Weapon Balance: Chain Weapons, 2 Handers and Combat Axes

This will be my last post. I will now be joining the corpse pile driven away by 6 months of unhandled customer feedback. Chiefly mission modifier selection which results in my inability to actually play something fun when I boot the game. Secondly the absolute state of iconic 40k weapons. I came here for 40k vermintide and I just found vermintide with autopistols and a bunch of trash you can technically use if you’re as crazy as me. Lastly are crafting issues and resource siloing issues which made it impossible for me to expand my testing into other classes and quickly ruined any will I had to pursue such analysis. I’ll keep an eye out for the results of a possible redemption arc. If that happens I will return. I still hope to see this game become what it could be.

With out further tarrying about let me say with much pleasure that I have completed crunching through my data up to a standard I think is sufficient to draw reasonable conclusions and recommend actions against.

Testing parameters:
Measured from first hit to last hit, excluding 1 or 2 enemies that got stuck on terrain or failed to aggro or got flung a large distance. Testing is done using the Solo mod with TrueSolo set to turn off bots. Map location is the beginning of Magistrati Oubliette before the sewer dropoff. Enemies are reliably triggered via a single shot into a sacrificial poxwalker, groaner or scab bruiser using the Agripinaa shotgun slug.

Testing targets:

  1. 50 Poxwalkers
  2. 20 Scab Bruisers
  3. 4 Crushers

A mixed horde test was conducted but this data is not exceedingly relevant to our discussion here. I’ll mention it where it is important. It consisted of:
30 poxwalkers
10 scab bruisers
1 scab mauler
1 dreg rager

Testing objective:
Determine the relative balance of melee weapons as wielded by a zealot (me) using the same feats for all weapons with the BiS blessings or as close as I could muster with crafting being what it is.

Tested weapons:
The following weapons were tested. I aimed for a good spread of weapons and tried to re-use the same weapon with different blessings or perks where possible when multiples were tested.


Antax 2

Atrox Tactical Axe

Catachan Mk1

Heavy Sword Mk7

Heavy Sword Mk9

Heavy Chainswords

Chain Axe

Chain Sword

Indignatus Crusher


I have grouped the results based on my subjective experience testing the weapons, and reviewing the data, into color based categories of “like” weapons that are near enough to one another that player skill may have made up the majority of the difference in results. I have also included a “difficulty” section which indicates how hard it was to achieve a “no damage” (or near enough) result. This is exceedingly relevant to Crusher testing. My opinion of these results is that they are accurate in their distribution of times, for the most part. They appear reliable within a reasonable margin of error and player failures. ALL of my data is from Zealot and I have avoided cross-class balance complications on purpose.

50 Poxwalkers
Poxwalker final data

20 Scab Bruisers
scab bruiser final data

4 Crushers
Crusher final data

Darktide is a warhammer 40k game. This means it has to pay some ammount of homage to the actual warhammer 40k universe. If it fails to do so it loses a core audience automatically. So it can’t just throw away canon. This makes balancing the weapons both easier and harder. If you want all weapons to be relevant, even the mundane “close combat” weapons, then the gap cannot be too big. At the same time the weapons have to honor the source material by performing in a way that matches expectations. The ranged weapons do this reasonably well. The melee weapons do not. I have discussed this at length in this thread Darktide's Melee Weapon Design has Failed

But the jist of it is that in 40k there is a hierarchy built right into the weapons that descries how they should behave. Toughness interacts with weapon strength, damage with wounds, and AP with armor save. The basic expectation that Warhammer 40k sets is this: weapons that are mundane will be less effective as toughness and armor increases as they are merely sharpened metal driven by human muscle. Chain weapons are generally given more attacks, and are thus in table top more effective against groups of enemies compared to other weapons. But the expectation the lore sets is that they would be more broadly effective and somewhat more deadly than mundane weapons. Able to reach a little higher and a little further than the mundane weapon. Finally power weapons are the pinnacle of violence in 40k. Weapons capable of redoubling and tremendously enhancing the basic power of a given warrior. Despite these enhanced capabilities many power weapon types in tabletop 40k are no better against hordes of light enemies than a mundane weapon by virtue of overkill effects and no additional attacks. Some are even worse by virtue of tabletop unweildy rules. As such their power is balanced by those aforementioned overkill effects in tabletop. Some creative freedom here is warranted for these weapons (as happened with the power sword) but the problem I see is simply this:

The mundane combat axe is way too good. The chain weapons are too inferior. The power weapons available to the Zealot are too inferior. I have been reviewing this problem in detail, piece by piece, as I go through each chain weapon and do tutorials and gather data and basically the arc of effectiveness is wrong. My expectation as a 40K officianato is this:

Note toughness is a key factor here. The power sword doesn’t confer much extra strength to the user. It just cleaves through any and all armor. But most enemies wearing carapace and hypothetically ceramite are tougher. Likewise for maniacs and unyielding. Power weapons chew armor in 40K but don’t necessarily by themselves make killing a tough target easier. Unless its almost all the power weapons which increase the user’s strength like the Eviscerator, Thunder Hammer, Power Maul, Power Saber, Power Axe, etc. A reminder that the Eviscerator is a power weapon of a kind.

