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Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

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Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

You are reading a text prepared during the development of the pirate life simulation game Corsairs Legacy by Ukrainian Mauris studio in order to popularize the marine theme in general and games about pirates in particular. You can follow the project news on our website, YouTube channel, and Telegram.

In this article, Kirill Nazarenko analyzes weapons from the game Corsairs Legacy.

Hello! Today we will talk about bladed weapons and pistols in Corsairs Legacy. First of all, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of work of the Corsairs Legacy team that made this weapon. Everything is rendered pretty well. It can be seen that real samples of weapons were taken as a basis and the images themselves are quite complex and interesting. It's just nice to imagine that you pick up this weapon.

The main problem that I see here is the fundamental incompatibility of the real and game worlds. Well, I don't know how to help it. In the game world, the player must definitely level up his skills, he must buy or capture all-new, more powerful, and effective weapons. Moreover, of course, this weapon needs to be called somehow, you can’t call it “sword No. 1”, “sword No. 2” or “sword level 20”, because it looks boring and stupid. Therefore, one has to call weapons by some names, some real names. But here the contradictions begin.

Bladed weapons

Bladed weapons were created for specific tasks. At one time, in the early Middle Ages, the main bladed weapon in Europe was a double-edged sword with a rather blunt end, the so-called Romanesque sword, which served to cut. And this sword served to fight against warriors dressed in chain mail, under which they wore a quilted jacket that softened the blow. Then, in the 14th century, armor made of large metal plates appeared. In the end, the so-called Gothic armor, which consisted entirely of plates of complex shape, and only some parts were covered with chain mail. It was almost impossible to cut such armor, it was even very difficult to pierce it.

At an early stage, when there was still a lot of chain mail, swords were used to pierce chain mail. These were gothic swords with a pointed end, but then it became extremely difficult.

And in the XV century, a rapier appears with a very hard faceted blade, which is not intended for cutting at all, it is intended for a point injection into the joint of the armor.

Still, the armor goes away and the weapons change again. By the 17th century, on the battlefield, protective armor was reduced to nothing more than a cuirass and, sometimes, small protective devices for arms and thighs, and also a helmet. Moreover, cuirassiers, a kind of heavy cavalry, wear a cuirass and a helmet, and pikemen, that is, warriors who were armed with a long, about 5-meter peak, wear in the infantry. They stood in the forefront and their main task was to repel the attack of the cavalry. It is clear that officers could wear a cuirass, and usually, it was a cuirass from one half, which protected only the chest.

If we look at the portraits of military leaders of the 17th century, we will see that they are depicted either in full knightly armor, however, in reality, no one in the 17th century wore full armor, or they are depicted in modern costumes of that time — cuirasses. Thus, the artist indicated the specialization of this person, that he is a military leader. Breastplates were also popular in the 18th century, and quite often the military was depicted in them. It was an indication of their profession. But it was almost impossible to break through the cuirass with bladed weapons.

On the other hand, few people wore cuirasses on the battlefield, and there were even fewer of them on the decks of ships. We must not forget that every nobleman wore a sword as the main sign of his class affiliation. Wearing a sword was very important in terms of status. It is clear that this sword could be used to protect honor and dignity. As a result, in the 17th century, the division of bladed weapons into two branches gradually begins:

  • the first branch is a military weapon for the battlefield;
  • the second branch is a weapon for carrying in civilian life.

It is clear that the second should be quite convenient, because it was hard to carry some heavy sword, say, at a ball or for a walk.

And the type of sword that is worn in civilian life is gradually being developed — a light weapon. This we can see in the game Corsairs Legacy.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

However, there is one small mistake here. It is clear that the authors of Corsairs Legacy operated with the British pound - 454 g. Here in one of the frames, it is written “light weapons no more than 2.4 pounds (1.9 kg)”, but here there is a mathematical error because 2.4 pounds is equal to 1.09 kg. And British inches are used quite correctly in the game.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The line of light weapons in Corsairs Legacy opens with an old-style rapier, but, to be honest, I liked it the least of the drawn weapons. It resembles a gothic sword with a rather characteristic lowered crosspiece and, frankly, it does not look like a rapier. Swords of this type in the 17th century, it seems to me, were extremely rare or not found at all. In addition, they definitely did not belong to light weapons.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next, we have the German rapier. I would rather call it a sword, although this is a difficult question.

The fact is that in Slavic languages there is an exceptionally rich terminology related to bladed weapons. It is richer than in any European language, simply because Slavic countries dealt with eastern and western weapons and a lot of terms entered Slavic languages that denoted their varieties. And there are so many of these terms that historians dealing with the history of weapons cannot agree on their exact application. There is no need to fall into some kind of fanaticism and start cutting each other because of these terms, but I would point out several such large sections that could be operated on.

