Shadows Flicker Like Flame

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SETUP

Put 3 Presenceicon.png on your starting board: 2 in the highest-numbered Jungle and 1 in land #5

PLAY STYLE

Good at causing Fear and picking off lone Explorers and Towns, containing the Invaders. Not so good at massive damage - may need to rely on allies to handle thoroughly colonized lands.
The ability to boost Range gives more flexibility to Range 0 Powers, and can be important in larger games.

COMPLEXITY

LOW

GROWTH (PICK ONE)
Reclaimall.png
Reclaim Cards
Gaincardicon.png
Gain Power Card
Gaincardicon.png
Gain Power Card
+ Presenceicon.png

1
Rangeicon.png

Add Presence
+ Presenceicon.png

3
Rangeicon.png

Add Presence
Energy Plus 3.png
Gain 3 Energy
PRESENCE
Energy 0.png

Energy/Turn
Energy 1.png

1
Energy 3.png

3
Energy 4.png

4
Energy 5.png

5
Energy 6.png

6

Cardplay1.png

Card Plays

Cardplay2.png

2

Cardplay3.png

3

Cardplay3.png

3

Cardplay4.png

4

Cardplay5.png

5

SPECIAL POWERS

SHADOWS OF THE DAHAN
Whenever you use a Power, you may pay 1 Energy to target a land with Dahanicon.png regardless of the Power's Range. (Power Cards or your Innate Powers.)

DARKNESS SWALLOWS THE UNWARY

SPEED RANGE TARGET LAND
Fasticon.png
Sacredsiteicon.png
1
Rangeicon.png
ANY

2 Moonelement.png 1 Fireelement.png Gather 1 Explorericon.png.

3 Moonelement.png 2 Fireelement.png Destroy up to 2 Explorericon.png. 1 Fearicon.png per Explorericon.png destroyed.

4 Moonelement.png 3 Fireelement.png 2 Airelement.png 3 Damage. 1 Fearicon.png per Invaders destroyed by this Damage.



SUMMARY OF POWERS

         
         
         
         
         
Offense Control Fear Defense Utility



Lore

A spirit of darkness and fire, of the alien and unnatural just out of vision around the corner. Its mindset is even more non-human than most Spirits', and it's somewhat dangerous just to be around; the only reason the Dahan have anything to do with it is out of a sense of reciprocity for a great favor it did them some generations ago. Its darkness works in ways not intuitive to humans; it may engulf a single person or an entire city, and it can act at great distance by reaching through the shadows of the Dahan. While not a spirit of fear, all of its Powers cause some amount of Fear due to their unnerving effects.

Spirits corresponding directly to natural features make instinctive sense to human minds: "the spirit of this river here", or "a spirit of stormy wind" are straightforward and easy to grasp. Some spirits are more inscrutiable, such as the Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds, or harder to perceive, such as the Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island. And then there are others still whose nature simply does not mesh well with humanity's view of the universe, such as Shadows Flicker Like Flame.

It is the shadow of a candleflame; a fire that withers what it touches rather than igniting it; the dark silhouette of a tree cast across the ground which, when you step on it, turns out to be a pit of ink-black otherspace. Its form is as fluid as as smoke, rising up from any shadow lying on the ground.

Shadows Flicker Like Flame does not seem to represent any natural phenomenon known outside of itself, but is associated with shade, transformation, shadows given life, unnatural spaces, and engulfing dark. While it is not a spirit of terror per se, it evokes a primal fear in humans, both due to its associations and the alienness of its nature. It seems to honor its bargains, but it thinks along strange lines... and when it's near, you're never entirely sure that you won't just vanish.

Other Spirits do not seem to find Shadows Flicker Like Flame the least bit unnatural, however; perhaps humanity's view of nature is not perfectly complete.

From the Playmat

The Dahan say, "If the long shadows of sunset stretching beside you being to shift and flicker like tongues of hungry fire, do not run. That will only feed your fear, and whet the shadows' appetite."

This spirit invokes an instinctive fear in humans, perhaps because it doesn't think at all like humans do - it's more alien-minded than most. Until a few generations ago, the Dahan careful propitiated it only at a distance, steering as clear as they could. But during the Years of The Relentless Sun, it shaded large swaths of the Island, averting catastrophe; since th en, many Dahan have been willing to carefully - and cautiously - heed its words, feeling they have a debt they out to try to replay.


Starting Cards


Moonelement.pngAirelement.png

SPEED RANGE TARGET LAND
Fasticon.png
0
Rangeicon.png
ANY
1 Fearicon.png.
Dahanicon.png take no damage from Ravaging Invaders this turn.

Moonelement.pngFireelement.pngPlantelement.png

SPEED RANGE TARGET LAND
Slowicon.png
0
Rangeicon.png
ANY
2 Fearicon.png
Replace 1 Townicon.png with 1 Explorericon.png.
OR
Replace 1 Citiyicon.png with 1 Townicon.png.

Moonelement.pngAirelement.png

SPEED RANGE TARGET LAND
Slowicon.png
1
Rangeicon.png
ANY
Gather up to 3 Dahanicon.png.
If Invaders are present and Dahanicon.png now outnumber then, 3 Fearicon.png.

