Spell Check: 5 Mistakes To Avoid In Magicka

In the end, the wizards reconsidered their policy and let the Balrog pass.

Co-op wizardly action extravaganza Magicka comes out tomorrow, making this the perfect time for the following public service announcement. You will suck at Magicka. You will be so terrible. You’ll be introduced to its innovative element-mixing system, you’ll nod, smile at the power at your disposal, and then proceed to screw up in a thousand ways you never foresaw. You will kill yourself. You will kill your friends. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll accidentally blow up a monster in the process. Below I’ve outlined five examples of the terrible, terrible errors you will make, in the hope that you won’t make them. But you will.

The spell system in Magicka works as follows. Your character has access to eight elements, (fire, water, ice, earth, lightning, arcane, healing and shield), which are assigned to keys in and around the WASD area of your keyboard. Spells are cast simply by tapping out elements (up to a maximum of 5) and then tapping another button to cast the simultaneously either on yourself, as a projectile, in the area around you or on your sword.

So, if you tap out fire and earth, then hit projectile, your character flings a ball of molten rock. You tap out fire, fire, earth, earth, and the ball will be bigger. If you charge up healing and cast it on your sword, your sword will be imbued with healing magic and the next person you stab will be healed instead of harmed, and so on. There are a few special combinations to be learned too, from raising the dead to summoning a meteor shower.

Things not included in this system are cooldowns, mana or mercy. You cast whatever you like, as fast as you like, and friendly fire isn’t something you worry about so much as it’s an integral and hilarious part of the game. With a full team of four wizards, the screen is a chaotic warzone of well-meaning yet ultimately lethal spells. This said, let’s move onto 5 mistakes you should try not to make.

#1: It’s Freezing
What is technically possible: Deploying a close-range blast of ice to freeze a massive monster in its tracks, allowing one of your friends to quickly throw a rock at the frozen creature to shatter it into a thousand pieces.

What you will do: Deploy a blast of ice to freeze a massive monster in its tracks, allowing one of your friends to fling an unnecessarily large stone at it, only to miss and hit you instead, crushing your frail sorcerer instantly and sending your corpse bouncing clean out of the level. The monster unfreezes, turns and begins chasing your friend around in a Benny Hill style.

#2: My Protector
What is technically possible: Using shield elements with the “area of effect” casting button creates a glittering, impenetrable dome, with plenty of room for the whole team. Need some time to heal? Not sure what to do next? Swamped by goblins? Just throw up a shield and huddle together to discuss your next move.

What you will do: Yell something vague over teamspeak like “GUYS, ME, BUBBLE,” and cast your shield spell with none of your team-mates actually inside it. With no small amount of horror you’ll realise that you did manage to trap a couple of goblins inside with you, though, meaning you need to get out now. Your mind races- what breaks a shield? What’s the most powerful spell you have? Of course! The arcane beam! You charge a real murder-mother of a beam as the goblins bear down on you, release it and… remember that arcane and shield are opposed elements. The beam ricochets cleanly off the inside of your dome, bounces four or five times and finally collides with you, popping your flesh and mind open like a bag of crisps. In time the dome sputters and fades of its own accord, and the two goblins within join the mob attacking your friends.

#3: Zzzap!
What is technically possible: Get your whole team to cast spells of water protection on themselves, summon a rainstorm, and blast the bejeezus out of your wettened enemies with lightning blasts while you guys remain toasty dry.

What you will do: The one of you responsible for the complex rainstorm spell screws up the casting and gets a sort of riot-hose effect instead. Another of you screws up the water protection spell, gets splashed by the hose and all the lightning elements he was charging get shunted through his body for massive damage.

#4: Lightsaber Sucking Blues
What is technically possible: Infusing your sword with arcane energy leaves it causing so much damage with such a bright trail that it might as well be a lightsaber.

What you will do: Remembering this, you’ll flood your sword with arcane energy, go sprinting up to the troll that’s been terrorising your group and, with a child’s innocence, watch as the troll slaps you with its cleaver for 5,000 damage before you could even press the attack button. You’re a wizard, not a jedi. Idiot.

#5: Don’t Cross The Streams
What is technically possible: Mixing anything with arcane and then casting it as a projectile creates a tremendous beam of energy. If more than one of you cast these beams and then angle the beams into one another, the beams will become one and damage will be magnified immensely, allowing for the meticulous wholesale slaughter of monsters.

What you will do: Two people from your team will do exactly this. A third member of the team will see what they’re doing and fling a beam of his own into the mix. Amazing! Trembling with excitement, the fourth member of the team will forget the healing spell he was charging and start charging arcane so he can get involved too, neatly forgetting what happens when beams of opposing elements mix. The fourth player’s forgotten healing element infiltrates the choreographed death ray like a murderer creeping in through an unlocked window, causing an epic explosion that kills the entire team instantly.

