Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review

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Into fantasy miniatures and wargaming, but big-armoured holier-than-thou dudes and dudettes in gold armour knocking chunks out of archetypal ghosts and ghoulies not your thing? Well, with the new Shadow and Pain box set, angry snake ladies do battle with crab-claw-handed men and women in bondage gear! Gadzooks!

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Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Summary

Packed with absolutely everything you need to dive head-first into the Mortal Realms, the Shadow and Pain box set is, without doubt, one of the best Age of Sigmar-related releases from 2020. It’s a breath of fresh air for Warhammer starter-sets, with all the bits you need to indoctrinate both yourself and a friend or loved one into the world of Age of Sigmar.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Introduction

It’s been a while since the Soul Wars box set, and much of 2020 has been dominated by the new edition of Warhammer 40,000, Indiomitus, and its Command, Elite and Recruit Edition children.

Those amongst us more interested in swords and sorcery than, uh, chainswords and psych­-sorcery or whatever it’s called in the Forty-First Millennium, will be relieved to see a little attention being given to Age of Sigmar – and the Shadow and Pain box set proves that sometimes patience pays off.

It’s also quite nice to see the spotlight shone elsewhere in the Mortal Realms universe. As much as I am a huge fan of both, Sigmar’s gold-clad poster boys are nowhere to be seen, and Nagash and his leering, undead hordes are just as absent. At last, some of the lesser-known factions are being given an opportunity to shine.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Contents

The Shadow and Pain box comes with everything you need to get started with Age of Sigmar.

Shadow and Pain Boxed Set Review Contents 1

First up, you get the titular Shadow and Pain booklet, which is designed to be your guide to the contents of the set. It’s got everything you need to familiarise yourself with the world of Age of Sigmar and the two armies in the box, as well as all the lore and rules you’ll need to get started with your two armies. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the familiar Core Rules book that came with the Soul Wars set peeping out from behin the Shadow and Pain book in the image above.

Next, there are a set of push-out tokens to help you keep track of what is going on with your battles, as well as all the Warscroll cards you need to reference the rules for your models.

Finally are the sheets upon sheets of grey plastic that can be assembled into two armies: Gestharyx’s Cavalcade and Tyralla’s Scáthcoven, or the Hedonites of Slaanesh and the Daughters of Khaine to those less versed in the wily ways of Warhammer – or who just can’t wrap their tongues around some made-up fantasy words.

The Daughters of Khaine get:

  • 10x Melusai, buildable in any combination of Blood Sisters or Blood Stalkers
  • 5x Khinerai, buildable as Heartrenders or Lifetakers
  • 1x Melusai Ironscale, a champion of the Melusai currently exclusive to this set

The Hedonites of Slaanesh get:

  • 10x Daemonettes
  • 1x Hellflayer, also buildable as a Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh
  • 10x Hellstriders
  • 1x Lord of Pain, a champion of the Hedonites of Slaanesh currently exclusive to this set

That’s a very reasonable 38 miniatures across the entire set: 16 for the Daughters of Khaine, 22 for the Hedonites of Slaanesh, so with this box you’re already well on your way to starting your own army of each faction. Nice.

We’re shy on dice, which comes as a bit of a surprise. The previous 40K Ninth Edition boxed games each came with a packet of basic dice to get you started, as did the old Soul Wars set. Still, this alone probably isn’t going to put you off buying the Shadow and Pain box set if you want it – there are some far, far nicer Dice available out there than the bog-standard, white-plastic things that have been tossed into GW’s boxed games recently.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Unboxing

The Shadow and Pain box is, as you would expect, bedecked in some beautiful Warhammer art depicting the characters contained within doing battle with one-another.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Unboxing 1

For reference, the box itself is roughly the same size as the Warhammer 40,000 Command Edition box, though slightly narrower.

Cracking the box open, you are met with a surging sea of grey plastic sprues. Your disassembled Hedonites of Slaanesh and Daughetrs of Khaine await you spread across no fewer than twelve sprues.

Yes, twelve sprues.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Unboxing 2

That’s a lot of plastic.