Most of the mundane weapons actually follow this arc more or less. The problem is the Combat Axe. This thing is absolutely stupid and its NOT just Brutal Momentum. In fact it has nothing to do with brutal momentum at all, according to my data. Its how much of a can opener this weapon is. Let me try to explain.

Within the above hypothetical ideal hierarchy for mundane weapon balance against enemy types you might still want to play around with the formula a bit. Maybe the Axes are better at Flak and Carapace than the Catachan sword. Maybe the Heavy Sword is better at Unarmored and Infested than the Axes. This makes perfect sense. Something close to this shows up. I don’t object. AND it is even the case that the mundane weapons generally speaking have better mobility than the special weapons and that makes perfect sense too! The Atrox Tac Axe follows this arc in a way that makes great sense to me. Its fast, highly mobile, and does better than the Catachan against carapace and flak (though not neccessarily unarmored!). But the Combat axe is just a flat line as best in class in all situations. Its acting far more like a power weapon than a mundane weapon. That’s a huge problem. Ok so pin that as PROBLEM #1

The next issue is the chain weapons. They mostly follow a more compacted arc where they are more effective against heavier and armored targets than the weaker ones when compared to mundane weapons. But the problem is they’re kinda just bad all around at everything. These weapons should be competing in TTK against poxwalkers and doing a touch better against flak armored bruisers (you do miss their heads some of the time typically). But instead most of these weapons are sitting at quite a bit worse. It really looks a lot more like this right now.

Call this PROBLEM #2

PROBLEM #3 is simply that the power weapons do really badly in various ways. The Eviscerator does badly because it doesn’t exist. The Thunder Hammers do badly because they aren’t all that safe to use while still not delivering as big of a punch as they should. And the Crusher is just all around a bad weapon.

Two handed weapons don’t do enough damage or cleave damage. These weapons all have terrible TTKs against hordes and pretty much anything.

Solutions for problem #1:
The Combat Axes need a nerf. I’m sorry. I said it because I am right.

  • But we can leave brutal momentum alone.
  • What it needs is a nerf against carapace armor damage
  • and it needs its heavy attack stagger on crushers removed/reduced sufficient that it cannot quickly nor safely chain heavies to stun crushers.
  • Preferably its special attack shouldn’t be able to stagger Crushers at all. It can’t stagger Bulwarks. It should still stagger maniacs and maulers. Anything human sized is fine.
  • This brings it in line with other mundane weapons


  • Replace all cosmetics for the Combat Axe with Power Axe cosmetics and special effects. Just call it what it is.

Solutions for problem #2:

Solutions for Problem #3:

  • Buff special attack damage on Thunder Hammers a tad. It doesn’t have to be crazy but its a touch soft I think.
  • The Indignatus Crusher needs to be better than the hammer at base horde clear. Its just too garbage, it should be a more generalist weapon than it is.

Solutions for Problem #4:

  • 2 handers should be stronger than 1 handed or 1 1/2 handed weapons in raw damage but lose safety as a consequence. Right now they lose safety (dodges, mobility, etc) but gain no damage advantage. That’s silly.

Alright. I think that’s sufficient. I’ve done better and more carefully worded posts but this gets the point across so I’m calling it here. Its been a pleasure serving with you all. I’ll stick around a bit to monitor this thread and discuss my points but I’m otherwise out until there’s reliable access to modifiers I want to play and some new classes to sweeten the deal.



This is probably a mistake since some weapons do get a lot more out of crit-bleed builds than others especially damage-wise (HS, Catachan, Shred Eviscerator for example).

My problem with your vision is that you seem to want to put Powered weapons above mundane.
I think that we need both. But they should have strengths and be differents.
This is exactly what I feel with a thunderhammer or a crusher.
This is not what I feel with Evis / chain swords / chain axes.
So, they have missed something here.

I agree that the Combat Axe is a great weapon actually in game… but not as strong as is a Power Sword or also a Force Sword.
I personnally want balance between weapons. It doesn’t mean equal but something that give a strengh or a weakness to any weapon in game.
Nerfing Combat Axe… maybe. Carapace? no surely not. This an axe… There is already something that would give a weakness, fixing maniac damages.

