Some thoughts on sword balance

1: To-hit bonus

Some swords have +1, some have +2.

According to the doc https://github.com/CleverRaven/Cataclysm-DDA/blob/6831dd6e4f48dc79f71a0ebafb9b8a6808d5b6c5/doc/GAME_BALANCE.md#to-hit-bonuses

(almost) all swords should have: -2 (base) +2 (dedicated grip) +1 (30-100 cm long) -1 (Line of damage blade) +1 (Well-balanced for swinging) = +1
Swords with blade of 100 cm or more should have +2

Swords with +2 to-hit: broadsword, cavalry saber, cutlass, survivor machete, xiphos, pair of butterfly swords, machete, rapier, estoc and tanto.

Almost all the rest have +1 (few makeshift/odd ones have +0 or even -1).

The longsword, rapier and broadsword according to wikipedia have ~100 cm blades so they could keep the +2 bonus. Rest of the swords should be +1.

2: Machete is too good/other swords around it are too bad

Machete is pretty common thing to find in many places. you find it on scientist locations for some reason. I guess it is supposed to represent some large blade a mad doctor used on a patient or something.
The machete crafting is also autolearned relatively early. If you manage to get your hands on proper smithing equipment you can just make it.

The machete is better than most swords that require a book for crafting.

The machete should definitely be brought down to +1 to-hit bonus. It would still be better than most swords.
The cut damage could also be reduced by few points or the volume/weight be increased. Currently hits as hard as smaller swords while being faster than most of them.
It should probably also lose the high parry and have just have medium parry. The thing is meant for hacking plants.

i thought weapons were balanced too in the aspect of the martial arts, like a rapier with the fencing style and so on

3 feet is 91.44cm so estocs should be fine since they average from 91cm to 132cm, I’d say the two handed swords also need looking at since they are “Well-balanced for swinging”.

Your thoughts on tightening up a lot of the swords sounds about right to me, and the machete is very much problematic, it’s way too good a weapon.
Machete loses out on well-balanced, so should probably be +0 to hit not +1 (it’s balanced for chopping not fighting).
Cutting damage for a machete vs a similarly sized sword should be much lower due to metal quality and balance. A machete will not hold an edge as well, and the optimal striking location for a machete is not as optimally placed.

More food for thought, here is how a test NPC rates the top 600 weapons in the game:

taking the relevant range for high end melee weapons and reversing the sort order:

naginata has value 42.529391
nodachi has value 41.816997
survivor_machete has value 41.730055
cavalry_sabre has value 41.617502
bio_claws_weapon has value 40.796884
broadsword has value 40.668821
katana has value 40.215003
sword_bayonet has value 39.070384
rapier has value 38.035900
knife_rm42 has value 37.564869
kukri has value 37.527000
cutlass has value 36.940834
jian has value 36.895235
glaive has value 36.538235
wakizashi has value 36.384799
halberd has value 35.956978
broadsword_inferior has value 35.612219
mut_quills has value 35.259308
wakizashi_inferior has value 35.197092
cutlass_inferior has value 34.690834
arming_sword has value 34.331491
firekatana_on has value 34.052502
machete has value 33.905119
broadfire_on has value 33.601667
katana_inferior has value 33.495000
longsword has value 33.108135
zweihander has value 29.905732

the machete is probably too good and the longsword and zweihander should be the equivalent of the katana and nodachi, respectively. Similarly with the glaive and the naginata. Nerfing the machete should nerf the survivor machete. The combat knives are also in need of a little reduction - they should be weapons for escrima/penjat silak specialists, or easy to carry backup weapons after a zombie technician has stolen your primary.

Depending on how the numbers work out, we’d end up with something like:
39 glaive, naginata
38 rapier
36 longsword, katana, broadsword, arming sword, jian
36 cutlass, wakizashi
35 zweihander, nodachi
32 survivor machete
30 kukri, combat knives
24 machete

it’d be ideal if we could get all the combat swords within a point or two of each other, so you would choose them based on fighting style and personal preference. The polearms can be just a bit better, since they’re more inconvenient to use.

5 Likes

This is a very well reasoned argument. I always just assumed the to-hit was assigned basically at random by whoever added it. Didn’t realize there were technical specifications.

It would be nice to see longswords and greatswords comparable to katanas and nodachis.

There are quite a few videos and books showing european swords to be superior to katanas and their ilk. As for a machete i figured its high value was because of its ease of use. It is a light weapon that is easy to keep an edge on

1 Like

I’ve seen the same, from what I understand a lot of the forging techniques were specifically to make up for the poor quality materials available and the blades were never designed to deal with the quality of armour that was used in europe but I don’t really know enough about the subject.

2 Likes

That’s correct from my understanding. Japan is (or was) very poor in iron, and what they had wasn’t the best. I feel like the only reason the Japanese weapons in game are strictly superior is due entirely to weebs.

6 Likes

Yall hit it on the head. Bad steel, basic smelting techniques, lower class armor to peirce all equaled lesser blades.

I don’t really need western weapons to be better than eastern weapons, or vice versa. Your choice of weapon should be based on what you find, what martial art styles you know, and personal preference. If you personally think that jians are the best sword ever, I would prefer that the game not make that a sub-optimal choice.

