Manufacturing equipment for your Leader can give you useful boosts for both combat (like Infantry, Cavalry and Range Attack), economy (like Food Production increase) and development (like Construction and Research Speed). This guides explains the basics of manufacturing equipment.
In the Workshop there is a possibility to Manufacture Equipment. There is a large list of recipes for Helmets, Armor, Legs, Main-Hand, Off-Hand and Accessories. You can select the All Equipment option to select all possible recipes for an equipment slot. There is also an options to select the available equipment associated with a special event (via Event Equipment). To be able to manufacture equipment you need to have at least the required amount of each of the materials, a required amount of gold and a minimum required level for your Leader. You also first have to forge the lowest level of equipment, and you can only upgrade it one level at a time. Manufacturing does not happen instantaneous and the more expensive gear can take quite some time. You see the time required in the screen just before you start the manufacturing process. In this screen you can also select the required materials slot and fuse or divide materials to a higher or lower level, in case you don't have the required grade, but you do have plenty of other grades of the same material.
Equipment gives you boosts. Your leader needs to be equipped with gear for the corresponding boosts to work. Typically your leader needs to be equipped with the gear when you start the activity, afterwards you can change gear. Note that for gathering speed and army capacity the moment you hit the tile is seen as the start of the activity, so not the moment you send your troops to march. Changing gear after you sent your troops is a common mistake that can potentially lead to partially depleted tiles.
Beginners sometimes make the mistake of working on only one gear set that they use for various activities, but you should have a specialized gear set for each activity. The minimum you need is a gear set for Research, a set for Construction and one (defensive) Combat gear set. Later you will likely work on gear sets for each attacking Combat type (i.e. Infantry attack set, Ranged attack set, Cavalry attack set). In the Data menu there is a Boost Types overview that gives a set of best and available gear for each boost type, useful when deciding on specific equipment you want to manufacture. There is also a Gear overview with all available gear including pre composed gear sets for a number of activities.
Often you not only change your equipment but also respecify your Leader Skill points before an activity. It is important you make an effort to get maximum boost for each activity, whether that is Research or Infantry Attack.
There is equipment just based on standard materials and gear that is based on materials from events. In general the boosts from the standard materials equipment are less than the boosts from event materials equipment, but the materials from special events are also harder to come by (more about that below) and you also often require a lot more. From this point of view when starting to play it can still be useful to first make equipment from the standard materials for research, construction and combat, and afterwards start working on better equipment for each category from the event materials.
The standard materials are relatively easy to come by, via gathering, from the Admin and Guild Quests, and from Material Chests that you can get in various ways. For Event specific materials you need to focus on hitting and killing the corresponding monsters, or look at opportunities to get the event specific chests.
There are five quality levels, indicated by colors, the same for materials and equipment. In the Workshop you can fuse materials (4 of one level to 1 of one level higher), and divide them again to lower level.
After forging equipment, do not forget about the jewels. They can really give significant extra boosts for combat compared to the equipment itself.
There is a common mistakes that are being made, which can both prove very costly, as materials are in general difficult to come by, so expensive to waste.
One mistake is making what you currently can make instead of planning to make what you really need. Often it is better to wait until your leader level is higher (a lot of the good equipment is only available for commander level 40 or even higher), you have more materials or you have more gold.
I hope the above gives you some guidelines what to manufacture and when to manufacture or wait for a better gear. If you have any questions or tips to share, let us know.