Spirit Island Review

Saturday I played the game Spirit Island by Greater Than Games. It’s a cooperative game where the players are the spirits of an island being invaded (colonized) and your goal is to drive them away.

There are a number of spirits to play as of various levels of complexity. They represent all kinds of different things. There’s your standard elemental spirits (earth, air, fire, water). The basic fire one I like to call Firethulhu and the air spirit is a bird made from lightning. But there’s even a giant snake the slumbers beneath the island that gains power by absorbing the presence of other spirits…in a cooperative manner.

The game currently plays 1-4 players (unless you had a lot more money than me and got the big version that can play 6 during the Kickstarter). Each player randomly selects a starting board and chooses their spirit. We played a three player game with three of the low complexity characters (since it was our first game). I was the earth spirit, my wife was Firethulhu and our friend was the lightning bird. The game then progresses with the invaders exploring, building, and ravaging the land and the native inhabitants, the Dahan.

The spirits have various powers in the form of cards and innate abilities. Powers usually have some kind of cost, either energy that is generated by your character or elemental power than is generated from your power cards. In general your powers allow you to move around invaders and Dahan, deal damage, or remove Blight (damage to the land caused by the invaders). There are some powers that can allow other spirits to do additional actions or make their actions faster. All spirits also have a “Special Rule” that generally breaks the rules of the game in some way to make their play a little more unique. The special rules do things like automatically defend areas or allow you to speed up your powers (there are fast and slow powers). Every spirit has different strategies and different situations where they are stronger or weaker. In order for spirits to get stronger they have to increase their presence in the island. Having presence is the starting point for all your powers. If you get two presence in a single area you have a sacred site. Strong powers require a sacred site as their starting point as do most of the innate powers. Your presence is not only your power, but your life. If your presence is ever completely wiped off the map, you’re dead. Your spirit has ceased to have any power on the island. The game is over. Everyone loses.

As the invaders more in they start dealing damage to the land, construct villages and cities, and kill the Dahan. When they damage the land it receives Blight. There is an amount of Blight set aside at the beginning of the game and if it’s ever all gone you lose…instantly. Blight is dangerous. If an area is blighted a second time instead of gaining a new blight it cascades to an adjacent area, continuing to cascade until it no longer can. As Blight spreads it reduces the presence of the spirits in those areas.

Some of your powers create fear. Another way to create fear is by destroying villages and cities. As you acquire more fear you gain fear cards. The fear cards represent the natives rising up against the invaders. As you go through the fear cards your victory conditions get easier. Your initial victory condition is to wipe out the invaders completely. Every single explorer. Every single village. Every single city. As the terror level rises the number of things you have to eliminate goes down. At level two you just have to eliminate the villages and cities. At level three, just the cities. Finally if you make it all the way through the level three fear cards…Game Over, you win. When the victory condition is met you win instantly, and man is it a great feeling.

When we played there were times that we were so worried the invaders were going to utterly destroy us, but then as we went things turned around. It was an amazing feeling. I love this game. I think I would play this game anytime someone wanted to. It may take a while (90-120 minutes), but it’s a lot of fun and very thematic.

I give the game 10/10. It is in my top 3 cooperative games and I’m not completely sure which one is actually on top.

What Am I Up To?

Alright, so far anyone that read my blog previously they know it’s been a long time since I posted anything. A long time. I honestly don’t remember how long it’s been. I know I was trying to diet and exercise and do the Nerd Fitness Academy stuff (still a great program even if I can’t stick with it).

So what have I been doing? Well starting last year I started attending the Grand Rapids Video Game Dev meetups (GameDevGR). My reasons were multiple, but the biggest thing is … I need a job and I was hoping for some connections. After being a regular attender I started working on my own projects. My main goal? Start a company for turning board games into digital games. I know there are many of those already, but they can’t do all the games can they? So I started working on implementations of “The Captain is Dead”, “Starving Artists”, and “Roll Player”. None of them have been completed (or truly started in the case of one), but I’m using them to learn.

I started working on other kinds of games, mostly lots of Unity tutorials, but recently a clone of the old Gauntlet arcade game which is being designed for use on the FYO Table (A platform being developed by a couple guys at GameDevGR). Most recently I’ve started working on more nuts and bolts stuff AKA Math. Yes, the dreaded m-word. I realized I never truly learned some very important concepts for programming (especially games) … or if I did, I don’t remember them because I didn’t know they’d have practical use in the future (How many of you assumed all the crazy math you did would ever get used?).

So my first set of instructional/re-hash blogs are going to be about Vectors. What are they? What can you do with them? What is magnitude? Normalization? (Are they hideously disfigured and thus not normal?)

Everything might not be pretty … or it might be lots of images. I’m still working through WordPress again.

I’m not sure what my exact schedule will be, I’ll either start with Vectors on Sunday or Monday. I might decide to have Sundays be a just stream of thought day.

Until next time ..

Another New Beginning

So back to writing, something I am clearly not very good at being consistent with. I need to change that. The ability to write code is one thing. The ability to teach is another. And, the ability to write documentation is yet another.

My goals here are currently to discuss any projects I’m working on that I feel worthy of being discussed (and probably many that don’t), have the occasional life talk, and the big thing is to basically reiterate everything I’ve been teaching myself so that I remember it better and hopefully others can learn from what I do.

So I’m going to try to post something everyday. It’s on my to-list. My phone is going to yell at me every morning about writing. So consider this my public declaration that I’m going to do this. If anyone reads and they don’t see updates, feel free to yell at me.