And if I want balance it is cause I like to change the weapons I use. I started with MG 12 that I loved, after I loved the dagger critic template, took fun with bolter, then revolver, then shotguns… now it is helbore / plasma guns…
Same for melee. My prefered weapon is actually the Power sword as you can wipe everything with it and faster than any combat axe could do…

I will say I haven’t played darktide in quite a while but I got 200 hours.
Been playing V2 for the last 3 months and got 150 in that.

Thunder Hammer sucks just make it the V2 warhammer and the alternative the cog hammer move set then give it some real damage not terrible damage with no AP.
Still give it the power up charge but make it useful not mandatory to kill big guys.

I have had great fun trying every weapon and while a lot of dlc weapons in V2 are obviously more powerful they didn’t make the others seem way less fun.

Idk if it’s a good way but I feel like V2 the “bad/non meta” weapons are great fun to use but kill slow while DT the bad weapons are just frustrating to use.

Warhammer on foot knight is not better than grail knight with a BL sword but it’s a ton of fun to use.

Love this idea.


To be fair to the Crusher (and I had dropped it completely until recently), it provides a stupidly high level of safety. I don’t mind it being a utility/support weapon (a little extra horde clear wouldn’t hurt though), but the blessing pool is miserable. Skullcrusher, which is great, and 3 different kinds of Impact blessing. Additional utility blessings (like Brittleness) would be interesting – more than 1 would need to exist, otherwise the problem just becomes Skullcrusher/Brittleness is the only effective build – to allow it to better function in that supporting role

I think the reliability of stagger that you mentioned mainly relates to enemies being immune to stagger during their recovery. The special can be reactivated really quickly after you hit an enemy, so it’s been rare for me to see anything escape it’s stun lock.

(Inb4 “Death is the best CC”)

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I did not like the TH at first tbh… But I plan to use it more and more. I think it is like any weapon in this game, you have to practice with it before seeing its potential.
There are number of weapons that I thinked bad that I feel now really effective after playing with them a lot.

No doubt you are right. but having to use a specific build combined with not just perks and blessings but also feats to make a weapon any good is terrible design.

As to the HS i didn’t even manage to roll one with what i hear is the best in class blessing combo of rampage and headtaker.

Seconded. Being bad against maniacs that was the actual design intent is an actual clear weakness that would be very helpful for game balance.

Add a rework to Brutal momentum that increases cleave considerably, but doesn’t make it infinite and it’s golden.

Imo this is a completely valid way of balancing.
As long as the weapon can be customized to have perks, blessings and modifiers of choice.

And as long as the weapon is ok either way and becomes actually good when used in combination with the „right“ feats.


When you try to show a weapon to be stronger than other weapons not giving those other weapons as much opportunity as you can takes away from your argument.

HS is good even without the crit feats, but with them it becomes great. It’s basically a no-brainer pick for TTK.

I looked at the difference in kill time between HS and Caxe on Poxies and scabs and it was extremely far away from my experience of the two weapons TTK difference it became instantly obvious that something is missing.

I’m more or less in agreement with your conclusion, just tried to shed some light on why some might your numbers are a bit misleading.

PS: Otherwise thank you for your service. It would be great if you could update the numbers with some more optimal builds to see if they give different results or not.

I doubt they will ever make significant changes to make chain weapons on par with the boring weapons like combat axes sadly but your research is always neat to listen to. It’s the type of stuff Fatshark should really pay attention to. And yeah I’m right there with you about quitting unless they make the changes we want. I already never play if hi shock troop isnt on the board.

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Agreed. In general gameplay, you’re going to pick feats that best complement your weapon selection, so I think it would be reasonable for a test to be carried out accordingly. I’m not suggesting you redo any of the tests to accommodate this @Reginald, just giving my 2c

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I’m generally against making chain weapons better against infested. It’s a clear thematical weakness.

Eviscerator for example would be totally fine with just making slaughter available on it. While some might think it’s boring, I just find it stupid that Thunder Hammer has excess to it while the most thematical weapon for going berserk and getting stronger with each hit doesn’t.

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Which would be lore accurate and very 40k.

True - it’s way stronger.

Or buffing chain and power weapons to the point were they ought to be.


Counterpoint, slaughterer needs 75% effectiveness nerf.

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In a week: “To shreds, you say?”

I’m pretty interested to see what changes will come btw, hopefully, some of the bad utility blessings get some buffs/redesign. I guess seeing some new blessings would be a bit too much to ask for…

Sorry for the off-topic.

It’s partially on topic, as quite big part of weapon power comes from blessings. So in a week, if BM is nerfed, it’s gonna affect power dynamics.