Objective of Horizons of Spirit Island
The objective of Horizons of Spirit Island is to work with the other players to hold off the invaders to prevent them from destroying your island.
Setup for Horizons of Spirit Island
Setting Up the Gameboard
- Place the game board in the center of the table. The side you place face up depends on the number of players. If you are playing with two players, use the side with smaller numbers in the Fear Pool and Blight Pool. For the three player game use the side with larger numbers in the Fear and Blight Pools.
- Most of the spaces on the gameboard have icons printed on them. Place tokens on each space corresponding to what icons on printed on it.
- To create the Blight Pool you will multiply the number of players times five. You will then add one to the total. Add these many Blight tokens to the Blight Pool space on the gameboard.
- Create the Fear Pool by multiplying the number of players times four. Add these many Fear Markers to the Fear Pool.
Horizons of Spirit Island Card Deck Setup
- Prepare the Invader deck.
- Sort the cards by their stages (I, II, III) and shuffle each stage separately.
- Randomly choose one card from each stage to return to the box. You should not look at the cards that are returned to the box.
- Assemble the Invader deck by putting the cards in the following order (starting at the bottom): five Stage III cards, Four Stage II cards, and Three Stage I cards.
- Prepare the Fear deck.
- Shuffle the Fear Cards and put nine of them on the Fear Deck space on the gameboard.
- Place the Terror Level 3 divider inside the Fear Deck three cards from the bottom.
- Place the Terror Level 2 divider inside the Fear Deck three cards above the Terror Level 3 divider.
- Separate the Minor Power Cards from the Major Power Cards. Shuffle each deck separately and place them face down near the gameboard.
Individual Player Horizons of Spirit Island Setup
- Each player chooses a color and takes all of the Spirit Presence Discs and Single-Turn Effect Markers of their chosen color.
- Each player then chooses which Spirit they would like to play as. They will take the corresponding Spirit Panel and four Unique Power Cards corresponding to their chosen spirit.
- The gameboard is spread into two or three “boards” (depending on the side of the board you are using). Each board is separated by a large thick border. Each player will choose one of the boards to start on. Each player will start on their own board, but once the game starts you can move Presence and use powers on the other players boards.
- Look at the setup side of your chosen Spirit Panel to determine how you will place your Presence discs onto the gameboard at the start of the game.
- After placing your Presence discs onto the gameboard, flip over your Spirit Panel. Place your remaining Presence discs onto the circles on your Presence Track. You should cover every space except for the furthest left circle on both tracks.
Invaders Starting Action
Before you start the game, the Invaders will get to take a partial turn. You will turn over the top card from the Invader Deck and take the corresponding Explore Action in every land of that type. See the Explore Action section below for more details.
You will then move the card you turned over to the Build space.
Playing Horizons of Spirit Island
You will play Horizons of Spirit Island over a number of rounds. Each round consists of five phases.
- Spirit Phase
- Gain Energy
- Play and Pay for Power Cards
- Fast Power Phase
- Invader Phase
- Fear Effects
- Advance Invader Cards
- Slow Power Phase
- Time Passes
For more details for each of these phases see the corresponding sections below.
During each of the phases all of the players will act simultaneously. Players can discuss strategy together and can choose in what order they want to take their actions. Should there be a decision that needs to be made and the game doesn’t specifically mention how to handle it, the players should try to come to a consensus. If they can’t come to an agreement, the player whose Starting Board is affected by the decision gets to make the decision. Otherwise the owner of the game decides how to handle it.
Horizons of Spirit Island Spirit Phase
During the Horizons of Spirit Island Spirit Phase each of the players will choose what they want to do with their own Spirit. The Spirit Phase has three different sub-phases. Once all of the players complete all three sub-phases, you will proceed to the Fast Power Phase.
At the top of your Spirit Panel there are three different options in the Growth section. Each section contains two or three icons which indicate which actions you will take. You will choose one of the three sections for this round. You will have to take all of the actions in your chosen section, but you can choose the order in which you take the actions.
The actions you can take from the Growth phase include:
Add a Presence
Below the Growth section of your Spirit Panel are the Presence Tracks. This section includes both a Energy Gained and Card Plays tracks. To start each of these tracks will only have the far left circle revealed. As you add Presence to the board you will remove them from these tracks. You will choose one of the two tracks and take the Presence furthest to the left. Removing these Presence will either give you additional Energy each turn, let you play more cards on your turn, or unlock Elements that you can use for the rest of the game. Should a space on one of the tracks feature multiple benefits, you receive all of them.
