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Old 12-09-2018, 09:29 PM
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Default As Chris Farley has commanded: a thread about Spirit Island

Hi.

Spirit Island's pretty good.

I wanted a dedicated thread because I'm considering doing write-ups as per the SotM thread, but even if I wasn't someone needed to make a thread to commemorate Turtle successfully using Land of Haunts and Embers somehow.
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Old 12-10-2018, 07:24 AM
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Did no one tell turtle that Land of Haunts and Embers is a bad card??
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
Did no one tell turtle that Land of Haunts and Embers is a bad card??
It was actually you who did.

However

Every problem can be solved with liberal application of fire.

What happened is that I had Purifying Fire and there was a city with one Blight; I dropped LoHaE on it, got four Fear, used...I forget what power it was that let me do +1 damage on powers that turn, and purified that city to ash. The fear was enough to push us to Terror 2, and I killed a town with my innate while Asema as Thunderspeaker stormed out the last town for the win.
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Old 12-10-2018, 09:25 AM
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Every problem can be solved with liberal application of fire.
*removed
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:13 PM
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A problem I don't have to deal with is a solved problem in my book
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Old 12-10-2018, 04:30 PM
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Seems legit.
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:38 PM
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Screw it, sure, some writeups. These are gonna be more informal than the Sentinels of the Multiverse ones because I don't feel like being super structured about this. (Think The Netrunner Project.)



Maybe not the ideal starting spirit to go over, but Lightning's Swift Strike has that delightful combination of raw power, meshing of mechanics with theme (but to be honest, so do basically all the spirits) and sheer "a giant eagle made of lightning" cool factor, so they win priority over my usual preferred Baby's First Spirit (more on them later).

I can see why people like this spirit a lot, but personally I just feel like they encourage some really bad playstyles, and it's almost solely because of their innate Swiftness of Lightning ability to convert Slow powers into Fast ones. This is a good ability, don't get me wrong, but it's important to recognize when to slow-play and shut down structures as soon as they're built rather than waiting for the next turn and trying to smash them down in a panic before they Blight cascade into three lands. On top of that, Lightning's Swift Strike has EXTREMELY skewed Presence tracks, able to consistently get more card plays whenever they want, but constantly starved for the NRG to play them, and their starting cards don't make that any easier. And then you have one of the most element-hungry innates in the game, on a spirit that doesn't get innate elements.

But hey, if you can put up with all of that, have fun destroying three Cities at fast speed whenever you want.



Ignore the NRG cost and this is the most Lightning card there is. Good range, Fire and Air, adds a bit of Fear, blows up a Town. The Sacred Site restriction isn't even that big of a deal considering how easy it is for Lightning to just plonk down Sacred Sites (and how often they have to do so if they want to have any hope at real NRG income). Even with the cost, I see this one played often, and even though it's on the boring side, I support it in these endeavors. You keep on shattering them homesteads.



One of the #1 questions you'll get from new players with this spirit is "what should I do with the Dahan?" Which is a good question, as it's not always apparent what to do with them, it's hard to use them offensively without Defend, and there aren't many ways of actively leading them at first, you kinda have to spec for it or be Thunderspeaker for that. Thankfully, the rulebook has a tips section that outlines what I'm going to paraphrase from memory here: put them in places with a few Invaders so the Fear deck can mess with them, move them out of places about to take heavy damage from Ravage unless you have a Defend effect. If you don't have any of those, who cares, it's still a 0 cost card that gives Fire and Air, do you really have a reason not to play it as Lightning?



This is such a good card, but it just exacerbates the exact same problem I have with Swiftness of Lightning by spreading it to other players. Yeah, it's cool and good that you can stomp that land into submission before it Ravages, but how many powers are you spending on doing that, and how many Builds are you letting run unchecked in the process? This is mostly just because this goes on a Low-complexity spirit, though, because it teaches bad habits. Ignore that and you get a card that can make some stupid stuff happen. Ever seen The Land Thrashes in Furious Pain at Fast speed? (Oh, and this is innately Fast, so you can also speed up one of your other cards for free.)



Yeah I'm gonna keep looking at this spirit through the lens of watching newbies fumble with them. You can't stop me. Every single time I see someone spend 3 NRG expecting to kill every explorer on the map and then claiming this is a bad card when that doesn't work, I employ hyperbole in my writing.

I mean. It's still not a good card, but it has stuff going for it. It's your only starting card with Water in addition to Fire and Air, making it worth saving for the higher levels of Thundering Destruction. It chains together well with any other spirits packing damage effects (i.e. not you, at first). It lets you kill all those pesky Explorers you keep shoving into that land that only just now got Explored. Hell, it lets you kill Explorers, period. Turns out you can't do that as Lightning without getting new cards.

