• Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us!

Ask me about swords.


I comment too fast. I often edit mine as well to add more details.

I'd say you're right about the cost effectiveness and durability, and I would add that an axe is also far easier to repair. As for manoeuverability, I think it's debatable. While there are certain things you could do with an axe that you can't with a sword, the same applies vice versa. Perhaps someone on the forum is into HEMA who could confirm or deny that point. Malik maybe?
In my opinion you both make good points. As for wielding, both are highly effective, and I think it depends on the user. I've competed against both and against someone better than yourself, you are equally dead. Axes are easier to defend against in my experience. But even in armor they hurt when they land and are deceptively fast. They are also used effectively for grappling at close range. (this just happened to me on Saturday) But with the negative that it's just as easy for the other person to grab the haft at close range. Swords are a little nastier to try to grab. Swords having the thrust factor make them pretty scary in my opinion, you need a lot more caution when closing distance than an opponent with an axe. Then there is halfswording if you are wearing armor, that can get around your gaps to stab you. Personally, in armor I would rather fight against a sword than an axe, with light or no armor, if rather fight against an axe than a sword.


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
In general though I'd say that a sword is rarely the best in any specific category. That wasn't the point of (most) swords. However, it is the most versatile weapon. It did everything fairly well, though you can almost always find a more specialized weapon that did specific things better.
I think time period matters here. There was a stretch where the Roman soldiers preferred the gladius, and it's hard to say it wasn't the ideal choice for their time, while armor tech was just getting off the ground. Sword and shield have always made a solid combination, even if spear and shield was usually preferred in an army.

The sword is also ideal for self-defense, as a backup weapon, and for displays of skill, which is why we have fencing and not spear fighting.

Controversial question on a thread about swords, but what is the more effective and efficient weapon, a battle axe or a sword?

If you mean a 1-handed axe, like you might see in the hands of a viking, I don't know how common they actually were among armies. The vikings used a bearded axe that was very effective for hooking onto shields and pulling them aside, which also makes it a rare case for dual wielding on the battlefield, as you could pull the shield with the axe then attack with a sword or another axe. But the vikings were pillagers who favored hit and run tactics on mostly unprepared settlements. If you lined up shoulder to shoulder like an army, it would get in the way of a good axe swing. If your enemies lined up in formation with spears, you'd struggle to get close enough for an axe. And while the axe has a lot of heft, and could smash through a wooden shield, I'm not sure if it's enough to reliably break through a metal helm or a good bit of armor. It's also more awkward than a sword or mace, so I don't think it would be preferred on horseback (although, rereading, I'm reminded of the Native with a tomahawk on horseback). Of course, if you conscript a bunch of peasants, I don't doubt some of them will bring an axe.

On the other hand, a two handed axe, which is to say a polearm, could easily kill by denting a metal helm or armor, and offer enough reach to attack over a shield even against a spearman. Eventually they added hooks that can trip or snare an enemy's weapon, beaks that punch through tougher armor, and spikes that can impale cavalry, resulting in advanced weapons like the halberd or poleaxe, which are widely considered the deadliest of their time. But, the big problem with polearms is that, without a big shield, you don't have much protection against arrows.

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Controversial question on a thread about swords, but what is the more effective and efficient weapon, a battle axe or a sword?
Devor's right. The question isn't really so much which is better as it is what do you want to do with it? Hit someone else, generally, but in those three words is a world of hows and wheres and whens. Weapons are tools, and each tool has the job it was designed for and when it does that job, it's going to look pretty good. When it's not, it can look pretty lame and then shenanigans ensue.