Discover the mysteries of the new island boards and setup!
Adding a fifth board to the island provides a unique challenge in that (for the first time), the island can’t be fully symmetrical. This adds a layer of complexity to the game in that you’ll have areas of the island that are that are harder to reach (particularly for spirits with restrictive growth options like Keeper, Ocean, and Volcano), and you’ll have to coordinate with your fellow spirits to make sure that you are able to cover all the different pockets of the island. It also gives more potential for fast presence placement spirits (like Rampant Green) to reach a burnout stage, where they have cleared out their board (or have their area under control)… and can’t contribute in farther areas that may be getting really bad!
While this does provide more complexity, it really allows a lot of spirits to shine in new and interesting ways. Spirits that can move about or provide range extension get to step into the light, and some underused special abilities (like Shadows Flicker’s ability to target from Dahan) get to rise to prominence as you can jump too far away portions of the island. Coordinate your presence placement carefully, or you’ll find that you’ve created an ever-expanding pocket of invaders that no one can address!
Welcome to Crab Island!
This is the “standard” 5 player island arrangement (though you can, of course, arrange it any way you want), and it has an excellent balance of interior lands vs. remote corners. You’ll have to coordinate to make sure that the “claws” stay clean, as it can be really easy for spirits starting on those boards to either dive for the center to try and help keep the interior clean, or to focus too heavily on their own lands to the detriment of elsewhere on the island (Wildfire is particularly susceptible to this). One thing you will HAVE to acknowledge is that no one spirit can take care of everything. Spirit Island has never been a game where a single player can run around doing all the things that need doing, and now there is even more territory to cover. Even Spirits that can place presence at long range, like Lightning, will have to make difficult choices about what they can cover, and you’ll have to rely on each other. Even Ocean will have to change tactics somewhat, in that there are too many coastlines to keep them all clear at once!
Let’s leave Crab Island behind us. It’s time to move on to the massive 6 player islands. As you can see, there are a LOT of different island configurations with 6 boards to use! We went through a bunch of ideas before coming up with the one below, but before diving into that, let’s take a second to talk about general tips for when you are making a large island map.
- In general, the more compact you make your island, the easier it is going to be to coordinate and cover all the different areas. The more strung out bits it has, the harder it is going to be, and the more you are going to have to rely on a single given spirit to keep a specific board clean!
- Depending on the level of challenge you are looking for, you can arrange the island in such a way that you can create safe zones in the interior that are going to be REALLY hard for the invaders to reach. The Star formation is especially good at showing this, in that if you can clear out the starting town and push out early explorers, you can make it VERY difficult for the invaders to reach the center of the island on some (if not all) of the boards.
- Be VERY careful about corners (Star Island, again, is very good at showing this), in that corners far from the center of the board are prime candidates for the invaders to create horrifying pockets of blight and dense urban areas that can be extremely difficult to crack, particularly if one of your heavier hitters is on the opposite side of the island and can’t reach you. People who like to play support/fear spirits are going to have to be VERY careful about making sure that their allies can reach them in times of crisis!
A Tale of Two Centers
This is the “Two Centers” island, the standard formation for 6 players, though the usual caveat about you being able to arrange it to your liking applies. While it appears more controllable at first glance, the fact that you have two central interiors means that you’ll have to be VERY careful to keep the invaders from getting too strong a hold on any one section of the island. Focus too carefully on one half of the island, and you’ll find that the invaders have established a foothold on the interior that will be difficult to eradicate. If they manage to blight the central bottleneck, you might even find yourself in a desperate rush to keep cascades from building up! Some spirits may find themselves cut off from the other half of the island because of incompatible land types, or may find that they’ve stretched themselves too thin to create sacred sites… especially once blight gets involved and Spirits start losing presence.
Much like Crab Island, you’ll have to rely on each other to keep everything under control. With this much land to cover, rushing to “clear” a given part of the island isn’t nearly as useful since there are so many places for invaders to come from! Above all else, you’ll need to keep each other covered, keep each other’s strengths in mind, and (if you can’t take them out) keep the invaders clustered in manageable pockets. Keeping the central bottleneck clear will go a LONG way to keeping blight manageable (though you’ll have quite a bit to work with, with 6 players), but be prepared to temporarily sacrifice portions of the island if needed until you can come back to them. Or just shove all the bad things onto one board, then Cast It Down into the Briny. You’ve got plenty to work with.
The Thematic Map
Finally, let’s talk about the Thematic Map. The new island boards will have the missing bits, so you’ll be able to make this thematic island by adding them onto the core game boards. The neoprene version has been updated from its former incarnation to be a bit lighter and easier to read, but the main thing to note about this map is that it is inherently unbalanced.
All of the issues mentioned for 5 and 6 players are dialed up to 11 on this map! You’ve got clusters of the same land types, which can lead to invader growth explosions and restricted presence placement. You’ve got more lands, which can lead to spirits stalling out and being unable to reach or influence areas outside of their sphere of influence. You’ve got asymmetrical Dahan and Invader placement, so you can’t easily rely on Dahan counterattacks and predictable invader growth. Basically, you’ve got an island that will challenge you and your friends to pull out every trick, make some really hard choices, and maybe some desperate sacrifices! Have fun!
Be sure to check in this Friday to learn all about the new adversaries of Jagged Earth!