1:) type of weapon shouldn't be an entirely different class.
-- why should my axe guy be so different from sword guy? both are strong melee fighter guys.
Axes are very different from swords. Swords are precision weapons, from the long dagger to the English Longsword. Axes are what you use to get around shields (the blade protrudes outward, therefore they get a few inches over a sword when it comes to getting around shields), get through armor (swords, you thrust into the weaker or unprotected joints. Axes, hammers, and maces all just deliver crushing blows), and are generally a sort of cross between sword and hammer. Also, they're better at chopping down trees, so they're useful for setting up a base in a forest. Now, give the shield a spade shape, and put a slot in the bottom with a hole for a rivet, and get a pole fitted for it also with a hole for a rivet, and you've got a way to set up earth-and-wood defenses just using your basic war gear.