Casting Cost is one of the basic attributes of spells. It indicates both the quantity of Spell Casting Skill used / required to cast the spell, and the amount of Mana consumed by its casting. It also plays a role in determining the chance of dispel- or counter type effects successfully removing or fizzling the spell.
There is a very practical difference between a spell's base Casting Cost, as listed in the game documentation and wiki articles; and its effective Casting Cost, that indicates the Mana and Skill amount actually used up during a particular instance of casting, which can depend on multiple circumstantial factors. Furthermore, many spells have two different Casting Costs: an Overland, and a Combat Casting Cost; and some even have variable Casting Costs (although generally with a set base). The terms modified-, reduced-, and total Casting Cost are also often used throughout the wiki, and typically refer to the effective Casting Cost.
While a spell's Casting Cost has a direct correlation with the caster's Spell Casting Skill; in combat situations, the amount of Mana drawn out of a Wizard's pool is usually a set multiple of the effective Casting Cost instead. This is commonly referred to as the Casting Distance Multiplier, and affects only Wizards, not their units.
Base and Effective Casting Cost Edit
A spell's base Casting Cost is generally only relevant in terms of it being the starting point of the calculations that yield the effective value, which is what the game will actually use. However, there are a number of scenarios where the two are the same, such as certain spells cast by units in combat, or spells cast overland with no Casting Cost modifiers.
Fixed-Cost Spells Edit
Most of the spells in Master of Magic have a pre-set base Casting Cost, loosely corresponding to how powerful they are in comparison to other spells. The effective Casting Cost of these spells is always equal to their base cost when they are used by spellcasting units. That is, spells cast by units are never affected by the profile traits of their controlling Wizard, and there are no Unit Abilities in the game that modify Casting Costs in any way.
Variable-Cost Spells Edit
There are also several spells in Master of Magic that have an inherently variable Casting Cost. These are mostly spells that inflict direct Damage or dispel enemy spells, and their variable cost stems from the fact that they can be infused at the time of their casting, to exert a more powerful effect. This typically manifests in a higher Spell Attack Strength, an improved Spell Save modifier, or an increased chance at dismantling enemy magic.
Variable-cost spells nearly always have a base Casting Cost just like any other spell (see the two exceptions below). At the time they are selected for casting however, an additional amount of up to 4 times their base cost may be set using a pop-up slider. This will be added to the spell's Casting Cost before any other modifiers are applied to it, and determines the overall magnitude of the spell. Any cost-modifying effects that follow will treat this new, summed value as if it was the spell's actual base Casting Cost.
In terms of Spell Casting Skill, it is the sum of the base and "additional" Mana, that determines whether the spell can be cast (in battle), or how long it will take to do so (overland). However, for variable-cost combat spells, the game also limits the "additional mana" slider such that if fits both the casting ability and remaining Mana pool of the caster.
- Fire Bolt is one of the most basic variable-cost spells. It has a base Casting Cost of 5. This means that up to 20 (4 × 5) more can be invested when casting this spell, or as much as the caster's skill or abilities allow. For each extra Mana, Fire Bolt's Attack Strength goes up by 1.
- It takes at least 5 remaining Spell Casting Skill (or Caster MP) to cast this spell at all, and fully empowering it requires 25. When selecting Fire Bolt for casting by an Efreet (Caster 20 MP), for example, the game will limit the "additional mana" slider to 15: this is the highest amount that, when added to the base 5, yields a total that still fits into the creature's MP pool. The spell's effective Casting Cost would then be 20 if the slider is maxed out.
Item Creation Edit
- Enchant Item and Create Artifact are special cases of variable-cost spells that do not have an actual base Casting Cost. In the Spellbook, they are indicated as having a Casting Cost of "?". This is because selecting either of these two spells for casting will open the Item Creation Screen, through which the player must design a Magical Item before either spell can be cast. The effective Casting Cost of the spell will be set to the value of the item, adjusted for any of the modifiers that may apply from the section below. This value is visible at the bottom right corner of the Item Creation Screen, and is constantly updated as Item Powers are added to, or removed from, the item being designed.
