log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Philosophy of Greataxe vs. Greatsword

Willie the Duck

Adventurer
So unless you’ve got some special mojo going (half-orc barbarians with savage attacks and brutal critical are the most common use case) you’re always better off going for the greatsword.
I think it is entirely possible that the design team made the greataxe as it was specifically for savage attacking brutal crit-ing half-orc barbarians. I mean, the lance was clearly designed specifically for 2wf halfling beastmasters and quarterstaves for shield-wielding polearm masters. :D

the whole table is a mess,
properties were handed out to some weapons not bothering taking anything in return, read damage die less, non universal thrown weapon range, treating versatile as an actual useful property.

I would say that 2d6 for martial 2Handed, Heavy weapon without any properties is too little, 2d8 would be better as we do not have one and a half STR mod as in 3E.
It's not so dire as sometime made out to be (ex. at first level the difference between 2d6+3 and 1d8+3 can matter), but it certainly seems that the reason to lean into* two-handed strength weapons is mostly for things in addition to what goes on on the weapon chart -- barbarian abilities which only apply with Strength, PAM, GWM, magic weapons distribution, etc.
*And you are strongly incentivized to do so. A generalist build who can switch-hit with any weapon they find who picks up no weapon-type-specific feats is decidedly unfavored.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
*And you are strongly incentivized to do so. A generalist build who can switch-hit with any weapon they find who picks up no weapon-type-specific feats is decidedly unfavored.
That depends mostly on how your GM runs magic items and whether you are high enough level to have maxed your stat and gotten the feats. I did some analysis a while back and the damage feats could be matched by a +2d6 weapon.
 

Horwath

Hero
I think it is entirely possible that the design team made the greataxe as it was specifically for savage attacking brutal crit-ing half-orc barbarians. I mean, the lance was clearly designed specifically for 2wf halfling beastmasters and quarterstaves for shield-wielding polearm masters. :D


It's not so dire as sometime made out to be (ex. at first level the difference between 2d6+3 and 1d8+3 can matter), but it certainly seems that the reason to lean into* two-handed strength weapons is mostly for things in addition to what goes on on the weapon chart -- barbarian abilities which only apply with Strength, PAM, GWM, magic weapons distribution, etc.
*And you are strongly incentivized to do so. A generalist build who can switch-hit with any weapon they find who picks up no weapon-type-specific feats is decidedly unfavored.
IMHO, PAM and GWM need little rework.

GWM: drop the "power attack" thing and make it a half feat with +1 STR or DEX. And have it work with any melee attack after crit or downing an enemy. Call the feat Cleave.

PAM: it should be split in two half feats:
1. PAM, +1 STR or DEX, when you fight with 2Handed reach weapon and you make an Attack Action, you can make one attack with opposite end as a Bonus Action for 1d4 damage(1d6 if it's heavy weapon).

2. Hold the line: +1 STR or DEX, you can make AoO of someone moves into or through your threat area, not just exiting.
 

ECMO3

Hero
the whole table is a mess,

properties were handed out to some weapons not bothering taking anything in return, read damage die less, non universal thrown weapon range, treating versatile as an actual useful property.

I would say that 2d6 for martial 2Handed, Heavy weapon without any properties is too little, 2d8 would be better as we do not have one and a half STR mod as in 3E.
I don't really see this problem and I think versatile is pretty cool on a Monk with a warhammer or longsword, or for that matter a bladesinger with a quarterstaff (for use when not in bladesong).

Certainly some weapons are better than others mechanically, but the benefit is rarely enough to make the others ont usable (except for blowgun).

I would be against a damage boost for greatswords. They are already at the top. I would prefer futher damage boosts come from things like spells (hex, hunters mark) or fantastic abilities (Giants might, dreadful strikes, Hexblade's curse)
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I’m also of the opinion that all 2d6 weapons deal 1d12, with great-weapon fighting style using a reroll mechanics increasing average damage by 1.5 (for an average around 8). Reserving 2d6 for large-sized « simple weapons ».

has anyone done maths on « reroll one damage die » on 2d6 vs 1d12?
 