For reference, Indomitus had 10 sprues, so anyone who’s particularly familiar with that miniature-laden box will know twelve sprues is definitely a lot – especially considering you’re getting only a little more than half as many figures for your trouble. Take that as you will.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Unboxing 3

Beneath your new pile of plastic amphetamines, you’ll find a glossy separator, emblazoned with the Age of Sigmar logo on one side, and with the box art on the other. It’s a nice inclusion, and, provided it hasn’t been perforated by too many claw-hands or serpentine spikey bits, could quite easily be framed and hung up somewhere in your hobby cave.

Finally, we get to the last layer of products in the box: the literature, the build-guide, the pop-out card playing tokens, your stack of Warscroll cards, and, of course, a pile of bases for your assembled models.

There aren’t too many airs and graces with the overall presentation of the box – not that it matters all that much; it’s not a special edition like Indomitus was, but the fact they’ve managed to cram more sprues into a box a fair few inches thinner is quite impressive.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Core Rules Book

The Core Rules book included in the Shadow and Pain set is a perfect example of the fact that Warhammer can be an easy and straightforward game to learn and play.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Core Rules

Anyone who owns the Soul Wars box set may well be looking at this book and thinking that it looks familiar. It probably is, but its inclusion in this set makes sense: this is a new box designed to help the uninitiated wargamer take the first steps on their journey to tabletop conquest.

My knowledge of wargaming is lacking, and I’ve never touched a game of Age of Sigmar, but just a quick glance through the Core Rules book puts my mind at ease: at only eighteen pages in length the text is not intimidating in the slightest, and each of the six battle phases (Hero, Movement, Shooting, Charge, Combat, and Battleshock) are broken down into a couple of no-nonsense paragraphs to get the inexperience through their first couple of games.

There are also lots of pictures and diagrams to make sure you’re getting the right end of the stick, and the book is slimline enough to be able to be kept at your elbow when doing battle across a tabletop. So far, so good.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Shadow and Pain Campaign Book

The shadow and Pain campaign book is a bit meatier than the Core Rules book. Clocking in at 41 pages, it’s not an extensive, nor difficult read, and has all the extra information you’ll need to make a start with your Khainite and Slaaneshi forces.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Shadow and Pain Book

The first 15 pages of the 41-page book are dedicated to giving you all the background information you need to understand just who, exactly, you now have thumb-sized plastic replicas of. Packed with lore and Mortal Realms history, if you’re a big fan of high fantasy literature, you’ll probably get a real kick out of this bit.

Pages 16-23 are awash with beautifully-painted images of said models, and the last 18 pages of the book contain three battleplans as well as further copies of the Warscrolls for the figures included in the box, so you can get to massacring your chosen foe nice and quickly.

As with the Core book, it’s a straightforward and non-intimidating read, with the right amount of information to flesh out your games between the Khainites and Slaaneshi and augment the Core Rules. It’s well-pitched, and shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for a beginner to make sense of.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Sprues and Models

As mentioned above, the models in this set come spread across no fewer than twelve sprues.

Unfortunately, the sprues don’t come with a numbering or lettering system beyond most components being assigned a numeric value. There’s no “Sprue A”, or “Sprue B”, with this set, so there’s a good chance you might find yourself rifling through the box looking for the correct grey plastic frame you’re after when trying to get your figures put together.

It’s a bit of an annoyance, and perhaps an oversight on GW’s part, that each sprue isn’t clearly labelled. To try and make your lives easier, though, I’ve broken down each sprue and what its used for below, as well as included pictures of the sprue so you know what to look out for when building.

The numeric value assigned to each sprue reflects where it falls in the build order outlined in the construction manual (Sprue 1 is the Melusai Ironscale because she’s first in the book; Sprues 2 and 3 are for the Blood Sisters/Blood Stalkers as they immediately follow in the guide, and so-on).

So, without further ado…

Sprue 1 – Melusai Ironscale

The first of two models (currently – important word to note) exclusive to the Shadow and Pain box set.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Melusai Ironscale

She’s a menacing-looking thing: finely sculpted and wielding a fantastic weapon, the Melusai Ironscale model is very much worthy of its place at the head of the Daughters of Khaine who come with the Shadow and Pain box.

