Axe, stave or sword; that is the question

One of the biggest changes come 8th edition is the new To Wound table. Gone is the complexity and constant cross checking of the old matrix. The new To Wound table is simple and you’ll have it memorised before the end of this article.

Told you, dead easy to remember!

In a Thousand Sons army you’ll bring a lot of Force Weapons by default. Sorcerers of all kinds have  them; the Exalted Sorcerers and the Scarab Occult Sorcerers can only bring Force Staves but both normal Sorcerers and Aspiring Sorcerer can choose between all three flavours. But which one should you pick and why? 

Let’s take a look at the stats of weapons (Power weapons are the same but just Damage 1):

Weapon / Strength / AP / Damage

Force Axe / +1 / -2 / 1d3

Force Stave / +2 / -1 / 1d3

Force Sword / User / -3 / 1d3

I see you brought a Force Stave, was that really an informed choice?

All types have their uses, just as before but with the new To Wound table those uses look a bit different. In 7th the axe was pretty much a go-to option due to AP2 and S+1 while the Stave was infinitely better against Monsters and Vehicles due to its S+2.  The poor old Sword was left behind with its mediocre S and AP3. 

Will 8th edition mark the return of the Sword? Well, crunch those numbers and find out. We’ll assume the following: one attack with 3+ to hit and 3+ armour save (5+ with the Axe, 4+ with the Stave and 6+ with the Sword). So what weapon is most likely to do a wound?

I haven’t seen any unit with a toughness higher than 8, even the mighty Lord of Skulls and Imperial Knight is T8. Is there any?

T3 / T4 / T5 / T6 / T7 / T8 

Axe – 30% / 30% / 22% / 15% / 15% / 15% /

Stave – 28% / 22% / 22% / 17% / 11% / 11% /

Sword – 37% / 28% / 19% / 19% / 19% / 9% /

Axes are still number one against Power Armour. Wait what, who approved this image?
  • T3 Sword
  • T4 Axe
  • T5 Axe and Stave
  • T6 Sword
  • T7 Sword
  • T8 Axe

Wow, you’ll never be able to unsee this. Stave are the “worst” of the bunch, although the difference is quite small. The Axe excels against Marines while the Sword shreds Sisters and do a pretty good job against higher toughness too. I for one was a bit surprised that the Sword is so good against T7. Being good against T7 is important. A lot of tanks and monster are T7 and 3+ save. 

Against armies or units with poor saves or that rely on invulnerable saves the power balance shift a bit making the Stave better off course. But the change to the To Wound table has made high strength less important and good AP is the new black. If you want to kit you Sorcerers to take on all comers then I’d recommend a mix of Axes and Swords. But I’m sticking to my Staves and Swords. Axe are for the Space Wolves and you got to maintain some sort of standards and principle. 

Renounce the Axe; remember Prospero!

Oh a final note, I think I did the math right, if not let me know. 


4 thoughts on “Axe, stave or sword; that is the question

    1. Yeah, rule of cool is number one for me too. I’m not a competitive player but I like to grasp the mechanics of the game and the effects of the changes. So with some time during a flight I started to crunch the number and I was a bit surprised by the results.


  1. On the surface it seemed like this – all being “good” in slightly different ways and against differing foes. Looks like Rule of Cool wins, which I can certainly go along with.


    1. Yeah, me too! Rule of cool it is.

      The slight differences will probably never pan out during a game since you won’t roll enough dice to reach statistic normality.


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