Gear bonuses and when to use what gear

article headerSo a while ago I made a post about when to use Attack runes and when Defense runes, as there seemed to be confusion about it even among more experienced players. I recently noticed the same problem with using gear, so I thought it time to write an article on that as well. Especially with the new debuff attributes, it has indeed become less intuitive to know what to use when. In this article I will try give the basics on the available gear attributes, and on when they are best used.


So to better understand what gear to use when, we need to know when to use offensive gear or defensive gear, and have an understanding of the available bonuses. In using runes, we don’t have to make a distinction between attacking and defending per-sé, we can apply both offensive and defensive runes at the same time if we want. With gear, this is somewhat more complicated, as your hero can only have one set of gear on, and mixing and matching with attack and defense gear is advised against…so let’s first briefly overview the gear attributes.

1. The gear attributes

So here’s what shapes a piece of gear to be great for offense or defense. First we have the base stats. These are fixed, and expressed in attack and life numbers. For example, the Pilfered sword has 1200 attack and 200 life (12% and 2%). These numbers cannot be changed in fully enhanced gear and so are fixed. With the ever increasing levels of gear bonus attributes, they have become less important, but still count!

1.1 Offensive attributes

attackRight now, gear can have two offensive attributes. A bonus to attack does just that, it increases your attack power the same way as the attack base stat or a Rune of Fury would. This is the older stat that we know from the moment gear was introduced.

life debuffThe newer offensive stat is a debuff to enemy life. Basically, this counteracts the enemy’s gear Runes of Invulnerability, making it so you kill more enemies in an attack. This stat is only seen on a few fairly recent sets.

1.2 Defensive attributes

lifeSame as with attack bonuses, we have two defense bonuses available. The older one we are all familiar with is the troop life bonus, which increases your troops life and causes you to lose less troops when an enemy attacks. When attacking larger opponents, this stat is useless.

attack debuffThe newer defensive stat is also a debuff, but this time to the enemy troop’s attack. This means an enemy army attacking you packs less of a punch and kills less of your troops, increasing the ratios in your advantage. As with the offensive debuff, this stat is also found only on the newer gear sets.

2. The basics rules of thumb

So now we have an idea of what offensive and defensive bonus attributes there are, we need to know when to use them. The basics of this are outlined in this article on offensive and defensive runes I wrote earlier.

2.1 Attacking against players

So the basics: When attacking larger players, focus strictly on attack, life is useless. When fighting much smaller opponents, focus on life as long as your victory is guaranteed. Everything in between is more difficult, as it would mean mixing up different types of gear, but stick to one would be my advice.

  1. When attacking large opponents, use offensive gear
  2. When attacking much smaller opponents, use defensive gear
  3. For attacking evenly matched opponents, stick to one or the other

2.2 Defending against players

For defending, we focus on life strictly in most cases, as your army will be much larger than the opponent army and you will win no matter what attack values you have. So the rules of thumb here:

  1. When defending against smaller armies, use defensive gear
  2. when defending against much larger opponents, use offensive gear
  3. When defending against evenly matched opponents, stick to one or the other

2.3 In doing campaign

In campaign we need to strictly focus on defensive gear. This is different from using runes, where we see a difference in the types of runes needed between CHS, GK and farming. With gear however, the best choice is defensive all the way. I know this for certain, because in improving high scores, reducing the losses by 1 has much more impact on score than reducing marching size by 1.

But even more surprisingly, it happened to be the case I was a little bit behind with my high scores a few days ago. With the newly acquired gear (Replenish), I went in to farm some stones and pages in Moria and High Pass. I used a FULL army of 120k troops, and STILL improved my score vastly due to lower losses. So this can only mean it is much more important to limit troop losses than to limit army sizes.

For all other campaign related business, survival is also the aspect to focus on, so the rule of thumb is:

  1. In campaign, focus strictly on defensive gear

3. Summary

So in short, the rules thumb. I have combined the rules for attacking and defending into more general rules that apply in every case, as I did in the runes article:

  1. +Life and Attack debuffs are defensive bonus attributes
  2. +Attack and Life debuffs are offensive bonus attributes
  3. When fighting much larger opponents, use offensive gear
  4. When fighting much smaller opponents, use defensive gear
  5. When fighting evenly matched opponents, stick to one or the other
  6. In campaign, use defensive gear

4. So what gear is best then?

So the last question that remains is what gear is best to use? What’s the best offensive or defensive gear set. Unfortunately, this changes with every new set introduced, but an overview can be found in this article on the best sets to use in-game.

21 thoughts on “Gear bonuses and when to use what gear

  1. . I have combined the rules for attacking and defending into more general rules that apply in every case, as I did in the runes article:

    +Life and Attack debuffs are defensive bonus attributes
    +Attack and Life debuffs are offensive bonus attributes
    When fighting much larger opponents, use offensive gear
    When fighting much smaller opponents, use defensive gear
    When fighting evenly matched opponents, stick to one or the other
    In campaign, use defensive gear ….again your welcome


  2. There seems to be a difference in attacking in campaign or attacking Bosses.
    For instance i have a lvl 250 hero equipped with the light,the well,the peak,the one ring, and oakenshield.All lvl 10
    I am doing fine in campaign,but i cant kill the lvl 250 boss in one blow , but i succeeded before with another combination.
    Do i use to much defence?
    Btw Many thx for your tremendous amount of work done over here.


