Monsters And How To Kill Them

Most of the information on this page comes from a thread at BGG and has been added to the Wiki in a more useful format for archival purposes.

  • Note: Arthwollipot's site also contains tips on killing monsters in Magic Realm.
  • Monster Mash a good article by by Michael Anchors listing which characters can kill which monsters.

The Parthian Shot

This tactic can be applied against any of the monsters listed below. If you are hidden, you can attack a denizen and forego the random assignment phase (i.e. you surprised it). This means you can get one free attack in before you have to worry about maneuvering or running away. Many players will wait hidden until the second round when attacking an exceptionally dangerous monster. That way combat will automatically end at the conclusion of the second round should the attack fail. Note that when using the Ambush optional rule, Missile wielding characters who remain hiddden will be able to continue making such free attacks each round until they become unhidden.

Monster 101 Exerpt from "The Magical Mystery Tour" article by Richard Hamblen.

In combat, monsters, have the disadvantages of being predictable, of having to attack and maneuver in matching directions each round, and of having only 'tooth/claw’ weapon length. When fighting a monster, a character can ensure victory by playing a killing FIGHT counter that strikes the first blow and either:

  • Undercuts the monster's move time; or
  • Matches the character's MOVE counter direction when the MOVE counter cannot be undercut (so the monster cannot hit without running into the character's first-kill attack).

If the character can neither undercut nor avoid being undercut then he must get the first-kill advantage and hope for a lucky hit by matching directions. If he cannot get the first-kill advantage his tactic depend on whether he can survive a hit:

  • If he cannot, then he must avoid an exchange of blows by playing a MOVE counter that cannot be undercut and playing a FIGHT counter in a different direction in hopes of striking an unreturned blow.
  • If he can survive a hit, then he can use the normal tactics of undercutting or attacking and move in the same direction while avoiding the undercut.

The character should choose a play that works regardless of which side of the monster counter is face up, but if he cannot then he should choose the less risky play, always remembering that the monster will probably not turn over.

Monsters... and How to Kill Them Author: Jay Richardson

When one reads the game reports of people learning to play Magic Realm, a recurring theme is how much trouble they have in figuring out what monsters their character can kill. This is important, because the key to survival in Magic Realm is using your moves – and your ability to hide – to avoid the battles you can't win. Experienced players understand how to survive, while beginners often end up dying repeatedly.

To assist new players in learning the necessary survival skills, I have compiled the following list showing exactly what it takes to kill each of the monsters in the game, using the standard combat rules. The combat notes assume that characters will always begin a battle hidden, giving them a "free" attack on their target in the first round. (Blundering into a battle unhidden is a very bad idea!)

This list also assumes that the monsters are being fought only with striking weapons. I'll give a few notes on missile weapons at the end of this article.

In the listings that follow, the values shown are [attack harm & speed]/[movement speed].

