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Thread: What's better: a war hammer or a long sword !!!

  1. #1 What's better: a war hammer or a long sword !!! 
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    This time, I'm comparing a war hammer (the one that can smash your head in) and a long sword... To compare them, you have to see their caracteristics:

    Long sword: long (not going to be a short long sword is it ^^), rather light, quite easy to use and looks cool in the films "highlander" lol. And, more important, notice the cross shape: it's a "noble" sword (at that time at least).

    War hammer: not really good in open combat, but it was based on the normal hammer that was used for bashing someone around rather than kill them. It's heavy (if you're the kind of guy that goes to the gym once a week ^^), but if you've got nothing else at hand, it's not bad...

    So, all in all, the sword good (if you're experinced or not) and cheap to make; the hammer is very good, in the right hands.
    In conclusion, I can happily say that the sword wins over the hammer (my opinion anyway), but like a wise man (or not) told me: everyone to their own...


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  3. #2  
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    It depends on what kind of armor your enemy has. War hammers didn't get popular until the late medieval period, when armor had gotten so protective that a person in full plate armor was basically immune to a sword. The idea behind the warhammer was to hit the person (preferably in the head) so hard that he would be injured from the blunt force of the impact even though it didn't penetrate his armor.


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    Warhammers were also exceptionally good against chainmail, since chain had little to no effect against a warhammer. Against plate, the wielder can also turn the warhammer around to reveal a spike, which works wonders against plate.
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    Long sword. Agility in battle always gives you the edge. Powers' good, but if you can't get a hit in, there's no point in all that power.
    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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  6. #5  
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    In war:

    I would not hand the serfs expensive swords to dull. I'd give them hooked pikes, so they can hold off and trip the armored enemies. Then go in with short knives, like shucking oysters. It works best when the pike features a forward facing hook, for pinning a limb to the ground. These mechanics have all been worked out.



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    The sword commands respect like nothing else!
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    Neither as long as the English have their longbow.

    The smart warrior never lets his enemy get close enough to worry about either the war hammer or the long sword.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by flaja
    Neither as long as the English have their longbow.

    The smart warrior never lets his enemy get close enough to worry about either the war hammer or the long sword.
    Which is fine so long as you're fighting in a big open field where you'll have plenty of time to shoot at your enemy before they reach you. If you're planning to storm a castle, fight in the woods, invade a city, etc, then you will probably want some stabby or bashy weapons.
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  9. #8  
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    Don't underestimate superior numbers of more cowardly men. The pikes work great in hands of quailing rascals huddled tight. And with longbows we can shoot from safe distance. Shoot and shoot from safety behind hedges or walls. The odd arrow will hit an eye. But a valiant sword advance? I don't think so.

    A curious thing about many weapons, like the war hammer, flail, or sword sharpened on both edges: they're designed so there can be no half-measures. If you hit you will hit seriously. Why? It's the same reason seamen used whips not staffs for punishments. Rarely did the man tasked with giving the beating want to be doing that. He was likely to go easy. But snapping a whip, the force of blows is regulated by physics not conscience. So in war too. Everything about those wars, including the weapons, was a contrivance to bring about the act of killing despite our gentler (or more cowardly) inclinations.

    So while superficially a spiky mace speaks brutality, it really betrays the wielder's loathing of violence. The spikes were there to give evidence, like a shift-worker's punch card. We even had to cut off ears for proof, 'else we got no bread or salt. Battles were micromanaged sometimes down to every step left or right, or the fighting stalled under soldier apathy.
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    It's silly to hear the way people think about pre-gun warfare. People have this idea that archers were sissies and the hard core knights ran about half-naked carrying swords. First, swords were not commonly seen unless carried as sidearms. Throughout the world, the primary close quarters weapon of both knights and peasants was a spear or similar polearm, but it often didn't even come to that. Much of the battle was fought by archers, slingers and larger crew served weapons. A sloppy debate as to which weapon is better is a waste of time. If there were one "best" weapon, everyone would use it. Warfare is and always has been about "combined arms" employment. A single weapon system can easily be countered.


    The odd arrow will hit an eye.
    A heavy war bow in excess of 180lb pull, common in Europe and Asia will do a bit more than put out an eye.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    the way people think about pre-gun warfare
    Unsure if that's directed at me. My point is that the best weapon is a weapon people will actually use. Psychological distance, a sense of personal safety, and no possibility of half-measures, all matter very much. This is just as true of modern warfare.

    Sure you're right about the arrow and the eye. Those weapons must have inflicted terrible injuries (which is "good"). My point is that few men then or now have the fortitude to drive a barbed bolt with bare hands into another man's face.
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    I would never have been a knight or, for that matter, anything in any period without toilet paper. Did you know knights actually shit themselves? Yes, and it was the job of the squire to clean up the results. Battles would sometimes last for hours, and you would not see toilets moved out onto the battlefield. Indeed, even royalty had servants to wash their back side.

    Sadly, knights usually got most of the glory regardless of how valliant or true a shot any archer was. Or spearman. Or anyone anywhere else on the battlefield for that matter. A knight was somewhat of a royal person himself because he or she could afford expensive armor, better protection, and probably a safer place on the battlefield. History favors the rich because it's the rich that can afford to write history.

    As for the original question: War hammers generally have a much longer distance than a long sword, and are lighter. I'd much prefer that one going into battle than a long sword. Make no mistake, the war hammer can kill very easily. One hit to the head and you're dead regardless of the armor.
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    I used to assist in a fencing school. Often I would hear the question: what was the best weapon. I would bring in a pretty impressive array of training weapons from Europe and Asia that I made myself including polearms, long and short swords, axes, knives, flails, even Mae Sawks. I would ask my associates to compete in one on one and group bouts.

