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12 Games In - My Thoughts Thus Far

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fenix.reborn
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12 Games In - My Thoughts Thus Far

My first thought is simply this: the game is amazing. Great art, great theme implementation, and great components (my only caveat is that the map pieces have started peeling/splitting on the sharp corners). It's also really fun. This game has been an instant success with my group (ie. co-op enthusiasts).

Second thought: the base game is really well balanced. This specifically true concerning the spirits. Ive played 12 games now and been every base game (plus KS) spirit exept Serpent. About 6 of those games have been vanillia with no Advesary/Scenario, we've played 1 game against each base level Advesary (including France), 1 game with level 1 Prussia, 1 game with level 2 Prussia and Guard the Island's Heart (which seems to sabotage Prussia's level 1 setup bonus), and 1 game against base level France on the thematic map. We have not used the expansion yet. In all of those games except 1 (more about that 1 later), we never once saw an Invader Stage 3 card and often we won within the first two Stage 2 cards. This was with a variety of player counts and spirit team ups. That's pretty consistent imo albiet rather easy (easy for our group; we're good at planning a turn ahead).

The 2 player game we played against France on the thematic board however was a whole another story. That combination is listed as a dificulty 5 (our previous highest was 3) and the spirits in use were Vital Strength (myself) and Shadow Flickers. One thing we didn't notice about the thematic map until the second turn, was that it had 10 spaces per board rather than the vanillia map's 8 which makes it very hard to control and contain the Invaders. This game had us streached to our breaking point by the middle of Stage 2 and we had to make some dificult calls about our sprirt's growth options. Once the Stage 3 cards started playing, we were both doing nothing but reclaiming our cards since those card were the only things keeping us alive. Up to this point we still had a healthy island due to heavy defensive play on my part, but now we realized the Invader deck was about to run out and, even though we had hit Terror Level 3 (thanks Shadows!), we were going to lose before we could kill all 5 remaining Citys. So we just dropped all defense and started a full on fear campaign, and even helped the Invaders blight the island with some of our powers. It was close, but with Vital Strength generating 6-7 fear a turn and Shadows earning around 8, we hit the last turn of the game with 1 fear token left to achieve a TOTAL FEAR VICTORY! One swift phase, Fear generating power later and we won the game! That game took 3 1/2 hours and was miles beyond our other games dificulty wise and that was only half the dificulty possible for the game.

Third thought would be that I'm unsure if the game has a middle ground dificulty wise. My group is (apparently) very good at puzzly co-ops. So I wonder that, since we always beat dificulty 0 games by the middle of Stage 2, if a player a little less action eficient or less adept at planning for the next turn would by extension win a little later, say by the end of Stage 2. Or if that player is not being that efficient in the early game, would they experience a "snowball" effect in which the Invaders win by blight or Spirit elemination by Stage 3? Haven't played with the expansion yet, so maybe it will smooth things out.

My final though would be that it would be a nightmare to try and balance custom spirits for this game. Mainly because of the headache that must be involved in deciding what elements each of a spirit's starting powers get vs what elements their innate power(s) get. So..many..permutations! I love making customs and I've done so for many of my games, but this one looks kind of unapprochable.

Anyway, that's what I think of GtG's Sprirt Island thus far. Rating for our group: 10/10


dpt
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I'm glad you're enjoying it so much! And congratulations on that hard-fought victory. "Difficulty 5" is not easy!

My first thought reading this is to suggest you up the difficulty level. Your description of that Difficulty 5 game sounds like the games at the level I like, where you are just barely hanging on. You might also need to bite the bullet earlier and expand your presence, at the cost of letting some lands get blighted.

There do tend to be "snowball" effects on the side of both the Spirits and the Invaders. This has the benefit of making games end sooner when one side or the other is very dominant.

Foote
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dpt wrote:

You might also need to bite the bullet earlier and expand your presence, at the cost of letting some lands get blighted.

Unless you're up against higher levels of Sweeden. That Tactic could come back to bite you in the rear if you flip a blight card with 2-3 BPP instead of 4-5.

Anyway, I agree. Up the difficulty on the invaders. My solo two spirit games tend to like invaders at the lvl3 difficulty point and you start to get a lot more flavor and diverging strategies at that point to deal with the differences in adversary tactics.

tedv
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Really glad you're appreciating the balance. You are right: balancing spirits is insanely hard and takes a lot of time and effort. (Power cards are also hard, to a lesser extent.) One of these days I'll do a writeup on how we approached the problem. But for now it's just nice to hear that the work is both noticed and appreciated.

fenix.reborn
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tedv wrote:

Really glad you're appreciating the balance. You are right: balancing spirits is insanely hard and takes a lot of time and effort. (Power cards are also hard, to a lesser extent.) One of these days I'll do a writeup on how we approached the problem. But for now it's just nice to hear that the work is both noticed and appreciated.

Having made my own customs, I have a deep respect for what you play testers do (so much work, like...so...much...WORK!). So thanks to you all!
Eric R
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fenix.reborn wrote:
Really glad you're appreciating the balance. You are right: balancing spirits is insanely hard and takes a lot of time and effort. (Power cards are also hard, to a lesser extent.) One of these days I'll do a writeup on how we approached the problem. But for now it's just nice to hear that the work is both noticed and appreciated.

 

Having made my own customs, I have a deep respect for what you play testers do (so much work, like...so...much...WORK!). So thanks to you all!

In addition to playtesting and all of the awesomeness that entails (thank you, playtesters!), Ted also did a boatload of development on Spirit Island. (He's the one credited in the rulebook as Developer.) Balance on Spirits and balance/costing on Power Cards were two areas in particular where he put in a lot of attention!

Chaosmancer
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I'll go against everyone elses advice at the moment.

 

Instead of upping the difficulty just yet, add in the expansion material. The thematic map supposedly becomes easier (I've been too intimidated to actually play a full game on the thematic map) but the added random effects and increased pool of available powers and spirits will be a small learning curve.

 

I've found in my expierence that a lot of groups don't like lowering the difficulty of a game they feel like they are getting good at, so I like adding in options and new rules. Once they've got everything then you can ramp difficulty to where it feels comfortable.

Chaosmancer
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tedv wrote:

Really glad you're appreciating the balance. You are right: balancing spirits is insanely hard and takes a lot of time and effort. (Power cards are also hard, to a lesser extent.) One of these days I'll do a writeup on how we approached the problem. But for now it's just nice to hear that the work is both noticed and appreciated.

 

I think I would love to read that write-up, not only does it sound fascinating, but one of the things I balk at involving creating my own content is balance, so it could be useful as well as interesting.

phantaskippy
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I did tokens and events before adversaries or scenarios, and I liked that approach.