But man, 3 NRG on one of the most NRG-starved spirits in the game just to hit Explorers? That's a terrible deal.
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Old 12-10-2018, 09:09 PM
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A flashy spirit, good fun for a new player, but ultimately probably a bit underpowered. Reputedly, Shadows is the weakest core spirit, but I'd play it over LSS nine times out of ten.
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Old 12-10-2018, 09:40 PM
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That's the one I played that one game we did! Yes, I definitely expected that card to kill every explorer on the map and couldn't figure out why it didn't.
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Old 12-11-2018, 09:04 AM
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Yeah, I think Shadows is actually pretty good; your team needs to commit to backing up the "all fear all the time" strategy, but fear cards are good and Shadows gets you lots more fear cards very fast.

In our experience, Lightning's biggest weakness is something Kalir didn't mention: it has nothing in its base kit that even hits explorers except Raging Storm, which is garbage.
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:10 PM
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Ars Recommends:

Quote:
Many board games put you in the shoes of colonizers exploiting a "newly discovered" land and its people. Spirit Island turns this all-too-well-worn theme on its head, letting you and up to three friends play as the spirits defending an island being ravaged by outside explorers. Like Pandemic, it's a cooperative game—all players fight together against the game itself—but unlike Pandemic, it's not for board game beginners. The deep card play and complex upgrade paths make for a decidedly thinky (and crushingly difficult) co-op experience, and if you or your giftee is the type of gamer who loves long, brain-burning turns, Spirit Island is a great buy. If you get bored of the base game (unlikely—there's plenty of content, here), you can always pick up the game's Branch and Claw expansion. Read our review here.
Wait... Crushingly difficult?
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
In our experience, Lightning's biggest weakness is something Kalir didn't mention: it has nothing in its base kit that even hits explorers except Raging Storm, which is garbage.
psst

friend

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Originally Posted by Kalir View Post
Hell, it lets you kill Explorers, period. Turns out you can't do that as Lightning without getting new cards.
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Old 12-11-2018, 04:16 PM
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Wait... Crushingly difficult?
I've heard a lot of people complain that Spirit Island is too difficult even at level 0 no adversary! It is not a sentiment with which I identify, but I understand it exists.
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Old 12-11-2018, 06:38 PM
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I've seen people nearly lose in no-adversary games when just starting out, primarily because there's a lot of things that don't seem very important (slow powers are Good Actually, you need presence on other players' boards too, teamwork can save you from trying to burn six cards to save one land) but which take a bit to learn.

As soon as you know the basics of the game, though, feel free to amp it up. I've beaten level 6 Sweden playing a solo four-spirit game (which was fun but also I'm never doing that again).



Each of the four Low complexity spirits has a Power Progression Deck, a baked-in set of powers they automatically get by playing so as to limit the analysis paralysis and the odds of getting screwed over by the draw. Broadly speaking, these powers are usually close to their wheelhouse, without giving them wildly overpowered or useless options. This card is a nice initial option for Lightning, and also one of the first of many cards that lets you choose between two different effects. Both of these are pretty good effects for 1 NRG at Fast speed, although if the card was just one or the other I wouldn't find it as attractive.



Hey, remember when I talked about speccing for Dahan cooperation? Here's a very nice card in that vein. It doesn't have Air, so it's harder for Lightning to speed up, but if you can do it, this plus Harbingers of the Lightning becomes a pretty dang good combo for taking out pretty much anything. And if you still have the NRG for Raging Storm afterwards (or a teammate with damage), there's not a lot that can stop you.

That gather effect is a bit less attractive, though. Sure, it's a lot of possible gather, but you have to target a land that already has Dahan, which is a problem for that one.



As much as I complain about Lightning's toolkit teaching newbies bad lessons, Powerstorm being the first Major power they have access to is really great. It's a very good card, but it's also very much a support card, and the thresholds (which Lightning stands a good chance of triggering whenever they play it, even without the progression deck) push it towards being used on a spirit with the NRG to spend rather than on yourself, fostering that good ol' sense of teamwork.

But y'know what spirit really wants to have this card in their hand? Thunderspeaker. Sun, Fire, and Air is literally their exact wheelhouse, and this lets them spike the effectiveness of all those smug-ass immortal spirits that don't depend on Dahan to do things.



The primary effect on this card, considering the pretty restrictive range, is honestly not that great. If you're getting up to 3 damage on this card, then how the hell did you even establish a Sacred Site here anyway? (Okay, Lightning can do it and Heart of the Wildfire probably inflicted most of that Blight anyway. And now that I look, this card has lots of elements both of them want, not to mention Thunderspeaker, who can move Presence... hm!) The terrain-dependent alternate effect, though, is MUCH more economical and worth the cost, although again it's iffy considering the range. All in all, a good and neat card, if perhaps not one that everyone will want.



