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Heart of the Wildfire strategy musings

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dpt
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Heart of the Wildfire strategy musings

Following Foote's apparent mastery of the rest of the game but difficulty with Wildfire, I played a couple solo (one-spirit) games with it. My adversary was Brandenburg-Prussia Level 6, because that's how I roll. I lost the first game and won the second. (This is normal--my win rate at that difficulty is about 50%. This is not easy.)

First, I just want to make sure there are two rules points that are clear:

  • The initial 2 Blight on the island in your starting Sands comes from the box, not from the Blight card. This is a significant advantage: it gives you Blight you can eventually heal, especially with the first level of The Burned Land Regrows, without making the island closer to Blighting.
  • Your own presence doesn't get destroyed by Blight you place, including cascades.

General strategies, that you probably know:

  • The extra damage from placement is essentially a free minor power each turn.
  • I made sure to trigger Firestorm every turn. It's not hard to do, and gives you a bunch of free damage, provided you have suitable targets.
  • As in any game, I think carefully about what all the upcoming threats are, and how to deal with each (including deciding to let it alone).
  • The Brandeburg-Prussia flag effect is actually kind of helpful for Wildfire, like it is for Ocean: you can quickly burn out your own lands with blight, and the flag effect lets you add Towns right back in those areas so that you can destroy them again at your leisure.

Now, on to the games!

The first game developed a land I just couldn't (or didn't) deal with quickly enough. I was playing on Board D, with a coastal Wetlands that started with an extra town, and the first three cards were Mountains+Wetlands; Coastal lands; and Wetlands+Flag. So that land triggered every time. On the first turn I chose to gain energy and take care of the Mountains near my starting location, figuring that I would be able to deal with that nest in the corner later, possibly after they built a City and added a Blight. I came reasonably close to doing it, but couldn't quite manage it before running out of Blight on the Blight card. I tried to use Sky Reaches to Shore for the +3 Range to Coastal Lands (so I could Firestorm there without having presence), but it just wasn't effective enough without the +Fire. In retrospect that was probably a bad choice.

The second game was way more effective, and I stomped the Prussians pretty effectively. I was so effective shutting down Builds that I didn't end up gaining much Fear, and came quite close to a victory at Terror Level 1: There was a grand total of 1 Explorer on the board when I got to Terror Level 2 (and won). I ended up revealing the two fires on the first two turns so that I could actually use Firestorm; the island predictably blighted soon after. I did manage to get a couple of very helpful powers: Fire in the Sky and Elusive Ambushes were both great. (Elusive Ambushes was helped by my ability to push the Dahan around with Presence placement.) I also earned Blazing Renewal, which in principle is a great power for Wildfire, and played it on the last round for elements. But in a great show of self-restraint, Wildfire did not use it, since there weren't enough targets around. (That last round did trigger the second level of Firestorm, with 3 card plays.)

I don't know if this helps give any ideas for strategies.


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Your lands blight out fast from flipped blight card. How did you deal with that effect of sacing presence? Or did you play without a blight card?

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Foote wrote:
Your lands blight out fast from flipped blight card. How did you deal with that effect of sacing presence? Or did you play without a blight card?
I played with a Blight Card.

The first game I got Downward Spiral, and indeed had to sacrifice a Presence each turn. It wasn't honestly a huge deal, because I already had a lot of Presence on the board by that point. Games against Brandenburg-Prussia are always short and brutal; it might have been a different matter against a different Adversary. (I lost anyway due to Blight, but losing Presence was not a big contributing factor.)

The second game I got A Pall Upon the Land, which was moderately helpful. I could lose one Presence with no issue (from the initial stack of 3), and I was able to get rid of a Town in an annoying place. Of course I then had to very carefully monitor the Blight level, and try to make sure to use The Burned Land Regrows every turn. Fortunately I had enough card plays to make that possible. In a longer game I would also be on the lookout for other blight-removal powers.

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One other note: if there's any other spirit that can help with removing Blight, that helps a great deal.

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Do you think that Wildfire should really just focus on denying build phases over trying to prevent ravage blight since that spirit is just going to blight the land up anyway? 

