Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

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Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Koonitz » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:09 pm

This post mostly concerns my Horus Heresy (30k) Thousand Sons and their use of Khopesh-styled blades, however this does relate to 40k, as any of the weapons I'm about to display are as home in 40k as they are in 30k and, indeed, the newer 40k Thousand Sons models use the same curved blades. That and this section of the forum gets more foot traffic, so here it is.

What I'm trying to get to in this post is what constitutes a force sword and a force axe and where does the khopesh styled blade fit into it. I'm as interested in popular opinion as I am any rules debate on the matter, so please feel free to say your piece, regardless how relevant. Please also be as hardline as you want. I'm not interested in "I'd let you use them as axes 'cause you're a swell guy." I want to be clear in what they represent, as I can't always play the "proxy/counts-as" card.

My personal concern is because I want to have thematic weapons on my 30k models, but I understand that, in the Horus Heresy game, having AP2 on your characters is pretty much a must. So power/force axes are vastly more valuable than power/force swords (The change to power weapons in 8th is one of my favourite things about 8th over 7th). But if people view the khopesh blades I've used on my models as swords, I don't want there to be an argument when I start saying they're axes.

To lay the groundwork, this is a quote directly from the wikipedia article about the khopesh: "Khopesh (ḫpš; also vocalized khepesh) is an Egyptian sickle-sword that evolved from battle axes."

Put simply, the khopesh was an attempt to blend the cutting, slashing edge of a sword with the chopping power of an axe. This is pure, science and history, nothing relating to 40k.

I've shared some examples of my own models below, and I'm interested in people's reactions. Assume we've just met and are setting up for a game and I've just told you "This is a power/force axe." What are your thoughts? In 40k, the Thousand Sons codex only offers two options: Force stave, or power sword. There is no option for an axe anymore. Assume this is not the case (or we are playing 30k) and force/power swords and axes are both equally available.

----

Up first, Ahriman. Obviously, in 40k, he has the Black Staff and, as such, there would be no argument on what this model would count as having. This is the 30k model. This model is important for all further examples for one reason: Forge World's rules for Ahriman in the Horus Heresy have him equipped with a force AXE! That staff counts as a force axe, officially from Forge World.
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Second, these are two examples of official 40k models as a counter-point to Ahriman's staff. The Scarab Occult, and a khopesh that comes in the Exalted Sorcerer box. In the 40k Thousand Sons codex, these count as power swords and there is no option to count them as anything else (as mentioned above).
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Third, an official model from Forge World of the Sekhmet Cabal, the 30k equivalent to the Scarab Occult. In the rules, they have a force weapon, which could be of any style. This khopesh is, pretty much, a one-handed version of Ahriman's staff in the above picture. With that comparison in mind, I'd be inclined to say this could count as a force axe, however it is effectively identical to the swords wielded by their 40k counterparts, and as such, could easily be argued otherwise.
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Fourth, the following examples are third party khopesh styled blades. The first two are my own, the third a picture I got from the Lexicanum entry for Thousand Sons. Thoughts? Would you allow these to count as axes? These are the ones I consider most likely to be a hard "no", excepting when you consider the comparison of the Sekhmet Cabal khopesh directly above.
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Fifth, the following examples are third party bladed staves (except the first), meant to represent khopesh-styled blades. The blade on the first is from the Tomb Kings skeleton set. These are the closest of the third party options I have to Ahriman's staff, above. I consider these to be least likely to be a "no", but I'm still interested in your opinion.
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Last, I have a third party stave with a curious head. It's not a khopesh, but I'm adding it for curiosity's sake, anyway. The head of this staff could easily be a stylized axe head. Once again, I compare this to Ahriman's staff.
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Thanks for reading. As a person with anxiety, I like having these sorts of 'questionable situations' ironed out well in advance of it actually coming up in a game. This one has been bugging me for a while. As such, I am very interested in the opinions of you, the readers.
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by gluttonousbolter » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:03 pm

I think if you just explained before the game "these things are axes" 99.9% of people would be cool.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Raschier » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:38 pm

I think you shouldn't look at the blade but the handle. As you see axes have a longer handle, while swords have a short one. That is why I consider the second Khopesh a sword, while the first and third one an axe. Also the Tomb-Guard weapons look like halberds, which I would count as axes.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Signet-Powers » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:33 pm

Historically there was many different types of swords, such as longswords, shortswords, Sabers, rapiers, broadword, hooksword, falchion, gladius, etc... all were called swords but had features and techniques that could differ massively.

A Katana for example would only really be used for slashing and would break if used for stabbing. A Rapier by comparison would only be used for stabbng and would be useless at slashing.

My point is that classifications of weapons aren't the best way to determine its use in combat. There is no meaningful difference between a carbine, battle rifle and assault rifle for another example. The AR-15 is almost identical to the M16 or M4, yet not classified as the same type of weapon while a Famas, AK47 or SA80 are despite huge differences.


