Good weapons to use for Brawling are: Club, Ax, Chainsaw, and Proton Ax. You can also use guns with empty clips, they work very well too. Note that if the clip isn't empty, you'll automatically shoot instead of Brawl (which is why I personally don't bother). You can also buy Chainsaws in Darwin. The number of ranks you have in Brawling is very important, it increases your number of attacks.
Yeah, I headed to Darwin. Um, yeah, approach at night. :) Anyway I have kevlar suits for everyone, chainsaws and the best guns their skills allow for. Vegas is a LOT easier now. I grinded to up a few levels and with Brawling the fights are still a tad tough, but I'm off to see a guy whose name is an obvious anagram of Bryan Fargo. Still looking to find out where this Proton Ax is-is it more powerful than the chainsaw? (Don't tell me where it is, I want to find this thing!)
Christ, this game is a good one.
I seem to remember there being 2 Proton Axes (though I don't remember where they were). The Proton Axe is stronger than the Chainsaw.
When using a gun as a melee weapon, it is your gun skill that influences the damage you do when you hit. Note that gun melee damage improves at a slower rate than that of pure melee weapons; however, you do get the gun's base damage, so melee-ing with a powerful energy weapon can do quite a bit of damage. The number of attacks you get, however, is still dependent on Brawling.
Note that ranged attacks are more likely to improve weapon skills than melee ones, and weapon skills are more likely to improve when attacking enemies with better defense. Of note is the Spear, which is a ranged weapon that uses the Brawling skill; throw it at an enemy with high defense and you have a good chance of increasing the skill.
Also, you don't need skill to effectively use automatic weapons; just go full auto and, unless the enemy is our of your weapon's normal range, your attacks are going to hit. (This does seem rather silly, but it's how the game works.)
By the way, anti-tank weapons ignore defense, which is why they're potentially useful in some situations. Late game, it's better to just use powerful energy weapons, but until then, anti-tank weapons have their strategic uses. Or, of coiurse, you could just sell them; they're worth a disproportionate amount of money, more than any single use item ought to be worth. You only need one character with this skill, to be honest, as their usefulness tends to be situational, especially with the need to spend a turn to equip another one after each shot. (Alternatively, give your AT weapon user Pugilism; that will allow you to do decent damage at melee range after firing your AT weapon; just remember that you still need to train Brawling for extra attacks.)
It's also worth noting that certain types of enemies have different stat trends:
* Animals often have high CON, but low defense. Melee combat works well against them, as they generally don't have ranged weapons; if there are a lot of them, you might consider automatic weapons.
* Humans have low CON, but might have high defense. Often, a single anti-tank weapon is enough to kill one, and even a weaker one might work. Otherwise, favor attacks that do a lot of damage per hit, like melee (but that's dangerous when the enemies are using guns!) or energy weapons.
* Robots typically have high CON and high defense. You might want to think twice about fighting them early, and when you do, you need high damage weapons to hurt them. Not surprisingly, these enemies are common near the end of the game (the final dungeon is full of them), but fortunately the game gives you powerful energy weapons by that point.
The Assault Rifle skill will help with those new guns.
Actually, not that much. If you are going full auto, you get such a huge accuracy bonus that your skill is largely irrelevant. In fact, if you exlude high-end energy weapons (which do high damage per hit, but have less ammo per clip), the only firearm worth using where skill actually matters is the one you can't get without glitching (the Red Ryder rifle, which does 200d6 damage).
The number of ranks you have in Brawling is very important, it increases your number of attacks.
This is true for *all* melee weapons, including guns without ammo and those weapons covered by other melee skills. However, the damage per hit is dependent on the skill in the weapon you are actually using, and it is that weapon skill that has a chance to increase when you hit an enemy. (Actually, I am not sure whether you have to hit to get a skill increase, or whether an attack that misses still counts. I am pretty sure that hitting for 0 damage does count, however.)
Specifically, each rank in the weapon skill increases the damage you do by 3d6 for proper melee weapons, and 2d6 for guns used as melee weapons.