Horwath

Hero
I don't really see this problem and I think versatile is pretty cool on a Monk with a warhammer or longsword, or for that matter a bladesinger with a quarterstaff (for use when not in bladesong).

Certainly some weapons are better than others mechanically, but the benefit is rarely enough to make the others ont usable (except for blowgun).

I would be against a damage boost for greatswords. They are already at the top. I would prefer futher damage boosts come from things like spells (hex, hunters mark) or fantastic abilities (Giants might, dreadful strikes, Hexblade's curse)
Using versatile weapon in 2Hands means no dual wielding or not using a shield.
Do not bring monk into this as it is worst class, and it would actually be good balance if monks could use greatswords.

Bladesinger without bladesinging going into melee is suicide by proxy. Also 99.9% of bladesingers will use rapier/shortsword not longsword.
 

ECMO3

Hero
IMHO, PAM and GWM need little rework.

GWM: drop the "power attack" thing and make it a half feat with +1 STR or DEX. And have it work with any melee attack after crit or downing an enemy. Call the feat Cleave.

PAM: it should be split in two half feats:
1. PAM, +1 STR or DEX, when you fight with 2Handed reach weapon and you make an Attack Action, you can make one attack with opposite end as a Bonus Action for 1d4 damage(1d6 if it's heavy weapon).

2. Hold the line: +1 STR or DEX, you can make AoO of someone moves into or through your threat area, not just exiting.
GWM would suck if you made this change. It would go from being a good feat (although not nearly the best) to being garbage.

The first PAM would be a little underpowered compared to other feats. The second one would be ok but could be easily abused by a character with a whip and sentinel. This would increase the relative power of Rogues (which is ok) and wizards (which is not).

I think both of these are pretty good as they are and there is a huge penalty in taking both of them as you give up 4 ASIs
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I don't really see this problem and I think versatile is pretty cool on a Monk with a warhammer or longsword.
Except only they kenzei can use them without loosing many monk benefits, making them pretty niche (one subclass of one character class)

versatile would be more interesting paired with a system where losing a shield is a possibility, or where shields are not always effective. Not that I think this would be a worthwhile addition to D&D, but it would give versatile weapon a better raison-d’être
 

Horwath

Hero
GWM would suck if you made this change. It would go from being a good feat (although not nearly the best) to being garbage.

The first PAM would be a little underpowered compared to other feats. The second one would be ok but could be easily abused by a character with a whip and sentinel. This would increase the relative power of Rogues (which is ok) and wizards (which is not).

I think both of these are pretty good as they are and there is a huge penalty in taking both of them as you give up 4 ASIs
Yes, I can see hordes of 8th level wizards taking Sentinel+Hold the line instead of Con saves, Fey touched, Shadow touched, Telekinetic, Alert, Warcaster...
 

Stalker0

Legend
To make the math a little easier let's compare a d12 to a d13 weapon. That's the same 0.5 damage difference. Both are linear so the math behind both is alot easier.

After 2 hits the d12 weapon will do 13+(10 mod) = 23 average damage and the d13 weapon will do 14 + (10 mod) = 24 average damage. Now consider an enemy with 35 hp. The d12 weapon (assuming the previous hits were average damage) will only have a 50% chance of killing the enemy on the next hit. The d13 weapon will have a 61.5% chance of doing the same.

Looking at it through this lens sure makes .5 average damage sound alot more important.

*Also, randomness is usually not in the PC's favor as they tend to be expected to win.
But to represent true results, we would need to factor in another critical piece:

1) critical hits
2) the odds that the player will encounter both a creature with 35 hp, and whose hp will not change over the course of 3 attacks.

so while yes in this circumstance it will be 11.5%, when that multiplied by the % chance a player will deal with that specific scenario it becomes much much smaller.
 

