What are real advantages of using big hammers(BIG) that these soldiers have been trained with for years (some since children)? There is a heavy cultural aspect to it, but right now I need only focus on practicalities.

Blunt weapons, especially large heavy hammers, can deal a lot of damage to armor and even fortifications. But what are the things where:

  1. The Warhammer Regiment will be the absolute best at dealing with?
  2. The Warhammer Regiment will be pretty good at dealing with, but another regiment might be better?

The time period is medieval, pre-gunpowder, WITH magic (most soldiers only have enough to increase their physical strength for a short while). The unit is well-trained, infantry, somewhat heavily armored and each soldier is very strong and can apply a little magic to bolster their strength and physiological coordination and somewhat deal with fatigue. They are trained to march even when carrying these heavy weights and often have additional magically bolstered horses to keep their equipment on regardless.

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    $\begingroup$ Warhammer - the existing 3rdParty World? $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ Playing Zelda Breath Of the Wild I used to love the big hammer weapons and would often have them equipped by default. They were great for resource extraction - hit a shinny rock, get a gemstone. Hit a crate, get arrows and apples. Hit a moblin, send it flying. Swords couldn't do any of that. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ "The time period is medieval, pre-gunpowder": all right, but then what does the word regiment mean in this context? Regiments are post-medieval. (And anyway, the word has very meanings in different armies.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:10
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but I find the combination of reality check and magic a bit odd. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ The enemy are moles! Thousands and thousands of moles! Whack! Whack! Whack whack! $\endgroup$
    – puppetsock
    Jan 19, 2021 at 16:10

9 Answers 9


While medieval armors were pretty good at stopping piercing/slashing attacks like those carried by blades and swords, they were not so efficient in stopping bludgeoning attacks like those coming from war hammers and maces: a hit would easily stun and incapacitate the target, making his capture more easy.

Your troops will therefore excel at dealing with armored opponents. If they can throw their hammers they could be some sort of heavy archery: I wouldn't like to be the target of a shower of hammers, and a group of hammered opponents is surely easier to deal with than a fresh one. They might even specialize in taking hostages alive. Sometimes a live hostage is worth more than a dead enemy.

On the other hands they would not fare well at opposing archers, as their range would be necessarily slower and two waves attacks, since swinging that hammer around or launching it would surely consume their stamina.

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    $\begingroup$ "Your troops will therefore excel at dealing with armored opponents" fully agreed with that. Although, even then a mixed troop is probably more flexible and better in the long run. The opponents are unlikely to keep sending well armoured knights all the time, only for them to get (literally) smashed. However, perhaps there is something like earth elementals (or other opponents with similar characteristics), where it makes sense to only hit them with hammers. Slow-ish armoured machines might also qualify in some cases. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ Not great against archers - unless you let them do that trick from Marvel's Thor (not to be confused with the one in actual Norse mythology) where he spins it around and then lets it pull him to effectively fly. I think he was also able to use the hammer as a shield against projectiles just by spinning it around as well. Not sure what level of magic we're dealing with here. $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2021 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ "a group of hammered opponents is surely easier to deal with". Um, were you going for the alternate version of "hammered" there as well? :-) $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2021 at 23:34

Warhammers > Full Plate

There are lots of modern depictions of how people in full plate are much more maneuverable than we used to give them credit for, but there's also a drastic misunderstanding about how incredibly durable people in full plate are. There is a lot of metal and cushion protecting the wearer from impact which renders them almost impervious to single decisive stikes against all but their most vulnerable regions (i.e. heads and joints) which they will have learned to guard more effectively.

Enter the Warhammer. What better weapon to destroy armor than the tool used to create it? I do not know of a better force multiplying tool for getting through heavy armor than a Warhammer, and that is because...

Warhammers are NOT Blunt

If you're like me when you hear someone say "warhammer," you think of a big oversized sledge hammer that probably has big square hammer heads. That's highly impractical for a number of reasons if you think about it, which is why this is a better idea of what a typical warhammer would have looked like:

Note that the head is very small so that you can focus all the momentum of the hammer on a tight little point. Note, too, how the back end of the hammer is a long spike for punching through the armor in its weakest spots.

I understand why most fantasy settings don't depict warhammers this way because of the rule of cool, but sometimes practicality should take over. This is particularly true when talking about a weapons weaknesses, speaking of which:

Warhammers are Slow

Now a good warhammer is actually only around 4 pounds, but that's actually fairly heavy for medieval weaponry, and you actually want it to be a little unbalanced specifically because you want all that force focused on the end.

