The Ironclad, as its appearance suggests, is the big bruiser of StarBreak, able to take more damage than other shells before dying. However, in the right hands it is also capable of great destructive power. One can only manifest as this shell once the Fungus Cave deed has been collected.
A more detailed overview of equipment items exists over at Ironclad Equipment. Not coincidentally, I composed most of the equipment commentary on that page, too.
|Table of Contents|
|Ironclad Mains - Swings|
|Ironclad Mains - Weapons|
|Ironclad Mains - Modifiers|
|Ironclad Seconds - Weapons|
|Ironclad Seconds - Modifiers|
|Ironclad Mobility Items|
|Ironclad Body Items|
There are four different swings that the Ironclad uses with all Ironclad Mains:
The Ironclad can move left and right while performing Main attacks in the air, but is locked in place upon touching the ground and during Main attacks initiated on the ground.
Now that these moves have been given names, it is time to move on to…
A freshly-manifested Ironclad starts with the Sledge, and better Sledges can be found in all zones. These giant hammers inflict large amounts of damage on each hit, and they do full damage no matter which swing is used. Combined with their large melee range, these weapons make for good all-rounders. Note that without Extra Hit mod, enemies can only be hit once per swing; because of this, the impact explosion at the end of a ground Slam only damages enemies not already hit earlier in the attack.
The Lancet and the Baculus, found in (Elite) Fire Forest and (Elite) Strands, are unusual in that both are throwing weapons, though only the Baculus emits periodic damaging pulses after it has been thrown. Also, their flight paths depend not only on the swing used, but also on whether it is performed in the air or on the ground, so there ends up being six unique ways of throwing these weapons:
(*The path is parabolic until maximum vertical velocity is reached - after this, the path is linear.)
Whenever a throwing weapon is used, the swing, which has the smallest range possible for an Ironclad Main, deals 100% of the listed damage after modifiers while the projectile and any damage pulses deal 50%. As these weapons do not have the damage of the Sledges, they do not fare well in close quarters, but their projectile nature makes them useful for dealing damage from a distance, especially when their innate Penetrating properties are taken into account.
The Adjudicator and the Quaestor, found in (Elite) Fungus Cave and Star Cathedral, act like Sledges in most respects. However, on all swings except for Side-Swipes, the weapons produce explosions at the end of the swing and on enemies hit by either the swing or the explosions, and several small balls called plinks are launched in certain directions depending on swing type and whether the swing is made in the air or on the ground:
The swing and explosions deals 100% of listed damage after modifiers while each plink does 25%. As these weapons deal much less damage on swings than do standard Sledges, being able to land plinks reliably on enemies is required to make them competitive in terms of damage per time. For this reason, Side-Swipes should be forsaken in favor of Down-Swipes when using these weapons.
Plinks can be used to deal damage at range, though Penetrating modifier is required to make them hit multiple targets, and none of the swings available allow one to throw plinks very far upward.
The Preceptor, found in (Elite) Graveyard, has lower swing damage than standard Sledges. However, on ground Slams (and air Slams in which the Preceptor hits a flat surface near the end of the swing), this weapon produces a wave of energy that travels forward instead of a standard impact explosion. Individual wavelets deal 33% of the listed damage after modifiers, and there are several wavelets in every wave (even more on Preceptors with +height modifiers). These energy waves are very effective against large enemies, and one should stick almost exclusively to Slams when using this weapon.
+Extra Hit: Only possible on standard and plinking Sledges, this modifier is the most effective at improving damage per time if you can consistently land the extra hits.
+Armor Pierce: This effectively doubles non-critical damage against armored targets. Less useful than it seems if you happen to be running a crit build on Ironclad.
+Swing Speed: This modifier, though it does improve damage per time, serves primarily to reduce the amount of time you spend trapped in attack animations; in short, a very useful quality of life improvement.