But she’s not easy to put together. This model is designed to be coiled around a collapsed pillar, and the tail components can be a bit fiddly to line up. There’s also a particular strand of hair that stands out from the rest of her head that is extremely fragile and I found broken in the box, so bear that in mind when putting her together.

Sprues 2-3 – Blood Sisters/Blood Stalkers

Sprues 2 and 3, so called here, are identical to one-another and give you the option of building either ten Blood Sisters, ten Blood Stalkers, or five of each. Either or, they’re some lovely models with some smashing detailing. I can’t wait to have a go at painting these.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Blood Sisters

Similar to the Ironscale, both the Sisters and Stalkers they suffer from a few issues with their build. Whilst their serpentine coils do go together easier, their heads are difficult to attach on account of how heavy their hair components are, so be prepared to sit and hold them for a while.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Blood Stalkers

Another thing to be aware of is the spears on the Sisters and the arrows on the Stalkers are quite thin, so make sure you remove them and file any residual gates left on the component carefully.

The Stalkers come with a few optional extras – hearts, pouches, and quivers – that can be attached as you like, which is a nice touch.

Sprue 4 – Khinerai Heartrenders

Perhaps my favourite models in the box, the five Khinerai Heartrenders are some really smashing figures that beautifully round the Daughters of Khaine part of the Shadow and Pain box off. Armed with javelins and poised to strike beneath magnificent, leathery wings, the Heartrenders are just as well sculpted as every other Khainite unit in the Shadow and Pain box.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Khinerai Heartrenders

They’re not too bad to put together, but much like all the other Daughters of Khaine in this box, there are a plethora of breakable bits on these figures – foremost amongst which, the tips of the figure’s wings. Watch out for these when smoothing any residual gates on the wings when assembling; a thumb in the wrong place may well break the component.

It’s worth noting that there are a couple of misprints in the assembly guide for the Heartrenders: the Shryke’s spear-arm is labelled as component number 20, when 20 is in fact the Shryke’s wing. The part you’re after is number 22. On the first Heartrender – provided you’ve built a Shryke with the first instructions – one of the wings is numbered as an 8, when it should be a 6.

Sprue 5 – Lord of Pain

One of the (currently) exclusive-to-box models, the Lord of Pain is the mean and menacing leader of the Hedonites of Slaanesh. Bedecked in studded leather and gripping an enormous warhammer, he looks as if he’s auditioning for a Judas Priest music video, or maybe a Manowar album cover.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Lord of Pain

He’s an impressive and unique figure, covered in lots of lovely details to make him really stand out from the rest of his bondage horde. He’s also one of the easier models to put together. On a small sprue of his own, there’s plenty of room to get your nippers around his components, and he’s so easy to put together you probably don’t even need to glance at the assembly guide.

Sprues 6-7 – Hellflayer

This is one of the most unique Age of Sigmar models I’ve seen to date. Age of Sigmar’s look and feel has always appealed to me with its handling of original concepts and some of its ideas.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Hellflayer

But this model does leave me at something of a loss, and I believe a greater team of thinkers and philosphers than I have already summed up my thoughts about this model.

I’ve got a brand new combine harvester, and I’ll give you the key.

The Wurzels ft. The Muppets and Peter Sellers

I can’t figure out whether I love this model or hate it.

Warhammer’s fantasy ranges have always done a rather good job of toeing the fine line between sublime and ridiculous with their figures. No matter how outwardly knee-smacking ridiculous a concept may be, they always manage to lend their ranges a subtlety that prevents them from being just straight-up barmy – flying steampunk sky-Dwarves, par exemple.

But I’m struggling a bit with this model. I can just about overlook a slightly kinked-up legion of lecherous hedonists worshipping their bondaged god of desire, but I can’t escape the feeling that this figure is a bit of a stretch. That sublime/ridiculous ratio is very much tipped towards the latter end of the scale, because I can’t help but look at this model and laugh.