Straying away from the mechanics of the weapons, it makes sense for there to be a lot more Great Axe swingers, (or Maul), as opposed to Great Swords. Anyone who was brought up in a non-urban environment would use an axe or hammer on a daily basis for basic jobs. Swords...not so much. The natural extension of that is that chars would create weapons built around that comfort level. And that does not even get into the technology and cost of making a sword, let alone the training required to master a sword.

A Maul could be made with no steel at all. Steel should still be a rare commodity. Great Axes, obviously fall somewhere between. Game design, from the very beginning, has never properly valued weapons, and to a greater degree, the amount of cash available to low level players.

If the amount of money available to players is not reduced, then the cost of metal weapons has to be increased at least 10 fold. And something like Plate Armour, or Half-Plate, which is fitted, like a suit, forget about it. Only the very rich, and very well connected, have access to such items.
 


ECMO3

Hero
Using versatile weapon in 2Hands means no dual wielding or not using a shield.
Do not bring monk into this as it is worst class, and it would actually be good balance if monks could use greatswords.

Bladesinger without bladesinging going into melee is suicide by proxy. Also 99.9% of bladesingers will use rapier/shortsword not longsword.

To be clear I mentioned a quaterstaff not a longsword when I talked about bladesinger using a versatile weapon and all bladesingers are proficient in quarterstaffs. I would agree Rapeir or shortwsord is ideal for a bladesinger in terms of build assuming you used point buy or rolled a low strength, but there are pletny of magic items that boost strength and make other options viable and those options are typically better than a rapier or shortsword. There are many magic staffs that are only usable by wizard or sorcerer and those make fantastic weapons for a bladesinger. The staff of striking in particular is an awesome weapon for a bladesinger, even for one with an 8 strength. The staff of defense is really good too if you can combine it with gauntlets of ogre power or can afford to bring potions of giant strength.

Bladesong is a pretty awesome ability but even out of bladeong, a bladesinger built right is pretty darn survivable in melee considering the temp hps, shield and other defensive spells available.

Monks can use greatswords. They just don't get proficiency from their class and can't make it a Monk weapon. I do think Pole Arms should be able to be monk weapons for thematic reasons, but not great swords IMO.
 
Last edited:

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Using versatile weapon in 2Hands means no dual wielding or not using a shield.
Do not bring monk into this as it is worst class, and it would actually be good balance if monks could use greatswords.

Bladesinger without bladesinging going into melee is suicide by proxy. Also 99.9% of bladesingers will use rapier/shortsword not longsword.
Using a two handed versatile weapon means you can grapple as desired. Is grappling better than a shield or more damage? Sometimes.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Yes, I can see hordes of 8th level wizards taking Sentinel+Hold the line instead of Con saves, Fey touched, Shadow touched, Telekinetic, Alert, Warcaster...

Hold the Line would be OP combined with warcaster. It makes warcaster a lot better because it increases the area you can use warcaster by 4 times and dramatically increases the number of times you can use it. In terms of action economy, in most combats HTL + Warcaster would more or less give the Wizard two actions every round to cast a spell.

I would definitely take either over con saves which is a waste IME. I only took resilient con on one wizard and it was complete garbage. FT and ST ...... well yeah those are pretty awesome feats and most of my wizards get them, but I don't think they would have the synergy these feats have..

The key here is though it prevents people from getting to the wizard in melee. That is huge. It does the same for a Rogue that gets these two feats. It also uses a reaction which either class is not using a whole lot.

Consider this, the wizards go to reaction in combat is shield which uses a slot and may or may not prevent oneor more attacks. But after casting it she is still in melee, has to use an action or another spell to disengage. This would use the same reaction, would not burn a slot and would prevent an attack entirely if she hit and on top of this she is ahead on action economy because she is not engaged and does not need to disengage to move.

It might not sound thematic, but it would be pretty darn powerful.
 
Last edited:

I generated some numbers for average damage, assuming GWM, for various crit thresholds (18 to 20) and total number of crit dice (1 to 4, to account for both barbarians and half-orcs). The axe only pulls ahead in extreme cases. ("Sword:Axe" shows damage of Sword relative to Axe, where Axe is 100%)

Note: I just realized what I did wrong is that this assumes all attacks hit. Crit rate is higher than strictly 5%, 10%, 15% because low rolls miss, so a higher percentage of hits are crits. I will adjust and update shortly.

