Combat Instant is a Spell Type, or category of spells, in Master of Magic. All spells within this group have permanent or semi-permanent effects that do not require continuous investment of Mana. In other words, a Combat Instant may leave a lasting impact on its target, but the spell itself disappears completely once cast, and will never require any form of Upkeep Cost. As the name suggests, Combat Instants can only be used during battles.
Over a third of these spells are variable-cost, meaning that they can be cast with more Mana infused into them than their base Casting Cost. This reduces the amount of Mana and Spell Casting Skill remaining for other spells, but will in turn increase the power of the Combat Instant - typically by boosting its Spell Attack Strength, or otherwise improving its chance of success.
There are a total of 29 different Combat Instants in Master of Magic, spread across the different Realms, although 3 of these are really Instant Spells that can simply also be used in combat. The Chaos Realm contains by far the most - 11 Combat Instants - the majority of which are meant to cause direct damage to one or more enemy units, or even destroy them outright.
All Combat Instants must be cast during combat. As mentioned already, three Instant Spells can also double as Combat Instants, in which case it is possible to cast them during combat for an effect similar their overland one. Combat Instants run the gamut of Casting Costs, with some being incredibly cheap and others being incredibly expensive, not only as a result of many of them having variable Casting Costs, but also because some of them can have a major impact on the battle, such as spells that try to deliver damage to all enemies at once.
In all cases however, Combat Instants have absolutely no Upkeep Costs, as the spell itself ceases to exist after it has applied its intended effect. Since the spell dissipates after casting, it cannot be canceled voluntarily by the caster, nor can it be dispelled by opponents (although there are two exceptions here, as noted further below). Still, this does not mean that the effect cannot be undone - in fact most Combat Instant effects disappear at the end of the battle.
For example, the Earth to Mud spell creates a patch of muddy ground on the battlefield, and then dissipates. It's not possible to dispel this effect, but the mud itself will disappear once combat is over and will not reappear during the next battle in the same location. The damage caused by direct-damage spells, such as Ice Bolt, also cannot be dispelled with magic - but it can be healed in any way that normally heals damage incurred during combat.
The majority of Combat Instants are offensive spells, and must be targeted at one specific enemy unit. There are also a handful of beneficial ones, which require a friendly target instead. Three of them must be cast on a map tile, two bring deceased units back to life, and two can be used on both the caster's own or opposing units. The rest take no targets at all, and will instead affect every valid target on the battlefield. The next section explores these groups in more detail. Some Combat Instants also have restrictions on their valid targets, and certain Unit Abilities can prevent them from being cast on a specific target.
If the casting of a Combat Instant requiring a target is successful, the game will prompt the player to choose an appropriate one. Selecting an invalid target will usually result in an error message, but the game will typically allow the player to choose a different target. Occasionally however, an "invalid" target can be selected, except the spell will have no effect on it, and ends up wasting its entire Casting Cost for nothing. This most commonly happens with attack spells against which a target unit possesses an immunity, or Resistable spells when a target has no chance of failing its roll.
While Combat Instants have a wide variety of effects, they can easily be generalized into several groups of similar spells. In most cases, these categories also coincide with the targeting types or restrictions mentioned above. A common theme however, is that the energy channeled into Combat Instants dissipates immediately after its effect triggers, and thus can not be cancelled manually or dispelled by the enemy. The two exceptions are the vortices conjured up by Magic Vortex, and the enchanted strands created by the Web spell, both of which can be dismantled by opposing spellcasters (although they can't be voluntarily removed by the caster).
Direct Damage Edit
The largest group of Combat Instants are commonly referred to as "direct-damage" spells. These perform a specific type of attack, usually against a single enemy unit, and follow the game's generic rules for dealing Physical Damage. That is, the spell has an Attack Strength and needs to make an Attack Roll, and the target can reduce the damage it takes via a Defense Roll. The following spells belong to this group:
|Spell||Attack Types|| Base|
|Star Fires||conventional||15||15||only affects Chaos and Death units|
|Ice Bolt||conventional, Cold||5||45||+1 per every extra 1|
|Psionic Blast||conventional, Illusion||5||25||+1 per every extra 2|
|Doom Bolt||Doom Damage||10||10||-|
|Fire Bolt||conventional, Fire||5||25||+1 per every extra 1|
|Fireball||Area Damage, Fire||5||25||+1 per every extra 3|
|Lightning Bolt||Armor-Piercing||5||45||+1 per every extra 1|
|Warp Lightning||Armor-Piercing||10||10||makes up to 10 attacks ( 10 down to 1)|
In addition to these, Flame Strike is also a direct damage spell, except that it automatically affects each and every enemy unit on the battlefield, rather than being targeted at a single one, like the spells above. It has an Attack Strength of 15, and deals Area Fire Damage or, as this is commonly termed on the wiki: Immolation Damage. In terms of its targeting, Flame Strike naturally falls into the group that requires none, but its effect is identical to a mid-strength Fireball cast simultaneously at every opposing unit.
