Foam fighting weapons simulate medieval style combat, but there are many differences due to game rules, construction, and playability.
Dagorhir weapons can be classified into the following categories:
Hand-held Weapons (melee)
- Blue: Striking weapons generally used as a single-handed weapon. Flails and quarterstaves are always considered blue weapons.
- Red: Striking weapons generally used as a two-handed weapon.
- Green: Stabbing weapons. Blue or red weapons may also have a green “stabbing” tip or the weapon may be green-only.
Projectile Weapons (missiles)
- Yellow: Piercing projectiles including arrows and javelins.
- White: Blunt-force projectiles, e.g. “rocks.”
Striking weapons come in two primary styles:
Flat-blade (swords) – A flat blade is a weapon that has two striking blade edges and a non-striking flat.
Omni-blade (bats) – An omni-blade is a weapon with a striking surface on all sides.
The use of either a flat-blade or omni-blade is mostly personal preference. An omni-blade allows the wielder to strike from more angles and eliminates the potential that a blow will land “flat” and not count. A flat-blade has a slightly smaller profile which allows it to penetrate a smaller gap in the opponent’s defense and has a slightly lower blade weight. Most weapons come in either variation with the exception of some weapons such as axes or quarterstaves.
The method used to construct foam fighting weapons will affect it’s properties and use. The primary choice in construction is the weapon core, this affects the flexibility, weight, and durability of the weapon. The other choices are foam type and taping methods but there is little effective difference for these so for this article we will focus on the attributes of the core.
Flex – Weapon flex is often a trade-off between weapon weight and length. A longer weapon tends to flex more unless it has a stronger core which also increases the weapon weight. In general it’s better to have less flex because this increases your control of the weapon. It is good however to have some flex because this allows the weapon to bend and absorb some of the impact of a hit.
Weight – A heavier weapon has more blocking power and stability whereas a lighter weapon is more responsive and less physically taxing. This also applies to shields where a shield can be heavier or lighter depending on if it has a core or not. One-handed weapons are also often counter-weighted to make them easier to handle.
Durability – Weapons cores have a specific range of lengths for which they will provide good durability. Making weapons at the upper edge of this range can increase flex and eventually lead to failure. Using a small thin core to reduce weight can also lead to failure if the strike is too hard for the weapon. Typically, fiberglass cores are considered indestructible and will outlast the foam by many years. Carbon and kitespar (FWET) are light weight and rigid cores, but will eventually break if used harshly. Newer core types like “armored carbon” offer both light weight and increased durability but at a higher cost. Shields can be made with wood or plastic cores or be “coreless” pure foam shields. Shields in general have a much higher durability than weapons.
- Blue & Shield (Sword & Board)
- Sidearm – A shorter blue weapon is kept holstered for reserve use
- Two-stick – Two blue weapons used together
- Down-stick – A longer blue is held point down in the shield hand to allow offensive tactics from the wielder’s shield side
To find the standard blue weapon length for your height and arm span, grip a yard stick and place your arm at your side. Let the end of the yard stick slide from your hand until it reaches the ground. This length, including the handle and pommel above your hand, is your standard sword length.
From your standard length, you can vary the weapon length to fit your play style. A shorter weapon is better in close combat because it is faster and has a tighter striking arc whereas a longer weapon is better at ranged combat because it has more reach. As a rule of thumb, the larger your shield, the shorter your sword should be and likewise the smaller your shield, the longer your sword.
- Single Weapon
- Red Weapon & Buckler
- Red Weapon & Back Shield
- Min-red & Shield – A min-red is used one-handed with a shield for extra reach. The min-red can also be used to break shields if needed.
Shorter red weapons are good in more dynamic fights where there is not much of a defined fighting line. This makes it easier for the red fighter to rush in and out of range to take out opponents. A shorter red weapon is more likely to have a full striking surface rather than a partial surface to make it easier to strike an opponent that has closed range. A longer polearm is useful in a well formed fighting line because it allows the wielder to strike at a distance without exposing themselves to opposing spearmen or archers.
Green, Yellow, and White Weapons
- Single Weapon
- Spear & Buckler
- Spear & Back Shield
- Spear & Hanging Shield
- Spear & Shield – A shorter spear is used one-handed with a shield
- Combat Archery – A lower poundage bow is used to take quick shots at nearby enemies
- Ranged Archery – A higher poundage bow is used to take long range shots at unsuspecting targets
The same sentiment for red weapons applies to spears in general where a shorter weapon is more useful in a dynamic fight and a longer weapon is more useful in a static fight. Spears however have an additional advantage in that the wielder can “choke up” on the spear and effectively shorten the weapon length if needed. Spears are typically 8ft long due to weapon core availability, but can also be found in longer lengths.
Shields come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The different aspects of the shield will affect it’s use and impact on your play style.
- Punch Grip – The shield is gripped by a bar which allows a wide range of shield motion.
- Standard Strap – The shield is strapped securely to the arm with the forward strap serving as a grip.
- Low Strap – The shield is strapped below the center of gravity which makes it easier to block upper body strikes.
- Arm Strap – The shield is strapped to the forearm to block missile weapons
- Shoulder Strap – Similar to an arm strap, but the strap is farther up the arm. The shield has less mobility in this position but is less hindrance when using a weapon.
- Backpack Strap – The shield is strapped to the wielders back to protect the wielder if they are rushed or need to maneuver away from their attacker
- Hanging Shield – The shield is slung in-front of the user to protect from missiles while allowing both hands to be used freely.
- Narrow – allows more striking options
- Wide – allows more protection against strikes
- Extra Wide – extends coverage to a nearby teammate
- Short – allows more mobility
- Long – protects the wielder’s legs
Shield Top Edge
- Rounded – makes it easier to throw offside shots
- Square – gives more protection against upper body strikes
Shield Bottom Edge
- Square – extra leg coverage
- Pointed – lower shield weight. For a backpack shield pointed allows leg movement when running.
- Curved – similar to pointed with a little extra coverage
- Barrel – a shield with one axis of curvature that provides additional coverage in a static position
- Concave – allows the shield to sit on the wielder’s shoulder for additional upper body protection