A Very Mechanical Update
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 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.)
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:
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):
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.
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.
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!
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!