As hinted at in the name, a Poleaxe is essentially a battleaxe strapped to a robust stick. While a heavier weapon than the Glaive and thus more damaging, its heavier weight and increased unwieldiness make it comparatively ponderous. When it does strike home, the Poleaxe can be devastating. However, thanks to a combination of heavy armour and a set of skills that harass and frustrate enemies, the Poleaxe has long been established in the role of the tank - although it also has one or two other tricks up its plate mail sleeve.
In order to frustrate the enemy for as long as possible by making the best use of a Poleaxe’s Weapon Skills, survivability is key. This is best achieved either by maximising Armour or health (aka Toughness). It’s probably wise to put more into the first than the second, by a factor of at least two, while some players would argue that putting every Attribute Point you can into Armour is the way to go.
Alternatively, if being more of an out-and-out damage dealer is more your style, you might want to consider investing a few points into Agility. This would maximise Piercing Damage, which is the main damage type for a Poleaxe’s most devastating Weapon Skills.
Poleaxe Weapon Skills are all about crushing your enemy, either literally with complimentary direct attacks like Bec de Corbin and Halberdier’s Thrust, or by sapping an opponent’s fighting spirit with attempts to frustrate with stuns and knockdowns.
Assigning Push Back, Grim Harvest and The Old Billhook, for example, likely won’t snatch you many battlefield kills, but if you want to be the one pinning enemies down for others to take the credit, then you can be sure you’ll quickly become very popular on your team. You could complete the support look with the Weapon Dance skill, which significantly reduces enemy attack power, at the cost of a very long cooldown period.
- Push Back: A simple and effective skill to use as an opener, knocking down enemies and causing no small amount of Blunt damage. It also has a short cooldown, so you can probably use it to or three times in an encounter.
- Grim Harvest: A good follow-on from Push Back that piles on more Blunt damage and, on the second hit, stuns the enemy.
- The Old Billhook: Use the hook-like attributes of the Poleaxe blade to pull an enemy towards you, doing them slashing damage in the process. It’s not a particularly deadly skill but has the added benefit of slowing down and then leaving your opponent on the ground, ready to receive an Ultimate attack.
- Bec de Corbin: An uncomplicated but powerful sweeping attack that will scythe through troops like autumn corn, leaving them with significant amounts of Slashing damage.
- Halberdier’s Thrust: This focused frontal attack doesn’t inflict massive amounts of damage, but it causes bleeding (II/III) and has a very short cooldown, making it an effective skill in slowing breaking down the resolve of an enemy.
- Weapon Dance: This skill causes you to slam your Poleaxe into the ground, doing little damage but reducing affected enemy units Attack Power by a massive 20-40%. Unfortunately, it has a long cooldown period so timing is crucial.
Both Ultimate Skills are similar, in that they serve to knock your opponent over before inflicting upon them large amounts of Slashing Damage. Of the two, Lochaber Strike might appear to be the more effective of the two, as it delivers slightly more damage with a reduced cooldown. However, given how easy it is for lighter classes to disengage from heavy classes like the Poleaxe, Rough Justice’s charge could make all the difference.
- Rough Justice: A powerful lunge to close the distance on an enemy, that knocks them to the ground before unleashing a single slashing attack.
- Lochaber Strike: A series of heavy blows that will knock down any opponent (and will even force mounted warlords from the saddle), delivering high levels of Slashing Damage in the process. The wise opponent will try to evade, lest they not wish to get up again.
Being a front line brawler, it’s natural for Poleaxe players to want to stick with heavy armour, especially as the Fearless Paladin heavy armour set has been forged with them in mind. With two pieces equipped, the Weapon Dance skills can reduce enemy attacks by up to 60% (making up for that long cooldown). With four items equipped, you can expand the reach of Bec de Corbin to attack four enemies simultaneously.
A more effective option for those wanting to maximise defence over attack is to go for the Guardsman’s heavy armour set, which gives a 5% health boost (two pieces) or a 120-increase in defence stats across the board.