Casting Cost Modifiers Edit
There are several effects in the game that can change the cost of casting spells. However, all but one of them are related to a Wizard's profile, and none of them apply to spells cast by units of any kind. A large amount of Spellbooks of a single color, and a handful of Retorts associated with certain types of magic; form the most common group of Casting Cost modifiers. These traits always grant a flat percentage Casting Cost reduction, and are additively cumulative. The one effect outside this group is that of the Evil Omens Global Enchantment, which applies a +50% increase to the Casting Cost of Life and Nature spells, and is multiplicative with the rest of the modifiers.
- Having a large amount of Spellbooks of the same Realm benefits both the research and the casting of the spells of that Realm. Every book above the 7th grants a cumulative 10% reduction to the Casting Cost of every spell that belongs to the Realm. The bonus starts with a meager 10% at 8 Spellbooks, but can go as high as 60% with a full profile of 13 books of the same color. Naturally, the upper limit on Spellbooks also means that a Wizard can have a Casting Cost reduction of this type for only a single Realm in any given game.
- The following Retorts reduce the Casting Cost of certain groups of spells:
- Chaos Mastery: -15% for all Chaos spells.
- Nature Mastery: -15% for all Nature spells.
- Sorcery Mastery: -15% for all Sorcery spells.
- Conjurer: -25% for all Summoning Spells.
- Runemaster: -25% for all Arcane spells.
- Artificer: -50% for Enchant Item and Create Artifact.
- Because these effects are cumulative both with each other and the effect of Spellbooks, it is actually possible to reduce the Casting Cost of certain spells by 100% or, in other words, to 0. This applies to Summoning Spells from the Chaos, Nature, and Sorcery Realms, and requires a Wizard to have a full shelf (13 books) of the Realm (-60% reduction), along with the corresponding Mastery Retort (-15%), and Conjurer (-25%).
Overland Spellcasting Edit
Wizards are the only entities capable of casting spells on the overland map. This option is not available to units of any kind. Clicking the "Spell" button in the top menu of the main game view brings up the player's spellbook, listing all of their spells that are available for casting overland. The numbers in the upper right corner of each individual entry in the book represent the spell's effective Casting Cost, while the Realm symbols below the names indicate the approximate amount of turns it will take to cast the spell (these are replaced by the word "Instant" instead, if the casting can be finished within the same turn). For variable-cost spells, both displays are based on what the effective cost would be, if the "additional mana" slider is left at its default, 0 value.
Overland spellcasting is not directly limited by a Wizard's Spell Casting Skill. That is, spells can be selected for casting even if their total Casting Cost exceeds the player's Skill. In this case, they will be cast over multiple turns, with the Casting Skill setting an upper limit on how much Mana can be channeled into the spell each turn. Naturally, if that amount of Mana is not available, then the spell will take even longer to cast. Either way, it will be ready on the turn when its entire remaining Casting Cost can be paid. However, it may be worth noting that it is not possible to manually delay the casting at that point. If the spell requires no target, it will be cast automatically at the beginning of the turn. Otherwise, the game will prompt for a target at that time, with no option to postpone the casting.
The Casting Cost modifiers explained above are not the only way to expedite overland spellcasting. Any Hero with the Caster ability (but not the Fantastic Units that also have this trait) may support their controlling Wizard by adding half of their own Casting Skill to the Wizard's. This will only apply on the overland map however, and requires the Hero to be stationed (start their turn) at the Wizard's Fortress Town. The Magic Screen displays the player's adjusted Spell Casting Skill in parentheses after the base value whenever there are any Heroes contributing to it.
Technically, the Hero will actually channel into the spell between the player's turns. That is, after the current turn has ended, but before the next one begins. This has several implications, the most important of which is probably that the extra Casting Skill provided by Heroes can not make a spell "Instant" cast, if it wasn't already, based solely on the Wizard's own Spell Casting Skill.