I'll be honest, the games I'v played both solo and with others it seems our focus is squared upon preventing bad ravages/cascades each turn and dealing with future builds as a distant 2nd in priority. I have no doubt that this is a perfectly viable, if lengthy, strategy in most cases, but is it overly faulty to think this strategy is best with all spirits?

Could this be a major reason I have such trouble finding ways to make Wildfire, Shadows, even River and Nightmares to a lesser extent, feel as useful/powerful as some other spirits I'm gravitating towards like Keeper, Oceans, Green, Thunder, and Lightning?

 

Edit: You would mind, in your next game with wildfire, doing a detail accoutning of just your first two turns? Growth Option, presence track taken from, energy gained, card or cards played, ect.

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In many cases, stopping the Build also stops the Ravage as there are no invaders to deal damage.

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Foote wrote:
Do you think that Wildfire should really just focus on denying build phases over trying to prevent ravage blight since that spirit is just going to blight the land up anyway? I'll be honest, the games I'v played both solo and with others it seems our focus is squared upon preventing bad ravages/cascades each turn and dealing with future builds as a distant 2nd in priority.
This is a natural strategy to gravitate towards, but to do very well, you need to think past the immediate ravage. It is generally cheaper to stop a Build than a Ravage, and cheaper to stop an Explore than a Build; the earlier you stop the invaders, the easier it will be. (The downside is that you also earn less Fear if you stop them early.)

 

This is an important advanced strategy that I always use, but I hadn't thought about Wildfire as being particularly reliant on that. Interesting. Keeper defiintely does this (preventing Explorers), but does that kind of passively and you may not be noticing?

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dpt wrote:

This is an important advanced strategy that I always use, but I hadn't thought about Wildfire as being particularly reliant on that. Interesting. Keeper defiintely does this (preventing Explorers), but does that kind of passively and you may not be noticing?

oh I definitivly notice Keeper and his Wild spread. Having token generation in both innate powers and initial power card hand, the Growth+Sacred Site creep is what I thought was considered his "wall" thats talked about in his description. Keeper though has another potential damage bomb in his first innate power once your card plays are high enough and a huge incentive to gather 2-3 major powers ealier than most due to the sheer volume of energy he generates. This has lead me to a playstyle of just bombing high populated areas to generate fear and clear out those pesky cities that crop up due to a rather slow early game.

cheaper to stop an Explore than a Build

It's cheaper sure, but it sure is harder to do unless you are Keeper. Without Keeper, Wild tokens don't just grow on trees, so to speak, and at best you have a 50/50. Outside of that, you need to clear out all builds from the innermost part of the island first to prevent explores which can be difficult for a lot of spirits. Even strong early game spirits like Fang would need to sacrifice early presence and board reach to do this. Maybe that tradeoff is favorable? It's possible my gameing sensibilities and playstyle lend it self to the hyper control oriented spirits. Like I said, Im loving Keeper, I think Ocean is boarderline OP, and Green is crazy good for something that won't touch a major power during the game.

 

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Foote wrote:
You would mind, in your next game with wildfire, doing a detail accoutning of just your first two turns? Growth Option, presence track taken from, energy gained, card or cards played, ect.
In fact I took detailed notes during those games, I just didn't want to dump it all.

Here's the successful (second) game from the first post:

  • Initial Explore was Sands+Mountains.
  • Turn 1: Growth: Gain a power (because I needed the range to snipe an explorer), take from the Plays track. Earn Razor-Sharp Undergrowth (out of a bad draw), play Threatening Flames (since I had 0 energy, and wanted to hang on to Flame's Fury). End up preventing both builds in the sands, leaving the two mountain spaces. Explore is Jungle (+ a town in a Wetlands).
  • Turn 2: Growth: Gain energy, take from the Energy track, switching to the "causing blight" mode. Play Razor-Sharp Undergrowth. Use Presence placement+Firestorm to clear out one of the Jungles, and Razor-Sharp Undergrowth to protect one of the Mountains. Get slightly lucky in the other Mountains with Events/Fear. Explore is Wetlands.
  • Turn 3: Growth: Gain a power card, take from the plays track, so that I can finally activate The Burned Land Regrows. Unfortunately the island gets Blighted before I can start healing.