+Knockback Resist: If you have this modifier on both main and special, you gain complete knockback immunity, a very good quality of life improvement for those stages with instant-death falls. Just be careful that you don't end up getting scratched to death because you happened to be sitting on an enemy without noticing.
+Crit Chance: Only possible on standard Sledges, this modifier is very useful for those running a crit build, but it might not be worth the modifier slot for others.
+Crit Damage: Only possible on standard Sledges. As Ironclad does not get a lot of base crit damage multiplier, the additive boost to crit damage can translate to a significant boost to damage per time only if one's crit chance is also boosted above base values.
+Simultaneous: Only possible on throwing weapons. Though being able to have multiple spears out at once is helpful when running Lancet, it is much more beneficial on a Baculus - more projectiles translates to more damage ticks per time as well as the possibility of covering a larger area with damage fields.
Penetrating: Only possible on plinking Sledges, this modifier allows plinks to pass through and damage multiple enemies, significantly improving the destructive power of these weapons against groups of enemies.
+Plinks: Only possible on plinking Sledges. Since more plinks translates to more damage, this modifier is just as important as, if not more important than, +Extra Hit on these weapons.
+Time: Only possible on Preceptor. Additional time allows energy waves to travel farther and hit more distant enemies than would otherwise be possible.
+Height: Only possible on Preceptor. Another layer of wavelets is added for every modifier of this type present, allowing for significantly more damage output against large enemies.
Ironclad Seconds, used by pressing the Second key, travel ahead of the Ironclad. Vertical inputs during use allow the missile(s) to be fired slightly above or below horizontal while moving or standing still, though Left/Right input must accompany Down input in order to aim them downward while on the ground. More extreme deviations from horizontal flight paths only occur when missiles are launched during Up-Swipes (significantly above horizontal) or Down-Swipes (significantly below horizontal)
Ironclad Seconds operate separately from the rest of the Ironclad and can therefore be used during most other actions, though their aim is locked when not standing still or moving normally. One exception exists: the use of Ironclad Seconds during jetting (from the use of (Volatile) Gliders or (Overloaded) Boosters) forces the Ironclad to revert to a normal movement state, shutting off the jets in the process.
Freshly-manifested Ironclads come equipped with a Kyeser, and better Kyesers can be found in all zones. These Ironclad seconds explode on contact with enemies or terrain or after a certain distance is traveled, and both impact and explosion(s) deal significant damage, though the explosion(s) deal the majority of it. This straightforward weapon is a good pick for general use due to it being equally effective against small and large targets.
The Hotfoot and the Burner, found in (Elite) Vanquished and (Elite) Temple of the Lost, do not explode on collision. Rather, they release payloads of violet fire that stick to enemies and terrain, dealing up to 4 ticks of damage to enemies before dissipating. As collision damage is atrociously low and individual burns do not deal much damage per tick (explosion damage in this case refers to burn damage per tick), these Ironclad Seconds are most effective against large targets and groups, though they are also useful for damaging enemies far below the Ironclad in certain cases if one cannot hit them with a throwing Main.
The Swarmer and the Locust, found in (Elite) Underground Base and Star Cathedral, consume one ammo per activation to release groups of small missiles with wildly divergent paths, each dealing less damage than a standard Kyeser. Damage output is best in class against large enemies, where all missiles hit the same target despite their chaotic flight patterns, and these Ironclad Seconds also perform well against groups of flying enemies, though Ironclads will need to close in and put themselves in danger in order to fully utilize them.
Trisected: The best single modifier for improving Kyeser damage output. Triple the explosions/burns, close to triple the damage!
+Armor Pierce: Doubles non-critical damage output against armored enemies. Good, but not as good as Trisected.
Seeking: Allows Kyesers to change course mid-flight in order to hit enemies. Makes Cluster Kyesers more reliable at range (assuming they can get this modifier).
+Max Ammo: Allows the Ironclad to carry more Kyesers at a time. Even more effective if (Double) Bandolier is also in effect.
