Destiny The Ram In-Depth Armor Analysis

Destiny The Ram In-Depth Armor Analysis by CaptainChaozZz

Health, Shield & Armor

The Basics
To really understand the effect of increased armor you first have to understand what the armor affects itself. What I mean here is you have to understand what the overall health of a guardian is, especially its components.

So I tried to answer the following questions:

  • What is the Health?
  • What is the Armor?
  • What is the Shield?

I know a lot of you may think that you already know the answers to that but I think it’s not as easy as that.

So the first test I made was simply to understand these components better.
I made the test in the Cosmodrome in Dock 13, crouched down in the water and just shot myself – spines are divine, but knees are just fine.
Here are the results (as a Level 34 guardian on each class).

Lowest possible Armor settings:

ClassShield (breaks)Health (death)
Warlock9 shots (10)12 shots (13)
Hunter9 shots (10)12 shots (13)
Titan10 shots (11)12 shots (13)

Highest possible Armor settings:

ClassShield (breaks)Health (death)
Warlock11 shots* (11)12 shots (13)
Hunter*11 shots* (11)12 shots (13)
Titan11 shots (12)12 shots (13)

*Because I missed to equip Cricle of Life the armor level with the Hunter here was +7. Was almost exactly at the point where the shield breaks without losing health.

(note: at first I did the test with one single shank there but damn these things shoot like they are drunk. So I had to find a more steady method. In both tests I used my Atheon’s Epilogue that was still at 267.)

So what was this test about (since it was PvE and there are no numbers to work with)? The test showed some very important things:

  • Your Health is bigger (can take more damage) than your Shield
  • The Armor does affect your Shield
  • The Armor does not affect your Health
  • The Health seems to be the same no matter which class

The Armor – pre-test thoughts

And now it slowly starts to get interesting. The armor is the only component that you can change ingame by increasing or decreasing it with certain perks. It does affect the shield but it is not the shield itself.

For a better understanding you can imagine the “life” of a guardian as a simple calculation:

Life = Health + Shield x Armor

That means your guardian has a Health and a Shield with certain base stats – the base is 100%. The Armor affects the Shield by increasing it, for example to 110%.

With that in mind I had a look at the all the perks and the possible minimum and maximum armor settings of each class.
The interesting thing was the already known “unit” in that armor, recovery and agility increases or decreases can be measured. You probably know this unit from some guides or descriptions as +2 or +3 and so on.
I know this sounds unimportant but this unit gives you something stable to measure the effect of an increased armor.

The armor bar itself has a possible maximum of +10. So the possible minimum armor for Warlocks and Hunters is +0 and the possible maximum armor for Titans is +9.

What’s the best possible Test Location?

I know that there are some very popular posts/videos out there that already researched this subject. But in my opinion the performed tests are not accurate enough and lead to false conclusions. Let me show you why.

Ok, now it was time for the real tests. And before I start I’d like to thank rapido for his patience and time to be the test dummy in my crazy experiments, thank you!

To prove my ideas above I had to start somewhere. If I’d ask you what is the best test location in the game for something like this you would probably say Rumble. But you know nothing, Jon Snow.
Of course we started there too and I feel kind of bad for rapido that I was not smart enough to realize the problem in the first place – Rumble or PvP in general is the worst possible test environment in the game.

It’s hard to explain what made me think that this could work but after a while I finally found the perfect test location – water on patrol! Yep, lol.
I know this probably sounds strange but if you kneel in the water in PvE and shoot yourself you actually deal the same amount of damage to yourself like you’d deal to an enemy in PvP on the same level.

To proof this I made a simple test.
I used a Warlock with Level 34, maximum armor (+7) and the following weapon (damage) combinations:

  • Test one: 1 shot Praedyths Revenge (107) + 3 shots Vex Mythoclast (30 per shot) = 197 damage
  • Test two: 1 shot Efrideet’s Spear (181) + 1 shot Hard Light (16) = 197 damage

In both PvP and PvE “Test one” was not deadly but “Test two” was deadly. What does that mean?

