Ask most hunters what first comes to mind when you mention Sword and Shield and you'll probably end up with descriptions and reviews that make you wonder why the Sword and Shield is still in this game. After all, it's just that trash that helps get beginners used to the game, right? Once you grow up, you leave 'em behind. There's no way a Sword and Shield could make it into the endgame...
Oh how horribly wrong you are. While once the Sword and Shield may have been these things, it is no longer and it stands beautifully well against other weapon classes in the endgame. It might not have spectacular finishers or sparkles as you fight, but it is tried-and-true and you should not overlook it.
|Light, mobile, with fast combos, even comes with a shield!||Low raw and no flashy burst ability|
|You can use items without sheathing your weapon||The shield is very weak since it's small and doesn't guard well|
|Apply special oils to your weapon to buff it in two different ways. No other weapon can use these oils|
|X||Basic slash attack, combo twice and end with a charged slash|
|A||Horizontal slash which can combo three times, or after X-X combo, hold the left circle pad down and press for a charged slash. Move while pressing A to start a shield attack chain|
|X+A||Forward lunging slash attack|
|R||Block with shield|
|R+Y||Use item or apply oil|
The Sword and Shield has an immense number of different unique combos that you should experiment and discover which ones you prefer best. The A combo can chain three times, and you can chain the X combo twice and then follow up with a powered up charged slash. After doing the forward lunging slash attack, you can do a four attack long X combo, or immediately apply oil without delay.
You should consistently bring oils with you, particularly the affinity oil, to boost your power. The goal of the Sword and Shield is to remain close to the monster and keep on attacking. Your low raw but your unmatched mobility means you have no excuse to be constantly in and out and in and out to maintain high damage per second!
You lose your charged slash that you can perform at the end of a two attack X combo. Shucks. In exchange, you can equip three Hunting Arts, so be sure to compensate for the damage you potentially lose by not being able to do the charged attack! There are plenty of damaging Hunting Arts to pick from so make sure you use them often to lay on the hurt.
Your first two A attacks will always be a Shield Attack followed by a Shield Bash. When you successfully vault off of a monster, you will automatically perform a vertical slash. Cool, right? Follow up with X for a downward slash and then press X again when you land for another upwards slash! Aerial Style can equip one Hunting Art.
As with Aerial Style, your A attacks are fixed to the shield attack chain. Unlike Aerial Style, you can no longer charge your charged attack, although the command is still there and will do something similar (just without the charge). Instead, you have two types of perfect evades for Adept Sword and Shield.
If you do a perfect evade via the traditional evasive rolling, press X to do a jumping attack that can also deal mount damage, and then press X again to start the horizontal slash combo that is missing in Aerial and Adept style. Or, after the perfect evade, press X+A to do a lower jumping attack (still deals mounting damage). Then press X again to start the horizontal slash combo. Or, if you successfully evade via a roll and don't want to do anything, press R+Y to quick-use an item.
You do have a small evasive window in Adept Style during the backhop you do before doing the (not really) charged attack. If you evade during that time through a monster's attack, you will automatically launch forward while doing an overhead slash. Follow up with X for the horizontal slash combo or with X+A to do the same low jumping attack that was mentioned above, and you can follow up in a similar manner.
Unlike other weapons with shields, Guard skills really aren't going to help you much due to how weak your small little shield is. It's highly recommended you just ignore the shield altogether and use it for situational shield bashes, critical emergencies, and so you can use an item without sheathing your weapon. Instead, focus on building up your attack through Attack and Critical Hit skills and also Elemental or Status Up skills and consider investing in Evasion Skills.
If you're online a lot, consider taking advantage of your ability to quickly use items on the spot and invest in the skill Wide Range. This will cause (most, not all) items you ingest to affect everyone in your party! Potions for everyone. If you have the room for it (wow), you can even take this a step further and get Speed Eating +2 , which will greatly increase the speed with which you ingest said Potions.