Butchering Axe vs Bastard Sword - Vital Strike


Advice


When building a Vital Strike build what are the pros and cons between the aformentioned weapons

  • Butchering Axe
  • Bastard Sword

A Large Butchering axe is 4D6 vs the Large Bastard swords 2D8


19-20/x2 critical is probably more use than the 20/x3 when x3 damage is very likely more than you need. However, this will be more than outweighed by the higher base damage of the axe; an average of 5 points more when you're looking at a Large weapon, 7.5 more if you get to use Huge size damage somehow.


4d6 ~ 14 damage, 2d8 ~ 9 damage.

Add Vital Strike:

8d6 ~ 28 damage, 4d8 ~ 18 damage.

That's ~ 10 damage by level 6 (and for both these builds you're doing a fair bit of damage that's not multiplied on a crit).

However you can wield the Bastard Sword 2 handed without needing Exotic Proficiency (although if you're going that rout just go with a Greatsword). Or if you spend the feat, the Bastard Sword can be wielded 1-handed, while the Butchering Axe cannot.


Not clear how you'd even wield a large Butchering Axe without going for one of the poorly written archetypes that massively gimps your attack bonus in order to wield the weapons. You can wield a large bastard sword if you have the EWP.


The main con of a large butchering axe is that you can not wield it without levels in Titan Fighter or Titan Mauler Barbarian.


I was assuming he was just using Enlarge Person or something, but yes you do need a way to wield a large two-handed weapon if that's what you're trying to do.


(Dont forget big handed tieflings as a way to hold large weapons.)

The biggest benefit of large Butchering Axe is that each bigger size category adds multiple dice. 3d6 (medium) -> 4d6 (large) -> 6d6 (huge) -> 8d6 (gargantuan) -> 12d6 (colossal)

With Vital Strike (or greater) you are then throwing max 24, 36, or even 48d6 damage on 1 attack. On top of any other rolls for merging things (Warrior Poet or Heritor Knight for example).

Dark Archive

Abyssal Bloodrager is a pretty easy route to getting yourself large. Straight Hunter or Ranger and Lead Blades, Occultist as well.

Shadow Lodge

The other big con to the butchering axe is you can only get it through one scenario, and it comes with extra enchants on it that you may not care about which jack up the price.


thistledown wrote:
The other big con to the butchering axe is you can only get it through one scenario

Presumably that's just a PFS restriction?


Butchering Axes are just Exotic orc weapons from Belkzen thou. It was also introduced in Adventurer's Armory (2?), so it shouldn't be tied to any specific scenario or module.


Temperans wrote:
Butchering Axes are just Exotic orc weapons from Belkzen thou. It was also introduced in Adventurer's Armory (2?), so it shouldn't be tied to any specific scenario or module.

it isn’t normally PFS legal. I don’t know about the exception thistledown appears to be referring to.

Paizo Employee

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Minigiant wrote:

When building a Vital Strike build what are the pros and cons between the aformentioned weapons

  • Butchering Axe
  • Bastard Sword

A Large Butchering axe is 4D6 vs the Large Bastard swords 2D8

TLDR If you have the Strength and a method to wield it, the butchering axe will pretty consistently be much more powerful than a bastard sword.

Notably, a Large butchering axe is a three-handed weapon for a medium character (and thus unwieldable without additional mechanics) while a Large bastard sword is a two-handed weapon for a medium character with Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword), so there's fewer hoops to jump through on the bastard sword side.

You're going to spend a feat on EWP either way, so it comes down to what the rest of your build is. Butchering axe is better in many ways because it's frankly not a balanced weapon; "must have a 19 STR" is no more a balancing factor than "deal 2d6 extra damage with knives but can only wield knives"—if you're using it, of course you're going to take the steps necessary to use it. So from a raw "I want to whack the bejeezus out of something" standpoint, if you have the ability to wield a Large butchering axe, it's going to be better than the bastard sword. The difference is in the resources you spend to get there.

If you want to wield a Large butchering axe, you need to also have an archetype, item, or race that allows you to do that, while all you need for the bastard sword is the EWP feat. As long as playing one of those options doesn't conflict with what you were already doing, the butchering axe is better (especially on a Vital Strike build where you're making fewer attacks and thus the individual per-hit value is going to be notably more significant than the amortized value of the bastard sword's greater crit range).