What this leads to is a big, awkward weapon to weild in close quarters, especially against a lightly armored opponent. That's not to say a warhammer won't kill an unarmored target more easily than an armored one. Any hits on an unarmored foe are likely to be debilitating, if not fatal. However, while a warhammer regiment will have to make slow, accurate strikes and maybe worry about getting their spike stuck in people's fleshy parts, a team with lighter and more agile swords will make quick work out of anyone they can actually kill with a blade. This is why most actual knights carried multiple weapons for a variety of circumstances.

Thankfully, your hammer regiment is already heavily armored. What this means is that they are significantly less threatened by lightly armored opponents. They can afford to get inside the reach of lightly armored units and engage with less leverage, knowing that their armor will protect them unless they lose their balance (and even sometimes after they lose their balance).

What you end up with is not so much a group that is bad at killing anyone, just a group that might do better if they diversified their weapon set a bit.

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    $\begingroup$ They'd probably be better if they had the polearm equivalents of warhammers like the bec-de-corbin or Lucerne hammer. Of course, the weapons described by the OP are completely impractical. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Jan 20, 2021 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like it might be an option if you don't have war horses that can handle the weight of plate in the setting. Then your knights lose their maneuverability advantage to be able to get away from opposition, so a unit in full plate and war hammers might make sense. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2021 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ Especially if they were supported by archers and light maneuverable infantry. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2021 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ @user1937198 despite commonly held beliefs that a knight on horseback is strictly better than a knight on foot, heavily armoured men on foot repeatedly defeated mounted charges. The primary advantage of being on horseback is to be maneuverable enough to harry your opponent and attack their flanks, something that being heavily armored is not specifically required to do. Fighting in a close melee at the center of a battle, however, is exactly what armor is for and horses are not for. $\endgroup$
    – SirTain
    Jan 21, 2021 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @SirTain that is a point, I was more refering that in the absence of some terrain, objective or something else, a heavily armoured infantry unit can't force an engagement as everything on the battlefield is faster. An armoured Calvary unit can. Combine this with the sheer expense of plate and most people who can afford plate are going to be cavalry as whist it's not hard counter, it's a preferable place to be. If you don't have horses, the the heavy infantry becomes a relatively more attractive position. It's asmuch about the economics as the military value. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2021 at 11:43

This is a very specialized regiment used for demolition work.

In a pre-gunpowder world, it was not an easy task to tore down a building, especially a stone building. What if your army holds a town and needs to do a quick defensive rearrangement? Here comes a hammer regiment to save the day! Just give them a house, and they will quickly turn it into a pile of usable stone in no time.

  • $\begingroup$ Though wouldn't actual building tools work better here? $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2021 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Studoku that's demolition only team. Hammer's handle works as a crowbar, and that's it. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jan 20, 2021 at 17:12

When you say especially big and heavy, it sounds like you're thinking more along the lines of a sledgehammer than a warhammer? Warhammers are hefty, but nothing as much as a sledge.

As for why you'd use such hammers... an anti-troll force. Trolls, made of stone, need to be hit with heavy pickaxes and sledgehammers, as no other weapon will phase them. Artillery and heavy guns would phase them, but you still need a hammer regiment to protect them from trolls.

As an aside, archers were noted to have used mauls, hammers used for tent pegs and the like, against knights, pulling them off the horse and disabling or killing them with the heavy mallets.

In this case, your huge hammers may still have pick points, a fusion between mattock and warhammer.


Nothing. These hammers are completely impractical.

You specify that the heads of these hammers are approximately the size of a human head. This makes them completely impractical to use. Doing some ballpark numbers, if the heads of the hammers are 10 cm by 10 cm by 20 cm and made of steel, their mass will be approximately 15-16 kg (about 34 pounds). By comparison, according to Wikipedia, typical two handed sword weighs about 2kg, and even the heaviest ceremonial swords were might be about 6kg - and that is with the weight distributed along the entire length of the blade, rather than concentrated at the end of the handle.

If you want to use true warhammers, you'd be looking at much smaller weapons, since large and bulky hammers aren't practical to use, even if they look cool in fantasy artwork.

Simply put, in a real fight, speed is absolutely essential because fights happen very quickly, and exploiting split second openings is how you win. In the case of your giant hammers, they will be much too slow; you would need to telegraph all your attacks, and after all of your attacks, your soldier would need to fight the momentum of their weapon to bring it back into position to attack or defend. This would create openings that any trained opponent would be able to exploit.

