What is a better stat to have: armor or hit points?

I watched Spirit of the Law’s video where he listed the top 5 Hussar civs in AoE2 and he listed the Mongols as only #5 on the list as, according to Spirit, the Mongol civilization bonus +30% HP to Scout Cavalry, Light Cavalry, and Hussar is not much of a benefit as the Mongols lack the final cavalry armor upgrade Plate Barding Armor. And it got me thinking…

What is a better stat: hit points (HP) or armor?

I helping me answer the question above, here are some follow-up questions that I would like to discuss in helping to answer the topic question:

(1) Are Mongol (better HP) Hussars really not that good compared to a Generic Hussar civ (like say Turkic Hussars or Persian Hussars) that have access to Plate Barding Armor, as Spirit claims?

(2) The Vietnamese Castle Age tech gives their Battle Elephants (BEs) +50 HP (Chatras), the Burmese Castle Age tech gives their Battle Elephants +1 Melee Armor/+1 Pierce Armor (Howdah). Are Vietnamese BEs better than Burmese BEs? Or is it the other way around?
[SIDE QUESTION: What about the Khmer BEs having the benefit of +3 Attack (Tusk Swords) from their Castle Age tech?)]

(3) The Turks’ Castle Age tech (Sipahi) gives their Cavalry Archers +20 hit points. Does this make Turkic cavalry archers better or worse than the Tartars’ cavalry archers who get all the archer armor upgrades plus +1 Pierce Armor from their unique Castle Age tech (Silk Armor)?

(4) Bloodlines is considered by many players to be a must-have tech to have better cavalry units (Feudal Age tech that gives +20 hit points to all cavalry units and cavalry archer units). So a civ like the Celts that do not get Bloodlines despite having access to Hussar and Paladin upgrades…does lacking Bloodlines (and therefore less HP) mean that Celtic cavalry are not that good?

Link to Top 5 Hussar Civs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qZ2xS3lRw0&t=166s

the short answer is it depends.
it depends how much and what type of armor. it depends how much HP. it depends what you are fighting and what you are using the unit for.


Lol. That is a simple answer.

But answer this, Mat: if you had to pick either armor or HP for a unit (and not both) …which one would you prefer?

again it would depend.
what unit am i using? how much hp? what am i fighting?


Just compare burmese and vietnamese elephants (regarding defense)

Both are more tanky because extra hp or armor.

But one of them are better against archers and the other against halberdiers.

Extra HP is better against bonus damage, because bonus damage ignores armor.

Armor is better against low damage attacks, because it takes away more percentage of damage.


In general armor is better vs units with small attack. For instance Mongols have a superior scout line vs HCs but weaker vs arbalests…

Like @MatCauthon3 says, it depends what you are trying to do and which units the enemy is using.

Armor makes hit points better and hit points make armor better. So you usually want to improve the stats that are low.

+20 Hp would be completely broken for Karambits, since they only have 30(40) HP. On a War Elephant it doesn’t matter a lot.
+1/+1 Armour doesn’t do too much for a Karambit Warrior, while it is insanly good on a War Elephant.

Another aspect is how much damage does the expected attacker deal per attack. The lower it is, the better is armour. Reducing 5 damage to 4 is a huge deal (-20%). Reducing 20 to 19 doesn’t matter a lot (-5%).

So as other’s said there is no clear answer. But those are the main things I would think about.


You can quickly try out many of the things you’re asking about here:

However, it does give different results to what SotL says, e.g. it has Mongols Hussars beating Malians Light Cav. I don’t know if that is because something has changed since he made that video, or if testing in the scenario editor would give a different result to the combat simulator above. You have to be a bit careful testing in the scenario editor, the combat simulator simulates both sides being patrolled into each other.

Edit: I just tried 10 v 10 five times in the scenario editor, taking control of each side to tell them to attack move into each other. The behaviour of the two sides appeared identical. The Mongols won every time, with 2 or 3 remaining alive. The combat simulator predicts 2.88 Mongols remaining alive from 100 simulations, so it appears to be accurate from my 5 reps of testing.


Depends on what you are fighting. 50HP does have a bigger effect against Knights, +1 Armor has a bigger effect against archers. Same should go for most things

So a civ like the Celts that do not get Bloodlines despite having access to Hussar and Paladin upgrades…does lacking Bloodlines (and therefore less HP) mean that Celtic cavalry are not that good?
[/quote] They also lack the last armor upgrade.
In general Hussars without blood lines beat Light cav with bloodlines. But you are comparing Imperial age techs to castle age techs then. The hussar is still the better raiding unit, but the cavalry of the civ with blood lines will be more useful throughout most of the game.

