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As Chris Farley has commanded: a thread about Spirit Island

Spirit Island is currently my favorite game. The best part about it is winning every game only to find out that you've been playing it wrong and letting the Dahan act as meat-shields for the land. Since then, so much blight has been born upon the island.

Has anyone played any of Jagged Earth yet? I've punched everything out, sighed when the fancy token upgrades don't really fit in the Folded Space insert I have for the original + Branch & Claw, but that's as far as I've gotten. I did play a game using the PnP spirit they released a while back, which was a nice preview.

Thanks for this thread, Kalir, I have lots of reading to do!
 

DemoWeasel

Workin' real hard to make internet cash.
(He/Him)
Pence and I have played a few games of our copy of Jagged Earth. It's no surprise that we both think it's great.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Jagged Earth time.

During the design of this expansion, R. Eric Reuss wanted to have at least one new spirit at Low complexity, so as to cater to players yet unfamiliar with the heavier concepts. None of the spirits actually came out to that complexity, but the one that got the overall closest is the spirit of New Game Plus here. It is more than possible for a person to pick this spirit as their first one playing the game, but I would absolutely not recommend it. Not because they're complex, but because doing so would mean missing out on some of the core tempo changes that define spirits. And that is entirely due to Long Ages of Knowledge and Forgetfulness.

Think about it. Most players don't even want to risk going for a Major power unless one of their previous power draws was completely dead. Even if they're sitting on too much NRG, giving up the cool toys you've gotten is hard! And Shifting Memory of Ages just... doesn't have to do that. It is not only viable, but recommended, to take a Major power turn 1 just to see what elements you need to start hoarding. And while your innates lend themselves towards Earth, Air, and Moon, the only one you want to trip as often as possible is Observe the Ever-Changing World, which is dirt-cheap elements-wise!

My first game as them concluded with me playing only two Major powers with no identical elements between them and STILL hitting both thresholds.



And hey, its not like your starting powers are bad. They might not be amazingly fancy, but they do what they set out to do, and do it well. Being able to see what Fear cards are in store let you plan around them, which any Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares player can tell you is worth it. The range isn't great, but hey, it costs 0, gets 2 Fear, and has Moon and Air. That's a good deal anyway!



Memory's got an innate Defend power, but it's not super-reliable without speccing hard for Earth. Share Secrets of Survival is a nice midpoint, and you shouldn't be hurting for Air if you want the threshold on this power (which is pretty solid) but your starting defense is only "okay". You will not be stonewalling entire boards without some Major power backing. Course, you can get that real easy-like.



Let's break down exactly how Element markers work for Shifting Memory of Ages, since it'll help with the inevitable comparison people will make with this and Elemental Boon.

You'll always have a semi-reliable income of Element markers, either from your Presence track or your innate, but your sharply limited plays mean that you're very dependent on those Element markers for hitting thresholds. While this card also gets you one and that's great, spending those markers on another spirit with nothing to show for yourself feels like a weak tradeoff.

There's two subtle ways this pays off for you, though. First is that Elemental Teachings has its own three elements on it, and wouldn't you know it, they're the elements for all of Memory's innates. No more playing Elemental Boon only on the spirit with the closest elemental synergy. Second is that you're not locked into three different elements. If another spirit's grabbed a Major power with one of their main elements and nothing for the other, you can help with that. Spiking their off element by +3 is HUGE.



I do so appreciate it when a spirit with a gamebreaking capability can extend that to other spirits with their supporting moves. Needless to say, this works best with the bigger, slower spirits that wouldn't have the time to dip into new power cards very often. It's especially great for Vital Strength of the Earth, who almost never wants to risk a Major power given the caliber of their starting cards and infrequency of card draws, and tends to have a surplus of NRG.
 
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Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Jagged Earth introduces two new mechanics. One of these is the spikety icon listed here, which represents Badlands. While Wilds represent areas with a hazard that you can explore around once you know about it, Badlands represent an active and unavoidable danger to human life. Things like barren salt flats, volcanic activity, toxic vapors, you get the idea. Whenever an effect would damage either Invaders or Dahan in a land, the Badlands will chip in an extra damage after the effect resolves, free of charge. Importantly, unlike all the blocking tokens, Badlands are NOT removed after activating. so if you're planning on making use of them, you'll need to be extra careful with the Dahan, because it's not fun to watch an Explorer solo two Dahan on their own.



The other new mechanic is called Isolate, which works more like Defend than any particular token type (and Jagged Earth provides reminder tokens for Isolate effects as a result). Isolate does two things, both generally weak on their own. First, it prevents Explores in the area. Second, it lets you decide for yourself whether that land is considered adjacent to other lands for the sake of other Invader actions.

Which means that on its own, Isolate is a generally weak effect. Most cards that provide it tend to have something else going on for them as a bonus. In the case of this card, it comes with a free Gather or Push of an Explorer, which means that you can usually use it to completely shut off a recent Explore action at the very least, especially early game. Aim it at an inland source of Explorers and you can often block two Explores from completely different Invader cards in one go!



How spammy with power cards are you and the other spirits? The more you are, the better this card is as a choice.

Suppose, though, that you choose to repeat Gift of Twinned Days. As long as it is your lowest cost power (or tied for it) and you have the NRG to fuel it, you can do this as long as you want. Unless there's some rules errata I'm missing as it's early days yet for this expansion, that seems... really strong?



Another expansion, another set of cards with similar essential effects that the base game had, but juuuuust different enough to give them different value for different spirits.

The closest point of comparison for this one is Nature's Resilience. Favor of the Sun and Star-Lit Dark has a little bit of both of the effects Nature's Resilience provides, but just a hair weaker on both of them (and also a bit of potential Fear for funsies). It also has some fairly different elements, making this one better for, say, Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds, while Nature's Resilience might be better suited to A Spread of Rampant Green, for example.



BAA RAM EWE



Now this is just getting silly.

Ignore the threshold for a second here. This card can heal THREE Blight from a land. What the hell man. That's big stuff.