+Acceleration: Causes Kyesers to reach their destinations much faster, potentially reducing the time enemies get to attack. Other modifiers are generally preferred over this one.
+Burns: Only possible on Incendiary Kyesers. Trisected and +Armor Pierce take precedence over this modifier, but additional burns do allow for more damage to be done.
+Missiles: Only possible on Cluster Kyesers. Trisected and +Armor Pierce take precedence over this modifier, but additional missiles do allow for more damage to be done.
Freshly-manifested Ironclads come equipped with a Mantlet, and better Mantlets are found in all zones. Mantlets, in addition to providing a passive armor bonus while equipped, allow the Ironclad to perform its special maneuver, the Charge.
Mantlets can generate with any combination (including all four of) the following modifiers:
Reflect: Whenever the Ironclad's Mantlet absorbs a projectile, another projectile is launched forward which originates at the Mantlet and dissipates after traveling a short distance.
+50% Knockback Resist: Reduces damage-induced knockback. If this modifier is also present on the currently equipped Main, the Ironclad gains complete immunity to damage-induced knockback.
+40 Acceleration: Allows the Ironclad to reach maximum speed more quickly after initiating a Charge. May also reduce the time it takes for the Ironclad to stop itself after cancelling Charge normally.
+40 Speed: Allows the Ironclad to attain a greater maximum speed during Charge.
Standard Sabatons, found in all zones, add to the Ironclad's armor while equipped and may also contribute to damage bonus, movement speed, and jump height if the appropriate modifiers are present. The most easily obtainable of the Ironclad mobility items, these are always useful for improving one's resilience.
Gliders and Volatile Gliders, found in (Elite) Vanquished and (Elite) Temple of the Lost, both enable the Ironclad to engage in jetting (that is, vertical propulsion visibly caused by the use of a jetpack). The variant of jetting offered by these Ironclad Mobility items has a relatively long duration, but not much upward movement. If the appropriate modifiers are present, these items also passively add to jump height and movement speed as well as to armor.
Boosters and Overloaded Boosters, found in (Elite) Underground Base and Star Cathedral, both enable the Ironclad to engage in jetting. The variant of jetting offered by these Ironclad Mobility items is characterized by short duration and large upward acceleration. If the appropriate modifiers are present, these items also passively add to jump height and movement speed as well as to armor.
Stompers and Spiked Stompers, found in (Elite) Underground Base and Star Cathedral, both give significant contributions to damage bonus and can gain even more damage bonus as well as armor from modifiers. Only Spiked Stompers also gives armor, base critical chance, and base critical damage, even without modifiers in effect. These items, though not as powerful as (Frenzied) Berserker, do not come with negative armor, so they are a safer way to improve destructive power for the aggressive Ironclad.
Standard Plating, found in all zones, adds a large amount of armor but reduces movement speed slightly. Modifiers add a significant damage bonus and nullify the movement speed penalty, turning it into a slight boost. As Plating greatly improves resilience, one should always carry one around for times of trouble.
Bandolier and Double Bandolier, found in (Elite) Vanquished and (Elite) Temple of the Lost, multiply maximum ammo and ammo gained from drops by 2 or 3 and may also improve max ammo before multipliers by 1. An excellent choice for those who want to shoot Kyesers at everything.
Berserker and Frenzied Berserker, found in (Elite) Strands and Star Cathedral, greatly reduce armor in exchange for a large damage bonus as well as additional base critical chance and base critical damage (Frenzied Berserker only). Modifiers add even more damage bonus and reduce the armor penalty. These Ironclad Body items are the best at improving Ironclad's damage output, but extra care should be taken due to the lack of damage reduction while they are in use.
(Inferior) Armites: Useful for recovering some of the damage reduction lost when using body and mobility items other than Sabatons and Plating, though the 60% damage reduction cap makes other implants more useful otherwise.
