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Flail
Location: Europe
Common Construction: Wooden grip with a metal chain

The flail was originally a farm implement used to separate wheat from chaff. In this capacity it was usually two wooden blocks attached by a leather rope or steel chain. However, its usefulness as a weapon created the flail most people know today as the spiked ball attached to a chain.

Flails have many advantages in combat. First of all, in order to block an attack, the defender must block the metal ball specifically. If he manages to only contact the chain, then the ball will swing around his shield and hit him in the arm or the hand. Flails are typically swung horizontally to take advantage of this wrap around effect.

Flails also have the advantage of being able to damage the body through heavy armor like a warhammer. Although the ball may not dent or pierce the armor, the force of the blow may break the bones beneath it. The shock of the blow does not transfer back to the wielder like it would with a conventional weapon.

However, the flail has disadvantages as well. Flails cannot be used to parry, and there is a set distance in which they are effective. You cannot use flails in extremely tight quarters, nor can you lunge with a flail to hit a distant enemy. Flails are also more of a danger to your comrades than a traditional weapon.

Some flails are purported to have had many separate balls and chains attached to a single handle. This was probably not a practical weapon of war, and more likely an incorrect extrapolation of the whip version of a flail that is used in punishment such as a scourge or tawse.

History, Mace, Medieval Europe, Weapon


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