Advanced Guide: Introduction to Greek Letter Spells
So you unlocked Greek Spells! Great job. Greek Spells are extremely powerful if used well, and this guide will hopefully help you do so. Note that this will cover the basics of Greek Spells. For a more detailed and look at their mechanics, check out the Expert Guide.
The first question you might have is "What are they good for?".
In my experience, there are two main answers to this question. First, you can use Greek Letter Spells to almost completely avoid the mana cost of more expensive spells. Second, you can use Greek Spells to infinitely cast spells that have only a limited number of charges, like Black Hole or Circle of Vigor. These two applications are the bulk of what Greek Letters are good for. There are other uses, especially when combined with other complicated spells, but this guide will focus on how to use them on their own. Let's get into it.
Wand Refresh is not a Greek Spell, but it's unlocked at the same time and found in the same areas. Moreover, it's crucial for using many of the Greek Spells effectively, and is an extremely important spell on its own. Here's an example that uses it:
There are two things going on here. The first thing is that we have a Black Hole being multicasted together with a Wand Refresh. Surprisingly, when any charge-limited spell is cast in the same casting block as a Wand Refresh, no charges will be depleted. This wand, as it is, will cast Black Hole as many times as you can click the button.
The second notable thing on this wand are the spells to the right of the Wand Refresh. They will never be cast. Since Wand Refresh resets the wand as soon as it's cast, it's as if the wand ends right there. The upshot is that any space to the right of a Wand Refresh can be used as storage space for your other spells, which is exceedingly useful. Just be sure not to mess up your wand editing and accidentally cast them. Note that if you run out of mana on your wand before it can cast wand refresh (it costs 20 mana) then the spell will be skipped and the spells that come after it can be cast.
The space to the right of a Wand Refresh is also useful in other ways, as we'll see below.
There are a whole lot of additional details about Wand Refresh that are worth writing down, but they'll be explored in a later section going over smaller details.
Gamma is the first Greek Spell we'll be looking at, and it's a very useful one. Here's our example:
Gamma copies the last spell in the wand, in this case a Giga Black Hole, at the cost of a mere 30 mana. This copy preserves everything about the spell but its mana cost. This means that we don't have to pay the 240 mana for the Giga Black Hole (instead, only 30, for the Gamma). Both Gamma and Giga Black Hole do add their cast delay, but since they're inside a trigger, the cast delay is meaningless. The chainsaw is there to nullify the cast delay added by the Add Manas, Spark Trigger, and the wand itself.
The Wand Refresh, of course, is here to prevent us from ever directly casting Giga Black Hole. This is a common theme - the free spaces behind Wand Refresh are a good place to put spells that you never want to cast directly, but that you do want to cast through a Greek Spell.
Mu is our next Greek Spell, and it's a spicy one. It casts a copy of every modifier on your wand. Here's a simple application:
In this case, as you might have guessed, the spark bolt is cast with the force of four explosive shots. Not very exciting, but useful nonetheless. The rules of the copying are a bit different than Gamma. Mana cost is ignored, and so are cast delay and recharge time. So, we only have to deal with the cast delay of two explosive shots, plus the cast delay from Mu itself.
Here's a more interesting example, using all three of the spells we've seen so far:
So, what does this do? It casts a spark bolt with all of the modifiers to the right of the Wand Refresh applied to it... for five mana. Mechanically, the Gamma is casting a copy of Mu, which is casting a copy of every modifier, and those modifiers are applied to the Spark Bolt. Note that we could simply move the Mu to where the Gamma is and get the same effect but at more cost (Mu costs 90 more mana than Gamma).
As you can see, we're getting into some powerful stuff. There are definitely ways to make a better wand with this specific setup and different modifiers, but this serves to demonstrate.
Side note: An important consequence of the mechanics of copying is that it is useless to copy Add Mana. Mu will indeed cast a copy of every Add Mana on your wand, but since the copies are cast without regard for mana cost, the -30 mana cost of Add Mana will be ignored. The only thing a copied Add Mana will do is add Cast Delay. So, in the above wand, the original cast of Add Mana at the start of the wand gives us 30 mana, but the copy cast by Mu does nothing.
Alpha copies the first spell in the wand. It is very similar to Gamma, but is somewhat less useful. The reason for this is, of course, that it cannot copy a spell to the right of Wand Refresh, meaning that the copied spell must always be a part of your regular spell rotation. This may seem like a severe drawback, because if you're willing to directly cast a spell then there's not as much need to copy it with a Greek Spell. However, there is a workaround. The solution is to use spells with no charges remaining.
