A Beginner’s Guide to Touhou: Lost Word


You may be asking yourself “What is this strange anime game that’s getting promoted on my Google Play store?” Frankly, I can’t blame you – Touhou is a series with a lot of depth. So much so that if you have never even heard of it, you might find yourself more than a bit lost. Never worry, reader – I’ve got you covered.

Originally, Touhou Project games are bullet-hell shooters featuring a wide cast of cute anime girls. These games are themselves historical – originally created in 1997, the series was born from the mind of one man: Jun’ya “ZUN” Ota. While the history of danmaku (meaning bullet curtain) games are beyond the scope of this article, Touhou is arguably the most popular series in the genre, spawning several thousand more unofficial media and art works related to the series.

If you’re bad at bullet-hell games like I am don’t worry – Touhou: Lost Word is a gacha RPG. You may not know much about the cast of Touhou, but with such a wide range of characters, you’re almost guaranteed to find one you like. From the magician thief – sorry, “collector” – Marisa to the immortal fire wielding Mokou, there’s arguably a Touhou for everyone.

Lost Word suffers from overwhelming the player with a lot of information from the get-go, and sadly, also doesn’t explain its mechanics terribly well, but that’s all right – we’ve got you covered. Below is everything you need to know in our Beginner’s Guide to Touhou: Lost Word.

Touhou Unit Collection and Progress

Lost Word is split into two collection categories – “Friends” which are your units, and “Story Cards” which buff your Spell Cards. If it helps, you can think of Story Cards as equipment items.

If you’re familiar with gacha-style games, this game features the same mechanics. You can limit break your Story Cards and Friends with copies (or a Paper Doll substitute item), allowing you to level up your respective unit to its maximum level.

You can also enhance your Friends’ stats – every stage drops collectable tokens, which can be spent to increase a units’ HP, Yin/Yang stats, and Agility.

Touhou Stats and Mechanics

Friends are split into roles to give you an idea of what they do:

  • Defense: Protects the party and utilizes abilities like Focus Up to draw aggro.
  • Support: Buffs the party to make your party stronger.
  • Heal: Restores lost party member health.
  • Debuff: Debuffs the enemy and creates workarounds for the enemy defenses.
  • Attack: Damage dealer.
  • Technical: Nondescript specialist. Shines when conditions are favorable.
  • Speed: High agility, takes turns first typically.
  • Destroy: Breaks things in one shot. Shines when conditions are favorable.

Furthermore, Friends have several stats they are concerned with:

  • HP: Hit points – when these reach zero, your Friend is gone for the level.
  • Agility: The higher this stat is, the sooner the Friend takes their turn.
  • Cost: How much spirit energy it costs to deploy this Friend in a level (Equivalent to energy in other gachas.)
  • Yang Attack / Defense: Increases / Decreases how much Yang damage this Friend deals / suffers.
  • Yin Attack / Defense: Increases / Decreases how much Yin damage this Friend deals / suffers.
  • Temperament: This is elemental affinity. There are eight “Phases:” Sun, Moon, Fire, Water, Wood, Metal, Earth and Star. Each Friend is weak to some Phases while resistant to others. Using Youmu Konpaku above, her Temperaments are the Metal and Star Phases, so she resists Earth and Moon, but is weak to Sun and Fire.

Finally, your Friends have two attacks that are governed by their Yin/Yang stats. Using Youmu Konpaku above, we can see that her Sword Aura attack primarily uses Yang to calculate its damage. As you gather P items (more on this in the combat section) your Sword Aura will gain shots, and at level three, gain some Metal affinity as well.

Recognizing what stat your Friend primarily uses and what Temperament they’re aligned with is key to building a team, as Friends often have passives that boost certain stats and Temperaments on switch.

How Combat Works in Touhou

First up, the units in play are displayed at the top – the left side has the enemy, while the right side has your Friends. Your party is split into a frontline and a backline, with three slots each. You can switch at any time from the front to the back without sacrificing your turn, but once you switch you must wait for a cooldown before switching again.

Under the enemy health bar you can see two slots – Weak and Resist. These notify you as to which Phases the enemy is weak or resistant to.

On the bottom half of the screen, from left to right, you see a lot of information:

  • Spell Card: Every Friend has two spell cards to begin with, with an additional three being unlocked as you rank your Friend up. Spell Cards can only be used once per level, and typically come with a high assortment of damage or effects. You can replenish your spell cards by occasionally coming across a S item – these drop randomly from enemies.
    • Last Word: Last Word Spell Cards are your game changers. These typically do heavy amounts of damage, or come with game winning buffs or debuffs. However, by using your Last Word, you cannot use any other Spell Card for the rest of the level.
  • Spread Shot and Focus Shot: These are your primary attacks. Spread Shot is equivalent to a light attack, and generates lots of P items, while Focus Shot is equivalent to a heavy attack, and typically focuses on dealing increased damage, at the expense of finding less P items. Solo attacks are single-target, while All are multi-target attacks. CP is combat power, which is essentially how much damage the attack is going to do on average.
    The bullets above the attacks are your Temperament modifiers. Using Reimu Hakurei above, we can see that Homing Amulet has no Phase associated with it, while Persuasion Needle has the Sun Phase association.
  • Boost: You know all those P items we were talking about above? You can expend them by tapping on this button. Each whole number indicates one level of Boost, which deals increased damage and effects on your abilities. You can Boost an attack up to three times per turn, but you can stock several Boosts beyond three.
  • Graze: These are your shields. By Grazing, you can nullify an attack once – however, you must expend one Barrier Token per Graze. You can Graze up to three times per turn, and you can Graze a maximum of four times per level.
    • You may see five Barrier Tokens, but you cannot spend your last Barrier Token. If you are hit by a super-effective attack, it will break a Barrier Token. Get all of your Barrier Tokens broken and your Friend will enter the Full Break status – your Friend cannot attack and takes increased damage from all sources.
      Barrier Tokens can be replenished randomly from B item drops in a level.
  • Skill: Each Friend comes with some skills attached, one innately and two unlocked via upgrades. These skills can be activated during your turn and typically buff, debuff, or otherwise change the status of the playing field, but come with a high cooldown cost.

Finally, the game comes with two forms of Auto Play: Auto and Full Auto. Auto simply uses your basic abilities – no Spell Cards are triggered and no skills are utilized. Full Auto, on the other hand, spends Spell Cards like money at an anime convention. Spell Cards get spent left to right, except on the final stage, in which it spends from right to left (this means it will always activate your Last Word on the final fight.)

That’s the Beginner’s Guide to Touhou: Lost Word! It comes with a lot of systems, but the art and music is fantastic, and the collection scratches that gacha itch. What unit are you looking forward to drawing? Let us know down in the comments below!


Junior Miyai

Junior has spent too much money on mobile games, to the point where if you ask him how much total, he simply laughs and reaches for the alcohol. You can follow him over @juniormiyai on Twitter.