When people talk about armor, they're usually referring to completed armor sets. And that's understandable, as armor set bonuses are typically so powerful that you probably assumed that they're optimal, and usually you'd be right. This guide is about the exceptions to that rule. As an example, one question I often hear on the Terraria Discord is "guys im about to fight plantera. is turtle armor good enough?" And the answer to that question is yes, it's "good enough". But is it the best? Turns out, the answer is no. Let's have a look at the stats. 14% increased melee damage 12% increased melee critical strike chance 65 defense Deals equal amount of contact damage to attackers (calculated using attacker's base damage and defense) Since it's a melee-oriented set, surely its offensive bonuses must be best-in-slot for melee, right? Wrong! As it turns out, Turtle armor loses to both Adamantite and Titanium in terms of raw melee DPS bonuses. But surely the set bonus makes up for its lackluster offensive stats, right? Let's run some calculations. Since the Turtle set has 65 defense, Plantera's 2nd form (the only form likely to deal contact damage to you) will deal 38 damage to you on average. Assuming you have 500 health and enough time to drink 2 Greater Healing Potions, facetanking Plantera's second form will allow you to activate the Turtle armor set bonus 21 times. The 70 base damage of the counterattack is reduced to 65 by Plantera's 10 defense in that form, and you can deal that damage a maximum of 21 times on average. In summary, over the course of the entire fight, assuming the only damage you take is contact damage from Plantera's second form, Turtle armor's Thorns effect can be responsible for up to 1365 points of damage, with the tradeoff being that you'd be nearly dead at the end of the fight. That's around the same amount of damage that you could deal with three or four swings of a Death Sickle. tl;dr: in a serious fight, Turtle armor's set bonus is about as helpful as a glass hammer. So if not Turtle armor, what should be used instead? (Hallowed Mask, Turtle Scale Mail, Squire's Greaves) 18% increased melee damage 38% increased melee critical strike chance 10% increased melee speed (15% increased minion damage) 68 defense This hybrid set outclasses the full Turtle set in every area with a whopping 30% DPS advantage, losing only the set bonus. If you were looking for the best melee armor set for challenging Plantera with, now you have your answer*. *the Chlorophyte Mask will be slightly better if your weapon does not benefit from increased melee speed As you can see, with equipment from the Old One's Army available, we're entering a stage of the game where set bonuses are becoming optional, and sometimes not even optimal. This trend enters full swing once the final tier of the Old One's Army is unlocked, and at the center of this revolution lies one item: the Valhalla Knight's Breastplate. 30 defense 30% increased minion damage and massively increased life regeneration (+8 health per second) This is objectively the best single armor slot item in the game. 30 defense is indeed quite beefy, but that's not what's important here; what's important is the life regeneration. Let's put 8 health per second into perspective. The debuff On Fire! inflicts 6 damage per second. Therefore, the difference between wearing a Valhalla Knight's Breastplate and not wearing a Valhalla Knight's Breastplate is greater than the difference between being set on fire and not being set on fire. Another interesting fact: in the time it takes for Potion Sickness to run out, the Valhalla Knight's Breastplate will have healed you for nearly your entire health bar. This item isn't just a lame little stat bonus; it rivals the set bonuses of Luminite-tier gear. And it only takes up the body slot. "But it's a summoning-based item, right? If we can't use set bonuses and we can't get melee/magic/ranged damage bonuses from the body slot, then won't we be dealing low damage with other damage styles?" To that I say, that's absolutely correct... if you have a small brain! Using raw stat bonuses alone, one can easily create hybrid sets that can compete with, or even surpass, completed armor sets. All of the following sets are pre-Moon Lord tier. Magic Actually, the best regenerative magic set is still the Spectre Hood. You might not be dealing much damage with it, but the Spectre Hood can bring you back from the brink of death like nothing else, while the Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, for all its strengths, can perform no such miracle. However, if you want to heal at a decent pace (even against the Moon Lord) while still dealing respectable damage, you'll probably find this hybrid set to your liking. (Hallowed Mask, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Dark Artist's Leggings) 12% increased magic damage 37% increased magic critical strike chance +100 maximum mana (50% increased minion damage) +8 health/second 49 defense Compared to your "standard" magic DPS set that most people take for