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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.

The Aspects of Spirits

Posted by GreaterThanGames (Creator)
Good morning, everyone!

Before we dive into the update, I just wanted to take a second to answer one of the questions that keeps popping up in the comments, namely:  

  • Can I pledge $1 now, then increase my pledge after the campaign end through the pledge manager? 

The answer is: 

  • Yes. Yes you can.

We are also updating the number of tokens in the premium wooden token pack to reflect the number of additional tokens in Jagged Earth, so that you have enough of all of them for new scenarios, events, adversaries, and the spirits that heavily use those tokens in up to 6 player games.

Specifically, we've added: 1 badlands, 2 beasts, 6 disease, and removed 2 Wilds and Strife tokens, bringing the count from 213 to 218 tokens total.

Below is a picture of our first token samples from the factory. We have some work to do with colors, but we think they're looking awesome!

Now, on to the update!

What are Aspects?  

As we head into the weekend, it’s time to talk about Aspects.

Lightning's Swift Strike, Artist: Rocky Hammer
Lightning's Swift Strike, Artist: Rocky Hammer

The main Kickstarter page gives the best quick overview of Aspects I could write, so I’ll quote it here before diving into more detail: 

Aspects are new ways to play the existing four low-complexity Spirits. They swap in a new Special Rule or Innate Power, replacing one of the standard Special Rules or Innate Powers for that Spirit. You’re still playing the same Spirit - you use its Spirit Panel and Unique Power Cards - but you’re exploring a different aspect of its nature, which changes up its dynamics… sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Some Aspects are direct replacements (e.g., swap one Innate Power for another), while others replace a Special Rule with an Innate Power or vice versa. 

 Actually, I lied a little there in the name of brevity: a few of the Aspects don’t replace a Special Rule or Innate Power at all. However, they all have feature some change to the Spirit to keep them balanced. Aspects aren’t generally meant to change the power-level of a Spirit… though Shadows Flicker Like Flame gets some leeway, as it ended up a touch on the less-strong side of the pack. 

Let’s take a look at one now!

This is a modest change to River Surges in Sunlight: you no longer get free Sacred Sites in Wetlands, but you can Push Explorers/Dahan during Growth by placing Presence. Both halves of this change how you spread: you no longer care about getting into Wetlands, you need to occasionally make Sacred Sites in order to use your innate power, and you may want to spread from/to certain lands for short-term tactical effect rather than basing it off of the best site from which to originate Powers. 

Can you combine multiple Aspects on one Spirit at once? 

If you’re looking for a balanced play experience, no. They’re not designed with combination in mind, so you might get weird interactions, or things that make a Spirit overpowered or underpowered - e.g., there’s an Aspect for Shadows Flicker Like Flame which (at the moment - usual caveats about playtesting) has as one of its thresholds “You may use your Shadows of the Dahan special rule on this Power for free”. That stops being useful if Shadows of the Dahan is swapped out for something else. That being said, there’s totally a place for “less balanced but still fun” - that’s what the thematic maps are, after all - and it’s your game! Should you find the variety from combining Aspects is a positive outweighing the occasional weird interaction and variance in difficulty level (or, perhaps, are experienced enough to look at a pair of Aspects and suss out whether they’re likely to synergize or anti-synergize), then sure, go for it! Adversaries weren’t originally designed to be combined either, but combining them has worked out startlingly well in most cases.

Why are Aspects only for the Low-complexity Spirits?

There are a few reasons for this.  

  • They want the love more. In some playgroups, Low-complexity Spirits get played a lot during the learning period, and are then left to languish a bit. Other playgroups perceive them as somehow lesser and gravitate to higher-complexity Spirits. And, well, the low-complexity Spirits are simpler: they may have oddball lines of play or interesting nuances concealed within (I’m still learning things about Lightning’s Swift Strike, which I’ve played I don’t know how many times), but so can the more complex Spirits, so if one has a favorite Low-complexity Spirit, one might welcome options that offer new exploration of an old favorite. 
  • It’s easier to make Aspects for them. Moderate and (especially) High-complexity Spirits tend to have more intertwining between their Special Rules, Innate Powers, and Unique Power Cards (and sometimes even Growth) - changing out just one of those things can be trickier. If Ocean can’t place its Presence in the Ocean, how does its Growth work? If it can’t Drown, what do its two Powers which Drown things do? And because Low-complexity Spirits on average have more of both “feel” and “power budget” concentrated in any one innate/rule (because they have fewer of them), the impact of swapping out a single thing tends to be larger. (There are exceptions, of course.)
  • Jagged Earth doesn’t have any Low-complexity Spirits, either in the box or among the promo Spirits. Given that, I wanted to include something that would provide new variety for players who prefer Low-complexity Spirits. 

