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I have these armor types:

  • LEATHER
  • MAIL
  • PLATE

which are, basically, light, medium and heavy, and these weapon types:

  • BLADE
  • PIERCE
  • BLUNT

I need a sensible 3x3 table which tells what armor type is succeptible to (and, possibly, good against, though it's not necessary) which damage type. In other words, how good the mail armour actually is against pikes/arrows, etc... Any ideas?

P.S. Wikipedia search and personal gameplay experience didn't help me too much, as both are mostly concluding: the heavier, the better.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So you want a conceptual question, not an implementation one, is that right? \$\endgroup\$
    – MAnd
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MAnd Yes, that's right. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Concerning your edit, that's not how questions work here. You have to ask a new question. Especially when you already selected an answer as correct. Wound types never were the object of your question. \$\endgroup\$
    – ElDuderino
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ElDuderino +1 I really just added it as an afterthought, although the question was specific about asking what armor type is succeptible to... which damage type. I'll remove the edit to comply with the site requirements. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 3:57

4 Answers 4

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The best way I've seen to give benefits to leather are (a) to give it increased mobility and (b) it being treated as beneficial against (certain) elemental attacks as in Might & Magic VI - presumably the assumption is that leather has some innate organic property that works well against the elements and/or magic forms (at least for cold and electricity, this is clearly true).

Obviously, chainmail was used for good reason and often in the areas like neck, skirts, arm joints etc. - at least until far more advanced jointed armour appeared close to or during the renaissance. So for cost and amount of material used, chainmail is conceivably better than plate - the obvious exception being against crushing attacks such as dealt by maces or hammers.

I'd do something like this, though it adds factors to what you've mentioned (hope okay) for balance:

      Leath Chain Plate
Slash 1     2     2
Pierc 0     1     2
Blunt 0     1     2
Elemn 2     0     1
Mobil 2     1     0
-------------------
TOTAL 5     6     7  <- plate still best overall.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Weren't plate armours, like, almost imperviable to slashing weapons? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StefanStanković Yes. That's what 2 denotes. Feel free to modify the numbers - this is highly subjective. It is just a start point for you. Game design is an iterative process, trial and error. \$\endgroup\$
    – Engineer
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I decided on using tables with {-1, 0, 1} instead of {0, 1, 2}, but the answer sums it up neatly. I'd be glad if you checked this one also, but don't feel obliged. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 22:11
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Your conclusion that "the heavier the better" is not wrong. You have to think of it in terms of an important detail of these game-design issues: trade-offs. It's generally important to make game choices have different costs, so the player can balance her/his choices depending on the gameplay she/he aims, knowing that each choice will have game-play cost (besides buying the item, of course).

So, suppose as you said, a 3x3 matrix that describes loosely the relationship between each weapon and each armor. The trade-off can be put either directly within the matrix, or left to an external element that is outside the matrix. Let's see.

1) Trade-off inherent to the weapon/armor relationship (within the matrix)

For example. If you think of weapon-armor relationships in which each weapon is more suited for each type of armor, your matrix is similar to the following:

      Leather Mail Plate
Blunt    +     -    -
Pierce   -     +    -
Blade    -     -    +

+ = strong; - = weak

In that, you can clearly see that Blunt is better for Leather, Piece is better for Mail and Blade is better for Plate. So in that example Blade against Leather is not as effective as Blunt against Leather. Here, the trade-off is given by the matrix, is inherent to the matrix: when you choose a weapon, you already know that you will be the better equipped against one type of enemy, but less equipped against another type. That's what typically is the case with fire/water specialization spells in RPG games

2 ) Trade-off by an element outside the weapon/armor relationship (outside the matrix)

However, someone could argue that in that specific example, it is not very realistic that Blade is less effective against Leather than Blunt. Blade is powerful against any of these armors. So, someone could instead think of a different type of relationship matrix for these armors and weapons:

      Leather Mail Plate
Blunt    +     -    -
Pierce   +     +    -
Blade    +     +    +

+ = strong; - = weak;

Notice that now, there is no trade-off within the matrix: Blade is the best choice because it's good against three types of armors. Pierce is the second best and Blunt is the worst because it's only good against Leather armor. So, to avoid Blade being the obvious choice ever, the trade-off is put outside the matrix, i.e. in an element that is not represented in the matrix. For instance, armor and weapon weight (and its consequences to mobility, agility, etc).

That's why armor/weapon powers vs. mobility/agility is indeed among the most common trade-offs. For example. The reason for the armor to follow the path "the heavier the better" is because while you get more protection from the better armor, they might make you slower, or diminish your ability to carry more items. Then, you trading strength per agility, or even defense per attack if in your game agility is important for attacking.

