Spirit Island

Created by GreaterThanGames

The cooperative settler-destruction strategy game!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Stretch goals new and old, and meet your Adversaries!
over 8 years ago – Sat, Oct 17, 2015 at 06:32:11 AM

Wow, today's update is going to be really huge.

First of all, I'm going to say more amazing things. When you want a stretch goal, you really get it! We hit that 48 hour mark running, and it shows. You've managed to unlocked not just one stretch goal, but two!

At $70,000, you unlocked the Heart of the Wildfire promo Spirit. We talked about that in depth in Update #13. Way to go!

We're also over 1000 backers! That's super exciting, because now there's a new Adversary as part of the mini-expansion! France will really let you take advantage of those new tokens.

There's still over 24 hours to go, and I have a lot of faith in you. Because of that level of excitement, we're going to reveal two new stretch goals! At $75,000 we'll add some scenarios for additional gameplay to the mini expansion's rulebook, along with their appropriate tokens! And at $80,000 you'll unlock two new Spirits: Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves and Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds. These are going to be included in every backer's pledge, and they'll both be in the mini expansion later.

That's some big stuff, and I believe you can do it! And now, here's Eric to give you some in-depth story and strategy details!


Meet Your Enemies

 Let's talk about the Adversaries you'll be fighting against: how they change the game, and their particular strengths.

 I'm presenting them in order from most-finished to least-finished: Brandenburg is pretty well locked down, while the others are likely to get anything from "small tweaks" to "substantial additions/changes" before going to press. (Testing is ongoing, even as you read this.)

 The Kingdom of Brandenburg-Prussia

In the alternate history of Spirit Island, Brandenburg-Prussia became a much more significant power than it was in our own world, maintaining some crucial alliances which greatly increased its size, population, and (significantly) port access. Let's take a look:

Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!

We can see that mechanically, Brandenburg-Prussia is a very straightforward Adversary: it doesn't have a unique victory condition, and all of its levels simply change setup in some fashion, meaning you don't need to remember rules modifications during play. As such, it makes an excellent first Adversary: it'll boost the game's difficulty to a level that offers you compelling play, but is very simple to use and doesn't change the game dynamics which you may still be learning.

 The primary weapon it wields against you is speed. Levels 2 through 6 all either remove Invader Cards from the deck, or move nastier Invader Cards earlier in the deck. Its Stage 2 flag effect adds an extra Town to every board, spreading the Invader threat to more lands.This speed makes the game harder for any Spirit - you have less time to develop your powers, can afford fewer mistakes, and face incoming threats more quickly - but especially so for slow-developing ones. At the highest level, the Invaders get a Stage 3 (two-terrain) Explore during setup, then follow that up by launching straight into the nastier Stage 2 cards before going back to Stage 3. Even the best playtesters only have a 30-50% win rate at this level, and "winning before the deck runs out" becomes a very relevant factor.

 Brandenburg does not, however, have any fundamentally new dynamics to master, which means that the core tactics and strategies of Spirit Island all work well against it.

 The Kingdom of England

The alternate-history of the British Isles has taken a different course from our own: Scotland remains independent, for one thing, and while England is certainly powerful, neither it nor the other Great Powers of our own history are quite so dominant in this one.

Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!

 England is a powerhouse of Build actions, representing its massive emigration, which (as in our own history) is greater than that between other nations and their colonies. If it builds enough in a single land, it wins outright, as the crown decides to defend its investment in the island and pours unmatchable levels of support into the colony's expansion.

 The most critical change to game dynamics is the earliest one: when indentured English laborers fulfill their term, they earn a land grant - not in a place of their choice, but wherever the governor and administration feel would be best for the colony to spread. As a result, lands near enough Towns/Cities can Build even if they have no Invaders present. In developed areas, this foils one core tactic of Spirit Island: killing (or misdirecting) Explorers so that no Towns pop up the following turn. Victory against the English will require learning to handle this new dynamic, as well as learning to concentrate your efforts on a single part of the island to mostly clear it of buildings, so that England no longer benefits from this bonus in that area.

 Higher levels make accomplishing this - and defending against the threatened capital - progressively more and more difficult. Level 3 is noteworthy; it adds an additional Build action to the Invader track (so in a given terrain they will Explore, then Build, then Ravage, then Build again, over the course of four turns). This and England's bonus Build actions in Stage 2 can result in lands that are highly built-up but not an immediate Ravage threat, which also a different dynamic from the core game; you'll want to explore different ways of responding.

