There are few weapons to choose from at the start of the game, relative to the number possible, but a large number relative to the three that are required to be prepared with Class or Type bonuses against any opponent. The Starting Weapons, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the low-Tier Combinations, are designed to not makeProgressions: superior combinations with another weapons of the same Design. Broad Sword and Rapier will fit into Progressions creating higher-Tier weapons, but the rest cannot combine usefully with their own Design at all, and must be used to devolve (Mismatch) into weapons that can then be used to create higher-Tier weapons. Scramasax would Progress, but it is SILVER, and there are few Dirks and no SILVER ones.
Not all of the blades are Tier 1; both Swords are higher; Scimitar is level 2, Rapier is a Tier 3, and the Glaive Polearm is Tier 2 as well. They are included because of the early timing and the guaranteed accessibility.
The primary characteristic of the Starting Weapons, other than the obvious lowered attack power, is a degree of difficulty in incorporating them into the Combination process fruitfully, where they combine with other Blades to make better, higher Tier blades; a process known as Progression. This is because all of these weapons' Blades have a chance of acquiring a great deal of Class bonuses as Ashley will be fighting many enemies before higher Tier weapons are found. The developers want to create a tension between raising the power of weapons with Class and Affinity bonuses, and raising their power with higher Tier. Players who wish both will find it worthwhile searching for a good combine target. One likely Design target is Polearms. There is a shortage of Polearm blades as drops or in chests, and there is a large number of Tiers to Progress through. Polearms, except for a few in the higher Tiers, offer the Pierce damage that many enemies are weak to, without the low range that makes fighting with Daggers so challenging. In fact, they have the longest range of any weapon except Crossbows and the Hand of Light Heavy Mace. Polearms are in the top three damage dealers also, once the higher Tiers are reached. Getting there is more difficult than with other weapons; 6th Tier Awl Pikes have to be crafted, 8th Tier Fauchards do not drop until a New Game Plus, the 9th Tier Voulge disappears from City Walls North to be replaced by the Dragon Training Dummy, and nothing higher ever drops (a chest has a 10th Tier Pole Axe in a second playthrough).
The combination strategy with Starting Weapons is the same as with other weapons in that there are two paths. One can combine two blades of the same Design (usually consecutive Tiers, but sometimes the same Tier or near-consecutive) to get a Progression that is better than either blade. Or one can combine a blade of one Design with the same or similar Tier of another Design, to get a Mismatch; a blade that is a third Design unlike the other two. This strategy can only be used later, and it is costly in that it uses up blades of the same, usually high Tier, but it offers the advantage of using up more easily obtained Designs. An example is Mace, where the third-highest Tier of War Hammer is easily obtained in Town Center East; gather four of them and you have a War Maul. Crossbows, Great Axes, Great Swords, Heavy Maces and Swords also drop at the same rate in Town Center East, but they are all a Tier or more lower. Such a strategy is costly, but so is throwing away accumulated hours of Class and Affinity.
Ashley begins the game with the "Fandango" weapon with its Scimitar Tier 2 Sword blade. Tier 2 weapons usually combine in a Progression, but Scimitar does not. Tier 1 of Swords is Spatha, and it does combine to make a higher Tier weapon; together with the fourth Starting Weapon (and second Sword) Rapier, it makes a Short Sword. A significant number of the Starting Weapons can be transformed with Mismatch combinations to make a Spatha.
"Seventh Heaven" weapon with a Tier 1 Crossbow blade from a chest in the The Reckoning Room in the Wine Cellar. Strong for early game, and like all bows, tremendous range, but builds up RISK quickly. It is recommended that it be kept a bow and not Mismatched, see Gastraph Bow. It is also a two-handed weapon, that cannot be used with a Shield.
"Soul Kiss" weapon with a Tier 1 Dagger blade from a chest found in the The Bandit's Hideout in the Catacombs. The first SILVER weapon, it starts already very effective against Phantoms. Almost anything is effective against Undead, and fighting Undead with it will lower the Phantom bonus, so this use is not recommended except perhaps the tiny number of Undead bosses.