DenizenFrontBackVulnerabilityTo KillHow to Fight
DEMONV2/4(4)/4Tremendousany H or T weapon (except Morning Star), Morning Star played with T Fight chit, M weapon (except Mace) played with H or T Fight chitThe Demons are usually avoided by most players. Their "Power of the Pit" attack always has the possibility of killing a character. The Pilgrim is the exception, because the Demons are not allowed to attack him.
DRAGON HH4/4M4/3Heavy + armoredany H or T weapon, M weapon played with H or T Fight chitThe Heavy Dragon has good maneuver speed and an average attack. Its attack will undercut Heavy characters if they are unable to kill it before they fatigue their last "Move 4" chit. It cannot hurt a warhorse.
DRAGON TH5/6 Head:H4(3)/6 Head:T4Tremendous + armoredany T weapon, H weapon played with T Fight chitThe Tremendous Dragons are a tremendous disappointment... how awful it is that the deadliest monster in the game is a mere Troll, rather than the legendary Dragons! The Tremendous Dragon is even slower than the Giant, and thus even easier to run away from or undercut. His armor ensures that only characters with T Fight chits can kill him, but as long as they are hidden they can take him down with no risk whatsoever. His red-side-up attack speed of "3" would seem to make him a real threat... but the chances are you will never see him get an opportunity to use it.
FLYING DRAGON HH4/4L4/3Heavy + armoredany H or T weapon, M weapon played with H or T Fight chitHeavy Flying Dragons are slightly weaker than the Heavy Dragon: their dark side attack is L4 instead of M4. The L4 attack will not cause a wound if it hits armor, but it is still risky for a single character to take on the two Heavy Flying Dragons... they start the battle with their H4 attacks, and there is no guarantee that they will ever change tactics to the L4 attack. They cannot hurt a warhorse.
FLYING DRAGON TM3/4 Head:M3(6)/4 Head:T3Tremendous + armoredany T weapon, H weapon played with T Fight chitThe maneuver speed of "4" makes the Tremendous Flying Dragon difficult to kill, and the chance that his head might change tactics to a T3 attack is also a concern. But with his normal attacks only doing Medium harm, and a red-side-up attack speed of "6", the Tremendous Flying Dragon is not as dangerous as the Tremendous Troll... which is all the more unfortunate considering that he guards the richest treasure location in the game.
GHOSTH4/4L2/2Mediumany weaponThe Ghosts are unpredictable. They can be powerful with average speed, or weak and extremely fast. This unpredictability, combined with fighting two of them at once, makes it difficult for a single character to defeat them. (Remember that the monster you target always rolls for changing tactics, even if it cannot attack you because you were hidden.) Ghosts cannot hurt a warhorse.
GIANTH5/5 Club:H6(4)/6 Club:T4Tremendousany H or T weapon (except Morning Star), Morning Star played with T Fight chit, M weapon (except Mace) played with H or T Fight chitThe Giant is the easiest Tremendous monster to defeat. He is slow enough to be undercut for a sure kill, and his club cannot hurt you if you attack while hidden. Characters that are too weak to kill him can easily run away from him.
GIANT BATM2/3M3/2Heavyany M, H, or T weapon (except Mace), Mace played with H or T Fight chit, L weapon (except Staff) played with M, H, or T Fight chitThe Giant Bat is a very fast monster that few characters can run away from. Its weak attack is deceiving... the fast attack speed means that the Bat will probably hit every round, and the M attack harm ensures that each hit does some damage. Almost every experienced player can tell a story of how a powerful character – like the White Knight – was wounded to death while fighting a single Bat. A single Bat can be defeated by a single character, but there is almost always some risk involved. They cannot hurt a workhorse or a warhorse.
GOBLIN AXEL4*/3M4*/4Mediumany weaponThe Axe-wielding Goblins are weak, but, just like the Wolves, getting six at once means there's a very real chance of being wounded to death if you cannot run away. They cannot hurt a warhorse... but a warhorse can't be used in cave clearings, which is where Goblins are often found.
GOBLIN SPEAR–/3H5*/5Mediumany weaponThe Spear Goblins are unique among monsters in that they do not attack at all unless they change tactics to their dark sides. This might tempt you to try your luck, but I would recommend that you avoid the temptation: there are six of them, and they can do a lot of damage if they do attack. They cannot hurt a warhorse.
GOBLIN SWORDH6*/3T5*/5Mediumany weaponThese six guys won't wound you to death: those powerful attacks will make short work of any armor, and then the next hit kills you. Avoid! You will need an army of hired natives to defeat them.
IMPV2/2M4/3Mediumany weaponThe Imp is a weak monster, but most characters will avoid him if possible. Only the fastest characters can run away from him (only if he changes tactics), and some of those curses are really unpleasant. However, if you can safely reach the Chapel from the Imp's location, you could fight him knowing that you can easily get any curses you suffer removed at the Chapel.