It’s mad. Look at it.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Hellflayer

A “Hellflayer”, eh? Well, I suppose “A Trio of Bondage Deamonettes Riding a Combine Harvester of Doom pulled by Mutant Anteaters” probably wouldn’t have fit on the box.

It’s also quite tedious to put together. Each of those little whirly, slash-disk, combine-harvester bits has to be attached individually, and there are a lot of small contact points between components which can make gluing and sticking difficult. It’s an impressive thing to look at when it’s done, though. You’ve just got to make it that far.

Sprue 8-11 – Hellstriders

A third of the sprues in the box are given over to containing the parts required to put together ten Hellstriders.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Hellstriders

Building them is a little nerve-wracking. There are a lot of super thin whips and long, thin parts on these models that seem eager to break on the sprue at the first given opportunity, so be wary when removing these from their gates.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Hellstriders

If you are particularly thin-bit-phobic, you have the option to construct the riders with spear-arms instead (though, that said, I did break one of these whilst filing it).

You have a degree of freedom with them, though: legs and arms, shields and standards, heads and so-on can be attached to whichever long-nosed death anteater you wish, which is always a nice touch.

Sprue 12 – Daemonettes

Corset-clad, claw-handed, and with just enough boob on show to appeal to any Kingdom Death: Monster collectors who happen to walk into a Warhammer shop, the Daemonettes are the last thing the guide will have you assemble.

They’re a bit of a pain. Each Daemonette is assembled the same way: a torso and a leg which is then attached to another leg, two arms and then finally a head. There are no numbers for any of the components on this sprue, though each leg does go with a particular torso, so you’ll have to match these up by eye from the construction guide.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Daemonettes

Also, another issue I had with the Daemonettes are their bloody arms. Whilst its easy enough to get any head onto any set of shoulders, some arm combinations run the risk of looking a bit ridiculous, and if you decide to opt for a standard bearer and/or hornblower, you’ll want to ensure you dry-fit all the components without exception before gluing anything down, otherwise you may end up with a standard-bearer or hornblower holding their gear at a weird angle.

The same goes for the Daemonette’s pincers, so be careful you don’t end up with some weird and contorted combinations of limbs when putting these ladies together.

They aren’t, perhaps, the easiest figures to put together and I can envisage newer hobbyists making a mess with glue and getting some grief with left-over sprue gates on these ladies, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re a newer buyer.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Price and Availability

Priced on Games Workshop’s website at £105/$170 USD/€140, this is not a cheap, entry-level product. Though a few bob cheaper than its predecessor, Soul Wars, Shadow and Pain remains an expensive set.

When broken down into its constituent parts, you’re bound to save a tidy pile of cash. Using Games Workshop pricing, a box of Blood Sisters, a box of Blood Stalkers, and a box of Khinerai Lifetakers will set you back £97.50 ($162 USD/€127.50), so there are some substantial savings to be had here.

Shadow and Pain Value

Please note in the tables below that the set-exclusive models (the Lord of Pain and the Melusai Ironscale) have not been included in the calculations as we do not know what the retail value for these models would be.

Daughters of Khaine Value

SetGBPUSDEURAUD
Blood Sisters£32.50$53.00€41.00$90.00
Blood Stalkers£32.50$53.00€41.00$90.00
Khinerai Heartrenders£32.50$53.00€41.00$90.00
Total£97.50$159.00€123.00$270.00

Hedonites of Slaanesh Value

SetGBPUSDEURAUD
Hellflayer (aka. Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh)£18.00$29.75€23.00$44.00
Hellstriders (x2)£20.00 (£40.00)$33.00 ($66.00)€26.00 (€52.00)$55.00 (€110.00)
Daemonettes£22.50$36.00€28.00$54.00
Total£80.50$131.75€103.00$208.00

Shadow and Pain Total Value

GBPUSDEURAUD
Box Value£178.00$290.75€226.00$478.00
Retail Value£105.00£170.00€140.00$290.00
Total Saving£73.00$120.75€86.00$188.00

It does, however, have everything you need (aside from some dice) to start playing games in the Age of Sigmar immediately, and the addition of the easy-to-read, straightforward-to-follow books ensure the grand game of Warhammer doesn’t become too overwhelming for new players.

