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Subject: Defending the Spirits' true home rss

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Dylan Thurston
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Thursday night we played our first game on the canonical playmat of Spirit Island, with 6 players. Some background: most of the players were students in an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program here at Indiana University. I introduced them to the game a couple weeks ago, soon after I received my Kickstarter copy, and lent them one of my copies. They have apparently been playing pretty much every night since then. This was the last time we would have a chance to play the game (since the program was ending), and they were eager to try out the Branch & Claw expansion content, which they had looked at, but not played, as well as the playmat.

One of the players was another professor leading the program, who had not played before at all. This was obviously not the ideal way to start off, but I gave him Vital Strength of Earth in the largely successful hope he would only need to worry about his corner of the board.

The Spirits stepping up to defense of the Island were Ocean's Hungry Grasp (blue), Vital Strength of Earth (purple), Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares (yellow), Lightning's Swift Strike (orange), Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds (green), and Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves (red). The students chose Brandenburg-Prussia Level 2 as the Adversary.

It was quite an interesting experience playing on such a large island. It was impossible to keep track of what was going on everywhere, and at least I didn't try, trusting the other players to keep track of their own areas until they asked for help. Some problem areas developed, particularly in the northwest, the starting board of Ocean's Hungry Grasp and right next to Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares, especially since the initial invader cards went sands-jungle-mountains-mountains+jungle. (That northwest corner is quite mountainous.)



As Lightning's Swift Strike, I early on crossed the central mountain range to the west to help out Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares on its board. But it wasn't until much later in the game that I was able to branch out to the north to help out with the inland lands in the far northwest.

Ocean's Hungry Grasp ravaged the coasts, as usual, spreading in relatively short order on to all 6 boards and drowning the Prussians that incautiously built Cities by the coast. There were some nice combos with Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares, who could scare the Invaders with intrusive nightmares so that they decamped their Towns onto the shifting Ocean.

Vital Strength of Earth was doing its usual job of providing defense, both passive and active. This backfired on one turn when the Invaders did +1 Damage on the Ravage; this led to Blight being added in 2 or 3 of Earth's Sacred Sites. But it recovered.

Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds did an amazing job of punishing the Invaders who trespassed on its corner of the board. That corner ended up with no buildings, thus avoiding the Stage II Escalation effects. It was also invaluable in keeping the Blight under control; we came close to flipping the card (ending with just 4 Blight left on the card), but remained Healthy.

Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves, as befits its nature, was ranging over much of the island, making good use of the Ranging Hunt power and seeding the land with Beasts. It ended up spread out over a wide range of the south-west part of the island.

When we were approaching Terror Level 3, we shifted to focusing on destroying Cities. We got close to winning after the ravage in the Jungles (turn 7), but unfortunately the Prussians built a few Mountain Cities.



Of the last few Cities, here's how some were destroyed:
* Vital Strength of Earth cast a city in NE1 down into the briny deep...
* ... and (made fast by a boon of lightning) had the Dahan execute a ritual of destruction in NE5 ...
* ... and wrapped up other Dahan in wings of sunlight and transported them to E6, where the Dahan raided the Invaders.
* Meanwhile, Lightning's Swift Strike expanded to reach out and bring down thundering destruction on a city in NW5.
* Ocean's Hungry Grasp reached out and drowned a city the invaders had incautiously built in E3.
* Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves devolved its presence into beasts, and a ranging hunt brought down the city in SE6.

Victory in the Fear phase in turn 8!



------------------------------------------------------------

The dynamics of the game were interesting: I felt the area control aspect of the game much more than I did on a smaller board. I could really only affect certain areas, and if I wanted to get out further I really had to reach for it. It was also absolutely impossible to keep track of what everyone else was doing. I was managing the Fear counters, and it was all I could do to keep up with that. There was still lots of teamwork and coordination either in smaller groups (Can we coordinate to kill this City?) or more globally (Who needs a Lightning's Boon this turn? How are we killing all of these remaining Cities?)

We were quite close to getting a Fear victory. There's a good chance we could have made it that way if we had focused on that rather than on City destruction.

I will be doing these larger games again when I get a chance! This was not ideal for a first game, but our new player seemed to manage, with so many people around to help.

The play time was around 3 hours after deciding on the game, including the rules explanations.
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Greg Cooksey
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Is it still possible to get ahold of the playmat and 5-6 player components?
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Dylan Thurston
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ldd23 wrote:
Is it still possible to get ahold of the playmat and 5-6 player components?
I'm not actually sure. I hope they'll have extra copies at Gen Con, but they're not currently selling it on their web store. (Getting it into distribution is probably unlikely.)

If all you want is to play with 5-6 players, see this FAQ entry:
Can you play 5-6 players with two copies of the game?
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Kolby Reddish
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It looks so amazing! Really enjoy your post. I love the thematic side of the map.
 
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Chaosmancer mc
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I honestly can't believe you guys pulled that off. My group decided to try and end a 4 person night by playing lv 2 england on the thematic boards, so only 4 boards.

By turn 2 I think it was, we were all so overwhelmed by the sheer number of pieces on the board that we scrapped the game and restarted on the normal board sides, because we just couldn't keep track of anything.


Also, out of curiosity, I still can't tell some of the sands and wetlands apart on the thematic side. Could I get a list of them from you that I could print and put in my box? We thought the texture of the lands was a good way to tell, but two of our members got into a really heated argument over one of the corner lands and I'd like to have an "official" list to head this off in future games.
 
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Dylan Thurston
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Chaosmancer wrote:
I honestly can't believe you guys pulled that off. My group decided to try and end a 4 person night by playing lv 2 england on the thematic boards, so only 4 boards.

By turn 2 I think it was, we were all so overwhelmed by the sheer number of pieces on the board that we scrapped the game and restarted on the normal board sides, because we just couldn't keep track of anything.
Doing it at the end of the evening may have been the key mistake.

Quote:
Also, out of curiosity, I still can't tell some of the sands and wetlands apart on the thematic side. Could I get a list of them from you that I could print and put in my box? We thought the texture of the lands was a good way to tell, but two of our members got into a really heated argument over one of the corner lands and I'd like to have an "official" list to head this off in future games.
I did that on another thread. Can I ask which land was the confusing one?
 
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