Finally, a special case of a direct damage Combat Instant is Life Drain. Both conceptually, and based on the in-game Spell Typing, Life Drain is Death's version of a single-target variable-damage spell. However, unlike all others, it does not use the conventional Physical Damage mechanics. Instead, Life Drain forces its target to make a single Resistance roll, and bases its damage on the difference between the result of this roll, and the number that the target would have had to roll to avoid the effect completely. Consequently, rather than increasing its Attack Strength, infusing Life Drain with extra Mana applies a -1 penalty to this roll for every 5 spent. This translates directly to one point of damage on a theoretical 0 Resist target.
Despite this, many players, including the authors of the unofficial patches, consider Life Drain to be a "Resist-or-suffer" type spell. As a result, starting from the Insecticide patch, when this spell is cast by a Hero, it will benefit from any Spell Save modifiers granted to that Hero by Magical Items. However, this is not the case in the original game.
Regardless of their mechanics for dealing damage though, all Combat Instants in this group share the common property of being completely negated by the Magic Immunity ability and, in the case of Chaos or Death spells, also Righteousness. In this, they differ from conventional Ranged Magical Attacks, against which both of these effects merely increase their possessor's Defense score to 50. None of the above spells can ever get any damage through these effects. This is also different from Cold Immunity and Fire Immunity which, if they apply, will grant the same 50 against spells, that they would against regular attacks bearing the attribute they protect from.
Resistable Spells Edit
Sometimes also called "Resist-or-suffer" spells, these magics ultimately also cause damage to one or more enemy units, but in a very different manner. Banish, Dispel Evil, Petrify, and Word of Death are the simplest spells in this group, although the first two of these have restrictions on the types of units they can affect. They all work the same way however: each figure in the targeted unit must make an individual Resistance roll, or be slain one way or another. This effectively translates into one figure's worth of damage caused to the unit as a whole for every failed roll.
Nearly all of the spells in this group apply a Resistance penalty to their targets. In fact, Banish can even be infused with extra Mana to increase this penalty at a rate of -1 per 15. Dispel Evil is also much more effective (represented by an additional -5) against units with the Undead attribute, than against other targets. These are creatures reanimated through Death magics or Life Stealing Damage, and should not be confused with the Fantastic Units "naturally" associated with the Realm of Death, whom never actually possess this property.
Single target Resistable Spells can be cast by Heroes with greater effectiveness than by either Wizards or other spellcasting units. This is because Magical Items imbued with the Spell Save Item Power invariably always apply to these spells. This enchantment is also cumulative, so a Hero can have multiple such items, which then stack with both each other, and any built-in Save modifier that the spell already has by default.
There are also two larger-scale Resistable Spells: Death Spell and Holy Word. Again, the latter one has a restriction on the affected units, but otherwise these spells work similar to Flame Strike and Combat Enchantments. They require no targeting, and instead seek out every enemy unit automatically. They also both have a Spell Save penalty, and like Dispel Evil, Holy Word is much more effective against Undead than against other targets.
It is worth noting that in the original game, likely due to balance reasons, Spell Save modifiers granted by Magical Items do not apply to these larger scale spells. However, this is also changed in the unofficial Insecticide patch, which means that from v1.40 onwards, the Spell Save Item Power does work with both Death Spell and Holy Word.
Finally, the last spell in this group, Disintegrate, works slightly differently than the others. One could even say that this is the "ultimate" single target Resistable Spell. Instead of allowing for a Resistance roll, Disintegrate will check whether the target has any chance of failing such a roll. If it does, the spell will automatically, and always, destroy that target. Otherwise, it will naturally have no effect. While Disintegrate has no native Resistance modifier, Magical Items imbued with Spell Save penalties do apply to it, even in the official game.