If your build is markedly improved by having e.g. a human bonus feat at 1st level or using an archetype that doesn't grant you the ability to wield Large weapons by default, then you'll need to start breaking down the cost of resources you're spending on grabbing that last piece vs. the benefit you'd get by just going with the bastard sword and having that extra resource available. Also, if for some reason you're going with a race that doesn't get a bump to STR, then the -2 on the butchering axe (combined with any other penalties you may end up taking for wielding an oversized weapon) can be pretty crippling.


Btw the Iron grip gauntlets will deal with the size penalty (if you dont go tiefling or full Titan Mauler/Fighter).

Shadow Lodge

Lelomenia wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Butchering Axes are just Exotic orc weapons from Belkzen thou. It was also introduced in Adventurer's Armory (2?), so it shouldn't be tied to any specific scenario or module.
it isn’t normally PFS legal. I don’t know about the exception thistledown appears to be referring to.

Exactly. They're not normally allowed in PFS, but are on one chronicle.

BTW, if you want to get around the feat, for 1500g you can get a cracked opalescent white pyramid ioun stone and select Butchering Axe, making it a martial weapon.


MrCharisma wrote:
I was assuming he was just using Enlarge Person or something, but yes you do need a way to wield a large two-handed weapon if that's what you're trying to do.

So 4d6 is better than 2d8: mean damage is 14 vs. 9

What if the wielder was using Enlarge Person and Lead Blades?

Then it's 5d6 vs. 3d8: 17.5, vs. 13.5.

What if the wielder were a Goliath Druid (Huge Giant) or a high level Psychic Warrior (Augmenting Expansion) and had a Wand of Lead Blades?

6d6 vs 4d8: 21 vs. 18.

Then you are talking about Vital Strike, so 42 vs. 36.

Seems like Butchering Axe just does more damage.

avr wrote:
19-20/x2 critical is probably more use than the 20/x3 when x3 damage is very likely more than you need. However, this will be more than outweighed by the higher base damage of the axe; an average of 5 points more when you're looking at a Large weapon, 7.5 more if you get to use Huge size damage somehow.

Yeah, but maybe Bastard Sword is better if you want to Crit-Fish. But if you are building a Crit. Fishing character, is Bastard Sword even the way to go? I was thinking Katana, Elven Curved Blade, or a Divine Commander Warpriest with twin Kukirs and Seize the Moment.

A Bastard Sword can be wielded 1 handed, so you can 2 weapon fight with it, and/or use a Shield. I'm not sanguine that 2 weapon fighting with Bastard Sword, Armor Spikes, and Shield is really better for massive damage than that Butchering Axe. But maybe you are more worried about AC than DPR, in which case, Bastard Sword might be the way to go.


Temperans wrote:
Btw the Iron grip gauntlets will deal with the size penalty (if you dont go tiefling or full Titan Mauler/Fighter).

The iron grip gauntlets and the tiefling racial both simply remove the accuracy penalty for wielding large weapons; they don't do anything to remove the hard restriction on not being able to wield large two-handed weapons at all. Hell, the Irongrip Gauntlets even specifically mention that they don't affect the hand requirements in its text.

As far as I know, the Titan Fighter archetype is the only way to wield a large 2-hander as a medium creature.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:
I was assuming he was just using Enlarge Person or something, but yes you do need a way to wield a large two-handed weapon if that's what you're trying to do.

So 4d6 is better than 2d8: mean damage is 14 vs. 9

What if the wielder was using Enlarge Person and Lead Blades?

Then it's 5d6 vs. 3d8: 17.5, vs. 13.5.

What if the wielder were a Goliath Druid (Huge Giant) or a high level Psychic Warrior (Augmenting Expansion) and had a Wand of Lead Blades?

6d6 vs 4d8: 21 vs. 18.

Then you are talking about Vital Strike, so 42 vs. 36.

Seems like Butchering Axe just does more damage.

Damage dice increase follows a table were every increase after 2d6/2d8 doubles doubles every 2 size increases.

The actual progression would be:
Large: 4d6 vs 2d8 (14 vs 9), 24 vs 18 w/ VS.
Huge: 6d6 vs 3d8 (21 vs 13.5), 42 vs 27 w/ VS.
Gargantuan: 8d6 vs 4d8 (28 vs 18), 56 vs 36 w/ VS.
Colossal: 12d6 vs 6d8 (42 vs 27), 82 vs 54 w/ VS.

Later versions of Vital Strike makes it even more pronounced.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Arachnofiend wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Btw the Iron grip gauntlets will deal with the size penalty (if you dont go tiefling or full Titan Mauler/Fighter).

The iron grip gauntlets and the tiefling racial both simply remove the accuracy penalty for wielding large weapons; they don't do anything to remove the hard restriction on not being able to wield large two-handed weapons at all. Hell, the Irongrip Gauntlets even specifically mention that they don't affect the hand requirements in its text.

