Phantaskippy's guide to Phantasms, part 4: Shadows Flicker like Flames

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phantaskippy
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Phantaskippy's guide to Phantasms, part 4: Shadows Flicker like Flames

Shadows flicker like Flame.

Theme.

Shadows has some of my favorite thematic powers in the game, from luring explorers to their doom and leaving mid-scream corpses for others to find (tier 2 darkness swallows the unwary) to concealing shadows trading your own presence to shield Dahan, and even favors called due sending Dahan to terrorize and fight the invaders.
Shadows Flicker like Flame isn't just the scary thing hiding in the shadows, it is the shadow too.
Also Shadows is my 5 year old son's favorite Spirit (he doesn't play but he asks questions about it), when he heard that it liked the Dahan but the Dahan were scared of it until it helped them, he was interested, when he heard it is out there in the jungle scaring bad guys, he was hooked.

Unique Mechanics.

Shadows can pay 1 energy to ignore range limits on powers it uses.  Note that this doesn't change other restrictions, for example:
Rain of Blood lets you target a land with invaders that is 1 or fewer lands from one of your sacred sites.
With Shadow of the Dahan you can pay 1 energy to change it to target a land with both invaders and Dahan, anywhere on the map, so long as you have at least one sacred site.  It essentially changes the range to infinite and adds Dahan to the requirements under target land.

Role.

Shadows is a good Explorer hunter with darkness swallows, destroying 2 explorers in adjacent lands for 3 moon and 2 fire.  That is your bread and butter, and your goal should be to get at least tier 2 of darkness swallows as fast and as often as possible.  Shadows adds to this the ability to ignore range and target a land with Dahan for 1 energy, making Shadows a strong support spirit, who can dominate from afar in games with spirits who can set up large battles between invaders and Dahan.

Shadows of the Dahan Advice.

Shadows of the Dahan is a really cool special rule, but it isn't equally good in all games.  It gets better the bigger the map gets, and with team mates that can push Dahan into key places.  It is barely of any use in solo games where you are likely to be able to reach almost every land anyway.
Building Shadows as a Dahan support spirit is a fine strategy in larger games, but on smaller maps you need to do something else.

Adversary note:

Shadows struggles against Sweden, because Shadows of the Daha  likes Dahan spread out, and Sweden turns spread out Dahan into towns, and because Concealing Shadows loves trading a blight for a crushed invader heavy land, and Sweden adds extra blight and later towns to the map with that Blight.
Shadows tends to do well against France and Prussia, because you can break up France's double explorer bonuses, and counter Prussia's early stage 3 explore well.

Growth and Presence track.

Shadows starts in a terrible spot card play and energy wise, and with no 2 presence option on your growth track you might expect a weak spirit, but Shadows hits 3 energy with 2 presence taken from energy and 3 card plays with 2 from your play track.  Only 3 spirits can beat you to 3 energy and card play, and they have to use their 2 presence growth options to do it.  So in spite of you poor starting numbers, Shadows grows quite powerful, quite fast, especially in gaining powers.  Here's 2 basic starting plans.
1.  Play 2 cards early.  Take growth option 3 and get your second card play to start.  That 3 energy will pay for your initial hand of cards, and then take a card and move presence from your energy track the next 2 turns, reclaiming turn 4 with 2 card play, a 6 card hand and 3 energy per turn.  That is a great stable place to fuel Shadows of the Dahan, or to grab a major power.
2.  Rush to 3 cards and a big hand.  This path sacrifices a card play early to push back your reclaim and get 3 cards played turn 4 (instead of 5 with the above) and more power gain.  Same number of cards played over 5 turns, but sets up for faster tier 2 darkness swallows at the cost of not having tier 1 turn 1, which can hurt.
For this one you take growth option 2 your first 4 turns, taking presence from Energy, the Play, then energy then play again.  You will have enough energy to play all your cards, including 3 on turn 4.  When you reclaim turn 5 you will have 9 cards, 3 card play and 3 energy a turn.  If you get good elemental luck you will be set up to push for 4 plays and tier 3 darkness swallows, which is good, but only adds 3 damage (which should get you 3 fear most times), so it isn't worth focusing too much on if early card luck fails.
3.  Major Power Rush.
For this one keep your 1 card play for 2 turns (yes that will hurt), placing energy track presence while you grab a minor power and then a major power.  If it costs 6-7 energy play it turn 3 by grabbing another energy presence and taking a card or the +3 energy.  If it costs 4-5 you can grab a second card play and 3 energy and play it, if it costs 2 or 3 energy you can grab another card and the second card play and still play it.

