Combat Tactical Mode

The game switches to a tactical combat mode every time a hero enters a monster's interception area or is directly ordered to fight an enemy on the Territory map. Combat takes place in an arena representing a section of the map. Throughout the fight, the combatants (heroes or monsters) stand at a distance from each other and never make direct contact, using only their spells or summoned creatures to fight. Combat ends when one or both rivals dies or surrenders. When combat starts, the time count on the Territory map stops; combat takes place on that same game day. A variation of tactical combat that happens according to the same rules but takes place in a special arena is "Ether combat." It begins with the casting of certain global spells and doesn't involve any direct confrontation between heroes on the Territory map (See "Global Spells" section for more).

Combat Phases

Combat proceeds in a turn-based fashion. There are two phases to each combat round: the attack phase (when you cast spells and attack your enemy) and the defense phase. The phases alternate as follows: your attack phase, the enemy's defense phase, the enemy's attack phase, then your defense phase. The combat round then ends and the next round begins.

Who attacks first? The first attack belongs to the hero who started the combat. The hero who remains on his own territory (terrain of "his" color) has the advantage over an enemy hero or

B - Spell Book, § - Creatures' graveyard, E - ether, O - out of play

monster that happens to be on "alien" terrain. If combat occurs between a hero and a monster belonging to the same territory or if both are on "alien" territory, the monster has the advantage. If two heroes start combat on either "home" or "alien" ground, the more experienced hero will have an advantage. The combatant making the second move is compensated by receiving a sixth spell in his hand, while the attacker always starts combat with only five spells.

As on the territory map, there are two parts to each combat phase: issuing commands and automatic actions. During the first part of the attack phase, a hero can cast spells and give commands to subordinate creatures (e.g. assigning targets). Each side can summon up to 10 creatures to the battlefield. Some orders (e.g. Sacrifice) will be carried out immediately, while others (e.g. attacking an enemy hero) can only be executed after the "End of Phase" command is issued and creatures start acting independently.

Characters' parameters in a Combat

All characters including heroes, monsters, and summoned creatures have a parameter indicating their health status: Life for heroes, Toughness for creatures. The value shows how much damage the character can sustain before being destroyed. If health reaches zero, the character is killed. Some heroes and creatures may naturally regenerate some health each turn; summoned creatures can only regenerate if their owner possesses the necessary ether.

A second parameter called Power applies only to creatures. The Power value shows how many points of damage the creature can inflict on an enemy within one combat phase.

Battlefield scheme and terms

To describe the game's combat process, we'll use certain terms usually applied to magic card games. The game zone can be presented as follows (arrows show movement of spells, creatures and ether from one area to another while the combat lasts; certain specific spells can trigger connections not shown on the scheme).

B - Spell Book, § - Creatures' graveyard, E - ether, O - out of play

Spellbook: contains pages with spells; heroes always have 15 pages in their Book. Monsters usually have fewer than 15 pages, and the number of runes they may use is also limited. Some stronger monsters may have more than 15 spells. Cantrips can be cast any number of times. More complex spells can be cast only when there are enough runes available. Combat participants open their Books to a random page, so the spells they see in their hand during combat are selected randomly. You won't be able to open pages and use spells you've already seen in a given combat until you have read the whole Book. Then, if combat is still ongoing, you will open the book and begin reading again.

A Hand is a set of spells from the book available to you during the current combat round. During each round before the attack phase, one or more randomly selected spells arrive in your hand from your Book. If there are no runes left for a complex spell, cantrips of the same type will be substituted. When a new spell arrives, the spells shift in the hand from left to right. When a spell is cast, it disappears. You can use any of the spells in your hand during the attack phase. There are no restrictions on how long a hand you can have throughout the attack phase. When the attack phase ends, all spells to the right of the first 5 are dismissed. Thus, when the defense phase begins, there can be no more than 5 spells left in the hand. Most spells cannot be cast during defense phase. "Dismissed" spells are unavailable until the end of combat. Their runes, however, stay with the hero throughout the combat.

White Ether is used to cast spells from your hand. Ether comes each turn before the attack phase. The number of incoming ether quanta varies depending on the number of ether channels. During combat, ether flow may remain the same throughout or it may increase by 1 - 2 quanta a turn. This growth depends on the heroes' levels. There are spells that add or remove the ether channels and capture some of the enemy's ether. The number of ether quanta required to cast the spell is displayed on spells' tool tips. The numbers may change according to the conditions declared before the combat (see below for more). During the attack phase, spells in your hand that cost more ether quanta than you currently have remaining are grayed out.