So, one term I'm going to come up with a lot in these discussions is "dream card". This would be a card that is just so good for a particular spirit, that gels with their strengths and offsets their weaknesses, that there is no case in which they DON'T take it, given the chance. This is a good Lightning card for sure, but it's a dream card for Heart of the Wildfire. They'll always get the threshold, their starting Sacred Site has to actively try to get itself destroyed, the Blight it adds is frequently a feature rather than a bug, and the NRG cost, while a bit on the high side, is manageable with their NRG spiking Growth option.

Plus, come ON! It's a giant column of roaring flame! How are you not gonna want to swing that at some smug-ass conquistador outpost?



Very good card, love it, see it taken and put to use incredibly often.

But why is this in Lightning's progression deck?

A few reasons. First, while it doesn't offer Fire, it does offer Air and Water, and up to now they've only had access to Water via Raging Storm (and that's assuming they even held onto it considering their other major powers). Second, it combos really well WITH Raging Storm, letting you group up a bunch of Explorers together to be cleanly taken down. Finally, it has a Defend effect, and if you're going to be cooperating with Dahan at all, you REALLY need a Defend effect somewhere or other in there. It's not a very strong Defend, but hey, every bit helps.

Y'know, looking back, I'd almost swap this with Delusions of Danger in power order. But then you'd lose the easier synergy with Powerstorm. I guess the lesson here is that if you have a choice between these two, prioritize Entrancing Apparitions first as Lightning's Swift Strike.



And one more Dahan-focused card for the road. It's fast, it's cheap, if you have a bunch of Dahan grouped up somewhere where there's lots of Invaders it's bloody amazing, if you don't it's kind of trash.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
I've heard a lot of people complain that Spirit Island is too difficult even at level 0 no adversary!
wat
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Old 12-12-2018, 08:44 PM
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Here is the actual best spirit to start people out on. River Surges in Sunlight is balanced, straightforward, and works well with any team. Their innate is good, their Growths and Presence tracks are both very nice, and all of their initial cards are good, rather than just a few of them, with the rest being situationally good. (This isn't just a dig at Lightning's Swift Strike; there are some spirits recognized as pretty high tier with bad cards, but we'll get to those too.)

Not only that, but River's playstyle, unlike Lightning's, teaches new players some very good lessons about playing the game. It teaches them how extremely valuable moving Invaders or Dahan can be (by making it something they can do more or less at will), it helps people figure out lands they want to prioritize with the River's Domain rule, and it even supports players who want to play slow and hoardy or quick and spammy.

That said, I definitely think players should at least get up to 2 card plays with their first Growth. Massive Flooding is such a good innate that you want to have active pretty much every single turn. But eh, that's about the only way you can really screw up playing as River Surges in Sunlight.



A bit expensive, but for a fast potential 2 damage I'll happily take it. Flash Floods is an extremely good problem solver, and it helps new players to learn another lesson in that they have to spread out across the board to be of the most help to their team. Sure, you can save this card to hammer your own coast, but maybe it'd be better if you were to push Presence over to help other players who DON'T have a fast 2 damage option?

And to be honest, a fast 1 damage is still pretty good, because it kills an Explorer before they Build. That's worth it even if you can't get to a coast with it.



Only starting card without Sun, only starting card with Earth. Also the effect is RIDICULOUSLY GOOD. If they just built a Town somewhere, this card lets you just scatter everything in that land to wherever you feel would be most optimal for later cleanup. The fact that this is an extra effect of Massive Flooding's middle tier mostly speaks to how good your innate is. You can scatter two completely different lands, rendering them harmless, and also one of them can have 2 damage.

This stops being quite as good once a City gets established, but eh, you can fix that.



I don't think EVERY spirit has a supporting option available in their starting kit, but I like that most of them do. Really drives the teamwork aspect of the game home.

That said, Boon of Vigor's usefulness varies drastically depending on composition. You want to use it on teams with lots of card plays but weak NRG income, like Lightning's Swift Strike or Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves. If you're running with Vital Strength of the Earth and Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds, congratulations, you're diving for a Major power sooner rather than later!



Oh, and let's round out your Very Good Starting Cards with an effect that can just add Dahan to the board for free. Do you know how many effects let spirits add Dahan to the board? The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Call of the Dahan Ways, and that has some VERY situational targeting on it. But yeah River can just drag a few Dahan together and provide for their entire family.

AND they get free NRG out of it.

River Surges in Sunlight is very good.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:29 AM
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I think River is the only basic Spirit I haven't played at least once. I'll have to fix that!
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:30 PM
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To be honest, I'm not 100% sure what's happening here. It's obviously some kind of extremely biological thing that people would find bizarre or revolting, but which is ultimately restorative for the island.