 French Plantation Colony

 The French Plantation Colony is really a twofold Adversary: some of its effects are derived from historical France, while others are based off of the Caribbean plantation colonies founded by multiple European powers. Note that this is 1700s France - the policies and practices of later French colonization (such as homeland representation and strong public-health/infrastructure investment) are absent.

Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!

 As befits an expansion Adversary, there's a little more going on here. First is the expanding plantations: France's exploration is better than most, and if you fail to contain those extra Explorers, you can get two Towns (representing plantations) on a single Build. Too many plantations loses you the game. And this dynamic gets worse as you go. But part of reason they can spread so quickly is imported slave labor, and those slaves will try to free themselves from bondage by rising up in rebellions (represented by a recurring Event card), but the Spirits and Dahan aren't privy to their plans and can only guess at when exactly the uprisings might happen.

 The other major dynamic is that the sprawling, clear-cut, monoculture plantations damage the land somewhat more quickly than ordinary farming does - during Stage 2, when a specific terrain shows up, lands of of that type which are already developed (thematically, those which can quickly fulfill demand for the latest cash-crop) add extra blight independent of the normal Ravage.

 France shifts several dynamics around: an incoming City can often be preferable to a double-Town, for instance, and the common tactic of guiding as many Invaders as possible into a small area virtually guarantees that land will take a Blight during Stage 2. Explorer control is still valuable, but you need to be better at it because there are often more of them, and at later levels merely misdirecting them to adjacent lands becomes much less effective.

 The Kingdom of Sweden

 For the full background on Sweden, see this Update!

 Sweden is still in early design - mechanical work on it didn't begin until it became clear we'd reach that stretch goal, and Kickstarter campaigns do cut somewhat into development time - but some thematic areas where you might (might!) see mechanical representation include:

  • Gustavus Adolphus' "One king, one law, one people" policies, emphasizing assimilation and direct Crown control over proxy control by nobility or trading companies
  • Sweden's military technology (and perhaps prowess)
  • Mining expertise
  • Strong population influx (though not as much as England).


24 hours ago, it didn't look like I was going to be able to write this - but we hit $70K with more than a day left to go! I am immensely pleased to present to you Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves and Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds. These two spirits rely on the Beasts and Wilds tokens from the expansion, and if we hit $80K they'll be included as a freebie for all backers! Both are medium-complexity spirits, suitable for use as soon as you're ready to add in expansion materials after a couple plays.

Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves is a predator-spirit, half-seen stalker in the jungles, hunter of prey large and small. This most emphatically includes humans - though a pair of heroes long ago won the Dahan the status of "not entirely prey", and with it an uneasy semi-reprieve from its more active predations. Still, the Dahan know better than to stick around too long when it moves into an area to stay.

Where it lairs for any length of time, the jungle becomes a hunting-grounds, and not just for its own hunts - Sharp Fangs can bring the aggressive and predatory instincts of other animals to the fore. Creatures that ordinarily might be dangerous only when provoked become actively marauding threats, or even driven into a berserker frenzy if it suits Sharp Fangs' purposes. It's not that it lives for the hunt and the fight: it is the hunt and the fight, the way that Lightning is lightning and Earth is earth.

Here's its spirit panel:

Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!

Some things of note:

  • Growth: It gets two Growth choices rather than one, giving it great versatility. However, reclaiming cards costs it Energy to do, meaning it needs to keep an eye on its reserves when it's running low on Power Cards.
  •  Adding Presence: It's very limited in where it can place its Presence: only in Jungles and lands with Beasts! However, its Ally of the Beasts special rule can move Presence along with Beasts tokens, which gives it some mobility after placement.
  • Presence Tracks: It's not a high-Energy powerhouse, but it has very good Card Plays: it starts with 2, rises to 3 rapidly, and has an early Reclaim One spot. Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves is going to excel at a many-small-Powers style - fast and furious!
  • Innate Power - Ranging Hunt: Each level of an innate power that you get is performed in order. So if Sharp Fangs has the full complement of 3xAnimal and 2xPlant, it can Gather a Beasts token into a land, then do 1 Damage per Beasts token, then Push up to two of the Beasts tokens elsewhere, setting up for next turn. Ranging Hunt is phenomenally good at picking off stray Explorers, and with setup can take down Towns or sometimes even Cities; it also lets Sharp Fangs position Beasts tokens for Presence placement, to benefit from Beast-based token events, or to make use of Beast-centric Power Cards. However, it can't target Blighted lands.
  • Innate Power - Frenzied Assault: Not as easy to trigger as Ranging Hunt, Frenzied Assault incites Beasts to a full frontal assault on the Invaders. The Invaders kill off the Beasts, but are apt to take heavy casualties in so doing.
  • Special Rule - Call Forth Predators: Sharp Fangs starts with one foolproof way of getting Beasts into play - but it costs a Presence. Let's see if its Unique Powers offer any other ways:
Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!
  • Everything has +Animal. Two have +Plant and two have +Moon, with a splash of Fire and Sun. Triggering Ranging Hunt isn't going to be too hard, though early on Plant may be an obstacle. With only one Fire, Sharp Fangs will have to find more to hit the higher level of Frenzied Assault - ideally paired with Animal.
  • It likes being in Jungles. Two of its Unique Powers can only be used from Presence in Jungles.
  • It benefits from being up close + personal with the Invaders: two of its Unique Powers are range 0.
  • There's a moderate amount of Fear. This is good; it's excellent at picking off Explorers, which doesn't do any intrinsic Fear - but Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves is scary.
  • Nothing costs more than 1 Energy. This supports (but does not require) a Play-heavy, Energy-light strategy.

Looking at specific cards:

  • Prey on the Builders isn't just a way to prevent Build - it's also a way to move Beasts at fast speed, which could help set up a Ranging Hunt.
  • Teeth Gleam From Darkness gets more Beasts onto the board without having to lose Presence. Sweet! Or, if there are enough Beasts out already (is that ever true for Sharp Fangs?) it can be used to intimidate the Invaders yet further. Like Ranging Hunt, this can't target Blighted lands - Beasts don't like going there.
  • Too Near the Jungle offers more ability to take down Explorers. Unlike Ranging Hunt, it's Slow, so it'll be trickier using it to control Invader Builds.
  • Terrifying Chase includes Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves' sole interaction with the Dahan: running them off. All told, though, chasing the Invaders off is usually more useful, and with some Beasts tokens around, Sharp Fangs is exceptionally good at it. Note that unlike many Push powers, the words "you may" or "up to" do not appear: when you start in on the hunt, a whole bunch of people are going to run away.

Overall: Sharp Fangs is exceptionally good at keeping the Invaders from taking over new lands, through a combination of eating Explorers and its Power Card "Prey on the Builders". It's fast out of the gate, then continues to grow slowly in power, especially as more Beasts come onto the board (giving it more options). Some of the low-cost Major Powers which use Beasts are very appealing for it, so it may go looking for a Major Power or two, but is likely to focus more on Minor Powers due to its high level of activity (Card Plays). It does have trouble handling Blighted lands, which are immune to both Ranging Hunt and Teeth Gleam From Darkness, so may want to draft some Blight removal if its allies don't manage to do so first.

Let's move on...

Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds is a guardian-spirit, charged with maintaining the sanctity of the deepest wilds of Spirit Island. It serves spirits of deep root and ancient branch which foresaw the need for a more energetic guardian, being immensely slow in their age and great power. It takes its charge with unnerving seriousness, and the Dahan have learned that no matter how carefully they respect the land, raising their roof-poles too close to its domains will result in retribution: its charge is to prevent trespass, even if well-intentioned or scrupulously polite.

Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!

What do we see?

  • Growth: Like Sharp Fangs, Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds can mix-and-match with two different Growth choices. Keeper has two ways to add Presence, but one of them costs 3 Energy to make use of, and both are restricted: it grows most readily where there are Wilds or its own Presence, but in a pinch can expand anywhere there isn't Blight.
  • Presence Tracks: It has very good Energy, starting at 2 and rising all the way up to 9 - a higher top-out than even Vital Strength of the Earth, though it takes several more placements to get there. Its Plays are more or less average: no strong help for play-heavy strategies, but it can get up to 3-4 card plays with some work. (Though that same effort could also get it a lot more Energy.)
  • Special Rule - Forbidden Ground: The Dahan will evacuate anyplace where Keeper sets up a Sacred Site, and not return unless a Spirit explicitly gives them the OK to do so. This can be inconvenient, as it deprives Keeper of some forms of Dahan assistance, but also lets it get the Dahan out of the way of some of its Powers - which will be important, as we'll see in a moment.
  • Innate Power - Punish Those Who Trespass: Here we go: at base, this destroys a Town, but also a Dahan. With more wrath (Fire), Keeper brings extra damage commensurate to its core elements (Plant + Sun), wiping out Cities and more.
  • Innate Power - Spreading Wilds: We'd expect to see some easy way for Keeper to add Wilds, given that it relies on them to spread. Spreading Wilds can't affect lands with Blight, so we see that Keeper has a hard time spreading to blighted lands - as one might expect, for a guardian of untainted wild places.

