**Armor and You** - (Check the link at the bottom!)

IntroductionIf you’re just starting out, you may wonder what armor does beyond “higher is better.” Well, you’re right! However you might not know why exactly or how it should affect your ship loadouts, battle strategies, etc. Hopefully this guide helps you better understand how to both defeat armor and use it to your own advantage.

First off, what is armor in Starsector? Armor, like that in the real world, is a finite band of protection that must first be breached before doing “real” damage to the hull of the ship. But it’s not just extra HP: armor has a damage-reducing effect on anything that hits it proportional to its total value. Thus, the higher the total value, the more reduction you get. This reduction can go as high as 85% (90% with one particular skill) so this drastically increases the “effective HP” of both the armor itself and the ship as a whole. Damage reduced in this fashion is also applied to the armor first, rather than the hull HP of the ship, until the armor is completely depleted.

Armor ValueEach specific hull has a

**Base Armor Value** that doesn’t change from ship to ship. A Hound has 400, an Eagle has 1000, and an Onslaught has 1750, etc. This value forms the core of all subsequent values that we’ll use to calculate total armor. The base armor value can be modified in a variety of ways to further increase its effectiveness.

First, there are hull mods that add a flat increase to the armor value like Heavy Armor or the XIV Battlegroup Mod. D-Mods reduce armor in a similar fashion. Another hull mod is Armored Weapon Mounts that increase the base armor value by 10%. Simply take the base value and multiply by 0.1. All these values combined create a

**Total Armor Value** that becomes the hitpoint pool of your armor and the number that all other modifiers work off of. As you take damage, this value will decrease.

Among Hull Mods, the following will affect your Total Armor Value:

- Heavy Armor: +100/200/300/400 armor depending on ship size
- Armored Weapon Mounts: +10% to Base Armor
- Compromised Armor: -30% to Base Armor (note that Level 3 Safety Procedures would reduce this to -15%)
- Structural Damage: -20% to Base Armor (and Hull), Safety 3 would reduce this to -10%
- (A) Variant of ship: +25/30/35/45% to Base Armor (in practice, only Frigates and one Destroyer has this)
- (XIV) Variant of ship: +100 Base Armor

For example, if you have a Hound (A) and add Heavy Armor and Armored Weapon Mounts the calculation would look like:

Total Armor = Base Value (400) + Armored Weapon Mounts (400 * 0.1) + Auxiliary Mod (400 * 0.25) + Heavy Armor (100)

= 640 Total Armor (note you can combine the multipliers by

*adding* to 0.35)

Next, there are skills that increase armor effectiveness.

- Level 3 Evasive Action: +50% armor for damage reduction calculations only (piloted ship)
- Level 1 Impact Mitigation: +150 armor for damage reduction calculations only (piloted ship)
- Level 2 Impact Mitigation: Raises maximum armor reduction from 85% to 90%
- Level 3 Impact Mitigation: -20% Armor damage taken

The effects of skills come

after the Total Armor Value has been calculated so all of these skills will modify that value. (Total Armor Value) * (Skill effects). Note, however, all of these effects are on paper only: they don’t increase the actual hitpoint pool of your armor. Level 2 Impact Mitigation doesn't seem like much but against minimum damage (that a lot of the big ships run into), it can effectively increase their Armor by 50%. Level 3 Impact Mitigation reduces how much damage your Total Armor Value takes, which also gives you more effective HP.

Let’s take the Hound (A) from before, with Armored Weapon Mounts and Heavy Armor, and add Level 3 Evasive Action.

Calculated Armor = Total Armor Value * (Skills)

= 640 * 1.5

= 960 armor for calculation. That’s a big increase!

Let’s keep adding skills: this time Level 1 Impact Mitigation. The +150 Armor comes after the Evasive Action calculation.

= 640 * 1.5 + 150

= 960 + 150

= 1110 armor for calculation.

Level 1 Impact Mitigation can be a large increase in armor if you’re flying around in a Wolf that only has 150 base armor to begin with. Once we get into how damage is calculated, you’ll see why. Just remember, though, the +150 doesn’t add to the actual armor value that will be reduced by damage. It’s just for the calculation.

That does it for the Armor Value, for now. We’ll use this number to then calculate how much damage reduction the armor is providing.