Hell if I can name what's going on, though. And why Sands and Wetlands as the targets? Mystifying.



There are a few minor powers in the game that have elemental thresholds, usually pretty slight ones. There are a few, like Sap the Strength of Multitudes, which ask for elements they don't innately grant.

But Nature's Resilience might be the only card in the game that turns into a completely different card if you have elements it doesn't provide.



River's deck has a lot of conditional effects, huh?

It also has terrain-dependent effects, which fits with its wheelhouse of focusing on Wetlands for sure. When playing these sorts of spirits, though, you always have to be careful to strike a balance between improving at defending your specialty lands, and branching out to be able to handles areas besides them. (We'll revisit the hell out of this concept when we reach A Spread of Rampant Green and Ocean's Hungry Grasp.)



Uncanny Melting's bigger exfoliating sister.

The elements of Spirit Island do have innate themes, which do very much guide what each spirit and card should be for, but by and large these themes are pretty abstract. Sure, you'll get more Blight-healing off of Water and Plant cards, generally speaking, but that's less because that's what those elements do, and more because the processes indicated by those elements lend themselves more often to healing. (They also lend themselves to massive property damage!)



HELP HELP ITS A PRINTING ERROR

Ahem.

Song of Sanctity is a really cool pair of effects, but it's harder to get that second effect than I'd like, considering that a single mistimed Explore can foil that healing entirely, making this a Slow move of 1. The terrain-restriction makes it even worse, since depending on the Invader deck you might be facing an unpredictable or even unavoidable Explore of your target, necessitating you to burn another card to get the heal effect guaranteed. (But if you have the effect to spend, why WOULDN'T you?)



Do you notice how the threshold effect carries over to other coastal lands on that board?

Multi-land effects in Spirit Island are very good. Being able to handle multiple lands at once lets you get ahead of the Invaders' tempo incredibly quickly. As such, most multi-land effects tend to be expensive, have some kind of drawback (in Tsunami's case, the Coastal restriction and Dahan collateral damage), or require a goofy-ass elemental threshold.

This is also possibly the most thematic major card in the game for Ocean's Hungry Grasp... but at the same time, I can't really call this one a dream card, given the requirement of a Sacred Site and the excellent range to only hit the same lands you already have on lockdown, plus it's a little more expensive than they're really comfortable with. Still good for them, but it's a bit overkill in the area where you're already doing that, y'know?



Speaking of multi-land effects, even a measly Defend 2 becomes a league of its own when you can apply it to any place a spirit of your choice has Presence. Obviously, this is good for River Surges in Sunlight, because it lets them keep Wetlands in check much more easily (and they don't start with any really good Defend effects, which River's Bounty makes more valuable), plus it has exactly their elements.

But the best case scenario here is for River to play this on A Spread of Rampant Green. Sure, they can destroy their Sacred Sites to block Ravage outright, but wouldn't it be better to let them keep those Sacred Sites instead?
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Old 12-14-2018, 06:04 PM
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volcanoes are fun
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:47 PM
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Who would have guessed the river and ocean would have synergy?
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:36 PM
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This dopey Iron Giant looking fellow, while still being a low complexity spirit, somehow manages to change so much about how the game works by their playstyle that I can't even reliably say that they teach good or bad lessons.

Vital Strength of the Earth is awkward, because they're a high-NRG low-plays spirit, which is definitely viable, and the fact that they place presence even when reclaiming is handy, but they're hamstrung by extremely awkward card gain and a total lack of innate elements. Hell, the only reason that 0 range Presence growth isn't legitimately terrible is from their Earth's Vitality rule. Oh, and half their starting powers require Sacred Sites, so spreading out to other problem areas is going to be slow and awkward even if you do try reaching out.

Also, that innate is a hell of an element hog, and you won't even be guaranteed to get even the basic level of it until you're halfway through your card plays Presence track. The effect is nice, but I wouldn't ever play this spirit like I would River. In fact, there's a good case to be made for playing Vital Strength of the Earth completely disregarding elements outright.



Part of this reason is that three of Strength's starting cards are almost Major caliber. A Defend 4 effect is already pretty good, but throwing in a Blight heal in addition is amazing. Compare this to Nature's Resilience, which forced a choice between the two by asking for disparate elements. Sure, this costs 2 more NRG, but Vital Strength of the Earth has one of the best NRG incomes in the game. You can afford it.



Oh also you can just stop time whenever you want, that's good too.

