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An alternate method to teach Spirit Island

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Amnachaidh
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An alternate method to teach Spirit Island

I taught Spirit Island at U-Conn this year, a local gaming convention near Ann Arbor, MI. Christopher was a GOH there a couple years ago. I was thinking about how the game is taught, generally, and what kinds of confusion that I’ve observed when the new players try to follow the game.

In the previous sessions where I’ve taught the game, I went through the turn order, explaining what things can be used in that phase. I think this is how most present the game and online reviews tend to do so as well. While most everyone seems to get it by around turn 3-4, I thought that “flipping the script” on the order in which concepts are introduced would be helpful. For reference, comment, and consideration, I’m presenting the outline here.

The basic thought is it’s easier to understand what your spirits are trying to do after you’ve seen what the invaders are going to do; and how their actions will impact the island, the Dehan, and the spirits. I basically explain everything that doesn’t involve the spirits first.

After that, I show the players what they can do – really how little they can do - then I show them how they can get better through growth and cooperation. I don’t touch fear until the end of the discussion.

Here’s the outline of how I approached teaching the game. Some of it is more designed to be read than general outline, as it felt necessary at the time. It seemed to work for most of the players.

Spirit Island Teaching Outline:

  1. Introduction – We are all Spirits
    1. I’m trying a non-standard way of teaching this game, going from what you need to know least to what you need to know most, and from the most mundane to the most magical. I’m not going to start with the “How do I.” of the game, rather the “This is what the game does to you”. I’d ask that you hold questions about what a portion of the game I’m not talking about is about until I get there. I should, before this is done, get there.
    2. We are different in how we relate to the board, what are strengths are, and how should we be focusing our actions
  2. The Island
    1. Four types of Terrain, with one extra type (Ocean)
    2. Inland Vs. Costal
    3. Blight
    4. Our presence on the Island.
      1. Our lands
      2. Sacred Sites
  3. The Dahan
    1. Who they are
    2. Side note if folks seem into it. Dahan --- Slow in Tagolog in a “Deliberate” connotation.
  4. The Invaders
    1. They’re basically playing a 4x game
      1. Explore, expand, exploit and exterminate
      2. Show the invader map and how it progresses
    2. Show how the invaders are destroying everything
      1. Explore, Build (Expand), and
      2. Ravage (Exploit and Exterminate)
        1. What the damage does
          1. To the Dahan,
          2. Blight – and the impact to presence
          3. Blight Cascade
        2. What the Dahan do in response
  5. How Do we Lose
    1. No draw possible in Invader Deck
    2. Run out of Blight
    3. Player having no presence on the island
  6. So what can we do in response?
  7. Our spirits are waking from a long rest, and are at their weakest
    1. We have only 1, 2, or 3 presence on the board each, with or without sacred sites.
    2. We only get one or so points of energy a turn
    3. We can only play a small number of cards a turn.
    4. Our special rules are potentially helpful, but need more
    5. There’s rarely enough power to activate our Innate Powers at their lowest levels
    6. “There is hope, you can see it in that there is so much more capability hidden under the potential presence on the Spirit Cards”
  8. The question is, then, how we grow? Go through growth phase and options
    1. Reclaim cards (1/all), Gain Energy, add Presence, or
    2. Gain a major or minor card (explain the procedure and how it’s similar and different between minor and major cards)
  9. The other question is: how do we attack?
    1. Driven by cards – innate powers & card effects
    2. Card anatomy
      1. Power Cost
      2. Fast or Slow
      3. Range
      4. Target Land – explain the idea of one card one land
    3. Main card action
      1. Damage or destroying things
      2. Fear
      3. Gather and Push
      4. Defend
      5. etc.
    4. Card elements driving innate powers
  10. Yet other question is: what does Fear mean?
    1. How to make Fear
      1. Cards
      2. Invader destruction
    2. What to fear cards do – show examples
    3. Fear Levels
  11. Finally – How do we win
    1. Fear Levels make it easier to win

I hope that this is helpful. Thanks for reading.


Can I say somethin' about destiny? Screw destiny!.... 'Cause destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, "You're evitable!" Fred Burkle

McBehrer
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I like it. I'll have to refer to this next time i have to teach a game


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Amnachaidh
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I'd be very interested in feedback. Thank you!


Can I say somethin' about destiny? Screw destiny!.... 'Cause destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, "You're evitable!" Fred Burkle

jffdougan
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Based on my experience for which loss condition occurs how often, I'd suggest listing "out of Blight" before "can't draw from Invader deck."

Amnachaidh
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That's a good point. Revised in the Word formatted version. 


Can I say somethin' about destiny? Screw destiny!.... 'Cause destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, "You're evitable!" Fred Burkle

jffdougan
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Amnachaidh wrote:

That's a good point. Revised in the Word formatted version. 

I'd take a link to that. :)

Amnachaidh
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Let me know if this fails to work.

Moving from Word to Google Docs as an outline required a manual reformat. It may appear differently than the original, above. Plus a little more editing away from some text that amused me :) 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/13M6md4S3cOeSQ7loXxDjHblgOYpFnJUAEJOSfaleBCM/edit?usp=sharing


Can I say somethin' about destiny? Screw destiny!.... 'Cause destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, "You're evitable!" Fred Burkle

nfelddav
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I always teach invaders before going into detail on spirit actions, I definitely think that's better. However, I like to talk about game flow before I go into details about either. So between your 3 and 4 I would include:

-the game proceeds in a series of rounds

-in each round we first simultaneously make choices about what we're going to do in that round

  -then some of our powers happen

  -then invaders act

  -then our other powers happen

jffdougan
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Link looks solid, opens just fine. Thanks!

arenson9
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The first thing I want to know when learning a game is the win/lose conditions.


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Amnachaidh
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Thanks all for your input and encouragement. I have to admit to being (1) completely wrong about the game when I said that the game didn't seem to work for me back in play testing and (2) not being the best candidate for playtesting.


Can I say somethin' about destiny? Screw destiny!.... 'Cause destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, "You're evitable!" Fred Burkle