OCTOPUSL4/2(4)/3Tremendousany H or T weapon (except Morning Star), Morning Star played with T Fight chit, M weapon (except Mace) played with H or T Fight chitThe Octopus is a dangerous monster: no character can run away from it. The red-side-up attack speed of "4" makes it a threat to the Heavy characters. Here's an example of how experienced players increase their chances of surviving: When preparing to enter an unexplored tile where the Pool might possibly appear, a good player will avoid ending his turn in clearing 6 if it is at all possible. That way, IF the player fails his hides, and IF the Pool appears in clearing 6, and IF the Octopus is prowling, the player's character will not be caught and killed by a monster that he cannot run away from. That is a lot of "ifs" – which makes it an unlikely occurrence – but good players never take any unnecessary risks.
OGRET5/5H5/4Mediumany weaponOgres are slow, but they hit hard. A lone Ogre is an easy kill, but there are two of them, so a slow character will usually need some help from another character or hired natives. A character with an attack time of "3" or less can easily defeat them by undercutting and killing the first one while hidden. Note that Ogres have a weapon length of "0" even though they are shown carrying a club.
SERPENT HM4/3H5/4Heavy + armoredany H or T weapon, M weapon played with H or T Fight chitHeavy Serpents have good maneuver speed and average attacks. A single Heavy Serpent would not be a problem for the Heavy characters; but they are dangerous because you get two at once. A single character might be able to defeat both serpents... if he was lucky... or if he was riding a warhorse, which they cannot hurt.
SERPENT TL4/4(4)/5Tremendous + armoredany T weapon, H weapon played with T Fight chitThe Tremendous Serpent has average speed and a weak basic attack. Its red-side-up attack speed of "4" would seem to make it a danger to Heavy characters who can only move at speed "4" for a few rounds: once fatigue slows them down to speed "5" they can be undercut and killed. But the Tremendous Serpent is actually easy for a heavy character to kill: once the Serpent hits the character and picks him up, flipping over to its red side, it slows down to a speed of "5". An attack at speed "4" will then undercut the Serpent, and resolve first due to being the longest weapon (when attack times are equal): a guaranteed kill for the character.
SPIDER HL4/3T6/4Heavyany M, H, or T weapon (except Mace), Mace played with H or T Fight chit, L weapon (except Staff) played with M, H, or T Fight chitThe Heavy Spider, in spite of its T attack, is one of the easiest monsters to defeat. They only come on one at a time, and the T6 attack cannot undercut a character's maneuver... so you play your attack in the same direction as your maneuver: if the Heavy Spider lines up to hit you, you will kill it first thanks to having the longest weapon or the fastest attack. It is, however, very dangerous for a single character to fight more than one of them at a time.
SPIDER TM4/3(5)/4Tremendousany H or T weapon (except Morning Star), Morning Star played with T Fight chit, M weapon (except Mace) played with H or T Fight chitThe Tremendous Spider has good maneuver speed, so only the fastest characters can run away from it, but its slow red-side-up attack speed of "5" makes it easy for the Heavy characters to kill it: they use their attack to protect their maneuver, killing the Spider if it lines up before it can kill them. The Tremendous Spider is primarily a threat to those characters who are too slow to run away and too weak to kill it.
TROLL HM4/4H5/4Heavy + armoredany H or T weapon, M weapon played with H or T Fight chitHeavy Trolls have both average speed and average attacks. They are dangerous to a single character because you get two at once. They cannot hurt a warhorse.
TROLL TH4/4(2)/6Tremendous + armoredany T weapon, H weapon played with T Fight chitThe Tremendous Troll is widely considered the deadliest monster in the game. If he hits you and picks you up, the red-side-up attack speed of "2" is guaranteed death to most characters. Avoid him, unless you know you can kill him (attack speed of "3" or less) or you can run away from him (move speed of "3" or less).
VIPERM4**/4L2/2Medium + armoredany weapon (L weapon must be played with a M, H, or T Fight chit)Vipers are nearly identical to Ghosts: they do an extra level of damage to unarmored targets (Tremendous harm), and are slightly harder to kill because of their armor (L weapons must be played with an overstrength Fight chit). Some players wonder about the significance of the Viper's two sharpness stars... but they have no special significance in the game. Their M4** attack is identical in every respect to a H4* attack.
WINGED DEMONV3/3(5)/2Tremendousany H or T weapon (except Morning Star), Morning Star played with T Fight chit, M weapon (except Mace) played with H or T Fight chitThe Winged Demon, with a red-side-up attack speed of "5", is a little easier for Heavy characters to fight than the regular Demon (red-side-up attack speed of "4"). But few players will be brave enough to risk the "Power of the Pit" to take him on.
WOLFL4/3 M5/3M4/4 L3/4Mediumany weaponWolves have good maneuver speeds and weak attacks. But you get six at once and, just to make things interesting, there are two different variations. They are quite capable of wounding to death any character who is unable to run away from them. A workhorse (Heavy vulnerability) or warhorse (Tremendous vulnerability) offers complete protection from them, making horseback wolf hunting an easy way to score lots of notoriety points.