Okay. So. Cast Down into the Briny Deep is a good card because it cuts off a massive amount of Invader actions without really doing anything much to the Spirits' tempo aside from some presence destruction. Why would you ever want to ADD a board and accelerate Invader actions?

The main way it does this is with the persistent effect that Invader stuff skips a board. Now, this doesn't do a lot for boards where the Invaders already have a strong foothold. But considering you've just added a board that's completely free of Invaders and is likely to remain as such automatically for some time, you can usually put it to good use on some of the more moderate boards.

This feels like the TF2 Wrangler of the game, where they started with a bad idea and then buffed it to the point of being overpowered.



Ahhhh, much better.

In exchange for the fairly weak range, Forests of Living Obsidian lets you trap the Invaders in an extremely deadly place while simultaneously helping the Dahan to safety. It's very strong on spirits that tend to be indiscriminate in whether they kill Invaders or Dahan, most notably Volcano Looming High and Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds (although the latter will have to spec a little more towards Earth to pull the threshold off).



Which, incidentally, is a big part of the theming of Jagged Earth. The powers and spirits here are billed as much more aggressive than usual, and less concerned about whether the Dahan get caught in the crossfire. This doesn't hold true for all of them, mind you: Shifting Memory of Ages just up top is a clear example.

Also: this is a VERY powerful card if combined with spirits that have lots of ways to move Invaders. You basically get to turn any one Sands or Wetlands into Ocean's Hungry Grasp for a turn (and Ocean themselves can make decent use of this card for inland foes).
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


When this spirit was first unveiled in the announcement for Jagged Earth, I expect a lot of people just looked at them and went "oh, another big rocky guy, okay". And then the mechanics for Stone's Unyielding Defiance were revealed, showing off a spirit that changes everything you thought you knew about defending the island in some seriously amazing ways.

With Vital Strength of the Earth, your defensive measures are actually defensive. You're proactive about stopping the island and the Dahan from suffering any harm, and work closely with the Dahan to muster any actual offense. Stone's Unyielding Defiance takes a way more interesting approach, and simply says "stop hitting my fists with your face". The combination of Bestow the Endurance of Bedrock and Hold the Island Fast With a Bulwark of Will means that the Invaders can add a ton of Blight to your lands, and all that means is you get to use powers that target Blighted lands way more easily. Among other things, this makes Stone a FANTASTIC support spirit for spirits like Heart of the Wildfire or Vengeance as a Burning Plague, who expect damage to be done to their lands and actively seek that out.

Stone's Unyielding Defiance is also the second spirit to feature a heavy focus on a single element, but unlike Heart of the Wildfire, their tracks emphasize either focusing on elements, or focusing on NRG and card plays. And that tradeoff matters a lot, given how essential your innates are and the high demand for Earth with them! Personally, I still go for at least two card plays as quick as I can, but if you're going for Major powers quickly, there's a lot to be said for gunning for the bottom track.



I think I may have found a funnier card than Gold's Allure. Hard to say, but I just love the smugness of that Dahan there. And I'd be willing to bet you do too.

That aside, this is the only proactive card that Stone gets for cooperating with the Dahan. And while it's certainly a doozy, I wouldn't make a habit of staying too close to the Dahan. That Defend effect lessens your own ability to counterattack...



And Stone's Unyielding Defiance is the first spirit to actually wield Badlands actively. So the actual play is to use this card to get the Dahan out of your primary lands, and over to less-safe lands where Stubborn Solidity can cover for them.

Incidentally, you might have noticed that the expansion icon for Jagged Earth has three kinds of icons! That indicates their rough compatibility with the base game and/or Branch and Claw. If the volcano is inactive, then you can use it with base game alone, no problem. Smoky volcanoes like this introduce more complex elements, but nothing you can't handle. And the active volcanoes, like on all the new non-unique power cards, are expected to be used with the full game, or understanding of concepts from Branch and Claw.



This is your most active offense card, and it's not too bad... but I dunno if I'd call it worth 2 NRG? You really want to either stack Badlands, counterattack damage from Let Them Break Themselves Against the Stone, or support from other damaging spirits for that first effect to be worth it, and the second effect is effectively a consolation prize if you can't.



Removing Blight from the land you point this at without healing it sounds scary in a vacuum, but it gets significantly less so once you factor in Stone's unique rules and innate powers. Once you do, this power starts good and gets better over time, especially if you're playing alongside spirits who would rather not deal with heavily-blighted lands for whatever reason. If you aren't playing this as often as possible while Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves is with you, why not?
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)


This is your most active offense card, and it's not too bad... but I dunno if I'd call it worth 2 NRG? You really want to either stack Badlands, counterattack damage from Let Them Break Themselves Against the Stone, or support from other damaging spirits for that first effect to be worth it, and the second effect is effectively a consolation prize if you can't.

My guess for what's going on here is that this is a tax for an "oops" power. This isn't so much something SUDs wants to be using, as something SUDs wants to have in case the settlers wind up somewhere it really doesn't want them to be. It's also potentially useful as a finisher, since without Badlands or surplus earth, Let Them Break Themselves can't kill a city, but LTBT plus Plows Shatter can.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Hello! Did you ever want to have the coastal-warping capability of Tidal Boon, but without the pesky problem of Ocean's Hungry Grasp making the coasts unsafe for Dahan? Well, here's a card!



I do kinda like how cool and thematic "are we the bad guys?" is as a card... but also it kinda feels weak? If a land has a lot of Blight, somehow I don't think Push effects are what I want there. Gimme Purifying Flame any day of the week, even if it's more expensive and needs a Sacred Site.



I like this a lot more than Veil the Night's Hunt, but there's something to be said for that one being fast. They both do more or less the same thing, just in slightly different ways, and the same spirits that liked Veil the Night's Hunt will be just as happy with Bats Scout for Raids by Darkness.



Oooh, Presence healing AND Blight healing on a Minor power? Sure, the requirements are pretty heavy for that to all pull off, but this might just be one of the strongest healing minor cards in the game.

And they put Vital Strength of the Earth on it, and guess who's likely to have Presence in the same lands as other spirits?



