From CrawlWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Version 0.30: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

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.


Even if you have cleaving, it's better to fight 1v1 or in hallways than to let yourself get surrounded.

  • When fighting 1 adjacent monster, you'll deal 100% damage, and the monster deals 100% damage.
  • When fighting 2 adjacent monsters, you'll deal 170% damage, but the monsters deal 200% damage.

The more monsters adjacent, the worse the comparison gets. That being said, sometimes you can't help but be surrounded. For example, you could be swarmed by fast enemies, or encounter a pack with no nearby hallway. When you're forced to be adjacent to multiple enemies, cleaving is great to have.

Tips & Tricks

  • For cleaving to matter, you'll need to be facing multiple opponents. As such, physical tank characters have the best time with it. Don't skimp on defenses (HP, AC, EV).
    • Cleaving combos well with the vampiric brand, as well as gods that heal on kill (Makhleb against all non-summoned enemies, TSO against evil enemies).
  • If a gang of opponents seems too dangerous to deal with all at once, don't be afraid to use stair dancing and corridors to limit yourself to one opponent at a time.
  • While it may seem thematic to tab through monsters, it's better to manually target. Autofight's attack decision is rarely optimal.
  • Cleaving can help against invisible monsters. If you don't know a monster's precise location, swing with v or Ctrl + direction. This removes the guesswork involved in attacking unseen foes.
  • Unless you worship Fedhas, you'll attack any plants or fungi in your vicinity. Don't expect them to provide cover for long.


  • 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. If there was a wall in the way, you couldn't hit targets past it. 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.