It may also be worth noting that all non-Death spells in this group actually deal Irreversible Damage. That is, the figures killed by these spells may not be healed until the battle is over, and if a unit dies mostly as a result of this type of damage, it will not be possible to resurrect it by any means either.
Non-Resistable Spells Edit
Three of the offensive Combat Instants can not be Resisted by the target unit. Of these, Cracks Call is arguably the most powerful: it has a static 25% chance of destroying the enemy unit regardless of its defenses, but will not work at all against Non-Corporeal, Flying and, starting with Insecticide, Merging units. Warp Wood is much simpler, and will only rid a unit with Ranged Missile Attacks of all its remaining Ammunition; while Web doubles as a Unit Curse, and will cause the target to be unable to act until it breaks free, and to lose its natural ability to Fly for the remainder of the battle.
Dispel Magic Edit
The two Combat Instants that can be cast on friendly and hostile units alike are Dispel Magic, and its enhanced version Dispel Magic True. Both of them are meant to try and remove all hostile spell effects from their targets, with a success chance dependant on the Casting Cost of the spell that created the effect, versus the Mana spent on the dispel. To support this, both spells can be infused with extra Mana, although the Sorcery version always has 3 times the Dispel Strength.
The Instant Spells Disenchant Area and Disenchant True also double as Combat Instants, and may be cast during battles without the need to even select a target. They normally affect a tile on the overland map which, in combat, translates to the entire battlefield. They automatically try to remove every Unit Enchantment and Unit Curse that the opponent may have in play, in addition to all hostile Combat Enchantments, and possibly even Town Enchantments if the battle is taking place in an enemy Town.
Friendly Unit Spells Edit
There are only four Combat Instants that affect friendly units. Two of these, Recall Hero, and the (originally also an Instant Spell) Word of Recall serve to provide a hasty way out of the battle for their target, who is instantly teleported to the caster's Summoning Circle, effectively removing it from combat. Healing and Mass Healing, as their name suggests, instead restore lost Hit Points to one or all units on their caster's side. Naturally, the latter spell requires no target, and will affect all friendly units equally.
Raising Dead Units Edit
Raise Dead, and its dark counterpart Animate Dead both need to target a unit that has already been destroyed in the battle. This is accomplished through a special interface, that lists only the names of the valid targets, with no additional information. The Life spell works exclusively on friendly units, and while Death is indiscriminate about its targets, neither spell can be cast unless there is at least one unit that it can call back to existence. Unfortunately, in the official version of the game, both of these spells have serious bugs and can corrupt, or even crash the game. Insecticide fixes some, but not all of these, and the Unofficial Patch 1.50 is required to be able to cast them safely.
Tile Spells Edit
Three Combat Instants need to be cast on a tile on the combat map. To be more precise though, Disrupt can only be used on a tile that has a City Wall section running through it, and will in turn automatically reduce that to rubble. Earth to Mud transforms a 5 by 5 square of tiles into thick muddy ground that Walking units have significant difficulties crossing, centered around the tile it is cast on. Last, but not least, Magic Vortex summons a whirlwind of chaotic energy that will wreak havoc on any units it passes by. This is not a unit, and the caster has only very limited control over its movement, although it is susceptible to being dispelled from the battlefield.
Call Chaos Edit
Finally, there is one spell that does not quite fit into the above groups. Call Chaos is a battlefield spell that requires no targeting. When cast, it will try to randomly inflict one of several effects on every opposing unit. However, not all of these effects are harmful, and there's also a chance that nothing will happen to one or more of the units. In addition, the effects that do hurt their targets are either Resistable, or cause conventional Physical Damage which can be defended against.