granted: 20% increased magic damage 12% increased magic critical strike chance +60 maximum mana 42 defense Magic damage creates homing projectiles, with average DPS of projectiles capped at 150 damage/second (before defense is taken into account) In other words: if 17% of your magic DPS exceeds 150, the hybrid set is better offensively (and defensively, it's no contest). The minimum magic DPS required to achieve that is 883 DPS. In practice, the DPS required is much less than that, because due to enemy defense, the spectre orbs will usually deal much less than 150 DPS. But no matter; the Razorpine, Laser Machinegun, and Razorblade Typhoon all blow past that threshold with ease. Even a sad weapon like the Staff of Earth can maintain more than 883 DPS against invasions. In conclusion, the offensive variant of Spectre armor is not even close to being the best pre-Moon Lord magic set. The Spectre Hood is still good, though. Ranged Ranged is a bit more iffy, as apart from the Luminite-tier Vortex Leggings, there aren't actually any good ranged damage/crit bonuses in the leg slot, with the best being 8% universal crit from Chlorophyte Greaves*. Therefore, the set I'm recommending is actually a hybrid summoner set in the truest sense of the word; instead of ranged damage boosts in the leg slot, we'll be relying on minions to close the gap. *After Journey's End is released, if throwing bonuses turn directly into ranged bonuses, Fossil Greaves will become best-in-slot for ranged, which I find very funny. (Shroomite Mask/Headgear, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Forbidden Treads) x115% bullet damage OR arrow damage 5% increased ranged critical strike chance +2 minion capacity 30% increased minion damage +8 health/second 49 defense Even with minimal investment, a UFO minion summoned with this loadout will deal around 160-170 damage per second. That's already leagues better than the entire Spectre Mask set bonus, and Forbidden Treads allow you to summon two of them. The additional damage dealt by these two additional minions easily makes up for the lack of a ranged bonus, and increase overall DPS more than an equivalent 15% ranged damage boost would. If you want, you can wear a summoning helmet like the Shinobi Infiltrator's Helmet while summoning your minions before swapping back to Shroomite, so they'll get a 50% damage boost instead of 30%. A little-known fact about the Shroomite head slot items: unlike other damage increases that simply add a flat 15% to the base damage of your weapon, the Shroomite Mask/Headgear calculates the damage with the other additive damage bonuses added on, and multiplies that by 115%. As long as you have decent damage bonuses from accessories, the head slot item alone will pull its weight. If you're curious about the DPS threshold past which 8% universal crit will outdamage two UFO minions dealing 170 DPS each, the answer is 4250. For a single target, that’s pretty unrealistic! But what about the stealth bonus from the full Shroomite set? Seeing as stealth requires you to stand still and gets canceled when you take damage, the set bonus is going to be literally useless in almost any PvE situation. The value of the Shroomite set is exactly equal to the sum of its parts. By breaking the set bonus, you're not losing much. Melee If your goal is to stack defense and just watch everything bounce off your beefy defense stat, melee is still the class for you, as it's always been. The difference now is that even if something manages to scratch you significantly, you can just heal it off again. You know those anime supervillains who can get blown to bits just to regenerate completely as if nothing happened? That’s you now. (Chlorophyte Mask, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Valhalla Knight's Greaves) 16% increased melee damage 26% increased melee critical strike chance (50% increased minion damage) +8 health/second 75 defense (Hallowed Mask, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Valhalla Knight's Greaves) 10% increased melee damage 30% increased melee critical strike chance 10% increased melee speed (50% increased minion damage) +8 health/second 74 defense (Shinobi Infiltrator's Helmet, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Valhalla Knight's Greaves) 20% increased melee damage 20% increased melee critical strike chance (70% increased minion damage) (+2 sentry capacity) +8 health/second 60 defense Well, as embarrassing as it may look, the best Valhalla Knight hybrid melee sets are just Valhalla Knight armor with the head piece swapped out. Chlorophyte Mask is for general use with most melee weapons, Hallowed Mask is for weapons like the Influx Waver and Seedler that benefit from melee speed, and the Shinobi Infiltrator is for those who want to give their minions an extra kick, and possibly use sentries as well. In which case Forbidden Treads are again worth considering. How does it measure up against Beetle armor? For those who get hit more than once every 3 seconds, these hybrid sets easily outclass the Beetle Shell, both