How about its Unique Powers?

Design still in progress!
Design still in progress!

A few broad trends:

  • It's very strong in Sun and (especially) Plant. But it only has one Fire, so the higher level of Punish Those Who Trespass will require drafting more Fire, and has no Air, so the Air-based Range boost to Spreading Wilds isn't an option at first.
  • Everything costs 1 Energy or more. Fortunately, Keeper has the Energy income to support that.

Specific Powers:

  • Towering Wrath is a hammer that starts medium-sized and gets bigger the more Sacred Sites Keeper has in an area. It's also Keeper's only +Fire to start with, so Towering Wrath will pair with Punish Those Who Trespass - Keeper's going to have some big stompy turns when it gets mad. Towering Wrath wipes out Dahan, though, so needs to be used carefully to avoid friendly fire casualties.
  • Sacrosanct Wilderness is another way for Keeper to add Wilds - but perhaps more importantly, it lets Keeper do damage based on Wilds! Normally the hazards of Wilds tokens are only large enough to prevent a single Explore; this magic amplifies their peril to the point where they can wipe out Towns - or, with multiple Wilds, Cities - and still remain to prevent the next Explore into that land. Potent! Sacrosanct Wilderness also lets Keeper tell the Dahan to get out of the way at Fast speed, which can be good for hasty evacuations or reinforcement of nearby lands. Like most of Keeper's Wilds-based powers, it can't affect Blighted lands...
  • ...but Regrow From Roots offers Blight removal! Only in Jungle and Wetlands, the areas of densest vegetation, but still way better than nothing, particularly since Keeper depends on Blight-free lands for Wilds and expansion.
  • Finally, Boon of Growing Power lets a Spirit draw upon the power of the ancients that Keeper serves, gaining Energy and a Power Card. Keeper has fairly plentiful access to both of these things (as it already serves those ancients), so it will likely use this on other Spirits more often than itself.

Overall: Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds is very mobility-limited at first, as it has a hard time adding Wilds at further than Range 1. However, it's exceptionally good at defending its turf: Wilds prevents Exploring, and its damaging powers can hammer those Invaders that sneak past (or are Pushed in). Keeper's choices about where to plant itself very much shape the strategic flow of the game: will it stake out its home board, form a wall to isolate one part of the island, occupy the center, or split into two main enclaves for more versatility? Later on, it can spread more readily (as it becomes able to range-boost Spreading Wilds), and if given the time to reach the higher reaches of its Energy track can shower down multiple Major Powers per turn without missing a beat.

Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves and Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds offer distinctive experiences and are awesome to play; I very much hope we're able to include them!

Champion of the Dahan just got better
over 8 years ago – Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 09:03:36 PM

I've heard from several backers that, while they like the Champion of the Dahan tier, they feel that it could use a little something extra. After some talk and number crunching, we definitely agree!

As we mentioned in the comments, the playmat that comes in that tier is going to be a little bigger than the standard tiles in the base game. As a matter of fact, the canonical map is the size of six tiles, rather than four. So why not give you the pieces to actually play with six players on the canonical map! That's what we're going to be doing.

Not only will backers at that level be getting their signed game, the playmat, the poster, and all the unlocked stretch goals, they'll also be getting everything needed to play with up to six players on the canonical map!

Cheers, and thank you!

More videos! Spirit Overviews!
over 8 years ago – Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 10:51:22 AM

We're just a couple hours away from that wonderful 48 hour mark. To that end, I want to celebrate everyone who's been here from the beginning and welcome all the new backers! I can never say enough how grateful we are to have you on board.

You've already unlocked so many great stretch goals! Take a look at this! Double-sided map tiles, a third Adversary, and a mini-expansion that, as Eric pointed out to me, contains more goodies than a full expansion of some games.

Design on some elements not final
Design on some elements not final

As a special treat, we have a fun new set of videos from our friend Chris Burton, whom you may remember from from Update #10. This time, he's put together a play of some of the more advanced aspects of Spirit Island. You can go enjoy that playlist on our YouTube channel here!