The Damage CalculationNow that we have the Armor Value for calculation, we can see what it’s actually doing against that Heavy Mauler that keeps trying punch holes through your bridge. Damage and Armor are trying to work in opposite directions: armor wants to prevent damage, damage (with modifiers) is trying to defeat armor.

The Damage Calculation is as follows:

Damage = Damage per shot * (Damage per shot / (Damage per shot + Calculated Armor Value))

So, a hypothetical gun (“Ol’ Reliable”) that does 100 damage per shot, once per second against a ship with 400 armor would look like this:

Damage = 100 * (100 / (100 + 400))

= 100 * (100 / 500)

= 100 * 0.2

= 20 Damage

That 20 damage would then be subtracted from the Total Armor Value that is calculated prior to Armor Skill effects, so for the next calculation, we would have to use a total armor of 380 instead of 400.

Damage(2) = 100 * (100 / (100 + 380))

= 20.83 Damage

As you can see, as armor begins to get stripped, its damage reduction steadily goes down. Thus, weapons tend to have a “snowball” effect on armor: once it begins to drop, it drops fast. In the next armor calculation, the armor value would be 359.17, which would in turn reduce the next shot less (21.77), and so on and so forth. That doesn’t seem like much of a difference but by shot 10, the Armor has been reduced to about 175 and each shot is now doing 36 damage. After 13 shots, the armor is gone and the enemy is now doing nearly (more on that later) the full 100 damage to the hull HP of your ship.

Just like Armor, damage has modifiers that are calculated before the damage calculation. The most common are the damage types that you see on the weapons themselves. High Explosive does double damage to Armor while Kinetic does half damage. Fragmentation damage only does one quarter damage to armor (and shields), which makes it a very poor choice against all but the poorest armor and bare hull. Energy damage neither has a bonus nor penalty so it does the damage listed.

There are also skills that modify damage:

- Level 3 Target Analysis: +50% damage for armor damage reduction calculation only
- Level 3 Ordnance Expertise: +15% weapon damage
- Level 3 Missile Specialization: +25% missile damage

Level 3 Target Analysis is essentially the opposite of Level 3 Evasive Maneuvers. It adds 50% to the damage calculation only (though any damage in excess of armor damage reverts to the original value when it strikes the hull). That means if Ol’ Reliable had Level 3 Target Analysis and was hitting our 400 armor frigate, the new damage would be:

Damage per shot = 100 * 1.5 = 150 for armor reduction only

Damage Calculation = 100 * (150 / (150 + 400))

= ~27 damage (up from 20, earlier). That's a 35% increase, not bad!

Let's also add Level 3 Ordnance Expertise. This actually modifies the damage per shot, not just for calculation, so we'd see:

Damage/shot for calculation= (100 * 1.15) * 1.5 = 172.5 for armor calculation

Damage Calculation = 115 * (172.5 / (172.5 + 400))

= 34.65 damage, a total of a 73% increase.

We haven’t even included the damage type modifiers yet but you get the picture. Just remember that the damage we’re calculating gets applied to/deducted from armor before anything gets through to the hull.

Minimum DamageAs Damage and Armor play a game of one-upmanship, occasionally Armor gets a significant upper hand. Whether it is because the damage is so low to begin with or that the armor is so high, there comes a point where weapons would literally be doing fractions of a point of damage against some of the heaviest armored hulls. Let’s take Ol’ Reliable and put it against a Dominator (1500 armor):

Damage Calculation = 100 * (100 / (100 + 1500))

= 6.25 damage. That’s a 93.75% reduction in damage.

It would take forever if you tried to get through that armor with that weapon. To mitigate this feeble damage, armor has a maximum reductive amount, typically 85%. That means no matter how high the armor, Ol’ Reliable will still hit for 15 damage (100 * 0.15). Another neat trick is if you take the damage per shot and divide it by 0.15 then subtract the damage per shot value, you’ll find the armor necessary to reduce that weapon to minimum damage. In case of Ol’ Reliable, it would be 567 armor. Anything past that point no longer has a reductive effect but it does keep the weapon buried at minimum for as long as the Total Armor Value remains higher than that breakpoint.

To illustrate, look at this graph.

