Spirit Island

1-4 players, Cooperative, Asymmetric Puzzle

Designer: R. Eric Reuss

Artwork: Jason Behnke

Publisher: Greater Than Games

Overview

You play as a spirit working to rid your island of colonists! They are invading your land and you are not having it so you must work to either scare them off or destroy them. Very deep, very strategic and VERY fun!

Win Condition /Length

So for you to win you have to achieve your victory condition listed on the current Fear tab on the board. Starting out you must fully clear the board of all explorers, towns and cities. Lol good luck on that. Luckily as you spread more and more fear throughout the island these victory conditions become easier as the game progresses. The next fear condition is just clearing out the towns and cities and the 3rd is just clearing out the cities. If you get ALL the fear cards removed it’s an instant win! I love the fact that the win conditions become a tad bit easier as the game progresses. It really makes it seem like you are making progress within the game with all your efforts. 

That’s not to say the game is easy though. There are three ways you can lose which are by either completely having your presence removed from the board, all the blight tokens are added to the board or if you need to draw an Explore card and cannot. So as you are working against the invaders, they are working against you and time is not your friend. 

The game plays in about an hour and a half which for me is perfect. Luckily since all players take their actions at the same time, adding more players doesn’t really increase the game length which is also awesome. That said, the more players, the more discussion so you will still see a slight increase in time played. 

Components

Excellent, excellent components. The board pieces are made of a sturdy thicker cardboard and the energy and fear tokens are also made of the same stuff and almost feel like wooden tokens but they’re not. There are some wooden presence and Dahan (the natives) tokens which are pretty cool. The wooden Dahan pieces are little huts. The rest of the pieces are plastic invader pieces which are comprised of little explorers and towns and cities. Those are all pretty detailed and look great on the board. There are some super tiny plastic pieces for the Blight that you add as well but these are kinda meh for me. I feel like they could have been bigger and maybe like green? The gray color doesn’t really fit in my eyes as a blight. 

The player boards are also a nice sturdy thick cardboard and look and feel great. There are also a ton of cards that all have a nice linen finish so they feel premium. Not to mention the abundance of extra game stuff such as scenarios and events that you can optionally use to play. Top notch stuff.

Setup/Takedown

Setup is pretty fast honestly and can vary based on number of players and if you want to do any scenarios. If you are setting up for a 2 player game its SUPER fast. The insert the game comes with allows you to easily remove 2 trays that hold all the components and sit them next to the game board. Most of the time during setup is just shuffling the power cards and discussing which spirit each player wants to use since they are all completely different. Takedown is just as fast.

Box/Storage

The box is average sized and comes with a really nice insert that holds all the cards, player boards and pieces nice and secure. Once you have all the pieces in the trays, just slap the oversized instruction booklet on top of them and then the game board pieces on top of that. It should create enough of a seal that you can store the game on its side and nothing should spill out of their respective places. 

Visual Appeal /Theme

I go wild for the look and theme of this game. Actually that is the main thing that drew me to buy it. I freaking love the idea that I am playing as a spirit trying to scare colonists off my island because it seems like it’s usually the other way around. The artwork is very well done for the most part and actually doesn’t look as cartoony as you would think based on the outside box cover. 

Rulebook

Great Rulebook! It has oversized glossy pages that match the size of the box. It’s super easy to read and understand and the way it’s written and the order of the instructions are perfect. Lots of colors and pictures to make it easy to understand the points that are being conveyed. Of course I don’t think any rulebook is 100% perfect so there will of course be SOMETHING that isn’t quite clear. The different phases in the game rotation can be kinda confusing at first but luckily there are rules reference cards included which are always a great thing in games. Also the turn order is printed directly on the fear board so any player can easily see what needs to be done. 

Table Presence/Game Board

The game boards consist of 1 up to 4 island tiles all connected depending on number of players. You can play a solo game and it uses 1 island tile and so on. These island tiles all have different colored sections based around what kind of land like mountains or desert. Also you can flip them to create more difficult thematic land tiles. The art on this side looks more realistic and terrain zones are combined instead of separated. I love the variety this game provides in pretty much all aspects. There is also a small board that holds the fear cards, blight and explore cards. This board is the one that has the turn order listed on it. 

Table presence grows the more players you have as the island becomes bigger with every added player. On a solo game it has a rather small footprint so you can whip it out on a coffee table if you want, although you still need to place your token holders somewhere. A 4 player game can take up a decent amount of space but honestly not any bigger than ohhh like Monopoly. 

Table Talk/Fun Factor

This game is made for table talk, actually it’s basically a requirement if you hope to win! Since the game is fully co-op and each spirit plays completely different you will want to discuss your plans with your teammates and vice versa. That said, this become more and more difficult at higher player counts due to all the different possible strategies. I can say I had more fun playing this game 2 player and less just because of that fact. But I had a TON of fun! I spent one entire day just playing this solo trying out all the different spirits to see how they played and the strategies they could use. The game is almost like a puzzle and you are seeing all the different ways of solving it. There is a small amount of chance involved with the draw of the explore card as you don’t know where new invaders will explore but that’s it! From then on you have to plan out the best way of dealing with the invaders based on your powers and any new power cards you draw. 

Optimal Player Count

For sure 2 players with solo being a close second. As I mentioned above 3 player or even 4 player games get bogged down significantly with strategy for new players or players that suffer from analysis paralysis. You could spend so much time looking over the board, discussing options, looking at your cards, looking over the board, discussing options rinse repeat. This becomes more a problem at 3 and 4 players because the amount of options increases. However at 2 players it’s simple to discuss options with 1 other person and come to an agreement quickly. The solo games are incredibly fun and since there are no pesky victory points in this game, you are just trying to win! The game also comes with scenarios and different blight cards and other kinds of invader options and the thematic side of the boards to create more difficult games if you manage to dominate the regular style. Also there are other rule options in the direction booklet to edit the difficulty of the game. 

The one thing I can say for 3 and 4 player games is that you can really create a nice rounded out spirit selection. Since each one plays differently you can choose spirits that work well together and really create a killer combo. 

The Fuzzy Llama Silver Seal of Distinction

Final Thoughts

This game is excellent and I cannot recommend it enough. The theme is just so rich and the gameplay is so unique. Not only that but the game comes packaged with so many variant options that the replay value is just off the charts here. I mean 8 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT spirits to play as not to mention the varying island boards and all the options with cards. The powers decks are extremely varied and there are a ton of fear cards and you don’t use all of them in a single game so each game will be different. In fact the game can be pretty deep in terms of strategy so I wouldn’t recommend it for a younger audience. But clever teens should be able to get into this, especially if they like to solve puzzles.

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