- This article is about the unit ability called "Armor Piercing". For the kind of damage bestowed by this ability, and delivered by some other units and spells, see Armor Piercing Damage.
Exactly 10 units in the game possess Armor Piercing by default. 2 are Fantastic Creatures, 5 are Normal Units, and 3 are Heroes. There is no way to add the Armor Piercing ability to any unit that does not already possess it, though it is possible to enchant a Magical Item with the "Lightning" bonus and give that item to a Hero - adding Armor Piercing Damage to only one of the Hero's attacks.
There are two reasons why a unit would be classified as having Armor Piercing: It is either extremely skilled with its weaponry (capable of easily finding weaknesses in the enemy's defenses) or it utilizes some form of lightning or electricity in its attack (which bypasses armor to some degree).
The resulting effects are similar in both cases: damage goes through the target's physical armor, so the target's only method of defending itself is by dodging out of the way. As a result, targets attacked by an Armor Piercing unit will find it very hard to defend themselves, and may end up suffering most if not all of the attacker's wrath. In other words, the target's defense is not completely compromised, but it cannot rely on its armor plating alone to protect it.
This results in the target temporarily losing 50% of its Defense score for the purposes of blocking damage from this specific attack. In other words, the target can only make half as many Defense rolls (rounded down) against the attack as it would normally. Thus, since the target has fewer rolls to block incoming damage, it will likely suffer more damage from the attack.
- For example, imagine an attack made by Roland the Paladin against a group of Gargoyles guarding a Chaos Node. Roland makes his attack rolls, registering 3 hits against the target. Gargoyles have a Defense score of 10, so under normal conditions they would make 10 Defense rolls against the attack, with each roll potentially blocking 1 hit. On average, the Gargoyles can be expected to succeed with 3 rolls - meaning that the unit will likely suffer no damage ( 3 hits - 3 blocks = 0 damage).
- However, Roland has the Armor Piercing ability, so his attacks deliver Armor Piercing Damage. This means that the Gargoyles' Defense score is considered to be at half its original value, giving 5. The Gargoyles can thus only make 5 Defense rolls, and are now expected to block only 1.5 hits on average. They are now likely to suffer at least some damage from Roland's attack.
Since the effect is based on percentage (50% of the target's Defense score is lost, rounded down), targets with higher Defense scores end up losing more defensibility on the whole. This makes Armor Piercing an extremely useful ability against heavily-armored targets, such as the aforementioned Gargoyles, most Heroes, and various others. For an opposite example, a unit with 0 Defense (such as a Phantom Beast) obviously suffers no reduction, so Armor Piercing does not assist against it at all.
The reduction of the target's Defense score applies only while the target is blocking damage from the attacker's Armor Piercing attack. As soon as that attack is over, the unit's Defense score returns to normal immediately. There is no permanent loss of Defense points involved.
Affected Attack Types Edit
The Armor Piercing attack adds the Armor Piercing Damage property to the unit's Melee Attack as well as to any type of Ranged Attack it might possess. Armor Piercing is often considered a great boon for Ranged Attackers, as it allows them to do much more damage (on average) from a safe distance. Nonetheless, a Melee Attack unit with high attack strength or To Hit bonuses may become quite deadly if it possesses this ability.
When explicitly listed as an ability in a unit's information window, Armor Piercing extends its benefit to any sort of attack the unit makes that triggers a Defense roll. This encompasses both ranged and melee attacks when the creature is able to make both, and certain Special Attack components like Thrown and Breath.
A special illustrative case, Lightning Breath, is an exclusive ability of Sky Drakes. This breath attack is inherently armor-piercing, but as Sky Drakes do not have the Armor Piercing ability, their followup melee attack is not armor-piercing (though still formidable).
Units with Default Armor Piercing Edit
Also, Death Knights are the only unit to possess Armor Piercing together with a Special Attack by default (Life Steal), but this attack does not allow the target to make Defense rolls in the first place, and thus cannot benefit from Armor Piercing. Only the unit's regular Melee Attack delivers Armor Piercing Damage.
Acquiring Armor Piercing Edit
- Main article: Lightning (Item Power)
This differs from the Armor Piercing ability. The ability grants Armor Piercing Damage to each of a unit's attacks - whereas an enchanted item only adds it to one specific attack. "Lightning"-enchanted Swords and Maces add Armor Piercing Damage to the Hero's Melee Attacks only. Staves and Wands add it to the Hero's Ranged Magical Attacks. Bows add it to the Hero's Ranged Missile Attacks. Axes add it to the Hero's Melee Attack and Thrown Attack (if applicable).