The top line is a ship with 1000 armor, the bottom line is a ship with 600 armor. Each point on the graph is a weapon that does 100 damage per shot, one shot per second. Notice that once armor drops below 567 (the minimum damage threshold), the curve of the line steadily sharpens. The arrows indicate where that is on each of the respective lines.

The biggest difference between the two armor values is just how long it takes for the weapon to get above the minimum damage threshold and ultimately defeat the armor. 400 more armor means the same weapon takes over twice as long to get through and burns through twice as much flux.

The other thing worth saying about minimum damage is that once a weapon is reduced to this value, damage calculations are pretty easy: it’s DPS * 0.15. All other stats kind of go out the window at this point so you can easily compare which weapons do better against very heavy armor by simply comparing their DPS. However, not all weapons are created equal when it comes to determining where their minimum damage threshold lies. Don’t immediately draw the conclusion that an Assault Chaingun is better than a Heavy Mauler when it comes to penetrating armor. That would only come into play when the Assualt Chaingun's raw DPS overtakes the Mauler's higher armor penetrating ability. Raw DPS is still useful for killing things quickly but this often comes at a great flux cost.

Why is this? Glad you asked!

Damage Per ShotDamage gains the upper-hand against Armor when the damage per individual shot increases. Armor can shrug off rapid-fire, small damage rounds all day but it falls tremendously fast against very high, single-damage hits like a torpedo.

Going back to the Assault Chaingun and Heavy Mauler comparison, raw DPS is a bit misleading. Though the Assault Chaingun has twice the DPS of the Heavy Mauler, it actually has significantly less armor penetrating power. The reason being is that the damage per shot on the Heavy Mauler (with the High Explosive modifier) is 400 while the Assault Chaingun’s is 120.

When pitted against something like 800 armor, you can immediately see the difference in reduction:

Heavy Mauler = 400 * (400 / (400 + 800))

= 133.3 (66% reduction)

Assault Chaingun = 120 * (120 / (120 + 800))

= 15.65 (bumped up to 18 due to minimum damage, so 85% reduction)

This, in turn, leads to the Mauler reducing the Total Armor Value to 666 for the next shot (which offers even less protection) versus the Assault Chaingun having only reduced the armor value to 782, which is still enough to keep it at minimum damage. In short, the Assault Chaingun has to plug away at minimum damage for a bit before it steadily chrews through the armor while the Heavy Mauler knocks ever increasing chunks away each it. Now, it should be said that though the Assault Chaingun is poorer at defeating 800 armor than the Mauler on a per shot basis, its also firing a lot faster! The difference in

*time* between the two is less than half a second but where the real difference is flux cost (more on that in a second). Suffice to say, there's quite a few dynamics in play.

Missiles and torpedoes are the superstars among armor busters. A single Reaper does 8000 damage to armor, requiring the equivalent of 8000 armor to merely reduce it by half. To put this into perspective, the highest armor achievable in the game, an Onslaught (XIV) with every defensive perk, tops out at 3788. One Reaper would still do 5429 damage to armor (completely stripping it in that spot) and do hull damage. Most

*capitals* can only mitigate half of a Harpoon’s damage for crying out loud.

This is why damage per shot becomes a key consideration, depending on the target you’re fighting. With skills, even frigates are sporting serious armor: our Hound (A) at the beginning was sporting more than an Eagle Cruiser. Against heavy armor, high damage per shot is much more important than raw DPS. On the other hand, against low armor, raw DPS is much more important than armor penetration.

This brings us to…

Flux Efficiency Versus ArmorOne of the finer points of doing these damage/armor calculations is that you see where certain weapons shine. The Heavy Blaster, for instance, seems like a very low efficiency weapon: costing 720 flux to do 500 damage (~70% efficiency). When compared to say, a Pulse Laser that does 100 damage per shot for 110 flux (90% efficiency), one might wonder why you’d ever take such a flux hog in the Heavy Blaster.