offensively and defensively. In fact, against attacks with less than 90 base damage, the Hallowed/Chlorophyte hybrid sets will always provide more survivability. The Beetle Scale Mail set is a bit of a different story, as its role is pure offense rather than defense. As an offensive armor set, Beetle Scale Mail is actually the best melee DPS set in the game, surpassing even Solar Flare armor. On the other hand, it won't do much to prevent you from dying. So are these hybrid sets better than Beetle armor? The answer is maybe, but probably yes. Summoning (minion-based) "Pure summoner" is not an approach I'd recommend for anyone, but if you want to focus all your armor bonuses into minion damage, it turns out that the +30% minion damage on the Breastplate, previously considered a mere afterthought for the previous hybrid builds, makes a minion-based approach pretty viable. Surprise, surprise! Defensively this set might be slightly behind the other hybrid builds, but it is much, much more feasible to challenge the Lunar events using this set than with the trash you're stuck with if you don't run the Old One's Army. (Shinobi Infiltrator's Helmet, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Red Riding Leggings) Summon as many minions as possible with accessories and temporary buffs. . . (Spooky Helmet) Summon one minion. . . (Spooky Leggings, Spooky Breastplate) Summon two minions. . . (Forbidden Treads) . . (Valhalla Knight Breastplate) Done. 58% / 66% / 75% increased minion damage +3 minion capacity (58%, 58%, 66%) +8 health/second 46 defense Obviously the minmaxing is pretty intense, but for a Valhalla Knight hybrid set, this is technically the highest minion damage and minion capacity attainable without Stardust Armor. The regular Spooky/Tiki armor sets are pretty much dead in the water against the Lunar-tier events, but with the massively increased regeneration from the Breastplate, you might stand a chance. Heck, after you've beaten the Moon Lord, you can substitute the Stardust Leggings and Helmet into this set while keeping the Breastplate, and it will be more effective in combat than the full Stardust set. That's a perfect indicator of how good the Breastplate is (and how bad the Stardust Guardian is). Pure Regen If you thought the Valhalla Knight's Breastplate on its own was nutty, it turns out that the Squire's Great Helm offers an additional 4 health/second regeneration of its own, which stacks with the Breastplate's 8 health/second to boost your regeneration to absurd levels. This is what drowning looks like when you have the Great Helm and Breastplate equipped. You may be stuck with few offensive bonuses and generally suck at doing damage, but if your only goal is to outlast your opponents with an insurmountable wall of health, you can't get any better than this. (Squire's Great Helm, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Valhalla Knight's Greaves) 20% increased melee critical strike chance 50% increased minion damage (+1 sentry capacity) +12 health/second 62 defense The theory behind this set is to simply maximize defense, as the Greaves are tied with the Vortex and Solar Flare Leggings for the highest defense in the leg slot (and are available before killing the Moon Lord). The 20% melee critical bonus is also not entirely wasted, as you might be using melee in the form of Vampire Knives for even more regeneration. Because the Great Helm has 12 less defense than the Chlorophyte Mask, it will provide less overall survivability than the Mask if you take damage more than once every 1.5 seconds, which is a really low bar. In other words, if you're not facetanking, use the Great Helm for better survival. (Squire's Great Helm, Valhalla Knight's Breastplate, Forbidden Treads) 30% increased minion damage +2 minion capacity (+1 sentry capacity) +12 health/second 50 defense So here's the reasoning behind this one. The head and body slots are already taken, leaving only the leg slots available for customization. So now we ask, what is the single best pre-Moon Lord leg slot item, regardless of class? This might be somewhat debatable, but the +2 minion capacity from Forbidden Treads makes it a strong contender for that title. It also somewhat utilizes the 30% minion damage boost from the Breastplate (and while summoning, you can and should use a head slot item that actually boosts minion damage). Overall, this set is quite passive, but if your goal is to simply avoid enemies while healing and allowing your minions to slowly wear down your targets without your intervention, I think this is the best set you can possibly run. And there you have it. I hope this was informative, and I hope you've gained an appreciation of how powerful the rewards from the DD2 crossover content really are. Crossover content in general can often be hit-or-miss, but I'm actually quite fond of this one, as it's opened up an entirely new dimension of endgame creativity and customization, while putting a spotlight on lesser-known items like the Forbidden Treads and individual Shroomite headpieces.