So there you have it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Actually, I should quickly point out here that any player deaths are rectifiable by a Revive spell, which is simply a mix of Healing and Lightning. You’ll be back on your feet and making more mistakes before you know it. Unless you really screwed up, in which case you can probably expect your team “forgetting” to revive you for a minute or ten.

Although really, what I’m looking forward to is you lot posting your own terrible errors in our upcoming Wot I Think of Magicka. We should have that finished by, oh, I’d say first thing Friday.


  1. Hoaxfish says:

    This sounds like an episode of Casualty

  2. Munken says:

    And flying is fearful of me.

  3. Baboonanza says:

    A quick question: Is team-speak essential for enjoying this game?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Not at all. It’s not, say, Alien Swarm. The resurrection spell is one of the easiest in the game, so it’s easy to snatch a friend back into the realm of the living between accidents.

      HMM. That’s probably worth mentioning in the article, actually.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Actual speak might be essential. I hope there is proper LAN support that doesn’t require everyone to have a copy of the game. A man can dream.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      LAN support it may have, but everyone will need a copy as it is a Steamworks game.

    • mbourgon says:

      Malawi, given that it’s about $10, I don’t think one-copy-for-all-people-on-the-LAN is in the cards. Which is fine, personally – a Pizza costs more.

    • Torgen says:

      Hello? $10?

      I immediately went to the Steam store after reading this article, only to find it had no price at all listed, and I could not buy it. Now I don’t have to stress about how expensive it is! Thanks!

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Well, Steamworks doesn’t mean everyone needs a copy. We played Plain Sight and Sol Survivor, both of which don’t have any DRM at all. Left 4 Dead, too, can be played with a single Steam account over LAN if you set up offline mode properly (provided you know the right rituals and sacrificed a virgin the day before).

      But we will see. With a Co-op game like this I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the regulars bought it anyway beforehand.

  4. Mike says:

    Well, that’s me sold.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    That’s hilarious and brilliant. I will be so bad at this.


    • Choca says:

      I think that being bad at this is going to be being good at this.

  6. Uglycat says:

    I was already sold on this before, but double so now.

    I think it’s the future of gaming- the fun part is watching your team slowly disintegrate after making poor choices. L4D showed this, that death was often twice as much fun as winning.

    • DuckSauce says:

      “I was already sold on this before, but double so now.”
      Triply so for me, I was smiling like an idiot reading this article.

    • Tei says:

      I think most rpg tabletop players have a million of anecdotes like that.
      *searchs google furiously* like this ones:
      link to reddit.com

    • plugmonkey says:

      I love PvE games for this very reason.

      Death in something like COD causes swearing.

      Death in something like L4D causes giggling.

      Giggling is more fun that swearing.

    • Xercies says:


      Paranoia is the best for these kind of anecdotes I’ve always found.

  7. Kits says:

    This looks brilliant. Roll on tomorrow…and trying to get anywhere with a clumsy girlfriend blasting me constantly.

  8. Azradesh says:

    Any word on the pricing?

    • Mccy_McFlinn says:

      I’ve seen prices of 10 euros on a couple of sites so anywhere between £7.99 and £9.99. I hope there’ll be plenty of pick-up games on the net as I simply don’t have 4 PC gamer friends to power through with.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      If you follow the links at the top there, you will see with your eye machines that Gamers Gate is selling it for £8. I doubt Steam will be far off.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Neither do I. To the forum!

    • Azradesh says:

      Thank you good sirs, I shall direct my eye machines and have myself a looksy.

    • scottossington says:

      I used my enhanced monacle machines to check the pricing on Steam and they do not have such a beast listed.

      Mother Nature says slow down and I kick her in the face with my energy legs.

  9. Tori says:

    I want to play this.

    PS. I’m not posting to quick!

  10. AndrewC says:

    Is the game, ultimately, about co-operation? Is the ‘tone’ of it a comedy story of bungling heroes? Is progress linked to working together succesfully. Or are there rewards for back-stabbing or general evility?

    If there were rewards for back-stabbing and general evility that would make the game terrible, and awesome.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      There is one reward for backstabbery, in the sense that any weapons or powerful staffs you pick up can be recovered from dead bodies.

  11. Om says:

    This may be of interest to me as I have exactly three friends!

    Any more word from Paradox Quinns, say about Crusader Kings?