I run very fluidly with Shadows, if my starting board looks good, (no threat to my sacred site or city building turn 1) I will often head towards a first major power.  It is awesome to use Shadows of the Dahan to cast big damage across the board, or clear up someone else's mess with a well-timed Instruments of their own Ruin.

Dahan support powers and strategy.

For Dahan support Shadows you value effects over elements, you are looking for several effects over others:
1.  Powers (preferably fast) that push Dahan.  This lets you target lands you couldn't target as well as set up for ravages.
2.  Powers (preferably fast) that gather Dahan/Invaders.  These don't extend your reach, but they can make battles better.
3.  Defend cards or cards that tip ravages in Dahan favor.
4.  Cards with Moon and Fire.
Cards like Entrancing Apparitions, Lure of the Unknown, Rites of the Land's Rejection, and Veil the Night's Hunt are incredible, because they will help Dahan fights and help you get tier 2 (or even 3) of Darkness Swallows.  Tier 2 is where your fear gain lives.  Tier 3 in great, but Tier 2 is much easier to get and turns explorers into fear.

Other advice for support Shadows.
1.  Don't lose your sacred sites.  You need at least 1.
2.  Fast powers are for ravages, slow powers are for next turns ravages.  In this build you want to turn 2 to 3 ravages a turn into wins.  You have your innate to deal with builds, everything else is about ravaging.
3.  Don't sweat blight.  Just win baby, don't mind the cost, because you really can't stop it all.
4.  Don't get into pushing to delay fights.  Pushers have their role, you didn't pick that role, you are here to fight and to win.
5.  Support Shadows works amazingly with River and Spread of Green and pretty good with Bringer of Nightmares (compared to your other builds). You like team mates that can delay inconvenient fights and prevent builds but need help dealing with big fights.  It is tough working closely with Thunderspeaker, you step on each other's toes  easily and end up fighting over who gets to do cool stuff while other problems go unchecked.  If you and another player tend to work well hashing out complex strategies together it can really work, but it is mostly a headache.
6.  Support Shadows does well in a hybrid with a major power focus.  You can sit at 3 card play and build up energy for a few turns and do quite well.

Selecting Major Powers.

You don't care about range, or needing a sacred site.  You can reach from almost anywhere, you want to avoid powers that destroy Dahan or have non-Dahan targetting restrictions.
Powers like Savage Transformation foster your explorer hunting side while Grant Hatred a Ravenous Form, Pent-up Calamity, and Vengeance of the Dead are easy to meet thresholds and contribute to your innate.
I don't go for big damage powers with Shadows, because with your ability to reach across the board you can find places to use almost any effect.

Final thoughts.
1.  As you see in this guide, I find Shadows plays best in a more subtle/support role.  You are about the seemingly little tweaks pointed at the right spot that turn the tide, more than just taking a big hammer and smashing whatever is in your way.  Shadows can change to fit that role, it get's plenty of power mid game.  I'd suggest taking the early major power road if you want to do that.
2.  Shadows really shines when you are thinking ahead, you want to herd your Dahan into battle, and then push them to another battle, each time ensuring they win and keep going.  You want to take out explorers to limit build up, and marshall Dahan to crush the rest, all while generating well above average fear.