    Initially, you would see people choose and employ weapons based on what they had seen in movies. Katanas were popular, sometimes carried with the blades pointing backwards. Goofy, theatrical stances were adopted, accompanied by similarly goofy explanations as to their merit. After these same individuals decided they were tired of collecting cuts and bruises they naturally turned to heavier two-handed weapons capable of crashing through a parry but more commonly spears and halberds. In groups, the winning teams were those who used many different weapons with different abilities. Example: a two handed axeman would be shielded by a man carrying a shield with a one handed weapon. The choice of weapons and even the way they were used began to closely match the way they were historical standards.

    This confirmed what I already knew. Each has an intended application. There is no best weapon in war. You need a variety to adjust to different situations.

    In modern war, an infantry unit doesn't choose a single weapon because it's the best. You need shotguns for MOUT operations, assault rifles, support weapons and designated marksmen, crew served machine guns, mortars, armor, air support and so forth. A "best weapon" does not and has never existed.
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  14. #13  
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    If I may interject, the Katana can qualify as the best sword (in theory) ever produced. When made with modern carbon steel material it can literally BREAK other replicas in half (with enough force), as shown on mythbusters. It's useful for most any kind of combat because it has a sharp point, curved blade, very light weight (for very VERY fast movement), etc. By contrast, many european weapons were meant for getting behind armor instead, so a lot more stabbing or bludgeoning was probably done. This leaves little in terms of weapon refinement for, say, cutting, which the Katana excels at. The Katana is, basically, the purest example of Japanese perfectionism.

    In one on one combat I would trust no other weapon, but on a battlefield I would much prefer wolder weapons like a war hammer, spear, etc. One of the main goals on a battlefield is to keep you away from your enemy. Those that succeed in this are most likely to survive.

    OR...Motherfucking Awesome Swordstaff. Katana + staff = perfection. Har.
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    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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  15. #14  
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    If I may interject, the Katana can qualify as the best sword (in theory) ever produced.
    I respectfully question your knowledge of military history and metallurgy. "In theory" it's a lovely weapon. In practice is a light back-up suitable only for duels against similarly armed opponents. In the latter days, particularly towards the Meiji Restoration when Japanese knights no longer fought on the battlefield, the weapon came into common use and garnered it's fame in honor duels. The katana was rarely used in open combat. It was carried as a sidearm and a sign of nobility. A real Japanese war-sword would often be in excess of 7 feet. I was actually in the Korean National Museum in Seoul a couple of weeks ago and took some pictures of these if you care to see them.

    When made with modern carbon steel material it can literally BREAK other replicas in half (with enough force), as shown on mythbusters.
    People get alot of misinformation from Mythbusters and Future Weapons and bring them to these sort of debates. Ancient Japanese steel was of poor quality. I have a couple of relatively cheap, modern katanas of superior quality to the originals they replicate.

    It's useful for most any kind of combat because it has a sharp point, curved blade, very light weight (for very VERY fast movement), etc.
    You're describing a sabre, hardly an novel weapon. It's generally used from horseback. Even so, such light swords were known to be repelled by thick leather garments and fur.

    Motherfucking Awesome Swordstaff. Katana + staff = perfection. Har.
    It's called a Naginata.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    In modern war...
    Aha! Modern weapons are better than outdated ones, if "better" has any meaning at all. So if we find early weapons with similar function these should be "better" than their contemporaries. Now look:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    You need shotguns for MOUT operations, assault rifles, support weapons and designated marksmen, crew served machine guns, mortars, armor, air support and so forth.
    See what all those have in common? Range. And apparently, the longer range the better.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    People get alot of misinformation from Mythbusters and Future Weapons and bring them to these sort of debates. Ancient Japanese steel was of poor quality. I have a couple of relatively cheap, modern katanas of superior quality to the originals they replicate.
    Are they laminated? A laminated kitchen knife costs a lot more than any single-steel blade - stainless or otherwise - and is sharper and stronger. So "ancient Japanese steel was of poor quality" is overgeneralizing. There is no one "best" steel - a combination of soft and brittle works best. :wink: But I do imagine common swords were not laminated, so your point is good in context.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    I respectfully question your knowledge of military history and metallurgy. "In theory" it's a lovely weapon. In practice is a light back-up suitable only for duels against similarly armed opponents.
    I am an avid martial artist. In ancient military history it most certainly was a last resort. The Samurai had an order of something like "Spear, Bow, Sword". Mostly because the swords of ancient japan were made with copper and similar low-grade materials, so they wouldn't do too well.

    However, I was referring to modern carbon steel variants, which are quite strong and sharp. Indeed their speed and power are most of all to be prized.

    I respectfully question your reading comprehension when you seem to ADD ON to my post, consider me ignorant, and then read me a page from standard history books that I already know, all based on something I never said. In fact I specifically described modern carbon steel variants, AND mentioned the context I would favor its use in (duels). Perhaps, next time, you will consider my words more carefully and not waste time.

    People get alot of misinformation from Mythbusters and Future Weapons and bring them to these sort of debates. Ancient Japanese steel was of poor quality. I have a couple of relatively cheap, modern katanas of superior quality to the originals they replicate.
    See? Wasting time. I specifically said modern carbon steel replicas.

    You're describing a sabre, hardly an novel weapon. It's generally used from horseback. Even so, such light swords were known to be repelled by thick leather garments and fur.
    The saber was a one handed weapon that was weak in overall power compared to the katana, and also weaker due to how it's constructed.

    It's called a Naginata.
    I could not recall the Japanese word for it, but thank you for reminding me.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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