Rulebook Introduction

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Gameplay Overview

Spirit Island is a cooperative game for 1-4 players where each player is a Spirit of nature, defending their Island from invading colonists who have little regard for the well-being of the land or its native inhabitants, the Dahan. But the Spirits start out small and limited, and will have to learn some new tricks in order to catch up to the rapidly expanding Invaders, whose Actions (automated by the game) drive them to spread across the island and etablish settlements, spreading Blight in their path. To win, the Spirits (with the help of the Dahan) must destroy the Invaders and scare away any survivors. However, the game will end in defeat if the Island is overrun by Blight, if any Spirit is destroyed completely, or if you act too slowly and fail to drive the Invaders off before they become entrenched.

Once you know the game, Spirit Island takes about 90-120 minutes to play - slightly shorter for games with 1-2 players, slightly longer for games with 4.

How to Read this Rulebook

The rules are divided into three major sections: Game Setup, Sequence of Play, Game Concepts. Read Game Setup first. Then read Sequence of Play and Game Concepts in the order that best suits your learning style. Sequence of Play will introduce you to the overall game structure while Game Concepts drills down into individual game mechanics.

First-Time Players

Spirit Island is a complex game with many moving parts. The first time or two you play, you should:

If everyone is playing the game for the first time, also:

  • Don't use a Blight Card. Instead use the pre-printed Blight space on the board.
  • Don't use an Adversary or Scenario. They increase difficulty and add additional rules.
  • Don't use expansion material that increases game complexity. (Plain Volcano) See Using Expansions below for more details.

Whenever your group is ready for a more challenging game, we recommend the Kingdom of Brandenburg-Prussia as a good first Adversary - it mostly modifies Setup rather than introducing new rules. The Kingdoms of England and Sweden involve more fundamental changes to how the Invaders work.

Using Expansions (JE)

This compiled rulebook contains rules for the newest expansion, Jagged Earth (JE) plus rules for the previous expansion, Branch & Claw (BC). Rules taken from each expansion is notated with either "(JE)", "(BC)", or a complexity icon (Base Game compatible/Base Game + some Jagged Earth, no Branch & Claw/Base Game + Branch & Claw + all Jagged Earth) as further described below. If you are already familiar with those expansion rules, you can skip these sections! If you have not played with the appropriate expansion, you can either skip these sections and omit the materials requiring those rules (see below), or read everything and attempt to digest two expansions worth of rules at once.

We strongly recommend playing the base game of Spirit Island at least a few times before adding most expansion items, particularly those using rules from BC. To aid in this, materials in this expansion are marked with one of three icons, indicating how many new rules are required to take advantage of them.

Jagged Earth complexity 1.png Items with a plain mountain rely on no rules outside of the base game. They may reference Events, but those references can be ignored if playing without Events. They may use physical components from an expansion box, like Element Markers, but will give you any necessary rules to do so. You can use these items without reading the expansion rulebooks, though in a few cases you may need to reference Actions or Clarifications and FAQs. Plain mountain items include:
Jagged Earth complexity 2.png Items with a smoking volcano rely on a rule, concept, or clarification introduced in Jagged Earth, but nothing from Branch & Claw. Read the relevant parts of "New Game Items", "New Rules", and "New Concepts" before including them. These items include:
Jagged Earth complexity 3.png Items with an active volcano rely on rules or concepts from Branch & Claw (and possibly Jagged Earth). If you own Jagged Earth, you have everything you need to play with these materials - the rules for BC are included in that rulebook, and the necessary tokens are included in that box! These items include:

Notes

  1. The Major Power Card, Sea Monsters, from Branch & Claw has been updated to resolve balance issues with Many Minds Move as One. If you own BC, replace its copy of the Power Card with the one included here. If you do not own BC, this Power should be omitted.