There's a certain finesse to using this card that isn't apparent at first glance. Remember, the Invader deck follows certain rules when being built and played. So if the first two plays from the deck were Mountains and Wetlands, you can play this card to target a problematic Jungle or Sands to block the Explore there. But if you wait until the next turn and you're about to flip into Stage II, you can cancel a Build or Ravage in one land while also heading off an Explore that could be a potentially aggravating follow-up to a land that just got cleaned.

And if you hold onto this until stage 3, where every land is at risk for chaining multiple actions a turn, this card REALLY starts to shine.



That said, you still need to actually destroy the invaders eventually.

A lot of people undervalue this card due to the targeting restrictions, and I won't deny that they're harsh.

But once you get past those? You're looking at a starting card that can deal up to 5 damage AND has a ton of elements. And that targeting restriction isn't as bad as it looks at first. Partly because you are going to be swimming in Sacred Sites...



And partly because of the most overlooked card in Strength's starting hand.

It doesn't make a land indestructible, stop time, or kill a bunch of Invaders, but do not underestimate this card. With the boatloads of Defend your lands afford, you want to be able to get Dahan closer to them, and a slow gather of Explorers, properly aimed and timed, can often save vast swaths of the land. Plus, this helps you set up Rituals of Destruction pretty effectively. And by the time you can play the two of them together, that lets you use Gift of Strength AND gives you a good option for using it if nobody else needs it. (But ask your friends first.)
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:49 PM
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I played that absolute unit during my first Spirit Island game.

It was a 2P game with my partner playing Lightning.

This did not go well.
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Old 12-15-2018, 10:55 AM
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volcanoes are fun
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Old 12-15-2018, 10:08 PM
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Now this is a card's card. A real meat and potatoes. This here's a card you can set your watch by. If someone asks you "what does a Spirit Island card look like?" look no further.



Gather combined with Push can move Dahan a very long distance, and this card is very good at that. This is, of course, more valuable for some spirits than others, and Vital Strength of the Earth is one of those spirits, considering their abundance of Defend and generally lacking killpower to start out. Even as few as two Dahan, adequately defended, can take down a City and an Explorer.



Poisoned Land: because Thermonuclear Warhead somehow wasn't thematically viable.



Now that we're done being flippant, let's talk Dahan-destroying effects.

Obviously, destroying Dahan isn't good. They share the island with the spirits and help them defend it, and they ain't done nothing wrong. So you want to avoid doing that.

But the Dahan themselves are not intrinsically vital to keep around. Sure, some spirits really like having them around, and Vital Strength of the Earth is one of them, but sometimes it's necessary to use heavy-hitting powers like the above (not really this one, it's a bit weak) even considering the cost.

Still, I always feel like a jerk whenever I get Dahan killed with powers like these.



Do you notice that the NRG costs for the major powers in Strength's deck are the same cost as the bulk of their starting cards?

Do you think Lightning's Swift Strike ever gets envious that all the other spirits get real 3 NRG cards?



The elements in Strength's deck are all the hell over the place, aren't they? The curious part is that somehow you can still meet all the thresholds of all the power cards in this deck, assuming you even get this far and get enough card plays to get them all out without finishing the game.



Seriously, if you've gotten this far playing Vital Strength of the Earth, just go win already.

Or stop taking strange candy from Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds.
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Old 12-16-2018, 11:14 PM
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I kind of completely adore the flavor of Shadows Flicker Like Flame. Its whole schtick is that its perhaps the least understood of all the spirits out there, and has an alien mindset that the Dahan don't really understand, much less the Invaders. All that they really know is that the more afraid of it you are, the more dangerous it is, and it's hard not to be afraid of something that just kind of... causes things to vanish without a trace.

Despite the name, Shadows Flicker Like Flame doesn't actually have a clearly defined sphere of influence, and in fact is hard to track down to any kind of natural phenomenon the same way most spirits are. However, the other spirits don't really regard Shadows any differently from the other spirits, and the lore indicates that perhaps this is just because their understanding of the natural world has room for something like Shadows.

Which makes a lot of sense to me, really. It's only recently that humanity's really come around to understanding a lot of things that are just part of the natural world, like, oh say, radioactivity. Not out of the question for there to be spirits of these more esoteric and less understood forces, and it's even more effective to convey that with a spirit that doesn't have anything really recognizable (aside from shadows I guess) as a sphere of influence.

And best of all: Shadows Flicker Like Flame is one of the more Dahan-friendly spirits, both in lore and mechanics. This primordial cryptid might not make sense or act in ways that aren't horrifying, but it's here to help however it can.



Which makes it a shame that one of their most flavorful cards for displaying this is so... bad.

Don't get me wrong, there are few effects in the game that let you just flat render Dahan impervious to a Ravage. At best, you manage to pull a crazy boatload of Defend, but even that has its limits against a heavily fortified land. Shadows Flicker Like Flame is unique in that they can send a cadre of Dahan into a land and guarantee the survival of every single one.

