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Krieg’s a psycho, that much is obvious. He’s a bigger, heavier version of the enemies you spend a lot of time fighting throughout the Borderlands series (trivia alert! Krieg’s actually the heaviest vault hunter in the game!) The important distinction is that he’s a psycho on your side. The ones running at you can be pretty intimidating, especially when you’re starting out, but the massive, nonsense-spewing force of nature that is Krieg must be truly a sight to behold.
He’s Got an Axe to Grind
Krieg’s actually the first character that uses an axe as his primary weapon since we covered Connor Kenway quuuiiiite a while ago. It’s a shame, really, because axes are badass, especially when they have buzz-saws attached to them instead of your normal axe head. In theory, however, Krieg’s axe would function very similarly to Connor’s hatchet, or any other small axe (small axe being a reference to the handle length, primarily.) As such, we can definitely learn some fighting techniques to go with it!
For starters, here’s a fantastic video on medieval axe combat. There’s some history, and some discussion of types of axes, as well as actual techniques and combat.
To bring things back in Connor’s direction, here’s a great video on tomahawk fighting techniques which are definitely also applicable to buzz-axes. Very in-depth stuff, covering stance, grip, angle of attack, and more.
Battle axes, especially the larger, heavier kinds, are prone to a certain combat style. They’re different from swords in that they have a bit more weight behind them, and as such, have more momentum. This momentum can be an asset, as well as a weakness. Because of the increased momentum, the axe hits harder than a sword, so you can fare better vs. an opponent in armor, or with a shield. However, the increase momentum also means you are very committed to following through on every single strike.
You see this in the first video I posted above, when they talk about how the axe wielder needs time to build momentum, especially when wielding a heavy, two-handed axe.
So how do we deal with this? Well, we need to use a combination of intimidation, and adaptation. Krieg is, despite his psychotic tendencies, very good at adapting to a combat situation as necessary. He can wield his axe in melee range, or throw it at his opponents as necessary. Despite his fondness for melee combat, he’s still quite skilled with firearms, and can utilize them quite efficiently.
Whether or not this tactician side is a holdover from who he was before he became a wasteland psycho (whoever his “inner voice” represents,) or merely animal cunning, I can’t say, but his adaptability in combat is one of the reasons he can stay alive for so long, despite his near-suicidal tendencies to charge, headfirst and shirtless, into combat.
To be like Krieg, you need to remember that even in the heat of combat, you should make use of all the tools you have available to you. You should attempt to predict your opponent’s movements, and counter them accordingly. You should use momentum to your advantage, and not let your opponent use it against you.
Obviously Krieg spends a lot of time getting hit. It’s kind of his job, as the resident berserker of the Vault Hunter crew. It’s important, however, to know when and how you can get hit, and still typically keep on trucking. Now, to keep in mind here, I’m speaking mostly to blunt force trauma, here, from hands and feet. When it comes to projectile and edged weapons, I’d advise you just avoid getting hit entirely. Life’s not a video game, those things will put you down quick.
So, here’s my recommendations of what you should and should not prioritize guarding.
Obviously getting hit in the head is pretty undesirable, but there are some areas in particular you definitely want to avoid. They are, in no particular order, your temple, your jaw, your chin, your eyes, your nose and the back of your head. Generally speaking, your forehead, crown, and sides of your head can take a hit a bit better than those regions, so if you have to take a hit in the head, try to direct it to one of those spots.
Frequently it’s preferable to take a body shot over a head shot, simply because the odds of instant consciousness loss and/or concussions are much lower. However, there are still some areas you want to protect. Your kidneys, your liver, and your sternum/solar plexus are definitely bad areas. Your stomach isn’t much better, even if you have killer abs. Your ribcage can, in general, take a shot or two, though. The bones there are pretty damn good at resisting blunt force trauma, though I wouldn’t advise taking a baseball bat or a hammer there (obviously.)
For the most part, your arms are your preferred “blocking” implements. The general rule of thumb is you want to take shots on the outsides of your forearms/upper arms, and keep the soft squishy inner parts to yourself. Your forearms can be a little fragile from the sides, so watch for that, but in general, your arms can take a lot of punishment.
Your legs are pretty sturdy as well, but keep in mind that injuring them seriously can end a fight as quickly as a shot to the head. Guard your inner thigh, your knees, the tops of your feet, and the backs of your knees in particular. Generally speaking you can take a shot to the outer thigh or the shinbone, though it will probably hurt like hell.
Krieg’s situational awareness actually seems to be higher than his self awareness, as demonstrated in his intro video with Maya. Situational awareness is actually a skill you can practice relatively easily, too! Personally, I like doing it in large groups or social settings, like when going to the mall or hanging out at a party. Really, it’s a simple as working at little harder at paying attention to what’s going on around you.
Try to grab snippets of conversation as you walk past folks. Observe people out of the corner of your eye and see how much information you can absorb and interpret without actually focusing your eyes on them. Take note of people’s habits, motions they might repeat when interacting with other people or objects. See how quickly you can pick out the stressed people, the disinterested people, or the angry people in a big crowd.
You want to particularly pay close attention to emotional extremes, distress, and nervousness. Generally speaking, if a threat is going to emerge, its from people who are obviously uncomfortable in some way. Train your eyes to look for these first whenever you’re in a setting with tons of people. I’m not saying become paranoid, but being more in touch with what’s going on around you is definitely never a bad thing! Just make sure you don’t start talking about poo trains or cockatiels, okay?
That’s it for How to Ride a Meat Bicycle! I’ll see you again on Monday for The Sentimental Psycho. Until then, as always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace