If you find 4 of the same material and quality you can combine these to 1 of the next better quality (if you have 16 of one quality you can thus combine it to the second next quality).
The materials can then be used to forge equipment that your Hero can use; Helmet, Armour, Amulets (2), Weapon and Boots. Each equipment have their own special enhancement depending on the materials used; one may give extra Food production, another gives extra healing. This way you can give yourself a really good boost in your status. Material bonuses as well as places where you can find them are detailed on the Materials page.
Pieces of equipment are made of 2 to 4 materials. An item made with 4 materials has 4 bonuses while an item made with 2 materials only has 2.
The cost of crafting pieces of equipment is based and the level required to use it, which is paid as silver and is 10K silver per level required. To craft a standard equipment level 50, it will cost 500K silver. Prices for invaders equipments are much higher though.
By clicking on the Equipment tab and select an equipment type you see a menu of what items you may create in your forge. First you see a list of requirements (level of hero, silver, materials) and then a color coded table of what type of enhancement you get and how likely it is to get that level of boost. Note that the colors reflect the materials you have available and the better quality the higher boost this item will give. If you have several different qualities of material you get random results, the chance to get a specific quality of equipment is indicated on the table before crafting. If you only have one quality you are guaranteed to get that type of equipment.
When you press the craft button you'll see the materials used and note the circle in the middle there the colors indicates how likely it is to get a certain quality. You can click on the materials and change selected quality of the materials. The best quality available are automatically selected so in practice you can only lower the expected quality so it is of limited use, except when you are willing to accept a lower quality item because you want to save the higher quality for another equipment.
You can also destroy an item which gives you back randomly one of the material it was made of, not all.
If you play the game in Facebook, the Material inventory can be displayed in list view, see picture.
There was recently introduced Special gear that need to be researched in Stronghold first. The cost is a lot higher than the invader or standard gear, but all the items are a bit better than what we used to have until now