But you'll still take the Blight, and without spending the NRG on Shadows of the Dahan, that's a Presence of yours burnt too.

Usually, any instance that would ask for this card is just better off with the boring-ass Defend effect. Sorry.



Let's talk Fear.

Fear is loosely analogous to victory points in most other games. Any card that features it effectively trades immediate power for long-term success. You'll get some automatically as you play normally, but if nobody's going for any Fear, then you're going to run closer to the Invader deck running out before you win.

By that same token, any Spirit specializing in Fear, like Shadows, needs to be able to actually do SOMETHING in the meantime, or else all that Fear is going to be useless before the island gets horribly blighted. So that means most Fear-inclined spirits have a secondary wheelhouse or two. In the case of Shadows Flicker Like Flame, that's Dahan cooperation and Explorer disruption.



Oddly enough, despite their good range and innate for tackling Explorers, Shadows is both not especially amazing at taking down Explorers due to being a little starved for elements, and also one of the only dedicated Explorer-killers in the game. Most other spirits that have Explorer-killing capability usually have it as an auxiliary move, often with high drawbacks. The only other spirit who comes close is Sharp Fangs Beneath the Leaves, and even they have to contend with Blighted lands.

None of this has anything to do with Mantle of Dread.



Like... if one of those cards could just switch up their Air with a Fire, Shadows Flicker Like Flame would be amazing, and they're honestly not too bad as is. Plus, all of their starting cards are incredibly cheap while still being pretty good, and their NRG income isn't half bad, which means powers like these can see much more flexible use thanks to Shadows of the Dahan.

I'm just sad when I can't go hogwild with good innates!
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  #26  
Old 12-17-2018, 12:28 PM
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Shadows is actually one of my favorite basic spirits, for a few reasons!

First, Shadows of the Dahan is fantastic, especially for new players. If you're not used to the flow of the game yet, you're going to make a ton of mistakes about where you put your presence. Shadows just does not give a fuck. If there's Dahan, it can target it. Yeah, it costs you an energy, but between your fantastic tracks (3/3 at 4 presence placements? Sign me up!), your +3 energy "default" growth option, and your cheap starting powers, that's not going to be a significant problem.

Secondly, it has a good mix of fast and slow powers that show you the strengths and weaknesses of both speeds.

Third, it focuses on fear. Fear is how you win games. IME, the Shadows player will have a frustrating turn or two as they move tokens down the scoreboard and don't feel like they're doing much, then they'll flip their first fear card and watch as it devastates the Invaders and be all "Woah, I did that".

Finally, even if you're not a new player, it's a good support for basically any other team of spirits. More fear is always good. More control is always good. More reach is always good. If I'm not sure what I want to play, I'm going to grab Shadows or River.
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  #27  
Old 12-17-2018, 11:41 PM
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I strongly dislike Shadows' power progression deck.

The individual cards aren't really weak, or poorly suited to Shadows Flicker Like Flame. Far from it, this has some really cool and powerful cards in it.

My beef is that it feels like it's trying to teach a lesson that is absolutely not suited for newbies, and it comes at a real expense to Shadows' potential.

Dark and Tangled Woods has Moon, yes, but that's all it offers element-wise, and the effect isn't bad, but it's also highly land-dependent.



And it's immediately followed by a card that doubles down on the land-focus problem, while resolving much slower than its predecessor. At least it actually has Fire, but now you're just as hungry for Air as for Fire, and those later levels of Darkness Swallows the Unwary are looking more and more distant.



The actual lesson they're using the first half of Shadows' deck to teach is finally revealed with The Jungle Hungers, which is a very good card that uses one element Shadows readily traffics in, and one which they technically have a bit of but mostly by accident. But since all of their "draws" have been Plant element and requiring an investment in fighting in Jungles, it looks a lot more attractive. (Plus, again, Shadows can just kinda nope away that range requirement.)

Again, this is an important lesson to learn in the game, about when to abandon your "traditional" element set and play to the strengths your draws have offered you, but come on! Don't make a first-time player have to struggle with that when they got in expecting something else!

(Also: this is one hell of a dream card for the next spirit we're looking at.)



It almost feels like insult to injury when the first card that actually hits every element of their innate is... this.

Now, I don't think Land of Haunts and Embers is that bad. Situational, hell yes. Giving spirits a power that only works at its best when it causes a Blight cascade is generally bad mojo.

But there are instances where it can work. It's a 0 cost, fast, range 2 card that can scatter a land that's about to ravage and cascade Blight anyway, making it a good "oh whoops we can't actually save that land" consolation prize. Additionally, and this is a rule that's commonly overlooked, you can play a card just for the elements and never actually trigger the effect. That alone makes this a great card for Lightning's Swift Strike, and it's not half bad for Shadows Flicker Like Flame.