Another "gotta account for deck dilution" Luigimode of a popular card, in this case Elemental Boon. It's weaker, but it also costs literally nothing. And like we discussed earlier, don't discount a spike of more than one of a given element. That can pull off some serious cheese. For example: what do you think happens if you use this on Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island if they haven't gotten any Plant draws all game?



LET'S GET EDGY.

Now, this is a VERY expensive card to use, not just for the energy, but because you have to kill a Sacred Site. And for... what, 6 Fear, 2 Badlands, and 6 damage? That's good, but I dunno if it's 6 NRG and destroying a Sacred Site good.

That said, there are a few spirits who have incentive to build up a lot of presence in a single land. Volcano Looming High is one of the clearer examples, in which case Transform To A Murderous Darkness lets them dogpile their own land rather than creating a giant Blight cascade. It's also good if you've got spirits that have already accelerated Presence gain for the table somehow, like A Spread of Rampant Green.



This is a card that would work great for Lure of the Deep Wilderness, save for that the elements are ALL WRONG. Obviously it's a Thunderspeaker card, and if Thunderspeaker uses it on lands controlled by Lure, it's gonna do some serious damage, but I'm still gonna be sad about it. Aside from that, this card obviously works great if you've been letting Explorers just kinda pile up because they're small fries and you're more about the big property damage.



There's a lot to like about this card, but my favorite "didn't need to be there but it is" touch is that Draw Towards a Consuming Void has no elements. After all, it's a big-ass antimatter vortex. Giving it elements would imply a matter to it that simply isn't there.

Note also the unique repeat effects. You aren't actually doing the Repeat keyword, so you must target the same land, and the extremely heavy cost on that makes it hard to recommend. Still, there's a lot to be said for vacuuming up literally everything around that land and crushing it to a singularity.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Draw Towards a Consuming Void: Finally, the perfect Shadows Flicker Like Flame power.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)


There's a lot to like about this card, but my favorite "didn't need to be there but it is" touch is that Draw Towards a Consuming Void has no elements. After all, it's a big-ass antimatter vortex. Giving it elements would imply a matter to it that simply isn't there.

Note also the unique repeat effects. You aren't actually doing the Repeat keyword, so you must target the same land, and the extremely heavy cost on that makes it hard to recommend. Still, there's a lot to be said for vacuuming up literally everything around that land and crushing it to a singularity.

Wait, so if Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares uses this, the effect instead reads...

Gather 1 explorer, town, city, dahan, presence, and beast from each adjacent land.

4 Fear, 15 pseudodamage (more fear), push all towns, there's a giant pile of angry Dahan here now, burn down 1 of your Presence, Remove 2 beasts.

Then forget some powers to do that again. Do this as many times as you want fear cards.

EDIT: after doing some quick math, if you've got enough power cards to cycle that four times (the maximum possible) and can hit five cities, you instantly win a 1P or 2P game.
 
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Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Of course, there's no way Bringer can cycle four times before it creates enough fear not to need to.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


A lot of players really like a feeling of certainty in their games. They want to know that Y result comes from X action, and as soon as that isn't a given, they flee from the choice like rats on a ship. Obviously, you can't do this for everything in many games, and the randomness in at least creating your opposition is part of the appeal, but people are risk-averse as a rule. They don't want to do something that could fizzle or backfire if given the choice, especially if that choice involves something much more reliable, and even if that more reliable choice is weaker overall.

One of the first games where I really embraced the "random power is good power" philosophy is Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Adventure. Y'know, the Shiren-like where the Chocobo gets the job outfits? The capstone ability for Scholar is Truth, which randomly casts a spell for a single SP. That spell can be anything from a self-Cure to Meteor. Scholar also gets the only self-buff for Magic in that game, which means that they have vastly more power than any other mage can even get close to at a much more economical rate (since 1 SP with a chance of misfire is a much better trade than 3 SP with a weaker known result in a game where you cap at like 8 SP).

This is much the same with Grinning Trickster Stirs Up Trouble. You never know exactly what effect you're gonna get for the land you point Let's See What Happens at, but being able to take both choices on an "or" is HUGE. And the threshold for that one isn't hard to get, even factoring out the Presence tracks. Broadly speaking, I'd avoid pointing at Blighted lands where possible, but sometimes it's just more Interesting to do that.

And really, that's part of the draw here too. It's not about going for the best option, it's about just rolling with whatever does happen, because "what if tho".

Unrelated, but do you notice the Dahan push on its tracks? Like Reclaiming, that's an action you get to take once during your Spirit phase, when you're playing and paying for cards. Don't underestimate that! A lot of players end up letting the Dahan sort of stagnate where they are, but that doesn't have to happen to Trickster!



Overenthusiastic Arson is a microcosm of this philosophy. Taken on its own, a fast Town destroy for 1 NRG is hilariously powerful. A topdeck that has roughly a 40% chance or so to light the tile on fire for extra damage and Blight... I'm not gonna say that's great, but it IS still something worth planning around. And depending on which spirits you're working with, that extra Blight might not even be that big of a deal! Heal it up or use it to your advantage!



The other half of Trickster's thing, aside from RNG, is Strife. They were intended to be one of the spirits in Branch and Claw that wielded the tokens introduced from there, but needed a little more time in the oven to pull it off. Strife isn't just good for Incite the Mob either: they can use Why Don't You And Them Fight to not only generate Strife, but use that Strife to block the damage the Invader would deal from the Fire/Sun threshold on that power.



You ever just... have to deal with tigers all of a sudden?



This card is really interesting to me, because it shows that Grinning Trickster Stirs Up Trouble has a much more personal knowledge of the Invaders than the other spirits do. Which is part of its nature: mayhem and anarchy have to have a structure to rebel against, and if you don't understand that structure, how can you undermine it? I wonder how many other spirits have that kind of knowledge of their opposites, so to speak.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Oh! My carpet



If you really stop to think about it, effects that deal damage or heal Blight tend to be restrictive and expensive this game, particularly on Minor powers. I suppose the expectation is that you'll either combo it with other powers or other Spirits for maximum benefit. Desiccating Winds is probably one of the better ones despite the restrictive range, since it also doubles as a nice way to stack lots of Badlands somewhere. Just get the Dahan out first.