3.  Gain powers early, take extra energy late.  Your third growth option will slow down your early game but as the game goes on use it to fuel big turns and extra Shadows of the Dahan uses.  Carrying extra energy can also help with events, don't be afraid to stock up if you have a good hand, Shadows is great at helping in subtle ways.
4.  Be flexible with your plans.  If you get some great minor powers early (moon and fire that help Dahan) go all in for tier 3 Darkness Swallows before grabbing major powers, if you don't, then go support or major powers and don't worry about tier 3.  

Again, these guides are not intended to be comprehensive or promote a "correct" play style, they are intended to help new and struggling players find a good place to start exploring the Spirit from

Edited by: phantaskippy on Aug 8 2017 - 5:45pm
TakeWalker
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That note about your son is great. :D

And I love all the implications of the phrasing "turn explorers into fear".

Argent Nightmares
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phantaskippy wrote:

Shadows can pay 1 energy to ignore range limits on powers it uses.  Note that this doesn't change other restrictions, for example:
Rain of Blood lets you target a land with invaders that is 1 or fewer lands from one of your sacred sites.
With Shadow of the Dahan you can pay 1 energy to change it to target a land with both invaders and Dahan, anywhere on the map, so long as you have at least one sacred site.  It essentially changes the range to infinite and adds Dahan to the requirements under target land.

I'm a bit confused, as this doesn't fit with how I read the rule. The rule reads 'You may pay 1 Energy to target lands with Dahan, regardless of the Power's Range' (or something very much like that, don't have it on me). Surely the range of a power is everything in the range box, so therefore you ignore the range and target a land with Dahan instead - 'regardless of range'? That would mean you don't need a sacred site, because you're targeting Dahan lands regardless of what's in the range box?

Also, how do powers like Strangling Firevine work? I think I read it that you're not targeting from anywhere, so you ignore that line? Alternatively, could you target from a Sands where you have presence, pay to target with Dahan regardless of range, and then you'd get to place the Wilds in the Sands after all? 

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Argent Nightmares wrote:
I'm a bit confused, as this doesn't fit with how I read the rule. The rule reads 'You may pay 1 Energy to target lands with Dahan, regardless of the Power's Range' (or something very much like that, don't have it on me). Surely the range of a power is everything in the range box, so therefore you ignore the range and target a land with Dahan instead - 'regardless of range'?
The title of the 'range' box is a slight misnomer. You only get to ignore the 'range', meaning the number of lands distant, and not the source restrictions like Sacred Sites.

Here's the relevant FAQ, which I just updated to make it more clearly address your questions.

Argent Nightmares wrote:
Also, how do powers like Strangling Firevine work? I think I read it that you're not targeting from anywhere, so you ignore that line? Alternatively, could you target from a Sands where you have presence, pay to target with Dahan regardless of range, and then you'd get to place the Wilds in the Sands after all? 
Your second option: you're still targeting from a particular Presence in the Sands. For most powers, the originating land is irrelevant, but it does matter here. (Should I add a separate FAQ entry?)
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I don't think it needs a separate FAQ, no. The range thing is a bit badly worded, in that case, but I unfortunately have no suggestions of how to make it clearer! I suppose maybe not having the word 'range' as the arrow with a number is pretty self explanatory!

dpt
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Argent Nightmares wrote:
The range thing is a bit badly worded, in that case, but I unfortunately have no suggestions of how to make it clearer!
I think at some point Eric considered separate "Source", "Range", and "Target" boxes, but that just got too busy. If there's a second edition (as opposed to a reprint), this will probably be reworked a bit anyway, since on the current cards it's too read past the targeting restrictions.
BlueHairedMeerkat
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I guess the problem is that 'ignore range' doesn't ignore the thing listed under Range. Perhaps the box should be called Targeting or something, but that wouldn't fit do well... Eh, who knows.


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