Two Weapons vs Great Weapon (In Depth Damage Comparison)

***UPDATE 6/28***

I used Jaelis's Weapon Damage Calculator for all of these figures. Thanks Jaelis! I'm not showing these calculations to make a point, just to provide information.

THW = Two Handed Weapon, TWF = Two Weapon Fighting, WM = Weapon Mastery, DW = Dual Wield, TWS = Two Weapon Strike

Level 5, Strength 18, Attack Bonus +6 vs AC 14

THW: 11.38
TWF: 11.04

THW(WM): 13.34
TWF(WM): 12.84
TWF(DW, WM): 14.53

Level 10, Strength 19, Attack Bonus +7 vs AC 14

THW: 16.78
TWF: 15.02

THW(WM): 19.30
TWF(WM): 17.20
TWF(DW, WM): 19.78
TWF(DW, WM, TWS): 22.78

Level 15, Strength 20, Attack Bonus +9 vs AC 14

THW: 25.13
TWF: 20.80

THW(WM): 28.31
TWF(DW): 24.05
TWF(DW, WM): 27.20
TWF(DW, WM, TWS): 31.45

(I have to say, it's interesting that TWF can get higher damage with an extra feat, until level 15, when it needs a third feat to deal more damage than THW. I think it's because of the +9 attack bonus, so the extra chance for deadly strike doesn't matter as much, because you're likely to just hit with everything.)

Me and a friend did all the math with AnyDice and its pretty silly. 
When you factor in chance to hit, the damage skew is enormous, since two attacks gives you more opportunities and weapon mastery doesn't differentiate between which weapon you choose. 
If you're optimizing, it comes down to two weapon fighting for +2 AC vs Hafted Weapon for Reach.
Holding all other factors constant, d12 weapons just don't keep up.  
Really this could be fixed by giving two handed weapons 1.5xSTR. Why did we get rid of that again?
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
Really this could be fixed by giving two handed weapons 1.5xSTR. Why did we get rid of that again?

Because it's math, and math is teh sux0rz. 

Danny

I would have said that for TWF, your damage really depends on your hit probability, since you have two chances to score your deadly strike dice.

So with your level 5 figures, no feats, I get
p     TWF     2H
5     13.8    14.7
10   10.2    10.2
15    6.1       5.7
where 'p' is the attack roll you hit on. So which style is better depends on what you are fighting. So wylliam should say what his assumption is.

But all the cases I've looked at, they were pretty close except that there are more feats available for TWF that increase damage. Of course 2H does better with reaction/opportunity attacks, and there are feats for that too. So my interpretation is that TWF is best if you're after max possible DPR, but 2H is best if you're more interested in battle field control. (Bear in mind that the small DPR difference could easily be made up by one extra attack hitting per fight.)

Also, I didn't think Str went up to 22?
Correct, stats can't go above 20 according to the rules.

I think it's also important to note that while 2 weapon fighting can be better if you give it all these feats, you're forgetting that the 2handed weapon fighter gets to have other cool feats to allow him to do more cool things. 
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
I think the problem is that we got rid of the -2/-2 to hit with two-weapon fighting.


Also, I didn't think Str went up to 22?



Only with a belt of giant strength.

We're testing not giving the off hand weapon ability mod for accuracy and for damage, and beiabou able use gain advantage with it anbriefing unable to use it while disadvantaged. I should have some results this weekend. 

You should see two weapon with advantage, like with a barbarian rage. It's just silly  
Me and a friend did all the math with AnyDice and its pretty silly. 
When you factor in chance to hit, the damage skew is enormous, since two attacks gives you more opportunities and weapon mastery doesn't differentiate between which weapon you choose. 
If you're optimizing, it comes down to two weapon fighting for +2 AC vs Hafted Weapon for Reach.
Holding all other factors constant, d12 weapons just don't keep up.  

According to my calculations two-weapons never catches up with a two-handed weapon, even with three feats. I wonder where our math disagrees. Chance to hit doesn't have any impact until you start to calculate damage from Two-Weapon-Strike.

Level 1

Two Handed Weapon 1 feat: 11.5 Damage
Two Weapons 1 feat: 11 Damage

Level 5

Two Handed Weapon 1 feat: 20 Damage
Two Weapons 2 feats: 18.5 Damage

Level 10

Two Handed Weapon 1 feat: 27 Damage
Two Weapons 3 feats: 25 Damage

Level 15

Two Handed Weapon 1 feat: 35 Damage
Two Weapons 3 feats: 31.5 Damage

Maybe I'm reading some of the rules differently from you. My understanding is that you make an attack with your main weapon, and one with your offhand weapon. If your main weapon misses, and your offhand weapon hits, you don't get deadly strike and you don't get your ability modifier.