Instead of choosing to remove a Presence from one of your tracks, you can choose to move one that is already out on the board to a new location.
You will add the Presence you decided to take to a space on the gameboard. There is a number printed along with the symbol. The Presence can be placed in a location up to that number of spaces away from a location that already has a Presence on it.
Immediately gain Energy equal to the number printed along with the symbol.
Gain a Power Card
When you gain Power Cards you will choose whether you want a Minor or Major Power. You will draw four cards from the corresponding deck. If the corresponding deck doesn’t have enough cards, shuffle the discard pile to form a new draw pile.
Choose one of the four cards to add to your hand. You will add the other three cards to the discard pile for the corresponding type of cards.
Whenever you acquire a new Major Power, you must choose one of your Power Cards to discard. You can choose any of your Power Cards including those in your hand, in your personal discard pile, or ones played this round. You will add the card you choose to the corresponding discard pile. If you choose one of your Unique Powers (the back of the card shows your Spirit), you will place the card under your Spirit Panel.
Take all of the Power Cards from your personal discard pile and add them back into your hand.
Look at your Energy Presence Track. You will gain energy equal to the highest number uncovered on the track. Take the corresponding number of Energy tokens and place them near your Spirit Panel.
Any Energy you choose not to use will carry over to the next round. You cannot give Energy to another player.
Play and Pay for Power Cards
Look at the Card Plays Presence Track. The highest uncovered number tells you the maximum number of cards that you can play this round.
Look at the cards in your hand to decide which you would like to play.
To play a card you will have to pay the Energy cost of the card (number in top left corner). You will immediately pay the Energy cost and play your chosen cards face up to the table. Any Elements you receive from the cards you play are immediately available.
You do not have to play the maximum number of cards that you can potentially play on your turn. You cannot give these extra card plays to another player. If you don’t play your maximum number of cards in a turn, they do not carry over to future turns.
Fast Power Phase
Powers come in two varieties. Each Spirit has Innate Powers printed on their Spirit Panel. Every Power Card also has a power printed on them. Every Power in Horizons of Spirit Island is considered either a Fast or Slow Power. Each Power has a symbol on it which indicates whether it is Fast or Slow. A red bird symbol means that a Power is fast, and a blue turtle is a slow Power. In this phase you will only be able to use Powers that are fast.
In this phase you will use all of your fast Powers. Players can resolve their Fast powers in any order they want. For example a player can use one of their Powers, wait for a different player to use one of theirs, and then use another of their Powers. The only rule is that you cannot interrupt one Power’s full effect with another Power. You must fully complete a Power before using the next one.
Should you have access to a Power that you don’t want to use, you can skip it entirely. If you skip using the Power though, you cannot choose to use it later in the Slow Phase.
If a Power requires a decision on how to carry it out without any specifics on implementation, the player who is using the Power makes the decision.
See the Powers section below for more details on how to use Powers in Horizons of Spirit Island.
Horizons of Spirit Island Invader Phase
After the players have had the ability to use their Fast Powers, the game moves onto the Invader Phase. The Invader Phase consists of five different sub-phases.
- Fear Effects
- Advance Invader Cards
When the players earn Fear Cards, they will place them face down on the Earned Fear Card space. To start the Invader Phase you will take this stack of cards and flip it over. You will start with the first card earned (the first face up card after turning over the stack) and will resolve each card before moving onto the next card.
For each Fear Card you will take the effect corresponding to the current Terror Level. After taking the effect you will discard the card.
Many of the Fear Cards allow each player to do something. Each player will take the corresponding action in lands that they can affect. The players will take turns using the action.
Generally Fear Cards do not generate more Fear and thus require you to draw more Fear Cards. When they do though, any additional Fear Cards that you end up drawing are placed on the bottom of the stack of cards that you are currently going through.
See the Fear and Terror section below for more details.
After you deal with all of the Fear Cards, you will move onto the Ravage sub-phase.
To begin this phase you will look at the Invader Card in the Ravage space. If there is no card on the space, you will skip this sub-phase.
The type of land shown on the card indicates what land regions the Invaders will attack. The Invaders will only attack a land region if the Invaders have Explorers, Towns and/or Cities in it. You will ignore any of the corresponding land regions without Explorers, Towns, and/or Cities on it. The players will get to choose the order in which the Invaders Ravage the corresponding lands.
When the Invaders attack a region they will attack both the land and the Dahan. If there are any Dahan left in a region, they will then attack the Invaders.