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    $\begingroup$ They are made out of magically imbued metals, their weight is more around 10 kg. And yes, a smaller weight would be more practical for certain use cases, but there is a cultural element to it here, as well as the fact that they have been specifically created to fight a particular foe. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2021 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ "their weight is more around 10 kg" That's still probably too heavy to practically use. If they go up against a swordsman with a 2kg zweihander, your hammer guys will lose basically every time, because their weapons will be too slow and too telegraphed. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Jan 20, 2021 at 5:07
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that is correct. They are not going against swordsmen, though. They are going against a) typicall shield walls b)attacking fortifications c) Heavily magically armoured enemies d) intimidation tactics $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2021 at 5:09
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    $\begingroup$ @RibhuHooja These hammers wouldn't be good for any of those things aside from maybe magic. There's a number of tactics for dealing with shield walls, but trying to break the shields isn't one of them; using these hammers against one will just get you stabbed to death. Against fortifications, you'll have the enemy shooting arrows and dropping boiling oil onto your soldiers (which is why battering rams were covered with a protective roof, when they were used at all). Intimidation tactics? When your enemies are armed with a ridiculous, useless weapon, it's not very intimidating. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Jan 20, 2021 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ @RibhuHooja 30 lb sledgehammers exist. They're heavy, but not unusable. An entire regiment using those is going to be pretty awkward against shield walls, and too many focused in one place for even fortifications. But if you dispersed them amongst other units, they could find some use. Some fortifications were torn about with crowbars and the like, so giant, magical hammers could have some use. Your troops will need some very effective armour and a sidearm, if you use them against other infantry, and they'd best be mixed with troops with lighter weapons. $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Jan 20, 2021 at 6:07

They are cheap to make and easy to maintain.

Lead mallets were a European favorite. I knew the archers at Agincourt had them but figured that they had them to pound in stakes, so used them to pound on knights later. But apparently these weapons were made in bulk for arming masses. Sometimes the masses armed themselves with the mallets for their own reasons.


Lead mallets were also used by other infantry. The Paris rioters that broke into the Hôtel de Ville in 1382 seized so many lead mallets that they became known as Maillotins, and as a result we have a useful illustration of the weapon in an illumination of the revolt, above.

The first insurrection was that of the Paris mob, and was sparked off by a costermonger who, when an official tried to levy a tax on the fruit and vegetables he was selling, began to roar "Down with the gabelle!" At this cry, the whole populace rose, ran to the tax-collectors' houses and robbed and murdered them. Then, since the mob was unarmed, one of their number led them to the Chatelet where Bertrand de Guesclin, a former High Constable, had stored 3,000 lead-tipped cudgels in preparation for a battle which was to have been fought against the English. The rabble used axes to break their way into the tower where these cudgels or mallets (in French, maillets) were kept and, arming themselves, set forth in all directions to rob the houses of the King's representatives and in many cases to murder them.

This site has awesome stuff on lead hammers as used in battle. Also some fine Chaucerian English descriptions of "awesome thwacks" and the like.

I think in addition to being cheap to make, easy to store without fear of rot or rust, and free to maintain, huge hammers can be used effectively with a minimum of training. Civilians pressed into service would be familiar with swinging axes and hammers. But your folks train with the hammer so that would be less of an advantage.

So why would the fact that they are inexpensive be helpful? I can think of a reason. These guys go thru a lot of them. Your soldiers are so strong that they routinely break hammers in use. A soldier might go thru 4 or 5 in one battle. That would not be sustainable with swords, but there are a lot of spare hammers so it is ok. If they win, a couple of them will go around with big baskets and collect the broken off hammer heads for reuse.


I would say that L.Dutch is correct as far as armored opponents and opposing archers go, but you know what else a warhammer regiment would be good against? (Note: this question assumes that the regiment has both the oversized sledgehammers specified by Ribhu Hooja and hammers like Thor's Mjolnir for throwing equipped. Perhaps the latter is held with bandoliers?)

  1. Unarmored/lightly armored opponents-Little to no protection against a devastating weapon? Oh yeah, these enemies better run. (Unless they're all archers.....=( )

  2. Shield Walls (maybe)-Once an army forms a shield wall, you can't advance without breaking the wall. Big, heavy hammers would likely be ideal for smashing through a shield wall, perhaps with a pole-like handle (for greater reach) and used when mounted to keep away from the spears that are almost invariably wielded by the soldiers composing the shield wall.

  3. Drawbridges/Walls/Porticullis-All of these three things are meant to deny access to enemies, but depending on what materials your hammers are made of, your warhammer regiment just might smash right through all of them, within reason. A log cabin's walls? Certainly, you can smash through that. A castle wall? Only if you have shieldmen defending you so you can hammer them, and it'll take a while.

  4. Squooshy Mages (situational)-Powerful mages could absolutely destroy your warhammer regiment by flinging lightning bolts or boulders, freezing them solid, siccing an elemental on them, and so forth. However, a well-timed (and accurate) hammer throw can both interrupt the casting of a spell or performance of a ritual and kill the mage responsible. Additionally, in close range, a mage is unlikely to do well against a big, heavy dude in armor with a big, heavy hammer.

  5. Certain Elementals-Earth, Metal, and Ice elementals will fear a warhammer attack since that could shatter (or dent) their bodies.

