First up, I’ll dive into the magical spell options available in the game. As most of the spell cards are set when you choose a specific hero, I’ll focus more on the specific spell card usage within the game but will also include a Power Ranking for those that might make variants to choose their own spells.
Like I’ve used in my other rankings, my Power Rankings have four tiers: Top Tier, Upper Tier, Standard Tier, Lower Tier. While a tiered system obviously ranks the characters against themselves, it is not to mean that “top tier” entries are broken or “lower tier” entries are unusable, but rather, they should be used as a guide to help balance the setup of the game. Pitting similarly tiered entries against each other will lead to the most enjoyable games whereas trying the opposite will yield very lopsided results, especially if there is a skill discrepancy between the players.
Giant Fireball (B, R)Summon Stone Antient (R)Summon Flame Antient (R)Teleport (B)
Magic Missile (B)Heal All (B)
Heal (B, CitC)Drain Energy (B)Fireball (B)Cure Poison (B, R)
Ice Blast (B)Shield (B)
B – Base Set
CoS – Cavern of Soloth expansion
R – Resurrection Content
I’ve separated the spell cards into two simple categories: Offensive and Utility. Offensive spells are those that are primarily for dealing damage to the enemy while Utility spells are those that aren’t typically used to deal damage to the enemy.
Magic Missile – this is a strong spell (the strongest blatant attack spell in the Wizard’s arsenal) that gives you two missile shots. Since 2 damage is the magic number for most monsters, giving you free reign to fire at the same monster twice is invaluable. If you struggle with the extra small discs though, it can be less effective.Fireball – your standard ranged attack that gets a little better since the fireball disc is larger and more forgiving. Since the Wizard is granted the same shot as an ability, you likely won’t use this much.Giant Fireball – one of the most powerful spells in the game, the Giant Fireball uses a large disc and deals critical damage to monsters. It’s the wrecking ball of the spell cards and can easily wipe out multiple monsters in one shot if the Overseer carelessly groups them too tightly.Drain Energy – a simple yet effective spell for the Wizard. Given Drain Energy’s ability to regenerate the attacker, you will have to play your Wizard more offensively so that he takes hits and can get mileage out of the missile shot’s regenerating modifier.Summon Flame Antient – I’ll discuss Antients in more detail below but if this Antient is played right, it should be able to deal 2 damage to multiple targets. The Flame Antient is probably the most dangerous to the heroes to use with caution.Summon Stone Antient – As I’ve discussed in my Monster Primer, summon shots are probably the most powerful in the game. The Stone Antients have two versions (chosen when using the spell) and both are strong offensive options.
Heal – A great spell on its own, the Heal spell is worth 12 gold in savings if used well. It will require the user to get into the battle more so they have health to restore since it can only target the user but it can turn some of the weaker heroes into good melee options. It’s best to use at the beginning of a battle if you aren’t aggressively assaulting the monsters on the first round or at the very end right before you destroy the last monster in a room.Shield – An interesting utility spell, Shield can help disrupt monsters from surrounding you and help block incoming ranged shots. Since the Wizard is usually in the back throwing ranged shots, it can be hard to justify but if you’re playing the Wizard aggressively (like you should…) it can be a very handy spell when you overextend yourself.Ice Blast – Used to disrupt monsters, it is usually used on the strongest monster on the board but its true power lies in freezing one of the weakest. The Overseer will usually always waste a weak monster’s activation removing an Ice disc on a strong monster but will rarely do the opposite. If you can do this enough times, the Overseer may run out of options to help unfreeze his minions. The exception is when a strong monster is isolated from the rest of group or you can always save the spell for the last monster (particularly mean if that monster is an untouched level 4).Teleport – Easily the best utility spell in the game. It can be highly defensive in getting a seriously hurt hero out of harms way or offensive in letting the returning hero attack from any direction via a board edge. This is a good way to finish off a wounded Catacomb Lord after you’ve exhausted your main abilities and are trying to catch one running to cover.Cure Poison – A situational spell but useful if you draw one of the big poison card numbers.Heal All – Usually best saved for the later rooms when all the heroes have some damage, Heal All is a great utility spell. Can save up to 12 gold but spread out among the entire party. Like most of these spells, best used at the end of a room battle when you will have extra actions left over before you destroy the last monster.
Next, I’ll talk about the various items you can buy/equip during the game. Unlike spells, items are usually acquired during the game and choosing the right item during the merchant room can be critical to winning the game so I’ll evaluate items through a Power Ranking but also discuss how best to use the item in game.