In another front, weapons can also follow the heavier-the-better rule for similar reasons. Heavier swords of course tend to do more damage in a medieval-ish setting. But they have to occupy both hand s of the character, or make she/he hit less times per minute, etc.


All that said for conceptual explanation as you asked, nothing prevents you from thinking of armors and weapons in different ways. If you are not happy with the second type of matrix, you can certainly aim for the first. It means, you can choose weapons and armors that are each appropriate for each case instead of relaying on external elements to create the trade-off.

So, to sum up, there is no single answer for your question. The most correct answer is: you have to choose a trade-off between what the armor or weapon gives to the player, and what it takes from the player (i.e. in terms of gameplay mechanics, besides the cost to buy). If the power vs. agility/mobility does not appeal to you, you can totally come up with another more fitting to your game depending on its characteristics.

EDIT: note that the answer was heavy edited for clarity, although the content is the same.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Concerning agility in plate armour : youtube.com/watch?v=zvCvOC2VwDc at around 1:20... \$\endgroup\$
    – ElDuderino
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, I can only accept one answer. +1 For the effort and trade-off diferentiation! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 4:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StefanStanković haha, not a problem at all! And many thanks for the feedback. You are most welcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – MAnd
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 9:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would flip the pierce/blade defense of mail and plate, but the principle is dead on correct. Creating a sort of rock-paper-scissors balance will create a sound foundation for interesting game choices -- as long as other aspects of the game don't totally nerf one of the aspects from the outside (blades and plate both mute magical influence, for example -- POOF! suddenly blades and plate are obvious things to avoid and/or hand to your enemies). \$\endgroup\$
    – zxq9
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 12:32
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It's been a while since I've played, but the types of armor and damage you've listed, are pretty much exactly what Dark Age of Camelot uses (with some added flair). I don't think I could come up with anything better.

The following is from my memory. It's been ages since I've played, so there might be slight inconsistencies.

       Cloth Leather Mail  Plate
Blunt    =     =       -     +
Pierce   =     -       +     =
Blade    =     +       =     -
Magic    =     =       =     =

As you can see, I've added a new armor type: cloth. Let's ignore that for now.

While this looks similar to the tables the others have provided, I still think it's the best and most realistic of them all. Of course some choices are up for debate, e.g. blunt vs. plate (are you breaking the plates rather than poking around them?), but it works pretty well overall.

As for the other armor types vs. damage types you can clearly see that each and every weapon and armor has one strength (+), one weakness (-), and one neutral (=) counter-part. This ensures that there's never any significant (dis)advantage.

What do those modifiers mean? If some weapon is effective, it will deal 50% extra damage, while being ineffective will deal 25% less damage (50% sounds a bit extreme here).

To spice things up, armor items in DAoC give you a specific amount of armor rating per level. Leather and mail armor both grant you 100% of that value, plate provides 125%, and cloth only 50%. (Spellcasters have their own spells to double their armor rating, which makes cloth unattractive for others, while countering this disadvantage.)

But does this make plate armor the best choice again? Not necessarily. This really depends on many other factors. In DAoC you were simply forced to wear some specific armor type at most, based on your class. For example, a sorcerer could only wear cloth, while a paladin could wear any armor.

More recent games, like The Elder Scrolls Online, allow the player far more flexibility. To balance things out, they tie specific passive bonuses to armor pieces, based on their classification.

So rather than using the armor modifiers (50%/100%/125%) above, in your own game you could grant cloth a bonus to mana and/or spellcasting, or just magic defense. Leather could gain benefits when using endurance focused things (archery or stealth), and plate would still retain better defenses or simply more health. Chain armor could remain as a neutral choice in the middle.

Of course you could mix and match all of them, but this is really just a question of your actual game mechanic design.

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What about a simple 2d array?

First define

int leather = 0;
int mail = 1;
int plate = 2;
int blade = 0;
int pierce = 1;
int blunt = 2;

float[][] effectiveness = new float[][] {{1.5f,1.0f,0.5f},{,,},{,,}};
//this is for blade, as blade is the first, so 1.5x effectiveness vs leather, 1.0f vs mail, 0.5f vs plate, fill in the others as needed

then you can just do :

float factor = effectiveness[blade][leather];
//blade and leather will then be replaced with your units stat.

and you get a factor which determines how much more or less damage you do with your weapon vs the armor type.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, but my main problem is HOW these interact. And I'm allready using enum. I'll clarify the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ As written in the answer, you get a factor that determines how good it is. You have to come up with the factor, you are the designer. Or do you want historically accurate numbers? \$\endgroup\$
    – ElDuderino
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, though not really in exact coefficients, mostly like prevents most damage or easilly penetrated, with a plus or a minus... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, good call. I'll just add a utility boolean matrix. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 21:45

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