Combat Spellcasting Edit
Unlike overland, a spellcaster in battle must have at least as much of both Mana, and remaining Spell Casting Skill, as a spell's effective Casting Cost, to even attempt casting it. For units, this is actually a single statistic, indicated by the numerical value of their Caster ability, and typically expressed as Skill-, or Mana Points. Wizards have a separate Spell Casting Skill and Mana reserves, both of which are displayed on the Magic Screen, and in the spell information window in combat.
At the beginning of each battle, every participant, whether unit or Wizard, is assigned a "remaining" Casting Skill value equal to their current baseline/maximum. This represents the amount that they can expend during the engagement, and is refreshed at the start of every battle. Once it is used up, the Wizard or unit may not cast any more spells until the next combat, although Heroes wielding Magical Items that have Spell Charges remaining may still use those.
Combat spellcasting itself is initiated with the "Spell" button, located among the other action buttons at the bottom of the screen. Clicking this with a spellcasting unit selected may also necessitate choosing who will cast the spell through an additional pop-up window, if the Wizard has not yet cast a spell that turn. Once the casting entity is determined, the spellbook will open, displaying the spells available to the caster. Just like with overland casting, only the relevant spells appear in the book, with their effective Casting Costs highlighted in each entry. However, the Realm icons during combat represent the amount of times the spell could be cast (considering the remaining Skill and Mana), rather than the amount of turns it takes to cast it. Combat spells are always "instant" cast. Spells whose effective Casting Cost does not fit the caster's remaining Skill or Mana pool are greyed out, and may not be selected.
Each Wizard and unit may initiate only a single "Spell" action during any given combat turn, and for units, casting a spell will consume all of their remaining Movement Allowance. Spellcasting is also not allowed during the opponent's turn.
Mana and Spell Casting Skill are two different assets for Wizards, and a certain amount of both are required to cast any spell in combat. While the usable Casting Skill refreshes at the beginning of a battle, Mana does not: Wizards have to use their global pool to cast combat spells. In fact, casting spells in combat typically requires more Mana the further away the battle is taking place from the Wizard's Fortress. Thus, in order to cast a spell, the Wizard must have the following:
- Remaining Spell Casting Skill that equals or exceeds the effective Casting Cost of the spell, and
- Mana equaling or exceeding the effective Casting Cost, multiplied by a "casting distance" modifier.
The so-called Casting Distance Multiplier depends on the distance, in map tiles, between the Fortress Town and the map square the battle is taking place on. However, to calculate this distance, the game does not actually use Euclidean geometry, it will simply take the larger of either the horizontal-, or vertical distance on the map, and use that value. The multiplier is then set as follows:
Wizards with the Channeler ability treat these distance modifiers as having a maximum of 1, and will never have to spend more Mana then the spell's effective Casting Cost. It may also be worth noting that having Heroes stationed at a Wizard's Fortress does not affect their controller's Spell Casting Skill in combat. That is, only natural Skill applies, not the value listed in parentheses on the Magic Screen.
Spellcasting Units Edit
Units with the Caster ability may also cast spells in combat. The numerical value associated with this trait represents both the Casting Skill and the Mana available to the unit during a single battle. As this is a single attribute, both properties are refreshed at the start of every engagement. This also means that spells cast by units will not affect their controlling Wizard's Spell Casting Skill or Mana pool, although at the same time the Wizard can't substitute their own statistics to allow units to cast spells either.
Spellcasting units typically use the base combat Casting Cost of spells, except in the case of variable-cost spells, which they can enhance the same way as Wizards. This will reduce their casting ability accordingly, but as noted above, they are otherwise unaffected by Casting Cost modifiers.
Spell Eligibility Edit
Most of the spells in Master of Magic can be cast either only overland, or only in combat. However, there are several exceptions, most notably Unit Enchantments, a large number of which can be cast in both situations. These spells work slightly differently based on this circumstance: the combat version only lasts until the end of the current battle; while the overland version costs 5 times as much in base Casting Cost, but in turn lasts as long as it is maintained by paying an Upkeep Cost at the beginning of every overland turn.
In addition, the special spells Disenchant Area, Word of Recall, and Disenchant True may be cast either in combat or overland, with an identical base Casting Cost (although two of these are also variable-cost spells).
Dispelling Magic Edit
Casting Costs also determine the success chance of all dispel- and counter type effects, regardless of whether their source is a spell or some other circumstance, such as a Nightshade or a Node aura. For the sake of simplicity, these are collectively termed dispelling attempts on the wiki, although they don't necessarily work the exact same way in terms of which Casting Cost (base or effective) is substituted into their formulae. However, the formula itself is always the same, and can be generalized as:
Dispel Chance (%) = Dispel Strength / (Dispel Strength + Spell Cost) × 100
Note that the game does not actually use a percentage for dispel chance. Internally, the multiplier at the end of the formula is 250, and the result is correspondingly checked against a random value between 1 and 250 to determine success or failure. While this does give the function a slightly increased statistical accuracy, it is still conceptually identical. As such, for ease of understanding and representation, both the game documentation and the wiki uses the above percent-based formula instead.
The table below summarizes the target Casting Costs used by, and the Dispel Strengths of, the various spells and effects in the game that execute dispelling attempts using this formula:
|Dispel Magic||Combat Instant||base||Yes||Yes||Yes||10 - 50||targets all spells on a single unit|
|Dispel Magic True||30 - 150|
|Disenchant Area||Instant Spell||base||Yes||Yes||Yes||50 - 250||targets all spells on a map tile|
|Disenchant True||150 - 750|
|Disjunction||Instant Spell||base||Yes||Yes||Yes||200 - 1,000||targets a single Global Enchantment|
|Disjunction True||600 - 3,000|
|Nightshade||Terrain Special||base||Yes||Yes||No||100|| has both a dispel and a counter effect|
targets all spells that would affect the Town, its tile, or its garrison;
may locally nullify the effect of larger-scale spells;
will attempt to dispel or negate every turn;
multiple Nightshades multiply the Dispel Strength, rather than roll individually
|Node Auras||Terrain Special||effective||Yes||Yes||No||50||attempts to counter all spells cast in combat that are not of the Node's Realm|
|Counter Magic||Combat Enchant||effective||Yes||Yes||No||10 - 50|| attempts to counter all spells cast in combat by opposing entities;|
Dispel Strength reduced by 5 for each attempt made (bugged in v1.31)
|Life Force||Global Enchant||base||Yes||Yes||No||500||attempts to counter overland spells of the Death Realm|
|Tranquility||Global Enchant||base||Yes||Yes||No||500||attempts to counter overland spells of the Chaos Realm|
|Suppress Magic||Global Enchant||base||Yes||Yes||No||500||attempts to counter every overland spell cast by any other Wizard|
|Spell Binding||Instant Spell||base||20,000|| attempts to take control of a single Global Enchantment|
was possibly meant to be automatic
In the case of variable-cost target spells, the extra Mana infused into them effectively becomes part of the base Casting Cost for the purpose of substituting into the dispel formula. That is, overland counters will use the adjusted sum when trying to fizzle these spells, but any Casting Cost reductions will be ignored in this situation. This is not true in combat however, where both Counter Magic and Node auras roll their dispel chance against the full effective Casting Cost in all current game versions (including any reductions to the additional Mana spent).
Retorts Affecting Dispel Chance Edit
There are five Retorts in the game that can alter the success chance of dispel- and counter type magic. Four of these (Archmage, Chaos Mastery, Nature Mastery, and Sorcery Mastery) make their affected spells more difficult to remove or fizzle. Archmage affects every spell cast by the Wizard, while the Realm Masteries only apply to spells of their respective Realms; but all four work exactly the same way and can even be added together where applicable. The effect of any one of these Retorts will double whatever Casting Cost is used for the target spell in the dispel formula, while a combination of two will triple the value instead.