The Power Rankings for items should be viewed differently from my Power Rankings of other entries like Monsters or Heroes. Items are bought from a selection process during the game and I don’t view this process the same as trying to set up a balanced game. Rather, items should be compared against each other and the weaker items dismissed as poor purchase options. That isn’t to say you should never take the Low Tier items, but if you do, make sure you have a plan as there was likely a more useful item in the group presented.
Vermin Blade (CoS)Armadillo Familiar (B)Poisoned Knife (B) – with ThiefEnchanted Bow (B) – with ElfWarhammer (CoS)Mirror Shield (CoS)
Stone Hammer (CoS)Throwing Axe (B)Raven Leaf Sword (R)Poisoned Knife (B) – no ThiefIris Wand (CoS)Ice Sword (CoS)Cloak of Invisibility (B)Maireya’s Urn (CoS)Vaiel’s Urn (B)Helm of Rage (B)Raven Familiar (B) – with WizardSylvan Arrow Barrage (CoS)Ethereal Amulet (CoS)
Acolyte’s Tome (CoS)Berserker Battle Axe (B)Vampire Sword (CoS)Enchanted Bow (B) – no ElfBee Familiar (B)Raven Familiar (B) – no WizardSpirit Familiar (B)Semplara’s Amulet (R)Gauntlets (CoS) – with PaladinHealing Salve (B)Phoenix Feather (CoS)
Iron Crown (CoS)Gauntlets (CoS) – no PaladinCursed Scroll (CoS)Raisthrim’s Potion (B)Magic Quiver (B)Quicksilver Potion (CoS)
B – Base SetCoS – Cavern of Soloth expansionR – Resurrection Content
I’ve split the item lists by what set you’ll find them in for faster reference.
Vaiel’s Urn (4 Gold) – Summon Shots are always powerful and an unkillable Antient on your side (half the time) is a great option for the final room or to finish off a challenging room. It’s only downside is it is once per game but the low cost helps make up for it.
Healing Salve (4 Gold) – 3 Health back for 4 gold instead of 9 gold later? Solid investment.
Helm of Rage (5 Gold) – the low cost makes this an attractive item but the restrictions limit its use so it might not fit every party. Two melee shots is great for that price and a major reason why the Vampire Sword couldn’t bust into the Upper Tier
Throwing Axe (Combo Item, 6 Gold) – Combo items are really hard to pass up due to their great flexibility. The Throwing Axe’s missile shot is a great sequence ender.
Cloak of Invisibility (6 Gold) – Teleport is a Top Tier spell and the item equivalent is a great option as well.
Raven Familiar (6 Gold) – For the Wizard, it is almost an auto-buy due to the great flexibility in shot options the Raven presents. Familiars in general are great for soaking up hits that otherwise would affect your heroes and they can really help in positioning. Without the Wizard though, the Raven doesn’t have many options for the other spell slingers.
Spirit Familiar (6 Gold) – Another familiar option but probably the weakest.
Armadillo Familiar (6 Gold) – This guy is the reason you will start practicing the roll shot. He’s like a little crit machine and will draw so much aggro from the overseer that he’s worth it just because of the damage you save, not to mention if you get the roll shot to work even once in the game.
Bee Familiar (6 Gold) – A great little familiar that can really mess with the Overseer, especially if you can wipe out any range shot options.
Magic Quiver (6 Gold) – due to its rigid hero requirement and affecting a difficult ability to pull off well, this item is often skipped and for good reason. If you can pull off sniper shots with the missile disc, however, this item may be worth it.
Enchanted Bow (6 Gold) – A decent item for regular heroes, it becomes absolutely brutal with an Elf and is one of the few ways to deal 3 straight damage to one target. Catacomb Lords beware.
Raisthrim’s Potion (Combo Item, 6 Gold) – combo items are usually strong but the ice shot is a weak shot option. Couple that with the fact that it combos at the beginning of your sequence and it can be tricky to implement.
Poisoned Knife (8 Gold) – same as the Enchanted Bow only melee centric and deadly with the Thief.
Berserker Battle Axe (10 Gold) – Good enough when you get two for free with the Barbarian but paying 10 gold is pretty steep. In practice, it is a great item, it might just be hard to stomach the cost, especially if it means only getting this item and not two others instead.
Ethereal Amulet (2 Gold) – Stun shots are so debilitating and the price is so low, you can easily manage the risk of not really using it in the game.
Quicksilver Potion (Combo Item, 4 Gold) – This combo item features a quicker rush shot at the conclusion of your sequence. Likely better options out there.
Maireya’s Urn (4 Gold)- Like Vaiel’s Urn, this Antient summoning device is a great room ender or Catacomb Lord smasher. And the Stone Antient is generally better than the Liquid one.
