The Hand Axe blade, in the form of the "Tovarisch" weapon, is Short (one handed) Tier 1 Axe blade. It is the second Starting Weapon available to Ashley, after the "Fandango" Scimitar weapon Ashley begins the game with, and before the Gastraph Bow. Like all but one of the starting weapons, it is obtained in a chest, in the Worker's Breakroom. It is Edged Type like the Fandango, and when it is acquired, the only clear weakness enemies have is the Bats' and Wolves' weakness to Pierce, with the first Piercing weapon, Rapier, yet to be found. Tovarisch is Russian for "comrade".
Recommended: Kill the required enemies in Catacombs and Sanctum to obtain a Battle Axe and Francisca, respectively. Hand Axe (with accumulated Class bonuses) + Francisca = Francisca (with most or all of the Class bonuses). Francisca + Battle Axe = Tabarzin. Kill for Tabarzins and Chamkaqs in Undercity West to complete the line all the way to Crescent as shown below
It is only recommended to keep the Hand Axe in the the Axe Design line if one takes great care to kill the required enemies in Sanctum for a Tier 3 Francisca. To a lesser extent, it is also a good idea to farm for a Battle Axe. That is not to say that Axes are not valuable; being able to be used with a Shield makes them very valuable indeed to Ashley's survival against the deadliest attacks in Vagrant Story: multi-location-hitting magic attacks. It is the Hand Axe itself that is inferior. It makes no superior combinations with any Axe, nor any other blades; the only way it can be incorporated into the Axe Design line is to Devolve higher Tier blades or, as recommended, combine it with a T3 Francisca to keep its bonuses. The earliest Combination it can make is with Tier 6 Chamkaq in Undercity West to make Tier 2 Battle Axe; this an enormous waste of good Tiers this early in the game, and the first Battle Axe can be obtained almost at the beginning of the game, in Catacombs, and another in Sanctum, and another at 26/255 in Town Center West, and three more on Goblins in First Abandoned Mines.
So say we had ignored this advice, and had created a Battle Axe. All well and good? Well, no, because the Axe line presents difficulty a second time, with Tier 3 Francisca being very rare: the Theology Classroom in the Sanctum has a locked-door battle, then if Ashley returns, there is a Ghoul that drops a Francisca at 8/255. The text in the source material is not clear, but it appears as though this spawn may even disappear once Ashley leaves the Sanctum. Franciscas can also be used to incorporate Hand Axe bonuses, with Hand Axe + Francisca = Francisca
The choice, from easiest to hardest, is between Hand Axe and no farming, or no farming after Battle Axe and before Chamkaq, farming one Francisca to convert the Hand Axe, or farming a Battle Axe and two Franciscas to make a Chamkaq from scratch. Why not, Hand Axe etc until Tabarzin? Because that drops in Undercity West also. Between the Tabarzins and the Chamkaqs, Undercity West has the drops to make the top Tier Axe:
Axe Design Line:
- Battle Axe + Francisca = Tabarzin
- Tabarzin + Francisca = Chamkaq
- Chamkaq + Tabarzin = Tabar
- Tabar x 2 = Bullova
- Bullova x 2 = Crescent
Furthermore, because Tabarzins and Chamkaqs can be obtained fairly easily, the choice is really between having stronger weapons earlier or stronger weapons later. The farming time would be similar. And class bonuses make a weapon stronger, so...keeping the Hand Axe bonuses is probably the best choice for early, and then making a Tabar or higher and starting over with Class bonuses.
Later in the game, there is an easily accessible first-playthrough DAMASCUS Tabar drop in Those Who Fear the Light in Temple of Kiltia; collect four and combine to make the ultimate Axe, Crescent. The Tovarisch blade cannot be integrated into any Damascus blades, as the Godhands workshop in which both precious and non-precious metals can be worked, is not available until the middle of a New Game Plus.
Hand Axe Combine Edit
But what to do with the Hand Axe's Class and Affinity bonuses? With so few weapons to choose from at the start of the game, it is likely that this blade will acquire a great deal of affinity bonuses, so it is worthwhile searching for a good combine target.