Runemaster, on the other hand, enhances a Wizard's own dispelling attempts, by doubling their Dispel Strength. However, this Retort typically does not apply to effects that try to counter or prevent spells from being cast, and does not affect the behaviour exhibited by Nightshade plants. At the same time, while generally an Arcane-oriented feat, Runemaster does work with Sorcery's True versions of the dispel type spells, creating an extremely effective combination for dismantling enemy magic.
Spell-like Abilities Edit
A handful of units possess special Abilities that mimic the effect of certain spells, even though the unit itself does not have the Caster ability. These abilities are also activated with the "Spell" action button, and will usually interact with counter- or dispel type magic in one way or another.
Doom Bolt Spell, Fireball Spell, and Healing Spell duplicate the Doom Bolt, Fireball, and Healing spells respectively, and may be countered by combat effects that could fizzle the original spells. These abilities are treated as using the base Casting Cost of the corresponding spell, with no extra Mana spent on the variable-cost component in the case of Fireball. The Web Spell of Giant Spiders also works as the spell of the same name. However, it is unique in that it is treated as an exception by counter type effects, and will bypass them entirely. On the other hand, once used, its residual effects are subject to the same rules for dispelling as those of the original Web spell.
The Summon Demons ability of Demon Lords, although also activated using a "Spell" action, is not considered to be a spell, and can neither be countered, nor dispelled. Similarly, the Cause Fear ability, while labeled in-game as "Cause Fear Spell", is also not an actual spell (it does not need to be cast either).
Spell Charges imbued onto Magical Items interact with dispelling attempts exactly the same way as casting the respective spell would, despite the fact that they do not consume either Mana or Casting Skill. They can be countered as normal and, if the spell has a lasting effect, that may also be dispelled, in contrast to other types of Item Powers, which can not.
No-Roll Counters Edit
Not every effect requires a dispelling attempt to prevent an enemy spell from taking hold. Immunities, for example, will either not allow their possessor to be targeted by certain spells, or will simply negate their effect altogether. Some enchantments can also imbue their target with attributes that make them naturally immune to other spells (e.g. the Non-Corporeal ability granted by Wraith Form makes its target immune to Web).
Finally, Spell Blast is a special counter type spell that does not make any dispel attempts: if, after successfully casting this spell, the caster has enough Mana left to spend exactly as much more as has already been channeled into the target spell, Spell Blast will use it to automatically fizzle that spell. No roll is made, the counter always succeeds. If there isn't enough Mana, Spell Blast will have no effect and its Casting Cost is wasted, unless there's another spell that can be "blasted" instead.
v1.31 Dispel Bugs Edit
Unfortunately, describing the game's dispel mechanics would not be complete without examining the large amount of related bugs that are still present in the latest official version. It's worth noting however, that most of these are corrected in the unofficial v1.40 and v1.50/1.51 patches.
- When a Hero controlled by the player casts Dispel Magic, Dispel Magic True, or Disenchant True in combat, they will target the player's own spells instead of those of the opponent (fixed in v1.40).
- When Unit Enchantments duplicating certain Unit Abilities are dispelled during a battle, the granted ability will not actually be removed with the spell, and will remain until the end of combat (fixed in v1.50).
- Dispelling an effect that allows a unit to ignore Weapon Immunity will not also remove this property.
- Spells that subvert contol over a unit can not be dispelled by the unit's original owner, and dispelling them does not revert control of the unit either.
- Unit Curses ignore the normal dispel mechanics entirely and are always dispelled instead (fixed in v1.50).
- Dispelling the residual effect(s) of Web does not restore any lost Movement Types, unless granted by the Flight spell (fixed in v1.50).
- Invulnerability can not be dispelled by any means, and also marks the enchanted unit as invalid for AI dispel targeting (fixed in v1.50).
- Spell Lock, if cast in combat, fails to protect other enchantments from being dispelled altogether (fixed in v1.50).
- Wizard profile traits that make spells easier to cast by reducing their Casting Cost also make these spells easier to counter in combat (this is noted in the table above).
- The Dispel Strength modifier of the Runemaster Retort is only applied to Disjunction if it is cast by a computer player.