  • The displayed damage numbers are rounded in some way (for example: in “Test two” the damage output was probably something like 197.2 while in “Test one” the damage output was only something like 196.9).
  • At least in this special environment your guardian has the same amount of overall health and your weapons deal the same amount of damage in PvE like they would have in PvP.

I did some further tests there and realized quickly that your level and the attack rating of your weapons matter.
Simple version: you can imagine the water as a sea full of tears from players of the past Iron Banner and Trails of Osiris Events – level advantages are enabled.

This leads to some very specific requirements to get some useful results from the tests – you need to be the highest possible level with your guardian (Level 34) and you need the best possible attack rating on your weapons (365).
And so I made the greatest sacrifice ever – I ascended my Atheon’s Epilogue (and some other weapons).

The inaccuracy of Atheon’s Epilogue (multiple shots)

All the other tests I’ve found were tests with the famous Epilogue – lowest impact, easy to calculate. But I think they missed something important.

Due to all the nerfs the Auto Rifles got in the past the displayed damage numbers are an illusion. Above I’ve written that the displayed numbers are rounded – in the case of the Epilogue that means that the real number of one shot can be between 9.6 and 10.4 (roughly).

So what happens when you fire 20 shots in your test? Correct, the damage is not 200 but something between 192 and 208, and that’s a pretty huge difference.

Of course I realized this a little too late in my tests and had to retest a lot lol, but here is how I tested the inaccuracy (with +7 armor):

Displayed Damage OutputWeapon(s)ShotsDamage per shot
197Efrideet’s Spear1181
Hard Light116
200Atheon’s Epilogue2010

Like in the test above I didn’t survive the first test but I was alive after 20 Epilogue shots. And that means that the real damage number of one Epilogue shot is less than 10.
So I took this into account in my tests and tried to avoid multiple shots from one weapon (in other words: I tripled the amount of time to get a good weapon combination for each damage number).

The Tests in the Seas of Tears

The Overall Health

The first test here was to get some kind of an overview of the overall health of a guardian with all the possible armor settings. Thanks to the tests with rapido in the crucible I knew where I had to start.

Here are the results for all possible armor settings with a Warlock:

ArmorDamage (not dead)Used Weapon(s)ShotsDamage per shot
+0185MIDA Multi-Tool (SDC)537
+1186LDR 50011167
SUROS Regime (SDC)1 (no FF)19
+2187LDR 50011167
Atheon’s Epilogue210
+3189LDR 50011167
Necrochasm (AggBal)211
+4191Efrideet’s Spear1181
Atheon’s Epilogue110
+5193LDR 50011167
SUROS Regime (LC)1 (FF)26
+6194LDR 50011167
Vex Mythoclast (SDC)127
+7197Praedyth’s Revenge1107
Vex Mythoclast (AggBal)330

(Legend: FF = Focus Fire, AccBal = Accuriced Ballistics, AggBal = Aggressive Ballistics, SDC = Smart Drift Control, LC = Linear Compensator)

Then I did the same tests with my Hunter and my Titan. I know there are some players out there that think that Titans have the highest base armor and Hunters or Warlocks have the lowest base armor. But that’s not true (at least in PvP) – every class (Titan, Warlock and Hunter) has the same amount of health and the same shield on each armor level! Titans only have the ability to increase their armor to +9 (and Hunters to +8).

So you can add armor level +8 and +9 to the table to get the full picture:

ArmorDamage (not dead)Used Weapon(s)ShotsDamage per shot
+8197-198Efrideet’s Spear1181
Hard Light (AggBal)116
+9199-200LDR 50011167
Necrochasm (AggBal)311

(It’s more likely that +8 is 198 damage and +9 is almost exactly 200.)

The Health

The next thing to test was the actual health (red bar, without shield) at each armor level.
Thank god the health regeneration pauses for a brief moment before the shield regeneration kicks in – this was the starting point of the test. I used a 365 Word of Crota (I’ll miss you Etheric Light) simply because it seems to be the only appropriate weapon for this test.

