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Matt J.





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 1:01 am    Post subject: When to Choose Which Weapon [Melee]         Reply with quote

With the various weapon archetypes, what situation would make you prefer one over the other?

To be more clear, the archetypes are swords, axes, maces, spears, knives, poleaxes, and large axes and swords (just to be general).

Based off some earlier discussions, I guess spears are generally the best pick (specially for the start of a battle). But what situations would you prefer a sword, or an axe? In particular, I'm not sure why to use an axe instead of a sword, or viceversa.


This thread will focus on hand-to-hand weapons, just to keep things a bit simpler.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the 15th century, if in a full plate harness, it seems that a pole hammer or poleaxe would be the primary weapon, followed by a sword (something that fit at the waist) but a full sized 2h sword could take the place of a polearm in the same situation. A rondel dagger or the like would be both the last line of defense and a easy way to kill a downed opponent
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 2:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A sword is much more versatile than an axe. In fact, a sword is one of the most versatile weapons that you can find. It can do a lot of different things, and is far more dynamic than an axe. If you train well with a sword, particularly a longsword, you can apply the principles of what you know to nearly every other melee weapon.

An axe cannot be used to ward and set aside blows as skilfully as a sword can. Further, many axes will be slower weapons, because although the axe head might be relatively light weight wise, axes are balanced so that most of the weight is near the top of the haft, whereas most swords are balanced so that the balance point is much closer to the hilt, meaning the blade can be used in a more agile manner than one can use an axe.

But axes have a major advantage, which is that they can cause horrendous cleaving damage, often even more so than a sword. An axe puts a lot of mass into a relatively small surface (the edge) which means that when swung with force, it can cause worse wounds than a sword might. Against an unarmoured foe, or a foe in mail armour, an axe will be particularly devastating. Although mail will help immensely against an axe blow, there will still be significant blunt trauma, and I imagine a stout axe blow is much more likely to pop open links in mail armour than a sword blow.

Please remember that I am making a ton of generalized statements, because the nature of this question is very general. I am aware that there are lots of examples that might be used to contradict my points. Smaller, single handed axes might be nearly as agile as a sword, for example, while large great swords could well be capable of causing wounds that are as horrific as an axe wound. Generally, however, what I've said above is true.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 4:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In some times and places, many warriors could not afford swords. So they used spears and javelins, and sometimes carried a backup weapon like an axe or club or knife (though not always!). Sometimes there were laws dictating what a man should carry, generally based on wealth, though even the lower classes sometimes had choices (or could exceed the requirements, presumably). On the other hand, an early Imperial Roman legionary had very little choice: he had 2 pila (javelins), a short sword, and usually a dagger. That's just the way they did it. Classical Greek hoplites carried a spear and a sword, almost without variation. (Heracles is not a hoplite!) I've heard that at some point in medieval France, peasants were forbidden to have swords, though I don't know if that's true. Fashion and cultural custom had as much influence as laws.

Overall I'd tend to agree that a sword of some sort is the best backup weapon, simply for its versatility. So probably the inclination was to go for a sword if possible. But we know that wasn't universal--for instance Robert the Bruce and Richard the Lionheart both carried axes, as I understand. Though I suspect they had swords as well! And versatility in combat might not be the only factor. A mercenary spearman going off on crusade might think, "Gee, 6 months walking and camping and CUTTING FIREWOOD, sometimes *chopping open a door* to loot a house, and MAYbe at some point 6 minutes of actual combat in which my spear won't be ideal. Hmm, lug a sword or an AXE?"

Matthew
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Augusto Boer Bront
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own a two handed axe (116 cm long) and i used it with a few techniques. I have to say that it handles a lot more quickly than I ever thought. There are not only the blows with the metal head, but a plenty of blows with the wooden handle and the metal pommel (if present) that are not so plaesant to receive =).
The only disadvantage it's that the axe is a very close weapon to use, so a two handed sword or a spear can keep you at bay if you opponent is skilled enought.
The techinques are the same with a short baton (or the japanese jo) plus a little metal thingy that can crack you skull apart =).

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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

(To Mr. Peters)

I have a question for you sir, have you ever done any sparing with axes? I don't mean this to sound like a challenge, but I was wondering if arma does or not. While I would assume that an axe can't parry easily, I am curious how easily things like hooking can be done with one.

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Augusto Boer Bront
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can I answer to your question?
I'm not a member of arma, but with a two handed axe you can parry nearly any blow (expect ffromt the ones aimed to the legs, in that case you just have to retreat and strike back).
But it depends onm your position and the position of your axe. The wood handle sould be strong enought to withstand any reasonable sword blow.

