Chain Weapons are just wrong

Amongst the Melee weapons in 40K the chainsword is unequivocally the most iconic. So it should probably be a quite good weapon. instead I would say I see almost no one using it. There is something decidedly lackluster about using them. Even if statistically they don’t seem that bad. I have done decent damage with them in games on damnation. But they feel something in the range from meh to disappointing to use. Herein i will try to interrogate why.

First I will reference a primary example from lore as to how chain weapons perform in combat. Second I will look at how they are represented on tabletop. Third I will compare them to gameplay in darktide. Fourth I will look at aesthetics and effects that might be impacting the weapons from a feel perspective.

1. Lore
I wasn’t able to find a primary source that I personally have access to. The rulebooks leave much to the imagination but I will try to describe my recollection of a duel from the first Gaunt’s Ghosts book. In it the chainswords used in the duel are both turned on for the whole fight. When the blade makes contact with flesh it instantly tears into it, cutting through clothing and bone. Even just the lightest touch serves to create nasty gashes. The weapons are described as having whirring monomolecular spinning blades. In a sense these descriptions evoke a weapon that doesn’t require the user’s muscle to cut, but rather cuts on the lightest touch and carves deeply when force is applied. Far from a realistic chainsaw, more like a fantasy one.

2. Tabletop crunch
Minis game
In tabletop the Chainsword and chain weapons in general have commonly been treated as close combat weapons with no special benefits (besides conferring an extra attack as per all closecombat weapons). This appears to remain true for one handed chain weapons in 4th, 5th and 9th (and from my memory that includes 6rh and 7th). I could not readily find chain axes not in the hands of an astartes, though such exists in lore. And eviscerators were 2x strength and AP-2 (capable of penetrating carapace).

Dark Heresy: provides a more nuanced look at chain weapons and standard weapons with the following stats tables:
Axe: 1d10+1 Armor Pen 0 (with mono edge upgrade adding +2 pen)
Sword: 1d10 Armor Pen 0 (with mono edge upgrade adding +2 pen)
Chainsword: 1d10+2 Armor Pen 2
ChainAxe: 1d10+4 Armor Pen 2
Eviscerator: 1d10+10 Armor Pen 5

Briefly, what is the take away: as a player I think everyone feels naturally that chain weapons should be on the higher, not lower, side of the damage pool. That just feels right. Maybe they’re clunky in other ways, but they should hit like trucks.

3. Gameplay
I’m going to summarize rather than list in detail. Everything does less damage than the Antax and Combat Axe. Yes everything has a bit better cleave but it doesn’t feel very impactful in game. The eviscerator does it best but honestly does not hit that hard or cleave that well either. Its strange but the giant two handed weapon feels less impactful despite being slower than a one handed axe. That just seems wrong, especially for chain weapons.

does this distribution feel right to you? It doesn’t to me.

4. Fourth

I can’t really quantify this. I spent some time trying to think of what the chain weapons feel like in darktide right now and the word “paddle” came up in conversation a lot, this is NOT GOOD. That’s when it struck me. There’s an aztec weapon called a Macuahuitl (don’t ask me to pronounce that). It looks EXACTLY like how it feels to swing a chain weapon a lot of the time. A wooden paddle with unmoving serrated blades. It also accurately describes the negative feeling you get swinging a chain weapon. In fact many of the chain weapon attacks feel exactly like this:

I will just describe the video. In the first swing the user hits the mannequin and does not cut it at all. It literally hits like a wooden paddel. In the next swing the user hits the mannequin and only manages to cut it a little. “that’s pretty brutal” says the narrator…as the second strike finally tears open a bit of flesh for the first time. Far from brutal it looks like getting hit with a serrated paddle. Which is what it is. And what chains weapons feel like, which they shouldn’t. Chain weapons have whirring blades that cut deep into flesh and tear open wounds. The fantasy of chain weapons is that the blades serve a similar (but more flashy and gorey) purpose to super sharp magic swords and light sabers. They cut into soft flesh as a hot knife through butter. Effortlessly. Rattling against bones and sinews as they slowdown deeper into the body. Chain weapons should resemble something like weaker power sword that grinds instead of getting totally stuck the way a chainsaw might. Not…well…a paddle. Paddle is bad.

