This is an introductory guide to gear in Spiral Knights for beginners. Gear includes both weapons and armor. Gear leveling and star ratings, gear characteristic types, and some other general gear information are covered here.
We’ll also cover weapons here, which will help illustrate characteristics and special abilities. Armor and status effects will be covered in the next part.
Gear Leveling vs Star Ratings
One of Spiral Knights’ more unusual attributes amongst MMORPGs is that your character doesn’t level—your gear does. As you learned in the tutorial, gear levels with the amount of heat you gather in a dungeon by killing the cute horrors trying to kill you. ((And in a few advanced cases, the cute horrors who aren’t trying to kill you. This can be a sad occasion. See Love Puppies and Mewkats.))
A piece of gear will increase up to 10 levels as you use them, but it doesn’t stop there; there’s also the quality of your gear to consider. For instance, a 0-star weapon, which is what you start out with, will cap out at an amount of damage less than a 1-star weapon. Similarly for 1-star versus 2-stars, all the way up to (currently) 5-stars. Gear with higher star ratings will often have more/better attributes than lower-star gear.
Some gear can be upgraded to higher-star gear via crafting; this is called the alchemical path of a gear. Some gear have longer paths than others, and some may not even have a path at all, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate the full worth of a particular piece of gear (for instance, some gear start directly at 3 stars, like the Swiftstrike Buckler).
The implications of the fact that your gear levels, and not your character, may seem to imply that starting out with 5-star gear means that you’ll conquer your enemies with the ease of an Alpha Wolver tearing apart a player with only 0-star level-1 gear, but you’ll find that your skill in choosing and using your gear matter as much as, and in some cases more than, the stats of your gear. There is no absolute armor or weapon that will fit all situations, and context counts.
There are several types of gear, and how they affect you and the environment differ from type to type. In fact, comparing different types of gear often proves counter-productive, but comparing different gear of the same type will usually be helpful.
When you hover over a piece of gear in your inventory, you’ll notice several types of information:
Bars are divided into segments to help you judge the length of each bar. Note that there are sometimes two colors to a bar on weapons that are not completely leveled: bright cyan, which is the current value of the characteristic, and dark cyan, which is the potential value of the characteristic. The current value will gradually increase as you level the weapon until you reach its full potential. Important: that the potential of a bar will rarely stretch all the way across.
Sometimes you may see bars that don’t start at the beginning, but in the middle:
Special abilities indicate strengths (upwards arrow) or weaknesses (downwards arrow) of a more specific kind of attribute. For instance, a weapon may have an increased damage against a special type of monster; or a rather heavy helm may decrease your attack speed.
Sometimes you’ll see special abilities in gold boxes with stars rather than blue ones with arrows:
With weapons, you do damage to and kill the various creatures in the dungeons. And sometimes things as well, such blocks and bushes, but we’ll cover those as a separate thing.
There are three main types of weapons.
The most popular type of melee, aka close combat, damage-dealers. Different swords will have different qualities, mainly:
- type(s) of damage dealt, as well as any special effects, like cursing the target.
- reach, aka the area covered with a sword swing.
- speed of attack/swinging.
- combo (normal) attacks; when you swing the sword multiple times in quick succession, each swing may have a different animation and slightly different damage.
- charged attack; when you hold down the attack command button, the weapon will start to glow; once the glow reaches its maximum, you let go, and a special attack is unleashed, usually with increased damage. Charged attacks are often more powerful than normal attacks, but they are easily interrupted when enemies deal you damage. ((Or hug you, as in the case of the evil large butterfly/bat things called greavers. These are not friendly hugs.))
The Spiral Knights wiki has a summary of the different swords available.
The other type of melee damage-dealer. All bombs use charged attacks, rather than simply hitting the attack button quickly; once you charge and then release, a little bomb will be planted, and an explosion of some kind will result. This explosion will not hurt friendlies, but will hurt enemies.
The way bombs are operated can trip you up if you’re used to swords or guns, but at the same time, bombs can deal damage 360º all around and often high damage or special effects. As with swords, different bombs will have different qualities, mainly:
- type(s) of damage, as well as special effects in some cases, like actually setting things on fire.
- radius, aka the area covered by the resulting slightly delayed explosion.
- speed of bomb charging.
- how quickly the bomb will explode once set.
The Spiral Knights wiki has a summary of the different bombs available.
Ranged damage-dealers, guns will often yield less damage than melee weapons, but have the advantage (and disadvantage if you have trouble aiming) of shooting from a distance. Guns have both normal attacks and charged attacks, like swords. Finesse matters much more for a gun than for a sword or bomb (although finesse also matters more than you might thing in terms of the latter two as well). The qualities of guns include:
- type(s) of damage and any special effects, like poisoning the target.
- how many shots the gun fires before a pause to “reload”; think of this as being like the combo attacks of a sword, with a bit more delay.
- distance covered by the bullets/projectiles.
- how quickly the gun fires.
- charged attack.
The Spiral Knights wiki has a summary of the different guns available.
How much damage the weapon will do in the general case. Actual damage you deal is determined by multiple factors, usually based on extra bonuses you might have, any weaknesses or resistances your target may have, in addition to the base attack power. As you can imagine, every weapon deals some type of damage.
There are four different damage types, should your weapon have these, and each of them will have a rating listed when you hover over the weapon in your inventory. Many, but not all, weapons will deal multiple types of damage.
Think of this as raw physical damage. Just about everything is vulnerable to normal damage, so a weapon that does a great deal of normal damage will be more flexible in most situations than one that deals mostly one of the other types of damage.
How much piercing damage the weapon will do. Think of this as like a rapier or a shard impaling your enemy. Not all monsters are vulnerable to piercing, and some are more vulnerable than others. Monsters, of course, may deal piercing damage to you.
How much elemental damage the weapon will do. Think of this as a type of magic attack involving one of the elements in the game. The type of the element, strangely enough, won’t matter; it’s just an elemental attack. Like piercing damage, not all monsters are vulnerable, and some monsters are very vulnerable.
How much shadow damage the weapon will do. Think of this as a type of ectoplasmic or ghostly attack. It’s useful mostly against monsters that are not Fiends or Undead.
More on monster types and their vulnerabilities and strengths are covered in the Spiral Knights wiki.
How quickly the sword swings, the bomb goes off, or the gun fires. This is not the amount of time it takes to charge, which is left to special abilities to specify. It’s often the case that the slower the speed, the fewer steps in the combo attack or firing, but the heavier the damage. Whereas the higher the speed, the more steps in the combo attack or firing, but the lighter the damage.
Where swords are concerned, usually there are the heavy 2-hit slow swords, like the Troika and Sealed Sword lines; the quick multiple-hit swords, like the Striker line; and 3-hit everything else between these extremes. Guns can vary in a similar way.
Sometimes, a unique variant of a weapon will have a special ability that increases or decreases the speed of the weapon.
How long it takes to charge the weapon. These are special abilities, actually, with reduction possibly low, medium, or high.
If present, often the type of monster that the weapon has a bonus against; for instance, a weapon may do more damage to constructs than to others. Occasionally with unique variants you’ll be lucky in that the damage bonus will be a general all-case bonus rather than a specific monster type.
Chance of Causing an Effect
Some weapons can cause a status effect (covered next post); you can have fair, good, and excellent chances of causing the status effect; and of course, the specific kind of status effect you can bestow upon an enemy.
We’ll cover helms, armors, shields next time, as well as the various status effects.