the Sword attacks. Switch Axe attacks in axe form to gather energy (indicate by the small bar in the sword icon) and finally allow you to transform the gigantic axe to a sword.
The sword form of Switch Axe bear a similarity to the Great Sword, but is imbued with speed and a powerful Elemental Discharge ability.
- Basic Combo
- Vertical Slash >> Double Slash >> Heavenward Flurry
While this look cool and all. Suprisingly, it’s not the best way to dish out damage with Switch Axe. The unique trait of this attack is that its capable of charging up the amped state (indicate by the outer light of the sword icon)
- Element Discharge
Using the energy of the Sword, release damage and finish with a big explosion.
- Fade Slash
This can be used as an evasive option when nessesary
- Axe Morph
The sword icon flash when it’s full.
Attacking during Sword mode also fill up the area around the sword icon. When this is full, you will trigger the Amped state of MHW Switch Axe.
During this state, your attacks will also dish out the additional explosion damage corresponding to the Phial types of the current Switch Axe. While this sound familiar if you played Charge Blade before, there’s a catch – The phials of MHW Switch Axe is divided into the following:
- Power phial – Straight up increase attack power during Amped State.
- Power element phial – Further increase the current element of the Switch Axe. These are often seen on Elemental Charge Blade
- Paralysis/Poison/Dragon phial – Grant additional elemental effect during Amped State
- Exhaust phial – Grant the ability to drain monster’s stamina and capable of KOing the monster when hit on the head.
Notes: All these effects can only triggered during Amped State! Sword mode attacks will help you achieve this state. This also highlight the agressiveness playstyle of this weapon. You will need to maintain the uptime of this state during the hunt.
Advance Attacks & Tactics
Best way to play MHW Switch Axe is to understand how to use the morph mechanic effectively. While the Sword mode offers significantly damage and speed, it’s easy to get carried away while performing that fancy Heavenward Flurry and is forcefully morphed back to the Axe in an awkward motion.
This is the last thing you want to do while using Switch Axe. With that out of the waw, the key thing to remember is to use R2 at the right time and manage that little bar on the top-left corner
Below are the most common combos to use when in Axe mode to “switch” into Sword.
- Wild Swing >> Sword Morph
This is the best combo to quickly switch from Axe mode to Sword mode. By morphing during Wild Swing, the hunter will perform a wide attack (similar to a cyclone) and switch to Sword mode in the process.
This swing attack right before the morp is also produce highest damage in Axe mode, making it a perfect candidates to wake the sleeping monster.
Wild Swing to Sword Morph also produce highest Axe damage. But please, do not follow the below gif…
Alternatively, you can change to Sword mode anytime by using the normal R2 method, this is also useful, just make sure you are not switching while the gauge is low.
Switch Axe Best Combos
All of the best combos of MHW Switch Axe come from Sword mode. Knowing which moves to utilize and when to stop and morph back to Axe is the key thing to master MHW Switch Axe
Another thing to mention here is the ability to charge up the Amped state of Switch Axe. While each attack during Sword mode is capable of filling this gauge. The most useful one is the Heavenward Flurry (That fancy jumping roundhouse slash)
The most common mistakes while playing Switch Axe is swinging the sword without any ideas to manage the sword gauge.
- Heavenward Flurry (For achieving Amped State)
Heavenward Flurry serve mostly as an charge attacks to achieved Amped State quickly
After that, the most commonly used combo to deal damage is the Basic Sword Combo follow up by the Double Slash.
After my failed Element Discharge, I followed this up with the Basic combo of Switch Axe follow by a double slash.
- Basic attacks >> Double Slash >> Repeat
This should be your main asernal to dealing damage in a short time.
During this combo, you can either roll out with … at any time, or if the chance come in, follow this with the Elemental Discharge
Switch Axe Elemental Discharge
This is the “ultimate” of MHW Switch Axe. At any time during Sword Mode, pressing will allow the hunter to thrust the Sword forward, releasing the power inside in a big explosion.
If you perform this during Amped State, the hunter will leap onto the monster, and deliver the explosion “directly”. It’s worth mention that this will also automatically morph your Sword back into the Axe after the finisher.
You can cancel this at any time by pull back on the analog and press triangle.
While this move is certainly powerful, don’t rush and spamming this left right and center as even when it’s “look like” mounting, you still take damage and under effect of any attacks.
Even roar can also disrupt this skill. So just like any powerful finisher, use it when you guarantee that monster doesn’t have chance to escape.
MHW Switch Axe Quick Guide
- Try not to let’s the Sword to be automatically switched back to axe, as the animation is slow and will leave you open for attacks
- Waking monster with Wild Swing >> Sword Morph. This is also the highest damage Axe attack.
- Don’t spam the Heavenward Flurry, as it’s not your main combo capable of high damage output. It is used specificaly for filling Amped State
- Try to use the Basic Sword combo follow by the Double Slash and repeat. This should be your main focus after acheiving Amped State.
- Element Discharge look cool, but it’s also not for spamming, as the animation will lock your character in place. Doing this in Amped State also doesn’t protect you from any harm. It’s not mounting attacks.
- Learn to dodge! Iframe and evade at the right time should be your main focus for harder fights. This is because Switch Axe doesn’t have any protective mechanism right off the bat.
MHW Switch Axe Playstyle & Builds
Let’s take a look at what is the key armor skills that can empower a good Switch Axe build. As usual, we start off with the Attack Boosts one.