It depends, both are good bonuses, but usually as a general (but with exceptions) rule, more HP are better for melee, and more armor (pierce in this case) is better for absorbing range damage.

That is because a melee units will take damage from only a certain number of units that are able to collide with it, so taking 1 or 2 less damage form a hit helps, but in the end its more important how many hits you absorb while you deal damage, and 1 or 2 MA it transmute in only 1 or 2 hits more.

From range instead, you can potentially have a lot of units attacking the same unit at the same time, so reducing each attack even by 1, it means taking away a lot of potential damage.

An example is:

  • a FU standard hussar can take 8 damage from another hussar with each hit, and goes down after 12 hits. Having +1 MA means that they can takes 14 hits instead, but at the same time you can get the same results by increasing the HP (like Mongols does).
  • from range instead, having +1 PA means that you are reducing the attack of every units attacking you, so if they are 10, you take 10 less damage for volley, if they are 50, it’s 50 less, and so on. The difference is that you can’t achieve the same effect by increasing the HP.
    Considering again the FU hussar, it would take 4 damage form an arb, and it with a group of 10 arbs, it would takes 3 volley to kill the hussars. With +1PA, it would take 4 volleys.

Now this an approximate rule, when you look closely it depends by a lot of other factors and stats, and there are a lot of exceptions, like boyars, teuton knights and paladins, units that have absurdly high MA that value more that value more than a HP bonus, and units like franks paladins that their HP bonus makes them better than other cavalry vs archers.

To be more specific to the you questions:

Onestly, it doesn’t change that much, vs melee HP is better, since 1 less damage doesn’t mean anything vs the huge anti cav bonus that some units have, while more HP means almost one more hit form an halb.
For pierce damage instead they are on about the same level, soaking up the same number of arrows in castle age. In imp more PA helps more vs archers, allowing them to take 40 more hits, but again there are exceptions, like vs scorpions, chukos, maybe even GC more HP is better.

That’s a bit different, Mongols light cav are supposed to be more of a frontline unit rather than a raiding units, though in castle age excel at both, since it have all the armor plus some HP boost. In imp instead they are supposed to be the trash meatshield for melee damage, while they have rams and onagers to deal with the range units.

Turks CA are by far the best for survivability, they can take a lot more arrows already in castle age, and more importantly thay can better survive to manganels shots (while tartars don’t benefit from that).
In imp the role flip a bit, and tartars can take 2 more shots from an arb, but I think that the mayor advantage for tartars comes from having free techs and a better eco, while turks need a castle for their bonus, so probably their rush it’s better.

BL is always important, in super late game hussars and light cav can still be used as a raiding unit, or for a meatshield, but the ones with BL will perform decisively better.

Though BL are important in feudal and castle, when it means a hit more from a spear/pike for a scout/knight. It also give your cavalry and edge, because armo upgrades basically nullify the enemy attack upgrades (and viceversa) until imp (where melee get +1 attack and pierce get +1 defense) but the +20HP from BL cannot be overcomed by an enemy tech like armor, so it’s a huge advantage.
The only reason why isn’t prioritized over armor is that it idle a stable.

That’s why on top of having a fantastic eco, kmer have the best BE. Because while more armor or HP helps, more speed and attack help more on covering their weaknesses, making them a lot better ar rushing, raiding and applying pressure.

Celtics cavalry are the worst since they lack both the last armor and BL, but having both hussars and paladins means that you can surprise you enemy time to time, since he won’t expect any of them.

After all, hussars are still a cheaper and expendable unit for raiding, and paladins are always paladins, and they always will be a powerhouse, especially if the enemy don’t expect them and don’t have any anti cav solution ready.
Though, I think that Celts have the paladins mainly to counter biczantine cataprhacts.

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As a rule of thumb for most units, melee damage tends to be high and melee armor tends to be low -> HP is better

For ranged attacks, damage is lower and pierce armor values are typically larger -> better to have more armor

Of course, it always depends on the specific situation. There is no absolute rule to follow in this case.
Armor is incresingly effective up to the point where damage - armor = 1. After that, a further increase in armor will not accomplish anything.


Hp is better than melee armor but pierce armor is better than hp

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It depends on the unit type and their role. Hussar is often using for raiding enemy Eco and kill vills. Therefore you need more attack or speed. Hussar with extra HP but less armor make them not stronger or tankier.
Compare to Malians with extra attack but less HP its worth to play with Malians light cav.
Bulgarians Hussar are amazing and better than Mongols.

