Diablo 3: Defense =/= Armor

One topic that’s sure to confuse new (and old) players in Diablo III is that of defense. In the game, DiabloWikiDefense is now one of the four DiabloWikiattributes, along with DiabloWikiAttack, DiabloWikiPrecision, and DiabloWikiVitality. Defense is not the term for the number on all pieces of armor (as it was in Diablo 2). That number is now called DiabloWikiArmor, and the total from all of your gear (modified by stats and skills and such) appears in your DiabloWikiCharacter window in a big shield.

The biggest difference in this system, besides the slightly confusing name changes, is that Armor works like resistance; it does nothing to lower the to/hit of your attackers, and instead reduces the damage you take from incoming attacks. All attacks, if the tooltip is to be believed. Not just physical damage ones.

Armor isn’t the only factor that determines your, “All damage reduced by” number, though. Adding points to your Defense stat also increases your damage reduction, and a common question I’ve seen asked of beta testers relates to this. Which is more useful, Armor or Defense? And by how much?

I can’t answer that in great detail, but I found a pair of items the other day that made for a useful comparison. Check the annotated screenshot for the details, but here’s the money quote:

  • Gloves of the Sentry: 4 Armor, +1 Defense = Barbarian stats: 12 Armor, 20 Defense, 21.05% damage reduction.
  • Superior Thick Gloves: 5 Armor = Barbarian stats: 13 Armor, 19 Defense, 16.67% damage reduction.

I was surprised at the difference, personally. I knew Defense would be more useful; after all you can get hundreds of Armor from an individual item, while Defense is gained much more slowly. But I didn’t think just 1 point more Defense with 1 less Armor would be worth more than 4% additional damage reduction.

Admittedly, this is on a very lightly-equipped, low level Barbarian, where every point of stats makes a big difference. But this gives you an idea how valuable it is to add to your stats in Diablo III. See the DiabloWikiDefense and DiabloWikiArmor (and DiabloWikiCombat, and DiabloWikiResistance) pages in the Diablo Wiki for much more info on these issues.

Related to this article
You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.

34 thoughts on “Diablo 3: Defense =/= Armor

  1. Uncanny timing, Flux. I was just looking at the Wizard’s armor spells and deciding which one I would want to use (I decided to go with Storm Armor with an Alabaster to be super blasty with high critical chance). While comparing Ice Armor and Energy Armor, I compared Armor and Defense for the first time. I couldn’t find anything in the Wiki about Armor, and was gonna do a search for it right after I hit the main page again and.. tah dah!

    Looks like Energy Armor might get the nod, considering Defense is pretty hawt and the rune options for it are as well. Cold Armor doesn’t seem as attractive in rune choices, but the 3×85% stacking of the Golden rune might be a top contender.

  2. I just logged in to the game to confirm this, and my tool tip says that armor only reduces physical damage. Defense reduces all damage.

    • yes. but why just now? It was clear already for a long time
      poison resist
      fire resist
      cold resist
      lightning resist
      arcane resist
      phisical resist(arm)
      overal resist(def)
      And they all based on clvl and mlvl. Higher attacker – lower dmg reduction percent

      • My understanding is that it is dependent only on one level (either Mlvl or Clvl). The game would be almost trivially easy with Clvl for rushing, fighting while underleveled, etc, so it makes more sense to use Mlvl.

  3. Keep in mind that as you level, the amount of armor reduction given for any single point of defense will be reduced (similar to WoW combat rating system).  So while 1 point of defense might give 4% reduction at level 5, when you hit level 60 that same point might give 0.1% reduction assuming the same starting point of reduction.

  4. wonder how the relative numbers change if you get a level up, while everything else is still the same

  5. Hay, could you see if it generates the same difference stat wise with the Wizard? I’m betting that the Barb gets more bonus damage reduction for each point of Armour than the other classes do.

    Make sure the Wizard is the same level as the Barb too when checking. The levels should modify the stats (probably drastically too).

    • From what I’ve seen all stats are class independent. Resistance, armor and defense provide the same contributions. As does vitality, at 4 hp / vit (unlike in D2).

      • Thanks for the confirmation. I remember reading about this somewhere, but I couldn’t find where exactly.