Oh! Do you get deadly strike on your offhand weapon? That would explain the discrepency. I'll have to recalculate.

Really, after getting two damage oriented feats dedicated to two-weapon fighting, it ought to deal  more damage than a two-handed weapon. I think that two-handed weapons would still have a place for being superior for cleave and whirlwind attack. Of course that's assuming the spiked shield is removed from the game.
If it were up to me, I'd like to see this happen -

Two handed weapon w/ Weapon Mastery: 100% damage (most damage)
Two weapons w/ (one feat):  80% damage and +1 AC
Weapon and shield w/ (one feat): 60% damage and +2 AC

The actual 80% and 60% are not important, but the idea is to have the trade off be between damage and AC, since they are incomparable and would give the player a real choice. Rather than a calculation about how to deal the most damage. This way, you would only have to pick up one two-weapon fighting feat.

I'll have to go back and recalculate based on the possibility that you miss with your main weapon and hit with your offhand weapon (and get deadly strike, which I assumed you didn't.)

Oh! Do you get deadly strike on your offhand weapon? That would explain the discrepency. I'll have to recalculate.


Yes, you can get DS on either weapon, but only once per turn.

Two handed weapon w/ Weapon Mastery: 100% damage (most damage)
Two weapons w/ (one feat):  80% damage and +1 AC
Weapon and shield w/ (one feat): 60% damage and +2 AC


But what it really is is a much richer system. With feats, everyone has access to some significant damage, AC, and control boosters. TWF can max out the damage and attack multiple targets, 2H can nearly match that damage but excels in off-turn attacks, while S&B gives the best AC and defensive control effects.
Some of my numbers for maxed damage:

Level 20, 20 Str, +1 magic weapons

TWF with longsword+shortsword DW, Weapon Mastery, and TWS:
p       dpr
5       39.2
10     30.3
15     19.5

2H with greatsword, Weapon Mastery:
p       dpr
5       36.7
10     26.0
15     15.3

Two handed weapon w/ Weapon Mastery: 100% damage (most damage)
Two weapons w/ (one feat):  80% damage and +1 AC
Weapon and shield w/ (one feat): 60% damage and +2 AC


But what it really is is a much richer system. With feats, everyone has access to some significant damage, AC, and control boosters. TWF can max out the damage and attack multiple targets, 2H can nearly match that damage but excels in off-turn attacks, while S&B gives the best AC and defensive control effects.

I agree, it's even better to have interesting differences between the fighting styles. I'm trying to investigate to see if they are well balanced. They might be.

Something like this could also work

Two handed weapon: 80% damage, 120% damage vs 2 targets (2 feats)
Two weapon fighting: 100% damage, +1 AC (2 or 3 feats)
Weapon and shield: 60% damage, and  +2 AC, (control feats)

I know that the feat system is broken because of Spiked Shield, which gives me only one viable offhand weapon option...assuming no Spiked Shield, I think the system may be balanced.

I'm trying to determine what the real and true differences are between the different options (assuming no Spiked Shield, and no Urgrosh).

As long as I have an audience who knows the rules well, can I move, attack, move, attack in one turn with two weapons? 
As long as I have an audience who knows the rules well, can I move, attack, move, attack in one turn with two weapons?

You can 'use part of your movement, use an action, use the rest of your movement' as part of a standard round, but you'd need other effects (such as the benefit of the Haste spell) in order to get the extra action in.

NOTE: Two-weapon fighting allows you to strike with both weapons in a single action.

Danny

As long as I have an audience who knows the rules well, can I move, attack, move, attack in one turn with two weapons?

You can 'use part of your movement, use an action, use the rest of your movement' as part of a standard round, but you'd need other effects (such as the benefit of the Haste spell) in order to get the extra action in.


That's what I thought. Thanks for clarifying. We were fighting some skeletons and one of the characters was wielding two light hammers. With the double damage, he was killing two per turn by moving between the two attacks. I told the DM I thought it didn't work that way, but I wanted to double check on the forums.

Thanks! 
As long as I have an audience who knows the rules well, can I move, attack, move, attack in one turn with two weapons?

