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Version 0.30: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

The cleaving effect, found mostly on Axes, allows you to strike every adjacent opponent at the same time. Cleaving occurs each time you make a melee attack with an axe, lochaber axe, while in Storm Form, or during Xom's Cleave status. While axes aren't the most ideal weapon for taking out powerful single targets, they outperform all other weapons when it comes to dealing with swarms of opponents.

Useful Info

Whenever you attack a target, you also attack all tiles adjacent to you with a x0.7 penalty to damage:


@ = You P = Primary target (100% damage) s = Secondary targets (70% damage, no aux attacks) . = Tile unaffected by your attack

In addition, you only make auxiliary attacks against the "primary" target. Each monster's damage is calculated separately: you can miss some targets while hitting others, or deal more damage to a secondary target simply due to luck.

This effect ignores friendly units, even when confused. Note that you can still confusedly hit an ally as a primary target. Cleaving completely ignores walls and other dungeon features; you'll always hit every tile adjacent to you.


The unrand pole-axe lochaber axe features a superior form of cleaving, that hits all targets within 2 tiles:


P = Primary target (100% damage) s = Secondary targets (70% damage)

You may also reave by wielding a reaching weapon with Xom's cleave effect.


  • For cleaving to actually matter, you need to be facing multiple opponents at once. As such, physical tank-type characters have the easiest time of it; don't skimp on your HP, AC, or SH (if using a one-handed axe) if you intend to be an axe-wielder. If a gang of opponents seems too dangerous to deal with all at once, don't be afraid to use stair dancing and tunnels to limit yourself to one opponent at a time. It might be less efficient, but it's a whole lot healthier.
  • Unless you worship Fedhas Madash, your cleaves will hack into any innocent plants or fungus you happen to be standing next to. Don't expect them to provide cover for long.
  • Cleaving is great for dealing with invisible enemies. By holding CTRL and attempting to move, you'll swing at all adjacent tiles. This removes the guesswork normally involved in attack unseen foes.
  • Although it may seem thematically appropriate to recklessly tab through combat while wielding an axe, try not to do so when actually facing a swarm of opponents. The AI's axe-attack decision making is rarely optimal, often wasting the heaviest attacks on enemies near death. This helps you learn that tab is a generally ineffective strategy.
  • Cleaving has strong synergies with worshipping Makhleb, who restores some of your health on killing enemies. While it may be suicidal to engage a large crowd of enemies under normal circumstances, a strong axe wielder can survive and thrive very long under Makhleb's protection. But this does not work if most of the enemies you are facing are summons. TSO provides a similar effect, but only for killing evil beings.
  • You can take advantage of cleaving while not being surrounded entirely:.

o = Other enemy that would normally swarm you if in the open. This limits your damage intake.


  • Prior to 0.17, cleaving didn't work under confusion.
  • Prior to 0.16, cleaving could not go through walls; it would rotate from the main target in both rotational directions (until the halfway point), checking walls in the way. Secondary targets also took 75% instead of 70% damage.
  • Prior to 0.15, cleaving would not target the tile directly behind your primary target.
  • Cleaving was implemented in 0.12, where it accompanied a drop in base damage for the three most powerful axes.