I recently started playing NetHack (warning to those who haven't, it's addicting) and I am at a point where I'm trying to decide between two pieces of armor.

I have a +2 Scale Mail and a +0 Banded Mail and I can't figure out which is better. According the NetHack Wiki page on Armor, the Banded Mail has higher AC by 2, is worth 45 more, and is heavier by 100. If the Scale Mail was unenchanted, it would be rather obvious which piece of armor to go with, but having that enchantment has me confused about which is better.

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Which piece of armor is better and/or how can I tell this in the future (regarding enchantments)?

  • Sidenote: Drop those arrows (which you can't use) and the extra iron skull cap (which you can't wear). They're just excessive weight that will contribute to your encumberence levels.
    – Doorknob
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:39
  • 1
    @Doorknob Thanks for pointing that out! Unfortunately, a few minutes after I chose the Scale Mail, I died of food poisoning. I didn't know that would kill you unless you prayed >.< Commented May 5, 2015 at 18:34
  • @Doorknob: I'd pet/altar test the extra skull cap first, and try it on if it's not cursed. If you try on all the uncursed skull caps and other early game headgear, you've got a pretty good chance of finding a random +1 or +2 one. (Same with other random armor, of course, but orcish helms = skull caps are particularly plentiful early on.) Commented May 30, 2015 at 0:12
  • @IlmariKaronen Ah, yes. I usually don't bother with that, but then again I have found +5 leather gloves on a soldier once \o/
    – Doorknob
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 0:14

1 Answer 1


According to the wiki, the Scale Mail has a base AC of 4, and the Banded Mail has a base AC of 6. But with the +2 enchantment on the Scale Mail, they both have an AC bonus of 6. Then, the only real difference between them is the weight. As you mentioned, the Scale Mail is substantially lighter, so it is the better choice.

The one benefit you might get from keeping the Banded Mail instead is that it has a higher potential AC bonus, after enchanting. All armor can be safely enchanted to +5, which means that a fully enchanted Banded Mail will have a higher bonus than a fully enchanted Scale Mail. However, this is relatively early game armor, so I would not use armor enchantment scrolls on these when you could save them for a Dwarvish Mithril-coat or a Dragon Scale Mail that you will hopefully be using later in the game.

  • So, enchantment levels simply increase the AC by however much the enchantment is? I see. And, you're suggesting that I use the Scale Mail because it's early game and it's lighter. Thanks for the answer! Commented May 5, 2015 at 16:45

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