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Spirit Island» Forums » General

Subject: Questions? rss

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R. Eric Reuss
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Hi! This is the designer. Just wanted to say that if any BGG users have questions about Spirit Island, I'm happy to answer them; I check the site pretty regularly.

(For those going to PAX next week, I believe GtG will be demoing it there - you can stop by their booth to have a look!)
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Craig McRoberts
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I got to play at GenCon this past week, and I really enjoyed it!

Here's my question. So, Fealty is an abstract, this is super thematic. Did you make it to prove a point?
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Wesley Jones
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Is this a pure co-op? (Everyone wins together or loses together)

Where/when can you buy it?
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R. Eric Reuss
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imprimis5 wrote:
I got to play at GenCon this past week, and I really enjoyed it!

Here's my question. So, Fealty is an abstract, this is super thematic. Did you make it to prove a point?

*laugh* A little bit, perhaps. I definitely wanted my next published title to be a different sort of game from Fealty, so all of the 3-4 designs I moved on to afterwards were substantially different from it in one way or other. Spirit Island - the most diametrically opposed of the lot! - quickly acquired some vocal advocates among its playtesters, so got more dev cycles from me, and then found a publisher first.

Glad you enjoyed it!
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R. Eric Reuss
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luvmywife wrote:
Is this a pure co-op? (Everyone wins together or loses together)

Where/when can you buy it?

Yep, pure co-op! Shared victory conditions, and "a player is eliminated" is one of the loss conditions.

There's no firm date set for the Kickstarter, but it'll most likely be later this year. How long after that it's available via retail, I don't know, but Greater Than Games just did a bang-up job getting Sentinel Tactics printed in a timely fashion post-KS, so I'm confident that it'll be well handled.
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Itai Perez
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What kind of changes do the themed invaders add to the game. How do the french differ from the british in game's terms ? And how thematic are they ? Are these based on these countries colonial histories ?
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R. Eric Reuss
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Itai wrote:
What kind of changes do the themed invaders add to the game. How do the french differ from the british in game's terms ? And how thematic are they ? Are these based on these countries colonial histories ?

Caveat: the Adversaries (themed Invaders) are still in flux, so details I give here may well change.

Currently, the Adversaries primarily alter play by modifying the Invader Actions (Ravage, Build, Explore) and varying setup (eg: add starting pieces, set up the Invader deck differently, add a special Event card near the top of the deck.) I'll give some examples later in this reply. Some of the Adversaries also have an additional loss condition for the players, which can force new strategies and adaptations.

An Adversary has 3-5 levels of difficulty, each changing the game in one way. They're cumulative: the lvl 3 France effect is layered atop the Lvl 2 and Lvl 1 ones. So when you're playing at low difficulty levels (as a newer player), the rules differences between Adversaries won't be too strong, but once you're a more experienced player (and presumably have the core rules well internalized), the differences become more substantial.

Where possible, I've tried to base Adversary effects on the combination of (colonial power) and (type/period of colony), using historical differences as a guide. By necessity, there's a fair bit of interpretation involved - for example, the British vs. French approaches to colonization resulted in an order of magnitude difference in their populations in the Americas, but within the board game a 10:1 difference in # of colonizing pieces is totally unworkable. And sometimes, I do need to make use of the fact that this is an alterate world, either to imagine a colonial power that never was (hopefully a plausible one), or to give an actual colonizer an ability that's not necessarily historical. (Though I'd generally rather bend than confabulate - eg, the French put a lot of effort into hospitals and public health during their 19th century colonization; rather than making something up out of wholecloth, I might simply shift that historical fact to an earlier era in France's history.) I'm in an ongoing discussion with publisher and playtesters as to whether the Adversaries should be titled after real-world countries at all, or if they should be given names and flags that are perhaps evocative / inspired by historical nations, but which make it clear that these aren't necessarily the exact countries we know from our textbooks. I see arguments both ways.

For examples of game effects, here are summaries of the first 3 levels of a Remote British Colony vs. a French Plantation Colony. (Currently, the latter is defined more by "Plantation Colony" than "French"; this may or may not shift. Adversaries aren't remotely finalized yet.)

Remote British Colony
* L1: Criminals and Malcontents. Start the game with an extra Settlement and City (per board).
* L2: Indentured Servants Earn Land. Invaders will build settlements in unexplored lands, if those lands are close to major population centers.
* L3: High Immigration. The Invaders add an extra Build action to their action row.