First of all, it's an epee. An epee in Slavic languages is understood as a weapon with a straight blade, the direct heir to the knight's sword, but thinner. Both rapiers and broadswords belong to the category of epees, although many will not agree with this. But I still insist that weapons with a straight blade, mostly, can be classified as epees. Moreover, in the 18th century, in real word usage and office work, this was how it was, and, say, they did not see a fundamental difference between a broadsword and an epee.

The second major category is the saber, a weapon with a curved blade of varying degrees of curvature. But again, if we analyze English or French terms, we will finally come to a dead end, because certain types of weapons that were actually in service or are in armed collections could have the strangest names. And, say, the blade could be from a sword, the handle from a saber, and all this could be called a saber. In general, it could be called anything in real life, and there is a big problem here — a separate scientific classification of bladed weapons is needed, which is not yet available.

Therefore, we have established that a weapon with a straight blade can be called an epee, and a weapon with a curved blade can be called a saber (for Slavic languages only). And there are three subspecies of weapons with a straight blade:

  • rapier — a weapon with a very thin blade that cannot be cut, but only stabbed;
  • an epee — a weapon with a slightly wider blade, which, in principle, can be cut, although this is inconvenient, and basically you can stab;
  • broadsword — a weapon with a wide blade that can cut well.

In this case, the images that are called the German rapier, and the Spanish rapier, are beautiful and suitable in my opinion.

Here, the German rapier has a characteristic complex system of hand protection, which is adapted to hold the rapier in a special grip, when the thumb, little finger, and ring finger wrap around the handle, and the index and middle wrap around the crosshairs, and the blade is missed between them. Such a grip made it possible to stab quite comfortably, this was a characteristic technique for this weapon. This kind of rapier served, as a rule, as a weapon for peacetime, which was worn by the nobles in everyday life and with which they solved their problems in a duel.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The Spanish rapier is also quite beautifully drawn and quite elegant in the game Corsairs Legacy. But this gap between the bow and hilt is interesting because the bow is not attached to it. Such a technique was indeed used, although there is a question of why this was done. Here on bagnets, which were used as prototypes of bayonets, such a technique is justified, because the bagnet handle was thrust into the musket barrel and a gap was needed between the bow and the handle. For a rapier, it is not very clear why this was necessary, maybe just for beauty.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The Italian rapier is also very beautiful and good.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Further, we see a smallsword. This is just a question of poverty in English weapon terminology because the word “sword” refers to anything in English, starting with Roman swords and ending with a sword (epee).

By the way, this smallsword is just the most similar to a light sword with undeveloped arm protection, which was worn by the nobles at the end of the 17th century. It was comfortable to wear because the developed protection of the hand simply clung to the clothes and was up to the thigh, and the small guard and small bow did not really interfere. By the way, already in the 18th century, epees were made with folding guards so that they hung quite evenly along the side.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next up is Pappenheimer. Thanks to the authors of Corsairs Legacy for this term by the name of the famous German general during the Thirty Years' War. This is also such a very beautiful rapier.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next comes the Spanish cazoleta (Spanish for “Bowl”) with yet another type of hand protection. There is an opinion that a long straight cross served at the same time as something like a dagger, that is, it was possible to strike not only with the tip of a sword but also with very close combat, and this cross could be stuck into the eye. By the way, these are assumptions, such techniques were absent in the fencing manuals of the 18th century.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The next classification is a weapon of medium weight, in fact, these are sabers.

But here it must be said that sabers, in general, are much more diverse than epees. In sabers, the degree of curvature of the blade, and the shape of the point can vary, the handle can be very diverse, and there can be a different number of fullers on the blade. By the way, there is a children's idea that the fullers on the blade serve to drain the blood of enemies, they are also called bloodstreams. But these are all delusions. The fullers, that is, such grooves on the blade, serve to lighten the blade and increase its rigidity because the edges of the fullers serve as stiffeners.

According to their length, sabers are divided into two groups: sabers with a blade of normal length, about 80-90 cm, and shortened sabers, for example, like the malchus that the developers of Corsairs Legacy offer us. 63 cm is a short blade, although it is the longest of the short blades. Moreover, this category of sabers in the 18th century was called hangers.

I must emphasize that in the portraits of admirals in the 17th-18th centuries they were depicted with two attributes: either with a spyglass or with a hanger. It was considered a specific boarding naval weapon, apparently because it was convenient to cut with this shortened saber, but at the same time, in cramped ship conditions on the upper deck, where there was a lot of spars and rigging, a shortened blade was convenient. Still, for a weapon to be slashing, it must have a weighted end.