You can 'use part of your movement, use an action, use the rest of your movement' as part of a standard round, but you'd need other effects (such as the benefit of the Haste spell) in order to get the extra action in.


That's what I thought. Thanks for clarifying. We were fighting some skeletons and one of the characters was wielding two light hammers. With the double damage, he was killing two per turn by moving between the two attacks. I told the DM I thought it didn't work that way, but I wanted to double check on the forums.

Your gut was right; it doesn't work that way.

The description of two-weapon fighting states that "When you wield two light melee weapons at the same time, you can use your action to make an attack with each weapon." (How to Play 060713, pg.16)

Both attacks are made using the same action.



Danny

Using your action to make an attack with each weapon also precludes using any feat or ability that allows you "use your action to make a single attack, and _________."  So no pushing, tripping, disarming, lunging, springing and so forth when using your action to attack with both weapons.  It's very limiting in practice, to the extent that a feated out fighter wielding two weapons might occasionally see fit to forego attacking with two weapons on a turn to use some other ability.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
I've updated the damage results for AC 11 and 16. If my calculations are correct, two-weapon fighting just barely edges out a two-handed weapon, and always takes more feats to do it. Check out the numbers for comparison.

This time all the math should be 100% correct.
Your numbers:


































Level 5 (18 Str)



vs. AC 11



vs. AC 16



Two Handed Weapon



13.60



9.35



Weapon Mastery



15.98



10.99



Two Weapons



12.16



8.84



Dual Wield



13.76



9.94



DW and WM



15.57



11.39




My numbers:




































Level 5 (18 Str)



vs. AC 11



vs. AC 16



Two Handed Weapon



13.93



9.68



Weapon Mastery



16.34



11.34



Two Weapons



13.00



9.64



Dual Wield



14.65



10.79



DW and WM



17.21



12.65




So we disagree, it would be nice to sort out. For the simplest case, 2H with no feats vs AC 11:
You're at +6 to hit, so you hit on a 5-19 (15 values, so 75%) and you crit on a 20 (5%). On a regular hit, your avg damage is 2*6.5+4 = 17, and on a crit your avg damage is 3*6.5+4 = 23.5. So your DPR should be 0.75*17+0.05*23.5 = 13.925.  Check?

Oh, I see, you left out the extra damage for a crit.

Also, I suck at tables in this.
Oh, I see, you left out the extra damage for a crit.

 

Doh! I thought there might yet be something I was missing. This information is missing crits. Two handed weapons crit harder but less often so it mostly cancles out, except for the chance to crit on your offhand deadly strike. That tricksy offhand deadly strike!
The math for two weapon fighting is incredibly involved. So many different damage values. I made a table where I can change all these variables, but it can't handle Weapon Mastery, I'll have to put those damage values in manually.

And it doesn't even make that much difference! Like 17.9 damage vs 18.1 damage.

Anyway, I was wondering if you guys have the damage already worked out for two weapon fighting with the various feats at various levels. 
anydice.com/program/2503

try going there.

that link has a number of different options I was dickering with. More importantly, it has functions for single weapon hits and two weapon hits with different weapons. 

also, if you modify, generate a new link (little blank at the top) and you can share that and not change the original. 

Anyway, I was wondering if you guys have the damage already worked out for two weapon fighting with the various feats at various levels. 


Here's my Excel spreadsheet for it. I still want to add advantage and disadvantage to it, but this will get you started.
I think TWF Should be more damage. Why should I not do more damage if it takes me 2 out of my maximum of 4 feats to do it. That serverly limits your character if your DnD group also has a lot of RP and interactive gameplay and is not just combat focused. 

One thing to look at is what effect will crits have if they go back to the MAX Damage crit rules?
(I assume 2 Handed will win because of the damage bonus) but maybe the additional attack having another 5% chance might lean in favor of TWF.

Rules Question:
As for combat advantage. This effects both strikes with TWF so you have advantage on main hand and on offhand?
This way with Sneak Attack you can choose to do sneak attack on the 2nd swing so your main hand has Advantage for the purpose of your largest weapon and your bonus Dex mod and then you can SA the off-hand so if you miss it doesn't hurt that bad?

Rules Question 2:
Also, if they go back to MAX Damage on criticals will this effect Sneak Attack as well if your crit happens to be on the attack you made for Sneak Attack? 