Two shots with the Word of Crota (102 damage) did not kill me and took away almost the entire red bar at each armor level. Even at the highest armor level (+9) one shot with the Praedyth’s Revenge (107 damage) killed me.

This confirmed another theory from the Basics above – the armor does not affect your health. My best guess here is that your health is between 103 – 105 damage points.

The Shield

So let’s take 105 damage points for your health and only have a look at the shield:


If you put these numbers in a graph you’ll see that the increase is not
(red line would be a linear increase, just for visualization purposes)

Given that these are all rounded numbers, this seems pretty much to be a linear increase of your Shield with each armor level.

The Calculation of the Illusion

Since everything here is rounded (for example +4 is not exactly 191.0 but maybe 190.7 or 191.2) and you can’t see the real numbers there was no way for me to find the exact calculation of the armor/shield increase. But I tried to get as close as possible.

To really calculate something you need at least one exact value for one armor level. If you take a look in the patch notes of update 1.0.1 you’ll read:

“Health numbers are now normalized at a 200 base value (up from 175) to be easier for players to calculate.”

What does that mean?

  • The base value is either the start (increase) or the end (decrease) of your health. All the performed tests so far point in one direction – it’s the end of your health. That means that you will have a health of exactly 200.0 when you run max armor.
  • The maximum armor is either +9 (possible maximum with perks) or +10 (full armor bar).

Ok, now I needed at least one other point to estimate the decrease of the health by lowering the armor level. From the probably hundreds of performed tests I was pretty sure that I found two of these points.

The health with an armor level of +7 is almost exactly or slightly less than 197.0:

ArmorDamageUsed Weapon(s)ShotsDamage per shot
+7197 (dead)Efrideet’s Spear1181
Hard Light (AggBal)116
+7197 (alive)Praedyth’s Revenge1107
Vex Mythoclast (AggBal)330
+7197 (alive)LDR 50011167
Atheon’s Epilogue310

The health with an armor level of +0 is almost exactly or slightly less than 185.0:

ArmorDamageUsed Weapon(s)ShotsDamage per shot
+0185 (alive)MIDA Multi-Tool5185
+0185 (dead)Ice Breaker1175
Atheon’s Epilogue110

And now it’s time for some spooky math

The total increase in health from armor level +0 to +9 or +10 is about 15 health points (200 – 185).
If you have 200 health with an armor level of +10 that means the decrease is something like 1.5 per armor level (15 health points divided by 10 armor levels).
If you have 200 health with an armor level of +9 that means the decrease is something like 1.6667 (15 health points divided by 9 armor levels).

So let’s take a look at the results:

ArmorOverall Healthwith 1.6667 decreasewith 1.5 decrease

Since I used 200 and 185 as start and end points here the only way to see which decrease is closer to the reality is to look which one is closer to the “+7 point”.
And that’s the 1.6667 decrease or about ~ 2% per armor level.

To get some further proof here I asked rapido to be the test dummy one more time. On my first test day I bought a green Sniper Rifle from the Gunsmith – a Hieracon-LR3 – which finally should be useful. This weapon deals 100 damage per bodyshot.
So the test was pretty simple – he was a Titan with +9 armor and I fired two shots in his chest. The result: he died and I liked it.

Combined with the result of the previous test (LDR 5001 & Necrochasm) that means that the health with +9 armor is almost exactly 200 and the calculation above is not too far away from reality.

But please keep in mind that this is not the 100% exact calculation. I think it’s pretty close but only Bungie can say how close.

The thing with Supers & Overshields

Overshields nees further research. I didn’t want to spend hours on watching youtube videos and searching for reddit posts just to hope that one of those special situations might happen. Feel free to post some videos in the comments to collect some data.

We all know these situations in the crucible – a Bladedancer is coming for you and you shoot with everything you got, but the Bladedancer seems to have endless health.
But does he really have more health or is it something else? If you take a look at the damage numbers from your shots you will notice that they are less than they are used to be.