Possible combine targets: The Hand Axe blade, in the form of the "Tovarisch" weapon, is the second available to Ashley. It makes no superior combinations with any Axe, nor any other blades. The Rapier, Broad Sword, and Glaive are therefore better at carrying their Class and Affinity bonuses on to higher Tiers; or it will be necessary to search for a good combine target for the Hand Axe.
One possibility is to combine the Hand Axe with the Gastraph Bow Starting Weapon, preserving both bonuses to an extent (or fully, if the bonuses are different Classes and equal in value, see All High). The result is a Broad Sword, which follows Progression. It has to compete for this with the Goblin Club, which also combines with the Bow for a Broad Sword. For a different result, the Battle Knife, the Gastraph Bow can also be used with a Langdebeve Starting Weapon. Battle Knife is Progressive; it combines with the admittedly very rare Dirk
- Axe Progression: Not recommended, as the line can be raised to maximum level very early, as noted above. Chamkaqs drop from skeletons in Undercity West and Lizards in City Walls South. Combined with Hand Axe, they make a Battle Axe. A Francisca blade from the "Sweet Sorrow" in the chest in The Warrior's Rest in The Keep will combine with a Battle Axe to make a Tabarzin. With another Chamkaq, a Tabar is created. Tabars in non-precious metals actually drop at a lower rate (8/255) than the ones in Damascus (16/255) or Silver (26/255), but they can be found in Undercity West, Second Abandoned Mines, Limestone Quarry, First Iron Maiden and Second Iron Maiden. Two Tabars will make the penultimate Axe, Bullova, and two Bullovas, a Crescent.
- Katana from Grissom's summoned Dark Crusader in Snowfly Forest + Hand Axe = Broad Sword. Believe it or not, this result is actually a very useful item, despite there already being a Broad Sword found in the chest in the Catacombs. Even with these Broad Swords and chest items, it is still necessary to farm Katana drops to make even the penultimate Greatsword, Nodachi, in the first playthrough. Luckily, Katanas drop at an unusually healthy 10% rate from the Crimson Blade Exequator in Rue Volnac in Town Center South. The recipe for the Nodachi will then be: two Broad Swords and three Katanas. For the process, see Great Sword.
- Not recommended, but the fourth weapon available to Ashley, the Rapier found on Mandel in the Room of Cheap Red Wine in the Wine Cellar, combines with a Katana to make a Katana. Only one Broad Sword drops, at a 3% rate instead of 10%, but one-armed Zombie Knight outside the Work of Art workshop is much easier to kill, and can be respawned using the nearby teleport circle.
- Balbriggan in a chest in the Stone and Sulfurous Fire room in the Limestone Quarry + Hand Axe devolves into Sabre Halberd. A Large Crescent to turn it back into a Balbriggan drops at over 10% from a Hierwind Crimson Blade in the Rue Morgue area of Town Center South. A Sabre Halberd to turn the Balbriggan into a Double Blade can be found in the Delusions of Happiness room in the Second Abandoned Mines, and a second Double Blade to create the ultimate Great Axe weapon, Halberd, can be found in a chest in The Branks room in the First Iron Maiden.
- Firangi in the chest in the courtyard of The Keep (The Warrior's Rest) + Hand Axe = Scimitar. Should the player decide to morph the starting Scimitar weapon away from the Sword progression, then morphing the Hand Axe into a Spatha to combine with a Rapier will restore the Sword line.
The Wooden Grip Handle it comes with, with its higher Blunt Type, should be replaced with the slightly later Czechan Type and all successive new grips, as they are all higher in Edged. Gems, therefore, which usually tend to be a more important consideration, are a consideration already taken care of. Class, Affinity and Type are all divided by four and then added directly to the weapon's Strength value in the Damage formula. For example, Wooden Grip has five Blunt, for 1.25% of Str, compared with 3.75% for Minor Elemental gems such as Sylphid Topaz, and the same for Minor Nemesis gems such as Iocus.