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Spirits of the Wild

by Blog, First Impression, Reviews

  • The Artwork 85% 85%
  • The Coyote 90% 90%
  • Easy to Learn 80% 80%
  • Does my Daughter Like It 100% 100%

My daughter wanted to do a podcast so we set things up and had a talk about one of her favorite games, Spirits of the Wild.

A 2 Player Set Collection Game

Recently Mattel released a game by Nick Hayes called Spirits of the Wild and I picked it up almost immediately after seeing it. The artwork by Syd Weiler and the whole look of the game is really fantastic. I watched a video review by Marco Arnaudo (link to the left) who mentioned that his 6-year-old loved it. That sold me on it and sure enough our 5-year-old picked it up really fast and loved it too. We played a couple times before bed and when she woke up the next morning she was still talking about it, one of the true hallmarks of a good game.

The production value is mostly good. Everything looks great, the colored stones are fantastic, the included bowl is great, the plastic insert holds everything snugly, the box is compact without much wasted space and the rule book is small, but it is just small enough. Unfortunately, you can see the “cost-saving” choices in the production, everything is just a little thinner than it should be meaning it leans a little toward feeling cheap. Except for the colored stones and the coyote mini. The box, the cards, even the plastic bowl feels just a little thinner than it should have been. The plastic coyote is really top shelf though. My only actual gripe for the whole game is the text on the player board. It is small and dark on a dark background making it hard (for “old” dudes like me) to read. I actually had to turn on a flashlight when we were checking our scores. Young eyes might never have this problem, but for me, it was less than ideal. That’s not a very big complaint though.

 

What is it though?

The game is a very simple 2 player set collection game. Each player has a board with 5 different animals and each has a different way of scoring sets of colored stones and a set of action cards that allow you to add stones to and take stones from a central pool. There is also a set of special ability cards that change as the game goes on allowing players to use several other actions than what is available with their base cards. Then there is a coyote figure that the players move back and forth to each other’s board to block play on certain animals.

Finally, there are clear stones that have their own space on each animals section. These stones when placed will double the points for a certain animal’s sets but once you place a clear stone you can no longer fill the spaces on that animal. When five clear stones are revealed, in the bowl or on the player boards, the game ends. This bit with the clear stones as the timer for the game allows for another tiny bit of strategy as you can lengthen or shorten the game by leaving the clear stones out or by trying to get them back in the bag. 

This is a very light and simple game that was very easy to teach to my 5-year-old and within a few turns, she had a good grasp of the game and only needed to be reminded of what certain cards meant. My first playthrough with her we nearly tied with me winning by a single point. She then played her mother and won by 10 points. I love a game that, as parents, we don’t have to hold ourselves back. We can just play the game and our 5-year-old has no trouble keeping pace and can quite easily win. There is some light strategy but it is all based on a small set of information turn by turn and boils down to what might be optimal.

First impression wise this game is great. Well worth the small price tag if you are looking for something that looks great on the table, is easy to learn and fun to play with young gamers. The next step is to play my wife and see how it holds up. I am not too worried though since I bought it to play with our daughter and I am not expecting it to replace Splendor for us.

 

One of the things I have loved most about the board game community is that the business side of things has been driven by the same people who love the hobby. So many publishers that have put out spectacular release after spectacular release have just been doing so for the “love of the game” so to speak. Even some of the largest names started their companies from their basement (some are still home based) for the love of it. As the hobby continues to expand, becoming what is commonly referred to as a “viable industry”, larger companies are definitely taking notice. Mattel, who very much makes their decisions for profit and not for that same love of the hobby, has been wading into things and snatching up some good games. Unfortunately sometimes their production values are on the cost saving side of things but they definitely seem to be trying. The upside being that mass market games are going to get better, the downside is that smaller publishers might have a harder and harder time. Time will tell.

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Spirits of the Wild

85%

Summary A beautiful 2 player set collection game with fantastic pieces. Easy to teach and easy to play.

First Impression
85%

About The Author

Mitch

Mitch is a graphic designer with what could be referred to as a compulsion to design and redesign things that may or may not need it. Truly a jack of all trades and master of none (well maybe the one) he will retrofit your kitchen table or redesign your player mats. He can’t help himself. Mitch sometimes jokes that he was "Raised according to Hoyle" His grandmother instilled a love of games in him early on that has continued to grow year over year.