As far as I know, the Titan Fighter archetype is the only way to wield a large 2-hander as a medium creature.

The tieflings Big Hands ability has a dedicated thread of people debating whether it works or not. From that thread it was shown that Big Hands is almost a word for word copy of the Redcap's ability (which wields a medium scythe as a small creature).

Redcap: A redcap can wield weapons sized for Medium creatures without penalty.
Tiefling: You have over-sized limbs, allowing you to use Large weapons without penalty.

If the GM doesn't want to allow it fine, but by RAW it should be allowed.


Temperans wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Btw the Iron grip gauntlets will deal with the size penalty (if you dont go tiefling or full Titan Mauler/Fighter).

The iron grip gauntlets and the tiefling racial both simply remove the accuracy penalty for wielding large weapons; they don't do anything to remove the hard restriction on not being able to wield large two-handed weapons at all. Hell, the Irongrip Gauntlets even specifically mention that they don't affect the hand requirements in its text.

As far as I know, the Titan Fighter archetype is the only way to wield a large 2-hander as a medium creature.

The tieflings Big Hands ability has a dedicated thread of people debating whether it works or not. From that thread it was shown that Big Hands is almost a word for word copy of the Redcap's ability (which wields a medium scythe as a small creature).

Redcap: A redcap can wield weapons sized for Medium creatures without penalty.
Tiefling: You have over-sized limbs, allowing you to use Large weapons without penalty.

If the GM doesn't want to allow it fine, but by RAW it should be allowed.

by RAW you can’t conveniently obtain Big Hands in a PC anyway, so GM sticking with RAW doesn’t really save the approach here.


Temperans wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Btw the Iron grip gauntlets will deal with the size penalty (if you dont go tiefling or full Titan Mauler/Fighter).

The iron grip gauntlets and the tiefling racial both simply remove the accuracy penalty for wielding large weapons; they don't do anything to remove the hard restriction on not being able to wield large two-handed weapons at all. Hell, the Irongrip Gauntlets even specifically mention that they don't affect the hand requirements in its text.

As far as I know, the Titan Fighter archetype is the only way to wield a large 2-hander as a medium creature.

The tieflings Big Hands ability has a dedicated thread of people debating whether it works or not. From that thread it was shown that Big Hands is almost a word for word copy of the Redcap's ability (which wields a medium scythe as a small creature).

Redcap: A redcap can wield weapons sized for Medium creatures without penalty.
Tiefling: You have over-sized limbs, allowing you to use Large weapons without penalty.

If the GM doesn't want to allow it fine, but by RAW it should be allowed.

If you get a size increase, does your now huge weapon inflict a size penalty? You are large, your weapon is no longer large. By RAW I think you lose the benefit when your weapon increases size?


Lelomania it just requires either good luck with rolls or to follow this clause: "Players with a particular character concept in mind may consult their GM if they want to select a specific variant ability."

************
Meirril

That's a different question and I dont know what the answer would be. Personally, on first guess I would say it works since Enlarge calls out you can continue wielding held weapons as normal.

That's something to discuss with the GM.


Temperans wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:
I was assuming he was just using Enlarge Person or something, but yes you do need a way to wield a large two-handed weapon if that's what you're trying to do.

So 4d6 is better than 2d8: mean damage is 14 vs. 9

What if the wielder was using Enlarge Person and Lead Blades?

Then it's 5d6 vs. 3d8: 17.5, vs. 13.5.

What if the wielder were a Goliath Druid (Huge Giant) or a high level Psychic Warrior (Augmenting Expansion) and had a Wand of Lead Blades?

6d6 vs 4d8: 21 vs. 18.

Then you are talking about Vital Strike, so 42 vs. 36.

Seems like Butchering Axe just does more damage.

Damage dice increase follows a table were every increase after 2d6/2d8 doubles doubles every 2 size increases.

The actual progression would be:
Large: 4d6 vs 2d8 (14 vs 9), 24 vs 18 w/ VS.
Huge: 6d6 vs 3d8 (21 vs 13.5), 42 vs 27 w/ VS.
Gargantuan: 8d6 vs 4d8 (28 vs 18), 56 vs 36 w/ VS.
Colossal: 12d6 vs 6d8 (42 vs 27), 82 vs 54 w/ VS.

Later versions of Vital Strike makes it even more pronounced.

So, you are saying I am right that Butchering Axe does more damage than Bastard Sword, but the difference is even more extreme than I thought?