- Create Artifact is significantly easier to counter than the value of the crafted item would indicate (fixed in v1.50).
- Enchantments that can only be cast overland are much harder to dispel in combat than they should be, using 5 times their Casting Cost in the dispel formula.
- The potency of Counter Magic typically won't be reduced when successfully fizzling a spell cast by a Wizard and, in extreme cases, can even cause unrelated Combat Enchantments to be removed by mistake (fixed in v1.40).
- The fact that Spell Binding makes a dispel attempt is entirely undocumented. It is not known whether this behaviour is even intentional or not. The spell also suffers from multiple bugs when cast by computer players, and will generally not work at all in this situation (fixed, and success is automatic, in v1.50).
There are a few prominent strategies that involve lowering the Casting Cost of certain spells, but first, it's worth considering why reduced Casting Costs can be such a strong influence for a Wizard. Whether throwing spells overland or in battle, there are always two resources spent: Mana, and Spell Casting Skill. A modifier to Casting Cost cuts down both of these expenses with one stroke. Since neither are infinite, if one of them should become more plentiful than the other during a campaign, Casting Cost discounts can serve as a hedge against the limiting one. Mana Focusing and Archmage, by contrast, rely heavily on a bounty of Skill or Mana respectively. To balance this, obtaining a reduction to spells' Casting Cost tends to force Wizards to jump through some hoops with their starting picks.
Lowered Casting Costs are always useful, with the one possible exception being the circumstance that they make spells easier to counter in combat. This is especially true in one of the example profiles listed below, that aims to get 100% reduction on the cost of Summoning Spells. If this is achieved, combat summons become impossible to cast in the presence of an opposing Counter Magic or Node aura. Of course, the former may be dispelled, and the latter avoided entirely by obtaining the Node Mastery Retort.
Example Wizard ProfilesEdit
- This popular combination hinges on the 75% discount on the two Item Crafting spells, and allows players to actually gain Mana by creating and then destroying Magical Items.
- 11-Book Strategies
- The true strength of taking 11 books in one color generally lies in the guaranteed Rare Spell chosen, but these profiles also grant a 40% Casting Cost discount on all spells in the Realm, making the wizard extremely adept with the chosen color.
- Conjurer + Chaos/Nature/Sorcery Mastery
- This combination snags a 40% discount on Summoning Spells in the mastered Realm(s), and keeps the Wizard's profile fairly open, as they are not forced to use so many the initial picks purely to meet requirements.
- Free Great Wyrms
- This is not a starting strategy, but a variant of the above that can eventually result in Summoning Spells having -100% Casting Cost (!!!). Start the game with Conjurer, Nature Mastery, and 9 Books, and obtain 4 more Spellbooks by attacking and looting Nature Nodes (this is typically more reliable than trying to obtain the Retorts randomly). All overland and combat summons will then be free to cast.
- This strategy should theoretically also work with Chaos and Sorcery, but unfortunately, a bug in the official game (which is also still present in Insecticide) can prevent the player from obtaining any more than 11 Spellbooks from any Realm other than Nature. This happens if there are still Unknown spells from the respective color when finding a book, when already possessing more than 10 books. The awarded Spellbook will be converted to Nature instead, despite the fact that it still makes at least one of those original Unknown spells Learnable, and regardless of what is displayed in the pop-up dialogue that describes the Treasure found.
- This bug can be avoided entirely by starting the game with 10 or 11 books, but in both cases the player has to either get lucky with finding the right Retorts, or otherwise keep reloading the game and redoing Encounters to obtain the ones required. Although starting with 10 books and one of the Retorts increases the chance of acquiring both, it removes the ability to begin the game with spells of a higher Spell Rarity, as compared to taking 11 books.
- Alternatively, if the missing spells can be found or traded before a 12th Spellbook is found, then the bug will not trigger at all, and the book will be awarded as normal. In addition, the Unofficial Patch 1.50 also fixes this issue, and the specific patch (W170FIX.TXT) may also be applied to a different game version as a standalone fix.