There has also been a lot of talk in the comments about the Champion of the Dahan tier. We definitely would like to sweeten that one a little further, but more on that is actually going to be in another update coming out not long after this one. Something that big deserves its own space.

There are just a couple days left in the campaign, and not all of the Spirits got the full in-depth treatment from Eric. He did write up an overview of each of these Spirits, though.


We've had in-depth looks at half a dozen spirits:

 Here's an overview of the remaining spirits - not as deep a look, but you get four instead of one!

 Shadows Flicker Like Flame is 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. (Low complexity.)

 Thunderspeaker is a child of Lightning's Swift Strike, metamorphosed through a binding-oath to the Dahan that saved it from imprisonment. It wears human form, now, and is sometimes called upon by the Dahan to act as a leader against larger threats which must be confronted by many clans: partly because of the powers and knowledge it can bring to bear, and partly because following Thunderspeaker's lead helps circumvent the delicate question of who should be in charge of such a large coalition. Thunderspeaker primarily acts via the Dahan, organizing them to fight in ways they have not had to fight for many generations, but is capable of direct Power use - and must decide when choosing new Powers whether to double-down on its allegiance to the Dahan, or to complement that with more direct effects. (Medium complexity.)

 A Spread of Rampant Green is an ancient and enthusiastic spirit of growth and renewal that is extraordinarily difficult to keep down. It can play up to 3 Presence a turn under the right circumstances, and may return its destroyed Presence to play. It assaults the Invaders directly and bodily: clogging water supplies, tearing down buildings with creepers, and overgrowing the land so badly that it brings everything to a standstill: anywhere it has a Sacred Site, it can destroy one of its Presence to flatly prevent a Ravage or Build. It never turns into the kind of powerhouse some spirits do, but is an incredibly tenacious defender from turn one. (Medium complexity.)

 Bringer of Dreams & Nightmares is a spirit of nighttime mindscapes for humans, beasts, and those Spirits which dream. It has both kindly and fearsome aspects, but since the Invaders arrived has worn only the latter. Its powers are fundamentally over the mind and perception - it has extreme difficulty doing any direct, real harm; its Powers instead cause the Invaders to believe that they have been harmed. These mass hallucinations breed more fear than if they had been real. (High complexity.)

A correction, and TWO Spirits!
over 8 years ago – Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 10:43:48 AM

Hey, everyone! We're closing in on that exciting 48 hour mark, and there's still plenty of room for new people. Let's really talk it up and make sure people know what they're going to get!

First of all, I have a bit of a correction to make. In the image I showed you and on the main page about the France backer count stretch goal, it said that France would be included in every copy of the core game. This is actually untrue. France uses tokens found in the mini expansion, so it will actually be an expansion Adversary. It's not a big deal to you fine backers, as you'll be getting all of that good stuff anyway. But it could make a difference for people deciding whether or not to back.

Secondly, I have a couple write-ups from Eric about Spirits! I know how much some of you enjoy them. Today, you get to take a look at the promos. One of them, The Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island, you unlocked a long time ago. The other, Heart of the Wildfire, is your $70,000 stretch goal, so that you know what you're shooting for!


The Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island

Let's shift our sight so we see only spirits. There are throngs of them visible across the surface of the island: spirits of tree and glade, of rushing river and entangling vines, of beast and butterfly and mists floating eerily over the marshes.

  Turning our vision downward, we see nearly as many within the land itself: spirits of hard unyielding stone and of drifted sand dunes, of sinkhole and high peak. Vital Strength of the Earth is here.

As we look deeper, fewer spirits greet our eyes - some of volcano, some of dark and ancient caves, a handful of others. But like the earth itself, most of those we see are large, powerful, and slow.

Deeper and larger than all of those lies the Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island. It could be argued that it is the Island, or at least its roots. Like all spirits of such size and power, it is slow beyond human reckoning. Unlike many of them, it is also asleep.

Or, now, mostly asleep. The distant sting of the Invaders' blight has begun to rouse portions of its consciousness towards waking, those fragments aware of the land's surface far above. Even that small aspect of the Serpent is slow to act, slow to awaken... but contains the potential for power greater than most spirits could ever muster.

The Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island is a high-complexity spirit. If Ocean's big limitation is "coastal" and Wildfire's is "blight", Serpent's is "waking up": it's a very slow spirit, limited in its development, but with the prospect of great power if it wakes up fully.