Yes


So here is a question

How could a Medium creature carry what is considered a Colossal Butchering Axe?


Big Hands/Titan Fighter (large) + Impact (Huge) + Enlarge person (Gargantuan) + Growing enchanment (Colossal) (maybe not sure).

There might be a spell that makes you huge instead of large, if so then:
Big Hands/Titan Fighter (Large) + Impact (Huge) + Hugify spell (Colossal).

The biggest problem is probably the weight of the item potentially skyrocketing. So high strength, mustleback cords, the trait that gives bonus carrying capacity, and I think there is also a feat for it.


Temperans wrote:
The biggest problem is probably the weight of the item potentially skyrocketing.

Am I right in thinking there are still no rules for weights of huge+ weapons?

Assuming it doubles every weight class:
Medium Butchering Axe: 25lbs, 3d6 damage
Large: 50lbs, 4d6 damage
Huge: 100lbs, 6d6 damage
Gargantuan: 200lbs, 8d6 damage
Colossal: 400lbs, 12d6 damage

That's possible with Ant Haul or similar. Of course in most cases you wouldn't actually want a weapon that big; instead you'd get a damage dice increase from something like Lead Blades which, despite its name, doesn't make the weapon harder to carry.


Temperans wrote:

Big Hands/Titan Fighter (large) + Impact (Huge) + Enlarge person (Gargantuan) + Growing enchanment (Colossal) (maybe not sure).

There might be a spell that makes you huge instead of large, if so then:
Big Hands/Titan Fighter (Large) + Impact (Huge) + Hugify spell (Colossal).

The biggest problem is probably the weight of the item potentially skyrocketing. So high strength, mustleback cords, the trait that gives bonus carrying capacity, and I think there is also a feat for it.

That is awesome. Obviously the biggest problem is Over-sized Limbs wouldn't stack with Enlarge Person


Regarding damage dice progression: I invite everyone (especially Scott Wilhelm) to read this FAQ.

Temperans wrote:
Enlarge person (Gargantuan) + Growing enchanment (Colossal)

Wouldn't stack because both are actual size increases. You would thus need to buy an actual huge sized Growing Impact axe (and drop it before recieving Enlarge Person).

Polymorph into huge + Titan Fighter/Mauler + then picking up a gargantuan Growing Impact butchering axe should work, for 10min once per day. The result would be colossal size with bigger damage dice still (16d6).

Minigiant wrote:
How could a Medium creature carry what is considered a Colossal Butchering Axe?

First, "considered" is irrelevant, only actual size affects weight, and second, the size increases to the character increase the carrying capacity enough.

For the colossal butchering axe you would need to be at least huge, that quadruples the carrying capacity. In other words, 19 strength would be enough without armor (464 lbs light load). Seeing as the respective polymorph spells grant +6 to +8 strength...


You know for 1k gp (non bonus enchanment) you can get the Shrinking enchantment. Making that huge Growing Impact Butchering Axe become the size (and weight) of a dagger until the command word is spoken.

Sovereign Court

Well, I guess it's finally time for me to weigh in here. I use a butchering axe when I'm big for 224 damage a round, but against an evil dragon it goes up to 234+2d6.

First off, I'm a variant from this build, meaning I use scrolls of Possess Object to animate a huge statue.

I've got 4 levels of Fighter with Titan Fighter archetype, so I can use an oversized weapon pretty well. Irongrip gauntlets also help.
Said oversized weapon is a Gargantuan +1 dragon-bane butchering axe, with a base of 8d6 damage. (actual size)

I have a level in living monolith, which allows me to cast enlarge person on myself as a supernatural ability that doesn't require a person. So me (in my statue) become gargantuan and my held axe becomes colossal (12d6 damage) (1 physical size increase)

I have a level in Bloodrager with the ID rager archetype, set to Dedication. Meaning if someone attacks me while raging, I effectively get Impact weapon vs them. (16d6) (1 virtual size increase)

I have vital strike (32d6)

I have Furious Finish, which lets me end my rage to maximize the vital strike dice, meaning 192 damage from dice alone. As a construct (while in the suit) I'm immune to fatigue, so I can go right back into rage.

The rest is static damage. And I'm a 4th level paladin, so sometimes I smite. The dragon-bane part is not maximized, thus the 2d6 at the end.

I'm now branching into a cleave build, as that's far more damage than needed for most threats. Still about 88 damage a hit.


Some other fun stuff but it requires many many feats. Diabolic Judgment let's you apply Vital Strike to 1 AoO. So combine this with Greater Trip and Felling Smash and you can deal 64d6 damage in one turn as an Attack + Swift action.

