|Damage vs. small||1d8+1d4 +1d6 (3-18)|
|Damage vs. large||1d6+2d4 +1d6 (4-20)|
|Base price||1500 zm|
As a first sacrifice gift, Cleaver is moderately useful. It is somewhat more effective than a barbarian's starting weapon, thanks to its bonuses to hit and damage. Perhaps more useful is the fact that if granted by your god, Cleaver will be rustproof, which is useful since the barbarian's two-handed starting weapon is twice as likely to be corroded by a rust trap.
In general, however, it loses its utility as the game progresses. Its damage in the late-game pales in comparison to a well-enchanted Grayswandir or Frost Brand, and even worse, it is two-handed and not intelligent. If it becomes cursed, it will leave you without use of your hands and likely require a prayer to uncurse. Remember that one cannot pray in Gehennom (the #tip extended command reduces this danger). And in 3.6.1 Cleaver can now hit up to three adjacent monsters with a single swing, making it potentially a far more powerful (and risky) melee choice.
Cleaver, like other axes, can be [a]pplied in a direction to attempt to chop. This will, over a few turns, fell trees and destroy doors. If you attempt to chop down ([>]) then you get the message "Your Cleaver merely scratches the floor."
Average damage calculation
|Weapon||Small monsters||Large monsters|
Like all artifacts with damage bonuses (as opposed to double damage), Cleaver receives a boost in SLASH'EM, for it will always give +3 to hit and +6 damage. However, the above still applies, especially given the proliferation of item-cursing spellcasters in SLASH'EM. Note, however, that non-human barbarians have a second guaranteed sacrifice gift in SLASH'EM, Deathsword. This weapon is only particularly effective against humans; as such, it mostly gets in the way of getting a better weapon, meaning some barbarians may find themselves using Cleaver for longer than they might like.
That said, given that 1/3 of neutral sacrifice gifts are non-weapons (Deluder, Gauntlets of Defense, Mirrorbright, and Whisperfeet) and another 1/4 are of limited use (Disrupter vs. non-undead, Giantkiller vs. non-giants, and Sword of Balance vs. neutrals), a neutral player who receives Cleaver early should consider himself lucky; only Magicbane and Mjollnir are more powerful as general-use neutral weapons, particularly in the early and midgame where curses are not a significant threat.