So. Question. Who here managed to make the Power Axe earn its status on the load out slot? I am not saying just "top the scoreboards as ASM no problem," but genuinely found a perk combination with an appropriate tactic that decidedly made it work better than the chainsword would with exact same tactic/perk combo?
I initially wrote the weapon off as terrible because it lacked the magic magnet property of the Chainsword, but in the pursuit of maxing out challenges, decided to give it another shot. I definitely miss a lot less due to being more familiar with the game and the weapon is definitely not useless - most notably it tends to kill ASM in 2 swings and tacs in 2-3. Buuut, generally, every time I kill someone I see that I would have gotten that kill with the Chainsword anyway; and roughly half the times I die with it, it is painfully obvious that the Chainsword would have easily pulled through in that exact situation. What really kills it for me is how easy it is to simply walk away from the Power Axe, let alone use a dodge move.
-The Chainsword's advantage of speed and tracking makes it vastly superior against Tacticals, and any damage loss against ASM is made up by the fact that those are decided by who initiates the swing chain first (which is decided before you start swinging with charges/ground pounds so the weapon is irrelevant) or who misses their swing chain (easier to miss with Power Axe, significantly easier to correct an initial miss into a working chain on the sword).
-The Chainsword's disadvantage against defensively perked devastators is unfortunately shared by the Power Axe - it cannot kill a Heavy Bolter fast enough before he turns around, so both are forced to use the same axillary tools which wash away the damage difference. Worse yet - the Devastator can use his little shuffle step to simply avoid the initial Power Axe swing and ruin any chance of hitting him. The default PC Devastator tactic against ASM is to walk backwards and shoot, something that the Power Axe also cannot deal with.
-The Hammer's shares the Power Axe's risk but reaps a far greater reward in terms of damage (AoE murderization and capacity to obliterate Devastators). Both weapons suck against Tacs, the Hammer is far superior against Devastators, and annoyingly enough, the Hammer is better suited against other ASM thanks to the Stun-Stun combo or the one hit kill swing.
Now, in spite of this, I wanted to find a perk combo that suits the Axe's primary strength - 2 swing kill, which is ultimately faster killing than the Chainsword's combo and it contacts the target faster than a Hammer swing (i.e. ruining their aim). I attempted a wide variety, so what I found is:
1. Air Cooled Thrusters is the ideal Power Axe perk. The Power Axe relies on the ability to ground pound multiple times in a fight because it simply lacks the spike damage of the hammer and tracking of the sword. Unfortunately, this highlights the main difference between the Axe and the Sword - the sword really benefits from ability to perform more jumps in a fight, but the axe needs it just to achieve par chasing power.
2. Death From Above was my immediate thought to complement the ACT due to the obvious synergy between them. Unfortunately... it didn't impact the actual 2 swings to kill story. It still took two swings to kill, which translated into the Axe playing second fiddle to the the ground pound spam. Perhaps on a perfect DFA hit it takes a single swing to wipe out a Tac/ASM, but perfect DFA hits are too much of a rarity against those classes. And ultimately, if you are relying on the ground pound spam, the Sword is the better fit because it can track the weakened targets for faster finishing.
3. Furious Charge was my next attempt to make the thing work. I combined it with ACT, DFA, Impenetrable, and Zeal. Overall, the problem turned out to be the same as DFA's - Furious Charge isn't a supporting perk, it is effectively a weapon in its own right that you use to kill people. It almost one shots Tacs/ASM, and you tend to prefer them slightly damaged before hitting with it so they are actually one shotted. The Axe damage advantage is completely pointless here, and (sensing a pattern here?) the Sword's tracking capability gave it a far better chance of catching survivors.
4. Impenetrable is a Tac/Devastator hunting perk. It had no impact on Axe performance, and thus worked better with the other two weapons. Still useful, of course.
5. Axeman's Zeal failed to provide the tremendous anti-Tac healing power that makes the Chainsword version work so well for its purpose. Still, it tied with ACT for overall usefulness because healing is great for an ASM player.
6. The rest of the perks are irrelevant to Axe's performance (though, theoretically, DFA + 1 Axe swing + Blast Off + might be on the fringes of viable if it genuinely kills things and the Sword fails to do the same).
So, my conclusion basically came down to this - any perk combination I tried, it worked better with the Sword (or Hammer if applicable). The only time I could gleam any advantage from the Axe is two hit ASM kills, but it is far too minor and comes into play far too rarely to be relevant. Thoughts? Counter arguments? Ideas on how to make the Axe find its niche? Success stories?