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A major expansion to the award-winning cooperative settler-destruction strategy game!
A major expansion to the award-winning cooperative settler-destruction strategy game!
8,080 backers pledged $795,104 to help bring this project to life.

A Very Mechanical Update

Posted by GreaterThanGames (Creator)

Now that we’ve seen a few of the new spirits, it’s time to go into more depth about some of the new mechanics that are being introduced in this expansion!  

Jagged Earth is primarily a "more content" expansion: more Spirits, Adversaries, Power Cards, etc. These mostly use the rules laid down in the base game and Branch & Claw. However, there are a few new game components, a few rules updates, and a wide variety of small "here's how this thing a Power Card does works" clarifications. 

New item: Badlands tokens 

Branch & Claw added four types of tokens, for land-based effects that can persist over multiple turns. Beasts are aggressive and dangerous animals; Disease keeps the Invader population in check; Strife marks Invader pieces experiencing strong internal turmoil (or madness); and Wilds represents barriers or avoidable dangers. Disease, Strife, and Wilds stay in play until they have an effect, while Beasts persist unless remove somehow.

Badlands Tokens
Badlands Tokens

Badlands are a 5th token type, for lands hostile to human life in a way that's not easily avoidable. Like Beasts, they stick around permanently unless something explicitly removes them, though unlike Beasts they're not strongly tied to the Event deck. Their effect is static and ongoing: after Invaders are damaged, each Badlands token in the land deals 1 Damage to Invaders; they also damage Dahan likewise. Thematically, the hostility of the land means that adverse circumstances result in more casualties, making it much easier for the vagaries of nature to deal a fatal blow to human settlements. (Early versions of Badlands lowered the Health of everything in the land, but this didn't work well; it was too powerful against built-up lands, but did nothing to Explorers. It also had odd stacking dynamics - generally, the first one in a given land was phenomenal, the second was good if-and-only-if there were Cities, and the third was completely irrelevant.) 

Forests of Living Obsidian
Forests of Living Obsidian

New item: Still-Healthy Island cards

Many of the decks in the game are built to have certain proportions: the Minor Power deck has similar percentages of each element and each pair of elements, for instance, and the Event deck has a certain percentage of "Beasts hurt Invaders" events. However, the selection of Healthy/Blighted Island cards is there primarily for uncertainty - it has been a very long time since the island's ecosystem was that badly damaged (though it came close in the Years of the Relentless Sun), and the Spirits don't know exactly what will happen. Jagged Earth will include additional Blighted Island cards, offering more variety. At least 2 of the cards will be a little different, though - the reverse will look something like this:

Still Healthy... but for how long?
Still Healthy... but for how long?

Sill-Healthy cards represent the island being more robust than the Spirits anticipated, granting an additional pool of Blight before tipping over into a Blighted Island. However, that strength inevitably comes with some drawback (for both narrative and game-balance reasons, not due to metaphysics) - in this case, the Invaders think the island is just fantastic, and frightening them away becomes harder. Because you might go through more than one Blight Card, instead of taking one during Setup and returning the rest to the box, you just put the shuffled stack on the Invader Board. If you go through one card and need another, it's right there. The Jagged Earth rules also make clear that it's fine to customize which Blight Cards you use - so long as there's some uncertainty about how deep your Blight pool will be and what consequences will happen when it flips, it's totally fine to, e.g., omit cards if there are a few your playgroup dislikes. 

New item: Ongoing effect cards

A small handful of things in Jagged Earth - Scenarios, Choice Events, Play Options, and a Power Card or two - result in enduring modifiers to a Spirit or the game in general. In some cases, you can place the card next to the table as a reminder, but in other cases, having a small (Invader-Card-sized) reminder to put next to the island can be helpful. For instance, this reminder:

can be used if you take the third path on this Choice Event (one of the only ones to have 3 choices):

A hefty cost, but a learning opportunity...
A hefty cost, but a learning opportunity...

Speaking of Events: many Events - especially Choice Events - are badly swingy on Turn 1, before you’ve had any real opportunity to develop your power or affect the island. Jagged Earth will amend the Event rules to either resolve no Event on Turn 1 (you put one into the discard pile in order to, e.g., keep timing for France’s special Event correct) or resolve only the bottom-most portion of the Event card (usually a Dahan event). 

