I primarily use daggers when I’m not using the cudgel.
Now, before you get your pitchforks, realize that they are useless against me. Nyuck-nyuck-nyuck!
Joking aside, I want daggers to have some better balance without completely destroying them. Bring back partial parries. An imperfect parry with a dagger should impart a fraction of damage to the defender. A perfect parry will block all of it. This will add a significant skill element to using a dagger, further increasing the skill cap with it.
Hypothetical: Archer is inside Knight melee strike range, but outside his own.
Being further away, perfect parries are easier to land, as the weapon’s blows reach him in a more centralized area. However, the archer is unable to strike. He trades offensive ability for defensive ability.
Hypothetical: Archer is inside Knight melee strike range, and close enough to land strikes.
Being close, perfect parries require drastic and extremely quick reaction times. The archer may still parry, but it is more difficult to do so in a manner that would mitigate all damage. He trades defensive ability for offensive ability.
Damage imparted should still be fairly low, but enough to force the archer to learn from his mistakes and actually become better with the weapon. This will strike down the prolonged parry spam we see most prominently in duels. With a system in this design, melee battles would become a war of attrition for an unskilled dagger duelist, and a pleasant challenge for a skilled one.
This, of course, shouldn’t even be considered until the issue of insta-gibs with overhanded two-handed weapons at point blank range is addressed. M&B resolved this issue by simply applying reduced blunt damage from the grip (and not slicing from the blade), also known in the martial arts world as pommeling.