One issue i have noticed with all the chain weapons is that you cannot really make out the fact that they are doing a light rev on swing. There’s too many outher sounds going on. Because of this the audio gives the impression of slapping the enemy with paddle more often than hitting them with razor sharp whirring blades of adamantine. This is especially bad on the heavy attacks for the chain axe. The feedback on these attacks is dull thwapping. The eviscerator does it best but still tends to thump more than rip and tear. This is a problem on several fronts.

  1. There is often little to no engine audio windup before the swing
  2. There is often little to no engine audio winddown after the swing
  3. Chain weapons should not be off when swung. They should always be on when swung.

The Eviscerator does this well specifically on heavy swings. If you chain heavy attacks there’s a persistent purring sound and persistent movement on the chain blades. All chain weapons should behave this way on all swings. Note how as soon as I start swinging lights the sound vanishes.

Revved attacks always sound great. Especially grinding against flak and carapace.

For the most part, the visuals are pretty strong. Except in a few key areas I want to try and highlight below.

  1. Hit decals are mostly good but sometimes it looks more like i bludgened them than hit them with a tearing cutting slicing weapon.

  2. Enemies are not dismembered or cut open enough. perhaps this is a tech limitation or even a settings one on my part. But it seems like enemies should be cut partially in half and from different angles more often. Right now I seem to only be able to remove arms, legs, bisect the torso and behead enemies. What about partially cutting them in half or cutting them in half on diagonals or horizontally? Its not required, probably bottom of my list actually, but it would help get the feel right. Partial dismemberment would improve the feel of chains weapons.

  3. Light attacks with the chainsword, if allowed to rest a split second between mashing LMB for swings, actually render an animation like they are latching but just do not and don’t make any sound at all so you get this dumb wiggle on the target with no feedback.

This is just my idea, so I’m open to argument.
I think that chain weapons should be doing more damage than the axes, and be more single target oriented weapons with lower cleave and slower handling. If the axes are the Kantrael Lasgun then the Chain Swords should be Bolters. Right now they seem like they’re trying to be more cleave oriented than they should be and it ends up feeling weird to paddle multiple enemies. If they shared a spot with the axes in the “hits one or two people, with blessings, and kills them in one hit” category and just roared for a huge pile of damage…I think that would be more fun. The chain axe definitely needs to swing for more than a normal axe.

I also think some of the reason they feel bad has to do with animations and lackluster sound effects. So work on that too. Make them roar more. Make them run when they are swung until a little after they are done being swung. Don’t make me rev it to see the chainsword do chainsword things.


Chain weapons should definitely be doing more damage than Axes and Swords,

They are quite literally a chainsaw and powered. They do not rely on muscle power to do their damage, they are much nastier, and definitely should be doing more damage on Flak and Carapace.

But my actual problem with the Cadia Chainsword and the reason I don’t use it, is because the light attacks are far too sharp of an angle to use properly unless you’re just attacking a single opponent in front of you. I don’t even think the Obscura Force Sword is that sharp of an angle. They need to be a little less angular because you can’t really use this weapon in a crowd at all, and the Push attack is a stab… with… a chain weapon which makes no sense.

If they want to keep the angular light attacks on Cadia they should change the push attack and Heavies to mimick the Eviscerator’s.

My real problem with Eviscerator (the two hander) isn’t necessarily the damage, its more that it should be able to damage more targets than it does on the Push and Heavy attack, this one is one where you put both hands on it and have a much stronger swing capable of sawing through more targets in a sweep.

Now… I will say the Animation lock does make sense on this one on the Charged attack, as concentrating on a single target means you’re spending your time literally sawing it in half, which would lock you into the attack.

EDIT: The real thing through that I wish for the Cadia Chainsword, is for the weapon to be reworked into a Combo weapon the way the Rapier + Pistol is on Witch Hunter Captain in V2. In Warhammer 40K Chainswords are most often used with a pistol in the other hand and its a two weapon combo. Much like the Alt-Fire pistol on the WHC Rapier in V2. So being able to use the sword, then Alt-Fire the pistol for short range damage is really the way this particular weapon should work.


