Abilities are special bonuses that can enhance or deteriorate the player's performance beyond baseline statistics. There are several types:
- chance of inflicting status effects on enemies (or self - penalty)
- attack speed increase (ASI), charge time reduction (CTR), and damage bonus
- movement speed increase (MSI)
- health bonus
- extra defense against damage or status (as a unique variant or a defensive statistic)
Abilities arise from several sources. They can be inherent to a weapon's design, as in the poison on a poison weapon. They can be granted by armor, shields, trinkets, or battle sprite perks. Finally, they can be acquired as unique variants, either through crafting or Punch.
Some weapons carry a chance of inflicting a status effect (curse, fire, freeze, poison, shock, sleep, stun). Status abilities are rated on two scales: the chance of causing the status, and the intensity of the status once inflicted. For example, Plague Needle offers "Slight chance of causing Strong Poison".
Even for a single weapon, status infliction may vary from one stroke to the next. For example, Triglav can freeze on its charge and on the second stroke of its combo, but not on the first stroke. Storm Driver has much higher chance of shock on charge attacks than on regular attacks. Combuster has no chance of fire on regular attacks.
Status abilities are always inherent to the weapon. They cannot be granted through unique variants, armor, or trinkets. They cannot be deactivated or turned off.
Other Offensive Abilities
Other than status, there are three offensive abilities that can enhance weapons: attack speed increase (ASI), charge time reduction (CTR), and damage bonus. These three abilities are rated on the six-point scale shown below. Each verbal descriptor has a numeric equivalent. Ability levels +5 and +6 are not available as unique variants.
The numbers are useful because these abilities add. For example, if a weapon has CTR+2 (Medium) and CTR+3 (High) from two sources, then its total CTR is +5 (Ultra).
These abilities are capped at +6 (Maximum!). For example, if a weapon has ASI+3, ASI+2, and ASI+2 from three sources, then its total ASI is +7, but this is no better than ASI+6, and it is displayed as "Maximum!" in the user interface.
More detailed examples are given below.
Attack Speed Increase
Attack speed increase (ASI) affects the speed of all weapon animations. It does not affect the speed of projectiles or the fuse time of bombs. ASI helps the knight switch quickly from offense to defense, so that he can dodge or shield incoming attacks. It can also help the knight interrupt monsters before they execute attacks on the knight. ASI lets the knight swing his sword or fire his gun more frequently, thus increasing his damage output. ASI also affects the animations involved in placing a bomb, but its overall effect on bombing is small.
ASI can be granted to weapons through armor such as Vog Cub Coat and Nameless Hat and the shield Swiftstrike Buckler. For swords and handguns, ASI can also arise from trinkets, sprite perks, and unique variants. These latter options are not available for bombs, but ASI as great as +5 is possible on bombs through Crown/Armor of the Fallen and Swiftstrike Buckler.
In one set of tests, each level of ASI was found to add around 4% to attack speed. Other tests suggest that each level of ASI adds about 3.6% to sword combo rates and handgun clip rates. Those tests also show ASI to have a small effect on the number of charges that can be executed per minute.
Charge Time Reduction
Charge time reduction (CTR) reduces the amount of time required to charge a weapon. It does not affect the speed or potency of the charge attack. It has no effect on regular (non-charge) attacks. For all weapon types, CTR helps increase damage output. It also aids defense by helping the knight interrupt monsters and letting the knight return to shielding and regular movement speed.
CTR is granted by armor such as Volcanic Demo Suit and Perfect Mask of Seerus. On all weapon types CTR can also arise from trinkets, sprite perks, and unique variants. Unlike ASI and damage bonus, CTR accumulates through heating as well. Every weapon automatically receives CTR+1 when it reaches heat level 5. When it reaches heat level 10, an additional +1 is granted, for a total of CTR+2.
In one study, each level of CTR removed around 7.5% of the weapon's baseline charge time. Another study found each level of CTR to add about 6.4% to sword charge rates and 6.3% to handgun charge rates.
Damage bonus simply increases the damage inflicted by all attacks (regular and charge). The practical value of damage bonus varies significantly with the particular tactical situation. For example, suppose that a slime dies in three strokes from a sword. If the sword's damage is increased by 5%, then the slime may still require three strokes (no practical benefit) or it may suddenly require just two strokes (huge practical benefit). Such analysis becomes even more complicated in a party, where multiple weapons are inflicting varying levels of damage and status.
Damage bonuses can be grouped into four categories of generality, based on the weapons and targets affected.
- One weapon, one monster family: For example, Sentenza offers damage+3 against gremlins. This bonus does not affect any other weapons or targets. In Sentenza's case, this ability is inherent to the weapon's design. This kind of damage bonus can also be achieved through unique variants. Indeed, all damage unique variants are of this kind.
- All weapons, one monster family: For example, Deadly Virulisk Mask's damage bonus affects swords, handguns, and bombs, but only against slimes.
- One weapon type, all targets: For example, Bombastic Demo Suit gives damage+2 to all bombs against all enemies, but no benefit to swords or handguns.
- All weapons, all targets: For example, Chaos Cowl gives damage+2 to all weapons against all enemies.
It is worth noting that Lord Vanaduke does not belong to any monster family, and neither do knight opponents in PvP. Damage bonus against these targets can be acquired only through the latter two categories.
The most precise study of damage bonus concluded that each level increases the weapon's gross damage by 4% of the weapon's original gross damage. Here, gross damage means the damage inflicted by a weapon, before the target's armor is taken into account. Other studies, based on the final damage numbers displayed in the user interface, concluded that each level of damage bonus increases the weapon's net damage by about 5%. An earlier and less detailed study arrived at a figure of 7%.