The specifics of the situation that you are in might mean that your preferred weapon isn’t the best - a no-dachi should be the right choice against slow, armored targets, while a broadsword is better against fast, less armored targets. But broadly similar swords should be equivalent in raw numbers.

They would only suffer from material problems if they came out of a museum. Modern forged katanas and such should lack the brittleness of the old ones as they’re made with modern steel and possibly modern methods depending on how traditional the maker wants to get.
Old chinese weapons generally were made with better steel, too, because they had access to it on the mainland. Heck they could buy from India, which had excellent steel mines, some of which were the source for Damascus steel.

Then it would just be a normal sword made from normal materials and still wouldn’t be anything special, there is nothing (at lest that I’m aware of) ground breaking in the design of japanese swords. Curved blade designs are common across the world as are single edge blades.

1 Like

I agree that similar weapons should have similar overall values.

Pre-modern weapons were hand-made and varied greatly on quality. There were good broadswords and bad ones, as well as good katanas and bad ones but by average there shouldn’t be too much difference in terms of damage between these two types.

Most of the damage many weapon is not from the sharp edge but the weight of the weapon. Small knife weapons or sharp long weapons do two differing types of damage but even a poorly made “sword” can inflict a helluva lot of damage to something through it’s weight alone.

For a machete it would make sense if it was poorly made inflicting the same damage as a good quality simply because of it’s weight. The damage it does to environment would differ greatly though as a blunt machete would get stuck much more often or fail to even inflict the type of damage a player would expect.

A 1meter long “thin” less than 1 inch steel rod that is flat with a dull edge though has a edge will cut through a person with slightly more effort.

With the new stamina system it should be effected by a poorly made weapon vs the damage as again most of the inflicted damage comes from the weight of medium to large weapons vs the edge. by increasing the stamina per swing you would simulate the actual effect on combat that a poorly made weapon would have. Thing such as getting stuck or failing to penetrate would be common increasing the stamina usage. Though the blunt damage these weapons would incur would definitionally still be there.

TLDR: Stamina cost should increase the more damaged or poorly made a weapon is vs decreasing damage of said weapons. Smalls weapons would suffer from decreased damage as they do not get their damage from their weight.

EDIT: Fixed some spelling issues.

You are incorrect about the weight being an essential componet of the damage inflicted. While it can have effect. Swords are relatively thin and light. More than anything it is how its used what its made to be used against and the edge geometry that detirmine the damage inflicted. Ive seen light thin blades cut deeper than a similar thicker heavier blade just because of the angle of that bevel.

Btw i am an ametuer knifesmith and blacksmith.

1 Like

To add to that, if weight was dominating factor in damage, you should be able to inflict some damage no matter which edge you use, and I don’t believe that’s the case. The damage inflicted by any melee weapon is very complex issue, when it comes to the cutting ones, the shape of the blade do matter too. A straight sword, will have different change of momentum than for example a sabre when they strike, they will behave quite differently in a fight. What more, most of the damage with melee weapons comes not from the weapon itself, but from the skill of the one wielding it. A skilled individual can do more damage with a simple short sword, than an unskilled one with a heavy zweihander.

But for the purpose of gamification I think having a system that assigns different abstract damage and fatigue values to different weapons best and easiest to comprehend for most of the players.

1 Like

I’ve put together a spreadsheet here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14eQIe4AO_f6OxCt1XcB4NLAs6-5R1wQW-ydZG0orYdY/edit#gid=1787713396 for a data-driven discussion.

Currently, a weapon’s melee value is:
(accuracy factor + crit factor + damage per move ) * reach factor

  • where
  • accuracy factor is 3 * accuracy + 2 * accuracy if accuracy is below 0
  • crit chance is 10 * the weapon’s chance of critting against a Dodge 5 target
  • damage per move is (weighted non-crit damage + weighted crit hit damage) / moves per attack
    ** where
    ** weighted non-crit damage is average weapon damage for a hit that isn’t a critical * % of hits that aren’t crits against a Dodge 5 target
    ** weighted critical hit damage is average weapon damage for a critical hit * % of hits that are crits against a Dodge 5 target
    ** for both values, multiply damage by 0.66 and divide moves per attack for weapons with rapid strike

I’m not sure that this formula is a great formula for comparing weapons. Dodge 5 is relatively high for CDDA monsters - only 14 out of 86 dodge values in monsters.json is 5 or more. So that’s undervaluing critical hit damage, while overvaluing low damage weapons that might not get through armor. Also, the rapid strike damage is weird and other crits and special techniques aren’t counted. For instance, the possible stunlock from bash damage should be worth a lot, but the current calculation treats bash and cut damage the same.

For balancing purposes, I’d suggest calculating average damage per move for a ST 10, DX 10, weapon skill 4, melee skill 4 survivor against a tough zombie (dodge 1, armor 2/1), a brute (dodge 0, armor 4/6), and a feral hunter (dodge 3, no armor). NPCs would evaluate weapons based on their actual skills, so a sledgehammer might have a balance calculation value that’s really high, but a low ST, no bash NPC would still prefer a knife.

Anyone else got any suggestions or ideas for the better equation for evaluating melee weapons?

Where does 4/6 armour place on the average for monsters? There seems to have been quite a push (relately) recently to add in higher armour enemies so I’m wondering how it compares.