I use an Eviscerator.

And I focus on bleeding and critical hits with the following feats:

It tears through Plague Ogryns, Beasts of Nurgle, Daemon Hosts, and everything else.

The only thing it’s not great against is hordes, even with all that cleave.

But does it feel like a chainsword or eviscerator should to use? Because that’s what this thread is focused on.

I pull pretty good damage with my chain axe but i still think it isnt living up to the weapon’s style at all. I think the chain weapons feel bad to use and don’t really do anything that other weapons don’t do way better.


If the Chain weapon had to feel realistic, they would feel really bad, they are fine as is.

As for their current role, the special attack are already single target minded, we don’t need to make all of its attack be single target minded

My appologies. I’m sensing some confusion, which suggests I did not write my opening post clearly enough. I am most certainly NOT arguing that chain weapons should feel realistic. I am saying they do not match the fantasy of a chain weapon. They feel like wooden paddles not chain weapons. I’ve edited my opening post for better clarity.

Not only do they feel bad but they play bad. I almost never see anyone using them in Damnation.


What cleave? The Eviscerator does have less cleave than Axes.
Iam not even sure if yours will kill two damnation trash mobs in a heavy swing. The light will scratch their itchy noses a bit.

Bolter, Plasma, Warptravel, Powerarmor, Zombies, Laser Rifles, ammo on the ground that fits any gun you wield, magic toughness bars that regenerate and make you bulletproof and many other things make zero “logical sense”. We also never have to eat or drink and no one placed a toilet on the LoadingStar! Unplayable. Time to play Arma instead of a scifi game I guess.

For a good reason. The only halfway decent chainweapon is the standard chainsword. Not because its particularly great at beating elites or waves. It is just a weapon that gets you out of trouble easily with its high mobility and stamina. Not especially valuable since knives and axes give you nearly as much survivability, but also hand you alot more killing power.

Eviscerator is straight a bad weapon atm. Apart from it looking fancy, there is no reason at all to bring it.


I do not know what you think it should feel like.

For me, when I rev it up and hear the grinding of its teeth as I saw something in half in a flurry of blood, it feels like a chainsword should feel.

Look above at the screenshot of my Eviscerator. You will notice the “Cleave Targets” is maxed at 80 and I’ve got a level 3 blessing that increases cleave.

Light and heavy attacks will cleave through at least two mobs. It can sometimes kill both with a heavy swing if you rev-up first.

The push attack is a long horizontal sweep, and it cleaves through many mobs. So it’s effective at controlling a crowd, but does very little damage, even when you rev-up first.

Overall, my impression is that the Eviscerator excels at killing all mobs, one at a time, but performs poorly on crowds.

Everyone who ever played warhammer 40k space marine, knows how it SHOULD feel.


That’s normal considering the damage displayed does not consider the special action

Anyways, the only I would have considered would have been eviscerator… but the fact that you must push / alternate heavy light attacks, is a big no for me.
Maybe we will get, one day, an other eviscerator with something more “classic” to use.

EDIT: don’t get me wrong… I would love to use an eviscerator… cause this is the right weapon for the zealot… but the attack chain is too bad

Would love to see the eviscerator get a buff but the real disappointment is the hammers in the game.


Bro its 40k you cannot be unironically saying this


So as an evi enthusiast i will share my opinion in giga post
I’ve test a lot of them, so far i like this one the most.

It is ok on hordes after a few swings when you stack blessings and feat effects but sometimes it takes to many hits to kill 2 dreg bruisers cause half of buffs are not activated, which feels extremly meh.


