Shadow is my second favorite Lore behind Light. So I’m going to write about it. General Overview Lore Attribute: Smoke and Mirrors is powerful if somewhat situational. Generally we don't want to have to use this attribute but it's a nice emergency fall back option. It can be used defensively to get a Slann out of harm’s way. As this tidbit from the Skink Priest Tactica shows. It can be used offensively with a two Slann army to terrifying effect It can be used to save Temple from a bad a miscast. While you won’t likely want to use Smoke and Mirrors every game, it’s certainly worth factoring in to your tactical planning. Spell by Spell Assessment Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma: I’ve found this is most effective when targeting an engaged unit’s WS or a shooty block’s BS. I can see some use lowering Initiative to soften a foe up for the Penumbral Pendulum or Pit of Shades, but that will likely tip your hand to your opponent about what you are about to do and cause them to prioritize their dispels appropriately. Whenever I try to slow down a block’s advance I always seem to roll low on the M penalty and then they roll high charge rolls. I haven’t run into many situations where I think the augmented version is worth it, but if you have the dice leftover, why not? Steed of Shadows: I see this as primary a tool for lone Slann to move about the field either lining up good shots for Pendulum or getting out of harms way. My few experiments launching Saurus characters around the board with Steed of Shadows tends to end up with the Saurus being blasted by enemy shooting. If you want to draw fire away from something else or are facing a low shooty army, Steed of Shadow is quite useful to out flank enemies with powerful characters, but I don’t run across low shooting armies very often. The Enfeebling Foe: I like it a lot. Our Saurus are tough enough that a strength penalty on the other side means a lot fewer kills. The same can be said if you have skinks fighting something comparatively puny like goblins or other skinks. The Withering: Not quite as fond of this as Enfeebling Foe because of the higher casting cost, but it’s very useful. It’s more versatile than Enfeebling Foe (which is only good in CC) since the Withering can soften up a target to prepare them for some shots from Salamanders or Razordons (EDIT: or even hit a character with Blood Statuette of Spite). The Penumbral Pendulum: It turns out since this isn’t a Direct Damage Spell you can cast it from a TG bunker but you still nick a Temple Guard model when doing it, which puts an extra cost into it (and because it is not a direct damage you can't shoot it via a Skink sadly. It is still a useful spell because it makes up somewhat for our lack of cannons. When combined with Steed of Shadows you can line up for some truly impressive shots if your Slann is floating sans bunker. Pit of Shades: What’s not to like about a spell with “DOOM!” in the description? Initiative test or die with no saves of any kind? Yes please. Remember that this spell loses potency against high Initiative targets and remember that war machines automatically fail all Initiative tests. Also remember that our own troops are very vulnerable to this spell. Okkam’s Mindrazor: You basically can’t go wrong with this spell at least as LM. With the new FAQ the general's leadership now applies! That means any unit boosted with the spell within range of your Slann will have Strength 9 or 10! That'll flatten anything. Army Builds Lone Slann or Bunkered Slann? Shadow is probably the lore most ideally suited to lone Slann. While it’s not bad in the hands of a bunkered Slann by any means. Bunkered Slann can’t use the Smoke and Mirrors Attribute with as much flexibility, and they can’t use the Penumbral Pendulum without having a 2/3 chance of killing a Temple Guard. They have fewer options with Steed of Shadows than lone Slann enjoy. The relatively higher casting values of Shadow spells make Shadow Slann a little more likely to miscast than other Slann which in my book, makes Temple Guard less attractive because I prefer not to take 7 or 8 Temple Guard down with a miscast. Unit Synergy Swarms are actually useful with Mindrazor and or Enfeebling Foe and Withering, so if you want to run with swarms just to be different, try pairing it with a Shadow Slann. Salamanders and Razordons benefit a lot from the Withering. Enfeebling Foe, Withering, and Mindrazor might tilt things enough to make spear Sauri slightly better than Handweapon Saurui (a reverse from typical conditions). Kroxigor, Skroxigor, and Stegadon benefit slightly less from Shadow than other units but not every unit needs to be the recipient of helpful buffs and hexes. Steed of Shadows is handy with hero hammer when used with great care. Due to the higher casting values than most lores, it may be worth considering another tidbit from the Skink Priest Tactica to get some extra power dice. Double Slann When playing two Slann, make sure you use Telepathic Confabulation to make sure both spells have a Shadow spell (or two) so they can have access to Smoke and Mirrors in emergencies. Shadow and Death work well together. Death is probably the best second Slann lore due to providing extra power dice. The hexes of both lore’s stack, so it can really weaken enemy units in tandem. Enfeebling Foe and the Withering