What Spell Cards Are
A spell card attack is a special attack by the boss. Most spell card attacks are preceded by a non-spell phase, or just a regular attack of bullets by the boss. (Shown above is a non-spell of Reisen Udongein, the stage 5 boss of “Imperishable Night” on Lunatic difficulty.) Spell card attacks and non-spells both have a health gauge and a timer. There are two ways to clear either of these. You can…
1. Attack the boss until their health gauge is depleted.
2. Stop firing and wait for the timer to run out.
Most Touhou players would choose option 1, because that’s the way of capturing most spell cards. However, some players will prefer to choose option 2. Why is this so? Because some spells are easier to time out than to capture, or they just want bragging rights.
Occasionally, you’ll stumble upon a Pacifist Run, where (other than the stage part of, well, the stage) the player will not shoot at all and time out every non-spell and spell. Whether or not bombing is allowed varies from run to run.