Commentary: Level 1 is pretty simple. Level 2 changes the game quite substantially; picking off Explorers is no longer sufficient to prevent Invader expansion. Level 3 builds on that by making Builds more frequent, overwhelming the spirits with sheer population.

French Plantation Colony
* L1: Clear-cut plantations. When the Invaders build in jungle, it blights the land there.
* L2: Slave labor. When the Invaders would normally build a Settlement (plantation), they instead build two. However: the Slave Rebellion event card is added to the Event deck.
* L3: Currently in severe flux; see below. I might pull in some of the "French explorers have better-than-average relations with the locals" history from North America, or look at some sort of fortifications inspired by Fort Saint Louis and Ile du Diable?

Commentary: Level 1 shifts the game's focus immediately; all terrains are no longer equally important, and maintaining readiness to prevent invaders building in the jungle may be worth letting them expand elsewhere. Level 2 ups the ante, making it hurt more when you let those non-jungle lands slide. Ideally, I'd like a level 3 effect which makes it harder to prevent builds both in and outside of jungle, keeping the tension that the first two rules-changes set up, but if thematically necessary it can be something else.

My goal is to make Adversaries which both ring true to history and provide interestingly different sorts of opponents to play against. It's something of a balancing act.

(Whew, that got long.)
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David Russell
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Could you elaborate on the solo play element. i realise the game may work best in co-operative but do you play one spirit as a solo player or do you need to combine and play at least two spirits yourself to have any chance of beating the game.

I could be very interested in a game where you have 8 different spirits and therefore ways of trying to defeat the game solo as this gives a lot of replay value.
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Craig McRoberts
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crusaderlord wrote:
Could you elaborate on the solo play element. i realise the game may work best in co-operative but do you play one spirit as a solo player or do you need to combine and play at least two spirits yourself to have any chance of beating the game.

I could be very interested in a game where you have 8 different spirits and therefore ways of trying to defeat the game solo as this gives a lot of replay value.


Solo mode really is best played with one spirit. I don't recommend playing more than one in solo mode, actually.
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R. Eric Reuss
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crusaderlord wrote:
I could be very interested in a game where you have 8 different spirits and therefore ways of trying to defeat the game solo as this gives a lot of replay value.

Once you've played the game a fair bit, you certainly can solo two spirits, but I really wouldn't recommend it to start out with! (See the "Alpha player" section in this blog post for some more detail on why I say this.)

But there's a huge amount of replay value while playing single-Spirit:
* Each spirit is definitely worth more than one play - you add on different powers every game, and can steer towards different broad strategies depending on how you play your Presence. when testing, I find it takes 4-5 plays with one spirit to really settle into its groove.
* There are two Adversaries to boost difficulty - which you'll want long before you've played each Spirit more than once - and they make the Invaders act quite differently from each other.
* The rulebook will come with four Scenarios, which change up how the game plays for the Spirits, adding/changing rules, or providing different victory conditions.

There's a playtester who just did several solo games in a row with one spirit vs. high-level England, slowly discovering he needed to adapt his strategies in particular ways. He got pasted the first game, lost the second, and squeaked out a win in the third.
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Dylan Thurston
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darker wrote:
There's a playtester who just did several solo games in a row with one spirit vs. high-level England, slowly discovering he needed to adapt his strategies in particular ways. He got pasted the first game, lost the second, and squeaked out a win in the third.
To be fair, one of the "strategies" on my third game was to lower the difficulty.

But you're totally right about the need to adapt your strategies! I had previously won several games against high-level Brandenburg-Prussia, and the strategies you need are quite different.
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I really like GtG, I love co-ops and this appears to be a very interesting concept that people seem to have enjoyed when played. My only real question was talked about in another forum topic, but I will ask it here as well. Are there any plans to change the art on the board tiles and invader deck? I understand not wanting anything distracting, but I think this may be a detracting point of the game like Deus which is a great game, but visually unattractive and I do have a hard time getting others into the game. Background perhaps like Terra Mystica or even just fitting in with the style of art in the game would make a huge visual pop to the game. Just my 2C.
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Dylan Thurston
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@chiefofcows, I don't know the answer to your question, but if you check out Update #2 on the Kickstarter you'll see an (early) prototype of what the canonical map might look like. (That's the stretch goal at $50,000.) It looks likely that side of the tiles, at least, will be pretty nice-looking.
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