Tactics 201: Invisibility

Or "What you can't see CAN hurt you"

By "Nom".

PPws Invisibility. It's a useful little spell. While invisible, you are safe from monsters and, because he or she can't see you, it's harder for your opponent to counteract your attacks.

But Invisibility shouldn't just be useful. Used properly, it is a killer spell.


The first thing to consider is what spells can lead INTO invisibility. As a two-hand spell, there are connections on both hands.

The primary hand is PPWS.

Spells that can chain into this include
WWPProtection (1st P)
WPPCounterspell (2nd P)
WWPPThe old favourite Counterspell / Protection double.
DPPAmnesia (either P)
Or any of the esoteric spells that end in P
SPFPAnti Spell
PDWPRemove Enchantment
SSFPResist Cold
WWFPResist Heat
DWSSSPDelayed Effect
WFPCause Light Wounds

On the secondary hand, WS, there are many interesting spells ending in W, espeically summons:

*SFWSummon Goblin / Ogre / Troll / Giant
cWSSWSummon Fire Elemental (using Invisibility to avoid damage)
DFWCure Light Wounds

Note that Cure Heavy Wounds (DFPW) and Dispel Magic (cDPW) cannot be used with Invisibility unless you are willing to Surrender on the way.

The most common tricks are Protection / Counterspell (WWPPws) with the primary hand and a summon (*SFws) with the secondary. Thus the archetypal combo:


a: Protection
b: Counterspell
c: Summon *
d: Invisibility

Do not forget that invisibility may give you two free shields on the way in, unless used elsewhere.

On the way out, the old favourites are:

WSScIce Storm (make sure you have a Resist Cold)
SWDFear (usually followed by WDDc)
SPPFDTime Stop

Any other S spell is possible also.

If you are really on the defensive, note the combo:


If you are in trouble, you can abort the Invisibility for a Counterspell, and it keeps your opponent guessing.

Effective Invisibility

However, most people fail to use Invisibility to its full potential. Let's ignore tricks on the way in (few of which are particularly interesting) and focus on the invisibile period.

Anti Spell

Anyone going invisible should seriously consider SPFP Anti Spell. Not only does it spoil your opponent, rendering useless whatever he has been trying to hatch while he can't get you, it also allows an effective off-hand attack.

The simplest combo, Anti Spell and Lightning Bolt (one use):

PPWSPFPCAnti Spell, Lightning Bolt
..WSWDDCFear, Lightning Bolt

You also get a free Fear spell, but be careful how you use it. Casting Fear on an opponent doing WP will simply guarantee a counterspell. The drawback to this combo is that Clap breaks your rhythm; you effectively Anti Spell yourself.

A trickier Anti Spell combo

PPWSPFPsdAnti Spell
..WSDFFDDLightning Bolt

Again the lightnig bolt, but delayed one round this time. The extra gesture means that a Magic Mirror can be used to stop it, but if the other hand continues toward Permanency then your opponent has some hard decisions to make, especially since the Lightning Bolt flows into a Confusion or Amnesia.

Note the SD Magic Missile at the start of the lightning bolt, useful for a little extra damage.

Two more damage dealing combos

PPWSPFP.Anti Spell
..WSWPFDCause Heavy Wounds

PPWSPFP..Anti Spell
..WSFSSDDFireball (plus Magic Missile)

A weaker combination, but one to mess your opponent up good and proper:

PPWSPFP Anti Spell
..WSDSF Confusion

The combined Confusion / Anti-Spell will scramble his hands for this turn AND the next. plus you can have a free Goblin or try and Paralyze him to guarantee the Permanency. Of course, a single counterspell can block both the Anti Spell and Confusion.

Targetting No_one

The mage No_one becomes very useful while invisible. Why warn your opponent that you have thrown a P and are heading towards Anti Spell? Target that shield at No_one and nothing happens (no message, either).

The same goes for SD Magic Missile. A point of damage is helpful, but it also tells your opponent that you used a D. And if he takes the damage on a shield, you may have given away information for nothing.

Beating the Counterspell

Given the power of Invisibility / Anti Spell combinations, many mages choose to Counterspell on the last gesture. Since casting Invisibility surrenders your ability to cast enchantments on your opponent, it can be difficult to prevent.

