I just got my first guard ring in Final Fantasy V which means I now have 5 excellent defensive accessory slot items. I only have 4 characters which means one of the items has to hit the bench. The question I have is which one? I have 3 different choices: gengi glove, guard ring, or elf cloak. (I have 3 copies of elf cloak to bring the total up to 5.)
Elf cloak gives 1 agility, 1 magic power, 3 magic defense, 5% magic evade, 1 weight, and causes the wearer to dodge 33% of all physical attacks.
Genji glove gives 12 defense, 1 magic defense, 6 weight, and provides immunity to toad and paralyze
Guard ring gives 10 defense, 10 magic defense, 10% magic evade, 1 weight, 5 vitality, and automatically casts regen on the wearer.
Weight is used in determining how often you get to act. Every 8 weight on your gear costs you 1 tick each time you take an action. Essentially 8 weight is offset by 1 agility. The faster you are the more actions you get to take... Must go faster!
Vitality+5 sounds good, but it turns out it's actually mostly useless. Vitality does two things in the game: determine your maximum health and determine the amount of healing done by regen. Bonus vitality from gera is not taken into account when determining your maximum health so all Vit+5 accomplishes is making your regen ticks marginally bigger. Fortunately this is the item that grants regen otherwise it would be totally worthless. (Regen is not a spell I consider casting normally.)
Agility is pretty much only good for going faster. It should make some weapons do more damage but it's bugged.
Magic power impacts your maximum mana but like with vitality doesn't apply from gear. It also impacts how many times your attack spells hit which at high levels seems like it could be really powerful.
What do the defense stats do? They're flat out subtracted from the damage done from an attack for each hit. It looks like a typical mob (looked up gargoyle stats) attacks 9 times for 62 damage per swing. My samurai has 39 defense, so he'll actually take 23 damage from 9 swings or 207 total. (Ignoring misses for now.) With the genji glove on he'll take 11 damage from 9 swings or 99 total. That's a pretty substantial reduction. The 33% evade from elf cloak would only knock that 207 down to 138.
On the other hand my ninja only has 22 defense. She'd be taking 40 damage from 9 swings for 360 total. Genji glove knocks that down to 252 while elf cloak knocks it down to 240.
So it would seem a heavily armored dude might want to stack on even more armor but any squishies would rather have the dodge from the elf cloak. Elf cloak also has better other stats (go faster, cast better, have magic defense) so I like sticking with it. Guard ring is a little worse than genji glove when it comes to physical attacks but it's substantially better when it comes to magic attacks. It also weighs less and the free regen, while not great, is still something.
Gargoyles are reasonably tough enemies (they guard the entrance to the lithograph dungeons) but bosses and the like are going to hit even harder. As the damage number gets bigger the extra evade will get better and better. I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with 3 elf capes and the guard ring. Makes me sad that I went to all the effort to steal the genji glove only to leave it in my bag, but thems the breaks I guess.