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huntwj July 22, 2015 08:29

AC in 3.5.1
Hey folks, long time reader, first time poster here...

I'm a beginner to middling player. I've gotten down below dungeon level 40 a few times, but I almost always die before stat gain. That being said, my "theoretical knowledge" of the game is probably a bit better than my "practical knowledge."

Anyway, that's just some context. The real question is "how does AC *really* affect the game?" The reason I'm asking is that I have three pieces of armor that are each pretty nice, but the effect of AC will greatly determine which I choose:

* White Dragon Scale Mail of Craftsmanship [14,+26]
* Metal Brigandine Armour (Dwarven) (-3) [48,+22] <+2, +1>
* Bar Chain Mail of Elvenkind (-2) [45,+9] <+1> {RSound}

My character, a mage, is currently level 27 on DL 31, and I have the basic resistances from my Wicker Shield of Resistance [2,+16]. As a result, the Elvenkind armor seems like a "put in the home in case I get a better shield" option. I have been using the DSM for several levels now, and I really like the breath weapon activation of it. It really makes my mana last longer. The Dwarven armor, though, seems to have a *ton* of AC and some stat bonuses to boot. Granted, they are physical stats, and I'm a caster.

What are your thoughts. I'm looking for not just a selection but also an explanation behind it. The "because" is far more interesting to me. :)

Thanks in advance!

Estie July 22, 2015 11:07

This topic is somewhat debated. Here is what I do:

When picking armor, there are 3 things to consider:

1. the magical effects (resists, stats etc)
2. the AC
3. the detrimental effects: minus to hit, weight, mana reduction

1. will dominate the decision. If I dont have resist base otherwise, I will use an armour with it even if I dont like the base type.

In early and mid game, 3. comes next. Heavy armor is likely to reduce speed; even if it doesnt at the moment, it is going to once I have found/picked up all the consumables I want to carry: scrolls, potions, rods, staves, wands. Mana reduction is also a factor: even if wearing the heavy armor doesnt reduce my mana now, it might if I find more gear that is heavy, like a metal shield or steel helm I might want to use for their magical properties.

For me, this far outweighs the advantage of AC: AC reduces mostly melee damage. In melee, I fight till I get low on health, then use phase door and heal up to re-enter melee and finish the fight. So what AC does is to reduce the amount of phase/heal needed. However, a reduction in speed works counter to this since you take more damage when slow; furthermore, speed (and mana) reductions apply their disadvantages not only in melee, but also in all other situations which are often more dangerous than melee. I dont want a dragon double moving me when its breath takes away 1/2 of my hit points.
The to hit malus is negligible, I ignore it.

The situation changes in the lategame, when str and int are maxed or close to it. I dont really care wether my speed is 33 or 32, or my mana 280 or 260.
In this case, I pick the highest AC available. The magical effects still dominate the decision though, I will pick an armour that plugs an important resist hole over a high AC one.


-With a low str character, say a gnome mage, I wont use heavy armour early on no matter what: if Isildur would put me at -4 speed, Id rather go naked without resist base covered than equip it.

-I remember one ironman game when I ran out of both heals and phase door. I was rather desperate, but a very ood adamantite plate mail providing ~100 AC dropped. I equipped it, it put me at something like speed -5. However, it also made me basically immune to the orcs populating those depth, so I could melee them without needing consumables.
This was ironman, in a normal game I would have just recalled and bought new consumables, not bothering with the armor. The risk of death to a magic attacker was still high, but I could farm orcs. Eventually I found more phasedoor scrolls and cure potions and dumped the armor.

So in your case, I would continue to use the dragon armor, storing both elven and dwarven ones in case the setup changes. I assume you have FA covered (otherwise use dwarven armor); if you find the dragon breath useful, res sound and +1 stealth arent worth the extra weight or mana reduction.

Edit: typo

huntwj July 23, 2015 00:15

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I ended up doing exactly as you suggested, though no doubt for all the wrong reasons. :)

Again, thanks.

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