There are a couple of conclusions can be drawn from this review of the monsters of Magic Realm.

  • First, always try to fight only one monster at a time. Multiple monsters greatly increase the danger to a character, and should only be tackled if you have assistance from other characters or natives. Beginners, in particular, would be well-advised to play the game cooperatively, as a team. Two or three characters working together can be far more effective than any single character.
  • Also, the importance of the Heavy characters preserving their Move chits cannot be over-emphasized. When they battle the large monsters, often the only thing that keeps them alive is their "Move 4" chit... to slow down to "Move 5" is to invite a quick death. Heavy characters must make resting their Move chits a top priority.

A Note on Missile Weapons and Attack Spells

Missile weapons and attack spells differ from the striking weapons in that you must roll on the Missile Table to determine the harm inflicted. This means that a missile attack can potentially kill any monster (exception: the Stones Fly spell cannot kill a Tremendous armored monster). But it also means that there is no guarantee that a missile attack will kill its target.

  • The basic tactic when using missile weapons is to activate the weapon in the encounter phase (or perhaps make sure your character enters combat with their weapon already activated by recording an Activate action during Birdsong) so as to take advantage of the extra damage bonus inflicted by the ** sharpness rating, then undercutting and killing the target before the target even gets a chance to attack. This is possible during round 1 because the missile weapons have very long lengths, and length determines attack order on round 1. On subsequent rounds, attack speed determines the order, and an activated bow with a speed of 1 generally undercuts everything in the game.
  • Note The chances of killing an armored Tremendous monster with a missile attack using even an activated L** bow is impossible when using Hamblen's Optional Revised Missile Table (see Table 5.6 on this page), without the aid of some magic that enables a die roll of 0. On the upside, the flattened probability curve of the revised table means that most characters in the game can consider using bows/crossbows to reasonable effect.

The two characters that start with bows, the Elf and the Woods Girl, are well-suited to using them: they roll 1 die on the missile table, they can take a free shot at a target while hidden, and then use their speed to run away in the next round should they fail to kill it or if other monsters are present. Other, slower, characters should be wary of using bows, because of the uncertainty of killing the target (they need to roll 2 dice on the missile table, increasing the chance that the damage inflicted will be reduced) and running away might not be an option for them (of course anyone can always attempt a Parthian Shot on round 2 at no risk to themselves when fighting a single monster).

The Fiery Blast spell can attack any number of targets. It is wickedly effective against Goblins and Wolves, having a 70% chance of killing each one it targets. But the spellcaster will still need some protection from the targets that survive the Fiery Blast, which means cooperating with other characters, or hiring natives.

More Things You Need to Know about Killing Monsters by Steve McKnight

This is good advice for beginners, but since killing a second monster in one day counts double for Fame and Notoriety (and a third monster counts triple, etc.) you should be thinking about how you can kill more than one monster in a day if you want to really rack up the F&N scores.

The problem with fighting two or more monsters at once is that you can only target one monster and, if you can't undercut, you have to match directions with your target (1 chance in 3). While you are trying for that elusive 33% chance to match directions, the other monster(s) can really put a hurt on you. You can't count on the common tactic of covering your maneuver with your attack (attack in Swing and maneuver in Dodge, for example) and expect that you'll kill the monster if it lines up to hit you. Your target may Charge (avoiding your Swing) while another monster Swings to match your Dodge. You miss your target but get hit by the monster that you aren't aiming at!

On the other hand, if you start from hiding and can undercut one monster, you can take the first monster down without risk and then deal with the second monster for double Fame and Notoriety. For example, the Black Knight can ring up the pair of Heavy Trolls easily if he starts from hiding. In Round 1, he alerts his Mace to get a speed=3 attack and attacks using a Heavy Fight chit to undercut and kill Troll 1. (Attacking while hidden, you get one round to attack without being attacked back.) In Round 2, the Black Knight can re-alert the Mace in the Encounter Step with a Fight M3** and undercut and kill Troll 2 with his Fight H6 chit. Since the Black Knight becomes unhidden when he attacks in Round 1, Troll 2 does attack back. But the speed=3 alerted Mace kills first, canceling the Troll's attack. This gives the Black Knight 15 Fame and 15 Notoriety (5 for the first Troll and 10 for the second victim) risk-free. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out why this won't necessarily work on the other pairs of Heavy monsters (Heavy Dragons or Heavy Serpents).

One last point on why the Tremendous Troll is such a dangerous opponent, even for characters who have a T Fight chit to kill it with. All the T Fight chits have at least one effort asterisk, which means that they can't be played at the same time as a Move chit with two asterisks (two-asterisks-per-round limit). This means the Berserker and White Knight can't simultaneously attack with a one-asterisk T Fight chit and maneuver with their Move H4** chits to avoid the T Toll's speed=4 attack. To have any chance of killing a Tremendous armored monsters like the T Troll, they need to play a T Fight chit with at least one asterisk and maneuver with a speed=5 or slower Move chit. Unless they match directions and kill it, the Troll will undercut and flip red side up in the first round it attacks - and no Heavy character is going to survive the T Troll's red-side, speed=2, annihilating attack. Attacking alone, the Berserker and White Knight have one round to match directions with the T Troll (two rounds if they attack from hiding) before they are picked up and killed. This is an unacceptably high risk. The Dwarf, who can maneuver with his one-asterisk Duck T3* chit, is the only character who can face off one-on-one with the T Troll with a high degree of certainty of surviving.

The way to deal with these dangerous matches is by cooperating with other characters. As Jay points out, "Two or three characters working together can be far more effective than any single character."