Attack speed

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Version 0.28: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

See Weapon Speed for tables summarising this information. This page goes into great detail about attack delay calculations.

When deciding between two different weapons, it can be helpful to understand exactly how attack speed works. Each physical attack in Crawl takes a certain amount of time. A character with a smaller attack delay will swing more frequently than a character with a larger attack delay. This can greatly multiply how often you can inflict damage in combat. So it is strongly recommended to get your attack delay as low as possible.

Attack Delay Calculations for Weapons and Missiles

Base attack delay

All weapons, thrown objects, and launched objects have a base attack delay. You can find this information in game by examining the weapon or launcher. The base attack delay in game should be multiplied by 10 to give the delay in auts. The Weapon Speed page has complete tables and includes thrown objects. It also lists the base delay in auts. For reference most species move and cast spells with a delay of 10 auts.

Minimum attack delay

By raising your skill with the weapon or launcher you can reduce attack delays to the minimum attack delay. The minimum delay is usually 1/2 the base delay rounded down. If this is greater than 7 then the minimum attack delay is set to 7. There are three exceptions to this rule:

Skill adjustments

Weapon, launcher, or throwing skills brings down the attack delay by (skill level)/2 until you reach minimum weapon delay. Increasing your skill beyond that will not let you attack faster but it will slightly improve your damage and accuracy with the weapon. Normally you turn off your weapon skill when you hit minimum delay and dump experience points into increasing skills in other areas. The gods Ashenzari and Okawaru can increase your weapon skills and thus contribute to lowering your weapon delay.

Speed Brand

The speed brand further reduces the delay to 2/3 of the skill adjusted delay. With skill and speed brand improvements there is a hard coded minimum delay of 3.

Shield Penalties

Shields will slow down weapon speed. This slow down can be reduced by increasing your shield skill.

Shields slow down the player by 2/5 * encumbrance^2 / (20 - 3 * size_factor) * (27 - shield_skill) / 27 aut. [1]

The values for shield encumbrance and size factor can be found on the shields page. The game does display the shield encumbrance when describing the item, but it does not report the character size factor. The shield penalty can be reduced to zero with a maxed out shield skill of 27.

God Given Abilities

The god Okawaru's Finesse ability will further cut the delay in half. Note that this will not stack with haste nor berserk.

Status modifiers

  • Haste and berserk will further reduce the delay to 2/3 of its calculated value if you have not invoked Finesse. You cannot be both hasted and berserked.
  • Statue Form, Petrifying, and Slowness will increase the delay to 3/2 of the calculated value. These status conditions do stack with haste resulting in a net cancellation of the two different statuses. Slowness can stack with both statue form and petrifying.
  • In no case, will the delay be reduced below 2.

Unarmed Combat

Unarmed combat has a different attack delay calculation. It is 10-(unarmed combat skill)/54[2]. You start with a delay of 10 with no unarmed combat skill and reach a minimum delay of 5 with an unarmed combat skill of 27. The shield penalties, god given abilities, and status modifiers apply to unarmed combat as well.


Spells can be used for attacking and thus are included on this page. The base delay for casting a spell is 10. It can be modified by status modifiers, but delay is not affected by skill, shields, or god abilities. An exception to this is the spell Manifold Assault. The delay of casting manifold assault is the calculated weapon or unarmed combat delay.

Movement Based Attacks

Some attacks are combined with movement. Even if the actual attack delay is not changed, they are mentioned here for completeness.

Martial Arts Attacks

The Wu Jian Council allows a player to make a number of different martial arts attacks. The number of attacks is based on the attack delay and the movement delay[3]. The movement delay is:

  • 10 if you have invoked the serpent's lash ability.
  • Otherwise your normal movement delay is used.
  • Wall jump uses the double the movement delay. (It takes two turns.)

Your attack delay is the delay calculated in the previous sections. The number of attacks is the movement delay divided by the attack delay. If this is not an integer, the number of attacks could be rounded up or down. The number of attacks will average out to the non-integer number of attacks calculated.

An extreme example would be a Spriggan (movement delay of 6) wielding the dark maul (base delay of 30), which would make 1 attack only 6/30 (or 1/5) of the time. The other extreme would be a Naga (movement delay of 14) with a skilled quick blade (delay of 3). A wall jump, doubling expected turns, would give 28/3: 9 attacks with a 1/3 chance for an extra one.

Charging Attacks

  • The rampaging ego allows you to move towards a target and attack. The time taken is the attack delay and not the movement delay. Even a naga wielding a quick blade with sufficient short blade skill can move and attack a target with a delay of 3. Compare this with a naga's movement delay of 14.
  • A palentonga's rolling charge allows you to move towards a target and attack. The time taken is the maximum of a movement delay or an attack delay.

Bolt Attacks

There are attacks that can hit multiple targets as you move through them like a bolt.

  • Storm Form has the blink bolt ability to move through many targets at once doing damage to each.
  • Uskayaw's line pass ability has the same properties.

Instantaneous Attacks

Some spells and abilities let you appear somewhere else and immediately make an attack without any delay.

  • Passwall turn delay is spent on one side of a rock wall. After this delay you appear on the other side and are ready for your next action. You can attack without targets being able to react to you first. This is different than blink which moves you to a new location and then you stay there for the turn delay.

Detailed Calculations

The contents below are very complex and not necessary to understanding and enjoying the game. They are included for completeness and may be removed.

Note: Shield penalties have not been updated to 0.28.

The formulas above give you a very close approximation to the average attack delay. Most players can use the values above or the values on the weapon speed page without needing to know about the detailed calculations in this section.

Averaging Fractional Delays

Most calculations above can result in fractional delays. If you have a short sword with a base delay of 11 and a short blade skill of 5.7, the formula above would give you an average delay of 11-5.7/2 = 8.15. The game mechanics give you an average delay by rolling a delay of 8 85% of the time and a delay of 9 15% of the time. This is needed because all delays are integer values of auts.

Using Statistical Random Variables

The fractional delays do not give the entire story because each stage attack delay calculations involve creation of a new random variable. These random variables actually contain all possible integer delays and their weighted probabilities. This can result in a much wider range of attack delays than the averaging of fractional delays would imply. To complicate things, all calculations are done with a fixed precision. This is best explained by examples.

Example 1

Let's use the example of a human wielding a short sword and a buckler. The human has a short blade skill of 7.5 and a shield skill of 4. The buckler's encumbrance is 5. The human size factor is zero and can be found on the shields page. There are three random variables used.

  • The first is the base delay of the short sword of 11 aut
  • The second random variable incorporates the additional skill adjustment delay of -skill*10/scale = -75/20
  • The third random variable incorporates the additional shield penalty delay of 8/20
  • The final probabilities: delay=7 47.4%, delay=8 47.4%, delay=9 5.3%
Explanation 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Total Weight
Base delay
short sword
1 1
Subtract Skill reduction
15 5 20
Add shield penalty


15*12 15*8 + 5*12 5*8
Shield Penalty Weights 180 180 20 380
  • Note that there are three possible delays, not just two based upon one average
  • A scale is used to create weights which avoids large integer division truncation inaccuracies
  • A random number from 0-380 is created and a delay is selected based upon which bin the number would fall into.



  • In 0.28, the penalty formula changed; before, certain skill thresholds (4 skill for buckler, 15 for kite shield, 25 for tower shield) negated it.
  • In 0.27, the shield penalty was increased and was less random.
  • Prior to 0.16, the amount of skill required to negate penalties for wearing a shield was more complex.