New item: Elemental markers 

Mentioned in a previous update, these are simply markers to help remember elements you’ve gained from a source that doesn’t show you an icon (e.g., Elemental Boon, or some Unique Power Cards for Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island). However, there are a couple of Spirits that also use them in their own ways. We'll talk more about that in some of the later Spirit updates!

Some New Things Powers Do

Several of the new powers Isolate a land, representing widespread difficulty in traveling: boggy mud, space-warped trails that twist back upon themselves, or lethargy that afflicts not merely those working (which tends to be represented as Defend) but those trying to get from place to place. Mechanically, this does two things:

1. Invaders skip Explore actions in target land.

2. Invaders consider the land to be adjacent to nothing… unless you want. (This affects only Invaders, not, e.g, Blight cascade.) 

In normal circumstances, Isolate is not an especially strong effect; both halves work against Explore actions, and you have limited information about what the upcoming Explore card might be. It takes some finesse to use well. However, when playing against Adversaries or Scenarios where Invaders care about adjacency - e.g., the Kingdom of England’s special Build rule - Isolate can be much more valuable. It also becomes more powerful when you have a fair amount of it, as it gives the option of hedging bets or blocking off multiple Explore sources.

Watch your step!
Watch your step!
No climbing!
No climbing!

We’re including 3 additional reminder markers for each player color (for a total of 6 each). Much like the current 3 Reminders have a generic “spirit effect” icon on one side and a “defend” icon on the other, the new 3 will have a generic “spirit effect” icon and an “isolate” icon. 

More Tokens!
More Tokens!

 A handful of things (like the Event Card shown earlier) specify that some Dahan or Invaders Do not participate in Ravage. This means that during Ravage actions, they do nothing: deal no damage, take no damage.

A few Powers reference their "origin" - the land you targeted that Power from. Often, this is in the context of doing something in each land from origin to target - for a Range 2 power you could affect 3 lands: one with your Presence, another adjacent to that, and a third adjacent to the second. It can never affect the same land twice, though. Needless to say, these Powers combo well with Range boosters like Reaching Grasp!

A path of devastation...
A path of devastation...

While the above list isn’t exhaustive, it’s pretty representative, and most of the other details / clarifications are even more minor or specific. E.g.., “target board” means “the board containing target land”, and is used entirely for brevity. Or clarification on how an effect like “the next time a Dahan would be destroyed, it isn’t” works. (Any Damage it had clears, and further Damage/Destroy effects from the same Power can’t hurt it.) 


That's everything for this update! We’ll be back on Friday talking about Aspects, but before then there is one last thing to talk about. Last update, we mentioned that Eric would be running an AMA on r/Boardgames! We can confirm that it is happening on Thursday at noon (Eastern time). Get your questions ready!

Trent, Keith Farmer, and 47 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      André Oliveira on

      I really thought you'd make tokens double sided when I read this - a wild token would have isolate in it's back, beast would have badlands, disease would have do not build and so on.

    2. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @Povilas @Paul Watson Badlands doesn't interact with straight-up "Destroy" effects, only damage.

    3. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @Matt Freilich Yup. You're still just gaining 4 Power Cards at a time, and what elements they provide tend to provide some guidance, so you're not exposed to huge swaths of it at once. And you're still gaining about as many Power Cards over the course of the game. Some of the more complex Spirits sometimes have more options / paths / choices - Finder of Paths Unseen and Starlight Seeks Its Form come to mind - but that's why they're High (or Very High) complexity.

    4. Paul Watson on

      @Michael Crawford That is correct. It can be powerful, but you have to get the right land to make it most useful so unless you've got a means of peering into the invader deck, it's less useful until you've got some control of the lands.

      @Caitlyn, it's on a land. However, it only applies to invader actions, so other spirits can play with the isolated invaders. It's also voluntary, so you can allow the invaders to be pushed and gathered across the isolation if you wish.

      @Povilas If you do damage, the badlands will also deal 1 damage after you've finished dealing all your damage. If you destroy a town without damage, they won't (I think).

