|Number of Players
||R. Eric Reuss
||Greater Than Games
In the far reaches of the world, magic still exists, embodied by spirits of the land, and the sky, and of every natural thing. As the great powers of Europe reach their colonial empires further and further, they will eventually lay claim to a place where spirits still have power - and when they do, the land itself will fight back with the islanders who live there.
Spirit Island is a complex and thematic cooperative game about protecting your island home from colonizing Invaders. Players are unique spirits of the land, each with its own different elemental powers. Each turn, players simultaneously pick which of their power cards to play, paying energy to do so. Using combinations of power cards that match a spirit's elemental affinities can give free bonus effects. Faster powers take effect immediately, before the Invaders grow and destroy, but other magics are slower, needing forethought and planning to use effectively. In the Spirit phase, spirits acquire energy, and choose how / whether to Grow: to claim back used power cards, to look for new power, or to grow presence into new areas of the island.
The Invaders spread out across the island map in a semi-predictable fashion. Each turn they search some new lands (portions of the island); the next turn, they build in those lands, creating settlements and cities. The turn after that, they ravage there, bringing blight to the land and attacking any native islanders there.
The islanders fight back against the Invaders when attacked, and loan the spirits some other aid, but can not always do so exactly as you would hoped. Some Powers work through the islanders, aiding them (eg) drive out the Invaders or clean the land of blight.
The game escalates as it continues: spirits spread their presence to new parts of the island and look for new and more potent powers, while the Invaders up their colonization efforts. Each turn represents 1-3 years of alternate-history.
At game start, winning requires destroying every standing settlement and city on the board - but as you scare the Invaders more and more, victory becomes easier: they'll run away even if some number of settlements or cities stand. Defeat comes if any spirit is destroyed, if the island is overrun by blight, or if the Invader deck is depleted before reaching victory.
The game comes with different adversaries to fight against (eg: a Swedish Mining Colony, or a Remote British Colony). Each changes play in unique ways, and offers a different path of difficulty boosts to keep the game challenging as you gain skill.