Powerful spirits have existed on this isolated Island for a long time. They are both part of the natural world and - at the same time - something beyond nature. Native Islanders, known as the dahan, have learned how to co-exist with the spirits, but with a healthy dose of fear and reverence. However, now, the Island has been “discovered” by invaders from a far-off land. These would-be colonists are taking over the land and upsetting the natural balance, destroying the presence of spirits as they go. As spirits, you must grow in power and work together to drive the invaders from your Island... before it's too late.
Spirit Island is a cooperative game for 1-4 players created by Greater than Games and Designed by R. Eric Reuss. The box says the game can take around 90-130 minutes to play.
Your Spirit Panel
Each player chooses a Spirit to play with a Spirit Panel which shows different innate powers and starting abilities. I chose Lightning's Swift Strike. I love these names. Depending on the Spirit, your hand has starting powers. Also as the game progress you can get Minor and Major Powers to add to your hand.
You have Presence, the color discs on your Spirit Panel to add to the Island Board where your powers can influence the natives, the Dahan, and where you can attack the invading colonists and their towns and cities. As you add Presence, you reveal how many more cards you can play or how much energy you can gain. I won't get into details.
The Invader Board
On the Invader board, you add Fear Markers and the Fear deck. Fear is your weapon to use against the invaders. Some powers generates Fear while destroying towns and cities also generates Fear.
When you generate enough Fear, you reveal a Fear card which adds more conditions that gives you an advantage. There are three Terror Levels which reveal a new winning condition as you progress from Terror Level 1 to 3 by revealing a certain number of Fear cards. Using all the Fears cards in the deck is one way of winning.
There is also Blight which is added to the island when the land gets damaged by the invaders. If all the Blight on the board is placed on the island, you lose.
Using the invader deck, The invaders will ravage (attack the Dahan and the land), Build (create towns and cities), and Explore (adding more explorers around the land). The cards in the Invader deck determines which terrain gets ravaged, built, and explored. If you use up all the cards in the Invader deck, you lose.
This is the modular Island board. There are actually 4 Island boards, but since I was playing solo, I only used one. The number of connecting Island boards equals number of players. You can see the terrains: Mountain (gray section), Wetlands (light blue section), Jungle (green section), and Sand (brown section). And there is the Ocean (dark blue) but it cannot be built upon or have you place a presence there. It is where the settlers are coming from.
On this, you place your presence (colored discs) where you can influence the terrain and an adjacent terrain depending on the action on your Spirit Panel. The brown mushroom like pieces are the Dahan which can attack the Invaders. However the invaders can kill the Dahan which cannot be replenished. Once a Dahan is removed from the board, it's gone.
As towns, cities, and explorers multiply on the Island, they also attack the land. If the land receives 2 damage, the terrain gets the Blight token. If you have a Presence on a terrain that is blighted, you lose that Presence. If a Spirit lose all of its Presence, you also lose.
This game plays like Pandemic where the invaders keep multiplying and building their cities and towns on the terrains. You need to stop them by using any power you have to destroy as much explorers, towns, and cities you can with the help of the Dahan. Your resources are limited while their supply is almost unlimited.
This is really an enjoyable game. I like the immediacy of the threat constantly growing and and attacking every turn. It is a puzzle game where you need to be efficient in what action you need to do or what powers to use. Sacrifices have to be made because you can't fix everything or be everywhere.
It is true where there are many components and conditions you have to beware of so it can be fiddly. Also not a fan how some powers are fast which are played before the Invaders turn and other are slow played after the Invaders turn. It is tough to keep track, but I see why they have that as it can be strategic. Slow powers are more powerful, but it might be too late to use.
I highly recommend Spirit Island and I love it is a part of my game library.