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Version 0.30: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.
It deals dramatically more damage, but attacks with it are much slower.

The heavy brand does the following:

  • Adds +80% base damage, but take 50% longer to swing.[1][2] This results in an average of +20% physical damage.
    • The penalty to attack speed is applied after skill, but before the effects of shield and armour encumbrance.
    • Both base damage and delay are rounded in a weighted manner. For example, a weapon with 16.2 base damage would have a 20% chance to act as 17 base damage, and an 80% chance to act as 16 base damage.

Compared to brands like flaming and freezing, heavy weapons are reduced less by AC, but receive less benefit from slaying and will activate less auxiliary attacks.


Heavy offers a slightly weaker damage boost than flaming or freezing, but has the benefit of being irresistible. In an average situation, heavy is competitive with those brands. It has a clear superiority against high AC. Conversely, it is clearly worse for slaying-reliant weapons, like quick blades. Heavy is also poor for species with strong aux attacks, such as Tengu or Vine Stalker.

In addition, heavy weapons are less impacted by shield/armour encumbrance. For example, lets say armour increases attack delay by +0.1 decaAut:

  • A regular weapon would go from 1.0 -> 1.1 delay, or 10% slower.
  • A heavy weapon would go from 1.5 -> 1.6 delay, or 6.25% slower.

However, using heavy on most weapons introduces a serious risk - see below for details.

Risks of >1.0 attack delay

Heavy can be a good brand on average, but it can be very risky, as it can prevent you from reaching ≤ 1.0 attack delay. Most weapons have a minimum delay of 0.7; heavy turns that into a 1.05 decaAut delay. This represents a 5% chance of a regular speed enemy getting a double-turn of attacks.

For example, a deep elf annihilator's crystal spear can deal up to 102 damage. Doubled, that's 204 damage - more than the max HP of many characters. The chance of this actually happening is miniscule (0.003% to maxroll one spear, 5% to double-turn, further reduced by AC/EV/SH...). But it can still be an issue:

  • Maximum damage isn't necessary. A high roll, say 80*2 damage, still really hurts.
  • Most dangerous situations in Crawl involve multiple enemies. Add a single other deep elf to the picture, and max damage increases further. When you consider a pack of enemies, it skyrockets.
  • Because "damage you can possibly take in one turn" is doubled, it can force you to use consumables much earlier. For example, a komodo dragon deals 34*2 damage before GDR. Therefore, making a melee attack becomes dangerous at ~60 HP rather than ~30 HP. (Remember that wands, Throwing, etc. aren't slowed by your weapon.)

This isn't exclusive to deep elf annihilators - it applies to just about any 10-speed enemy. Suddenly, fighting two naga sharpshooters becomes a big issue; each sharpshooter can do 45 damage before GDR, which turns to 150+ damage if the stars align.

Weapons that have a minimum delay below 0.7, like demon blades, demon tridents, and all Short Blades, can reach a post-heavy mindelay below 1.0. Though watch out for shields, which can bring the delay back up. Also, for weapons that don't reach 1.0 delay (e.g. hand crossbow + any shield), this point is obviously moot.

Tips & Tricks

  • Slow actions can be useful in a turn count speedrun. Each attack takes 1 turn, regardless of how long the swing was. If a regular weapon would take 3 turns to kill an enemy, a heavy weapon would take 2.
In addition, swinging an untrained heavy weapon is a better way to skip time than bread swinging. For example, swinging a scroll takes 1.5 decaAuts, but it takes 2.1 decaAuts to swing a heavy flail when you have 0 Maces & Flails skill.


  • In 0.30, this weapon brand was introduced. It replaced the vorpal brand.


  1. fight.cc:1356 (0.30.1)
  2. fight.cc:992 (0.30.1)
Melee weapons AntimagicChaosDistortionDrainingElectrocutionFlamingFreezingHeavyHoly wrathPainProtectionReachingSpectralSpeedVampiricVenom
DisruptionDragon slayingReapingSilver
Launchers AntimagicDrainingElectrocutionFlamingFreezingHeavyPenetrationSpeed
Throwing weapons AtropaCurareDaturaDispersalPoisonedSilver