  6. Barbarian stats: 12 Armor, 20 Defense, 21.05% damage reduction.
    Barbarian stats: 13 Armor, 19 Defense, 16.67% damage reduction.

    Wouldn’t 0 armor and 20 defense list 21.05% damage reduction? and 100,000 armor and 20 defense list 21.05% damage reduction?

    I thought the Damage Reduction % is only a factor of defense.  The defense damage reduction applies to all types. The armor gives a percent damage reduction only to physical attacks.  I don’t believe that % the physical damage is reduced by is listed anywhere.

    • It’s displayed if you hover your cursor over the shield in your character sheet.

      And you’re right, the DR displayed beside Defense doesn’t include the DR from Armor. It couldn’t really, since Armor is only physical resistance.

      • So are the %s Flux lists relevant? Isn’t he comparing apples and oranges? He doesn’t show how much the resistance to physical is changed by armor.

        • The DR gained from Defense is very relevant, but what’s really strange is that based on those screenshots the formulas I posted before don’t accurately predict the minimum amount of Defense required to gain DR at all. That’s weird, they were tested by multiple people and found to be accurate as far as I know. If DR from Defense doesn’t scale the same way for all classes, that would explain it. Need more info from beta testers.

          The only problem with Flux’s comparison is that he didn’t look at the physical DR from Armor, like you’ve said.

          • If you put the stats he shows in the screenshot into the equation and solve for Level, you find that the formula predicts that his level is exactly 5.  I think he recorded his level incorrectly.

  7. Ok, people. First I’d like to point out that this was distinguished a long time ago when the first shots of Armor were revealed, along with Bashiok’s post on the attribute change even longer ago.

    DEFENSE is an attribute and thus scales with clevel, and can be altered by items and skills (“+7 Defense/+20% Defense”). Defense reduces all damage. Period.

    ARMOR is not an attribute and thus isn’t affected by clevel. Armor reduces all Physical damage. It is the sum of all the Armor values on the pieces of equipment you wear.

    RESISTANCE like Armor isn’t affected by clevel. Resistance reduces Elemental damage. It is also modified by skills and items (“+24 all resistances/+60 Frost resistance”).

    They are 3 separate things, but all improve your chance of living. Other than that, there was talk about Resistance being a rating-based system instead of percentage-based. Awaiting clarification on that as release approaches.

    There. The end. Not difficult.

    • Your post is incorrect. Using the info found from the beta and emulated beta, all three formulae – Defense, Armor and Resistance(s) – take into account character level (or at least enemy level as assumed to be equal to character level – better to ask Starrise and Hardrock about this.)

      The formulae are as follows and can be found plotted on the links Hardrock posted above for Damage Reduction % (DR%):

      Defense DR% = 100 * (Defense – ((2 * Character Level)+6)) / (Defense – ((2 * Character Level)+6) + (3 * Character Level)

      Armor DR% = 100 * Armor / (Armor + (50 * Character Level)

      Resistance DR% = 100 * Resistance / (Resistance + (5 * Character Level))

      • I think he meant that Armor and resists don’t increase as we level up, although I could be wrong.
        The amount of DR we get from them indeed depends on the difference between the level of our character and the enemies we’re fighting.

        • I don’t know, I read “scales” and “affects” differently.

          Any idea where/how enemy level figures into the DR formulae?

          • Me too, but he wasn’t talking about DR, but about Armor and resists and those neither scale with level-ups nor affected by levels in any way.
            I’m not sure about how monster level will affect our DR. Calculating it against a given monster’s level may as simple as looking at the amount of Defense you have and then using the formula to see how much DR you would have at your enemy’s level.

          • I like how SVS posted to apparently say this topic is irrelevant since it’s so simple a caveman could understand it, and then the replies to his post provided a perfect case study in exactly why I posted this.

            Well, not “exactly” since this post was obviously not targeted on a stat/geek level. People who care that deeply about the formulae can (and do) use our Stats forum. On the main page we’re targeting the average D3 fan, and as players in D2 used defense and armor as interchangeable synonyms, the fact that they mean very different things in D3 is a point worth illustrating.

            Without getting so deep into formulas and math that most readers TLDR eyeglaze it.

