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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.
Ability ArmorPiercing
Armor Piercing is one of the many Unit Abilities available in Master of Magic. A unit with Armor Piercing delivers Armor Piercing Damage with each of its Melee Attacks and Ranged Attacks (if any). Such attacks will halve the Icon Defense.png Defense score of the target temporarily, reducing its ability to block damage from the affected attack. This makes the attack particularly useful against heavily-armored opponents, but will also help when fighting lightly-armored ones.

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.

Description Edit

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.

Effect Edit

Whenever a unit possessing Armor Piercing makes a Melee Attack or Ranged Attack against another unit, the attack delivers Armor Piercing Damage (in addition to any other Damage Types it has).

This results in the target temporarily losing 50% of its Icon Defense.png Defense score for the purposes of blocking damage from this specific attack. In other words, the target can only make half as many Icon Defense.png 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 Icon Defense.png 10, so under normal conditions they would make 10 Icon Defense.png 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 (Icon ToHit.png 3 hits - Icon ToBlock.png 3 blocks = Icon Damage.png 0 damage).
However, Roland has the Armor Piercing ability, so his attacks deliver Armor Piercing Damage. This means that the Gargoyles' Icon Defense.png Defense score is considered to be at half its original value, giving Icon Defense.png 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 Icon Defense.png Defense score is lost, rounded down), targets with higher Icon Defense.png 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 Icon Defense.png 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 Icon Defense.png 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 Icon Defense.png Defense score returns to normal immediately. There is no permanent loss of Icon Defense.png 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 Icon ToHit.png 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 Icon Defense.png 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, Icon Breath Lightning.png  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

Exactly 10 units in the game have Armor Piercing by default. 5 of these are Normal Units, 2 are Fantastic Creatures, and 3 are Heroes.

Normal Units Edit

Tactical ElvenLords Elven Lords
Tactical Griffins Griffins
Tactical HighMenPikemen High Men Pikemen
Tactical NomadPikemen Nomad Pikemen
Tactical Paladins Paladins

Fantastic Units Edit

Tactical DeathKnights Death Knights
Tactical StormGiant Storm Giant

Heroes Edit

Tactical Hero Mortu Mortu the Black Knight
Tactical Hero Roland Roland the Paladin
Tactical Hero Warrax Warrax the Chaos Warrior

Note that of these, Warrax and Storm Giant are the only units that have an Armor Piercing Ranged Attack by default.

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 Icon Defense.png 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

Normal Units and Fantastic Units that do not have Armor Piercing by default cannot acquire this ability by any other means.

Heroes, however, may add an AP Damage component to one of their attacks by equipping a Magical Item imbued with the "Lightning" item power.

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).

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