The amount of damage that the Invaders will deal depends on what they currently have in the region. They will deal one damage for each Explorer, two damage for each Town (two buildings icon), and three damage for each City (three buildings icon). You will add all of these together to get the Invaders total damage. You will reduce the total damage by any Defend effect applied to the region.
Damaging the Island
If the Invaders end up dealing two or more Damage, they will take one Blight from the Blight Pool and add it to the land that they just attacked. Should there already be Blight on the land, it will cascade to a neighboring space (see the Blight section below).
Each Spirit will also lose one Presence in that land (if they had any Presence there).
If the Invaders only dealt one Damage, you will not place any Blight from the attack and players won’t lose any Presence.
Attacking the Dahan
Next the Invaders will attack the Dahan in the region. For each two points of Damage, you will remove one Dahan in the region from the board. When distributing Damage to the Dahan, you must do so in a way that defeats the most Dahan.
If only one damage is dealt to a Dahan, turn the token over to show that it is damaged. The Dahan will recover their lost health at the end of the Time Passes phase.
If any Dahan remain in the region, they will then have the ability to attack back. Each Dahan that remains in the region will deal two Damage to the Invaders. The players get to decide how they would like to divide the Damage between the Invaders forces. The Dahan will attack even if the Invaders dealt no Damage. They won’t attack if the Ravage Action was skipped/stopped from happening.
After the players have taken the Ravage action in all of the corresponding regions, you will move onto the Build Phase.
Look at the card in the Build space on the gameboard. This shows which lands the Invaders can potentially build on this round.
If an associated piece of land has any Invaders on it (Explorers, Towns, and/or Cities), you will add either a City or a Town to the land.
If there are more Towns than Cities in a land, you will add a City. Take a City from the supply and add it to the space.
Otherwise you will add a Town to the space.
After building in each corresponding area, you will move onto the Explore phase. Take the top card from the Invader Deck and turn it face up on the Explore space.
This new card will show a type of land. You will add one Explorer to all lands of the corresponding type if they meet one of the following:
- The land already has at least one Town or City
- The land is adjacent to a land with a Town or City. The land could also be a Coastal Land (see the Boards and Lands section below).
For each land that applies, take one Explorer from the supply and add it to the space.
Stage II and Stage III Cards
Most Stage II and III cards have special actions printed on them. These actions make the game more difficult. For your first game or if you want an easier game, you can ignore these abilities on the Stage II cards. If you decide to use them though you will handle them as follows.
For most Stage II cards you will take the corresponding action once when you first reveal it. You will take this action before you add the corresponding Explorers to the board. For each Board, add one Town to a land that doesn’t already have a Town.
Stage III cards will show two different terrain types. You will apply the corresponding Invader Actions to both pictured terrain types. The players can decide the order to resolve both terrain types and can switch back and forth between them.
Advance Invader Cards
After you take the Explore action you will advance each of the Invader cards. You will slide each Invader Card one space to the left. The card that was previously on the Ravage space will be discarded. The Build Card moves to the Ravage space and so on.
Slow Power Phase
After the Invaders have taken their actions, the players will get to utilize their Slow Powers.
You will play this phase in the exact same way as the Fast Power Phase. The only difference is that you will only use the powers that feature the blue turtle symbol.
For more information see the Powers section below.
Time Passes Horizons of Spirit Island Phase
Each round ends with the Time Passes phase.
The phase begins with each player discarding all of the Power Cards that they played this turn into their own personal discard piles.
You will then move to heal all Invaders and Dahan damaged but not defeated/destroyed in the round. Turn each token to the full health side.
Remove any Single-Turn Effect tokens placed during the round.
Another round will then begin as long as the players haven’t won or lost the game.
Winning or Losing Horizons of Spirit Island
Horizons of Spirit Island can end in a number of different ways. The game can end suddenly if certain circumstances are met.
Winning Horizons of Spirit Island
To win Horizons of Spirit Island you need to clear the island from the Invaders. You can do this by causing Fear and Terror to the Invaders. See the Fear and Terror section below for more details.
At all times the Invaders will be at a certain Terror Level. They will start the game at Terror Level 1. As you cause them more fear/terror, the level will rise.
Each Terror Level has it own win conditions. As you increase the Terror Level, the win conditions become easier to meet. If at any time in the game you meet the victory conditions for the current Terror Level, all of the players will immediately win the game.
The various Terror Level winning conditions are as follows:
Terror Level One: No Invaders (Explorers, Towns, Cities) on the Island.
Terror Level Two: No Towns or Cities on the Island.
