In a previous post, I introduced the concept of Umalagad, spirit allies, which are the shaman’s counterpart to the warrior’s Dulohan warband. These spirit allies assist the shaman in subtle yet potentially powerful ways. Marc asked for clarifications in the way Umalagad work in combat, so I wrote this up:
Various kinds of Umalagad can have different uses in combat, according to their powers and nature.
Guardian Spirits are entirely defensive in nature; they are there to prevent you from coming to harm, but not necessarily to help you win. Therefore they can only be spent to Push to Save. Guardian Spirits work by manipulating your luck vis a vis your foes' luck to make you more likely to avoid attacks in physical combat. In spirit combat, Guardian Spirits interpose themselves directly vs. your spirit opponents.
Valor Spirits inspire your courage and will to fight, specially when the odds are against you. Spending Valor Spirits essentially gives you a confidence boost that helps you fight better, whether defensively or offensively. They do the same for you in spirit combat, with the same effect.
Wisdom Spirits are of no direct use in physical combat. Their function is to aid you in making more successful Invocations to your ancestors through their wisdom, lore, and connections in the afterlife. If you have Wisdom Spirits, you should be making Invocations in combat rather than trying to fight! In spirit combat, however, Wisdom Spirits help you 'maneuver' better, aiding you in making the most of your spirit abilities; you can spend Wisdom Spirits freely in spirit combat.
Storm/Wind Spirits are of no use in spirit combat, as their powers are very definitely oriented to the physical. Capable of generating powerful gusts of wind, you can easily imagine the havoc such spirit allies can cause at your asking whether for offense or defense. From the accounts, the epic heroes Agyu and Lam-ang must've had Storm Spirit Umalagad.
Bane Spirits are powerful but evil allies. In physical combat, you should use Bane Spirits to help you cast Curses on your foes -- that's their function. In spirit combat, Bane Spirits will help you attack, but not defend; you don't expect evil spirits to care about your fate, do you? Bane Spirits lend their malevolent will to you in spirit attacks, helping you to overcome your foe's will by overwhelming him with their cruelty and spite.