How to Capture Spell Cards

What Spell Cards Are

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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.

How to Capture Spell Cards

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            Shown above is a health gauge for Kogasa Tatara, stage 2 boss of “Undefined Fantastic Object”. The colored part of the segment is the spell card’s health. In order to capture the spell, you must fulfill three criteria:
1. You must not die.
2. You must not bomb.
3. You must not time out the spell.
However, there are special cases. Sometimes, the boss will fly off the screen or become invulnerable. This is called a Survival Spell Card. In this case, you do not have to meet the third condition as it that would be impossible. Regardless of spell type, if you successfully capture a spell card, you will be given a capture bonus. If not, you get nada.
​    The only difference between capturing and not is the score. Mostly, you can just aim to survive. However, in games like Mountain of Faith, sometimes score is used to get Extends. The only game where this is a requirement is Perfect Cherry Blossom in which you must capture 60 different spells in order to unlock the Phantasm Stage.