Terror Level Three: No Cities on the Island.
Terror Level Four: Immediate victory because the players successfully acquired all of the Fear Cards..
Losing Horizons of Spirit Island
You can lose Horizons of Spirit Island in a number of ways as well.
Should the Blight Pool ever run out of Blight, all of the players immediately lose.
Should any one of the players’ Spirits have no Presence left on the Island, all of the players immediately lose the game.
Finally if you have to reveal a new Invader card for the Explore phase, but there are no Invader cards left to draw; the players immediately lose the game.
Should you somehow win and lose at the exact same time, you will win with a Sacrifice Victory.
Fear and Terror
The goal of Horizons of Spirit Island is to scare the Invaders away from the Island to prevent further destruction. You will do this by generating Fear and raising the Terror Level.
You can generate Fear in a couple of different ways.
Some Spirit Powers have a Fear symbol on them. When you use one of these Powers, you will generate the corresponding amount of Fear.
You can also generate Fear by destroying Cities and Towns. Each Town you destroy generates one Fear. Each City you destroy generates 2 Fear.
For each Fear you generate you will take one Fear Marker from the Fear Pool and add it to the Generated Fear area.
Once you have moved all of the Fear Markers to the Generated Fear area, you will earn the top card from the Fear Deck. You will add the card face-down to the Earned Fear Cards space. These cards will be used in the next Fear Effects phase (see above).
Should you reveal one of the Terror Level dividers by earning a Fear card, you successfully raised the overall Terror Level. Place the Terror Level divider on top of the old Terror Level.
After taking the Fear card, return all of the Fear Markers to the Fear Pool. Should you gain more Fear than you need to earn a card, keep the corresponding number of Fear Markers in the Generated Fear area.
Boards and Lands in Horizons of Spirit Island
The gameboard is broken up into two or three different Island Boards. This depends on the number of players. Each Board is divided by a thick border line. Each Board has a total of eight different lands with two of each type of terrain.
Two lands are adjacent if they touch one another. This still applies even when they are on different Island Boards. Two lands are touching even if they only meet at a corner.
Any Land next to the Ocean is a Coastal Land. If the edges of the Land that touch the Ocean are rocky, the associated land is not a Coastal Land. Land not on the Ocean is considered Inland.
Presence and Sacred Sites
As a Spirit you will expand your power and reach on the Island by placing Presence onto the board. Any land that has one of your Presence markers on it is considered your Land. You can share control of a piece of Land with another player. There is no limit to the amount of Presence placed on one space.
Should Presence ever be destroyed, remove it from the board. Should one of the Spirits have all of their Presence removed from the board, all of the players will lose the game.
The above icon is used by the game to represent Presence. When the game refers to Presence, it usually will affect Presence on the Island Board. The only exception is if it specifically says otherwise.
A Spirit creates a Sacred Site on any Land that has more than one of their Presence. Sacred Sites are important as some Powers can only be used from them.
Invaders will only cause damage to the Island and the Dahan when they are taking the Ravaging action.
To destroy an Invader you need to deal damage to it equal to or higher than its health in one round. If an Invader isn’t destroyed by the end of the current round, it will regain all of its health. Some effects will destroy an Invader immediately.
Explorers are the weakest Invaders. They only deal one Damage. If you deal one Damage to them, you will destroy them.
Towns deal two Damage when attacking. They also have two health so to destroy them you have to deal two or more damage to them. Destroying a Town generates one Fear
Cities deal three Damage when attacking and have three health. To destroy them you need to deal three or more damage. Destroying a City generates two Fear.
As the Invaders harm the Island, Blight will start to spread.
Whenever you add Blight to the board you will take it from the Blight Pool. If you ever remove Blight from the Island, you will return it to the Blight Pool. Should the Blight Pool ever run out of Blight, you immediately lose the game.
When you add Blight to a space, one Presence from each Spirit on that piece of Land is destroyed. You will remove these Presence from the game.
If a Blight is added to a space that already had Blight on it, you will add an additional Blight to one adjacent land. If that land also has Blight on it, it will generate another Blight on an adjacent land.
The Dahan are the inhabitants of the Island from before the Invaders arrived. They work alongside the Spirits.
The Dahan will only attack the Invaders when a Spirit Power compels them to, or if they are attacked by the Invaders.
The Dahan have two health. When they run out of health they are removed from the board. The Dahan are only damaged by Spirits if the Power specifically says that they are damaged. If they survive they will attack the Invaders and will deal two Damage each.
