From levels 1-45 I used Axe + Shield exclusively.
I "knew" I wouldn't miss Shield Break cause I solo'd 1-45 (352 xp from 46), I certainly knew I wouldn't miss Iron Tempest because it pretty much blows.
However, I had a feeling I was missing out on Sturmwind. So, while completing some quests that required a lot of travel (some of it on foot) here and there, I decided to pick up a GAX and level it.
I wish I had done so waaaay sooner.
Mobs that took a lil while to kill with Axe + Shield are now dying much faster and I'm not feeling the hit in my survivability, seeing as how GAX seems to generate better TP for my Curing Waltz's.
Sturmwind is also really awesome. I didn't know what I was missing. Occasionally it produces lack-luster damage, but that's only very occasional.
And then I hit GAX skill 100 (I'm in E. Altepa Desert). Armor Break is simply orgasmic. I'm able to start every battle with it, immediately followed by a Quickstep, and I've effectively upped my damage per swing by about 20-30, which, to me, also given the increased TP gain (Sturmwind delivers 2 hit but I get "regualar" TP +1, whereas Armor Break delivers 1 hit for regular TP, and the damage I was "missing out on" by not using Sturmwind is made up for over the course of the battle, providing regular TP per swing and amounting to enough TP over the course of the fight to start the next one with an Armor Break).
Basically, even though I've heard all the preaching about GAX, I still thought I was doing great with Axe + Shield.
Having tried it myself and experiencing Armor Break I can say I'm a full convert.
Edit: Just used Armor Break on a Beetle and got a 1 TP return, meaning, if I know anything about WS TP returns, that DA procced but the first swing missed. In that instance, does the AB effect still proc?
Edited, May 31st 2010 3:18pm by Roller