Sovereign Court

Temperans wrote:
Some other fun stuff but it requires many many feats. Diabolic Judgment let's you apply Vital Strike to 1 AoO. So combine this with Greater Trip and Felling Smash and you can deal 64d6 damage in one turn as an Attack + Swift action.

Yummy. But yeah, that's a LOT of feats to get there.


Derklord wrote:

Regarding damage dice progression: I invite everyone (especially Scott Wilhelm) to read this FAQ.

Temperans wrote:
Enlarge person (Gargantuan) + Growing enchanment (Colossal)

Wouldn't stack because both are actual size increases. You would thus need to buy an actual huge sized Growing Impact axe (and drop it before recieving Enlarge Person).

Polymorph into huge + Titan Fighter/Mauler + then picking up a gargantuan Growing Impact butchering axe should work, for 10min once per day. The result would be colossal size with bigger damage dice still (16d6).

Minigiant wrote:
How could a Medium creature carry what is considered a Colossal Butchering Axe?

First, "considered" is irrelevant, only actual size affects weight, and second, the size increases to the character increase the carrying capacity enough.

For the colossal butchering axe you would need to be at least huge, that quadruples the carrying capacity. In other words, 19 strength would be enough without armor (464 lbs light load). Seeing as the respective polymorph spells grant +6 to +8 strength...

I haven't been suggesting to stack actual size increases in Pathfinder. If you thought that, you must have misunderstood me.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
I haven't been suggesting to stack actual size increases in Pathfinder. If you thought that, you must have misunderstood me.

Read the FAQ! What I've linked is not the size change stacking FAQ, but the FAQ how weapon damage dice get changed by size increases/decreases. Completely different thing.


Derklord wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
I haven't been suggesting to stack actual size increases in Pathfinder. If you thought that, you must have misunderstood me.
Read the FAQ! What I've linked is not the size change stacking FAQ, but the FAQ how weapon damage dice get changed by size increases/decreases. Completely different thing.

Cool.


Temperans wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:
I was assuming he was just using Enlarge Person or something, but yes you do need a way to wield a large two-handed weapon if that's what you're trying to do.

So 4d6 is better than 2d8: mean damage is 14 vs. 9

What if the wielder was using Enlarge Person and Lead Blades?

Then it's 5d6 vs. 3d8: 17.5, vs. 13.5.

What if the wielder were a Goliath Druid (Huge Giant) or a high level Psychic Warrior (Augmenting Expansion) and had a Wand of Lead Blades?

6d6 vs 4d8: 21 vs. 18.

Then you are talking about Vital Strike, so 42 vs. 36.

Seems like Butchering Axe just does more damage.

Damage dice increase follows a table were every increase after 2d6/2d8 doubles doubles every 2 size increases.

The actual progression would be:
Large: 4d6 vs 2d8 (14 vs 9), 24 vs 18 w/ VS.
Huge: 6d6 vs 3d8 (21 vs 13.5), 42 vs 27 w/ VS.
Gargantuan: 8d6 vs 4d8 (28 vs 18), 56 vs 36 w/ VS.
Colossal: 12d6 vs 6d8 (42 vs 27), 82 vs 54 w/ VS.

Later versions of Vital Strike makes it even more pronounced.

Bastard Sword should have 1 natural size increase over B.axe since it can naturally start as a 1h weapon. A character can start off with a Bastard sword that is large before any other size stacking. IMO apples to apples table would be:

Med B.Axe 3d6 vs Large B.Sword: 2d8 -2tohit (10.5 vs 9), 21 vs 18 w/VS.
Large B.Axe 4d6 vs Huge B.Sword: 3d8 -2tohit (14 vs 12.5), 28 vs 25 w/VS.
Huge B.Axe 6d6 vs GargantuanB.Sword: 4d8 -2tohit (21 vs 18), 42 vs 36 w/VS.
Gargantuan B.Axe 8d6 vs ColossalB.Sword: 6d8 -2tohit (28 vs 27), 36 vs 34 w/VS.

So a large B.Sword will always lag behind B.Axe in based damage and be less accurate but have a far better chance to land a crit.


JiaYou wrote:
Not clear how you'd even wield a large Butchering Axe without going for one of the poorly written archetypes that massively gimps your attack bonus in order to wield the weapons. You can wield a large bastard sword if you have the EWP.

Abyssal bloodrager auto enlarges on rage.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Butchering Axe vs Bastard Sword - Vital Strike All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.