Depends on the edition. By 2e's Complete Fighter's Handbook, it was perfectly possible to have a guy wearing leather armor with an AC of 0 at level 1, no shield required, so it wasn't really hard to get low AC.Thats why I love AD&D. Sword and Shield is better because AC is king over HP. You DON'T want to get hit. No matter how many levels you have cause PCs had about half the HP they have now and healing and raising dead wasn't as plentiful.