can soften up targets for Caress of Laniph and the Fate of Bjuna respectively. The above posted link in the lore attribute sections shows a very NASTY combo Death and Shadow can do. Shadow and Light play well together because the low casting values of Light makes up for the comparatively high casting value of Shadow spells. Light tends to help you hit foes more. Shadow tends to help you wound foes more. Light + Shadow equals CC dominance (with enough power dice anyway). Life and Shadow can benefit from similar synergy. Shadow makes your enemies die quicker and Life makes your own units die slower. The low casting value of Life help too. Enfeebling Foe + Dwellers Below would be able to strip down even the mightiest enemy blocks to a bare fraction of their original strength. Heavens and Shadows work okay together. True you aren’t going to want to double Slann with those Lores, but a Skink Priest can support a Shadow Slann’s spells. Withering can soften up very high toughness targets for Chain Lightning, Comet, or Uranon’s Thunderbolt. Harmonic Convergence can let your augmented troops hit just a little more often. Iceshard Blizzard combined with Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma can really make an enemy unit’s attacks impotent. A Beasts casting Skink will add Wyssan's Wildform to further imbalance things in your favor on top of all the hexes. WD Slann and High Magic Slann Miasma isn't the greatest spell in the world, but it's nice to use if you are fighting an army that outclasses in WS. I don't see a lot of reason for a High magic Slann to dabble in Shadow. Shadow is a very diverse toolbox. If you only take one or two Shadow spells your odds of getting the specific spell you actually want are fairly low. About half are hexes and half are damaging spells and the damaging spells aren't that great compared to the other lores. If your Slann is stuck in a combat he doesn't want to be in or is about to get stuck, you can try to cast a simple High magic spell to pick up a cheap Shadow spell and then Smoke and Mirrors your way to safety. If you happen to roll Okham's Mindrazor you should probably keep it. You are asking for trouble if you keep swapping spells hoping to get it though. Storm of Magic Addendum Shadows Cataclysm a little lackluster compared to the others, but they are far from useless. Shadow does remain my favorite lore in general so I plan to experiment with Shadows as I gradually play more Storm of Magic games. I see much potential for Smoke and Mirrors. If the Slann is not in a Temple Guard it’s got a lot of Wizards to swap with. If your Slann is fighting a foe he can’t beat swap with a convenient character. Conversely if your skink priest on a fulcrum is likely to die in close combat, swap with the Slann and hold the fulcrum with the Slanns higher toughness and wound profile. The potentials for fighting wizards such as vampires and Albion Truthsayers (though the latter need Transformation of Kadon to reach their full potential) opens up even more possibilities if you are sufficiently creative. Two of the three Cataclysm spells involve positioning, so if you are subscriber to the philosophy that positioning is the most important part of a battle, consider taking to the Shadows to get to where you want to go. The Shadow Cataclysm spells are relatively easier to cast compared to most other lore’s spells which is a nice reversal since the regular Shadow spells tend to have higher casting values than the other lores. Ribauld’s Retroactive Illusion: The Presence spell is situational, but potentially useful. Some games I play, both me and my opponent put a lot of thought into what terrain goes where and roll everything out using a chart, other games we just set something up casually to save time. If it’s the former you can bet that both players know certain terrain features help one side more than the other and place them accordingly. Most players in that situation spend more effort neutralizing enemy advantages than playing to their own. The spell lets you change the set up in your favor again. Move the Charnel Pit away from the undead (unless you have Pact forces). Move barriers in the path where cannon balls are likely to bounce. Put your marshes to where your aquatic units can benefit best. The possibilities are endless. While few terrain bonuses are game changing by themselves, this spell only costs 10+ to cast meaning that it only takes a small sacrifice of power dice to use. Bridge of Shadows: The Equilibrium spell is Steed of Shadows on steroids letting you move an entire unit. It doesn’t let you charge, but half of winning a battle is good positioning and this lets you do just that. I believe I am correct, but I’m not 100% sure that you can also use this spell to disengage a unit from battle which is potentially very powerful. Either way, the spell is only 15+ to cast which is quite cheap compared to most Cataclysm spells. Dance of Despair: For a Dominance spell, I’d rather kill a unit than weaken it, but this is handy taking every stat except Strength and Toughness down to 1. I can imagine this is especially brutal against human or elven armies! While it’s often more exciting to buff your own units to demigod levels, this well have the same net result. Very very few units can last for long in the face of a block of Saurus after being hit with this spell.