There are two groups of damage types in Spiral Knights. The first group is the 4 primary types of damage that both weapons and monsters can cause: 1) normal, 2) pierce, 3) elemental, and 4) shadow. Weapons, monsters, and the environment can inflict and additional 6 forms of status affect: 1) fire, 2) freeze, 3) shock, 4) poison, 5) stun), and 6) curse.
Helmets, armors, and shields usually offer defense against 2 of the 4 primary kinds of damage and may offer resistance to 1 or more of the incidental damages that will shorten the amount of time the damage harms you.
In Tier 1, all damage is normal. In Tier 2 it is split 50/50 between normal and one other kind. In Tier 3, normal defense becomes less important and some of the specialty armors such as the Dragon line become more useful.
There are 6 types of monsters with several “species” within each type: 1) construct, 2) gremlin, 3) undead, 4) fiend, 5) beast, 6) jelly. There are 3 different ways we can categorize them into 3 groups of 2 each.
By the kind of damage they do:
elemental – construct & gremlin
shadow – undead & fiend
pierce – beast & slime
By the kind of damage they are weak to:
elemental – construct & undead
shadow - gremlin & slime
pierce – fiend & beast
By the kind of damage they are resistant to:
elemental - gremlin & beast
shadow - undead & fiend
pierce – construct & slime
Not only monsters but also the environment can cause 1 of the 6 kinds of incidental damage. The monsters screen above the lift will inform you of which monsters you will mainly (but not exclusively) encounter, as well as what environment the level is. The name of the level that appears as you descend and the music upon arrival will provide further clues.
Most weapons inflict normal damage plus 1 more of the other 3 primary kinds of damage. Some weapons can additionally inflict 1 of the 6 kinds of status damage.
Weapon effectiveness increases by 10% with each *. In other words, a 4* sword at full heat deals 10 % more damage than the 3* version of that same sword.
Unique Variants increase performance by roughly 5%. In other words, a medium damage UV makes the weapon 10% more effective in dealing that type of damage. A bomb with Charge Time Reduction Very High will charge 20% faster. Defensive gear can have Maximum (level 6) UV’s making them 30 % stronger.
Familiarity with the above information on damages will greatly increase your prowess and effectiveness as a Spiral Knight. Furthermore, as your arsenal grows, you will be able to set up Loadouts of appropriate gear for each kind of level. This will allow you to quickly change your entire gear on the loadout pad at the beginning of the level or boss mission, and engage the enemies more confidently and powerfully.