Wait, why doesn’t Jagged Earth have any Low-complexity Spirits? 

Here’s the story: I originally assumed the Spirits in Jagged Earth should lean towards more complexity than the existing 12 (which are split evenly: 4 Low, 4 Moderate, 4 High), but that at least 2 of them should be Low complexity. Now, making good Low-complexity Spirits is much harder than High-complexity, perhaps in the same way it’s harder to create a good sketch with just four brush-strokes than if you’re permitted a couple dozen. Still, I designed a few… but one never worked quite right; one wanted to be in a future expansion more than the current one; one really wanted to be Moderate complexity (this is a ubiquitous problem); and a fourth ended up not working right AND relying on a token-type that didn’t pan out AND wanting to be in a future expansion. This left just one. But… around the same time I was realizing this, Greater Than Games told me that they’d like me to lean even harder away from Low-complexity Spirits and towards more advanced ones; both their experience and distributors’ data indicated that’s what the vast majority of people buying an expansion tended to want. They said it was OK if I had no Low-complexity Spirits at all. This was something of a relief, both because I didn’t want to come up with another one at that time, and because it meant the remaining Low-complexity Spirit could get a little more complex - and it really wanted to, as there was a thematic part of its nature that could be nicely represented with a great mechanic that was totally inappropriate for a Low-complexity Spirit (I’ll talk more about that when I preview Shifting Memory of Ages).

 Do Aspects change the complexity of playing the Spirit?

Sometimes they make it more complex, though they don’t generally bump a Spirit all the way up to Moderate. They’re not something to include on a player’s first play of the game, for instance, and it’s probably best to play the base version of a Spirit before throwing in Aspects. But let’s look at an example: 

This replaces the Innate Power of Lightning’s Swift Strike. It’s more complex in that it uses Strife, a token introduced in Branch & Claw; simply including those tokens makes the game more complex, so this isn’t an Aspect I’d recommend in a game with a new player. And it’s more complex in that it doesn’t blow up Towns/Cities - instead, you’re terrifying and distracting the Invaders, which is a less obvious/simple path to victory than “Kaboom!” (You still have Shatter Homesteads, though, so you’re still blowing up Towns. Just not as many Towns.)

Pandemonium changes up Lightning a bit more than Torrent changes up River: it makes Harbingers of the Lightning much more useful, since you can set up Dahan counterattacks with the Strife from it. It also incentivizes big burst turns even more than base lightning; it can sometimes be hard to find target lands within range that fully use the highest levels of Thundering Destruction, but 11 Fear is always fantastic, and even if there’s only a single City in a land you can always pile 4 Strife onto it. Hitting those higher levels requires heading towards Moon, which is not normally in Lightning’s bailiwick, and that changes what Power draws are best - Steam Vents drops a bit, Land of Haunts and Embers or Lure of the Unknown rise a bit. (It also makes Elemental Boon in a game with Shadows Flicker Like Flame awesome.) 


We’ve made a short video that goes into more detail, (with some previews of other Aspects in testing for all of those enterprising people who are enthusiastically making proxies)! 

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with

That’s it for aspects for now! Have a great weekend, everyone, and we’ll be back on Monday to talk more about about the new promo spirit, Finder of Paths Unseen!

Trent, GeneralGrundmann, and 54 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      42qark on

      @R. Eric Reuss

      This is a valid point, but it isn't really a substitution I'm willing to make.

      The case I listed was the worst case I could discern from what I know, but it is worth mentioning that there are more:

      * Any game vs. England 6 at 4 players or more with the healthy island card may push the fear pool total over 30.