Update: These numbers assume a roll of 8 or higher on the d20 needed to hit. As that goes lower the sword has an advantage, as it goes higher the axe has an advantage.


Code:
Crit: 20, Total Crit Dice: 1
Sword: 8.65
Axe: 7.89
Sword:Axe: 109%

Crit: 20, Total Crit Dice: 2
Sword: 8.97
Axe: 8.46
Sword:Axe: 106%

Crit: 20, Total Crit Dice: 3
Sword: 9.29
Axe: 9.02
Sword:Axe: 102%

Crit: 20, Total Crit Dice: 4
Sword: 9.61
Axe: 9.58
Sword:Axe: 100%

Crit: 19, Total Crit Dice: 1
Sword: 8.97
Axe: 8.46
Sword:Axe: 106%

Crit: 19, Total Crit Dice: 2
Sword: 9.61
Axe: 9.58
Sword:Axe: 100%

Crit: 19, Total Crit Dice: 3
Sword: 10.25
Axe: 10.71
Sword:Axe: 95%

Crit: 19, Total Crit Dice: 4
Sword: 10.89
Axe: 11.84
Sword:Axe: 91%

Crit: 18, Total Crit Dice: 1
Sword: 9.29
Axe: 9.02
Sword:Axe: 102%

Crit: 18, Total Crit Dice: 2
Sword: 10.25
Axe: 10.71
Sword:Axe: 95%

Crit: 18, Total Crit Dice: 3
Sword: 11.21
Axe: 12.41
Sword:Axe: 90%

Crit: 18, Total Crit Dice: 4
Sword: 12.17
Axe: 14.1
Sword:Axe: 86%

If I have time I'll generate a graph that shows these numbers over a range of ACs.
 
Last edited:

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
To make the math a little easier let's compare a d12 to a d13 weapon. That's the same 0.5 damage difference. Both are linear so the math behind both is alot easier.

After 2 hits the d12 weapon will do 13+(10 mod) = 23 average damage and the d13 weapon will do 14 + (10 mod) = 24 average damage. Now consider an enemy with 35 hp. The d12 weapon (assuming the previous hits were average damage) will only have a 50% chance of killing the enemy on the next hit. The d13 weapon will have a 61.5% chance of doing the same.

Looking at it through this lens sure makes .5 average damage sound alot more important.

*Also, randomness is usually not in the PC's favor as they tend to be expected to win.

If someone in my game wanted to use a greateaxe for visuals but wanted to do 2d6 instead of a d12, I'd have no problem with it. But there are also various class features and whatnot that allow you to reroll a single die. I don't think it's as clear cut as any one specific scenario and a lot of people people don't care about this level of detail.

I kind of liked 3.5's version where crits for some weapons were more powerful, so maybe add a d12 to damage on crits? I'd probably regret it though when that half orc champion fighter with a couple levels of barbarian for reckless attack along with the lucky feat started playing. :)
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Heavens to Murgatroid, a whole extra 0.5 damage! Greatswords are broken, broken I tell you!

Good grief. The swords will likely average more towards the median value, the axe will be more random. The impact of the difference is going to be incredibly minimal.

Now if you really want to gripe about broken weapons, take a look at the longbow that traditionally had draw weights up to 150 pounds or more and explain to me why it's dex based weapon. :p
Harumph. Or would that be Haru......... Comics and questions like the OP make want me have no weapon damage but class damage. Spell casters d4 Clerics d6 Thiefs d8 Fighters d10 and monsters d12
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Harumph. Or would that be Haru......... Comics and questions like the OP make want me have no weapon damage but class damage. Spell casters d4 Clerics d6 Thiefs d8 Fighters d10 and monsters d12
Go old school. You get a d6! You get a d6! You all get a d6!
 


Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top