Stone Hammer (Combo Item, 5 Gold) – A great combo item. Uses melee and is cheaper than the stellar Throwing Axe.
Gauntlets (5 Gold) – A weaker specialty item but can find use in gaining that health back once per round as it can allow you to play more aggressively. You’ll need it to work in at least 2 rooms for it to pay off.
Sylvan Arrow Barrage (5 Gold) – One time barrage of four chain missile shots is a nice option for the end game and the price is great as well.
Iron Crown (5 Gold) – While the target shot isn’t bad only doing one damage in a turn from an item is hard to justify compared to a lot of other items in its price-point.
Cursed Scroll (5 Gold) – This item almost has a hidden tax involved in buying a map to see what rooms are coming up to see if the scroll is worth it. It might be if a particularly poison-filled or stun-shooting room is coming up.
Acolyte’s Tome (7 Gold) – Like the Sylvan Barrage but more generally available and uses the more forgiving fireball disc.
Ice Sword (8 Gold) – Critical shot items are great and should be one of the first items you go for. The Ice Princess specialty option is nice but not necessarily much better.
Iris Wand (8 Gold) – Another critical shot weapon but the specialty sequence for the Sorceress is only marginally better and not quite enough to push it all the way to the top.
Vermin Blade (Combo Item, 8 Gold) – Don’t let the name fool you, it is a weapon truly crafted from the Gods. A permanent combo item that adds a melee shot to your all your sequences for the price of likely four poison cards (one will get a free removal at the Healer and 2 can be removed by the Wizard). It will ruin the Overseer’s day so buy it every time it comes up.
Warhammer (8 Gold) – This item has some restrictive requirements but the sequence is golden. Rush shot followed by a critical will make sure that critical makes its presence known.
Mirror Shield (8 Gold) – Another permanent item, the Mirror Shield completely shuts down ranged shots and punishes the Overseer for attempting them. Equip on a healing Wizard or other hero and it can make even some Catacomb Lords fear the end game.
Vampire Sword (10 Gold) – This item has a lot of good things going for it but the price is pretty steep. Regulus gets the item for free so it might be better to just take that hero in the group as the cost will likely mean you can’t buy as many items.
Phoenix Feather (12 Gold) – A nice insurance item but hard to justify if it means a choice between a great offensive weapon and this. You are more likely to use it because you won’t be as prepared to destroy monsters quickly so kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and not in a great way.
Raven Leaf Sword (6 Gold) – Another critical shot weapon but is cheaper than most and has the fear shot option. Solid choice.
Semplara’s Amulet (6 Gold) – Another permanent shutdown defensive item but this time only against fear and only nullifying, not reflecting. Might be worth a map look to see what rooms are coming up but that just further increases the price.
Antients are a type of character in the Catacombs universe that enters play via specific spells or items. They offer a unique challenge/advantage in that both the heroic players and overseer take control of them each round and can never be damaged or stopped.Since the heroes control when they are summoned, the Antients usually give an advantage to the heroic forces, even when the Overseer gains control. To maximize this advantage, the heroes will want to summon an Antient late in the battle in a room so that they can be used to help clear the monsters out faster.Antients are particularly effective in the last room and summoning them early can actually be more beneficial. Since they cannot be removed and the goal of the heroes is to only destroy the Catacomb Lord, the benefits the Antient provides is much greater than the potential return damage the heroes might receive.
Urthoth the Liquid Antient (Base Set) – this Antient comes in the base set and is a decent option to help with crowd clearing. The two chain melee shots means it likely won’t damage the heroes much on the Overseer turn but can remove a lot of single health monster, especially on the turn it is summoned.
Ignarll the Flame Antient (Chicks in the Catacomb Kickstarter expansion) – Similar to Urthoth, Ignarll has a chain shot but can be a bit more dangerous to the heroes since it has a rush shot first to set up and the chain shots are fireball instead of melee. Heroes should likely use Ignarll near the end of the battle or on a Catacomb Lord while they still have a lot of health to absorb the retaliation turn.
Ermhaz the Stone Antient (Kickstarter bonus) – one of two Stone Antient options, Ermhaz is going to find things to hit every turn (that includes the heroes). It is great for chasing down a maneuverable Catacomb Lord and only taking a little damage back in return.
Thymaz the Stone Antient (Cavern of Soloth expansion) – Thymaz is likely the best for that initial summon + activation damage strike. Having the Critical shot at the beginning of the sequence and a rush shot at the end means the heroes can send it in, deal damage, then run it far away so that it can return the favor. Since the Overseer will likely run it away as well, it’s value and use plummets after that first turn.
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