The Field is the arena where the hero, the enemy, and any summoned creatures are situated. This is where all combat takes place.

Creatures that die on the battlefield are sent to the Graveyard. Creatures may rise from the dead, either by special spells or their own abilities; they may then return to the field or be summoned again from the hand. Creatures are located in the graveyard in the order they enter, i.e. recent arrivals are at the top, while the "oldef' ones are pushed down toward the bottom. There are also spells which can permanently remove creatures from the graveyard and send them into the "out of the game" field.

The Out of the Game field is where dismissed spells and removed creatures go. All objects in this field remain unavailable until the end of the combat.

You can't see the spells in your enemy's hand; you can only see the number of spells, the amount of ether, the number of ether channels, and the number of creatures in his graveyard. The same information about you is available to the other players in a multiplayer game.

Beginning of combat

Additional combat conditions occur randomly that apply to both sides. For instance, more ether quanta may be required to summon a creature, or every few turns each side will receive an additional spell. These conditions are connected to positions of the stars in the sky; you'll be informed in advance while playing on the Territory map. These astronomical events may last for several days, affecting any combat occurring during that time.

At the beginning of combat, both sides receive 5 spells in their hand. The defender gets an additional spell on his first turn. After that, spells come in the usual manner before each side's attack phase.

Your initial attack phase - summoning creatures

The attack phase starts with the arrival of randomly selected spells from the Book. If the hero possesses a special ability or Concentration skill, he will get an additional spell every few turns. A certain amount of ether quanta arrives through ether channels together with the spells. Whether or not you can cast a given spell in your hand depends on the number of ether quanta you possess; each spell requires a different amount of ether quanta. One additional limitation: you cannot summon more than 10 creatures to the field, even if you have enough ether. Further summoning spells in your hand will be grayed out. Some races have spells that can increase the ether quanta they receive in a combat round.

You can cast any spell in your hand in any order until you use up all your ether. If there is no ether left, you will have to end your attack phase. All new creatures will be placed on the starting line behind your hero. Most creatures will not be ready to act immediately once summoned and must rest until the end of that attack phase. There are a few creatures that do not need initial rest and can be given orders immediately.

When casting certain spells, you don't have to specify a target; these spells are pre-designed for specific targets only, like your own or enemy hero or all summoned creatures on one or both sides. Other spells require that you choose the target. Please note that many spells including "strength" and "hunger" can affect both your own and enemy creatures, so be careful about choosing a target for them -strengthening an enemy creature doesn't exactly help your cause!

When the attack phase begins, you can order your creatures to attack the enemy spellcaster. Not all creatures are capable of attacking. Bodyguard creatures (walls) and some others can't attack enemies. Furthermore, your creatures can't attack enemy creatures; you can only affect them by casting spells. Creatures will fight one another only when being used to block an attack on the spellcaster (see

"Defense Phase" below). Some creatures may be temporarily unable to attack, including those resting after being summoned or after acting in the previous phase, creatures you "sent to rest" in exchange for some useful action, or creatures resting under the influence of enemy spells. Restless (a special ability) creatures don't require rest periods. Creatures possessing the Berserk ability will always attack, even without your orders; it is impossible to bring them back.

Creatures that receive an "Attack" command move up to the line of attack near your hero and wait there for the "End of Phase" command. You'll need to issue the "End of Phase" command manually by clicking the lower right-hand corner icon. Until you have done so, you may cancel any of your attack orders and return your creatures back to their initial positions.

Ending your attack phase, entering the enemy's defense phase

After the End of Phase command, creatures summoned during this stage rise and become active, but you'll be able to issue them commands only during your following defense phase. It is now the enemy's defense phase, where he defends himself and controls the game. You can't make any moves until your enemy finishes his defense phase and his following attack phase.

To defend his hero from your creatures' attack, the enemy can use spells and creatures as blockers. The enemy decides which creatures will act as defenders to block your creatures on the attack line and in what order they will block you. You can't interfere. After the enemy gives his "End Of Phase" command, combat between your attacking creatures and the enemy hero's defenders begins. Your creatures will try to attack the enemy spellcaster, while his creatures will be blocking your strikes.