This is where damage per shot comes in and ultimately, flux efficiency per shot. Whereas the Pulse Laser’s 100 damage can be reduced to minimum by 567 armor, the same armor barely reduces the Heavy Blaster beyond 50%. That means that while the Pulse Laser is pecking away at 15 damage, the Heavy Blaster is hitting for 234…then 300…then…the armor is gone! It takes the Heavy Blaster 3 shots at 720 flux each (2160 total) to defeat that armor. It also defeated that armor in 3 seconds. Meanwhile, the Pulse Laser is still firing…and firing…and firing. After 8 seconds, it breaks through but also at the cost of 2750 flux. So, while the Heavy Blaster has more upfront flux cost (2160 over 3 seconds), it is actually the more efficient of the two. Once armor gets even higher, high damage per shot weapons shine. The Heavy Blaster vastly outperforms the Pulse Laser in these scenarios. Against 2000 armor, the Heavy Blaster breaks through in 12 seconds using ~10000 flux. The Pulse Laser takes 40 seconds and 13300. That’s 1/3 more efficient in terms of flux cost.

But that's not the whole story: very few ships can sustain the 720 flux/sec of a Heavy Blaster, even for only 3 seconds! The Pulse Laser on the other hand is much more manageable at 333 flux/sec. This means that while the Heavy Blaster is technically more efficient at defeating armor, its flux profile is also much harder to work into many ships. Like the Assault Chaingun, if you have the flux, these high DPS weapons are great at killing quickly but they can cripple your ability to use other weapons or use your shields to defend.

You’ll find that most of the High Explosive weapons are ridiculously flux efficient against armor but the ones with high damage/shot are exceptionally so against tough armor. The Hellbore gets through the same 2000 armor in 3 seconds using only 2550 flux. Of course, the Hellbore can be tough to hit anything with due to its slow shot speed. The Heavy Mauler is also pretty good against all but the heaviest armored targets and remains flux efficient. The new Heavy Mortar is also very flux efficient due to its low flux cost/shot. It won’t eat through armor quite as fast as the Mauler but it will do more efficiently. Other weapons like the Plasma Cannon, Antimatter Blaster, and to a degree the Mining Blaster also have deceptively efficient flux stats against heavy armor. The Mining Blaster is a bit of the odd man out because its base efficiency is so low (<60%).

The trade-off, of course, is that these weapons are half as effective against shields, a source of a defense that

is renewable, unlike armor. HE weapons and the high damage/shot Energy weapons are very poor at breaking shields which means that you'll need a lot of help to get to the armor in the first place. While Kinetic weapons are horribly flux inefficient against hull, they do open up windows of opportunities for your HE rounds and they also force an enemy to build hard flux if they're using their shields. It can be just as important to keep an enemy's flux high as it is to get through their armor: a flux-locked ship has hard time firing back! Whether you're mixing and matching Kinetics, HE, or Energy on your flagship or you're specializing the ships in your fleet for one role or another, you need both shield-busting and armor-busting weapons. All of one and none of the other will result in highly inefficient and/or very long battles that you might not be able to win.

The lone outliers in Kinetics, from a flux efficiency vs armor perspective, are the Hypervelocity Driver and Gauss Cannon, which have high damage per shot. The HVD does not break through armor quickly but it does so relatively flux efficiently. The Gauss Cannon hits nearly as hard as a Heavy Mauler (350 against armor) but at an exorbitant 1200 flux per shot.

Since you probably aren’t terribly interested on how Kinetics penetrate armor, take a look at this graph with common HE and Energy weapons against 800 armor. This would be typical for heavy destroyers to around the Falcon (base 750 armor).

Not only can you see that some of the heavy hitters reduce armor in 1-2 shots, you can also see the flux costs involved. Also note that weapons like the Plasma Cannon are overkilling by a considerable degree. Anything that drops below the X-axis would be doing damage to hull.

Finally, to calculate beam damage against armor, cut the DPS in half for a good approximation. In actuality, beams are doing damage every 1/10th of a second but also have charge up and charge down times that have a reduced damage value (1/3 to be exact). For the burst beams, like Tachyon/Phase Lances and the PD Beams, this becomes pretty important as does the length of their burst duration. These weapons are performing very rapid damage calculations but they're base damage is relatively high (divided in half for the armor calculation) so they're something like a high rate-of-fire and high-damage/shot weapon with limited duration, if that makes sense. For something like the High Intensity Laser, don’t forget to also factor in the High Explosive modifier (which turns it back into a 500 DPS armor-killing murder laser).