Rules Question 3:
How does TWF work with Cleave? Cleave says when you reduce a creature to 0 you can make a single melee attack against another creature. Does TWF count as a single melee attack since it takes one action or do you just get a swing with your mainhand. (I assume you only get your mainhand but I'm not sure.) 
I think TWF Should be more damage. Why should I not do more damage if it takes me 2 out of my maximum of 4 feats to do it. That serverly limits your character if your DnD group also has a lot of RP and interactive gameplay and is not just combat focused.



I agree! Dual Wield/Weapon Mastery/Two-Weapon-Strike really ought to deal the most damage (generally). That's three feats dedicated to extra damage. Like I said in the original post, my object here isn't to make a point, but to provide information for myself and others.

One thing to look at is what effect will crits have if they go back to the MAX Damage crit rules?
(I assume 2 Handed will win because of the damage bonus) but maybe the additional attack having another 5% chance might lean in favor of TWF.



Max damage crits would increase the effectiveness of two-weapon-fighting (following the same logic as above). I wouldn't be surprised if max damage crits were removed because it made two-weapon-fighting too good. It's important that the different fighting styles are all viable options, and that you're not just wrong for choosing one over the other.

Rules Question:
As for combat advantage. This effects both strikes with TWF so you have advantage on main hand and on offhand?
This way with Sneak Attack you can choose to do sneak attack on the 2nd swing so your main hand has Advantage for the purpose of your largest weapon and your bonus Dex mod and then you can SA the off-hand so if you miss it doesn't hurt that bad?



I believe, without knowing for sure, that advantage favors two-handed weapons, while sneak attack favors two weapon fighting. That's because, when you assume that all the attacks hit, two-handed weapons deal more damage on average. When monsters become more difficult to hit, the extra chance for Deadly Strike/Sneak Attack/Crit, mean that two weapon fighting starts to deal more damage on average.

Rules Question 2:
Also, if they go back to MAX Damage on criticals will this effect Sneak Attack as well if your crit happens to be on the attack you made for Sneak Attack?



Good question? That would be insane, but it would make for good roleplaying moments.

Rules Question 3:
How does TWF work with Cleave? Cleave says when you reduce a creature to 0 you can make a single melee attack against another creature. Does TWF count as a single melee attack since it takes one action or do you just get a swing with your mainhand. (I assume you only get your mainhand but I'm not sure.) 



Cleave ought to benefit two-handed weapons more than two-weapon fighting, and I believe that it does. I believe how it works is that the attack must come from the same weapon. So if you kill a monster with your offhand weapon, you get an extra attack with your offhand weapon. This might require some rules clarification.

My hope for balance is that Two-Handed Weapons deal more damage with WWA, Cleave, and Opportunity Attacks, while Two-Weapon-Fighting deals more damage to a single target (as long as you're ahead on feats), and is more effective to use with Sneak Attack (maybe also Slayer of the Colossus?) I also like the idea that two-weapon fighting gives you a +1AC option, and is more effective against high AC opponents, while Two Handed Weapons are more effective against low AC opponents (the one's you're almost guaranteed to hit).

Anyway, I was wondering if you guys have the damage already worked out for two weapon fighting with the various feats at various levels. 


Here's my Excel spreadsheet for it. I still want to add advantage and disadvantage to it, but this will get you started.

So the idea behind this spreadsheet is to be able to enter in all the values right? So you actually have the calculations for WM in there! Nice. I kept going to anydice.com for weapon mastery figures - this is sooo much easier.

I don't know why you have a W1 die 10, W2 die 8, since you can't do that. Just for your own information?

This thing is rad! Thanks!
My main conclusion from this information is that the system is very well balanced, except that Spiked Shield is still far too powerful. It negates the Two-Weapon-Defense feat, and negates all offhand weapon options other than Spiked Shield.

Even with Spiked Shield, there is a surprisingly interesting choice between two-handed-weapons and two-weapons, since you have to dedicate so many feats to dual wielding in order to keep up with (and eventually exceed) two-handed-weapon damage. So, my main problem with Spiked Shield then is that it negates any other offhand weapon choices (like a Short Sword), and it negates the Two-Weapon-Defense feat.
So the idea behind this spreadsheet is to be able to enter in all the values right? So you actually have the calculations for WM in there! Nice. I kept going to anydice.com for weapon mastery figures - this is sooo much easier.

I don't know why you have a W1 die 10, W2 die 8, since you can't do that. Just for your own information?

