Spirit Island: Jagged Earth Preview

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I’m not going to bury the lede: Spirit Island is getting a new expansion, and it’s going to be huge! Up right now on Kickstarter, Jagged Earth is packed to the brim with new Spirit Island goodness, and I managed to get my grubby hands on a portion of it. Readers will know the level of adoration we have for this game, but this is a preview and I shall remain impartial.

GUYS THERE’S A NEW SPIRIT CALLED FRACTURED DAYS SPLIT THE SKY!!!

Ahem.

While I haven’t been able to play with that epic-sounding spirit, I have managed to play around with two of the 10 new spirits that will be included in the expansion proper and a promo pack.

Many Minds Move As One is the spirit of beasts, and it finally makes these tokens much more impactful and awesome than before. My experience with Branch and Claw so far has been pretty tepid when it comes to beast tokens, but Many Minds can generate and manipulate a pile of them. Elements seemed quite important with this spirit, and it had a relatively slow start compared to most. The back of the spirit sheet currently says the complexity is “high?”, but I think it feels more like a medium complexity spirit. While the early game seems tricky, I think relatively new players would be able to easily comprehend and understand a mid/late game that involves moving around beast tokens.

Finder Of Paths Unseen is certainly high-complexity, and it has the most ridiculous presence track we’ve yet seen. It plays as a ridiculously mobile sort-of utility spirit that can quickly and radically change the makeup of spirit presence on the board. It also starts with a 6 card hand with powers that will bend your mind with their spatial hijinks. For example, one of the starting cards says this: “N = the number of dahan in target land. Move up to N beings from target land to a land within N distance that has dahan”. Another one allows you to move things but only if they end up in a land the same distance from the coast as they started. Orion usually groks new, complicated abilities pretty easily and even he was struggling to find utility with some of the cards. But the mobility Finder offers really came in the clutch multiple times in our play, helping us avoid blight by shipping enemies to lands not under threat.

All I want from an expansion is a pile of new spirits, and Jagged Earth certainly gives us that, but what I didn’t know I wanted are the aspect cards that can completely change how the 4 basic spirits from the base game function. They’re effectively modular inherent abilities and powers–five for each spirit–and they’re completely game changing. Ben played Lightning’s Swift Strike with the Immensity aspect, which doubles the card play cost of playing each card, but halves the energy cost and gives you 3 elements for every major power you play. He got major powers from the start and pivoted into a really insane combo. There’s no possible way that Lightning would be able to play this way otherwise. It’s effectively like getting additional spirits.

The sheer quantity of new stuff this expansion brings is delightful, and I’ve only seen a portion of it. On top of what I’ve already talked about, Jagged Earth has 2 new adversaries, a new type of token, 2 new scenarios, over 50 new power cards, over 30 new event cards, more fear and blight cards, and components for 5 or 6 player games for the truly insane. I’m not quite sure how this will all fit in one box.

I think for most people this is going to be the kind of expansion for Spirit Island they’re looking for. Branch and Claw made significant and somewhat controversial changes to the core game, but Jagged Earth is more about sheer variety. More spirits, more ways to play the spirits you already have, and more of every type of card. I only wonder who these people are out there who were clamoring for 6 player games.

On Kickstarter until 11/16!

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