If there are no defenders, your creatures will damage the enemy hero directly using all their power, then return to their positions to rest. The enemy hero can't fight back himself, but if he has creatures to defend him, they will absorb the damage. A blocker that receives damage equal to his toughness value is destroyed and sent to the "graveyard." If a blocker receives damage less than his toughness value, he fights back against your creature and damages it using all of his remaining power. Depending on how powerful the blocker is, your creature may be destroyed and removed to the "graveyard." Some defenders may possess the First Strike ability; if so, then your attacking creature will receive damage first. If two creatures with First Strike ability meet, the attacker has the initiative and will strike first.

If a defender has the Regeneration ability, it will not die when defeated but will instead recover its toughness. This costs the owner a certain amount of ether; if the owner doesn't have enough ether, the creature cannot regenerate and dies. If a defending creature uses Regeneration, it may not strike back at the attacking creature in the same combat phase.

The enemy can assign several creatures to defend against your attacking creatures in a certain order. In this case, the second defender receives only the damage leftover from the difference between your attacker's power and the first defender's toughness, if any. If the first defender has enough toughness to withstand your attack, the other defenders will receive no damage. Thus the attacking creature's power will be divided between the defenders. Conversely, if several blockers strike a single attacking creature, total damage against the attacker equals the sum of the individual damages caused by each defender.

Once the enemy's defense phase is over, all creatures return to their starting points. Attackers will rest there throughout the enemy's subsequent attack phase and your defense phase. Defenders, on the other hand, do not require rest. All surviving creatures have their toughness and power fully restored, with a few minor exceptions.

The enemy's attack phase

When the enemy's attack phase begins, he also receives new spells and ether quanta. The enemy may then cast any spells he received and/or summon new creatures. Any creatures he orders to attack will move to the original attack line. Control now returns to you for your defense phase.

Your defense phase

Attacks can be resisted in several ways. First, there are a few special spells available during the defense phase, but you may not possess them, as they are rare. The most common defense technique is to use creatures as blockers. You can specify which enemy creature attacks should be blocked. You can use several blockers against one attacking creature, and they will block that attacker in the order you specify. By setting defenders against an enemy creature, the attacker won't be able to directly damage your hero that turn unless it possesses the Trample ability - such creatures will cause hero damage equal to their remaining power.

Choosing defenders and their battle order is very important. By planning your defense correctly, your creatures will be able to repel, damage, and destroy attacking creatures and send them to the Graveyard. There are certain limitations to defending. Flying creatures can be blocked only by other flying creatures. Some creatures cannot be blocked at all. Any attacking creatures you failed to block will damage your hero. After you have cast any available defensive spells and given orders to your blocking creatures, you issue the "End of Phase" command.

Ending your defense phase

Once you click the "End of Phase" icon, the enemy attackers and your defenders begin to fight automatically according to the commands they received. Surviving creatures return to their initial positions and recover their toughness and power. The enemy attackers will rest throughout the following attack and defense phases unless they possess the Restless ability. Your defenders do not need rest and are combat-ready.

Your defenders may have Regeneration ability and will use it in combat if they receive damage equal to or exceeding their toughness. Regeneration costs a certain amount of ether, so you may want not to spend all your ether during your attack phase and reserve some for regeneration purposes during defense.

One combat round is now completed. Your new attack phase begins and the cycle continues until one or both spellcasters are defeated.

Ether disturbance

Prolonged combat and the constant inflow of white ether have an adverse effect on heroes. Starting after a certain combat round (hero's level + 9), during each following round both sides' combatants will receive damage. While there is no way to prevent this effect entirely, it can be delayed if you have the Channeling skill. This skill will delay the onset of damage to your hero by several rounds, while causing such damage to occur earlier for your enemy.

End of combat

Combat ends when one or both combatants are destroyed.

If your hero is victorious, he will receive experience points that can be used to upgrade his level or acquire new hero skills. After victory over monsters, you may also receive loot, usually in the form of resources. The amount of experience and/or loot received depends on the defeated enemy's level. If a hero has the Learning and/or Looting skills, he will gain more experience and/or loot from a victory.

If your hero is defeated, you will have to continue the game without him, unless you have the global spell, "Resurrection."

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