League GuidesArmor Penetration vs Flat Attack Damage - Explained

Armor Penetration vs Flat Attack Damage – Explained

The distinction between armor penetration, flat damage, and how they work is often a bit vague. People usually don’t know what they consider “good” or “bad” values, but they also don’t know how to increase their numbers.

And not only that. Even if you have both types of armor penetration and damage, it can be hard to tell which is better without doing tons of math in your head or just dumping some damage into an enemy until one blows up.

Today we are going to break down the math for you! This article will teach you about armor penetration vs. flat attack damage and why each is better than the other in different situations. If you are eager and want to find out, read on!

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What is Armor Penetration and Flat Attack Damage?

When we talk about these two, it is essential to know the basics behind them. 

Starting from this, we can say that Armor Penetration is relatively straightforward and connected to its name. It means that the damage you deal will counter some of the Armor the enemy champion has built up.

On the other hand, the Flat Attack Damage is the HP you can take off from an enemy by simply attacking them with a basic attack. For example, everyone starts with a generic AD. This damage is then used on your auto-attack on the enemy character to inflict the damage.

Interestingly enough, there is a lot more than it seems behind the basics of these two terms and mechanisms in the game. To find that, however, we ought to highlight the differences and how they work.

How Do They Function? Differences and Purpose

As we already know from above, one of the stats allows you to ignore enemy armor while the other increases your attack damage dealt with the opponent.

With these two being said, it is time to pay attention to how they function a little more detaily.

When it comes to Armor Penetration, the primary purpose is to wear out tanks from their enormous Health and allows you to kill them faster before they can ruin your in-lane plans.

Some items like Lord Dominik’s Regards and Serylda’s Grudge give this Armor Penetration stat, allowing you to ignore a specific percent of the tank armor. The best example will be to point out Serylda’s Grudge – the item gives you a 30% Armor Penetration. That means on an enemy with an average Armor of 200, and your attacks will ignore approximately 60 of their Armor, thus allowing you to deal more damage to them.

On the other hand, the Flat Attack Damage does not have anything to do with ignoring Armor. It simply increases the HP you can take off from an enemy champion by bluntly increasing your attack stats. 

For example, if you have 60 AD, with a fighter item that gives you a bonus like 60 Attack Damage, you will be able to deal 120 to the opponent with each AA. As you see, this is simple, and the more AD you get, the more damage you will do. 

However, an enemy with more excellent Armor than your AD will pose a great difficulty to deal with.

Based on these functions, you can see that the main difference is that one cuts on the enemy defenses while the other simply increases your offense power. But, of course, that raises the question of their purposes and how to use them, which is quite tricky.

To be entirely honest, both have their advantages. However, you can not simply say that Armor Penetration is a must or not, as it is entirely up to the current in-game situation and enemy team composition.

If the opponents have no tanks, such a stat as API will be useless, but it will be a must if they do. At the same time, if they do not have any heavy champions, you will want to deal more Flat AD, which means you will mainly focus on it so you can quickly kill defenseless champions.

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Do Runes Matter – Armor Penetration or AD?

Runes, as you know, some add Armor Penetration to your character stats, and some add Attack Damage. Do they matter? Well, YES, they do!

Similar to the flat stats from above, that can be gained from passive scaling or items. The ones you can gain from the runes, in the lobby where you adjust everything for the starting match, you can choose AD or APn for your character and which will be better.

Once you are in-game, these choices will be significant for the early or late game outcome. That is mainly because of the advantages they bring. 

If you are facing a tank again, you will want armor penetration right off the start. If you are facing a mage or a fighter champion, then the extra Flat Attack Damage with be a bonus when brawling with them.

During the game, these two will play different roles up to the various game stages. For example, in the early game, runes that give you Armor Penetration will be useless in most cases. 

In fact, the Flat Attack Damage bonus will be better in most cases, even more, if you are playing as an ADC. However, in late-game, these things may change, as it is never sure how the League of Legends match will run down!

Which One is Better than the Breakdown?

As you can see from the information above, it often depends on the team composition and how a match will turn out. 

However, that is not always the case! In some situations in a completely traditional game rundown where nothing unexpected or off-meta happens, a Flat AD will be less valuable than Armor Penetration.

To break that down, we can give you a brief introduction and some numbers to make it more trustworthy. So let’s start with the information and point out the plus of the Armor Penetration.

As you already know what APn is, you know that the percent does not change, and it stays the same, simply chirping off the enemy Armor. These stats are essential in the late game, where your AD has already called, and you are doing a lot of damage. 

The issue will be the enemies’ defenses, and that’s precisely when the Armor Penetration runes hit off, adding an extra percentage to the ones you got from the items. 

That will increase the Flat Damage you do to the enemy much better than if you simply had more AD from your runes choices.

That is simply because the Attack Damage you get from runes is fixated and not a variable like a percentage is. 

So in such a case, you can assume that flat AD is better in the early game while the variable of the Armor Penetration percentage is better in the late game, aka the long run!

To point it out with numbers, you can take this simple example:

A champion with a basic attack after all runes have been picked can deal up to 74 damage to an enemy with 0 armor ( just an example – 0 armor is impossible).

Suppose that champion fights another one. Who has a starting armor of about 20 that blocks about 17%? So the incoming damage from Champion one, basic attacks, will be reduced from 74 to barely 66 AD per hit.

At the same time, if you pick the same basic Armor without the buffs of the runes and with the Armor Penetration stats, you will get a lower starting number of about 63 AD per hit.

As you can see from that, at the start of the game, the Flat Attack Damage will have a slight advantage over the Armor Penetration. That, of course, will change throughout the game, where the bonus AD seems useless compared to the APn percentage bonus, and the role will reverse.

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Bottom Line

By reading all from above, you now understand the difference between the Flat Attack Damage and the Armor Penetration stats. What are the pluses and minuses? Which one will be better for you and how to pick it.

Given all that information, we would like to add that in games like League of Legends where many unpredictable things happen. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to the game and think! Look at enemies’ composition and what they build, and act accordingly!

Once again, thank you for staying with us and reading this piece. If you have any questions, leave them down below in the comments!

Tony Fallon
Tony Fallon
I started playing League of Legends in Season 2, and I've been playing it ever since then! My highest rank was Grandmaster (Season 10), and last Season I've managed to get to Master. I've decided to create this blog to help other fellow League players with tips on how to get better at different aspects of the game! My mission is to help you improve in League of Legends, and I truly believe that I can do that since I have high knowledge of the game.

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