A big problem with Wilds tokens is that they don't actually do a whole lot unless the land they're in doesn't have any Invaders already. After all, who cares if you block the Explore if they can still do the Build and Ravage, right? This is part of what makes major powers like Strangling Firevine so attractive, letting you leverage those otherwise-worthless tokens and making their usual situation much more likely. Sear Anger Into the Wild Lands is unlikely to carry that weight all on its lonesome without Badlands stacking, but it's free and better than nothing.



Spirit Island and the Pulsating Mass



There are some cards, like Call to Trade, whose effects are only enabled at certain Terror Levels, but this is the only card which gets a decidedly different effect on each level. And for 0 NRG, any of those effects is good, especially at that range. My only issue is that the Terror Level mechanic, while certainly flavorful... just kind of hamstrings this card. I dunno, it just rubs me the wrong way somehow.



One of the new versions of The Land Thrashes in Furious Pain. Probably a little easier to use on the whole, since if you have any Beasts nearby you're getting an easy 5 damage without having to play in cascaded lands. The Fear spike on the threshold is super nice too, and makes this a nice one to use on Explorer-heavy lands. That said, without token support for either Beasts or Wilds, this won't be nearly as heavy a potential bunker-buster as The Land Thrashes in Furious Pain.



Speaking of bunker-busters, this is hilarious. The actual damage from the card isn't especially spectacular, although it punches in its weight class for sure. The real prize is being able to gather Blight. This is amazingly handy for lands that have already cascaded a bunch with a concentrated invader presence, and allows you to combo with the assorted powers that scale off of Blight in a land without causing game-ending cascades to get there. Like, say, the two powers discussed above.



HEY GUYS IM SPECIFICALLY A CARD FOR SHARP FANGS BEHIND THE LEAVES LOOK AT ME

Right, now to discuss what the mechanics there actually mean for other Spirits.

First off, presence counting as Beasts is useful for anyone due to the Event deck, and it being an optional choice per-action means you don't have to sacrifice your presence if you don't want to, should the Event deck feel like shooting Beasts at the Invaders. Preventing your Presence from moving is also handy for those events, since the mobility of Beasts is a bit of a goodbad thing for planning Slow powers. And the threshold for this card isn't hard to achieve for really any Animal-focused spirit, although I'd argue that Many Minds Move As One wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole. A handful of spirits depend on being able to move for maximum efficiency, and Many Minds Move As One is one of the biggest examples.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member


Spirit Island and the Pulsating Mass
"ADD EVERYTHING" is very attractive at 1 energy. This is one card where I'd be willing to overlook the Blight, because the rest of the effects are so good. This is crazy as a minor power.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Ocean's Hungry Grasp has been a fan favorite among the base game's spirits, and I count myself among those fans. But there hasn't really been a spirit for handling the inland specifically until now, and a big part of that is because the inland tends to be rendered a lot safer more easily than the coasts. It's not uncommon for many lategames to have vast swaths of the inland completely clean, while there's still a few major coastal settlements doing major damage.

Lure of the Deep Wilderness has a few advantages to overcome this setback, same as their coastal counterpart. They're able to just disregard the additive clutter of Explorers freely, and excels at taking them down in a way no other spirit even comes close to, even the more Explorer-focused spirits like Shadows Flicker Like Flame. They also wield almost every single token type in the game, letting them freely turn the inland into a perilous natural minefield.

Perhaps Lure's greatest advantage over Ocean is that their presence tracks are decidedly normal. You aren't forced into destroying enemies simply to earn NRG, you just get a normal income. What's more, even though the innates both check different elements, you've got a very forgiving number of elements available on your track. That single Animal is particularly amusing to me, since that's literally all that your innates ask for.



Just like Ocean's Hungry Grasp, Lure of the Deep Wilderness possesses unparalleled offense when it comes to their territory... but they're constrained by being locked to that specific territory and having poor range. Once you drag invaders in with Forsake Society to Chase After Dreams, they're easy pickings, although you do still have to build up the tokens needed for Swallowed by the Wilderness to really pack a kick.



And fortunately for you, Perils of the Deepest Inland is an amazing card for generating those selfsame tokens. A hidden strength to this card is that it also pushes Dahan, so you can get them to the less pointy lands and keep them safe from the Invaders if they get out of hand (or from other Spirits wielding more dangerous powers).



You do still have to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew, though. Lure of the Deep Wilderness has a LOT of gather, and a few big damage powers, but all of those powers depend on having tokens around, and you don't have that many ways to generate them. Still, that just gives Lure the same kind of game-defining strategy that Ocean gets. Any other spirits helping you out now have a much bigger incentive for powers like Teeming Rivers, Infested Aquifers, or Guardian Serpents than they otherwise would have. Every token they can put out is a damage boost for you!



Prior to Jagged Earth, I wouldn't really recommend that second effect unless playing as a spirit with either a way to return their presence to play (A Spread of Rampant Green) or a reason to have their presence destroyed (Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island). Jagged Earth, though, introduces a lot of spirits that can benefit from removed/destroyed presence, and a decent amount of ways to return that destroyed presence to play. So don't discount this card because destroying presence is scary. A free Disease is really good!
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


This is a really solid movement card for 0 NRG. Being able to shift Blight around has more and more applications these days, and being able to stifle dangerous Builds is also nice. I dig it.



One of the biggest arguments against damaging the invaders, especially Towns or Cities, is that you NEED to stack it through multiple sources. That's like the entire reason Stem the Flow of Fresh Water is an early and easy forget for a lot of A Spread of Rampant Green players. While Shroud of Silent Mist is a spirit that gets to ignore that rule, this power allows any spirit, although particularly fiery ones, to disregard that limitation, making all damage sources much more viable for others. I seriously can't overstate how powerful that is.



Another good cheap card, with the only real issue being the range. Still, if I had to have any two 0 NRG effects for a land with a city in it, I could think of far worse choices than these.



