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Now, this isn't a rules question, but it's about the rules so I thought this was the most appropriate place. Sorry if this has been discussed before.
Secondly, I haven't been about for ages. Hi guys!
Onto the point...
What I want to know is why two handed swords are lumped into the great weapons category. Great weapons are basically defined as large, clumsy but heavy and hard hitting weapons. That's where their special rules come from. It takes a long time to swing it, but when you hit the target you hit hard.
But, gentlemen (and possibly a handful of ladies) I contend that two handed swords are not heavy and they are not clumsy. It's been a common misconception amongst a huge number of people that a medieval greatsword was poorly balanced and weighed 20 lbs. Some people even come up with a figure of 40 lbs out of nowhere.
In reality most examples weighed closer to 4 lbs and were perfectly balanced. Even the largest Scottish Claymores and Germanic Dopplehänders rarely weighed more than 8 lbs. A trained swordsman could swing one blindingly quickly. They were just as effective as the heavier bludgeoning weapons, perhaps even more so. If you look at the kinetic energy of the blow, K.E. = 0.5*mass*velocity^2. Things like great hammers have the mass. The two handed sword has the huge velocity, and the velocity in that equation is squared, for some particularly fearsome damage. Just imagine how fast the tip of that sword is moving when a strong man is swinging it perfectly balanced, with a firm two-handed grip, and the tip of the sword is four or five feet away from the guard.
They were devastating weapons, given to the best trained soldiers, who could wield them with great skill.
To lump them in with *heavy lump of metal on the end of a long stick to bludgeon my opponent* seems ridiculous! I contend that two handed swords should be a category of their own, still very damaging, but without the slowness. Now I know this is unlikely, of course they would have to have a points hike, but it would take a long time before all the army books were updated. I just felt I had to rant about GW following on with that common misconception.
I know that HE don't suffer from this slowness like other armies do, but in the current incarnation that's just because they're high elves, not because of the weapon. I'd like to see the swordmasters have some other bonus, and all two-handed swords having rules that better reflect the weapon.
I can dream!
Further reading: The Two-Handed Great Sword
Thou shalt remember:
Warhammer Fantasy armies do NOT have Codices. They have Army Books.
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Thanks for posting this info. Quite interesting to read, and it does make sense. I would agree with you 100%, but I think in terms of game mechanics, the rules need some way of balancing out the high st. of these attacks...at least for some units. If I were to work this into the design of the game, I would make great-weapons come ASL as standard, but give some of the more elite troops a special rule that allows them to swing great weapons at their regular initiative value. If, for instance, units like Dark Elf Executioners and Empire Great-Swords could wield their weapons at regular I. value, their usefulness would be vastly improved without breaking the game. I would even accept a slight point adjustment to compensate for this rule....but then again....I'm just jealous of High Elf Swordmasters