​I'll stop the detail there. Looking at this, it seems like one key decision was in Turn 2, when I made an aggressive placement. As it happened, there were Towns in both Jungles before the Explore, and I knew that I needed to shut one of them down quickly, before the Build, so that I could deal with the other one before it Ravaged.

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Foote wrote:
dpt wrote:
This is an important advanced strategy that I always use, but I hadn't thought about Wildfire as being particularly reliant on that. Interesting. Keeper defiintely does this (preventing Explorers), but does that kind of passively and you may not be noticing?

 

oh I definitivly notice Keeper and his Wild spread. Having token generation in both innate powers and initial power card hand, the Growth+Sacred Site creep is what I thought was considered his "wall" thats talked about in his description. Keeper though has another potential damage bomb in his first innate power once your card plays are high enough and a huge incentive to gather 2-3 major powers ealier than most due to the sheer volume of energy he generates. This has lead me to a playstyle of just bombing high populated areas to generate fear and clear out those pesky cities that crop up due to a rather slow early game.

Yup! That works well.

It's not showing up in the games I annotated (because games against high-level Brandeburg-Prussia are so short), but Wildfire also builds up to be a real damage beast, if you can trigger that second level of Firestorm. Of course you need to survive to that point.

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I'd second the thought that focusing on preventing Builds in particular, rather than Ravages, is the dominant strategy once you figure out how the game works.


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I will try and get in a few more games this weekend and see if I can't alter my thought proccess with being overly ravaged focused. (But seeing as I turn 30, I may be far too drunk to play this)

Hopefully that will help not only play wildfire, but Shadow, Fang, and Nightmare in particular.

I always find Nightmare fun, but when the game's win conditions for the majority of the game include destroying all buildings, well, Nightmare doesn't do that at all. And any game with Nightmare takes sooooo long to finish for me. 

Hopefully this change in strategy will aid me here! You know I'll check in to tell you how I fair.

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The truly pro Spirit Island player can manage a game after 4 pints of beer or a pint of gin :D


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Any proof for that statement?


Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.
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Christopher and I have definitely done both, but you'll just have to take our word for it or meet up with us at 11pm at Gen Con for a game :)


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Paul wrote:

Christopher and I have definitely done both, but you'll just have to take our word for it or meet up with us at 11pm at Gen Con for a game :)

How many difficulty levels does it add per pint of beer? :)
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But what's the proof?


Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.
-Robert E. Howard, "The Tower of the Elephant"

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Pydro wrote:

But what's the proof?

Beer, probably around 12? The gin's likely 80...


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Never heard of anyone using proof for beer, but most beer under 10% ABV isn't worth drinking.

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carnilius wrote:

Never heard of anyone using proof for beer, but most beer under 10% ABV isn't worth drinking.

They don't. I did the calculation for the joke. cheeky

wink 

(And I knew that, no matter what numbers I chose, someone would give me crap about something... cool)


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Actually was responding to Pydro, not you, just got ninja'd.

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smiley Perhaps, but the joke still had to be made. smiley


Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.
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So assuming someone drank 4 pints of beer at 20 proof each, that's about on par in terms of alcohol with the one pint of gin for 80 proof.  Except that you'd be a lot more full after the beer.  Impressive.

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carnilius wrote:

Actually was responding to Pydro, not you, just got ninja'd.


Ha! :-D Sorry about that. :-)

Hey! I was a ninja! :-o


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Ok guys back with it. 

Prussia lvl3. Fang and Wildfire. 

Strat: I specifically decided with my friend that we would try to focus more on build deny instead of our usual ravage focus. We chose Fang as well because it should excel at that with wildfire in theory. 

Game was an easy victory. Wildfire for me felt a lot better this time. I'm not sure if it was the strategy or just my compfort with the game at this point, but we focused on build deny as I said and went after the far inland towns first when able. The idea behind that was to prevent as many explore targets as we could before the early invader3 card (obviously coastal towns are less valuable early since explorers come from the ocean regardless). This, I think, was a big key to our easy victory that we had overlooked before. It sounds so obvious, but it made a big difference. I was able to get off a massive firestorm with some help from Elemental boon from Fang which felt great  

We were able to hold off blighting the land until fairly late when everything was pretty under control. Aid From Lesser Spirits was our blight card, and I think that was a huge help as I was able to clear blight when needed with wildfire at that point. A blight card which destroyed presence would have certainly caused much bigger problems. 