But how about the Anti Spell double-tap?

PPWSPFP. Anti Spell
..WSSPFP Anti Spell

If he catches the first Anti Spell, the second will probably get him. And if the second Anti Spell gets him then there is no way to prevent the top hand following on to Permanency (or Charm Person or Charm Monster or Summon Troll). This avoids the usual problem with Anti Spell / Permanency where a Counterspell after the Anti Spell is timed just right to stop the Permanency.

Alternatively, delaying the Anti Spell may allow you a tricky alternative.

PPWSSPFPsdf. Anti Spell (and charm person)
..WSPWPFSSSD Finger of Death

With any luck, your opponent is too busy worrying about the permanency attack to respond to the FoD in time. And you can always abort the FoD for a Cause Heavy Wounds.

Time Stop

Another powerful option is SPPFD timestop.

..WSDFFDDLightning Bolt

A five gesture spell started just after you go invisible will link nicely with Time Stop. Lightning Bolt and Fireball are old favourites here, but any spell will do.

On the first gesture after time stop, you can follow up with Confusion or Amnesia (which leads to another invisibility).

Game Winning Combos

I once complained to a master about how useless Delayed Effect (DWSSSP) was. He showed me this:

a: Invisibility. Note the leading D on the right hand.
b: Delayed Effect.
c: Anti Spell, delayed.
d: Anti Spell
e: Magic Missile (irrelevant)
f: Permanency, delayed Anti Spell
g: Amnesia (permanent)

Once you go invisible, your opponent cannot prevent the delayed effect. Counterspelling the first Anti Spell is ineffective (since it is delayed), and once the second Anti Spell happens only a correctly timed mirror can save your opponent. Even if your opponent does try mirror games, you now have a free Anti Spell to use in your next attack combo.

You can also allow the first Anti Spell to work and bank the second, but this leaves you more vulnerable to Counterspells.

Another very nasty combination is the much-overlooked Blindness (DWFFd).


If that Anti Spell lands, then only a Mirror will save him from blindness. Once he is blind, he cannot prevent your spells, and timing counterspells becomes extremely difficult. A Permanent Amnesia should be easy to obtain.

And if all else fails, you can always threaten the Permanent Invisibility.


Permanent Invisibility is a little weak in that it invites an immediate Dispel Magic (which you probably can't prevent), but while he is dispelling your invisibility you can be setting up your real attack. And note the DWS on the left hand.


Invisibility has some liabilities. As a 4 gesture spell, it can be counterspelled if the opponent sees it coming, but the gestures are reasonably common. PPW happens all the time, and could just as easily lead to Protection, Haste, or FoD, or any of the W spells.

However, there are two weaknesses to take special note of.

Invisibility is best used to set up powerful attacking combinations. Suffering an Anti Spell or mind spell at the same time as the invisibilty is cast can throw your first set of gestures, delaying the whole process. Anti Spell is not as bad as the mind spells, since the invisible mage can rearrange things so that he does not need that starting S, while the mind spells disrupt his next set of gestures also.

Large monsters are a pain. Unless you started with WWPP, a monster will do some damage coming in. With Ogres and better, coming out is also a problem. Most good Invisibility combos require both hands and can take several gestures after becoming visible to acheive a kill. While attacking your opponent, you don't have time out to cast shield and protection, and can easily be wounded or killed by a waiting Ogre or Troll. In these cases, consider:

PPWSPFPsd Anti Spell
..WS.PSDD Charm Monster
..WSPSDD Charm Monster

You can always follow up SPFP with PWS for a second Invisibility and hope that your opponent is too busy dealing with his own renegade monster to bother you.

Preventing the Invisibility Combos

There are two effective ways of preventing Invisibility combinations. The first is obvious: Counterspell the Invisibility. Combinations that are quite powerful when you are protected from attack become much weaker when your opponent can spoil you as you cast them.

The second (and more effective) way is to go invisible yourself. An opponent who has just gone invisibile cannot cast Counterspell until the final gesture of his Invisible period. This is more than enough time for you to go Invisible yourself, thus turning the tables. You cannot prevent the banked Anti Spell from a Delayed Effect combo, but can turn the tables on other combinations.

Defending against the combos with Counterspell, Mirror and other spells is left as an exercise for the reader.