(Inferior) Bellites: Another way to get the effects of (Spiked) Stompers or (Frenzied) Berserker if one cannot afford to lose the armor offered by Sabatons and Plating.
(Inferior) Calites: Especially useful when used with (Double) Bandolier, but not too impressive otherwise.
(Inferior) Delites: Essential for those attempting to run a crit build on Ironclad, but not very useful otherwise.
(Inferior) Emites: Has certain quality-of-life uses, but other implants are generally better.
(Inferior) Salites: The best implant choice for general use. More health means you can make more mistakes before dying.
The Ironclad, regardless of whether it has a Mantlet equipped, can enter a crouching state while on the ground by pressing and holding Down.
The Ironclad is the tallest of the shells and does not compress very much in the crouching state, making it very difficult if not impossible to avoid certain attacks by ducking under them.
IMPORTANT! The Ironclad's Mantlet only protects against non-piercing projectiles, and the Charge only protects the Ironclad from contact damage with one enemy on the Mantlet side. As an Ironclad, you still need to dodge melee attacks, piercing projectiles and enemies if you want to survive. Don't be that guy who gets killed by a Melee Rep in Graveyard because he thought his Mantlet would protect him from pointy objects!
Now that all the parts have been covered individually, how does one put them together to become a deadly fighter who just won't die?
Like a paladin on his war horse, the Ironclad can deal great burst damage that can annihilate many non-bosses within the first blows. This is useful because the Ironclad takes a longer time to execute Main attacks than other shells do - if it cannot destroy its foes on the first strike, it is left vulnerable to damage until it can strike another time or take other sorts of action. Against bosses or tough non-bosses, a more cautious approach is advised which requires knowledge of enemy attack patterns in order to be able to hit them without getting hit back.
My favorite maneuver for starting a fight is to Charge into an enemy, then cancel into a Slam (if using standard Sledges) or a Down-Swipe (if using plinking sledges). If I think I need the additional damage, I will launch a Kyeser or two while closing in with the Charge, as Kyesers can be added to almost any other action without requiring a change in behavior to accomodate the additional input; this sort of multi-tasking is a special trait of the robotic shells, as the Fabricator can add Dancers to almost all other actions in a similar way.
The Charge is a good tool for quick travel even on stages with dangerous bottoms such as Vanquished and Strands. With (Overloaded) Boosters or (Volatile) Gliders equipped, run into an enemy and cancel into jetting when you need to stop a Charge quickly, using the jetting time to reach a nearby platform.
If you have to run away from chasing enemies, use air Up-Swipes to deal damage while still permitting continued tactical retreat.
If you have the opportunity, use the long reach of Ironclad Mains to hit enemies through walls, floors and ceilings. Be careful, though, as some enemies can attack through walls, too!
Other maneuvers and synergies of items are left as an exercise for the reader.
In short, hit fast and strike hard when you can, as the best offense is also a good defense.
Expert at Ironclad and want to add your thoughts? Feel free to edit in your own commentary here!
Another alternative to the retreating air up-swipe method is the backwards retreating air slam. This allows one to perform attacks on an enemy moving closer (preferable a slow moving one) while also retreating and keeping a safe distance. It is executed by moving forwards towards the enemy, jumping, attacking, moving backwards in the air while the attack animation plays, and repeating. If you do all backwards movement while the attack animation is playing, you will retreat without ever turning around, allowing you to smoothly continue into the next repetition. The best places to use this are against the (e)FF boss, King Natives in (e)FC, towers in (e)VQ (here it is used to avoid landing on spikes, rather than to retreat from a pursuing enemy), the claws in (e)VQ boss, heavy mechs in (e)UB, the reptile mechs in (e)GY, the boss in (e)TL, and multiple large enemies in SC. Really, it can find use against almost any enemy that can't be killed in one hit, so it is a very valuable technique for attacking. ~Ratburntro44