Movement speed increase (MSI) increases the knight's running speed, while charging a weapon or not. MSI aids defense by helping the knight dodge enemy attacks. This is especially true for bombers, who cannot use their shields while attacking. MSI can also help knights reach spawn points to kill monsters as they spawn, reach frozen teammates to break them out, etc.
MSI is available through armor such as Black Kat Cowl and through sprite perks. There are no shields, trinkets, or unique variants for MSI.
MSI is rated on the same six-point scale as ASI, CTR, and damage bonus, and it adds in the same way. For example, MSI: Low (+1) with MSI: Medium (+2) yields MSI: High (+3). Presumably MSI is capped at +6. However, the greatest MSI currently attainable in the game is +4, using for example Mercurial Helm/Mail with the Swift Steps II sprite perk. At the other end of the spectrum, the least MSI currently attainable is -3, using for example Ancient Plate Helm/Mail with Grand Tortoise.
Armor affects its wearer's defense not just by reducing damage and status effects, but also by giving the wearer health. For example, 5-star armor grants four health points at heat levels 1-4, and five health points at heat levels 5-10. Some armor, such as Ancient Plate Helm and Vitasuit Plus, grant "additional" health points compared to other items. If standard health values are higher than usual for an armor, helmet, or shield, then the item has a distinct "ability" regarding HP. Otherwise, health bonus is just a common property of an item, and not considered a "special" ability.
UVs cannot be health bonuses.
Damage Protection and Status Resistance
Damage and Status protection are both defensive statistics - not to be confused with "abilities" although both can be UVs. To keep things clear, an "ability" in-game has a blue or pink arrow and a value such as "low" or "high" and so on -(remember HP is the exception to this because almost every item has a standard HP behavior and doesn't use "low" or "high" etc.). A defense statistic has blue positive bars for damage defense and blue positive or pink negative bars for status resistance.
Helmets, armor, and shields all carry some kind of damage protection. Many also carry resistance against status effects. The knight's total protection is calculated by adding his helmet's and suit's protection values. The shield's protection values affect only the shield itself. (For more detail, read Shield or Shieldbearer Guide.)
Helmets, suits, and shields can acquire unique variants for damage and status. These unique variants simply add onto the armor piece's inherent defense. They are rated on the following four-point scale. Notice that Maximum! has a different value than for offensive abilities. Also, there does not appear to be any theoretical cap or maximum, although there may be a maximum to the practical value of the defense.
All of these damage protections and status resistances are available as UVs. However, Punch never grants status UVs to shields; status UVs on shields can arise only through crafting.
Each level of damage resistance bonus seems to add about 10% of the defense of a "standard" piece of armor (for example, Skolver Coat for piercing), up to 40% for a Maximum! UV. (Test data can be found here, here , and here .) The data are consistent with the visual lengthening of the damage statistics bars. The damage resistance offered by trinkets is not well studied.
Tests of status resistance suggest that a 5-star trinket is equivalent to a Medium on the four-point scale, and that a highly resistant armor (such as Volcanic Demo Helm) is equivalent to a Maximum! The highest status resistance that can be displayed in the character's defensive summary is eight points. However, tests suggest that resistance above eight points is meaningful; it is simply not displayed.
The damage taken from a status seems to decay exponentially with the amount of resistance: four points negate roughly 40% of the status damage, eight points negate around 65%, etc. The effects of resistance on status duration are not well studied. Curse resistance seems to reduce the duration and the number of items affected. Data from resistance tests are aggregated in a Spiral Knights forum thread.
For a detailed example of computing total offensive abilities, consider a knight with the following equipment. Keep in mind that certain heat levels grant CTR.
- Perfect Mask of Seerus: handgun ASI+1, handgun CTR+2
- Shadowsun Slicker: handgun damage+2
- Swiftstrike Buckler: ASI+3 on all weapons
- Nova Driver: heat level 10, with unique variants for CTR+3 and construct damage+4
- Acheron: heat level 6
The Nova Driver then has these total abilities.
- ASI: +1 +3 = +4.
- CTR: +2 +2 +3 = +7, which is no better than +6.
- damage vs. construct: +2 +4 = +6.
- damage vs. other: +2.
The Acheron has these total abilities.
- ASI: +3.
- CTR: +1.
- damage: +0.
Many advanced players are interested in optimizing their offense, even at the cost of some defense. Except for bomb ASI, the following loadout offers maximum offense.
- Black Kat Cowl (or its lower-star versions): MSI+1, damage+3 on all weapons
- Black Kat Raiment (or its lower-star versions): MSI+1, damage+3 on all weapons
- Swiftstrike Buckler: ASI+3 on all weapons
- Swift Steps II sprite perk: MSI+2
- each weapon: ASI+3 or ASI+4 UV, CTR+4 UV, and heat level 10
The overall effect is MSI+4, ASI+6 on swords and handguns, ASI+3 on bombs, CTR+6 on all weapons, and damage+6 on all weapons against all enemies. Each armor piece carries freeze+4, fire-2, shock-2, poison-2, and curse-4. Therefore the knight's total status resistances are freeze+8, fire-4, shock-4, poison-4, and curse-8.
Equipping two pieces of equipment that have abilities that cancel eachother out will still display a nonsense ability in the equipment summary tootip. It will be in red and have a positive bonus description. This means that the ability is simply null. This is because the visuals for self-cancelling abilities has not been programmed.