My friend liked Fang and was able to make good use of Ranging Hunt but wasn't able to get hardly presence on the island and thought, while effective, was a bit slow, clunky, and overly reliant on the luck of the draw from Event cards with beast effects. While I think I very much agree with the over reliance on event cards, we figured out after the game he was only choosing one growth option a turn instead of two. Well, that would changed eeeeeverything haha. 

 

 

Next Spirit in my crosshairs are Nightmare. I'm overly worried about the lack of being able to actually destroy buildings and just moving them. Now that I have a better grasp on Wildfire I want to figure out how the heck your supposed to A) not have a 4 hour game and B) not get overrun with your inability to clear out invaders. 

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Foote wrote:

While I think I very much agree with the over reliance on event cards, we figured out after the game he was only choosing one growth option a turn instead of two. Well, that would changed eeeeeverything haha.

Ha, ya, that will make a bit of a difference. I disagree on Fang having an overreliance on event cards though. During the Kickstarter I made my own Fang spirit panel and unique power cards when it was spoiled in an update, so I was playing Fang without an event deck, and without the expansion major and minor powers, and Fang still felt strong and useful to me.

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I just played a solo game with Wildfire.  It ended with all the invaders (except for a few scattered explorers) corralled into the middle coastline land, where they could then be destroyed by a 7 damage Firestorm.  Not, to be clear, the 7 fire part of Firestorm, because that adds a blight and I had exactly 1 blight in every land, with 1 blight remaining on the blight card.  


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Arcanist Lupus wrote:
...I had exactly 1 blight in every land, with 1 blight remaining on the blight card.  
If there's 1 Blight in every land, it doesn't matter how much is left on the card... And I guess that can happen in a solo Wildfire game!

Who was your opponent?

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I was playing against Level 0 Sweden.  I'm running solo games with every spirit against Level 0 adversaries, before moving on to 2 spirit games against higher levels.

 

Sweden's Level 0 seem significantly more powerful than England or Prussia's.  Is that just me?


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Sweden is the harder adversary for sure. Until France. Them French will mess you up haha

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One tip for Sweden is that the conversion effect is kind of predictable, and you can just make sure to clump the Dahan. That's a more advanced strategy, though.

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Foote wrote:

Sweden is the harder adversary for sure. Until France. Them French will mess you up haha

Indeed France Level 0 is rated as Difficulty 2, vs Difficulty 1 for the other Adversaries.
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So with a few Wildfire games under my belt, my strategy has become:

Get presence from energy track until forced to unveil 2nd fire.  I'm clearing explorers, making sure I get firestorm if i need to clear stuff behind me.  Wildfire is so good at denial.

Then i'm getting both element spaces before 2 cards so I can start removing blight as I add it.  This wasn't too slow of a start, as I isolated a good chunk of my board and made my early blight addituon a +1, and after a reclaim I was blight neutral.

The key seems to be getting burned land 2 as fast as possible.

 

Does this sound right to people who haved played Wildfire more?  I understand Wildfire is well set to go card play and rely on energy and card gain, but that route seems reclaim heavy and didn't do as well the time I went that route.

 

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That is definitely in line with how I play Wildfire. Sometimes I'll risk revealing the second fire early and get to 2 cards before I start out down the Energy track so that presence playment destroys towns, but generally only if I'm playing with other spirits who are good at blight removal, or are Spread of Rampant Green.


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For the record, I generally unlock 2 fire on the second or third turn of the game, and tend to go for 2 card plays as soon as possible. The energy gain growth option is really strong once you have 2 or more fire unlocked. So there's definitely different ways to play this spirit.

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I generally go for 2 energy per turn first, then three card plays, and then the plant/fire element box.

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Paul wrote:

Christopher and I have definitely done both, but you'll just have to take our word for it or meet up with us at 11pm at Gen Con for a game :)

 

Tempted. Friday?


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arenson9 wrote:

Paul wrote:

Christopher and I have definitely done both, but you'll just have to take our word for it or meet up with us at 11pm at Gen Con for a game :)

 

 Tempted. Friday?