    5. Matt Freilich on

      Wow! So many new things to do! It looks like all the new content will create meaningful choices. I worry a little bit about AP, but usually the best options click into place as you get to know what you're capable of.

    6. Missing avatar

      Pseudomonas on

      Just to clarify, If I have a badlands token in a land and destroy a town. Do I get on extra damage to spare somewhere in the same land?
      If I do two damage to a city on badlands can I redirect one damage to the explorer in the same land?

    7. Caitlyn on

      Zo, isolate.. is it something you put under an invader ? A land? Or a boarder between 2 lands ? I guess spirits are also effected by isolate if it's the latter 2 ?

    8. Missing avatar

      Michael Cloward on

      So if I isolate a town that is adjacent to two mountain lands, and mountain comes up for explore (and those two mountains are not adjacent to any other towns/cities or a coast), that means that those mountains would not be explored that round? Seems like it could be pretty powerful in early game when there are fewer exploration origination points, especially farther inland.

    9. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @Dustin Vogel: Roughly, Isolate is to Wilds as "Do not Build" is to Disease and Defend is to Strife: a single-turn effect vs. a token.

      The adjacency control, however, plays out quite differently in games where adjacency is (or is made) relevant.

    10. Jeremy on

      @Andrew Conant: "War Touches the Island's Shores" on turn 1 is far more likely to cause a near-instant win when played correctly than when following that error. Minors would avoid blight, but do far less damage to invaders.

    11. Missing avatar

      Andrew Conant on

      @Brian M: Do make sure that for "War Touches the Island's Shores", you're discarding a _major_ power, rather than a minor power. Some copies of the card are misprinted to say "minor", which is almost strictly upside (vs discarding a major).

    12. Missing avatar

      Dustin Vogel on

      Not really a fan of isolate; the design space is too close to wilds for it feel worth the extra complexity of having another keyword.

      Everything else looks great though!

    13. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @Seth B Mulhall Yes, absolutely. And yes, it's generally slightly more positive to do the bottom-only event.

    14. Brian M

      Very cool looking stuff! Love some of those new powers!

      We switched to skipping events on turn 1 early on, after games in close succession in which, in one a turn 1 'Outpaced' totally wrecked us, and in another a turn 1 'War Touched the Island's Shores' gave us a near instant win through little effort of our own.

    15. Missing avatar

      dyeung87 on

      @Seth B Mulhall Yes, I believe the intention is to make that an official errata for events in general.

    16. Missing avatar

      Andrew Conant on

      @B Adams: Surely, you choose one path. Otherwise, you could affect the entire four player island with 6 range (via range boosts).

    17. Missing avatar

      Seth B Mulhall on

      Can we apply the changes to the turn 1 Event to just Branch & Claw?

      I presume the "just the bottom-most section resolves" is slightly easier/more positive than the "skip the event turn 1".

    18. Missing avatar

      Take Walker on

      Those rules changes are very exciting. I've personally never liked the base game Blight cards, and a recent attempt to introduce B&C to a group ended in catastrophic failure and a general bad mood because the Events were just brutal, on top of a brutal Blight card.

    19. Dylan Thurston

      @morph147, just one turn.

    20. Missing avatar

      dyeung87 on

      @morph147 Isolate lasts for the rest of that turn. It'd be a bit unbalanced otherwise!

    21. Missing avatar

      morph147 on

      so much fun new mechanics. Will take me a while to think all of this through. I guess my big question is isolate an ongoing effect or a one turn effect?

    22. Missing avatar

      dyeung87 on

      @B Adams You choose only one path, but it can be an inefficient path that wanders around until it finally reaches the target land.

    23. B Adams on

      "In each land from origin to target": in situations where there are multiple paths of the desired length from origin to target, do you act in each of the lands that could be along a path, or do you have to pick one particular path and only the lands on that path are affected? (In other words, do powers traverse space like particles or like waves?)

      Also, is there any restriction on directness of path? A range 3 power whose target land is next to its origin could have a short direct 2-land path (e.g. "West"), or a long indirect 4-land path (e.g. "North, west, south"). If you have to pick one path, does it have to be a minimal-length one or is meandering allowed?