List of Combat Instants Edit
The following list details all 29 Combat Instants available in the game.
|Disenchant Area||Arcane||--||50||300||Attempts to dispel all enemy-cast spells on the battlefield.|
|Dispel Magic||Arcane||--||10+||100||Attempts to dispel all enemy-cast spells on one target unit.|
|Recall Hero||Arcane||--||20||350||Target friendly Hero is instantly teleported to the current location of their master's Summoning Circle.|
|Dispel Evil||Life||Uncommon||25||450||Each figure in target Death or Chaos unit must resist at -4 or be destroyed. Undead are even more susceptible.|
|Healing||Life||Common||15||100||Restores 5 to the target unit.|
|Holy Word||Life||Rare||60||1700||Each figure in each enemy Fantastic Unit must resist at -2 or be destroyed. Undead are even more susceptible.|
|Mass Healing||Life||Rare||50||1600||Restores 5 to each friendly unit on the battlefield.|
|Raise Dead||Life||Uncommon||35||620||One unit destroyed during the battle is returned to life with 50% of its Hit Points (and thus Figures).|
|Star Fires||Life||Common||5||40||Target Death or Chaos unit is struck with a 15-strength Magical Damage attack.|
|Cracks Call||Nature||Uncommon||20||300||Has a 25% chance of killing a target enemy unit.|
|Earth to Mud||Nature||Common||15||20||Turns a section of the battlefield to mud, slowing down corporeal Ground units that move through it.|
|Ice Bolt||Nature||Uncommon||10+||400||Strikes the target with a Cold Damage attack of adjustable strength.|
|Petrify||Nature||Rare||35||960||Each figure in the target enemy unit must Resist (with no penalty) or be turned to stone.|
|Web||Nature||Common||10||100||Holds an enemy unit in place until it breaks free, and removes the unit's Flying ability until the end of combat.|
|Banish||Sorcery||Rare||20+||1120||Each figure in a target enemy Fantastic Unit must resist at -3 or be destroyed. The penalty can be further increased by spending additional Mana.|
|Disenchant True||Sorcery||Uncommon||50+||350||Attempts to dispel all enemy-cast spells on the battlefield. Dispel Strength is 3 times that of Disenchant Area.|
|Dispel Magic True||Sorcery||Common||10+||40||Attempts to dispel all enemy-cast spells on one target unit. Dispel Strength is 3 times that of Dispel Magic.|
|Psionic Blast||Sorcery||Common||10+||250||Strikes the target with an adjustable strength magical Illusion Damage attack.|
|Word of Recall||Sorcery||Common||20||160||Teleports a target friendly unit to the Town currently containing its owner's Summoning Circle.|
|Call Chaos||Chaos||Very Rare||75||3000||Inflicts a random effect on each enemy unit on the battlefield.|
|Disintegrate||Chaos||Very Rare||50||2000||If the targeted enemy unit has 9 or less, it is completely destroyed on the spot.|
|Disrupt||Chaos||Common||15||40||Destroys a targeted City Wall section.|
|Doom Bolt||Chaos||Rare||40||1120||Target enemy unit suffers exactly 10 that can not be blocked except by Magic Immunity or Righteousness.|
|Fire Bolt||Chaos||Common||5+||60||Strikes an enemy target with a Fire Damage attack of adjustable strength.|
|Fireball||Chaos||Uncommon||15+||560||Makes an attack of adjustable strength dealing Immolation Damage to an enemy unit.|
|Flame Strike||Chaos||Rare||60||1600||Every enemy unit on the battlefield is struck by an Immolation Damage attack of strength 15.|
|Lightning Bolt||Chaos||Uncommon||10+||300||Target enemy unit is struck by a magical Armor Piercing Damage attack of adjustable strength.|
|Magic Vortex||Chaos||Rare||50||1200||Creates a powerful tornado that moves semi-randomly across the battlefield, severely damaging everything in or adjacent to its path.|
|Warp Lightning||Chaos||Rare||35||880||Target enemy unit is struck by 10 successive Armor Piercing Damage attacks of decreasing strength, starting with a strength 10 attack.|
|Warp Wood||Chaos||Common||10||20||Target enemy unit possessing a Ranged Missile Attack loses all its ammunition, and cannot use this attack for the remainder of the battle.|
|Animate Dead||Death||Very Rare||50||3000||Returns a unit that's died back to full health, turns it into an Undead unit, and places it under the caster's control.|
|Death Spell||Death||Very Rare||50||2500||Each figure in every enemy unit on the battlefield must resist at -2 or be destroyed.|
|Life Drain||Death||Common||10+||160||Causes Damage to a target enemy unit equal to the amount it fails a Resistance roll by, and proportionally either grants Hit Points to the caster if it is a unit, or contributes to their Spell Casting Skill if a Wizard.|
|Word of Death||Death||Very Rare||40||2000||Each figure in a target enemy unit must resist at -5 or be slain.|