An alternative to Confounding Mists, and one where you'll actually see the non-Defend option a lot more, I feel like. In addition to being an exploreblock, you also have an easy way to chip down enemies by moving them. Also note that the second effect only cares if Dahan are in when you resolve the card. If they leave after that, Call to Guard has no problems applying damage.



Spending a bit of extra NRG for a fast resolve of this card... I dunno. The effects are certainly nicer fast than slow, but that's a tall ask for 2 NRG. There's also the range and targeting issues doing it no favors. It's a much easier choice for Lightning's Swift Strike, but I can't imagine many other spirits would spring for this.



Dream card for Shifting Memory of Ages. Don't even care about the threshold (although some other spirits, like Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds, can roll that), has amazing NRG income, still wants more NRG, can just discard instead of forgetting. Unfortunately, I don't know that the second effect can benefit from any range boosts, since most of those care about the land you're targeting with a power, which this one explicitly doesn't do. Might be a FAQ question!



OH NO IT ONLY DEALS 1 DAMAGE WHAT A WEAK POWER



Multi-land targeting abilities are already some of the best in the game. As I've said before, any time you can get ahead of the Invaders' tempo advantage is a good time. Weave Together the Fabric of Place is incredibly powerful for exactly this reason. Sure, you might have the threshold for Cleansing Floods, but the damage on just one land is probably overkill... unless that one Invader capital is fused to a second adjacent one. This is not a Major power you can just throw down whenever and expect it to work, though. You NEED to supplement it with another power, and that'll probably be one from another spirit. But when it works... well, the first time I got to see it ingame, another spirit used it to let me hit two lands with Forests of Living Obsidian. It was amazing..
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Say hello to the spirit that singlehandedly forced the most errata and reprints of existing content. There are a lot of spirits and powers that get to scale up bonus effects based on the number of tokens in a land, but Beasts are a little trickier in that regard for a few reasons, most relevantly because they are persistent unless an event or Blight card kills them, or a spirit chooses to sacrifice them. People who played Branch and Claw a lot might recall the event where the beasts of the land come down with a strange madness, which is either "eh, don't need Beasts anyway" or "win the game" almost entirely dependent on how much Animal and beast-synergy your group has. Many Minds Move As One is a spirit not just about beasts, but stacking them for increasingly powerful effects, and easily repositioning them to wherever is most beneficial. Like Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves, it's also able to wield its presence alongside them, in this case by having Sacred Sites double as Beasts on a case-by-case basis.



This does, however, mean that Many Minds Move As One has a dependence on big swarms of Beasts available. Without them, they're on the backfoot, arguably even moreso than Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves since they have significantly better Power Card gains and a few cards that just care if there's presence in Jungles.



Another big difference is that Many Minds Move As One is a far more defensive and utility-focused spirit. You've got some solid capability for generating Fear and Defend, and being able to quickly get Dahan to Defended regions is handy, but your actual ability to destroy Invaders is sorely lacking. For this reason, the two Beast-focused spirits have some excellent synergy with each other. Two players running Minds and Fangs alongside one another can be a literal force of nature.



Starting with Baby Encompassing Ward is nice, although there's some nuance to how it works that makes this one better for some spirits than others. You also can't use it on yourself, but if you're playing Many Minds Move as One RIGHT, you won't need to. Don't discount that presence push either, ESPECIALLY with the less mobile spirits!



Gotta say, it's pretty neat to see one of a spirit's most powerful cards limited not by NRG, but by targeting. This card can pull off some serious shenanigans, and works well either as a quick stopgap or an emergency "no, we're getting 8 Fear and this land does NOTHING".



Yo hold up, Many Minds Move as One gets five unique powers? Let's take a second to break down why that might be.

Looking at their presence tracks, their card plays are about average, and their NRG income is a little below average. Not by much, but enough that you'll likely want to favor Minor powers. At the same time, your power card gain is awkward: you either get it only on Reclaim, or by spending 2 NRG during the Spirit Phase.

It's that last part that really makes the calculus here tricky. Asking Minds for a resource they're low on, or for a Reclaim, means they end up losing a lot of potential tempo if they want to get a new Power card. And by the time you're up to enough reliable NRG income that you can actually afford to do that each turn, the game's getting quick enough that you'll cut into your supply for getting Major powers (if you dare) or handling choice events. So having five unique powers, four of which cost no NRG, makes that tradeoff a lot more considerable. You don't really NEED to stockpile NRG early on, and once you've got a good stable of cards to work with, your low income can be saved up a little more easily.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Good card for sure, but Badlands and Wilds is an odd mechanical combination. It's probably a better option if you combine it with another slow damaging power, to ensure that the land you point it at stays cleared out so the Wilds can do its work.



This is... a really amazingly good card for cooperating with Dahan? It's basically a complete optimization for whatever this turn's Ravage is around where you point it. And the range is ridiculous, too. 1 NRG for all of this almost feels like a bargain.



Hell yeah we love our fast Explorer pushes. Fast Wilds... is a little less useful with the land restrictions, but hey, it's not terrible if you just want to throw this for the elements.



This is a really good card for cooperating with the big beast-focused spirits... but not actually that great for them to wield personally? The elements and NRG cost are both undesirable for them. I think the better play is for another spirit that likes these elements (Thunderspeaker, Vengeance as a Burning Plague, River Surges in Sunlight) to grab this and then use it on one of the Beastie Boys.



A very versatile card for gathering, but using it well requires a very solid grasp on the board state and how you can affect it. If you want to capitalize on it as a general power, I'd prioritize lands where a spirit that's good at dealing with those pieces can really go wild with them. Lots of towns by Lightning's Swift Strike, for example.



This is a real toolbox of a card here. Good Defend, blocks Builds (which gets better as a combined power as the game goes on), and a fun threshold for damage if you're speccing hard for Sun. If you're not, though, this power is still good, but should be considered as a HEAVILY defensive card.



A lot of people believe that a person is never truly gone until there is no one who can tell their story. As long as any part of them exists in the world, be it a quirky anecdote or a family heirloom or a name on a building, that person is still around.