So some examples, with these stats and without buff stacks it’s like that (you can skip this part):

  • Flamers, sniper, bomber and both shotgunners take 1 light shredd to kill
  • Dog 1 heavy shredd to kill
  • Trapper takes 1 light shredd in the head (not hard to hit), if you missed the head, there will be 44hp leftover, it will take 1 light to end him, sane for scab/dreg gunners
  • Ragers takes 1 heavy shredd in the head or 1 heavy crit/ultimate to kill
  • Mute takes 1 heavy shred+1light. Or you can overkill him with heavy shred+crit/ultimate
  • scab gunner takes 1 light shredd in the head
    -2 heavy shredds to kill maulers (body)
    -2 heavy shredds+1 light to kill bulwark (77hp leftover)

So the main problems:

  • if atleast some of your buffs are activated than you reach those breakpoints and… OOH EVI FOCKS HARD, most of the time buffs are active cause things are intense. But if not than there will be some miniscual leftover you need to spend 1 light atack more to end, it is where things feel both tedious in terms of gameplay and breaks immersion.
  • You don’t kill things you can potentialy oneshot with heavy/shredd heavy cause it cleaves through. I kinda like that fact you need to use all atacks against different enemies, but than it need a bit more damge for shredd light.
    -Dmg vs infested and unarmored sucks
    And it is kinda paradoxical weapon, cause it’s better against blobs, especialy mixed, trashmobs help to activate your buffs and prevent evi to cleave through some elites like shotgunners/gunners.

Trick: you can catch mute and dog on the run with shredd, dodge+atack them while they are on the run, they will past through but shredd damage still be caused, this is how we are corrida in 40K (glitching sometimes after some patch)

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As I said in my opening post I agree that the revved attacks do, infact, feel and sound great. It is the lights and heavies on most weapons (depends on the one) that feel like hitting the enemy with a paddle. I was hoping to explore the idea a bit on what they should be like but here’s what I have come up with:

  1. They should always be revved when swinging. Rev should be an added layer of rev-ness.
  2. They should hit and grind more like chainaxe lights but maybe with less latching. Or maybe with the latching.
  3. They need to do more damage than the best normal weapon (axe)
  4. To balance this they should swing slower and confer fewer dodges
  5. The chain axe and chain sword should be single target focused weapons that deal heavy damage
  6. The eviscerator just needs more damage period. I don’t think it needs more cleave, it just needs to hit the targets it does hit harder.
  7. The sound effects and some visual effects need work.

I wouldn’t say it excels at anything right now.

I am aware and I am not talking about the special action. The special action is a high commitment high risk high reward ability that isn’t relevant to the general performance of the weapons. The problem i have with chain weapons is how they feel 95% of the time when you arent using the special attack. The special is the only time chain weapons DO feel like chain weapons.


Have nothing to add about “proper” feels rly, much was said in the original topic. Evi feels like a club sometimes, due it’s not revved-up, more blood and fleshy-meaty-slicy sound could change that perception. Maybe pseudo auto-rev effects on hits? Without changing damage profile and locking you on a targer? Also vertical body split for a human sized enemies atleast would be nice, it’s not a first time people request this gore feature.


That I can agree with. But I’m constantly using it.

IMO it is an Astartes weapon. Our lore and novels talk about their use, but they never match the table. In a Space Marine’s hands they would be a force to be reckoned with.
In the hands of some moderately trained, trial by fire rejects? They are not performing as well as the weapon could. The hammer is harder for us to use with precision and speed. The chainsword is a bit unwieldly and likely not even tuned up the best.

We are a step above the bottom of the barrel using gear that is available through scrounging. Now and then you land on a pretty decent weapon, but mostly we are pulling bent swords out of corpse piles.

Simply put, we are more competent with other weapons. It is less about the weapons themselves, and more about out ability to use them efficiently. At least that is how it makes most sense in my head cannon.

Lights are indeed for single target like quickly picking off shooters. You spam heavies for groups, it works rather well.

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Whole other class of weapon my friend. Human scale chainswords are common all around the imperium. An astartes chainsword is far larger and made just for their superhuman might. Also, we receive significant training (psykhanium) and by the time we receive such a weapon we are at an appreciable rank within the ordo hereticus retinue.


I don’t think they’re especially good in this role actually. The eviscerator is just okay at it.
I think the chain weapons over all are quite weak and worse than that they slap like paddles, impact weapons, rather than rending and tearing weapons.