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I'm a little confused about how to use spells effectively in Elder Sign. I understand that you play the spell before a task roll and then you can set aside as many dice as the spell has icons, whether you succeed or fail at the task. When is the best time to use a spell?

Is it mandatory to place dice on a spell once you've used it? Do I have to place a die even if it doesn't help me on the task in any way? If you don't get any icons that help with the task, then it seems like you are 'locking' a die, which is a big disadvantage.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The way spells function was actually amended in the Errata and subsequent mobile game, such that spells are instead cast after a player's roll - so you cast them only when you need them.

Full text from the errata:

Spells that hold dice are cast after a player’s roll, not before. The player looks at the roll, then, if he wishes to save a particular die, casts the spell and places the die on the spell. The ‘held’ die remains on the spell card until used to complete a task or until removed (as described below).

• Dice may have their results modified by items/abilities before being placed on a spell, but not afterwards.

• Before any roll, a player may remove some or all of the dice held on spells in order to roll them. Any spell that has no dice remaining on it is discarded. New dice cannot be added to a spell to replace those that were removed from it.

• If a die becomes locked while it is on a spell, the die is removed from the spell and locked. If the spell has no dice remaining on it, the spell is discarded.

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Thanks. That makes a lot more sense than the rules as written. –  Discord Aug 20 '12 at 16:35
    
Yup. For our first few games, before we actually read the original rules properly, we ended up accidentally playing spells 'wrongly' because it made much more sense to cast them after rolling. –  CapnAlex Aug 20 '12 at 17:03
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