Easy to Learn How to Play Spirit Island Rules

Get our guide and summary of the rules.
We use visual mind maps to teach you the essential  how to play Spirit Island Rules, making it easy for you to learn how to play
Find out more about Spirit Island

What is the goal?

  • Players are Spirits of Nature and are defending their island against the Invaders
  • The Invaders do not care about the land and its inhabitants (called the Dahan)
  • Each turn, Spirits use Powers to:
    • push the Invaders back,
    • help the Dahan and
    • protect the land
  • The Spirits start out small but learn new tricks and grow along the way to fight against the rapidly expanding Invaders
  • The Spirits must destroy the Invaders and generate fear amongst the remaining survivors, in the hope that they retreat
  • If the Spirits act too slowly, or the land is overrun by Blight or a Spirit dies or fails to drive off the Invaders, they lose!

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Spirit Island

The game is played with one Island Board per player, laid out to make an Island. Each board is divided into lands and also have an ocean.

Spirit Island Rulebook - board and lands


The Dahan are the native human inhabitants of Spirit Island.

Dahan only attack invaders when the Spirit Powers ask them to do so or when attacked.

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Game components



Game setup

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Setup Invader Board

  • Put 4 Fear Markers per player into Fear Pool
  • Put Invader Board one side of play area
  • Shuffle Fear Cards
    • Put 9 cards on Fear Deck Space (deck is divided into 3 group s of cards)
      • Place Terror Level 3 Divider 3 cards from bottom
      • Place Terror Level 2 Divider 3 cards above that

Take a random Blight Card and place it on top of the Blight Space on the board, “Healthy Island” side up, without looking at the back. If you are not using a Blight Card, use the Blight instructions printed on the Invader Board instead. Place the shown amount of Blight onto the card.

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Island and Supply

  • Setting up of Island (Randomly pick one island board per player)
    • Arrange to form an island and populate with Invader Cards as indicated by icons on the board
      • Dahan
      • Blight
  • Supply
    • Shuffle Minor and Major Power Decks
    • Put supply markers near the board
      • Energy
      • Cities
      • Towns
      • Explorers
      • Dahan

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Player Setup

  • Players choose their colour and Spirit Panel
  • Each player takes Spirit Presence Markers of their colour
  • Each player takes Single Turn Effect Markers of their colour
  • Players start on different Island Boards and follow setup instructions on the back of their Spirit Panel

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Invaders Start Action

  • Invaders take an initial Action
  • Reveal the top card of Invader Deck
  • Place card face-up in \’Build\’ Action space on Invader Board


Game involves a series of turns. Each turn comprises the following phases:

  1. Spirit Phase
  2. Fast Power Phase
  3. Invader Phase
  4. Slow Power Phase
  5. Time Passes Phase
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Spirits and Spirit Panels

Spirits have:

  • 4 Unique Power Cards
  • Spirit Panel with Growth, Presence Tracks  and Innate Powers
Spirit Island rules summary - front of spirit panel
Front of Spirit Panel

Front of Spirit Panel contains:

  • Spirit name, story and history of the Spirit
  • Setup instructions
  • Play Style: description of the Spirit’s strategy and outline of its strengths and weaknesses

Back of the panel contains:

  • Special Rules
  • Growth options
  • Innate Powers
  • Presence Tracks
How to Play Spirit Island - Spirit Panel

Presence and Sacred Sites

Spirit Presence marks the lands a Spirit occupies. Lands with your presences are known as “your lands”.

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Energy and Card Plays

Spirits play Power Cards from their hand to affect things on Spirit Island.

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Spirits affect the game with Powers. Powers come from either Power Cards or Innate Powers on the Spirit Panel.

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Spirit Phase

Spirit Phase involves the following actions:

  1. Grow
  2. Gain Energy
  3. Play and Pay for Power Cards
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Fast Power Phase

Players resolve Fast Powers – both Innate Powers printed on their Spirit Panel and Power Cards they played.

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The goal of the game is to drive off the Invaders by meeting the victory conditions of the current Terror Level. As more Invaders learn to Fear you, the victory conditions will get easier!

Invaders in a land do not automatically harm Spirit Presence or Dahan there. Invaders harm things only when Ravaging (see Ravage under Invader Phase section). Each type of Invader has a specified Health. To destroy an Invader, you must deal Damage that meets or exceeds its Health in one turn. Some effects also destroy Invaders regardless of Damage or Health.

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Invader Phase

This phase involves the following steps:

  1. Blighted Island
  2. Fear
  3. Invader Actions
  4. Advance Invader Cards

Step 1 Blighted Island

If Blight Card is flipped to “Blighted Island”, follow instructions there.

Invaders slowly Blight the land.

Things to know about Blight

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Step 2 Fear

  • If player has earned Fear Cards, pick up whole face-down stack, flip it over and resolve cards one at a time, in order they were earned.
  • Discard resolved cards to Fear Discard space on board
  • Effect only lasts for current turn
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Fear and Terror
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Step 3 Invader Actions

Invader card in an Action Space on Invader Board shows which lands on the island are affected by action (if no card is present on the space, there is no action)

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Ravage Action Space
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Build Action Space
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Explore Action Space
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Step 4 Advance Invader Cards

  • Slide all Invader Cards left
  • Move card on Ravage to Discard
  • Move card on Build to Ravage
  • Move card on Explore to Build
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Slow Power Phase

  • Resolve Innate Powers printed on the Spirit Panel
  • Resolve played Power Cards
  • Powers resolve in order of player preference
  • Players can choose to skip a Power’s text effect (or cannot use it)
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Power and Fear Effects

Here are some the effects of Power and Fear

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Time Passes Phase

  • Wrap up Phase of each turn
  • Discard all Power cards in this turn into personal discard piles
  • Clear damage and Elements: All Elements go away. All damage done during turn goes away. Pieces that have partial damage are restored to normal.

How do you win?


At the start of the game, the Invaders are not afraid of the Island and are at Terror Level 1.Completely clear the Island of Invaders to win.  Earning Fear Cards provides easier victory conditions.
Earning Fear Cards during the game will help you reach new Terror Levels and make Victory Conditions easier.

Spirit Island Board Game Rules - Victory Conditions
Victory Conditions


You lose in 3 ways:

  • Too much Blight
  • A Spirit is destroyed
  • Time runs out
Spirit Island Rules - Conditions of defeat

Solo Rules

Solo games work like normal games, but with a single board as the whole Island. The only difference:

  • you can target yourself with Powers that specifically target “Another Spirit”, but you do not gain extra benefits from Powers that are better when used on another Spirit, like Gift of Constancy or Elemental Boon
  • the luck of the draw is high, and you have no fellow Spirits to make up for your Spirit’s weaknesses and limitations.

Optional Rules


  • Adversaries are specific colonizing Powers from the world of Spirit Island.
  • Including an Adversary is optional. It adds depth and strategy to the game.
  • Be sure to choose your foe before Setup begins, as some may change the rules of Setup

The Adversary Panel specifies an Escalation Effect, which is performed when the \"\" is revealed on Stage II Invader Cards.

Some Adversaries have additional loss conditions.  Each Adversary offers multiple increased difficulty levels, indicated by the number on the left. All listed game effects are cumulative: if you’re fighting vs. Level 3, you also use the effects from Level 1 and Level 2.

Some Adversaries modify the Invader Actions. There are Reminder Tiles to put below the Invader Action spaces on the Invader Board to remind you that the rules for those Actions are modified.

Fear Cards

As the difficulty increases, reaching higher Terror Levels becomes harder. Each Level shows how many Fear Cards to use and how many cards go in the top/middle/bottom of the Fear Deck.

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