MHW Iceborne: Gunlancer Guide – Explosions are Magic

Written by Allen

January 31, 2020

So, I’ve been playing Monster Hunter World again thanks to the Iceborne expansion as well as free time finally being a thing again. And ever since I picked it up I’ve been a huge fan of the gunlance, there’s a few changes with Iceborne so here I am to share my knowledge about how it works and What I would recommend on how to use this oversized bayonet.


The Gunlance, Weaknesses and Strengths

One of the most attractive things about the gunlance is that it can be both a good tank and a source of good, reliable damage. The base form pretty much looks like Squall’s gunblade but much, much larger. It comes in tandem with a shield which lets you get by most situations with simply blocking, which is a much easier learning curve than mastering dodge timings. While it doesn’t pull out wild numbers like the long sword or great sword, it’s less risky or complex, where what you mostly need is good positioning rather than anything else.

On the other hand, it’s rather unwieldy in terms of mobility. Your default move speed is terrible, so chasing a monster down is the last thing you want to do. This makes it difficult to use against the types of Rathalos, Kirin and Rajang. 

The unique feature of the gunlance is its capacity to do shelling, which is firing shots while in the face of your target. While it doesn’t benefit from elemental effects, the damage it deals ignores defenses and does pretty much the same damage regardless if you hit a weak spot or not.


How the Gunlance Works

The basic attack moveset of boomstick with shield consists of thrusts and swings. Thrusts are pretty straightforward, you can do it three times before having to stop, but you can cancel your combo with a shell shot and repeat the combo. It can also be pointed upwards for anti air, but my experience tells me it’s a bit difficult to hit an enemy with since the range is hard to tell. Swings are generally slower, but stronger and have a much wider hit box. Generally, you want to use thrusts when you need your guard back up quickly and swings when you know you’re safe.

Shelling is the where ‘gun’ part of the gunlance comes in. It deals pretty much the same damage wherever it hits, weakpoint or not, this is where most of its reliable damage comes from. You typically use it to extend or power up combo attacks. Wrymsteak Cannon as well as Wyvern Fire kinda works in a similar way, where they are used to pack in extra damage at the end of an attack, but Wyvern Fire also doubles up as a great ‘wake-up call’ for sleeping monsters.


New function – Wyrmsteak Blast

In the Iceborne expansion you get a new way to use your slinger ammo, which is turning into an attachable proximity bomb. The idea is you use the new clutch attack to reliably get new slinger ammo, then load that into the gunlance.

How it works, after you get to stick it onto a monster, is that it makes additional explosions when you hit it closely enough with gunlance shells. It’s not as strong, but it makes good bonus damage since the explosions also deal fixed damage. So effectively, you’re adding a sweet spot for your gunlance to blast off on.

The strength of the blast this sticky mine makes seems relative to what sort of explosion hits it. So stronger hits makes it respond with stronger damage. Other weapons can also trigger it, blasts from somebody else’s gunlance, or special types of shots from the Light or Heavy Bowgun. The type of slinger ammo appears to affect it too, but only in terms of duration. A full load of Dragon Pod ammo lasts much, much longer than a full load of Stones or Redpit.

It’s possible for more than one of these exploding stakes to be on one monster, so long as different players put them on. So it can be quite the game of pin the tail on the donkey when you have two or more gunlance users in your team.


Gunlance Builds

I generally think there’s three ways to play gunlance, and these are the following:

Frontline – You stay in the target’s face, block, and poke as much as you can. You can make use of the shelling just to quickly extend your simple combo. This kind of strategy works well for elemental/status type gunlances. I’d recommend this for wide type gunlances. You don’t make impressive damage numbers but you’re particularly difficult to kill, on top of being able to deal damage easily.

Recommended Skills


Reason why

Guard Up If you’re going to block, might as well block everything Nice to have
Ironwall At least Lv 3, reduces guard damage to a negligible amount Very Useful
Offensive Guard Damage boost after a flash-guard Nice to have
Flinch Free You get to stay in front and counter immediately Required
Resistances Matching elemental resistance is a must, status depends on the monster Required
Mind’s Eye So they can’t deflect you Nice to have
Elemental / Status Boosts Pretty useful for this strategy Very Useful

Full Burst – Normal type gunlances are pretty much made for this. While they can also do what the other shell types can, they excel the most when using them in full burst, where all of the remaining shells are detonated at once. Depending on how you setup your skills, the damage can be good to great. You’ll also want to invest in using the Wyrmsteak Blast when the opportunity presents itself. Generally you want to find a good safe spot to pull off the combo, note that the bulk of the combo damage is dealt on the full-burst attack and the side-swipe, so you’ll want to either loop with a quick-reload or a side-step as often as possible. This is probably one of the more complex types to learn, as you have to learn how to use all sorts of gunlance swings and know when to use them.

Recommended Skills


Reason why

Protective Polish Full burst basically ruins gunlance sharpness like it’s nothing Required
Artillery Substantial boost in damage Very Useful
Affinity Up Things that passively raise affinity Nice to have
Speed Sharpening You’ll probably have to sharpen mid-fight Nice to have
Weakness Exploit If you know how to position yourself, see the damage numbers fly Required
Critical Boost Yes, more damage Nice to have
Evade Extender Surprisingly useful at Lv 2, making step-dodging pretty viable Required

Charged Shooter – My favorite build, which favors the long-type gunlance the most thanks to the range it makes on charged shells. Probably the toughest part about using this build is getting the Wyrmsteak Blast attached, this is pretty much a must for this style as it boosts the damage you make by about 60%. Otherwise it’s all about knowing how to aim the gunlance while charging and knowing the rhythm of charging the shells. Yes, you can aim with the gunlance, in fact, it can shoot straight up which is pretty bad-ass because not only does it serve as a great anti-air tool for high-flyers, but it also looks like an iconic gundam pose. I took out Lunastra once with that pose, it was damn satisfying.

Recommended Skills


Reason why

Artillery At least Lv 3 as shelling is the main source of damage Required
Earplugs Maxed out, you’ll hate getting your charge interrupted so often by monster roars. Required
Focus 15% faster charging at Lv 3 doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it really helps. Required
Ironwall Pretty hard to dodge after a charged shot, block instead Nice to have
Flinch Free Getting blown away means getting out of range. Nice to have


Alternative Weapons
Sometimes no matter what you do the old reliable hand cannon just isn’t a good fit for the quest you’re taking on, so you may be better off using alternatives to get the job done. Of course, you can switch to any other weapon you find appealing, but these felt like very natural go-to types for me.


Dual Blades

Aside from the fact that you’re going full anime, with this weapon you’ve completely changed your approach to fighting monsters as it’s pretty much the polar opposite of the heavy, bulky gunlance. Dodging and maneuvering is very easy, it also doesn’t have too difficult of a learning curve. Your experience with being up close will help you read tells that the monster gives.


Heavy Bowgun

If you prefer the ‘gun’ part of the gunlance, this is going all-in. Typically I this used for monsters I really couldn’t get close to without face-planting. Using specialized ammo against the mark makes up for the lack of direct firepower. Also, you can make builds that either specialize in healing allies or use two shield attachments to become an even burlier tank.

That’s about it, if you haven’t tried wielding the gunlance, all that you’re left to learn is what experience, or several carts will. Good luck and good hunting.

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