    (And no, I’m not posting too quickly)

  12. Spacewalk says:

    Oh Quins, you tell us this but you know we never listen.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      We can’t trust him! Not since that review he did! *shakes weak, bony fist*

  13. Daniel Klein says:

    I wanted this already, having seen a demo all the way back at GamesCom last year, and I hoped it would turn into the chaotic friend-killing frenzy you described. Now that you’ve reaffirmed my hopes, this has become a must buy. Can’t wait! :D

  14. terry says:

    Finally a game that incorporates griefing into the game mechanics gracefully.

  15. jon_hill987 says:

    I can see those people owning keyboards with programmable macro keys doing well at this game.

    • Wilson says:

      Ooh, that’s a thought if I do get this. I actually have a pad I can plug into my keyboard and program to do things. On the other hand, it would be cheating really, wouldn’t it?

    • AndrewC says:

      I’d imagine relying on macros increases efficiency but reduces flexibility, as there seems to be endless combinations of possible spells.

  16. Marco_Fiori says:

    I’ve been playing this and found the exact same issues. The amount of times I’ve blown myself up instead of casting on a goblin is in the hundreds.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      That is why in real life, the magic industry is one of the most heavily regulated, with stringent training requirements before you can get a magic licence.

  17. Wilson says:

    Does it not look like there’s going to be a demo then? This sounds like great fun, but I would want to try before I buy in case it doesn’t gel with who I’m going to be playing with.

  18. Javier-de-Ass says:

    The gamersgate version of the game IS the steam version btw.

  19. Schaulustiger says:

    Did they really implement spell variants for all possible element combinations? If yes, this might be the most awesome game ever (and it would blow Diablo III’s attempt for spell customization right out the water).

    Needless to say that I’m pretty excited and can’t wait to get a co-op game going.

  20. Dominic White says:

    This sounds like a ton of fun. I’ve always liked games where magic is this crazy, barely-restrained force that has near-infinite potential for hilarious disaster.

    Adding that to a co-operative game where there are no cooldowns or mana bars, and death is an easily un-doable mistake and you’ve got a festival of spell-slinging sillyness. I want.

  21. Chris D says:

    If I get this there will be nice people to play with who won’t shout at me if I accidentally kill them, right?

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    Steam? Oh I hope they release it on Steam soon, this is exactly the sort of thing the social side of Steam is designed for!

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      there was supposed to be both a steam and non-steam version available. but right now there is no indication of a non-steam version available on the releasedate tomorrow.

  23. pakoito says:

    Some of my best spell selections:

    * Arcane, Arcane, Arcane, Rock, Protection: explosive defensive rock wall. Change one Arcane with fire for flamming efects, but you’ll burn yourself too :(

    * Lighting + cold in any proportion: mass slow through screen with damage. Follow with arcane + water beam for mass freezing.

    * Lighting + fire in any proportion: all-around good chain damage spell, highly effective against mobs of small minions as they’ll panic.

    * Water, Thunder Bolt Magicka once unlocked: 9001 damage. DUH.

    * Arcane, Arcane, Protection, Cold, Arcane/Electric: Probably the best mines.

    * Electric, Electric, Electric, Protection, Cold: Keep the enemies inside that wall with more slows for massive damage.

    * Water+Cold=Ice. 5 x Ice is THE SPELL TO SPAM for its shotgun effects: penetration and high damage. Only works when playing with keyboard though, because the loadup of 10 elements in the pad is just too slow to spam.

    • theunshaven says:


      That sounds far more awesome than I had ever imagined.

      I am salivating now!


  24. Tei says:

    Loom + L4D

  25. Potajito says:

    Do you know if the gamersgate pre order is for the steam version?

    • mrjackspade says:

      Oooo ignore my post below didn’t realise you could get it on Gamersgate. Yes it is the steam version :).

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      yes. they promised a non-steam version of the game, but gamersgate isn’t selling it and it doesn’t seem like it even exists anymore. the gamersgate preorder is for the steam game. link to forum.paradoxplaza.com

  26. mrjackspade says:

    So I’m trying to order on the eptispot page…but it’s in bloody Frenchie! Does anyone know if they have an English version of their site?

  27. ChaK_ says:

    Friday is too far !

    Can you replace your friday “wot I think” by a today “Is it worth 10$”?

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      You should’ve heard the excitement in Quintin’s voice when he was talking about this game at gamescom. $10 is a steal!

  28. godgoo says:

    This website costs me money.

  29. Mac says:

    How much is it? Just says that it will unlock on Steam in 1 day and 16 hours … no option to pre-order

  30. MrWolf says:

    This website cost me my job, my dog, and my virginity. Twice.

  31. Harlander says:

    This sounds so, so amazing.

