The shielding skill is very important, especially for knights and paladins, since it reduces the total damage of physical melee attacks against you. The higher the shielding skill, or melee skill if you use a two-handed weapon, and defense value of the weapon or shield, the better you will block. In general, the defense value is slightly more important than the skill when calculating the amount of damage reduction. Our damage reduction calculator can calculate all these values quickly and easily for you. It should be noted that the average damage reduction shown is only a guideline since the distribution of damage received and of damage absorbed by the shield in any given situation is not random (seems to follow a normal distribution for the statisticians out there). However, I believe that the maximum damaged reduced to be very accurate.
Since the advent of Target Dummies, training the shielding skill has become neglected. In the previous article, which accompanied the release of the melee and fist calculators, I described the most efficient way to train and the importance of understanding the hit counter. With shielding, as long as you are bleeding your target the correct amount, only the first two hits to your shield count towards increasing your shielding skill. The formulas for shielding are relatively simple: Knights and Paladins advance at the same rate while Druids, Sorcerers, and No Vocations advance at a much slower rate (see table 1).
Table 1. Relative shielding skill achieved for different vocations based on time and 2 hits per round
In this article I investigate the following questions: How important is shielding? Should you discard the shield and use a more powerful two-handed weapon? If you have both a shield and a sword, which defense is counted? Does skill matter for which defense is counted?
Example 1. Defense Experiment Setup
I decided to do some testing in a remote area within the labyrinth of the Ancient Temple. There were a couple things I wanted to make sure of: I wanted to make sure the monsters did not move around too much and thus change the timing of their hits and I wanted to be able to stop testing immediately as soon as the testing phase was over. As you can see in example 1, this location provided both of those necessities. Since the server log can only hold 1000 lines of information, I limited each testing session to 7 minutes to ensure I did not lose any information. For each test that I did, I did it twice to make sure there was not too much variance in the data I recorded. Because there were two cyclops hitting me, I was being hit a total of 840 times.
Table 2. Damage received by a two Cyclops over 14 minutes
I started the experiment by determining the amount of damage two cyclops make on me without wearing any armor, shield or weapon. While most would think that you can just strip naked to test this, you actually must hold a weapon with a defense of 0 or else your fist fighting will work as a shield. In my case I used a crossbow, and as you can see in Figure 1, the total damage was 38,187 with no hits blocked. When I tested the same thing with a shield of care, the damage dropped significantly and I received only 17,151 damage.
I then tried testing using both the shield of care and a dragon hammer (skill 50) and a longsword (skill 103). I tested both just in case the defense reduction was based upon the higher skill. As you can see, the number of hits blocked and total damage is comparable. It seems that weapon skill had little to do with damage reduction; the club skill of 50 was lower than the shield skill of 85 which was lower than the sword skill of 103. I then tried testing each weapon without a shield, and as you can see they blocked even better than with both the weapon and the shield. One of the main reasons I did this is because I often see movies of sorcerers or druids wearing a magic level spellbook and a sword of valour or an emerald sword and wondered if wearing a high defense sword made a difference. While this may be a choice of style, the sword only modifies the shields defense, it does not act as your main defense.
Figure 1. Maximum damage reduction with offensive fighting at different skill levels
When choosing to specialize in a certain type of melee weapon, many players often consider the "best" items for their level and skill set. In figure 1 I have done a comparison of these items choosing inquisition items, the better two-handed version for each skill, and a mastermind shield. As you may well be aware, there is very little difference between the top sword, axe, or club weapon when combined with a mastermind shield; the defense modifiers for the shield skill are +3, +2, and +2 respectively. What this means is that instead of the natural 37 defense of the mastermind shield, it is increased by each of these numbers and based upon your shield skill and thus increased to 40, 39, and 39 respectively. The x-axis, which I have labeled defense skill, when comparing combinations which include a shield, represents the shielding skill. When comparing the two-handed alternatives it represents the respective melee skill. Immediately you can see that there is a large difference when comparing the two-handed weapons: the avenger is almost comparable in defensive power to the one-handed plus shield combos but the demonwing axe and the stomper fall into a distant last place.
As you can tell by the graph, if you are a sword user you have a very decent alternative to using emerald sword and mastermind. In fact, if your sword skill is over 5 skills higher than your shield skill, you will defend better with the avenger. Should you throw your shield away? This is very difficult to say since it is hard to imagine how the game will develop. Already the shield of corruption which increases the sword skill is a much sought after item, so perhaps keeping the shield on and increasing your skill might be the best solution. What is certain is that unless extreme power is required, club and axe users should really keep their shields on for the moment.
If all else fails, just follow Yoda's advice?
- paladins and knights advance in shielding with the same speed
- while wearing shield its def is always used to count damage reduction - even if weapon's defense is higher than shield's.
- while using weapon without shield, then to count damage reduction instead of shielding skill, weapon skill is used.