Most of the time, though, yes this is a bad card, and no it shouldn't be in the power progression deck.



Plus, by this point, the player's probably given up on their innate entirely, and will happily junk Land of Haunts and Embers for its hotter cousin.



This might just be my favorite minor power in the game.

Maybe I'm a sappy idealist, but the fact that you can convince the Invaders to actually listen to and coexist with the Dahan is just incredibly delightful to me. Moreover, this card is legit mechanically good, since it's another one of those rare ways to add Dahan to the board.

Come on. Tell me you don't have a soft spot for this one.



And then we get the card that should have been first in the roster for Shadows' deck.

Better late than never, I guess. I mean, it's been beaten by Land of Haunts and Embers plus Terrifying Nightmares, but if you decided to hoard all three of these that could be good silly fun.

Last edited by Kalir; 12-19-2018 at 12:19 PM.
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  #28  
Old 12-19-2018, 12:15 PM
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Finally, we're free of the Low complexity spirits now and forever. Now we get to the really wacky ones. Frankly I'm just happy that we can finally have passive elements.

A Spread of Rampant Green is a really fun plant puppy with some very powerful capabilities, but the very first thing I want to point out is the fact that you place a presence every single turn, BUT it's limited to Jungles and Wetlands. (Other Presence you place is not constrained in this way.) This makes Green one of the spirits more susceptible to the Invader deck early on, where it's hard for them to branch out to the drier lands. This goes double for their frankly-underwhelming structure-attacking innate, Creepers Tear Into Mortars. At least the repeat keyword means it can target different lands with each threshold you hit, assuming you're okay with 1 point of structure damage in three different lands for some reason.

But y'know what? That's okay. Even if the Invader deck staunchly refuses to give you Jungles or Wetlands, that's a GOOD problem to have, and it means Green can maintain loads of Sacred Sites without having to worry about destroying any of them.

Also, A Spread of Rampant Green is the first of many Plant themed spirits I adore. They're all just so exuberant and happy to be here!



Number one rule every newbie Green player misses: you only get the benefit of Steady Regeneration during Growth! If you want to add Presence via powers like but have none on your tracks, sorry, move your existing Presence like everyone else.

That said, if that is a problem you're having? That's a GOOD problem to have. Plus, this is a pretty solid Fear generation card, if perhaps not for 2 NRG.

(I'm also a little miffed that all of your starting Moon cards are the ones that are the most expensive. Makes destroying stuff a little harder, ya dig?)



You could make a very good case for this card being the best starting power in the entire game.

A Spread of Rampant Green places their own Presence quickly, but to compensate, the rest of their track is fairly underwhelming, with only a cap of 4 card plays (same as Vital Strength of the Earth) and a dismal 3 NRG per turn (even Lightning's Swift Strike can do better than that!).

But accelerating the Presence of other spirits lets you advance people in ways that they really SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO DO. Heart of the Wildfire can make even more attacks. Vital Strength of the Earth has the leeway to take their power card gaining Growth option. Any Spirit that spams their entire hand can still progress like everyone else without losing a ton of tempo to constant reclaims. Ocean's Hungry Grasp still can't leave the coasts, but you give them more wiggle room with their tidal manipulation. Serpent Slumbering Beneath The Island I don't even have to finish that sentence.



A Spread of Rampant Green isn't really a defensive powerhouse like the rest, but it's no slouch. So being able to move the Dahan around is a pretty nice option to have.

And oddly enough, considering it's free, a Town shove isn't even that bad of an alternative either. The range is just good enough that you can use that to pull it into Creepers Tear Into Mortars range. Mind, this power grants no Moon, so you need a few card plays for that to really work, but it's not out of the question.



Continued adventures of really cool thematic cards that just aren't very good in practice.

Think about it. Where are you going to have Sacred Sites? Jungles and Wetlands. This power gets more effective on their drier counterparts, and it's a totally cool thematic thing!

But unless you have your own Presence in the target land or a pal helping you out, this card is a whole lot of nothing, and just more reason for Green to open up a game with quick reclaims so they can get their actually good starting cards out rather than waste a turn using this when it won't do anything.

And this one doesn't grant Moon either! Ugh, the theming is great but the antisynergy is just breaking my heart.
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  #29  
Old 12-20-2018, 10:51 AM
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The Low complexity Spirits have power progression decks, but no other spirits do, so I'ma just draw cards at random from what remains for the rest of our writeups.

Quicken The Earth's Struggles is a card I see taken a lot, probably because it has a very big Defend number, almost comically overkill. (I say almost because Indomitable Claim exists.) It's also free!