Therefore, speaking personally and honestly this is what in see in those pictures:

1) Ahrimans weapon looks less like an axe or Khotep and more like some sort of curved Polearm or Stave.

2) The Scarab Occult are definetly holding Khoteps, and the handle makes them look like swords more than axes. The blade on a sword is on top of the handle, the blade on an axe attached to the side.

3) the Sekhmet Cabal is holding an axe. It doesn't conmect to the top of the blade, so it looks kinad like a seord, but it's clearly intended as a stylisic choice.

4) swords again, like I said the blade is attached on top of the handle, not on the side like an ace.

5) Those Tomb-King weapons are definetly Halberds, which rules wise would be best represented as a stave.

6) That's a staff as well. If it was an axe it's be a pretty poor one as the weight of the blade needs to be close to the hand.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Bojazz » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:52 pm

As Signet said, being called a Sword or an Axe means almost nothing in terms of how a weapon is used, so to determine the most appropriate rules for a weapon we should look at how the weapon is used compared to the stereotypical archetype.

A stereotypical "sword" is a balanced, lightweight blade useful for parrying, slashing, and piercing. There are many variants that diverge from this definition, but when you simply say "Sword", this is what most people will think of. The sword's strength comes from balance and versatility.

A Stereotypical "axe" is a heavy weighted blade at the end of a long handle, useful for slashing or crushing. Again, many different types of axes will diverge from this, but sticking to the archetype we're thinking fireaxe or battleaxe. The axe's strength comes from the sheer force of the hit due to the weight being positioned at the end of the pendulum when swinging.

Since the entire purpose of a Khopesh is to mimic the swinging strength/weight of an axe, I would argue that because of their practical use they should be considered axes in-game. A khopesh even has a blunted tip specifically designed for bludgeoning, because they are so heavily weighted at the end of the blade. Other historical "swords" that were used as an axe are the Chinese Dao, Falchions, and Shamshirs/Scimitars. Of course even swords within these specific sub-genres had different shapes, styles, and weights.

In place of a lack of any rules stating otherwise, I think it would make the most sense to treat all instances of a khopesh as a power axe rather than a power sword.
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Ronin » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:13 pm

As long as you pay the points, you should be fine.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Koonitz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:59 am

Signet-Powers wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:33 pm
Stuff
Bojazz wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:52 pm
More stuff
Interesting, how you two seem to post back to back opposing arguments. I'd like to see further discussion on this.

Personally, I agree with Bojazz's scientific analysis of the weapon, which is why I decided to go ahead and use the Khopesh blades when I started to build my Thousand Sons. They are, scientifically, designed to function more like an axe than a sword.

However, Signet-Powers is right that they are viewed, 100%, as swords, and the vast majority would see them as swords, end of discussion. They are, after all, labeled as Khopesh "swords". His assessment of how the blade attaches wasn't exactly how I saw it, but did separate them exactly as I predicted. Specifically in that the 3rd example (the Forge World Sekhmet Cabal) was an axe, because it was a hafted weapon, more like Ahriman's staff, than the blades in the other examples, as Raschier pointed out.

Though I, personally, disagree with the assessment that the pole-arms should be treated as staves. Traditionally, and even via GW, they were more often treated as power swords than anything else. For instance, Grey Knight Nemesis force halberds. If used as stand in weapons for other models, they were most often counted as power swords. Pole-arms with axe heads, like a more traditional halberd (instead of the glaive the force halberd actually represents), would count as a power axe.

Edit: If it helps any, here's a picture of an actual egyptian bronze khopesh, from the era of Ramses II, per the label. You can actually see the blunt tip, as previously mentioned by Bojazz, and the fact that the bottom portion of the 'blade' is fully blunt, meaning the curved edge is the only sharp edge, very much like an axe.
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Ronin wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:13 pm
As long as you pay the points, you should be fine.
gluttonousbolter wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:03 pm
I think if you just explained before the game "these things are axes" 99.9% of people would be cool.
Oh, I'm comfortably fine with this, as a general rule. I know that pretty much anyone I play with nowadays would have absolutely no problem with it. I just, as I said, have anxiety, and think about these sorts of niggling details a lot. To the, as you can now see, very obvious point of vastly over-thinking it. It bugs and stresses me, late at night when I have nothing else to think about.
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Arnathos » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:38 am

7th rulebook would consider most of them swords, with the longer stick though they go into halberd territory, as sword staves are not a thing in the 40k rules. Halberds are considered axes as per the rulebook, unless they have rules which say otherwise, like force halberds for GK.

If you want them to be axes, give them clearly longer sticks to differentiate them from swords. Also always make sure your opponent knows whats what before starting your match.

Last pic is more staff than anything btw.

PS: If you use the arguement:"They were meant to combine swords and axes." That would put them in the category "unusual power weapons" which default to AP3 S user.
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Signet-Powers » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:04 pm

Koonitz wrote:Personally, I agree with Bojazz's scientific analysis of the weapon, which is why I decided to go ahead and use the Khopesh blades when I started to build my Thousand Sons. They are, scientifically, designed to function more like an axe than a sword.
True, but then I could say the same thing about a chainsword, a weapon which by design would probably have to be used like an axe. Unless you had Astartes strength you wouldn't really be able to stab or parry with it much. You could if you were lucky, but the moving blades and top-heavy weight would make it too unweidly.

