Hey, I put together a setup of my own that I hadn't seen here before the other day, and it's working very well. I hear a lot of people talking about trying to get the maximum amount of damage out of their gear, and I've found that at a certain point, it's fairly irrelevant. If you're killing everything in 1-2 shots, what does it matter beyond that? You need to break a threshold for it to be worth anything. So I've been working on an armor set that has enough damage to be competitive with the highest damage sets, but also makes up for where they fall flat.
First, let me point out the failures of a few popular sets. A critical health set (Fanatics or Sanada Crimson) is simply the highest damage you can do in this game. It comes at the price of either needing to keep up LW infinitely, or accepting that you are hard countered by a light wind brushing up against you too brazenly. 6 Piece Kingo 4 Piece Warrior of the West makes probably the highest damaging set in the game that doesn't rely on critical health or LW, but it only does impressive damage when you're behind your target, meaning any targets without easily reached crit spots (Orochi, most human enemies) don't work out as well. Besides that, this setup struggles against groups of enemies, as when you're getting ganged up on it's very difficult to safely reach the enemy's back, and this setup doesn't have good enough defenses to survive massive onslaughts. Red Demon is just not as good as a lot of people think that it is, only reaching impressive damage when the target is scorched, and many other armor sets kill the target faster than it would take you to scorch them.
Enter my build: a well rounded, high damage, high survivability setup. It is neither the highest damage nor the highest survivability, but it retains enough of both of them so that it works about as efficiently as the best in both categories.
What you need:
Master Swordsman's Dual Swords (Futatsu-mei Norimune & Hone-bami Toshiro)
Warrior of the West Sword (Nami-oyogi Kanemitsu)
Warrior of he West Bow
1 Piece Warrior of the West Armor
2 Piece Master Swordsman's Armor
2 Piece The God of War Looks Down armor (Tatenashi).
When you put all of this together, you get the following perks:
7.3% Damage Reduction
22.4% Received Firearms Damage
Equipment Weight Damage Bonus A
Close Combat Damage 24.4%
Extra 30% damage to Sign of the Cross
14.7% Skill Ki Reduction
As far as a guardian spirit goes, you have two dominant options, and anyone familiar with dual sword builds will be unsurprised by either. You should either use Kato or Kara-jishi. Kara-jishi will provide you with slightly more damage, but the difference is small, and if you don't like maintaining the buff that's a downside. It also gives you life drain on skills, so that will help you keep winning trades with enemies. Kato provides similar but slightly lower damage with no buff management, and extra Ki regeneration, which is great because this build puts you in C agility until you get your Stamina ungodly high (though it IS possible to get it back to B agility, just barely, rejoice!).
Pros to the build:
High damage, high survivability
Higher damage from the front than Kingo's has, which is useful against enemies who you can't consistently do critical damage on
Allows use of two weapons, swords and dual swords, whereas many builds force you to use one weapon
Seems to have no direct counters in the game
Unleash your true weab by holding 3 samurai swords simultaneously
Cons to the build:
C Agility until you have nearly maxed out Stamina and Strength. Some people like C Agility, but many don't. You do eventually get back to B though!
Master Swordsman's set is annoying as hell to farm
Doesn't have an optional secondary weapon, as both weapons are required for the set bonuses
I'd love to hear what people think of this / if people have any additions to be made! Again, this is not a maximum damage build, this is a build with enough damage that it kills enemies about as quickly as the maximum damage builds and also is near impossible to kill.