Of course the calculation is not as easy as the one I gave you somewhere above in the basics part and there are much more factors in that equation. I don’t know anything about the real calculation but I imagine something like this:

If you shoot one shot there is probably some kind of damage scan on the receiving part of that shot (your enemy) before the health calculation starts:

  • If no Super or Overshield is active then the outcome of that scan is probably 1 (=100%)
  • If Super is active then the outcome of that scan is probably 0.5 (=50%)
  • If Overshield is active then the outcome of that scan is probably 0.8* or more likely there is some kind of predefined value for each weapon class

*for example

And after this scan the base damage number of that shot is multiplied by the outcome of the scan. So the outcome of the scan can be described as some kind of resistance.

I found some examples for the Overshield (headshots):

WeaponDamage without OSDamage with OSDifference
Efrideet’s Spear452352100
Y-09 Longbow Synthesis417317100

And I experienced another example for Supers (Bladedancer) on my own:

WeaponDamage without SuperDamage with SuperDifference
Khepri’s Sting60730450%

(in case you are interested: Flameshield seems to be about 65-70 damage points)

Strength of the RAM

Increased armor. All Voidwalker melees trigger Life Steal on hit.

Increased Armor
I guess there is no more need to explain how I tested it. So let’s just jump to the results:

ArmorDamage (not dead)Used Weapon(s)ShotsDamage per shotEffect (damage)
+0193LDR 50011167+8
SUROS Regime (LC)1 (FF)26
+1194LDR 50011167+8
Vex Mythoclast (SDC)127
+2197LDR 50011167+10
Atheon’s Epilogue310
+3199-200LDR 50011167+10
Necrochasm (AccBal)311
+4201Efrideet’s Spear1181+10
SUROS Regime (LC)1 (no FF)20
+5203Efrideet’s Spear1181+10
Necrochasm (AggBal)211
+6210Efrideet’s Spear1181+16
Vex Mythoclast (LC)129
+7219Efrideet’s Spear1181+22
SUROS Regime (SDC)2 (no FF)19

These results are pretty interesting. I think it’s clearly to see that the effect is not a 25 HP bonus for each armor level. But what is the armor effect of the Ram?

The armor only affects only the shield so it’s probably better to have a look at those numbers:

ArmorShieldShield with the RamIncrease
+0808810 %
+181899.87 %
+2829212.19 %
+3849411.90 %
+4869611.62 %
+5889811.36 %
+68910517.97 %
+79211423.91 %

At least up to the armor level of +5 the increase seems to be almost on a stable level between 10 – 12 %.
I don’t really know what happened at the armor levels +6 and +7. My best guess here is that the shield value reached some kind of a barrier (maybe 100 for a maximum armor level of +10) and this caused the calculation to change in some way.

Because of this change the conclusion is that it’s by far more valuable to run the Ram with +6 or +7 armor than with a lower armor setting because you almost double the effect.

Just out of curiosity I tested the possible damage as a Sunsinger while Radiance was active.

ArmorDamage (not dead)Used Weapon(s)ShotsDamage per shot
+7394LDR 50012167
Vex Mythoclast (AggBal)230
+7 (with Ram)438LDR 50012167
SUROS Regime (LC)4 (FF)26
+7 (with Radiant Skin)438LDR 50012167
SUROS Regime (LC)4 (FF)26
+7 (with Ram & Radiant Skin)487Efrideet’s Spear2181
SUROS Regime (SDC)5 (FF)25

If you multiply the results without Radiant Skin by 0.5 (=50%) you get the base damage values from the previous tests which kind of proves the idea about Supers & Overshields above.
The effect of Radiant Skin seems to be about 11% (44/394 and 49/438).

Also the results show that the armor effect of the Ram scales with your Super or more exactly with the resistance that your Super creates:

  • Without Radiant Skin: 44 damage x 0.5 resistance = 22 damage (base damage increase of the Ram)
  • With Radiant Skin: (22 damage / 0.5 resistance) x (0.11 radiant skin effect + 1) = 48,84

Ok, enough numbers for today.