Very few players seem to mind that it can only target your Sacred Sites, or that there's another effect that does damage to every structure. Probably because 1 damage to structures is a weak effect unless paired with something else, and that's not always a guarantee when many spirits can just use destroy effects instead.

In practice, I'd say that this card isn't actually that useful for a lot of spirits, excluding Lightning's Swift Strike (who can quickly chuck out Sacred Sites and has good reason to do so, plus Raging Storm) and Shadows Flicker Like Flame (who can freely ignore the painful range restriction and really likes the elements).

But it'll still get taken and played. Defend 10 is a hell of a drug.



Here is a more reasonable cousin of Quicken the Earth's Struggles. Costs nothing, has better range, has even better range if you bring your own Air, and Defend 5 still is good enough to protect a lot of potential lands. The elements are weaker, but hey.

Of course this one still gets taken a lot too. And that's fine. Every day is fine like wine.

The contrast is interesting to me, that's all.



This is a pretty nice support card for costing 0 NRG, but it's not going to be a super huge gamechanger for a lot of spirits. If you have Sacred Sites and your buddies are going to favor card plays over NRG, then it's a free +3 for your buddies each time you play it. If not, oh well, nobody's perfect, and the underwhelming effect here makes this a fairly safe card to dump for a Major power.

You're doing your best, Gift of Living Energy, and I respect you for it.



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

Both effects on this card are very good, rather unlike a lot of cards that let you choose the effect. If you need Blight healing, this is cheap and effective Blight healing that only requires Dahan. If you can't get it or don't need it, you can instead move a bunch of Dahan around. There's really never a bad time to play Call to Tend.

And it's thematic, too! The Dahan are working with the Spirits to heal the island and I just like that very much!



This is perhaps one of the most destructive powers out there for a power that doesn't actually destroy anything by default.

If you just go for the base effect, this will sprinkle a heavily concentrated land into a bunch of different lands with a handful of Explorers, easy pickings for later. Sure, you'll want to take care of those guys sooner rather than later, but it's not going to be difficult to do.

The threshold on this card might be one of the hardest in the game to get and use, though. Seriously, Fire, Water, and Animal? Who even specs for that? And it only has an effect if you use it on a land with multiple Towns and Cities.

If you somehow find yourself with a hyper-concentrated land that nobody can do anything about, though, AND you can get the threshold on this, it'll work out very nicely for you.



This is a very good card that I never use.

If I can get the threshold on it (which is easier said than done, 4 Earth is pretty tough) then hell yeah I'll take it, AND I'll combo it with the more collateral damage focused powers like Tsunami without fear of harming my tiny Dahan buddies. (And unlike Concealing Shadows, it also prevents Blight, making it better than any Defend.)

But giving Dahan +4 Health means I have to figure out a way to track Dahan damage that isn't just flipping them over to represent them going from 2 to 1 health. Yeah, I could actually track damage from the Ravage and there's few, if any, other sources of Dahan damage (like... you have Diseases and that's about it).

Maybe I'm just being a noodly punk about something that is a really good effect that I should use more.



At 2 NRG, this is the cheapest Major power in the game.

Now, considering that many Spirits begin the game with card that cost the same, you might wonder why this isn't just a Minor power.

Turns out that there are no Minor powers that exceed a cost of 1 NRG. I guess the lesson is that spirit starting powers aren't Major or Minor, but their own class.

Anyway this card is kind of underwhelming but it's not bad. It has okay synergy with Vital Strength of the Earth, assuming you actually card about element thresholds and NRG expenditure for some weird reason.
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  #30  
Old 12-20-2018, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalir View Post


This is a very good card that I never use.

If I can get the threshold on it (which is easier said than done, 4 Earth is pretty tough) then hell yeah I'll take it, AND I'll combo it with the more collateral damage focused powers like Tsunami without fear of harming my tiny Dahan buddies. (And unlike Concealing Shadows, it also prevents Blight, making it better than any Defend.)

But giving Dahan +4 Health means I have to figure out a way to track Dahan damage that isn't just flipping them over to represent them going from 2 to 1 health. Yeah, I could actually track damage from the Ravage and there's few, if any, other sources of Dahan damage (like... you have Diseases and that's about it).

Maybe I'm just being a noodly punk about something that is a really good effect that I should use more.
Yeah, you totally are, and you totally should.

You know how "invaders skip the ravage step" is a super handy ability to have in your pocket? Infinite Vitality is that but better. It's "give the Dahan a free swing at the invaders."

OK, so it's not quite that. A Dahan or two will still die to a sufficient mass of invaders, and 3 energy isn't even close to free, but it still lets you weaponize the Dahan with much less fear of consequences. And worst case? It's still "invaders skip the ravage step." Dahan not required.
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