I'm sure I'll be teaching a bunch, but count me in for non-teaching games any night.

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I am definitely in for non-teaching games in the middle of the night at Gen Con! Friday and/or Saturday will definitely work as long as we can find a place with a big enough table that will sell me beer.


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Paul wrote:
I am definitely in for non-teaching games in the middle of the night at Gen Con! Friday and/or Saturday will definitely work as long as we can find a place with a big enough table that will sell me beer.
If we find a place with a really big table, we could do a 6-player canonical map game! I did one last night, and it was a blast.
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dpt wrote:

If we find a place with a really big table, we could do a 6-player canonical map game! I did one last night, and it was a blast.

Out of curiosity, how long did that take? 


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My main goal for gen con this year is a 6 player game.  I'm trying to get enough games in that I won't drag down the table skill level.

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I'm in! :)


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THERE IS NO WAY I'M DOING A SIX PLAYER GAME. At least not until my play level gets much higher.


Hi. My name's Andy. Feel free to call me Andy, since, ya know, that's my name. (he/him/his)

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I like the game a lot, but I am still on single digit plays and haven't moved ANY of the levers yet -- just a plain, vanilla game at the easiest difficulty.


Hi. My name's Andy. Feel free to call me Andy, since, ya know, that's my name. (he/him/his)

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If not now, when? If I am for myself alone, what am I? -- Hillel

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I hope everyone gets tons of chances to play Spirit Island at Gen Con! I am absurdly busy at the show, so I will not have nearly the free time that most of you will have. However, I am so excited about this game that if anyone is playing within walking distance of the convention center and would be interested in having me play, feel free to text me literally any time of day or night. I'll let you know if I'm available or not, and if I'm asleep (which is rare at Gen Con), I'll just ignore it. My phone number is 3143241112 :)


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Rabit wrote:
dpt wrote:
If we find a place with a really big table, we could do a 6-player canonical map game! I did one last night, and it was a blast.

 

Out of curiosity, how long did that take? 

3 hours. This included teaching 4 out of the 6 players about the expansion contents, and teaching 1 player the whole game (!). It was not the gentlest first game experience, but I gave him Vital Strength of Earth on the largely successful theory that this would keep him confined to one corner of the board.

I hope to post a full game report soon.

arenson9 wrote:
I like the game a lot, but I am still on single digit plays and haven't moved ANY of the levers yet -- just a plain, vanilla game at the easiest difficulty.
One thing I like is how many different levels you can engage the game at, and many people will have a lot of fun playing the vanilla game for a long time, like you say. I've been trying to figure out how to word a FAQ question to that effect, so that people don't get intimidated by reports of people beating England level 3 on their third play.

Paul wrote:
...if anyone is playing within walking distance of the convention center and would be interested in having me play, feel free to text me literally any time of day or night.
Wait, I'm not sure I understand; are you saying you like the game? ;)

(BTW, time for a thread split?)

Chaosmancer
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I'd be seriously interested in a 6 player game at Gencon, I'm fairly confident in my level of play, especially if I can choose a spirit whose style I've got a good understanding of like Vital Strength or Keeper of the Wilds.

 

I'm also mostly free later in day for Gencon, since most of my volunteer work for Mythical Eras of War will be early in the day. I also will admit I signed up for a Spirit Island demo to make sure I had a chance to scratch the itch.

Katsue
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I've only played Wildfire solo, and at a low level, but in the game I did best I went straight for two card plays, followed by 2 Fire, and then up the Energy track so that I could remove Blight at about the same rate I was putting it out.

dcvdg1
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Katsue wrote:

I've only played Wildfire solo, and at a low level, but in the game I did best I went straight for two card plays, followed by 2 Fire, and then up the Energy track so that I could remove Blight at about the same rate I was putting it out.

 

Pretty much this for me when I've been using Wildfire solo.  Of course, I'm still playing at the basic 0 difficulty and without an adversary level right now.  Wildfire just has so much abilty to wipe out towns and cities, that once I hit terror level 2 it is pretty much game over for the invaders on that turn or the next.

phantaskippy
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Yeah, solo that method is awesome, but on big maps you don't want to flip the blight card just to clear your board.  Going energy is slower clearing your own board, but you can end up being a positive force against blight.

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