If we have a piercing weapon, then it is not necessary to make the end heavier, on the contrary, it should be light enough so that you can quickly move it in the air and strike where you need it. If, however, the saber blade is made light, and especially if the end of the blade is made light, then the chopping hit will be ineffective. The heavier the end of the blade, the more effective the hit will be. But the disadvantage of this technology is that it is difficult to change the trajectory of impact with heavy weapons. And of course, more strength is needed to wield such a weapon than to wield an epee.

In general, I must say that slashing is much more difficult than stabbing. Here it is very important to hold the blade correctly so that it is strictly in the plane of the strike. On the other hand, it is most effective to apply not just a chopping hit, but a chopping hit with a pull, that is, pull the blade towards yourself at the same time as striking. In this case, the bend begins to work, because the bend of the blade with this technique of striking also works like a knife, that is, it not only strikes from above with force but also cuts the target. There are reports that especially skilled warriors cut the enemy from the shoulder to the saddle with such a strike.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Malchus is a pretty good example of such a dirk and is quite nicely drawn. The shape of the handle and the bend of the crosspiece could be very diverse.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next comes such a weapon as a grosses messer (German for “big knife”). This is a weapon with a straight blade and a telling cross. Maybe such a weapon was used, but, frankly, I wish the blade was more curved.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

If you look at the cutlass (Cutting saber), then there can be no objections at all. Here is a distinctive wide crosspiece turning into a bow, a blade of a distinctive shape, slightly reminiscent of Japanese sabers. All these relatively short-bladed weapons are very appropriate on the deck of a ship. 

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next comes the yatagan, but with it, the question is very complicated, because a weapon with a curved blade towards sharpening or, say, a blade sharpened from the concave side of the bend is very small. This is generally the third category along with epees and sabers.

Recently, the point of view was expressed that the yatagan is not a military weapon at all. And I want to put forward one hypothesis, which is that yatagans were once invented by Turkish Janissaries because in the 16th century Turkish sultans forbade Janissaries to walk with sabers in peacetime along the streets of Ottoman cities. This is because as soon as a Janissary with a saber appeared on the street, he immediately wanted to use it. The Sultan forbade the Janissaries to carry sabers, but they reserved the right to carry knives. Well, because they are warriors, and it was ugly to appear without weapons at all. These knives gradually increased in size, and this is how yatagans turned out. The key to this hypothesis is that none of the depictions of Ottoman warriors on a campaign show them carrying yatagans. Only warriors in peacetime are depicted with yatagans. Moreover, there are no eyewitness accounts worthy of attention, which would say that the Turks are fighting with the help of yatagans.

But it should be noted that in ancient times this kind of blade was used, but they were also quite rare. This sharpening of the blade is convenient for cutting, especially for chores. There is such a Karelian national branch cutter, which is called Vesuri. It is very convenient for them to cut bushes and it is very similar to a yatagan. However, I strongly doubt the combat value of the yatagan.

Another thing is that in the 19th century, under the influence of eastern exoticism, several European armies adopted a scimitar. But I repeat that I would still not use the yatagan as a military weapon. But for exotics in the Corsairs Legacy game, why not?

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next comes the karabela, a classic Polish saber of medium degree of curvature with a distinctive cross and a handle. The Saber, which all the soldiers of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Hungary in the 16, 17, and 18 centuries were armed with. You can't even imagine anything more classic here. However, I must say that the saber is not a very convenient weapon for fencing, it is too heavy for this, and it is rather intended to kill.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The next weapon is an expensive cutlass. To be honest, I would classify it as a medium-bladed weapon, especially since its handle is somehow too pretentious for a boarding saber.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Next comes another kind of hanger — scallop (Seashell). This is a beautiful cutlass with beautiful hand protection.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Finally, a weapon with a heavy blade. It begins with a bastard sword, but for the 17th century, this weapon is too outdated. The bastard sword made sense when the enemy was covered in armor and could not be taken just like that.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

There is also a Katzbalger (German “cat tearer”), but this is already a variant of the broadsword. It is a rather appropriate thing, and it can take its rightful place in the Corsairs Legacy game.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

About the Hospitaller Sword, I would also say that this is a very archaic weapon for the 17th century.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

As for the Reitschwert (German: “Sword of the Reiter” or “Sword of the Horseman”), this is a fairly classic broadsword or a heavy sword.

Characteristically, the cavalry was armed with heavier and longer weapons. Because the infantryman had to carry an epee on himself, and not only was it heavy, but it could also drag along the ground and get confused in the legs if it was long. On the contrary, a long weapon did not interfere with a cavalryman, and, moreover, it made it possible to get both a ground enemy and an enemy cavalry at a sufficiently long distance.