I have a couple of videos on facebook of me parryng, althought the moves are reaaaally slow, because my opponent never did histrical sparring, especially with live steel weapons.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=368...6009287553

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
(To Mr. Peters)

I have a question for you sir, have you ever done any sparing with axes? I don't mean this to sound like a challenge, but I was wondering if arma does or not. While I would assume that an axe can't parry easily, I am curious how easily things like hooking can be done with one.


I have sparred with axes, yes. In fact, I did some sparring with a friend just last week. I had purchased an axe head for him as a gift- he really likes axes a lot- and had it hafted on a 5 foot wood shaft. He had the option to have it shortened, as I gave it to him by having him come with me to pick it up from the store where it had been hafted, but he was happy to keep it as it was.

When we were sparring, we took turns with the axe, while the other person used a blunt headed spear. We both found that it was incredibly scary to face the axe, especially when the other person made a powerful, sweeping blow. You would have to keep well out of the way, or else displace with something far better than a spear haft, in order to cover yourself. Of course, making such wide sweeping blows leaves the axe wielder quite exposed, but the person fighting him may not be able to capitalize on this if he (the axe man's opponent) had to move out of range in order to avoid the axe blow.

The spearman has several advantages helping him. The spear's point can change through quite quickly, meaning that it can threaten other openings very quickly, which is difficult to manage with an axe. As anyone who has trained with a spear knows, it can also be used for very effective feints, particularly feints from the upper openings to the lower openings. Another advantage of the spear is that it can be used to effectively target extremities that can be hard to defend; I still have "nasty" scratch (by "nasty scratch", I mean one that bled and has taken a while to heal) from our session when my friend hit my forearm near the elbow with the spear.

As far as strategy goes for the axe, I found that the best option was to try to close the distance with the spear, displacing with the axe haft if possible, and get in close where it is difficult to wield the spear effectively. I managed to strike my friend a couple of times with the axe closing in such a way, which largely negated the spear's advantage.

It is certainly possible to get the shaft of the spear hooked inside the head of the axe so that it's locked into place, The problem with this is that neither the spearman nor the axeman are at an advantage, because locking the spear means that the axe is tied up in the haft of the spear, and it is not easy to quickly withdraw the axe to attack. In this circumstance, hooking with an axe is not all that helpful. I cannot comment on axe versus sword or hooking an axe against a shield, because we did not try either of these; in the case of the shields, it is not a possibility for me right now, because I don't have my shields here with me.

Was our fighting based upon things specifically from the manuals? No, we were just experimenting to get an idea of what worked or not. I have sent my friend the Wiktenauer link for Mair's halberd section so he can read that, because it's the closest equivalent weapon to his axe.

One last note: my friend's axe does not weigh that much, so it's quite an easy weapon to use. However, because of it's balance, with most of the weight near the striking end, it inevitably feels a bit slower and less dynamic to use. A case in point: after wielding my friends axe for a while, I picked up my Tritonia, which as you probably know is a beast of a single handed sword. It felt positively lively in my hand, as though I was holding an XV sword, after using the axe.
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Matt J.





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Aug, 2012 11:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anyone know what situation one-handed axes were used? I've been told that axes don't work well in formations, so I'm not sure when they would've seen use.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2012 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt J. wrote:
Anyone know what situation one-handed axes were used? I've been told that axes don't work well in formations, so I'm not sure when they would've seen use.


Huh, I used an axe for years in reenactments, and lots of other folks did, too, never saw a problem. Granted, that wasn't competitive, but we pretty much just swung them like swords. Back then, they'd use their axes like any other secondary weapon, whenever their spear was broken, lost, or inappropriate to the task. (Or for chopping firewood!) (Though a purpose-made *battle* axe was not as good for that as a *wood* axe.)

Matthew
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Ryan S.





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PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2012 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

which weapon are you best at, and which one is your opponent worse at defending.
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2012 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In melee..it's rarely a case of a one-on-one, stand up fight. You get maybe one chance to attack someone, then press of crowd separates you. So, I'd go with whatever weapon you feel most competant with, plus maybe some sort of blunt force trauma weapon as backup. Remember..you don't have to kill your oppenent to win or survive..just take him down
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2012 1:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i have a 1.4m daneaxe, which weighs 1.7kg and has a roughly 700 gram head..

i personally doent see any major reason why you couldnt use poleaxe techniques with it?? i mean instead of the hammer or backspike you smack him with the 'poll' i.e the end of the socket, instead of a top spike you thrust with the horn of the axe.
http://www.manningimperial.com/item.php?item_...mp;c_id=13 this is the axehead, now most danaxes were often had very pointy horns, of course it coulnt compete wih a pollaxe againt plate armour, but then again the daneaxe was designed for an era where armour was much more scarce so being smacked with the metal socket in the head would still hurt like hell.