    • Ive mentioned this in the boss article: if you cannot kill a boss, just switch to attack gear. I always attack Laketown bosses with complete attack hero, and even then only 1000 Giants are killed max….far less even I think


    • Use alll master rangers for bosses n you will kill in 1 hit …don’t ask why it just is …also when hitting smoug use all mammoths again don’t ask it just is n your welcome


  3. Can you update the feminishing returns for the newer gems too I would like to see a breakdown since these gems add 25-50% and more. What the best combo of gems for defensive or offensive gear would be.


  4. Can you update the guides with the new gear. Using the arrow 1 seems to be better than the necro shield. Plus Lvl 7 / 8 gems are out now.


    • Let me make clear that when I talk about “Larger Opponent”, I mean your army is going to be wiped out no matter what gear you wear, so even in full Replenish/Void your troops die.

      Given that situation, what is the best thing for you to do? Inflict as much damage as possible to the enemy before your troops die anyways. Best way to do that: Full attack gear.

      Coming back to the “Larger opponent” thing, I think the confusion may have arisen between the total size of a player and the army he is attacking with. A player can have 15B might, but he can still only attack you with 122k troops max at a time.

      So if you’re a 600m guy, your defending army is bigger than his ATTACKING army, and you should go for full defense gear! If you are almost zeroed and will be in the next attack, you could put on some attack gear to inflict the maximum damage in the opponent’s last attack, but usually there is no time for that.

      On the other hand, when you attack another player, the defending army will likely be much bigger and you have to go for attack gear again.

      So just follow the rule of thumb: If your army is much smaller then the opponents use attack gear, if your army is much larger use defense gear.

      And with army in this case we ONLY mean either the attacking march (122k) or the defending troops, NOT the troops that are not used in battle!

      Hope that clears things up?


  5. Hi BeardMonkey,
    Just wondering what your thoughts are for defending a Goblin Cavern while mining Gems (and anybody elses view). If we apply the rules above, it would most likely mean the optimum gear to use is offense due to the fact of usually being overwhelmed when defending them (But whats best in that scenario between Victory/Necro gear?). The defense gear really gets the nice ratio when you hit someone on a cavern, but in return you risk suffering the same fate afterwards.


    • In principal, going defense needs the same sets of gear in every situation. However, the question on how to approach the mines is dependent on how this is handled on your server.

      For example, it is not-done on my server to TK with Master Rangers. Alliances which do it can count on a no TK agreement with other alliances for sure. Same with Mines. On my server, we agreed between many alliances to not hit blue (and neutral) mines, and never hit with MR. There is one exception to this rule with a competing/red flag alliance though.

      So knowing that, defending is pretty easy. Just send like 10k troops, losses are never high that way. There isnt much to lose to begin with in my view anyways.

      Lastly, there is a difference in being surrounded by red flags and staying in a quiet part of the map.

      So basically, all these factors make what you should defend your mines with…no single right answer


  6. One thing I ought to point out. I get better scores mixing atk and def gear in campaign. While it is true that less troop losses increase score a lot more, there comes a balance point where troop march size and kill # even out. Still working on what gear is the best. I have over 100mil points in campaign.


  7. I’ve been wondering about something. Do you know how does “-X% life” debuff work in conjunction with “applies to the following units”. E.g. -3% life debuff that applies to T3 ranged units. Does that mean that the opponents T3 ranged units have their life reduced by 3% or that the debuff applies to all enemy units, but only those that are fighting our T3 ranged units? I guess it’s the second …


    • in principle not. Most cases when you’re defending, you have a much bigger army compared to whats attacking you, so you focus on +life or -foe attack.

      -foe life is only useful defensively speaking when your armies are roughly evenly sized…or you are smaller, in which case you are probably getting zeroed…


      • Thx Beardmonkey for answering. This lead me to the point that the void towershield is offensive gear. Option 4 is a life debuff. This Not all void is gear ment for defense I guess. What do you think?


        • yup you are correct. I never really used Void to begin with, so I was a bit in the dark about the properties as I found out (thought it was ALL defense)! Turns out that the Sword Ring and Cloak are for defending, while the Shield and Amulet are for attacking! I’ve update the relevant hero equipment articles with this information, thanks!


  8. This may seem like a weird question, but someone in my alliance was wondering if there is a bonus for using a full set of gear. No idea where that rumor came from, but I wasn’t sure myself. Is there?


    • Look at how the attack/life numbers (discount tier/troop type specific gear type) adds up as with full Ent and mixed. I suspect that there is a default multiplier from gear to gear (e.g. sword # are modified by shield %) but is not set dependent; however, the multiplier value is set dependent.


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