By the way, the same Polish winged hussars had two bladed weapons: a long rapier, which they carried on a saddle, and a saber for different stages of the battle. Therefore, the Reitschwert looks quite appropriate, but such a long weapon was hardly very convenient on the ship.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The Walloon sword is such a crude simple soldier's broadsword. It looks very good too.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The Scottish Claymore (Scott. “Great Sword”) is also a good weapon, but it has a lot of things from the sword. In the 17th century, such tools became either executioner's tools for the execution of noble people, because death by sword was considered more honorable than from an ax, or symbols of power, and not weapons that were used in a real combat situation.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Finally, the flamberge (German: “Flame”) is such a beautiful wavy blade and it really looks very cool in the game Corsairs Legacy. But I'm afraid that this is also more of a ritual sword than a real combat weapon.

Pistols

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

As far as pistols are concerned, they are divided into different types, say Spanish pistol, and Dutch pistol. But here I would like to make a suggestion. The fact is that the main difference between various types of small arms in the 17th century was the design of the lock. It differed in the position of the action and auxiliary springs.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Well, let's take the Spanish pistol, which the developers of Corsairs Legacy drew for us. His action spring is not visible, that is, the spring that makes the trigger itself move forward is not visible. It is hidden under the board, that is, the plate on which the lock was mounted. And the spring, which does not allow the flash pan to lean back, is visible from below under the flash pan. This system, which was called the French or battery lock, was the most common in the 18th century and became a classic.

Therefore, it is better to introduce different types of locks and thus add variety to the pistols. Well, here the head of the screw, which compresses the jaws clamping the flint, is made in the form of a rather large ring. This is appropriate on a riffle, but I'm afraid not on a pistol. Usually, on pistols, a cut was simply made in the screw, and, using a screwdriver, it was clamped and unscrewed. It was easier and more convenient.

Also here we see a wooden ramrod under the barrel, that is, a rod for loading a pistol, and a claw for the middle finger on the shackle that covers the trigger. In principle, these are quite possible attributes of a pistol.

Moreover, by the way, the question arises: why does the pistol have such a massive end part of the handle? First of all, this is to balance the barrel. The pistols had rather long barrels, and if they did not have this counterweight, then it would be extremely difficult to raise the pistol and point it at the enemy.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

After the Spanish pistol, we are offered a Dutch naval pistol. By design, the lock here is the same as that of the Spanish pistol, but it would be possible to make, for example, a single spring.

There was such a way, a Dutch lock, which looked like this: a single spring, in which one bent part supports the flash pan, and the other supports the trigger, and this spring is located on the outside of the lock. There could still be the same single spring hidden entirely under the board inside the pistol body.

But here, just the screw that clamps the jaws has no ring, and it looks more natural. Furthermore, the ring at the end of the pistol grip served to tie a leather cord so that the pistol would not be lost. This gun contains such a weird clip on one side. That is, one can imagine that it serves to be inserted into some kind of leather loop that is located on the belt. This is an acceptable detail, but it was not very common. It was easier to shove the entire pistol into the belt, without supplying it with individual parts.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The Italian long-barreled pistol is richly decorated, but I do not see much difference.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

Then we have a cavalry pistol. I would say that it could be made much longer.

There is an interesting feature here — a lock with a fuse. If you look at the trigger, then behind it there is such detail with a hook that clings to a special ledge on the trigger. This is a fuse and to pull the trigger, you need to flip this hook.

Here the only thing is that under the screws that fasten the lock through, on the other side of the gun I would make a metal lining. Because the wood will collapse and the screws will not hold well.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

The engraved pistol does not cause any special emotions, but on this pistol, there is just an overlay on the other side of the barrel, which does not allow the screws to cut into the wood.

Corsairs weapon: sword or saber? Kirill Nazarenko about weapons in Corsairs Legacy

A lombard pistol I would call a tambourine because it has an extension on the barrel. This expansion was considered to contribute to the expansion of buckshot, although experiments showed that this did not contribute to the expansion of buckshot, it helped to load this pistol, it was better to hit the bell with shaking hands. And this butt-like handle looks a little unnatural. In general, I must say that I liked the Lombard pistol the least of those pistols that were offered.

Speaking of pistols in Corsairs LegacyI can offer several innovations. Firstly, I can offer a non-losing ramrod. And I can offer a system when there is no ramrod in the gun at all, it is worn separately and does not take up space on the gun. Flintlocks can be varied.

Moreover, it should be noted that the accuracy of shooting from a pistol was quite low and you can increase the playability of pistols by loading them either with a bullet, in which case you get hit or not, or with buckshot, in which case you increase the affected area, but the effectiveness decreases. In addition, rifled pistols can also be brought into the game. They should be fundamentally more expensive and reload four times slower, but they should shoot farther and much more accurately. Wherever you fired from a rifled pistol, you hit there.

I'll be happy to comment on muskets or any boarding lances when they appear in the developers.

We hope you found this article useful!

Learn more about the Corsairs Legacy - Historical Pirate RPG Simulator project and add it to your wishlist on the game's Steam page.

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