Moonelement.pngFireelement.pngAirelement.png

SPEED RANGE TARGET
Slowicon.png
No Range.png
ANYSpiriticon.png
2 Fearicon.png.
Target Spirit may Push 1 Explorericon.png and 1 Townicon.png from one of their lands.


Suggested Power Progression

Dark and Tangled Woods (Minor)
Shadows of the Burning Forest (Minor)
The Jungle Hungers (Major)
Land of Haunts and Embers (Minor)
Terrifying Nightmares (Major - Forget a Power)
Call of the Dahan Ways (Minor)
Visions of Fiery Doom (Minor)

General Strategy

  • Growth: It can only play 1 Presence/turn, and can't put down any when it Reclaims Power Cards, so it's not going to get as much Presence out as many Spirits. However, it can reach up to 3 lands away to place Presence, which is further than most. And every turn it'll be either gaining a new Power Card or gaining +3 Energy, which gives it a strong foundation for either heavy-hitting Major Powers or a lots-of-small-Powers approach.
  • 'Presence: Both tracks ramp up quickly, though with not placing Presence every turn progression along them is going to be slow. Like Growth, these look good for a variety of approaches.
  • Special Rules: Shadows Flicker Like Flame doesn't see space in quite the same way as most beings, and with a bit of aid from the Dahan can act at an immense distance. This costs Energy, so isn't to be used trivially, but its Energy income is pretty good. This ability will be at its most useful in 3-4p games (where the island is large and spirits have more trouble reaching each other to work in concert), but it can also make Powers with Range 0 or Range measured from a Sacred Site much more versatile.
  • Innate Power - Darkness Swallows the Unwary: Only targets near a Sacred Site, but Shadows of the Dahan can help with that. The baseline effect of moving an Explorer at Fast speed - before the Invaders go - is fantastically useful; it can short-circuit the Explore-Build-Ravage cycle in a land right at the start, before a Town gets built. Higher levels allow destroying Invaders and doing extra Fear in the process - seems good, but how hard will it be to trigger?

Overall:

  • It has 4 Moon, 3 Air, 2 Fire, and a smattering of other elements. Hitting the base level of Darkness Swallows the Unwary won't be hard; there's only one combination of 2 cards that fails to trigger it.
  • There's Fear all over the place, averaging 2 Fear per Power Card. Fighting against Shadows Flicker Like Flame is going to inexorably break the Invaders' will to resist. The exact benefits of any given Fear Card are uncertain, but they always add up over time, and reliable Fear both unlocks easier Victory conditions and enables more potent Fear effects earlier in the game.
  • Nothing costs more than 1. It won't need scads of Energy just to make good use of its starting Powers - unlike, say, Vital Strength of the Earth. This gives it good flexibility.
  • Only one is Fast. Shadows' main means of pre-empting the Invaders is going to be its Innate Power, unless it's fighting alongside Lightning's Swift Strike; otherwise it'll have to plan ahead and be patient.

Specific cards:

  • Concealing Shadows: This hides the Dahan in one land, keeping them alive (and allowing them to counterattack!) no matter many Invaders are Ravaging. It does nothing to protect the land, and has a Range of 0, so for most Spirits using this Power Card would be a sacrifice play: they'd need Presence in a land the Invaders were about to thoroughly Ravage. While the Dahan would survive to counterattack, the Ravage would still Blight the land and destroy the Spirit's Presence! But Shadows' special rule (Shadows of the Dahan) lets it pay 1 Energy to reach out and use this anywhere there's Dahan - which the card needs anyway - making it substantially more valuable. And it's cheap. The only real downside is that it requires getting a fair number of Dahan to be where there's a fair number of Invaders.
  • Crops Wither and Fade: Colonists are used to crops dying, but not to them fading out of existence entirely! This Power is terrible for clearing lands of Invaders - it's a downgrade on a single Invader, and can't touch Explorers - but is one of the cheapest ways in the game to get rid of a City. This combines very nicely with an emphasis on Fear, since once you hit Terror Level 3, you can win by eliminating all Cities. It has a Range of 0, restricting its use pretty heavily - but Shadows of The Dahan allows a workaround.
  • Favors Called Due: Shadows Flicker Like Flame did a great service to all Dahan some generations back, and most Dahan - with their traditions of reciprocity - feel that they still owe it for that aid. This is represented both by the Shadows of the Dahan special rule and this Power Card, which incites more Dahan to move than most other Spirits can manage. It also sends dark shadows with them, and the resulting gathering can strike fear into the hearts of the Invaders. In concert with Shadows of the Dahan, this Power allows for moving Dahan anywhere on the island.
  • Mantle of Dread: Lets a Spirit guard one of their lands by frightening some Invaders out of it. It's Slow, so may or may not be useful in moving Explorers to prevent Builds, but it can reliably kick out the (Explorer + Town) that you'll get from Invaders Exploring then Building into a new land. The more players are in a game, the more versatile this becomes.

Overall: Shadows has several abilities which shine in a larger game, reaching through others (Spirit or Dahan) to affect the fight all the way across the island. In a smaller game, those will be less important - but the consistent Fear it generates will be more significant. (Earning a Fear Card requires 4 Fear/player, so in smaller games each Spirit's Fear has a higher proportional impact.)

Links to Guides

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