also i noticed that one poleaxe position where its held at the waist with the butt aiming at your opponents upper regions, you can VERY easily just jam the butt forward into the guys face and if i understand correctly , to do that poke with the but end and then bring in the axe head is a normal move in poleaxe techniques?

one thing i loved about the axe in sword and shield combat is, against a sword, yes you need to be aggressive but you can pull the guys shield out of the way

personally though for this thread id say poleaxe as main weapon in this case the hammer and spike 'bec de corbainarrangement, a rondel and a warhammer or maybe a type XV arming sword, and since its so small and unobtrusive id also include a buckler to have ... just in case,

the poleaxe can as far as i can tell, ruin someones day with or without plate armour, since a poleaxe top spike (if michael edelsons test is ANY indicator whatsoever) can puncture maile of pretty decent quality... and the hammer will either dent your armour and concuss you if your in harness, or simply crush you into a bloody pulp if your in something like a padded jack.. or maile and the backspike, same thing, itll ruin your day no matter how much armour you are wearing
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2012 1:53 am    Post subject: Re: When to Choose Which Weapon [Melee]         Reply with quote

Matt J. wrote:
In particular, I'm not sure why to use an axe instead of a sword, or viceversa.


Axe is cheaper. When a sword is a rich man's weapon, an axe can be the best one can afford. As time passes and the cost of a sword drops, do we see fewer axes on the battlefield?

A one-handed axe is also light, compact, easy to carry (e.g., on the saddle as a back-up weapon).

In my opinion, a sword is a better weapon than an axe. Most notably, in terms of the effective ranges. If your axe is short, it's short-ranged. If it's long, it's harder to use in close as effectively (especially a one-handed axe).

But an axe can be a good weapon, too. Hooking shields can work. Sometimes the opponent helps by pulling the shield back, which can help you poke them in the face with it. The axehead can be used to stop an incoming weapon early in its motion.

But, as a general principle, I'd say that the main reason to use a one-handed axe instead of a sword is that you can afford it and not the sword.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2012 3:31 am    Post subject: Re: When to Choose Which Weapon [Melee]         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:


But, as a general principle, I'd say that the main reason to use a one-handed axe instead of a sword is that you can afford it and not the sword.


Many fully armored people that could afford whole lot of swords, had been reported/portrayed using axes though, with Robert Bruce most famously mourning his "good axe" after successfully using it to slay Henry de Bohun.

There's question of how accurate are such depictions, obviously.
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2012 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

theres something that i think weve forgotten regarding axes particularly in situations where armour is involved, its not perfect, but like the mace, the axe has the ability to deliver impact in a smaller area and crack a man open... metaphorically speaking. it can also deliver more momentus impact and its maybe better for 'the press' where a shorter weapon is more wieldy, notably, like examples such as the gladius, kopis/ falcata, the katzbalger, and the cutless, longer isnt quite always better. i also have held axes that are just as wieldy as swords although admittedly not nearly as long.

id say the axes inability to thrust well is its biggest flaw with regards to the sword,

also remember that the axe is on norways coat of arms.

also unlike a sword, axes by a good majority of cultures after the viking era usually had something on the back end, be it a spike or a kind of hammer for example, in 10th century to 13th century russia you see alot of these kinds of axes although one might argue these are more horsemans axes,

this means that you can do much more versatile amounts of damage.
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Matthew Harrington




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
i have a 1.4m daneaxe, which weighs 1.7kg and has a roughly 700 gram head..


I just checked out their Norwegian type L axe head and it's beautiful. Would you recommend Manning Imperial? Do you have the mild steel or carbon steel axe head?

~See you in Valhalla, brother.~
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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2012 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Harrington wrote:
William P wrote:
i have a 1.4m daneaxe, which weighs 1.7kg and has a roughly 700 gram head..


I just checked out their Norwegian type L axe head and it's beautiful. Would you recommend Manning Imperial? Do you have the mild steel or carbon steel axe head?


well i didnt buy the head from manning directly, i bought it off another person who didnt want the axe anymore but overall manning imperials quality is quite good, if a bit pricey.

i have their thames axe which is mild steel not the norwegian axe the thames axe horn is much more parallel to the haft
http://www.manningimperial.com/item.php?item_...mp;c_id=13 this is my axehead,
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Aug, 2012 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I find that the most significant advantage of swords is that they can be carried all over the place in a scabbard. So, with a sheathed sword (and probably a dagger somewhere else), I'd be free to carry another, larger weapon or combination of weapons--and still have the sword as a backup if the main weapon becomes impractical or unserviceable.

Mind that, in medieval Europe (particularly the later centuries), the backup is just as likely to be sword and bluckler since the latter could be easily hung on the cross as well.
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