A Note on Hull DamagePatch 0.8a introduced a modifier on hull damage that equals 5% of the Total Armor Value you have when you enter the battle. This 5% value is fixed value that does not go down and permanently gives hull a small reduction in damage. That means that for something like a Dominator (1500) with Heavy Armor (+300), you’re looking at 5% of 1800 armor, or a permanent 90 armor.

90 Armor doesn’t seem like much but it’s enough to seriously reduce some of the rapid-fire low damage per shot, high DPS weapons like Vulcans.

Vulcans are notoriously flux efficient: 25 damage per 1 flux spent with an overall DPS of 500. Fragmentation damage also does 100% damage to hull so any Vulcan that can get close to a armor-stripped ship is going to kill things extremely quickly and efficiently. However, 25 damage per shot is awfully low…

Damage = 25 * (25 / (25 + 90))

= 5.43 Damage (78.2% reduction, reducing overall DPS to 109 from 500)

This gives something like a Dominator a huge boost in effective HP against stuff like Talons or other knife-fighting frigates. Most ships aren’t so lucky to have 1800 armor so their hulls are going to be far more vulnerable to these kind of weapons. Also note that 90 armor isn’t going to reduce even moderate damage per shot weapons by much at all. The change was primarily for Frag weapons that are were a bit too effective once armor was stripped.

Armor CellsArmor isn’t a single value on your ship, it’s actually made up of a grid (“cells”) that cover the hull. Any particular point has the Total Armor Value available to it at the start of a fight but cells lose their armor as they take damage, drawing from the immediate cells around them.

Since the technical side is, well, technical, hear it from the source:

…the resulting armor value can go all the way up to the listed armor value for the variant. Also, the cell that was hit, plus the eight surrounding cells, contribute 2x as much to the effective armor value as the 12 cells on the outside. In effect the hit area looks like this:

111

12221

12221

12221

111

Cells marked 1 have their armor contribution halved; cells marked 2 contribute their full amount. The starting armor in each cell is 1/15th of the listed armor value.

So, for a hit vs undamaged armor, with the base armor value A, you get:

9 * A / 15 + 0.5 * (12 * A /15) = 15 * A / 15 = A

What this means is that cells are working together to provide the Total Armor Value but as cells degrade, they no longer can contribute as much. Since the outside cells (the “1s”) only contribute half their armor, they are also losing armor half as quickly, giving a more graded decline in armor under sustained fire. On the other hand, a single missile or Torpedo can wipe out every point of armor affected if there isn’t enough armor to mitigate it.

This is why you see the AI turn their ships so much: the difference between relatively intact armor and no armor is drastic and its best to let the armor take the heat instead of the hull.

ConclusionArmor is one, of many, important considerations when equipping your ships and facing down others. Its not the most important stat out there but it is one of the "denser" ones to understand. Having extremely high armor does not make you invulnerable (just ask any Onslaught that gets a ship behind it) but having little armor also leaves you extremely vulnerable. Also know that positioning, shield use, timing, and fleet cooperation all will impact your overall success more so than layers and layers of armor.

To summarize: Higher armor values give your ships more effective HP. High armor is very useful against low damage per shot weapons and may even reduce them to minimum damage (15% in most cases) but even extreme armor falls quickly to high damage per shot weapons like strong HE/Energy Weapons or missiles. Likewise, many weapons with very high DPS values are effective against armor, albeit at flux cost that may be unsustainable. Many of the skill perks in the Combat Aptitude have significant effects on armor reduction so if you're looking to beef up your flagship or an officer's, that's an excellent way to do it.

Now that you have a slightly better idea of how armor and damage interact, why not play with all the permutations!? The following Google doc *should* allow you to fiddle to your hearts content with all the vanilla ships and weapons, barring someone hasn’t broken it yet.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1eXqQwjRQw_jP1Hc0rx6jdC7ZEAp9KeSydM339NffjIQ/edit?usp=sharing

Use the red drop down boxes to select the various ships, weapons, skills, and other options to see just how much that Vulcan is doing to an Onslaught (XIV) with max skills.

(Disclaimer: All of it is driven off the weapons file used in-game, though, I had to backwards engineer most of the formulas, so I can’t guarantee they’re 100% accurate. However, the vast majority of cases match the in-game descriptions and even if it’s not completely right, it’s

*right enough* to give you an idea of what the game is calculating.)

I hope this was helpful!