      * Any 6 island tile game, regardless of adversary config with the healthy island card at terror level 2+ exceeds 30 fear tokens.

      * Any difficulty modifier where one removes or adds fear to the pool (e.g., scenarios) could also push the total past 30.

      Ultimately, I'm asking for someone to do the math based on everything included in the expansion and already published, and see for what percentage of configurations any token type may be shy, and to weigh that vs. other considerations.

      From what I know, adding 12 fear tokens closes the gap on all possible shortages (and happens to bring the total to the answer to life, the universe and everything...), but if that's 0.5% of game configurations, then probably most people won't ever notice. If it is 10%, and 2 tokens brings it down to 1%, that might be worth doing.

      Regardless of the final count, perhaps the wooden token pack upgrade should include a note calling out general configurations that may exhaust the wooden tokens and recommend not tossing all the cardboard or being prepared to proxy tokens if you want to play those configurations? I'd see that as a classy move, personally.

    2. Melissa on

      Thanks for the token bump and aspect cards. I really wanted more low complexity spirits. I hope you add a spirit who has a lot of fast powers.

    3. Pat on

      I agree with the comments -- these look cheap/messy on top of the nice boards that we have. Hanging off the edge as well seems like it screams for a better design. Perhaps there is room to improve the quality or change the design of these?

    4. Missing avatar

      Mariya M on

      Watching the video, it seems really awkward how the card that replaces the special rule just hangs over the edge. I think that'll lead to people keeping it to the side of the board, which'll (a) take up space and (b) may lead to them forgetting they don't have the original special rule. I think it's really important that the aspect cards fit on the player boards to avoid these issues & avoid eating table space.

    5. Zubon on

      I'm imagining a solo game with an innate that adds 11 fear. Granted, you're already in the late game by the time you can generate 5 fire, 5 air, and 2 moon in a round.

    6. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @42qark At some point, one has to draw a line between "could handle any conceivable case" and "practical to produce and store". Invaders and Dahan were already considered "not component-limited"; with Jagged Earth, Fear markers (and possibly Blight) are too, though they're rather less likely to run out than Invaders are.

      For Fear markers specifically, you're playing
      * With the full complement of 6 players...
      * ...against England Level 6...
      * ...where one specific Still-Healthy Island card comes up...
      * ...and it's not Terror Level 1...

      ...then you'll be a few markers short. That's a very specific and unusual combination; in the event you run into it you can either use small items of your choice as supplemental Fear markers, or discard that Blight card and draw another instead.

    7. Missing avatar

      Brendan Black on

      It would be interesting if you could apply the same aspect to different spirits but it sounds like each aspect is just tied to a single spirit.

    8. Chris on

      I'm really loving some of these aspects. I paused the video to read Boon of Sunlight for River. I think it may end up being rough to lose Boon of Vigor as a card, but the ability to give an ally and yourself 3 energy as an innate is pretty dang strong

    9. Gutris

      Great news all around! Thanks!!!

    10. Dylan Thurston

      How thick are the tokens? You gave us a top-down view, can you give a side view as well?

    11. Missing avatar

      morph147 on

      The Pandemodium aspect almost seems a bit overpowered to me. In a 3 player game, this is almost an entire fear card. I do not know much about strife tokens and how they impact the game because I have not added those in yet. Been taking my time with the base game. My biggest worry though is this too overpowered? Would it be better to change a few of the levels and then add an Instead to each level?

    12. Missing avatar

      42qark on

      @dyeung87 -- England 4+ is already short on invader tokens. In a 4p game vs. England 5, we ran out of towns and cities, and had to use energy coins. We ran out of those and had to use paper. It made parsing the board quite a bit harder.

      The wooden fear tokens look about the same size as the 3 energy coins, so a quick glance may miss them, unless they are thick enough (and I would prefer the 5 tokens types placed on the board to be on the thinner side, personally).

      The cardboard tokens in JE will not be enough either -- with the base game, that's only 36.

      Please, add more fear tokens.

