- This article is about a Damage Type called "Armor Piercing Damage". For the unit ability with a similar name, see Armor Piercing.
Armor Piercing Damage (or AP Damage for short, and sometimes called Lightning Damage) is a type of Special Damage that can be delivered by various units as part of their attacks, as well as by various spells. An attack delivering Armor Piercing Damage halves the effectiveness of the target's armor. Thus, any attack containing AP Damage will inflict more damage to its target, on average.
Armor Piercing Damage is actually a much more complex concept than it sounds, and can be difficult to understand as a separate Damage Type since it inflicts no actual Damage on the target whatsoever. An attack delivering AP Damage must deliver it in tandem with other damage types, commonly just Melee Damage or Magical Damage, as these will be the components that actually hurt the target. AP Damage only makes it easier to inflict that damage, by reducing the target's Defense score temporarily.
Armor Piercing Damage is fairly common as a default component in the attacks of several Normal Units, Fantastic Units and even some Heroes, thanks to their innate Armor Piercing ability. Furthermore, Heroes may be equipped with "Lightning" weapons. These will add an AP Damage component to one of the Hero's attacks.
Units with Lightning Breath also deliver Armor Piercing Damage as a component of this specific attack type. Finally, at least one lightning-base combat spell delivers an AP Damage component, and several others may as well (research is pending).
Armor Piercing Damage is responsible for halving the target's Defense score temporarily, making it easier for an attack to get through the target's armor. It delivers no actual damage on its own, relying on other components of the attack to do so. The target's Defense is restored once the attack is concluded.
Defense Penalty Edit
Whenever an attack containing an Armor Piercing Damage component strikes any target on the battlefield, the target's ability to defend against this attack is halved and rounded down.
In technical terms, the target may only make half as many Defense rolls against the AP Damage attack, and is thus more vulnerable to the other Damage Types that this same attack also delivers, if any.
For example, lets take a target unit with 7 Defense. Normally, it would make 7 Defense Rolls against any incoming Melee Attack, potentially blocking a fairly large amount of the incoming Melee Damage. However if the same attack includes an AP Damage component, that target can only make 3 Defense rolls against it. Thus, the target will suffer much more of the incoming Melee Damage (on average) from this enhanced attack.
The same principle would apply when using Armor Piercing Ranged Attacks, which deliver Ranged Damage and AP Damage together. The target's Defense score is halved by AP Damage, allowing the Ranged Damage (or Magical Damage) to get through more easily.
The Defense penalty is percentage-based: exactly 50%, rounded down. Therefore, the higher the target's original Defense score, the more effective the AP Damage is against that target. Dropping a unit's Defense from 10 to 5 is a significant penalty, and can potentially make a tough opponent more readily defeatable. On the other hand, reducing a unit's Defense from 2 to 1 has very little effect - unless of course the attacker is also quite weak, in which case every little bit helps.
The reduction in the target's Defense applies only for the duration of the attack. Therefore, as explained below, an attack must deliver AP Damage in tandem with at least some amount of physical damage in order to exploit the target's reduced Defense. An attack that delivers only AP Damage would be useless: it lowers the target's Defense score, and then does nothing to exploit it before finally removing the penalty.
No Actual Damage Edit
This is a crucial part to understanding how Armor Piercing Damage works, so please read carefully.
Armor Piercing Damage is distinct from all other damage types in that it delivers no actual damage on its own. It is responsible solely for reducing the target's Defense rating - whereupon a Physical Damage component needs to actually hurt the target. Therefore, all attacks delivering AP Damage must deliver it in tandem with Physical Damage (which causes physical harm to the target) in order to exploit the Defense penalty!
Thus, it should not be surprising that Armor Piercing Damage is always added to a unit's existing attacks. Most commonly, it is added directly to the unit's Melee Attack: Such an attack would deliver the AP Damage first, and then inflict Melee Damage on the target to exploit its reduced Defense.
Armor Piercing Damage is added in the same way to a unit's Ranged Attack (if it possesses one), which would then deliver AP Damage followed by Ranged Damage. It is theorized, but not yet proven, that the same applies to the unit's Thrown Attacks and Breath Attacks, if any.
The "secondary" Damage Type delivered by the attack has to be Physical Damage - any damage type which forces the target to make Defense rolls against it. Otherwise, the Defense reduction would not really help. For example, a hypothetical attack delivering AP Damage along with Death Damage does not benefit, since Death Damage forces the target to make Resistance rolls - not Defense rolls. Since it doesn't exploit the Defense penalty from AP Damage, the attack is not overall more effective.
These cases are very rare, resulting always from magical effects that mess with a unit's attacks. For a good example, imagine an attacker possessing the Armor Piercing ability whose Melee Attack strength has been reduced to 0 by some spell or effect. This attacker still delivers AP Damage during its Melee Attack, but will cause no damage to its target since it delivers 0 Melee Damage. This attack would be useless with or without AP Damage, of course, but illustrates a possible situation in which AP Damage is completely useless.
Naturally, Armor Piercing Damage has no effect on units whose Defense score is already 0 - such as the Phantom Warriors, Phantom Beast, any unit affected by the Berserk spell, and so forth. These units already cannot make any Defense rolls, so halving their Defense score would be meaningless ( 0 / 2 = 0...).
No immunity can protect the target from AP Damage. The effect of halving the target's Defense score always applies - even against targets possessing Magic Immunity, Weapon Immunity, and so forth. Thus, it is effective against virtually any target in the game.
However, as explained above, Armor Piercing Damage does not actually cause damage to the target. It relies on a "secondary" damage component, such as Melee Damage or Ranged Damage, to exploit the reduction in Defense and thus harm the target more severely. Whatever the other damage component (or components) is, it may or may not be blocked by the target's various immunities, as per the rules pertaining to that specific component.
