Some thoughts on sword balance

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

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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.


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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’ve put together a spreadsheet here 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.

About three pounds give or take depending on the kind of blade is what I vaguely recall being quoted as the accurate weight of a sword. The massively heavy swords that got imbedded into the public consciousness were if I recall correctly based on medieval era wall hangers and ceremonial blades that were never meant for use in combat.


As a begginer Destreza practitioner, I can tell you the major misconception is that daggers vs swords vs sabres vs two-handed swords has mainly to do with damage, instead of being a matter of strategy.

In Destreza, we practice mainly with three types of swords (there are more, but my center is small): Ropera (Rapier), Mano y media (between longsword and bastard) and Montante (would be a zweihander).

The first thing it surprises you is that all swords, no matter the class, weight more than 1 kg and less than 3 kg. An average rapier weights about 1.15 kilograms, an average hand-and-half 1.6kg (mine is a bit heavy at 1.860, but is because it got the pommel replaced by the previous owner, as it was a bit “cabezuda” -balance too forward-), and the montante weights, on average, 2.3kg.

The second thing is that while we spend a lot of time practicing wide sweeps (specially the montante guys), the killing blows are invariable penetrating thrusts. Here’s a link of a video of a free-combat practice, so you can see how boring we are. Notice on the video how invariable the assaults usually end with one sword through the neck or the armpit of the opponent (opponents usually wore cuirass and vambraces, so neck and armpit were less armored).

On the hand-and-half and montante, we use the cutting sweeps to control the area around us (especially with the montante, given that it was a tool to break pikemen formation). Even if they are not directly lethal blows, nobody wants to risk breaking a limb by directly facing a nasty sweep. Even a glancing blow usually gets you reeling back, and that’s with the armor. All sword techniques are designed to keep the opponent at the ideal range of your weapon, which usually means at least as long as the blade is (so 1.2 meter for a hand-and-half, a bit more than 2 meters for the montante). Once they get inside your control zone, though, you have much less options, as the longer blade becomes a nuisance. Once they made me duel against a more experienced guy using a knife (well, you probably would call it a dagger, given that the blade was almost 30cm long), and basically all the encounters ended with him getting inside my area and shanking me before I could pommel him.

The rapier is a bit of a different beast, as it was designed as a purely offensive tool. Rapiers have no parry, and cannot sweep. But they are more flexible, so usually a well placed rapier thrust was enough to penetrate the armor (not by piercing it, but by flexing around the edges). A great duelist weapon, but not a good tool of war… or as someone put it: “a weapon for more civilised times”.

Finally, the third thing I think is important on sword combat is that, against humans, to win is not to kill the opponent, but to avoid injury. Incapacitating your opponent is almost as good as killing him when using swords. After all, once is incapacitated, you can dispose of him. Also, you expect your opponent to behave similarly to you. Nobody wants to get hurt as “there are no healing spells IRL”.

So, given what I know about swords… I would never use one against zombies: all the strategy goes to hell if your opponent doesn’t fear death and seeks hand to hand combat even when you threaten it to cripple its limbs.

Machetes, on the other hand, are good weapons against zombies (at least the basic ones). They are short, so they won’t be a nuisance when zombies swarm you as would be a longer sword. They do cutting damage, as the balance is towards the front of the blade, making it easier to cut bone. If you get one with hand guard you can even punch with it. An axe would also be a good weapon.

But a longsword? I don’t think so.


Averaging between 4.9–6.2 lb

The two-handed claymore was a large sword used in the late Medieval and early modern periods. It was used in the constant clan warfare and border fights with the English from circa 1400 to 1700.

I suppose I was not clear enough. I agree with you that swords were “light” but the weight of the weapon is directly linked to the wielder and is explicitly linked to how much damage it can inflict. My experience is physics and a minor history buff.

Also on the weight of the weapons “most” swords from medieval Europe were 1.5-3lbs with 6lbs being the max as stated by these guys If you read through this article they admit the weight of a weapon directly affects its swing velocity which can be shown with some calculations. Mind you the weight is quickly limited by the wielder. Overall there is a maximum to both the weight and velocity of the weapon and once these are approached technique then takes over and is always omnipresent.

With your other points I do not think anything I said contends with it at all. My point is that a “sharp” weapon would be directly effected by its edge making it harder to swing as it becomes damaged. Strike something orthogonal to the edge and voila you have a wrecked edge. This edge would then catch and get stuck on things which would increase the energy used (only if it hits) to use it again making what I said valid.

Also as a TLDR to this whole thing, swinging around a 3lb stick sure hurts like hell if you get hit by it, and something even with a flat edge WILL cut through something if it exceeds it’s puncture resistance. There are more scientific names for this but it does get the point across.

Also on your point of not using them to fight zeds, I am in agreement with that statement.

TLDR: If I again am not being clear enough let me know. Again my point is a more damaged blade/weapon requires more effort to use.

EDIT: Forgot to mention to TheKobold, the bevel will directly change the ability of the sword because it changes the surface area of the blade. A 1 micron thick, 3lbs blade, with the same swing parameters as a normal sword, will in fact cut through just about anything you have ever encountered because the contact area is so small, though this magical blade cannot exist it still proves the point I am trying to make. Weight is directly linked to the damage maximum a weapon can have as this is directly tied to physics as is the blade’s contact area when it strikes something.

EDIT 2: To be as clear as possible from a pure physics standpoint. Any object has x mass when swung uses y energy which imparts part of that to the object. This energy is what is causing the damage. This energy can be directly assessed as a joule, this energy is then transferred to the object it connects with, in whole or part depending on the object’s contact area.

Depending on this contact area you will see vastly differing outputs in damage and effects.

So all in all

Simple Version:
A “sharp” weapon: mass * velocity / surface area = damage
A “dull” weapon: mass * velocity / surface area = damage

Now as we can see it is the same. What is not the same is the surface area or contact area. So the same weapon depending on it’s state will inflict differing amounts of damage output. This also means that all objects with the same parameters, weight, length, etc, will impart identical damage. This damage is directly effected by the contact area of what is hit and it’s resistance to this damage.

A damaged weapon becomes harder to use and should increase in use of stamina. The damage is effected but that will only show itself if you get down into the nitty gritty of how the surface area changes vs. the resistance of the contact material.

For the game-play aspect, a damaged weapon should require more energy if you hit the object.

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To the people that know what you’re talking about, don’t worry about the misinformation, the dev team can tell the difference.


I can’t say that I do. The spreadsheet seems solid as a benchmark for determining where similar melee weapons should stand.

I have no idea how you would factor the techniques like rapid strike into a mathematical equation for setting up the average “value” of the weapon. But maybe techniques should be where the main difference is between weapons. Not raw damage, but just how you’re expected to use them.