With the majority of local gaming stores selling Games Workshop products at between 10%-20% discounted prices, make sure you have a look at your local independent retailers before you buy, just to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Where to Next?

If you’ve been particularly taken by the Daughters of Khaine, and are looking to expand your legions of furious serpent ladies (and their less-serpentine sisters) further, a good next-stop may well be the Start Collecting! Daughters of Khaine box, which comes with a Cauldron of Blood, a Hag Queen or Slaughter Queen, and a Bloodwrack Medusa, as well as a few more Melusai to pad out your army.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Daughters of Khaine Start Collecting

Failing that, if the Hedonites of Slaanesh are more your thing and just want to grab a load more models on the relative cheap, you could go the same way with the Slaaneshi and nab yourself their Start Collecting! set, which contains some very similar bits to the Shadow and Pain kit – namely an Exalted Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh, 5 Seekers of Slaanesh and 10 Daemonettes.

With the Slaaneshi models, I would suggest having a good look at the complete range listed on Games Workshop’s website, as there are some really gorgeous and equally chilling Infernal Enrapturess.

Shadow and Pain Box Set Review Hedonites of Slaanesh Infernal Enrapturess

Games Workshop have also recently released their Broken Realms books, one of which tells the story of Daughters of Khaine’s most supreme badassed, snake-bottomed b*tch, Morathi, so if you’re in the market for some more lore, there’s always some reading to be done (or, if painting is still more your thing, there’s always her spectacular model).

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Good sized box
Nice variation of figures
Multiple build options across figures
Exclusive figures are nice
Included booklets are not too overwhelming for a new player, but also not so basic to put off experienced fans
Does not include dice
A million super tiny and easily breakable fiddly parts
Sprues are not labelled and some models a bit of a handful to assemble

It’s a nice box, and it finally brings some attention around to two of the more forgotten Age of Sigmar factions, but at the same time, the Shadow and Pain box isn’t going to break any records.

It’s a victim of the successes of its forebears: this year has sucked for a lot of stuff, but has been absolutely awesome for Warhammer boxed games, namely, of course, Indomitus and it’s three children, all of which were super in their own right.

Whilst it’s a fabulous box with some really lovely, well-sculpted minis in it, the Shadow and Pain box can’t really hold a candle to its Forty-First Millenium predecessors. It isn’t as well put together, it isn’t as soul-staggeringly awesome, and, to be honest, it isn’t quite as good value for money.

That said, it is about time 2020 saw a little Age of Sigmar, and it’s definitely time we all got the chance to see the spotlight shone on something that isn’t the Stormcast Eternals, their goody-two-shoes buddies, or Bone Daddy and his Cavalcade of Corpses. Whilst I’m not sure if I’ll go out and start collecting a Daughters of Khaine or Slaaneshi army off the back of this box, I definitely enjoyed putting its figures together, and I am certainly looking forward to painting something new.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

Summary
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Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Boxed Set
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Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Shadow and Pain Boxed Set
About VoltorRWH 23 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

3 Comments

  1. Hi!
    Nice review, but… ;)
    This is a “Versus Box” like Ather War, Feast of Bones, Looncurse etc and not one that introduces a new Edition like Soul Wars or Indomitus, so comparing it to them would be more interesting (for me).

  2. I note a distinct lack of mention about any range rulers or terrain either. GW’s website suggests that there are some rulers provided along with the tokens…are they at least decently perforated or is it scissors time? In any case it’s an unfortunate step down from the nice (if slightly slippery) plastic rulers that they put in most of the starter boxes.

    Between the missing stuff and the high price, I conclude that this set is really aimed more at existing GW customers looking to try something different than the true neophytes. It’s a pair of their ‘Start Collecting’ boxes with a free rule book thrown in for good measure.

  3. It is not a starter Box introducing a new Edition. It is a “Versus Box” like Aether War, Feast of Bones or Looncurse. They always come with a new Hero for both factions and old units, a small story, rules book and never any dice.
    The price this year is, surprisingly, lower than that of last years – maybe because that one sold slow, maybe because this one has quite old contents (for Slaanesh).

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