  6. Hordes-Think goblins or Silverfish in Minecraft; the powerful blows and large size of a warhammer would make them quite effective against hordes of small enemies as long as the regiment can keep up an appropriate pace.

  7. Armored, low-stamina cavalry: Do you have any idea how fragile a horse's legs are? With your hammer's size and reach, and the wielder's strength, they can easily cripple a horse and/or dismount its rider.

  8. Merpeople On Land-Merpeople; so slow, so fragile (seriously, what are the chances a primarily marine species wears cumbersome armor when it will hamper swimming so severely?). 'Nuff said.

However, they wouldn't be good against:

  1. Archers-Seriously, the advantage archers with armor-piercing arrows would have against big, heavy targets like your warhammer regiment cannot be understated. Please give them a chance and give them shields comparable to their warhammers!

  2. Ballista-See Archers above. The same goes for any siege weapon.

  3. Naval forces-While a warhammer capable of smashing through stone would also be capable of smashing through a ship's hull (and therefore sinking it), what are the chances of your regiment being close enough to throw their warhammers accurately enough to do that?

  4. Guerilla Warfare-Your regiment is big, heavy, and slow. They'll need a lot of food to keep up their strength (and they're good targets) so irregular warfare would be highly effective and likely drive them batty.

  5. Castles-While your regiment can be reasonably successful against a castle's entry points, castles have high defenses that will make your regiment highly unlikely to even get there and a battering ram is much better for that purpose.

  6. Certain Elementals-Water, Air, Fire, Electric, Light, and Dark elementals won't be tangible enough to be affected by warhammer strikes.

  7. Merpeople In Water-In their natural element, merpeople would be too fast for a Warhammer regiment to reasonably expect to hit them.

In conclusion, I would give your warhammer regiment specially designed armor to protect them from archers and see about increasing their speed and agility through some method (enhancing runes, perhaps, or armor enchanted to enhance the wearer's speed and dexterity?) so they can better dodge arrows. To help protect them while wielding hammers two-handed, I would use forearm-mounted bucklers.

  • $\begingroup$ Guns are a no go here. As for throwing the hammer, I think I understated how BIG the hammer is. The head is bigger than the human head and the poles are prettty long. A lot of the disadvantages against fantastical races are void because there aren't many of them around. And one of their purposes is sort of anti-cavalry, but against a specific kind of cavalry; the medieval equivalent of a tank, which can charge over a long distance but lacks stamina and once the charge is over can't manouevre well and relies on armor to protect itself $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2021 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Ah! In that case, I'll need to do some edits. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 19, 2021 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ They do carry shields for formation purposes but typically use the hammer two handed. They can synergise with alternative soldiers using shields and hammers. The biggest use of shields is charging against an archer company. Also, they use magic to increase their speed and strength. However, they must conserve it to not burn out. As such more of their abilities are from long term magically boosted training than magic during combat $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2021 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ On your last point about merpeople, even if they’re adapted for abyssal or even hadal life they probably will not be well protected against bludgeoning attacks. What you need at those depths isn’t resistance to sudden impacts, but continuous compression, so they would still at least suffer the same concussive effects that an armored target would. And even if they’re well adapted to rapid shifts in pressure, that won’t help much either (most of what you need for that is in the circulatory system and has nothing to do with rigidity or durability). $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2021 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 19, 2021 at 23:57

Magic may be able to solve the impracticality of giant cartoonish slabs of a hammer. If most have the ability to boost their strength for a short time, what about a spell or enchantment common to the warhammer division, that reduces the relative weight the the hammer. A swing from it has as many newtons of force as would be typical, but the wielder feels only a third of the weight of the hammer.

  1. The Warhammer Regiment will be the absolute best at dealing with? Fighting armored enemies (species with chitin armor?), demolition, a show of force of the home nation. If nobody knows how they can possibly have the strength to swing them, their freakish strength would scare ground troops. Tearing down walls and fortifications would be quite a bit easier if you can put in less force.

  2. The Warhammer Regiment will be pretty good at dealing with, but another regiment might be better? I'd assume assassination and stealth wouldn't be their strong suit


Ceramic armor. Your enemies have some kind of ceramic (maybe porcelain!) armor. It's light-weight, doesn't rust, rot, or burn (maybe they are often in a corrosive environment?), resists cutting. Maybe they don't have a lot of metal in their region but they have really high quality clay. Maybe they even armor the outside of their siege towers with ceramics. Arrows bounce right off and swords aren't great either, instead you need a big, heavy object to smash it with. You can even justify the large surface on the hammer head, if your enemies make their armor out of small ceramic plates joined together (ceramic scale mail!) then you want to smash a bunch of those little plates at once.

Or your enemies ARE ceramic....golems.


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