It's also important to note that the Defense penalty from AP Damage is applied before the target's immunities are triggered. Since most immunities work by raising the target's Defense score to 50, AP Damage has no effect whatsoever against those targets.
Ranged Missile Attacks, though rare, are a good example for this. These attacks normally hurt their target by inflicting Ranged Damage on it. However, when a Ranged Missile Attack is used against a target with Missile Immunity, the immunity raises the target's Defense score to 50 - and will thus completely block all but the strongest Ranged Missile Attacks.
Now, if an Armor Piercing Damage component was added to the same Ranged Missile Attack, it would lower the target's Defense score as normal - but the target's Missile Immunity then kicks in and raises it right back to 50. Thus, while AP Damage does work as intended against this target, its effect is immediately undone by the target's immunity being triggered.
AP Damage simply did not help in this case - you could actually say that it was "blocked" by the Missile Immunity simply because it is part of a Ranged Missile Attack. For example, a Ranged Magical Attack would've gotten through Missile Immunity with no problem, so AP Damage on that attack would work as intended when directed at Missile-Immune units!
Thus, while Armor Piercing Damage has no immunity that actually blocks it from taking effect, the target's immunities (if any) can still render it useless - depending on what other types of damage the AP Damage attack delivers (if any).
Sources of Armor Piercing Damage Edit
Armor Piercing Damage is a component in many different attacks and spells. Its most common source is the Armor Piercing ability, which adds AP Damage to each of a unit's attacks. Heroes may equip themselves with Magical Items possessing the "Lightning" enchantment, which adds AP Damage to one of the Hero's attacks.
Units with Armor Piercing Edit
- Main article: Armor Piercing
It is currently unknown whether Armor Piercing Damage is also added to the unit's Thrown Attacks or Breath Attacks, for units that have these attacks. The working assumption is that it is probably added to them as well, but more research is needed to confirm this assumption.
The benefit of Armor Piercing Damage depends greatly on the unit's existing attacks types and their strength, with stronger attackers generally benefiting more from AP Damage - though the weakest Armor Piercing units are still quite powerful thanks to it. Even more importantly of course, it's usually the target's Defense score that makes the greatest difference, since it will always be halved.
Refer to the article on Armor Piercing for a full list of all units possessing this ability.
Lightning Weapons Edit
Another source of Armor Piercing Damage comes from weapons imbued with the "Lightning" Item Power. This enchantment can be placed only on weapons - including Swords, Maces, Axes, Bows, Wands, and Staves. When the enchanted item is equipped on a Hero, it adds an AP Damage component to the attack associated with the item. Therefore, a Sword, Mace or Axe only add an AP Damage component to the Hero's Melee Attacks and Counter Attacks, while a Bow, Wand or Staff only add AP Damage to the Hero's Ranged Attacks.
During the custom Item Crafting process, the "Lightning" bonus is only available if you possess at least 5 Chaos Spellbooks. Naturally, it's always possible to find a weapon containing this bonus as a reward for defeating Encounters.
Note that, as explained above, this does not change the actual strength of the attack nor the types of damage it delivers. The only difference is that the attack will now deliver AP Damage to halve the target's Defense score as described above.
The Hero's attack will only deliver AP Damage while the Hero is holding the enchanted item. If the item is removed or lost, the Hero's attack no longer delivers AP Damage.
Lightning-based Spells Edit
There are three different spells from the Chaos Realm and one from the Nature Realm which deliver Armor Piercing Damage. They are the Lightning Bolt, Warp Lightning, Chaos Rift and Call Lightning spells. All four spells deliver this damage in tandem with Magical Damage (which is responsible for inflicting the actual harm on the target).
The first spell, Lightning Bolt, is an Uncommon Combat Instant. For 10, it will unleash a single attack delivering 5 Magical Damage along with AP Damage at the selected target. This spell's Casting Cost is adjustable: up to 40 extra Mana may be invested into it, with each 1 increasing the amount of Magical Damage the spell delivers by 1 point. The spell's AP Damage component is unaffected by this investment.
Warp Lightning is a Rare Combat Instant. For 35, it will strike a target with 10 successive Magical Damage attacks of decreasing strength, starting with a strength 10 attack. Each of the 10 attacks delivers AP Damage. Note that Warp Lightning is also one of the possible effects of the Call Chaos spell.
Chaos Rift is a Rare Town Curse that may be cast on an enemy town. While in effect, it will direct 5 lightning bolts each turn, with each bolt delivering 8 Magical Damage points, at random targets in the town's garrison stack (if any). It is assumed that these bolts deliver AP Damage, but is yet to be conclusively proven.
Finally, Call Lightning is a Very Rare Combat Enchantment that will deliver between 3 and 5 lightning bolts each combat round, at random enemy targets on the battlefield. Each bolt delivers 8 Magical Damage points. These bolts also deliver AP Damage.
Lightning Breath Edit
- Main article: Lightning Breath
Only one unit in the game - the Sky Drake - possesses an ability called Lightning Breath. This ability allows the Sky Drake to make a Breath Attack whenever it voluntarily engages any enemy unit in Melee combat. This Breath Attack delivers 20 points of Magical Damage, in tandem with an Armor Piercing Damage component.
This attack can be very devastating, even to heavily-armored targets. This makes the Sky Drake extremely useful in taking out powerful enemies. The only units that can avoid massive damage from this Lightning Breath attack are those possessing Magic Immunity, as it renders the AP Damage component useless, and raises the target's Defense score to 50 at the same time.