Design still in progress on this one
Design still in progress on this one

What jumps out at us?

  • That Presence Track! It spends most of its distance with low Energy gain and poor Card Plays, then rockets up at the end - particularly Energy, which far surpasses what any other Spirit can gain. And there's a crux-point in the middle where you must have advanced both tracks a certain distance to pass. But it has elements all over the place: Fire, Water, Moon, Earth, and two "Any"! The Serpent will be really good at triggering thresholds on Major Powers within its bailiwick... though it'll want to get its Card Plays up to 4+ to really shine with them.
  • Special Rule - Deep Slumber: The Serpent is limited in how much Presence it can have on the Island at once: just 5, to start with. There are two ways to get around this. One way is to let its Presence be destroyed by Blight, but this inflicts harm (losing Presence from the board) even as it stings it towards wakefulness (can play more Presence from its mat). The other is to subsume the Presence of more wakeful and speedy spirits using its "Absorb Essence" unique power card - we'll look at that later.
  • Innate Power - The Serpent Wakes in Power: A trio of development powers (Energy gain, Presence gain, Power Card gain) triggered with a core of plant and water. Most interesting is that spirits which have had some of their Presence absorbed by the Serpent will share in its benefits!
  • Innate Power - The Serpent Rouses in Anger: A trio of offensive powers (damage and fear) triggered with moon, fire, and earth. The first two are useful but unexceptional, but that final level has the potential for widespread, massive damage - but it's really hard to trigger.
  • Growth is mostly straightforward. Unsurprisingly given its slumber, there's only one "add Presence" option. The flat-out "+4 Energy" choice could enable early Major Power plays. And its Reclaim includes a Move Presence option - representing the Serpent shifting slowly in the deeps; it is not as tied to place as many spirits are. (Or rather, its place is "the Island".)

Its Unique Powers show us another aspect of the Serpent:

Design still in progress on these
Design still in progress on these

Some general trends:

  • Most of them affect other Spirits. The Serpent starts off unable to affect the Invaders or Dahan, and only able to affect the land in a very low-power but broad-area way. But it can empower other spirits - though not itself - in several ways.
  • They're not very expensive. Absorb Essence costs 2, but gives back 3. Given its low Card Plays, the Serpent is likely to slowly accumulate Energy over the course of the early game (or perhaps it might decide to take an early Major Power).
  • They grant the same Elements as its Presence track: 3 Earth, 3 Water, 3 Fire, 2 Moon. Triggering the higher levels of The Serpent Wakes in Power (innate #1) is going to require taking Power Cards which grant Plant.

The specific powers:

  • Gift of the Primordial Deeps and Gift of Flowing Power both give other Spirits a boost, as well as the chance to either play another Power Card or gain Elements.
  • Absorb Essence is clearly a card to get teammates' buy-in before using: it removes another Spirit's Presence from the island! They do gain benefits: an Energy and an Element right away, from their contact with such an encompassing spirit, plus possible longer-term rewards from The Serpent Wakes in Power (innate #1). You'll probably have to use it at some point in order to get a reasonable number of Presence onto the board, but the decision of when and how often to use it is key.
  • Elemental Aegis defends many lands at once - weakly in early-game, more strongly as more Presence is absorbed.

Overall: Fighting alongside the Serpent requires an awareness of its limitations (slow start, occasionally needs to chow down on someone's Presence) and of the benefits it brings to its allies (energy, power cards, additional plays, and more). It's far from powerless in early-game - the element and card-play boosts it gives to allies can push them over into higher-level Innates much earlier than would normally be possible; it can damage buildings with its Serpent Rouses in Anger innate; and it can grab an early Major Power if it so chooses - but it can only manage one or perhaps two things a turn, and is nowhere near as good at defense as, eg, Vital Strength of the Earth. Its allies should expect to pick up some of the slack in early-game, but will reap the rewards in later-game... if the island can survive that long.


Heart of the Wildfire

Burning, blazing, rising, consuming - Heart of the Wildfire is quite fond of humans, in a general sense: they keep hearths and use fire as a tool all the time, and those sparks give birth to so many lovely conflagrations! It is the nature of Spirits to be true to what they are, so even though Wildfire knows on some level that too much fire is bad for the land, it just doesn't think about that aspect of things very much. It is also, after all, a spirit of renewal after the blaze, so it implicitly assumes that everything will regrow eventually. (Its strong ties to A Spread of Rampant Green probably contribute to this point of view.)