Obviously, for that to happen to almost anyone, it would take a long time. Which makes this power interesting, because the timescale of Spirit Island is deliberately left vague. How much time does a round take? Is it a month? A year? Several decades? Impossible to say, and left purposefully abstract.

That said, for this power to resolve as instantly as it does around the table... that's somehow more eerie than the literal antimatter vortex power.



Are you noticing the much larger amount of powers, especially Major ones, that add or capitalize on Blight? It's really being more of a theme with Jagged Earth, and I am completely here for it, especially with spirits like Stone's Unyielding Defiance or Vengeance as a Burning Plague that can really take that heat and swing back just as hard.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
"Add blight at range 0" is... Well, I'm not sure I'd pay 5 energy for that card most of the time.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Now this one, this here's a fun one. Few spirits fundamentally change the mechanics of how Presence works compared to Volcano Looming High.

Normally, the main way you increase range is by spreading your presence as far across the island as you possibly can. But by being sharply limited to only a single terrain type, Volcano doesn't have much recourse in that vein. Instead, you get the range by stacking 3 presence in a given land, which isn't hard to do at all given your growth and innates.

Even with that, though (and this is a huge benefit for range 0 or Sacred Site powers) what do you do with your presence once a land has more than 3 in it? That's what your Explosive Eruption innate is for. My first game as Volcano, I generally did a series of baby eruptions to cut off quick Invader actions, but once I was in lategame, I piled up a huge stack of 7 presence, pointed at the one remaining stronghold and annihilated it.

It's such a fundamentally different game compared to other spirits, and yet it merges into the rest of the roster so seamlessly in practice. Same kind of beautiful blend of mechanics and flavor you see on spirits like Thunderspeaker and Ocean's Hungry Grasp, and I'm 100% here for it.



1 NRG for 1 damage at Slow speed wouldn't even be considered a real option prior to Jagged Earth. In the hands of Volcano, it's not too bad, since you'll be spreading around Badlands anyway, plus you can get fast easy damage off of Explosive Eruption. I still wouldn't use it for that effect unless I had other stuff to capitalize on. And hey, spamming Badlands and Wilds works, right?



This is a nice card, and Volcano is a case study of a spirit for how range boosts are valuable... but how likely is it that other spirits will place presence in your Mountains? The expectation is that you'll be keeping those mountains under control anyway.

This is a card like Lightning's Boon, where if other spirits need it, they will likely figure it out and ask you ahead of time, and you legit might not be able to interrupt your own tempo for it, but if you DO have it available, you can pull off miracles.



This card is used in the instructions as an example of exactly how Badlands work. It's a little complex, but the long and short of it is that the first instance of damage, whatever it is, gets a follow-up of 1 damage to the same categories per Badlands. Invaders and Dahan get this damage separately, so if you have 2 Badlands in a land, the first line does 1 damage to each structure and Dahan, then 2 more damage to structures divided as you see fit, and 2 damage to Dahan (which would kill two of them), then 1 more damage to invaders and 1 more to Dahan.

Which means this power is VERY scary on Badlands, but the long range means you might want to have another spirit wielding that token type to cooperate with.



Don't forget that Explosive Eruption and your unique rules deal damage to Dahan as well! Please be careful when dealing with lands that have Dahan, and use Rain of Ash to get them to safety if at all possible.

A lot of spirits in Jagged Earth, as mentioned before, play a lot more fast and loose with protecting the island or the Dahan, and Volcano Looming High is one of the biggest offenders in that category. As its flavor text indicates, it doesn't really dislike the Dahan, it just doesn't especially care about cooperating with them. Sort of like Ocean's Hungry Grasp, I suppose.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


You're just lucky multitargeting effects are broken as hell, because that is your ONLY saving grace right now, BUSTER.



Gathering a Blight? Sure, okay, nice.

Isolate? All right, not bad, we can take that.

Preventing Blight cascade? LET'S GOOOOOOOOOO



"My primary criteria for evaluating powers is whether Ocean or Nightmares can abuse it" -Egarwaen

Did you know that you can isolate the Ocean if its in play?

Food for thought.



Now that there's multiple ways to return presence to the board, we should break down exactly how that's useful. After all, the biggest reasons to add presence are A: to expand your tracks, and B: to increase your range, and returning destroyed presence only helps with the latter. Once uncovered, presence tracks stay uncovered, save for extreme edge cases like Volcano Looming High or Fractured Days Split the Sky.

It also helps you avoid the loss condition of a spirit's permanent dissolution by having no presence on the board, although I have yet to lose a game to that. More often, a spirit that gets too much presence destroyed just struggles to affect the game state beyond that, letting the Invaders slowly win by other means.



This is A Spread of Rampant Green's new favorite minor power.



I'm sorry, I could try to talk about this card here, but I just can't get over how the spider abdomens have little evil smiley faces. It's simply adorable.



Oh, I like this card a lot. A LOT a lot.

Relinquishing your power to the Dahan at the expense of your presence and NRG income is a scary proposition for a lot of spirits. I'd argue that it works best for spirits that either have enough income without needing to spend much (River Surges in Sunlight) or so low of a base income because they have other ways of obtaining it (Shroud of Silent Mist, Ocean's Hungry Grasp).

AND this effect stacks! Spam this enough times and the Dahan can handle the island entirely on their own!



I can't believe they added Burning Man to Spirit Island.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)


"My primary criteria for evaluating powers is whether Ocean or Nightmares can abuse it" -Egarwaen

Did you know that you can isolate the Ocean if its in play?

Food for thought.

How does that help?



Now that there's multiple ways to return presence to the board, we should break down exactly how that's useful. After all, the biggest reasons to add presence are A: to expand your tracks, and B: to increase your range, and returning destroyed presence only helps with the latter. Once uncovered, presence tracks stay uncovered, save for extreme edge cases like Volcano Looming High or Fractured Days Split the Sky.

It also helps you avoid the loss condition of a spirit's permanent dissolution by having no presence on the board, although I have yet to lose a game to that. More often, a spirit that gets too much presence destroyed just struggles to affect the game state beyond that, letting the Invaders slowly win by other means.

