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Weapons and character animations... ???

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I am trying to wrap my head around how I would have different animations for different weapons. For a simple example, lets say I have the following combinations: LEFT | RIGHT ======================== empty | thrusting 1h empty | slashing 1h empty | crush 1h shield | thrusting 1h shield | slashing 1h shield | crush 1h duel weild polearm | empty staff | empty thrusting 2h | empty slashing 2h | empty crushing 2h | empty Now then, just for this example, lets say 'melee skills' is one main skill tree, where you can have the same attack for several weapon types. How would you suggest to implement the attack animation? So say I have two or three attack styles... basicAttack, afterParryAttack, and surpriseAttack. So now how do I say: if the user presses the surprise attack, play surprise attack animation for the weapon in the users hands, unless they don't succeed in the attack, then play the miss animation for the weapon the user is holding. Also note that the user could, at any time, pick up or put down a weapon so it would change the weapon type. IE: switching from 2h to s/s or s/s to duel weild, etc. This doesn't even go into several skill trees, weapon attacks, etc, etc. It sounds to me like I'll have to have several hundred animations.

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Well, I haven't implemented my weapons system yet, but I had planned to do it as you said. I didn't have an idea to do it somehow else, unfortunately :(

But I won't let the player switch his weapon while he has engaged someone in melee combat (at least not if he is being attacked or attacking someone).

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