This thing is rad! Thanks!


Yes, you can put in whatever values you're interested, and of course you can just copy down as many rows as you need. That makes it convenient to make plots of damage vs hit prob, for instance. I don't know why the d10/d8 combo was in there, I was probably just fooling around. You can put in whatever values you want, d7 etc.

I'll let you know when I add advantage and disadvantage, and I'll probably put in a column for other 1/turn bonuses like Sneak Attack.
The stats in the OP are all assuming no Magical Weapons also.

If you add in magic weapons the values skew a bit because with TWF you get two +damage bonuses by level 15 you might have two items with +2 depending on your DM and how frequent magic weapons enter the world.

Rules Question:
The question is... with TWF do you get the damage bonus from having a magical weapon in the offhand even though you don't get the damage bonus for DEX/STR mod without TWStrike?
 
 

The question is... with TWF do you get the damage bonus from having a magical weapon in the offhand even though you don't get the damage bonus for DEX/STR mod without TWStrike?
 


Yes, the magic bonus applies to damage rolls (as well as attack rolls) with the weapon, with no restrictions.
I think TWF Should be more damage. Why should I not do more damage if it takes me 2 out of my maximum of 4 feats to do it. That serverly limits your character if your DnD group also has a lot of RP and interactive gameplay and is not just combat focused.



I disagree.  And I also think that ALL weapons styles should have the same amount of Feats for it.  Two weapon fighting starts off with the ability to hit multiple targets from the word go, and it doesn't restrict you by Class.  It immediately grants a combatant an edge, without Feats, if you stick with light weapons.  Not to mention that it's almost a 75% chance of hitting an appropriately defenced target, as opposed to the base 50% most other styles are granted.

Two Handed weapons should do 150 to 200% of what the other weapon styles give you to make up for lack of versatility or defense.

Rules Question 3:
How does TWF work with Cleave? Cleave says when you reduce a creature to 0 you can make a single melee attack against another creature. Does TWF count as a single melee attack since it takes one action or do you just get a swing with your mainhand. (I assume you only get your mainhand but I'm not sure.) 


It counts a single melee attack, and you can pick either weapon, BUT only ONE weapon to attack with, when cleaving.
And I also think that ALL weapons styles should have the same amount of Feats for it.  Two weapon fighting starts off with the ability to hit multiple targets from the word go, and it doesn't restrict you by Class.  It immediately grants a combatant an edge, without Feats, if you stick with light weapons.  Not to mention that it's almost a 75% chance of hitting an appropriately defenced target, as opposed to the base 50% most other styles are granted.

Two Handed weapons should do 150 to 200% of what the other weapon styles give you to make up for lack of versatility or defense.



I agree about the number of feats. I think it would be better if two-weapon fighting had only one feat associated with it, that made it different but balanced with two-handed weapons.

However, it's not true that two weapon fighting has an edge right away. If you look at the damage comparisons in the original post, two handed weapons always deal more damage, unless you have MORE feats for two weapon fighting. That's true of no feats as well. I guess if you're fighting against 1 HP monsters, two weapon fighting will always be better, but as long as the amount of damage you deal matters (which in reality it does) two-handed weapons deal more damage until you have an additional feat for two-weapon fighting.

The interesting thing about the way the system works now is that Two handed weapons are better with Cleave and Whirlwind Attack, as well as Opportunity Attacks. And even when you have 1 feat and two weapon fighting has 3 feats, you're only slightly behind on single target damage. You probably deal %180 damage with Whirlwind Attack and Cleave (provided there are at least two monsters next to each other). This is quite an interesting way to make the two fighting styles different but interesting. In a way you can think of Cleave as a two-handed weapon feat, and really it's more interesting than having a feat that requires two handed weapons. Weapon Mastery is also insanely strong with Two-Handed Weapons, yet it's applicable to every fighting style, which is how it should be.

Maybe what should happen is that we should remove all of the two-weapon fighting feats, and figure out how to balance it with two-handed weapons from the start. That way, there are only unrestricted feats like weapon mastery and cleave, and some may have better synergy with different fighting styles, without requiring them directly.

Bear in mind that TWF doesn't add versatility compared to THF; it has a cost.  Every other feat that allows you to modify an attack in any way requires you to use your action to make a single attack, so you can't lunge, spring, trip, disarm or charge with the same action you use to attack with two weapons.  It's the most preclusive of the three styles in a game that allows feats.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
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