Anything that help increase your damage counts
- Attack Boosts – Pretty straightforward, increase your attack damage by an amount, however, try to aim for the “sweet spot” Level 4 Attack Boosts will increase your affinity as well (Monster Hunter critical chance)
- Agitator – Increase attack power when monsters become enraged – I never see any calm monsters when being poked in the ass. This will give you attack power (Start at 4 and increase by 4 per level) and affinity rate (starting from 3% and increase by 3% per level) This skill can be obtained from the infamous discs cover monsters – Nergigante or the Challenger Charm.
- Peak Performance – Increase Damage when your health is full. This is recommended when you already augment weapon with health. Otherwise, it requires more skill to dodge and block.
As the nature of your combo and attacks, below armor skills can be considered as Core Switch Axe skills:
- Focus – Increases the fill rate for weapons with gauges and the charge rate for weapons with charge attacks.
This speed up the fill rate of your Sword – giving you the chance to cause more havoc with that powerful Elemental Discharge.
- Power Prolonger – Allow weapons to stay powered longer (Long Sword/ Insect Glaive/ Switch Axe/ Dual Blade/ Charge Blade Sword Charged) Enhancer Jewel 2 also provide this skill
This is used to maintain the Amped State of the Sword mode, while this may get a little tricky to come up with a build solely on armor for this particular skill. You probaby want to farm for that little jewel instead.
For Affinity – Who doesn’t love a little slash icon for critical?
- Critical Eye – Increase Affinity directly (3% each level until level 4, after that it will be 5%)
- Weakness Exploit – 30% Affinity when hitting weak spots of monsters. With the tendency to hits a lot, this is a great addition for Insect Glaive.
- Critical Boosts – Increase Critical Damage by 30% (+5% each level, max 3 level)
- Maximum Might – Increase Affinity while stamina is full (10%/lvl cap at 30%)
- Handicraft – Increase sharpness by 10 each level (Max at 50 – Level 5) This boost your damage by 32% (At white level sharpness) The more sharpness you have, the better. But not all weapons can achieve white sharpness even with this skill.
- Protective Polish – You get this from Odogaron set (4 pieces) or the Sharp Jewel (Level 2) The jewel is pretty hard to get thanks to RNG. This is a true end game skill.
This is the build I picked for my playthrough with MHW Switch Axe. In a quick catch, it gives us the following armor skills:
As pointed out in the comment section. This was updated
For Head Armor, I go with Dragonking Eyepatch Alpha – a safe choice when it’s come to High Rank armor, this provides you with one level 3 slot which can give you some more customization. I add in the Tenderizer Jewel 2 to max out the Weakness Exploit.
For Chest Armor, you can pick a Safe choice with the Drachen Chest (Give us 2 points in Critical Eyes & 1 point in Critical Boosts)
Nergigante Coil & Greaves – This is pretty straightforward to increase your damage
- Attack Boosts Level 2
- Agitator level 1
- Maximum Might
Finally, Drachen Vambraces was picked for Critical Boosts level 2 and Attack Boosts level 1. You can simply slot in an Attack Jewel and get your level 4 Attack Boosts easily
Charm & Jewels
The Jewels I used in this build:
- Elementless Jewel – Non-elemental Boosts
- Tenderizer Jewel 2 – Weakness Exploit
- Attack Jewel – 1 point attack boosts
Elemntless Jewel is a rare one, but the skill it’s provided is a must have for any build related to raw damage weapon (non elemental) which this build focus on
For Charm, it’s more on the situational side. If you prefer a more aggressive approach, any charms that enhance the attack skills mentioned above is fine.
For me personally, I used the Master Charm just for the sake of improving the Affinity of the current weapon
This Diablos’s product (again) stat speak for itself. Bearing highest damage in Switch Axe tree, combine with Power Phial, you have yourself a cannon.
This is also the reason that you need that Elementless Jewel it will further boost the damage of this weapon to an impressive number. Just like other weapons from Diablos, this also have Ice as Hidden Element – if you want to use this, sneak in some Free Element armor skills to unlock it.
Switch Axe End-game Builds
The above is just a quick starter if you don’t have them fancy jewels. As almost all of the end game builds rely very heavily on the Decoration part, which is a pain given the RNG nature of the game.
Below are some current meta builds (Before Tempered Nergigante) Tribute to The Current Metabuilds from Reddit Community
Switch Axe Devil Jo
- Chest, Glove, Waist, Leg – Drachen Alpha
- Head – Nergigante Alpha
- Jewels – Tenderizer x 3, Expert x 1, Critical x 1, Mighty x 1
Switch Axe – Kulve Water Weapon
- Armor set – Same as above with a slight change on the Head Armor – Switch to Beta Nergigante for two extra Attack Jewels
- Jewels – Attack x 3, Tenderizer x 3, Critical x 1
If you are wondering what should be your next weapon, and you are interested in the weapon that can change form, or testing the water with Technical weapon, Switch Axe is a great choice.
In general, it does not take much time to get used to MHW Switch Axe once you know the basic grasp of other melee weapons. Compare to MHW Charge Blade, the Switch Axe’s learning curve is more accessible and you will not run short of any cool-looking attacks.
With the upcoming Icer Borne updates, it’s time for you to spice up the weapons mastery tree, Why not “Switch” Axe?
My Ranged weapon guide so far:
Or Check out my guides on other melee weapons
- Monster Hunter World – Long Sword Guide and Meta Builds (2019)
- Monster Hunter World – Sword and Shield Guide
- Monster Hunter World – Charge Blade Guide & Best Charge Blades List
- Monster Hunter World – Gun Lance Guide
- Monster Hunter World – Insect Glaive Guide
MHW Iceborne Weapon Guide!
My latest weapon guide for MHW Iceborne is the Hammer! If you decide to switch to a new weapon during your Iceborne playthrough, make sure to take the hammer into your consideration!