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In Spiral Knights, since I've reached tier 2, I've noticed that I take a lot more damage from elemental and shadow attacks than I do from normal ones. After doing a little research, I've discovered that this is because damage is split into 4 types (normal,piercing,elemental,shadow), and your armor's defense is different for each one. (I used the normal cobalt set, so that gave me good normal/piercing resist, and nothing for the other types.) Now, in tier 1 everything does just normal damage, and in tier 2, everything does half normal damage. However, I'm unaware of any armor set that covers all 4 damage types on its own, and tier 3 has enemies doing pure elemental/shadow/piercing damage. So, my question is as follows.

In tier 3, is it feasible to take just one armor set (for example, the default), should you mix and match resistances (for example, having armor of elemental/piercing resist and a helmet that resists normal/shadow), OR should you have different sets of armor depending on which levels you're planning to go through?

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Don't forget that Unique Variants can cover an empty defense. –  Raven Dreamer Jun 28 '11 at 3:49
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Yes, Unique Variants can help, but the boost they give is insignificant when compared to having a piece of armor for that category. –  Nicholas1024 Jun 28 '11 at 17:33
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are two sides to this, depending on whether you plan your path or not:

Because the Clockworks is constantly moving, even when you're progressing through a level, you have the option of deliberately waiting to step onto the elevator in order to reach desired levels. Each of the levels has a (usually) pretty obviously descriptive name reflecting the types of monsters you will encounter, and since gear with fewer resistances is stronger against each source, you can "stack" your resistance to a select few and plan out your path for maximum resistance. They hide the option to show the gate map under the upper-left menu with no way to hotkey it, but it will show you where the elevator is currently pointing.

For the more casual player who expects to face damage from a variety of sources, pieces with multiple resistances will help negate more damage on average than a specific piece. Because they have more individual resistances, there is a greater probability of entering a level they can resist some of the damage from, rather than limiting all of your potential resistance to a single source and missing it.

The bottom line is that very few sections of the game actually depend on your gear's type enough that it makes a significant difference. As long as you have enough stars on your gear and a fair amount of experience with the enemies' tactics, you can just pay attention to your "threat meter" to the lower-right of the minimap.

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+1 for mentioning the hidden gate map. That'll be very useful, thanks. –  Raven Dreamer Jul 6 '11 at 0:58
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