Feather & Flame is the latest expansion for Spirit Island and includes all items previously released in Promo Pack 1 and Promo Pack 2. The expansion includes: 4 new spirits with their powers, 5 aspect cards for the spirits of the core game, 5 fear cards, new adversary with its reminder tiles and 2 scenarios.
Overall, the expansion does not add any new mechanics but it expands the material available adding more challenges. In fact, the spirits of this expansion are among the more complex available to date. As Feather and Flame uses the same rules as Spirit Island the core box, I will focus on how you could use the new spirits, adversary and scenarios and integrate them into your games.
As mentioned, the newest expansion of Spirit Island adds four new spirits. Three spirits are rated high and one very high for complexity. What makes these spirits so challenging to play is a combination of some of their main traits:
· Two spirits have the two presence trackers that cross each other. One of them multiple times in a complex network.
· All spirits have one or more options to gain additional elemental tokens. One of them generates very reduced amount of energy per turn although it generates tons of elemental tokens.
· Three out of four spirits have some kind of limitations or backslash for their powers. In detail, two of them damage the land or the invaders/Dahans every time they add their presence and the other one needs to sacrifice presence tokens to add more then 5 of them to the map.
When using one of those four spirits, the players should evaluate if their characteristics match their playing style. These spirits need to be pushed to use their strengths to the maximum to achieve victory and players will need to plan their strategy accordingly.
For example, one of my favourite spirit is Heart of the Wildfire, a very offensive spirit of fire and destruction. The spirit will generate additional fire tokens as he grows and these tokens will influence both the fast innate power “Firestorm” and the spirit special rule “Blazing presence”. In both cases the spirit generates damage proportional to the fire tokens BUT it will not attack only the invaders. The more powerful the spirit grows, the more damage it will also deal to the Dahan and to the land itself. The destructive force of this spirit is, however, balanced by the innate power “The burned land regrows” that allows you to remove blight tokens.
In addition to the above, this spirit only has four power cards although it could get new ones during the growing phase (2 options out of the three available). This initially seems a great opportunity to use multiple powers but you soon realize that Heart of the Wildfire can generate a lot of energy only by generating a lot of fire tokens (and uncontrolled damage). Moreover, getting good new power cards that fit this spirit style could prove challenging due to the randomness of the deck. The only way to use this spirit efficiently is to turn its destructive powers towards the invaders quickly enough to balance the damages it will deal at a later stage.
Overall, each new spirit is different and it will take some time to figure out how they can be used effectively.
Feather & Flame – Aspect Cards
The aspect cards are not new to the game, as we have already seen some in the first expansion: Branch and Claw. Aspect cards can be used to change how one of the core game spirit plays by swapping a special rule for that spirit with the one on the aspect cards. Most of the times the change increase the complexity of the spirit but offers more strategic options. Let’s look at a few examples.
The spirit Vital Strength of the Earth loses its “defend 3” rule to gain a fast power that increases the number of cards it could play each turn or the damage it deals. This allows a player to focus on removing presence mainly to generate more energy per turn while still playing a good number of power cards.
Similarly, the spirit River Surges in Sunlight can lose its River domain trait (each presence in the wetlands count as a sacred site) to gain “Travel”, a trait with two effects. The first is the ability to move 2 Dahan huts from a land to a land where there is a spirit presence token. If 4 or more huts are present in a land as a result of these moves, the second effect will be triggered and that land will become a sacred site and gain defend 1.
The only aspect that does not supersede a special rule is “Immense” for the Spirit Lighting Swift Strike. This new rule allows the spirit to generate double the energy but each power card played counts as two cards. This trait seems opposite somehow to the aspect of Vital Strength of the Earth as players can avoid to growth the energy tracker but they need to increase very quickly the amount of cards they can play per turn to ensure they are effective enough.
Feather & Flame – New Scenarios
Feather and Flame includes two new scenarios. Adding a scenario to your games is pretty simple as all rules needed for the scenario are listed on the scenario card itself. If you have never played a scenario I would recommend to not play it with adversary and other additional elements as the number of rules to keep in mind could be a bit daunting.
The first scenario, “Varied Terrains” adds an extra rule to each terrain type. The special effect of the terrain takes place during a different invader phase and it is always in favour of the invaders. The effects range from adding a new explorer or a city after the explore or the build phase, to build twice per turn or to always cascade the blight. Considering the increased building, it is recommended not to play this scenario with the Kingdom of England as this adversary is notably good at building.
The second scenario is a bit more peculiar as it a adds a limited communication element to the game. In this scenario, players can only use gestures, body language and noises to help coordinating a strategy. Each player can speak freely during the execution of their actions to explain what they are doing or to ask for tokens etc. Essentially, the scenario does not increase the adversary strength but it forces the players to read each other strategy to be able to support it. There is also a nice benefit if a presence token is added to a land with at least another spirit presence.
Feather & Flame – New Adversary, Kingdom Of Scotland
The new adversary that comes in this expansion is a mighty one: The Kingdom of Scotland. In general this adversary does not penalize a particular spirit choice or play-style too much. Its strength comes mainly from the ability to generate repeated waves of assaults that can be a problem if you are unable to constantly contain them.
When playing at any difficulty level above 1, the rule “Seize opportunity” changes the invader deck structure a first time. As a result, there is an increased chance that the same lands will come up repeatedly. Especially if the land is on the coast.
The more the difficulty level increases, the higher is the chance of repeating the same lands both on the coast and inland.
As a result, even if a player manages to avoid the invaders to ravage a land, they will need to defend the same land right after, perhaps with a new town added due to one of the other special rules of this adversary.