The Spirits can impact the game through Powers. They can use their Innate Powers and Power Cards that they play.
When resolving a Power you should try to do as much of it as you can possibly do. You can choose to ignore a Power entirely if you no longer want to use it. You don’t get your Energy back from a played Power Card though.
All Powers only affect the current round. When the round ends, all Powers that were activated are now nullified until you activate them again.
You can only use each Power once each round.
Energy Cost: Number in top left corner.
Power Name: The name of the Power.
Elements Gained: Along the left side of Power cards are a number of symbols. Each symbol pictured is an Element that you will gain from the card for the rest of the round (if you play it). You will have access to these Elements for as long as you have access to the card. When you need Elements for a Power, you don’t use them up. You can use the same element for several different Powers.
Speed: The speed of the Power determines whether you can use it in the Fast or Slow Power Phase. The red bird means a fast power and the blue turtle is a slow power.
Range: The range number tells you how many spaces away from a land that you have Presence in that you can use a Power. You can apply the Power to any Land within the range. Some Powers also have a Range indicating that they can only be used on specific types of Land.
Target: The target tells you what types of Land you can target with the Power. Most Powers can be used on any terrain, but some are limited to specific terrains.
Effects: Details what the Power does. The effects of the Power usually only target a single Land/space unless otherwise specified. The entire effect can only be applied to the chosen Land. It cannot be spread among several different Lands unless otherwise specified. You will perform the effects in order. If you can’t perform an effect, you will skip it.
Elemental Thresholds: Some Powers have additional effects that are triggered if you have the access to the corresponding Elements. You can perform any additional effects if you have the corresponding Elements. You will start with the first effect and move down through the ones that you have the necessary Elements. If you don’t want to take some of the later effects you can stop applying them when you want.
Other Horizons of Spirit Island Game Concepts
Damage, Destroy, Remove and Replace
While these four terms are similar, they have different affects on the game.
When you remove Invaders from the gameboard, they are returned to the supply.
Replacing an Invader means you take the previous token and exchange it for a different token. Any replaced Invaders retain any Damage already done to it.
Destroying an Explorer, Town or City removes it from the board. It will also generate Fear (one for Towns, two for Cities).
When Powers or effects mention Damage, it means Damage to Invaders unless otherwise specified. The players will get to choose how to deal out the Damage to the Invaders.
When an effect says to Downgrade Invaders, you will replace the Invader with the next smallest Invader piece:
- City turns to a Town
- Town turns to a Explorer
- Explorer is removed from the board.
When an effect gives you Defend, it will protect both the land and Dahan in that region. If you apply multiple Defends to an area, their totals are added together. Defend only applies for the current round.
Gather and Push
When a Power tells you to Gather things into a Target Land, you will move the corresponding number of things from adjacent areas and add them to the Target Land.
The Push ability allows you to move the corresponding things from the target area to adjacent Lands. You can push things to multiple different adjacent lands. You cannot push things into the Ocean.
When a Power has Repeat on it, you will perform the Power’s text effects again. You do not gain the Power’s Elements twice.
Should you trigger another Repeat with the Power, you will not get to take the action another time.
Solo Horizons of Spirit Island Game
The solo game plays pretty closely to the normal game. You will use the two player side of the game board. Choose one of the two “boards” and cover the other side with the extra Fear Markers.
Add six Blight Tokens to the Blight Pool. Add four Fear Tokens to the Fear Pool.
Spirit Powers that say to target another Spirit, can be used on yourself.
Year: 2022 | Publisher: Greater Than Games LLC | Designer: R. Eric Reuss | Artist: Jason Behnke, Kat G Birmelin, Cari Corene, Lucas Durham, Nolan Nasser, Jorge Ramos, Moro Rogers
Genres: Area Control, Cooperative, Strategy
Ages: 14+ | Number of Players: 1-3 | Length of Game: 90-120 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate-High | Strategy: Moderate-High | Luck: Light
Components: Gameboard, 5 Spirit Panels, 36 Minor Power Cards, 22 Major Power Cards, 20 Unique Power Cards, 15 Fear Cards, 15 Invader Cards, 2 Terror Level Divider Cards, 39 Presence Discs, 27 Explorer Tokens, 6 3-Explorer Tokens, 24 Town Tokens, 18 City Tokens, 21 Blight Tokens, 24 Dahan Tokens, 21 Fear Markers, 30 Energy Markers, 9 Single Turn Effect Markers, Quick Start Guide, Instructions
For more board and card game how to plays/rules and reviews, check out our complete alphabetical list of board game posts.