  It fights the Invaders partly due to the exhortations of other Spirits, but more for the sake of the Dahan, as it's become clear that the Invaders have no compunctions about putting them to the sword. (The Dahan and it have a long and storied history together, beginning with the very first Dahan settlements.) It is also, it should be said, somewhat gleeful over the chance to really cut loose without the other Spirits getting all riled up and putting out its firestorms.

Design still in progress for this one
Design still in progress for this one

Some items of note:

  • Growth: That third Growth choice grants more Energy the more Fire is uncovered on Wildfire's Presence track, granting ever-greater rewards as the game goes on. Its Energy track is relatively modest, but it'll be able to boost that substantially with Growth.
  • Special Rules - Blazing Presence: Every time Wildfire adds Presence, it damages Invaders - and the land. Once it uncovers 2 Fire, it'll be Blighting the land with every Presence it puts onto the board. (Fortunately, Destructive Nature keeps that Blight from destroying the Presence.) In smaller games, it'll have to be very careful about adding Presence too quickly, lest it blow through the Blight pool!
  • Innate Power - Firestorm: It doesn't just do damage when it adds Presence - with a small primer of Plant, Heart of the Wildfire can do Fire-based damage at one of its Presence. (Or, with more Fire and some Air, in multiple lands where it has Presence.) But those lands have to be Blighted - its fires must still be burning.
  • Innate Power - The Burned Land Regrows: Fortunately, it has a way to remove Blight. It's not easy, though - Heart of the Wildfire's regrowth aspect is definitely secondary to its destructive aspect - and when it heals a land, it stops being able to use Firestorm there!

  What about its Unique Powers?

Design still in progress for these
Design still in progress for these
  • Unsurprisingly, all of them have Fire. Most have Plant, and a couple have Air. Triggering its Innate Powers shouldn't be too hard, once it can play enough cards.
  • Two of them are pretty expensive, but the other two are cheap. Heart of the Wildfire can probably make do with low Energy income, but will benefit from more.

The specific effects:

  • Flash-fires: fear and 1 damage, possibly Fast. This looks good for picking off Explorers.
  • Asphyxiating Smoke: Fear and destruction at good range - but it requires a Sacred Site, which may be tricky to set up without causing Blight cascades. (It does start with one, though.)
  • Threatening Flames: Frightens the Invaders, driving them away from its flames - or terrifying them even more if they're trapped! This Power is very powerful for the cost, but requires the same very specific setup as the Firestorm innate: a Blighted land where Heart of the Wildfire has Presence.
  • Flame's Fury: Boosts the damage of every damaging Power a Spirit uses - card or innate. This seems best as a boon for fast-and-furious lots-of-Powers spirits over slower, big-hammer allies.

Overall: Heart of the Wildfire is a high-complexity spirit. It has excellent offensive power, but its fires bring Blight to the land - and require some of that Blight to stay out in order for several of its offensive powers to work. In smaller games, it will have to be careful to avoid tainting the land (or outright losing), as the Blight it brings can be a substantial fraction of the available pool. In larger games, it'll have more leeway on Blight, but will face the problem of dilution: either the lands it sets up as deathtraps will be much sparser, or it'll concentrated be over in one corner and won't be able to help much in other portions of the board.

$60,000 Stretch Goal Reached!
over 8 years ago – Tue, Oct 13, 2015 at 12:36:50 PM

I can never talk enough about how amazing everyone here is. You've gotten us to the $60,000 stretch goal! Every backer will now be getting the Events mini-expansion! You must really be ready for some advanced play.

We still have some other good stretch goals coming up, too, including a new one! First of all, at $70,000 we'll be adding a new Spirit into the mix: Heart of the Wildfire. Also, we've decided that we wanted to have a separate stretch goal for backer count. So, when we reach 1000 backers, we'll be adding a new Adversary to the game. Are you prepared to drive back France?

 Thanks to everyone for showing up to watch the live stream that Eric did on Saturday. If you didn't manage to watch it then, never fear! Eric and Chris, from Asmadi Games, were kind enough to record that for you, and it's available now on our YouTube channel.

Finally, I wanted to share with you Eric's write up about another one of the Spirits from the core game. Get ready to meet River Surges in Sunlight!


