Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island
- Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island
- Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island Lore
- Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island Cards
- Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island Strategy
There are several ways to play the Serpent, but all require patience: early game involves slowly building up Powers and Presence. It's not helpless during this time, but it isn't as effective as anyone else. It becomes incredibly powerful after awakening, but getting there requires a lot of time.
Make sure to Absorb Essence before you run up against your Presence cap - and to get other players' buy-in before using Absorb Essence on their Presence.
SPECIAL POWERSDEEP SLUMBER
You start off limited to 5 on the island. Raise this with your "Absorb Essence" Power Card. Each use covers the lowest revealed number; your limit is the lowest uncovered number.
SERPENT WAKES IN POWER
SUMMARY OF POWERS
Let's shift our sight so we see only spirits. There are throngs of them visible across the surface of the island: spirits of tree and glade, of rushing river and entangling vines, of beast and butterfly and mists floating eerily over the marshes.
Turning our vision downward, we see nearly as many within the land itself: spirits of hard unyielding stone and of drifted sand dunes, of sinkhole and high peak. Vital Strength of the Earth is here.
As we look deeper, fewer spirits greet our eyes - some of volcano, some of dark and ancient caves, a handful of others. But like the earth itself, most of those we see are large, powerful, and slow.
Deeper and larger than all of those lies the Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island. It could be argued that it is the Island, or at least its roots. Like all spirits of such size and power, it is slow beyond human reckoning. Unlike many of them, it is also asleep.
Or, now, mostly asleep. The distant sting of the Invaders' blight has begun to rouse portions of its consciousness towards waking, those fragments aware of the land's surface far above. Even that small aspect of the Serpent is slow to act, slow to awaken... but contains the potential for power greater than most spirits could ever muster.
From the Playmat
Long ago in an earlier age, there was only water where islands now lie. One day - for there were day and night by then, though humans did not yet exist - a great serpent grew tired of swimming and decided to rest. It drew the earth up around itself, and so the island was born.
Other stories say different things - in particular, Volcano Looming High has its own account - but stories do not need to agree for them to be true.
Regardless, many spirits can sense the immense serpent deep below. It is mostly asleep, and its influence on the land above is limited, but the Invaders' Blight already begins to sting it towards greater wakefulness.
What jumps out at us?
- That Presence Track! It spends most of its distance with low Energy gain and poor Card Plays, then rockets up at the end - particularly Energy, which far surpasses what any other Spirit can gain. And there's a crux-point in the middle where you must have advanced both tracks a certain distance to pass. But it has elements all over the place: Fire, Water, Moon, Earth, and two "Any"! The Serpent will be really good at triggering thresholds on Major Powers within its bailiwick... though it'll want to get its Card Plays up to 4+ to really shine with them.
- Special Rule - Deep Slumber: The Serpent is limited in how much Presence it can have on the Island at once: just 5, to start with. There are two ways to get around this. One way is to let its Presence be destroyed by Blight, but this inflicts harm (losing Presence from the board) even as it stings it towards wakefulness (can play more Presence from its mat). The other is to subsume the Presence of more wakeful and speedy spirits using its "Absorb Essence" unique power card - we'll look at that later.
- Innate Power - The Serpent Wakes in Power: A trio of development powers (Energy gain, Presence gain, Power Card gain) triggered with a core of plant and water. Most interesting is that spirits which have had some of their Presence absorbed by the Serpent will share in its benefits!
- Innate Power - The Serpent Rouses in Anger: A trio of offensive powers (damage and fear) triggered with moon, fire, and earth. The first two are useful but unexceptional, but that final level has the potential for widespread, massive damage - but it's really hard to trigger.
- Growth' is mostly straightforward. Unsurprisingly given its slumber, there's only one "add Presence" option. The flat-out "+4 Energy" choice could enable early Major Power plays. And its Reclaim includes a Move Presence option - representing the Serpent shifting slowly in the deeps; it is not as tied to place as many spirits are. (Or rather, its place is "the Island".)
Its Unique Powers show us another aspect of the Serpent:
Some general trends:
- Most of them affect other Spirits. The Serpent starts off unable to affect the Invaders or Dahan, and only able to affect the land in a very low-power but broad-area way. But it can empower other spirits - though not itself - in several ways.
- They're not very expensive. Absorb Essence costs 2, but gives back 3. Given its low Card Plays, the Serpent is likely to slowly accumulate Energy over the course of the early game (or perhaps it might decide to take an early Major Power).
- They grant the same Elements as its Presence track: 3 Earth, 3 Water, 3 Fire, 2 Moon. Triggering the higher levels of The Serpent Wakes in Power (innate #1) is going to require taking Power Cards which grant Plant.
The specific powers:
- Gift of the Primordial Deeps and Gift of Flowing Power both give other Spirits a boost, as well as the chance to either play another Power Card or gain Elements.
- Absorb Essence is clearly a card to get teammates' buy-in before using: it removes another Spirit's Presence from the island! They do gain benefits: an Energy and an Element right away, from their contact with such an encompassing spirit, plus possible longer-term rewards from The Serpent Wakes in Power (innate #1). You'll probably have to use it at some point in order to get a reasonable number of Presence onto the board, but the decision of when and how often to use it is key.
- Elemental Aegis defends many lands at once - weakly in early-game, more strongly as more Presence is absorbed.
Overall: Fighting alongside the Serpent requires an awareness of its limitations (slow start, occasionally needs to chow down on someone's Presence) and of the benefits it brings to its allies (energy, power cards, additional plays, and more). It's far from powerless in early-game - the element and card-play boosts it gives to allies can push them over into higher-level Innates much earlier than would normally be possible; it can damage buildings with its Serpent Rouses in Anger innate; and it can grab an early Major Power if it so chooses - but it can only manage one or perhaps two things a turn, and is nowhere near as good at defense as, eg, Vital Strength of the Earth. Its allies should expect to pick up some of the slack in early-game, but will reap the rewards in later-game... if the island can survive that long.