Spirit Island – Tips and Tricks from Devs

A simple guide to winning your first game, featuring River Surges in Sunlight.


So, you picked up Spirit Island, because it looks awesome, but the strategy just hasn’t clicked for you yet. You played the tutorial (if you haven’t, stop reading this and try it out!) but you still hate dealing with cities and can’t keep invaders in check. Well, you’re in the right place. Below are some general strategy concepts for the game, framed in a 0 difficulty playthrough with River Surges In Sunlight.

Innate Powers

Innate powers are your friend. These are the special abilities of your spirit that you can use when you have enough elements from cards you’ve played. They are ridiculously strong! River Surges in Sunlight (RSiS from here on) starts by pushing an invader, then damaging and pushing multiple invaders, before finally dealing 2 damage to all invaders on a land! However, playing our innate power at its maximum level as RSiS requires playing 4 cards in a single turn, with the proper elements. This requires a fair amount of presence development.

The Early Game

We’ve just launched the game, and we’re playing solo with RSiS at difficulty 0. What do we focus on?

We will be leaning heavily on our innate in the middle/end game, so a lot of the early game will consist of three things:

  • Damage control
  • Getting presence off the card plays track
  • Getting/keeping power cards with the right elements

Here we start out playing presence to get to the other wetland, because of RSiS treating all wetlands as Sacred Sites, which we need for our innate. This board has only one land (the bottom left mountain) that isn’t adjacent to a wetland, so we have very good coverage early on.

Letting Blight Happen:

The other thing to note here is that we are going to abandon that sands with the city for now. The effort it would take to protect it (trying to get a defend power, somehow getting to 3 damage) is just way too much. On a land with no Dahan and no blight tokens, this is a pretty small sacrifice. In addition, on difficulty 0, it will be at LEAST 5 turns before that land ravages again, so we have lots of time.

Invaders do invader things, and then we use our cards. They explore in the wetlands, so we use our innate and Wash Away to clear one wetland and the sands, concentrating everything on the mountain. We also move some Dahan there, and generate a new Dahan and an energy (important, because we aren’t going to be getting a lot from our per turn generation in this game). For the next growth, presence goes to the jungles to hedge against either possible explore (jungle or mountain). Again, we have pulled all our presence off of the card plays track, uncovering the ability to reclaim a card, so hello River’s Bounty!

The mountain is looking scary now, right? This is where our innate power starts to really shine.

The invaders explore in the mountains, but we don’t have to worry, because our innate cleans it up nicely:

Letting Dahan Guard the Isle:

There’s more we can do to resolve these mountain territories, but this is a good time to think about what Dahan manage on their own. If you consider a single explorer against two Dahan, what happens? The explorer builds a town, and then the ravage kills one Dahan, leaving one to fight back and destroy the town. This leaves one explorer, one Dahan, and one blight.

What about three Dahan against an explorer? In this case, the math is better. Explorer builds, invaders ravage, one Dahan dies… but now TWO Dahan survive and fight back, leaving no invaders, two Dahan, and a blight.

To summarize, two or three Dahan make a good defense against invaders. If you just don’t have the time or cards to deal with explorers like the ones on the mountains above, and blight isn’t an urgent concern, you can focus your efforts elsewhere.

At this point, we’re out of cards, so it’s time to reclaim them and move on to the mid game!

The Middle Game

Ah, new power cards. Part of what makes this game so replayable is the variety of power cards that you can use. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that half of the time, the card you pick isn’t going to be based on what it does, but on those lovely little elements along the left side. This is a couple turns later into the game. We reclaimed our cards, gained Encompassing Ward (great for RSiS, and a nice defend power in general), and played some more control games. Finally, though, we have a turn where we can (if the RNG holds) unleash our innate power at full strength.

Look at those lovely cards! If we were in a situation where we really needed one of the effects, we could take any of them, but the most important factor in this choice is that little water symbol on Gift of Power. Our innate relies on having 3 sun, 4 water, and 1 earth (that little brown arch thing), so playing a card without a water symbol means needing to play a fifth card, which is another presence off the track. So, we look longingly at the cool cards, and take the one with a tiny blue circle because the decision is sometimes made for us.

With our reclaim a card power, we get back River’s Bounty (because who doesn’t like energy and Dahan?) and play down all four cards.

That Jungle that was getting bad? Gone.

Now we can clean up messes a lot more easily. Time to try and actually win!

The End Game

So we have board presence, we can use our innate at full blast, and we just need to wipe these silly invaders off the map. How do we do that? Well, for RSiS, we’re going to use Flash Floods plus our innate power to blow up cities and everything near them. However, there are other ways to proceed.

Innate Power Spamming:

Reclaim your cards as often as you need to use your innate until you win. This can work pretty well, but is more feasible for RSiS than some other spirits.

Keep the invaders under control, and generate fear until you hit the victory condition. That’s how this game ended.

What else works?

Major Powers:

Oh, we didn’t talk about these? My bad! Major powers are awesome, but expensive, and you need to forget one of the powers you already have in order to get one. This can be a problem, as major powers might not have the right elements to trigger your innate powers. It’s usually a good idea to never forget your starting powers, as they will have a good spread of elements for your spirit. You should have picked up a minor power or two over the course of the game, though, so replace one of them with a major power near the end if you need a powerful effect! Remember that you can forget powers in your discard pile as well if you need to keep all the cards in your hand.

Major powers, while expensive and flashy to begin with, also often have elemental thresholds which are comparable or greater in scope to your innate powers. When picking a Major power, keep the elements you already have in mind to see if you can get some ridiculously strong effects.

Running out the Fear Deck:

If you just can’t get the island under control, there is still an out. If you manage to get through the entire fear deck, you win immediately. Focus on destroying towns and cities and stopping the blight pool from running out, and you have a good shot at winning even if the island is somewhat overrun. Don’t dawdle too much, however, as you lose if you run out of cards for the invaders to explore with!

Written by: Kalen Noreth

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