It's also got 4 elements on a 1 energy fast power, shuffles around Dahan, lets you avoid blight cascades, and lets you summon spirits with awkward placement restrictions to somewhere useful.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


I was pretty excited about a lot of the spirits in Jagged Earth, but Shroud of Silent Mist was the one that I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed playing as them. There's a lot of cool stuff to them: they're the only spirit with an elemental antisynergy, their presence can shift around to accommodate range requirements (which is a HUGE boon, I seriously can't overstate that) but by far the biggest thing about them is that they get to ignore the fundamental rule of Time Passes, and living things in their lands just don't heal.

Slow and Silent Death means you get to ignore the chief weakness of Damage powers, where a single point of chip damage just isn't worth doing a lot of the time. It either means you get a Fear/NRG battery, or it can finally destroy a City that's been weakened already in your lands. And Shroud of Silent Mist has plenty of chip damage on their own as well, even if other spirits don't care to collaborate, so you're not entirely dependent on others (although they can definitely help).

The big weakness here is your low-value presence tracks. You're very dependent on your special rules to shore up the difference in NRG, and having to wait until the fourth space for your third card play is painful. But honestly, the other benefits are more than worth it.



A really fun thematic power, especially with how easily you can gather presence into nearby lands. Just really turn up the Silent Hill around them. Plus, it pushes Dahan away, which gives them a chance to heal up that they don't normally get in your lands.



This is a very curious brand of defensive card. Shroud of Silent Mist doesn't really do traditional Defend very well without new cards, and yet they want presence in lands full of Invaders that can still swing at full force. This lets them and their allies duck out of the way during the Ravage (ideally letting less-mobile spirits spread further out), and after the fact, Mist can just shimmy back in with another power.



Speaking of Ravage, I know the Defend keyword is very attractive to a lot of players, but straight up, the first effect is the one you really want. Damaged Invaders that ravage A: still deal full damage, and B: run the risk of getting destroyed on the counterattack. Far better to leave them damaged for the Fear/NRG mines, wouldn't you agree?



Hey! Let's compare this to Raging Storm, widely-recognized Bad Card!

This one's cheaper and generates Fear, but has lower range and also damages Dahan. But if we just read the text here, that only tells part of the story.

Lightning's Swift Strike can speed up Raging Storm, which lets them clear out lands full of Explorers that have accumulated before they build. However, their NRG income and high card plays mean that it's not likely to see use unless they really want their innate or there is a VERY good reason to go for it.

Shroud of Silent Mist doesn't care about the lower range of Dissolving Vapors, and while most spirits could shrug off damaging each Dahan, that's less affordable for Mist to take since those Dahan would not heal. The damage to every Invader, though, makes it more than worth it to pursue since they don't heal up.

Dissolving Vapors is still a good card and Raging Storm is a bad one, but it's nice to break down exactly why they are considered as such, to see how they differ.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Can't ravage right now. Too busy just vibing.



I've heard of carcinization, but this is just silly.

I have NOT heard of cards that get a rangeboost when targeting specific lands. That's a very different kettle of fish, and can make planning this card's use a little tricky. The threshold on it is nice and easy to get, even for spirits that aren't ordinary likely to dip for Earth, but if you can't pull it off this is a pretty safe card for forgetting.



Hey, uh... you doing okay, Shadows Flicker Like Flame? You're looking a little Megabeast right now.



If it wasn't for the land type restriction, this might just be the best Defend card in the entire game. With just a bit of Dahan backing, you can really just completely demolish a heavily-fortified land. Threshold's also super easy to get AND highly desirable.



"STOP MAKING FUN OF RAGING STORM!!!!!!!! I'M GOOD AT STORMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"



A fast 2-4 damage and Blight heal isn't bad, but it's a little weak for a major power with that Inland restriction. You really want to make sure that damage finishes off whatever land you point it at, because an empty land with 3 wilds may as well not exist for the rest of the game.



Perhaps the best card in the game for just clearing out Explorer buildup, although it works best on spirits that have reason to spread out a lot more than others. Particularly good on Many Minds Move As One without needing the beast requirement. Just mind the Sands origin.



And of course, I saved the best for last. Sometimes esoteric and graceful descriptions of the natural world just don't cut it, and you just need some dang ol' Angry Bears.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
"Scream disease into the wind" is not a recommended action for humans during the coronavirus pandemic.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Hey look, it's the most partly-unintentionally topical spirit in the game.

I ask you to get all the "lmao im playing as covid-19" jokes out of your system early.

Vengeance as a Burning Plague That Scours the Land of Those Who Have Wronged It is the same complexity as Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares, the most complex spirit yet released. That complexity is due to a lot of different factors: the fact that you want to place lots of Disease but don't want it to actually be used for its purpose, the fact that your innates pursue fairly different elements, the fact that your primary mode of attack is extremely dangerous to Dahan (and lorewise this is a spirit the Dahan do NOT invoke, its looked on the same way you or I might regard chemical weapons), and the fact that you start out weak and only get stronger the more Blight is added.

I don't think I'm the right sort of person to play them, but in the right hands, even with all those downsides, you will not have a more powerful spirit in your game when everything's really gotten dangerous. The ability to generate Disease on your presence's destruction and to treat Blight as Badlands makes this spirit very scary under the right circumstances.



You want to keep Disease around as Vengeance as a Burning Plague, because a lot of your powers use it for targeting, and those that do tend to be pretty good (this one's a bit on the expensive side though). Fortunately, you get some Fear from it, because you're the only spirit that wants that disease sitting around and not blocking Builds, LET ME TELL YOU. Honestly, that's probably why I don't care for playing as Vengeance too much: their goal depends on a strategy a lot of other spirits don't really want in a co-op game.



You get ways to spread Disease with your cards, but I also want to highlight that there's a way to do it with your Growth as well. Most of the time, the answer to "why would you do that" is that you don't want to, but sometimes you've already added all your Presence, and just throwing out Disease is good. Before that point, I largely wouldn't bother. Vengeance as a Burning Plague has only slightly better presence tracks than Shroud of Silent Mist, and any Presence of yours that is destroyed becomes Disease anyway.