And keep in mind that chainsaws aren't actually that quick at cutting things, they have to be held down on it.



EDIT::
My point is that GW doesn't take the scientific approach in terms of the taletop rules, and while it sounds like I'm being a bit dismisive, what I mean is that there's a lot of false equivilencies and discrepencies when translating actual weapon features and uses to a limited 6-sided dice playstyle.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Koonitz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:26 pm

Signet-Powers wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:04 pm
Koonitz wrote:Personally, I agree with Bojazz's scientific analysis of the weapon, which is why I decided to go ahead and use the Khopesh blades when I started to build my Thousand Sons. They are, scientifically, designed to function more like an axe than a sword.
True, but then I could say the same thing about a chainsword, a weapon which by design would probably have to be used like an axe. Unless you had Astartes strength you wouldn't really be able to stab or parry with it much. You could if you were lucky, but the moving blades and top-heavy weight would make it too unweidly.

And keep in mind that chainsaws aren't actually that quick at cutting things, they have to be held down on it.
You could, technically, stab with many chain swords, as the tip is exposed, allowing for a thrusting motion. Two great examples are the Imperial Knight titan's chainblade and the Mk III Power armour chain swords. Of course, there is also no distinction between non-powered melee weapons like there are in power weapons. A sword is the same as an axe, a mace, a flail, a spear, a pole-arm, a board with a nail in it, and a rock. I like to see a chainsword getting its extra attack in 8th BECAUSE you have to hold it down against the target to cut.

On that vein, chain swords are also completely impractical. Not because wielding a chain saw as a sword is a bad idea, but because every single one I've seen (EVERY SINGLE ONE) has a guard on it that is wider than the chain. A guard that will make it effectively impossible to cut any deeper on a target than the exposed teeth. Once again, look at the Imperial Knight chain blade (because it's big and easy to see) and tell me what will happen when the teeth cut into a tank and the guard hits the armoured plates? It's going to stop unless you can provide the sheer brute strength to push a blunt object through the armour you're attacking. The same thing will happen with a Marine wielding a chain sword attacking another Marine. In some cases, it's possible to provide the strength necessary, but as I said it's completely impractical. You could angle the guard, to make it more like a wedge so it's easier to push in, but then you greatly increase the risk of it getting stuck inside its target.

Now, look at a modern chain saw. That's what the blade will have to look like to properly cut deep.

But I digress...
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Bojazz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:58 pm

We're not simply saying that they should be considered power axes because they could theoretically be used similarly to axes, but rather that they were designed to be used as an axe would be used. I.E. Heavy at the tip to amplify the force applied from a swinging motion because the weight is at the tip. A Chainsword does not have that feature. We're not saying they should be considered axes because you can make a "chopping motion" with them, but because they are literally used in the same was a handaxe would be used.
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Signet-Powers » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:44 pm

Yeah but i meant that people associate the chainsword with a sword due to its appreance, despite the practical implications meaning it would have to be used as a different type of weapon in its own right.

A Khopesh was reffered to as a sickle-sword and I'd assume that's what GW was thinking of when they designed it. We see with DeathKorps that Forgeworld names things after the visuals people associate with it, rather than the actual features of the weapon. "Lascarbines" for example are clearly named after WW2 carbine weapons, rather than what an actual Carbine version of a lasgun would look like (just a slightly shortened barrel on a normal lasgun btw).

I'm not saying people wouldn't accept a Khopesh as an axe. I'm just saying that most would see it as a sword first, until corrected otherwise.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Bojazz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:14 pm

Thats a pretty fair point. GW designed the scarab occult weapons with sword rules in mind, and the forgeworld weapons which could be considered as axes all have been modified from the traditional khopesh look to be more "axe-like" with the longer handles. This could be entirely intentional to make it clearer what counts as an axe and a sword. with that reasoning in mind, you could use the length of the handle and location of the blade as a distinguishing mark for what is an axe and what is a sword. If the "blade" starts near a short handle, count it as a sword. If the blade is at the end of a longer handle, count it as an axe. This isn't really considering anything about how the weapon would actually function, but rather is based solely on what the weapon more closely resembles in appearance, for ease of identification for game purposes. Personally I wouldn't do it that way, but it does make sense.
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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Signet-Powers » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:58 pm

Well then I think the easiest and most visual justification would be;

Axes= Choppy,
Swords= Stabby.

That way, you can just say the Khoteps are basically axes because they chop.

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Re: Sword or Axe? How clear should you be when it comes to hybrid looking weapons? (disclaimer, long read)

Post by Bojazz » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:27 am

I wish chopping is the only requirement to have a power axe, my Boyz with choppaz would be VERY happy :P
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