Since we heard from so many fellow board gamers that this is THE game of cooperation, we knew we had to buy it and try it out. All I can say is, they were right. Putting together Ikea furniture is child’s play compared to this game.
How to Play.
I’m going to be honest here, learning this game is an entire new level, and the rulebook is a little mixed up. I’ll try to explain Spirit Island as best and simple as I can, but the best advice I can give you is to just start playing with the rulebook next to you. As you go through each phase, things will get more clear.
First, you choose a spirit to play with per player. Not one spirit is the same, and some spirits may work better together then others. Choose carefully and read the player boards of each spirit well.
You play each round in three phases. Spirit phase, invader phase and time passes.
In the Spirit phase, you can choose one action on the top of your player board, like adding your presence on the board and claim a power card for example, you gain the amount of energy equal to the highest uncovered number on you board, and you can play cards equal to the amount it says on you player board.
Now this is where the thinking starts since you can play fast and slow cards. Fast cards work in the invaders round already, and the slow cards work after the invaders. You will know up front what the invaders are planning, where they will explore, build and ravage. You will need to plan carefully when to play what card.
If you have earned any fear cards by destroying towns and cities, you can resolve them now. Fear cards offer one time bonuses to make things easier for one round.
Then comes the invader phase. They will ravage, build and explore in that order. On the invader board you can see what the invaders are planning, they may explore in all the forest lands in the next round for example. Then you will have to place a soldier in each forest with a town or city, or a forest next to a town or city.
They will build in each land shown on the revealed card that already has an invader. If the land has more towns then cities, you add a new city.
When the invaders ravage, it will damage the Dahan or the land. If the Dahan survive, they will fight back.
Now comes the slow card phase. All slow cards you decided to play will come into action now. This can include pushing invaders back for example which will give you more control of the land.
Now the time passes. Here you discard all the powers cards played in this round and you wrap up what is left, starting from the beginning again in the new round.
Playtrough of the game.
The first time we played this game, we didn’t have fun at all. We didn’t get the rules and we underestimated how difficult this game would be. So we got completely overrun by the invaders. But the second time we came more prepared and concurred the invaders, but just barely. We had so much more fun the second time, we really thought things through and beat the game without any scenario’s. And this was just the basic difficulty and setup of the game. The awesome thing about this game is you can set it up the way you want it. Do you want a challenge? Pick a difficult scenario and test your limits with different spirits. Do you want to destroy the invaders with not to much trouble? Even for that this game has scenario’s.
The replayability in this game is amazing. Even if you’ve played this game ten times or more, you will have a different playthrough, different powers, different strategies etc.
What is also really well thought of in this game is the solo mode. So if working together really isn’t your thing, this is the game you will want. For solo mode it works the same way as with more players, so you can make it as difficult as you want and really challenge yourself.
A thing we also liked to do was play with more spirits per player. With three or four spirits for a two player game for example. That way, we can try different combinations of spirits, strategies and power to overcome the invaders.
One page is way to short to explain how much you can do in Spirit Island. We like this game a lot and have still many strategy’s and combinations to go. If you like to play cooperation games, or if you like to play solo, and you like a challenge. This game is definitely something to add to your collection.