In a game full of obscure and/or unexplained mechanics, the MHW Elderseal effect might be the worst offender. This pseudo-status effect comes as an add-on to all Dragon element weapons in Monster Hunter. Other than that, the game practically goes out of its way to obfuscate what the special damage type actually does, how to trigger it, and how much it matters in your regular hunts. That’s why I put together this MHW Elderseal guide to hopefully shine just the tiniest bit of light on perhaps the most poorly understood mechanic in series history.
Here’s the gist: Elderseal is a status effect. It functions almost identically to Poison, Paralysis, and Sleep damage. It also functions a bit like Blast in that its effect, once triggered, is pretty much immediate. Though it’s not nearly as easy to detect. This might be one of the reasons so many players think the damage type isn’t. When using Elderseal correctly, you should see less action onscreen, not more. In reality it’s just as reliable as any other status effect in the game — just more situational.
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That’s because the “elder” in Elderseal refers to Elder Dragons. The status effect only works on these high-level monsters. It also has a different effect on each (and no effect at all in a few special cases). It’s a bit like the Elder Dragon version of exhaust damage — a supplemental ability that makes fights safer, quicker, and easier. Whereas exhaust damage doesn’t work on Elder Dragons, Eldserseal doesn’t work on normal creatures, either. That’s the trade-off. But because it only comes as a supplement to other damage you’re doing anyway, it sure doesn’t hurt!
It’s also easy to confuse Elderseal with normal flinching. That’s because activating an Elderseal on a monster will, in fact, cause an instant flinch. That’s always a good opening to deal more damage, heal, sharpen, and more. But that’s not all. The Elderseal “proc” will also trigger a special effect depending on the dragon in question. This usually also slows the creatures down considerably, since many Elder Dragons need to “charge up” to use their signature moves.
Teostra is a perfect example. The lion-faced firebug can surround itself with damaging flames. This normally remains until it uses Supernova: the ultimate attack so many new players fall prey to in this fight. However, Teostra cannot use Supernova if its flames are doused. Elderseal puts out the fire armor, protecting you from both the damage over time and the super-attack (for a time). The same goes for Nergigante: Elderseal snaps off its black spikes. And since Nergigante can only dive bomb when its spikes are black, you are more protected than usual, as well as able to do more damage by contending with softer weak points.
This is true for most Elder Dragons, because they need to charge up those special attacks. And any time you’re not blocking, evading, or healing damage dealt from a super is more time you’re damaging your foe. Like most skills besides Critical Eye, this often gets overlooked in the game’s meta. The community even seems strangely hostile toward Elderseal in particular…
Known MHW Elderseal effects include:
- Nergigante – Breaks off its black spikes, forcing them to regrow and becomes softer, white spikes.
- Teostra – Deactivates heat shield.
- Lunastra – Deactivates fiery aura.
- Vaal Hazak – Dissipates Effluvial miasma.
- Kirin – Switches off the electric shield that causes weapons to bounce off its torso.
- Kushala Daora – Switches off the wind shield that pushes nearby players away from its torso.
- Namielle – Deactivates electrical charge (when crackling with energy) and drains away water (when glowing brightly after soaking water off the ground).
- Velkhana – Shatters icy armor, reducing defenses and delaying frost nova.
- Xeno’Jiva – Shortens the time it spends enraged.
- Safi’Jiva – Expels a great deal of area energy out of it all at once.
Some special story and event Elder Dragons have no known interactions with Elderseal, since they don’t have any special auras to negate. These include:
- Zorah Magdaros – No effect.
- Shara Ishvalda – No effect.
- Kulve Taroth – No effect.
- Alatreon – No effect.
- Fatalis – No effect.
- Behemoth – No effect (also not technically an Elder Dragon).
Like other status effects, however, Elderseal is not a guarantee. That’s why it’s most effective on faster weapons. Though it does get a bonus on slower ones to compensate. A Great Sword, for instance, deals four times as much Elderseal per hit as Dual Blades, but the latter weapon gets many more opportunities to trigger it. I say “opportunities” because status effects have a one-in-three chance of triggering per melee attack in MHW. Elderseal is unreliable in that respect, but no more so than any other status attack. Ranged weapons using ammo or coating do have guaranteed buildup.
The one major difference is in levels of buildup. Paralysis, Sleep, Poison, and Blast all have very granular damage levels. Whereas Elderseal only has three: Low, Medium, and High. Behind the scenes, Low Elderseal does four status effect damage, while Medium does six, and High does eight. You can boost Low and Medium by one level each using the Elderseal Boost skill. There is no level above High. Meanwhile, wearing a Dragonproof Mantle will instantly max out your Dragonseal level for the duration, while adding 100 Dragon attack to Dragon weapons.
The real stars, however, are Dragon Pods. These little berries will deal almost eight times more Elderseal than a single weapon proc at High. They’re also affected by Elderseal Boost and the Dragonproof Mantle. With both equipped, just one pod does nearly 12 times as much Elderseal as a single weapon hit. It’s more situational, and requires ammunition, but it works.
The extra oomph from Dragon Pods can come in handy, too. That’s because Elder Dragons become more resistant to Elderseal every time it triggers (up to a certain limit). This is identical to all other status effects, of course. As is the way Elderseal “drains” out of a monster over time. You need to keep applying status effects quickly to reach the trigger. The one exception is Blast which, for one reason or another, never drains over time.
And that’s everything you need to know about Elderseal! Pay attention the next time you take a Dragon weapon with you. You might be surprised how much impact it can have, especially if you play solo. Until then, happy hunting!