Maces & Dodging

Just a thought. Maces are supposed to do their damage as a big smash hit to the guy in order to concuss, inflict pure pain, or dent their armor more or less. It’s certainly a less agile, finesse style of fighting compared to using a sword. Why not make dodging the primary way of countering guys with maces rather than blocking? Someone smacks you full force with a mace, a block is going to probably make you stumble a bit. Instead, dodge out of the way and the guy trying such a heavy hit will take a bit longer to recover leaving them open for some hits. Same could go for Henry, an enemy dodges his mace attack and it leaves him open for a brief time to being hit. Leveling up the mace skill could then shorten the recovery after a swing & miss.

Well, maces and warhammers aren’t generally more bulky or heavier than swords or axes, and people utilizing them didn’t have to flail around with them like crazy to get more impact, or spend a lot of time recovering momentum from a hit or miss. Their sole purpose was to transfer shock energy in a localized area. Maces condensed their strike to a single point along a flange, and war hammers put all their energy into either a hammer head or pick head (wielders choice).

Swords and axes were inefficient at localized transfer of energy, as they spread their energy across a larger section of armor (unless you thrust with the sword), and weren’t as balanced towards the end of the weapon. This imbalance, it should be noted, wasn’t enough to really make the weapons awkward to use, unless you’re talking about long war-hammers, which were polearms. Wielding polearms should suffer the mechanics you describe, as you’re operating a mass at the end of a ten foot pole. For a typical mace or warhammer, this really wasn’t an issue.

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So how does one balance maces? They’re the most powerful weapon with little to no drawback vs. swords or axes except not many available combos (which are mostly worthless due to the prevalence of AI master strikes).

Why is balance necessary? I’d say that, at least for this game, balancing is not really as necessary as having combat that is relatively realistic. There were reasons why soldiers started abandoning arming swords and spears in favor of war hammers, pikes, and longswords. The advent of plate armor made some weapons ineffective. People wouldn’t have bought it if it didn’t. So, if by balance you mean that every weapon should do similar overall damage in the same time frame, I would highly disagree.

But, if you want to add a different sort of balance, I’d start by adding a bit more realism. Let’s take longswords for instance. They were used between plate armored foes, not because it had the potential to cleave through plate, but because it afforded very useful tactical advantages in terms of half-swording. The guard of the blade was often used to throw opponents to the ground, where one might pop the visor of the opponent and stab them in the face. Otherwise, you could perform a murder stroke, and use the guard of the weapon as a hammer from a distance. There were a fair number of useful techniques with a longsword, and as such it was a very versatile weapon.

Adding this type of thing to the game might require some changes in mechanics, such as adding stances (like a half-sword stance), with different moves for each stance. Complex stuff, but it would make facing opponents more interesting and dynamic, and what weapon you might want to utilize could change on a case to case basis. An armsman with a simple mace would have difficulties engaging someone skilled with a longsword. He would certainly be disadvantaged against a horseman with a lance. Dealing with horsemen would often require a polearm of some variety, and people with polearms that aren’t in a tight group are a bit prone to rushing attacks. There’s a bit of rock-paper-scissors balance inherent in realistic combat.

All that aside, I’m not sure I agree that the mace is the weapon of choice in this game. For example, I find I can kill far quicker with the arming sword “Stinger”, than with maces. If you huff down the potions and have high level skills, you’re doing well north of 100 damage per hit with the thing. Thrust to the face once or twice and they’re either surrendering or dead. Maces and warhammers just don’t have very high damage ouput. This is offset to some extent by having bludgeon resistance being lower on armor, but it’s still lower base damage.