    A minor question: does the game show an overlay of the keys you’ve bound to particular elements? Seems like that’d be pretty handy while you’re learning the magic ropes.

    • Dominic White says:

      A bunch of the screenshots released so far show all the spell elements laid out with letters alongside them.

      They’re set out like a hotkey grid from an RTS, really. Should be really fast and intuitive once you’ve played a game or two.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      @Dominic; I just use the mouse in RTS games. Maybe this is why I loose…

    • Harlander says:

      You loose because you not tight enough, brother.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      @Harlander: Oops. I in fact tend to lose the RTS game in question not loose it.

  32. Sidorovich says:

    Where’s the friggin’ demo?

    • Wilson says:

      That’s the question I’m asking as well. Just one level. Or if they’re big, half a level. Or even a quarter level. Or maybe a time limited demo. Something!

  33. Cabbs says:

    When you guys do your Wot I Think, who will be given dominion over the remarkably dangerous and volatile Healing responsibilities?

    You know where i’m going with this.

  34. zergrush says:

    Can anyone confirm if it supports lan / hotseat? Can’t google it at the moment.

  35. MonkeyMonster says:

    hmmm, if Mr Walker is such a “good” healer – if he were to play this, would he therefore kill all his team mates or would he enter the double negative zone and actually become a good healer…?

    • Mana_Garmr says:

      Explosions of healing energy, while surrounded by the enemy, which fall just short of reaching any allies who are about to die. Killing him will be the first priority of anyone who wants to succeed.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      And in the game!


  36. El_MUERkO says:

    Steam seems to think it’s out Wednesday not tomorrow:

    Available: 26 January 2011
    This game will unlock in approximately 1 day and 14 hours

  37. McDan says:

    This just has “yes, that WAS your team mate” written all over it. Definetely going to happen to me at some point.

  38. Hypatian says:

    This sounds like the MOST AWESOME GAME EVER. Sold.

  39. Pijama says:

    Honestly? Looks like amazing, retarded, all out glorious fun. =)

  40. mcnostril says:


  41. noom says:


  42. Antares says:

    That is awesome. Buying (and getting 3 vict- I mean friends, to go along) as soon as I get back from work

  43. adonf says:

    So I guess they found the gold master eventually ?

  44. El_MUERkO says:

    “So here’s the deal. The Steam version of the game is ready and shipped (steam will activate it on the 25th or 26th).

    The non-steam version is not ready yet, we still have a few network issues to resolve.

    I won’t get into the technical stuff too much but the steam version uses steamworks (game browser , LAN, and direct IP) and the non-steam has another solution for online play (which supports LAN and direct IP).

    We decided we didn’t want to release the non-steam unless it was as stable as the steam version). We don’t think it’s fair to you guys to start selling a game unless the online play works fine.

    So we offered our partners a choice, wait for the non-steam version (no ETA atm) or take the steam version. Most opted for the latter since that’d mean they’d can be a part of the release.

    We’ll get back to you as soon as we can with more info. But this week is steam week if you want to play Magicka.

    I know this will piss some people off, I’d be pissed too. But I know that a lot more people would be pissed if there was no release at all.”


    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      How about this part,

      “We don’t know exactly when it will be ready.
      The non-steam and steam version are in no way compatible.

  45. Azradesh says:

    Just tried to buy it on Gamersgate and was told to piss off buy moneybookers and send a copy of my passport etc. Fuck that.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      yep. steer clear of moneybookers. use paypal on gamersgate or just wait for steam to have the pre-order up.

    • Azradesh says:

      I don’t like paypal much, so I’m just going to wait for the Steam version to unlock and be able to buy it with a single button push.

  46. Zanchito says:

    You sold me another game. DAMN YOU RPS!!!

  47. mwoody says:

    I generally only do co-op with one other person. Is the game playable in that state? Does it scale down enemies, give us each control of two characters, assign two characters to AI control, or just send us out half-manned to face the world?

    • theunshaven says:

      As I understand it, it’s intended as a campaign which can be played equally entertainingly singleplayer, or with anything up to four players. As such, I think it does have to adjust things on the fly, yes.

      And that means you should be fine.

  48. J. says:

    So… if I want to play this game with all of my friends (some prefer Steam, others hate it), I have to buy it twice? What the hell…

  49. noobnob says:

    So the imminent release of this game means that there will be no more silly trailers about Magicka being delayed :(

    But there’s hope for a sequel based on the non-Steam version!

  50. Creeping Death says:

    Oh curse you RPS! Once again a game has gone from “never heard of it” status to “Must buy this the hour it is released because it sounds AWESOME!” -.-