Spirit Island is a game where you play as one of many different ancient primal spirits who watch over an island somewhere in the world. Your island is inhabited by natives, called Dahan, who can aid you. However, it’s come under attack….or at least is trying to be settled by those pesky settlers! Will you have what it takes to repel the invaders and keep your island safe?
- Players: 1-4
- Play Time: 90-180 minutes
- Publisher: Greater Than Games
- Designer: R. Eric Reuss
Ousting those Pesky Invaders – Game Play
The game of Spirit Island is split over a number of rounds. During rounds you will play cards that represent your spirits powers, extend your presence on the board, remove invaders from the board, and create fear in the survivors. This game is a cooperative game, meaning that the players will all work together to try to defeat the game. The goal of the game changes as the fear level increases, making it less difficult to win the game as the game progresses. The first three levels all have to do with the removal of certain types of invader tokens, while the final level is the completion of all of the cards in the fear deck.
Meanwhile, there are a number of ways to lose the game. The first way to lose, and possibly the most common, is to run out of blight tokens. Blight tokens are placed on the board by the invaders as they damage various land tokens on the board. There are typically 4 blight tokens per player and a blight effect card that will flip from healthy to unhealthy side (adding more blight tokens when flipped to unhealthy). Another way to lose is if a spirit is destroyed. Each spirit has a number of presence tokens that indicate where they can do things on the island but also represent the spirits life force. If they are all lost then the spirit is destroyed and the players lose. The final way to lose is that if time runs out. There is a deck of invader cards and if that deck runs out, then the game is over. That deck is effectively a way to track the total number of rounds played.
I think the thing that draws people away from this game is the game art. I wasn’t a fan of it initially myself. However, as I have played the game I have grown to really appreciate the art style. Still, it’s not for everyone.
As far as the components, the cards are all made out of good card stock. You do handle the cards quite a bit so I do recommend you sleeve them. That said, I have at least a dozen plays of my copy of the game and still haven’t sleeved the game. All of the cards are still in great shape which just goes for the quality of the components.
The player boards and game board are all made of good thick cardboard material. The player disks are just colored wooden disks and wish they would have given you something a bit more exciting here. The markers that you have to remind you if you are doing something with a fast power on the board are a bit generic and I wish they would have at least given you a marker for defend and a couple of the other common spirit effects.
The invader tokens are plastic figures. The buildings are cleverly made to have their bottoms represent the amount of health remaining depending on how they are laying on the table. The explorer figures (the ones representing the humans) are a bit bendy, but I actually like that they are since they are handled as often as you do.
The Dahan are represented by wood huts. I think this is a great choice for the theme as they are part of your island’s natural order. Interesting that they choose plastic for all of the invader tokens and stuck with wood for the Dahan. It’s an interesting choice, though if it was intentional I don’t know.
What I think of the game
This is a game I really enjoy playing. There’s a lot more to the game then what I am going to lay out here. I would recommend you watch Greater Than Games How to play videos for a full run down of the game. This game scales well from solo play all the way through 4 players, though expect to add about a third or so more play time for each player added. There’s quite a bit of the game that is played at near simultaneous, but coordinating player actions and resolving powers can take some coordination between the players.
The game overall is complex, but not impossible to win. After our first game, I haven’t lost to the invaders. We continue to slowly add in more difficulty and still haven’t explored all of the content that we can add in, both to increase difficulty and to add to the replay-ability. The game continues, even after 10-15 plays of the game, to deliver a fun experience and I enjoy bringing it back to the table. This is one I would recommend for anyone’s collection, particularly if you like cooperative games.