Probably my favorite Vengeance as a Burning Plague card, and it's no surprise that it's due to the good ol' thematics/gameplay link. Oftentimes, Vengeance will want multiple Disease stacked in a land to really demolish it, and Plaguebearers makes for both a good follow-up to this destruction OR a way to set it up.



Vengeance as a Burning Plague has two primary elements, those being Fire and Animal, with side elements of Water and Air. However, like Ocean's Hungry Grasp or Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island, there's a different prioritization of those elements depending on which innate you want to pursue. If you're more about the Disease spam, Animal and Water become more useful, and if you're about countering large Invader capitals after they Ravage, you'll want Fire and Air more. Whatever the case, you are VERY dependent on your innates, at least initially, to do damage.

Fiery Vengeance isn't a bad option for some fast damage, although it uses a very interesting resource of destroyed presence. This makes it hard to use with most spirits that want to keep their presence safe, although if Vengeance is in the game, that does mean spirits will be more willing to place their Presence a bit more daringly as a result.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Hey, remember how I said there wasn't any new Low complexity spirits in the game? This is the alternative for those: Aspect cards! Each of the classic four Low-complexity spirits in the game gets a few different cards that change up how exactly that spirit handles. I'll go through them in order of spirit complexity. Seen here is the first of Lightning's aspects, Pandemonium, which transforms their Thundering Destruction innate. Simple enough to understand, it shifts the gameplay focus from raw structure-smashing offense to a stalling game of Fear and Strife. Make sure to put Harbingers of the Lightning to constant use with this aspect, so that Strife can bring in the sweet sweet Dahan counterattack damage.



You don't just replace innates with aspects, you can also transform your special rules. The Wind aspect removes your ability to blitz down invaders at high speed, in exchange for making you a very support-focused spirit for extending that capability, as well as a few more, to others. You still have Lightning's Boon available to speedboost spirits more intensively, including yourself, so you can still do everything at Fast speed if you really want to. Just not, y'know, every turn.



Finally, Lightning's Swift Strike gets a promo aspect that radically changes their functionality. A shift from a focus on card plays to NRG sounds bad, but in practice it's not too bad at all, especially with the freebie elements for major powers. That's really big. You'll want to consider diving for Major powers much sooner with the Immense aspect, maybe even chucking a unique power for it on your first reclaim. Not only does that pay for their own thresholds, it also kicks up your Thundering Destruction innate. Which reminds me: don't mix and match Aspects. It kind of drastically unbalances the spirits, and not in the fun way.



I haven't actually gotten to try out the aspects just yet, but I have seen a few of them played. And River Surges in Sunlight gets some really neat ones. Functionally, this aspect is just welding the Boon of Vigor card to your innates and giving you a choice between whether you prioritize Sun or Water. Y'know how the first thing you should do as River is always "add 2 presence so you get 2 NRG and card plays a turn"? Yeah that's not actually a good idea with the Sunshine aspect. You're better served by getting another power card and improving your NRG, because it turns out that starting with only 3 cards is really bad for your tempo. Like the Immense aspect above, you'll want to go for Major powers here, seeing as you'll eventually be able to virtually double your NRG income with this innate.



This one looks really fun. Being able to slip'n'slide the Dahan all along your lands is handy, as is getting free Sacred Sites wherever there's a bunch of Dahan (and River's Bounty makes that easier than ever). Sure you lose the easy Sacred Sites just for having presence in Wetlands, but being able to freely move the Dahan around more than makes up for it. You'll want to look for Defend effects more often than usual, though, because that meager Defend 1 won't do a whole lot on its own.



While most of the aspects increase the spirit's complexity, that's not universal. Vital Strength of the Earth's Resilience aspect is about as complex as normal. A common discovery when playing Strength is that the Defend 3 is good, but not good enough once the Invaders really start building up, and if you get overrun, it takes a LOT of work to get back on your feet. So being able to keep the Invaders from adding blight for ridiculous lengths of time sounds fun. That said, you'll need to be a LOT better about carefully managing the Dahan, and it gets harder to work with them without that easy Defend. I don't think I'd see myself playing this aspect very often, unfortunately.



This one, on the other hand, I want to play on my next game. You still lose the innate Defend 3 and that sucks, but getting boosts to damage AND better card play and gain is an extremely attractive package for Vital Strength of the Earth. The Might aspect is just raw beefy offense in its simplest form, and I am VERY here for it.



Finally, Shadows Flicker Like Flame, generally considered one of the weaker spirits of the base game. The Reach aspect just lets you turn off Range on one of your things per turn, which can be handy given its inclusivity on where it can be used (hello turn 1 I'm on the opposite board's coast in a 6 player game). This also means you've got a little more wiggle room to stockpile NRG without needing to nickel-and-dime yourself on Shadows of the Dahan. But by that same token, you lose the ability to use that rangehax more than once a turn, and sometimes that's a very big saving grace.



I'm just gonna say it: Glimpse of the Shadowed Void is weaksauce. Purely meant as a consolation prize for if you or other spirits fail to capitalize on the free Strife on your presence. But hey, a little bit of extra Fear and Strife is always nice, and the bonus Fear does make Concealing Shadows less of a suicide play for the Madness aspect.



This one is very, very good. We've discussed with other spirits why being able to freely move your presence around is so handy, and Shadows Flicker Like Flame is no exception for being able to utilize this. You can dodge the worst of Concealing Shadows as above, set up new sacred sites for Darkness Swallows the Unwary, get out of a land during Ravage only to bounce back in with a range 0 hammerpower... sky's the limit, really.



The Foreboding aspect gives up the ability to flexibly dunk on Dahan-bearing lands in favor of pointing at one land and going "you are Die". Given the focus on Air for this one, this works best if you're speeding on card plays, so you'll get more wiggle room to decide which of your two innates you want to focus on (or, ideally, get the perfect card draws to trip both at once on the same land).
 
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