River Surges in Sunlight is one of the greater river-spirits of the island, at least among those moderate enough in their locus of power to still interact readily with humans. (Joining of Three Rivers, for instance, is much larger and more powerful, but sluggish even by spirit standards, and very difficult to contact in any but a few very particular, well-worn ways.) River Surges has a well-established symbiotic relationship with the Dahan, who gain fertile ground from its controlled flooding and gifts of health from its magic; in turn, they tend to the river's needs during times of drought and darkness.

 Like the river it embodies, it is a spirit of many moods: exuberant or subdued, curious or focused, playful in its power or grim under gray skies. For the Invaders, it brings its more destructive aspects: the force of rushing water, the destructive power of a flash flood, the inexorable rise of waters in a flooded land.

Art and design not final
Art and design not final

 What do we see?

  •  Growth: It can play two Presence/turn, allowing for fast expansion, though flowing through one land at a time. Its single-Presence option grants a Power Card - unlike Lightning's, which grants extra Energy. River's nature is a bit more fluid than Lightning's; it changes more easily.
  •  Presence Tracks: It has average-ish Energy and Card Plays (a bit worse than average, but being able to play 2 Presence in one turn more than makes up for that). However, there's a symbol on the Card Plays track we haven't seem before: Reclaim One. Once this symbol is uncovered, River can reclaim one Power Card every Spirit Phase, allowing it to go longer without taking Reclaim All during Growth. This bonus is especially useful when trying to take a "high Plays, low Energy" many-small-Powers approach; that River gets it partway along its Plays tracks indicates that it's probably well-suited to that strategy.
  •  Special Rules: River's Home - Any Presence in Wetland is considered a Sacred Site, even if there's only one of it. Definitely useful, though whether it's critical depends on how much River needs Sacred Sites.
  •  Innate Power: Massive Flooding - At the base level, this Pushes Invaders from a land. At the highest level, it inflicts widespread damage on all Invaders in the land. The middle level splits the difference. The low level looks pretty easy to trigger (though we'll have to check the elements on River's cards); the top level looks much harder, requiring at least 4 Power Cards. This needs a Sacred Site to use, so will be easiest near Wetlands.

 "Push" means "move from the target land to adjacent lands" - you can Push all affected Invaders to the same place, or scatter them among multiple lands. For River's Powers, Pushing represents forced relocation (for Towns) / diversion (for Explorers) due to flooding, but other Powers might Push Invaders to represent "frightening them away", "giving them wanderlust", "making a land uninhabitable/unpalatable", or other such effects. Moving Invaders around with Push and Gather can be useful in several different ways: to get them out of lands where they're about to Build or Ravage, to move them into lands where your Powers are more effective, or to concentrate them together so a particularly potent Power can wipe them all out in one blow.

 Massive Flooding isn't River's only way of Pushing Invaders:

Art and design not final
Art and design not final
  •  Wash Away also Pushes Explorers and Towns. In concert with Massive Flooding, River can do a lot of movement!
  •  Flash Floods isn't just damage, it's Fast damage - useful for picking off Explorers before they can Build. On the coasts, it can take out Towns, or almost destroy a City.
  •  Boon of Vigor can be used on itself if necessary, but is much better used cooperatively - particularly if you can coordinate the timing so that you use it on a turn they're playing lots of Power Cards.
  •  River's Bounty lets River call to the Dahan by providing blessings of good harvest and health. Improvements to net population growth and additional time for things like fighting are represented by adding another Dahan piece to the board. River Surges in Sunlight also benefits, as the Dahan tend to its banks and make offerings of dance and song.

 Looking across the Power Cards, a few things stand out:

  •  None of them require Sacred Sites. So the free Sacred Sites from River's Home will be useful only for the Massive Flooding innate and for any gained Power Cards requiring Sacred Sites.
  •  All of them provide Water, and all but one of them provide Sun. So it'll be possible to trigger Massive Flooding just about every turn. Maybe those free Sacred Sites will be important after all!
  •  Overall, they're pretty cheap. Their total Energy cost is 3, but River's Bounty will usually give 1 back, and Boon of Vigor can also do so in a pinch.

 Overall: River Surges in Sunlight works very well with a Plays-heavy, lots-of-small-Powers strategy: it has good ability to gain Power Cards, the Reclaim One bonus spot, cheap Unique Power cards, and powerful higher-level Innate Power effects. However, it can also take a different tack, using its double-Presence placement to blast up the Energy track and grab Major Powers, planning on never triggering anything but the lowest level of its innate until late-game. Which is better will depend on what other Spirits are fighting alongside it, what Adversary is being faced, and initial Power picks.