        • That’s what I meant. And they don’t. If you’re not wearing anything/using any skills that improve resistance, and you’re level 60, your resists will be the same as a level 1 (ignoring the possibility of each difficulty subtracting from resistances like D2 did).

          And Flux, I was just trying to clarify the confusion of the 3 defensive stats, not get into specifics. Armor doesn’t affect defense, etc. I’d love to get into number-y specifics but we don’t have enough data to start making tables (yet).

          I just see too many confusing conversations, like:

          “Yeah so what if your item gives you 200 defense… that’s too much damage reduction!”
          – “Do you mean Armor? Items inherently give you armor.”
          “Yeah that’s what I meant.”
          – “Well Armor only reduces physical damage, so you’d still be susceptible to elemental attacks.”
          “No, but this item can give you defense.”
          – “Ok, so it must be a modifier on the item to boost the Defense stat.”
          “As long as it increases my chance to block, I’m fine.”
          – “It doesn’t do that at all.”
          “Oh. Well if I have enough armor I won’t need to worry about taking a lot of damage, right?”
          – “No, armor will only reduce physical damage. You’ll need resistances to stop elemental damage, or +Defense gear to would help stop elemental damage too.”
          “Wait, I thought only resists stop elemental damage? I’ll have to get high resists from investing in my Armor attribute?”
          – /facepalm

          • To clarify from Jed’s post: I mean that when your character dings to level 8, no game mechanic is going to say “OK +10 Armor and +6 all resistances.”

            If Armor/Resistances use rating system (as opposed to D2’s resistance percentage), as I mentioned at the end of my first post, then it will account for your level, the monster’s level, and potentially lots of other things.

  8. I’m assuming this will all scale with diminishing returns per level so you’ll need exponentially more of each stat to maintain similar reduction percentages later on.
    I like the change to defense damage reduction though. Reducing damage by a % is easier to work with and makes more sense than reducing enemy accuracy by some % which was lame and unpredictable.
    I hope they keep it percentage based though. Some RPGs treat defenses as an integer reduction which scales horribly and just sucks x.x

    • “I’m assuming this will all scale with diminishing returns per level”
      Their effectiveness indeed decreases as you level up. Check out the formulas I posted above. Change L’s value to the character level you want to look at. X is your stat (you can adjust its range) and Y is your DR.
      “Not sure how I feel about a single defense stat for everything though. On the one hand it makes gearing and geming a lot simpler, but at the same time it removes the choices between choosing gear with different types of resists etc.”
      I believe that point for point resists are better against specific damage types, so if you encounter a lot of enemies dealing magical damage, then resists are still a good option.

    • Totally agree.  I disliked making defense-based characters in Diablo II for several reasons.
      #1) Lowering the chance of getting hit is rolling dice with your character.  You either take 0 damage or a huge hit.  Pairing it with DR gear helped, but that gear was not easy to obtain for the more casual gamer.
      #2) At the end of the game, armor was kind of an all-or-nothing proposition.  Having ‘some’ armor didn’t really help much.
      #3) Certain key enemies, like the ones at the end of the battle right before Baal, ignored defense I believe.  So it did not help in some situations where it was needed most.
      #4) High-end armor ended up having big Strength requirements.  That required you to allocate your attribute points and +gear towards strength and away from other useful stuff like health and dex for blocking.
      I really liked the idea of a high defense Paladin or Barbarian, but ultimately its lack of reliability and onerous stat requirements caused me to not pursue high defense in DII.
      Really hoping it is more fun/possible in DIII.
      PS: I felt somewhat the same about shields & blocking after they tied it to dex.  If you wanted to block well at the end of the game, you had to pour huge amounts of attribute points into dex.  This took away life and strength, making you more of a glass cannon and unable to use some of the nicer weapons with STR requirements.  Again, I know top players with all the best gear could get around this easier.
      Would just be more fun (to me) if you there could be choices and tradeoffs that are not so extreme (all-or-nothing).

  9. I hope D3’s item system does not turn out to be like Hellgate’s item system… where “+All Attributes” and “+Armor” are the two best affixes, respectively… and nothing else really matters.

Comments are closed.