      Also, how do the strife, wild, beast and disease wooden tokens compare to the B&C tokens -- are they smaller, area wise? Should we expect them to be about the same size as the JE revisions?

    13. John Skotnik on

      Love the aspect idea

    14. Missing avatar

      dyeung87 on

      @42qark Dunno if this has been suggested or if it's already planned, but an easy remedy without adding more tokens to the pack is to simply have some 3-fear tokens among the bunch. Alternatively, we could use some of the 3-energy tokens underneath the fear markers.

      @Nate Fowler I think having the cards is more convenient from a publishing standpoint. Some of the aspects are full powers which are perfectly sized for the cards. But when cards are printed out, they're printed out in a sheet that gets cut a certain way. To ask for a few of these aspects to be printed on smaller cards would likely add to the production cost/time. As a playtester, I didn't find the aspects that fit over special rules to be too cluttered, but you'll have to choose between covering up the name of the spirit or having the card overhang off the bottom by a bit.

    15. Nate Fowler on

      For what it's worth, from a strictly materials-based standpoint, I completely agree with @Chris Dennett - I'd love to see these as tokens, or even tiny cards, that would perfectly slip over the section in question! I'm happy to try what you suggest, though, @R. Eric Reuss! I'm just concerned that having too-large cards hanging off the sides of the boards will be kind of cluttered-looking on the table. Which would be a shame, since every other game component looks so sleek and well-designed.

      The gameplay upgrades seem fascinating, though! :D I hope there's at least two for each low complexity spirit! And the token pack is awesome!! A guaranteed buy for me.

    16. Caitlyn on

      Interesting question 42. So .. 10 aspect cards in total ? How many per low complexity spirit ? I love it that River (one of my favs) gets more love

    17. Missing avatar

      42qark on

      The tokens are looking nice, but I think the fear token count is short:

      6p, vs. Level 6 England requires 30 fear tokens (5/player) -- with a "still healthy island" card as previewed on 10/24, we may need an additional 2 tokens/player in the worst case -- bringing the total to 42.

      There is probably design space in the event deck for a sufficiently bad choice event to add fear tokens based on the number of boards, or half the number of boards -- which may bump the token count further.

      Can the fear token count be increased to cover known cases where 30 is insufficient? It doesn't have to be future proof, but avoiding cases where someone may have thrown away all the cardboard tokens and hits a combination where they have to proxy some fear tokens should be possible -- and avoid a "feels bad" moment.

      Additionally, how thick might the tokens be? About the same as presence disks?

    18. Dylan Thurston

      @Endo, for existing spirits they are on the back of the spirit panel, and also on the Spirit Island Wiki:…

    19. Endo

      Are the spirits' complexity ratings noted anywhere for easy guidance?

    20. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @Chris Dennett A standard-sized card fits pretty nicely over the Innate Powers section, or over the Special Rules if you don't mind covering the bottom slice of Spirit art.

      @Orchid I'm not sure why the text came out so tiny - my assumption is that it'd be the same size as existing text for special rules / innate powers?

    21. Missing avatar

      R. Eric Reuss Collaborator on

      @Leo Steinmetz Largely for flexibility. Each low-complexity Spirit will get at least 1.

    22. Missing avatar

      Chris Dennett

      Then again, perhaps I can just take scissors to the cards to achieve the same result...

    23. Missing avatar

      Chris Dennett

      Wish the Aspect cards were instead tokens that would cleanly "cover-up" the portion of the player board they were replacing. Hard enough to remember everything you have when you then have to also mentally replace your abilities with some card laying off to the side.

    24. Missing avatar

      Leo Steinmetz on

      Awesome! Why five aspects, though? Have you already decided which spirits will get one more aspect, or is that flexibility to account for the results of playtesting?

    25. Orchid

      Why is print on cards soo small?? Fill the cards

    26. Thomas Fuery on

      Sounds good, though in my experience games where elemental boon is always the best pick are few and far between as we are anyway

    27. Govind Krishna on

      Awesome, so happy to hear about the pledge manager

    28. Matt Freilich on

      Nice way to breathe life into the "older" spirits!

    29. B Adams on

      Thanks for the token count bump!