Life Steal

This perk triggers on every hit but it has a 3 second cooldown. The regeneration triggers immediately but can be interrupted if you get damage – so it works like every other life regen perk.

In both PvE and PvP this perk can save your life in certain situations. Since you get this one for free there is no downside here.
As a Voidwalker you can now choose between Surge (higher movement and weapon speed) and Soul Rip (melee kills with Energy Drain reduces the cooldown of the Novabomb) – that’s most likely an individual decision, I’d prefer Surge for PvE and Soul Rip for PvP.

I really just wanted to focus on the increased armor here. If you want to know something about the other perks of the Ram with some gameplay feel free to check out the Review on Planet Destiny.


The Ram is probably more useful in PvP than in PvE. You will survive at lot of situations in which you would have died usually. Here are some of these situations if you run a max armor setting:

  • 2 bodyshots of Praedyth’s Revenge (214 damage)
  • 2 consecutive headshots of Thorn (210 damage)
  • 2 full headshot bursts of Red Death (216 damage)
  • 1 headshot of Subtle Nudge DN7 Sniper Rifle (217 damage)
  • Here is a good video which shows some of these things in action:

Of course you won’t be able to double your K/D only by wearing this helmet but it’s definitely an advantage.
If you’re a main Sunsinger you will probably find more use in other exotics. But if you’re a main Voidwalker, used to close combat and can run a high strength & intellect build (at 100% strength the cooldown of your melee is about ~27 seconds) with increased melee speed gauntlets you will have a lot of fun in the regular crucible.

In my opinion the increased armor of the Ram is a nice idea but the actual effect is a little too strong, at least for PvP.
As a Warlock you can run a full armor and a full recovery setup at the same time – in principle no big deal. But with the Ram you can now add a lot more armor (~ 23% shield increase, +22 damage points in overall health) and a nice recovery option to this setup without sacrificing anything which makes things kind of imbalanced (remember that the max overall health of a Titan with +9 armor is 200). But that’s just really my own opinion on the PvP part.

Just a funny little thought for the end of this post:

Wouldn’t it be glorious if the armor would work like the resistance of Supers & Overshields?
That would mean that increasing your armor would not simply “extend” your shield (your shield has for example 80 damage points no matter which armor level is selected) but it would increase its resistance to incoming damage with each level – your shots would simply just do less damage to an +9 armor enemy than to an +0 armor enemy.

TLW: The increased armor effect of the Ram turned out to be pretty strong. You can gain up to ~23 % more Shield at the highest armor level of +7 (= +22 damage points). No class has more armor or health than the other, at least in PvP. Your overall health:

  • as Titan with +9 armor is almost exactly 200
  • as a Warlock with +7 armor is almost exactly 197
  • as a Warlock with +7 armor & the Ram is about 219

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2 Responses

  1. FlameInTheVoid says:

    From the BradyGAMES official strategy guide, regarding lightweight:

    “A quick tip for Hunters: the speed gains are sharper past 10 points of Agility, so max Agility Hunters can get a nice overall speed boost from capping agility and taking lightweight.”

    It follows, that this is typical and applies to Armor and Recovery as well, and the Ram numbers seem to confirm this.

    The simplest, and therefore probably correct, solution appears to be that the ram is a straight +5 boost to the Armor class stat. This number, when added to the base warlock armor, presumably then takes the total armor beyond the regular cap (+10 armor, or ~203 damage, counter-intuitively given the “200 base”), which accounts for the marked increase when warlock armor is 6-7 (or 11-12 total armor).

    It would be interesting to test the PoE chest armor bonus with and without the ram to ascertain whether this is correct and determine the value of the Armor bonus from the PoE chest armor. I know the Hive area has water. Testing would be tricky though. I’m mostly curious if the increases continue to accelerate beyond 12 in the same manner. 15 armor could potentially be over 250 hp (or 145 shields anyway).

  2. Titan Dude says:

    This is awesome! I was looking for something with more depth to it. The current videos out there just weren’t specific enough. Thanks!

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