Shamanism vs Thaumaturgy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is here! You can read all about it in the news.

  • Shamanism vs Thaumaturgy

    I´ve played with both paths and i like them both evenly. Also looking up some tournament lists I saw that most shamans run one of those two paths. Pyro got pushed out most of the times.
    How do you decide which path your shaman takes?
    I always take the Magical Heirloom for an extra buff.
    Awaken the Beast is the counterpart to Smite the Unbeliever so both paths got two spells for combat.
    What do you like more? The comet, a sniper or random missiles vs a summoning, mass S1 hits and protection.
    It´s always a hard decission for me when building lists.
  • I prefer Thaumaturgy for the damage: missile (although random), snipe, comet and breath weapon. Smite the Unbeliever is an autoinclude for me. Wrath of God is a close second, but it's more situational. I prefer Thaumaturgy for the damage/chaff clearing options, Shamanism is very good but it doesn't fit my playstyle.
    I usually take the Heirloom so I get the Hereditary and I get to choose 3 spell (as Smite is an autoinclude).
  • Shamanism vs Thaumaturgy is very much up to play style. Pyromancy tends to be more meta dependent in my experience. Personally, I tend to use Thaumaturgy more, but Shamanism is better with some army builds in my opinion. As for magical heirloom, I think it’s critical on Thaumaturgy Adepts, otherwise it’s fairly optional.

    Below I’ll share some of my findings in the differences between Shamanism and Thaumaturgy.


    • Lower casting values. Thaumaturgy’s reroll 1s edge aside, Shamanism spells are way easier to meet the casting value requirement. Awaken the beast at 5+ makes it very easy to get with two dice and sometimes even one die with book of power as apposed to smite’s 9+ (Assuming you want to dictate the spell result)! This is important because you can cast more spells on average with Shamanism and you don’t have the need for veil tokens or book/master’s +1 that other paths require.
    • Better against high armor. Smite and awaken are not interchangeable, awaken gives +1AP which is sometimes very important, particularly for Tribesmen and tigers.
    • Better agianst shooting. This is probably the biggest difference, Shamanism is clearly superior against shooting. Whether it’s swarm of insects+chilling howl or just giving a key unit +1 Res with awaken before it gets shot to death. Additionally, swarm of insects is way better at sniping war machines than thaumaturgy’s missiles because of its insane 48”.
    • Protects the Shaman for no investment. Shamanism’s scarification is surprisingly good at helping the Shaman live through fights it shouldn’t have. This is relevant if you want a real cheap shaman that can get in fights, but you don’t want to waste points trying to protect it.
    • Better against flanks. Smite allows you to hinder one enemy unit, but when your main combat block is getting flanked and jumped by multiple units you much rather just buff your main block with awaken rather than weakening a single enemy unit. I find this particularly true against armies like EoS and the like.
    • More user friendly? This is debatable, but sometimes I feel the totem summon is just easier to use than Wrath of God, albeit not as game altering. Threatening a summon every turn is still a legitimate strategy and opponents have to actively stop it, plus you never accidentally kill your own units with summon and a miscast is less likely compared to that of wrath.
    • Savage Fury is pretty decent on a big block of Tribesmen or tigers. I’ve only done it a couple of times, but I was impressed with the battle focus and the high number of attacks of some of OK’s units.
    • Shamanism is the best path for a Shaman using Ritual Bloodletter... just throwing that out there...
    • Lastly, I don’t think break the spirit is talked about enough. This spell has saved me from enemy charges and cavalry SO many times. OK are great when it gets to charge first, but when they’re on the recieving end of a nasty charge it’s game changing and this spell solves a big part of that. Sometimes it just freezes a scary unit in place and gives me additional opportunities to get the charge, or they charge despite the spell and it greatly weakens their charge.


    • Flexibility. Thaumaturgy has a little bit of everything and allows you to build diverse magic phases that are harder to disrupt.
    • Helps armor saves. Smite has a very unique ability to lower enemy AP which effectively gives your unit +1 armor.
    • Better when flanking/gunning down. On the inverse of awaken, smite can weaken one unit’s Res and make it easier for all of your flanking and shooting units to bring down the enemy unit in question when you’re trying to gang up on a particularly troublesome deathstar or monster. Notably this is better with more of a MSU strategy.
    • Smite’s range. Smite’s 24” vs awaken’s 18” is often relevant and allows the shaman to have greater reach over the battlefield. Admittedly, you’re targeting presumably further away enemy units rather than your own, but either way the additional range is helpful when you’re trying to take advantage of OK’s mobility.
    • Wins games. Wrath of God is one of the most game swinging spells in the book and if left unchecked can win games by itself. It requires some luck and correct positioning, but when it pays off it’s big.
    • Harder to dispel. Because of the ability to reroll 1s your casting value results are consistently higher than your opponents’ dispel attempts when on even dice ground. I believe once you run the numbers you’ve got +0.5 casting value per dice when using Thaumaturgy. However, once you get to 4-5 dice miscasts become far more common than normal.
    • Multiple missiles. Between hand, cleansing fire and trial it’s pretty easy to force a missile on a critical target allowing you to sort of masquerade as pyromancy.
    • Breath weapons. Cleansing fire is one of the most intriguing spells in Thaumaturgy. If you run champions or single models (say tigers, kin-eaters, chained beasts) you can just give any unit a ranged/CC weapon. This works amazingly on chaff I’ve found! A single tiger not only chaffs a bigger army but also threatens to deal a couple of wounds from the breath weapon. Not to mention how you can just snipe things unexpectedly by giving a random unit a 6” ranged attack.
    • Leadership manipulation: whenever I play against a weaker discipline army or if I notice a particular leadership weakness I actually like taking speaking in tongues. When combined with fear from yetis, skull banner and chained beasts you can actually auto win a lot of fights.