If you want to compare cav Archer. Turks are better in my opinion. Maybe against Arbalest Tatars cav Archer could be better option. At the end it depends on the situation and against which type of unit.

Depends how much of each.
I would take +20HP over +1/+1 Armour, but would take +3/+3 Armour over +100 HP.

Good comparison, since Malians are a contender for the best Scout line in the game.

not really, and you answer yourself in the next sentence… the only reason +1 PA on an ele is good is because its PA is already so high. conversely the +1 MA on an the ele is worthless.

the actual reason it would be broken is because it is such a massive % increase on the effect vs the cost of the unit… 50% more damage can be taken, for a dirt cheap model…

try your theory again giving karambits +1PA… it would also be “broken”

Compare mayans vs incas eagles as an example of the “it depends on multiple factors” answer: At first glance, mayans are better vs melee while incas are better vs ranged units. While that’s not entirely wrong (Incas are indeed better vs arbs, hca and the like) it doesn’t apply to all units. Because eagles have such a high base pierce armor that skirms do almost no damage to them, either way, hp gives more value, here. Also vs. high damage ranged units like handcannons or arambai, hp is better than armor. So here the armor is better vs mid damage ranged units while hp is better vs low and very high damage ranged units. Other civs/units have different stats and therefore require different calculations.

Depends on heal speed: War Elephant in battle and teutonic knights in battle - depending on how they’re used monks will have a much easier time keeping the teutonic knights alive because of the high armor making each HP healed worth more where as the war ellie is going to be hard to get back to full health without concentrating 20+ monks into healing one. Add in the byzantine heal bonus and it increases the strength of the army by allot more, - use your army to their strengths and to cover each weakness as well as you can. Huskarls against archers, Teutonic knights vs melee, palladins for hit’n run - byzantines cataphracts for melee and special units such as the leitis, and portuguese for the ultimate team defense with unlimited walls and bombard towers

Ah, I like that you edited specific examples

Overall players tend to prefer a generic FU Hussar over a Mongol Hussar. It’s pretty close though and certainly not true for all situations.
It comes down to generic Hussars being more resistant to arrows, while Mongol Hussars are a bit better in melee situations. One big difference is Mongol Hussars taking 3 damage from Bracer Skirms, while normal Hussars only take 1 damage.

Elephants already having so many HP makes armour a lot better (even though 50 is a lot).
Vietnamese are clearly the worst of the 3 elephants - it would be a lot closer though, if they were not lacking the final attack upgrade.

The same principle of HP being better vs melee and armour being better vs ranged applies here as well though. It’s just that 320 HP is so much, that 1 armour is even very good for melee situations, allowing you to take quite some more hits (except for high bonus attacks like Halbs).

Khmer are seen as the best Elephants, because even though they have no specific defensive bonus, they are still very tanky. +3 attack is a very good boost on top of that. And also the speed bonus they have is extremely good, as speed is the biggest weakness of elephants.

Yeah, Turkish CA should be better in most cases. The % increase in HP is slightly more than in the Hussar example and also it’s just +0/+1 instead of +1/+1 (which might be changed next patch though). So it goes more into the direction of: Better vs melee, the same vs ranged.
Keep in mind though, that for ranged units, which are expected to stay safe and deal damage an offensive bonus is even better. So Magyar CA should be put above both of them (in fact above all regular CAs).

Bloodlines is a very nice boost, but it’s more important for knights than for Paladins (=more important for lower HP units).
What makes Celtic Paladins terrible is not the lack of bloodlines, but the lack of the last armour upgrade, giving them only 5 pierce armour instead of 7. Of course you still want bloodlines as well, but with a civ like Byzantines (who lack the last attack upgrade and bloodlines, but have all armour upgrades) it’s still okay’ish in some situations to get Paladins, while as Celts it’s an absolute no go.

+1 MA on a 320 HP unit (or whatever elephant we are talking about) is pretty good, even if it’s just the first upgrade. Yes, it’s even better if the armour is already high. But since HP and Res get multiplied with eachother you want both to grow and not have everything focus on one of those.
What you wrote is relevant, writing “the only reason” is too much though :wink:
btw. it’s not only about PA being high, but also (and even more) about melee attacks usually having higher values than pierce attacks.

Sry mate, but that’s wrong. Unit cost has nothing to do with a % increase.
Giving Karambits +50% HP is just as broken as +50% HP for every other unit.
What makes it broken is that a flat 20 HP bonus turns out to be a +50% HP boost for Elite-Karambits, while it’s not nearly as much for most other units. That’s why the lower base HP makes the flat bonus (which doesnt exist xD) broken.

It just happens to be the way that for obious reasons low price units tend to have low base stats.