Here's the example (The Giant Magic Missile in the first slot should have no charges remaining):
Since there are no charges on the magic missile, we skip right over it and avoid paying 200 mana to cast the spell directly.
Next, we use the Gamma into Mu trick to apply Orbit Larpa, Chaos Larpa, and Larpa Explosion for a mere 30 mana, and then use Alpha to cast the Giant Magic Missile for 30 instead of 200. Of course, we tack a Chainsaw on the end to nullify Cast Delay. With this, we've made a wand that spews out an obscene number of Large Magic Missiles for only 60 mana. Two Add Manas would make it free.
- Side note: As you can guess, the Unlimited Spells perk damages this approach. The above wand would not work if Giant Magic Missile had infinite charges, and it would need to be refactored in a likely less efficient manner. In light of this, whether or not you take Unlimited Spells is up to you - it's probably still worth it, especially when using Divide By 10 (an important spell with charges), but this trick is still useful with the spells that do not become unlimited even with the perk.
An alternative and minor, but perhaps more prevalent, use for Alpha is simply to make a cheap copy of the first spell in your wand. This is useful if you want to use the same spell twice in a wand and either don't have a second copy or don't want to pay the mana cost again. Keep it in mind.
Tau: At this point, we've gone over most of the relevant mechanics and uses of Greek Spells that I know of (If you know of some, please add them!), and you should be able to figure out uses for the rest of the spells on your own. That being said, I'll write a short section giving my thoughts on each of the remaining Greek Spells, starting with Tau.
I haven't personally found many uses for Tau. Notably, it's very useful when working with Divide spells, but that will be covered in the Divide By guide. On it's own, it's less impressive. It's nice in that it allows the copying of specific spells, like Gamma and Alpha, but it costs 80 mana and there's frequently a cheaper way to do whatever you're doing with Tau. However, If you want to duplicate two separate 0-charge spells, then Tau is your spell.
Here's an example of Tau being useful:
This is a classic late-game travel wand, with the capability to tunnel through anything quite quickly and heal you at the same time. Since this is a relatively complicated and quite useful wand, let's break it down:
- Long Distance Cast, which is essentially an invisible and very fast projectile that travels through walls and casts a trigger when it expires, is being multicast with the chainsaw at the very end. This is of course in order to mitigate cast delay.
- When the Long Distance Cast expires, some distance away from you, Gamma is cast.
- Gamma grabs Tau, which copies the 0-charge Black Hole with Expiration Trigger and Circle of Vigor. Both have Nolla applied, so last only for a single frame.
- After the one frame, the Black Hole expires and looks for a spell to cast. The next two spells, which are the actual Black Hole and Circle of Vigor, have no charges, so they are skipped. Instead, the Nolla into Recall is found and cast.
- The Recall lasts only a single frame, because of the Nolla, and so it quickly teleports you into the space newly cleared by the Black Hole.
- If the wand is fast enough, you will have cast a new Circle of Vigor in the place where they are about to teleport before the teleport from the previous cast has actually completed. This leads to you being in the circle for a frame, which grants three seconds of healing.
- The process repeats, quickly creating a sequence of circular holes in the terrain that you travel through.
This wand could easily be built with a Gamma and an Alpha to copy the two spells instead of a Tau, but there are usually many ways to construct a wand. This should hopefully give you a sense for how to use Tau.
Phi is good for copying a whole bunch of projectiles at once, of course. It's similar to Mu, and in fact they make a good combo when paired - all of the modifiers from Mu will be applied to all of the projectiles from Phi. For instance, we could modify our example wand from the Alpha section by moving the Giant Magic Missile behind the wand Refresh, adding several more copies of it, and replacing Alpha with Phi. This would raise the mana cost by a factor of 2.5, but would give you much more than 2.5x the output, depending on how many copies of Large Magic Missile were on the wand.
However, in my experience, this is a bit of an inelegant way to make strong wands and is a great way to lag the game. Most wands that I make consist of only one or two projectiles and a whole bunch of useful modifiers, so Phi isn't of much use. If you only need to copy one projectile, then you might as well use Gamma or Alpha and save yourself 90 mana. That being said, I'm sure that some great wands can be made with this spell - I'm just not the right guy to ask.
Sigma: Self-explanatory. If you want to copy a static projectile in particular, then this is your spell. I imagine you can usually get the job done without this spell, but hey. There it is.
Blech, Zeta. This is also self-explanatory. You can either only have one spell on any wand other than the current one (which would be horrible for your other wands) or you can get random and potentially explosive behavior when you cast it, which is arguably even more horrible. Maybe there's a use for this, but I don't know what it is.