SpiritWars

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SpiritWars
Developer(s) Randy Chase,
Eric,
Jonathan,
???
Publisher(s) Kellogg Creek Software
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows XP,
Windows Vista (verify),
Windows 7 (verify),
MacIntosh (verify)
Release date(s)
    1998
    Genre(s) Collectible Card Game (CCG),
    Role-Playing Game (RPG),
    Turn-Based strategy
    Mode(s) Multiplayer (Head-to-Head)
    Distribution Download

    SpiritWars is an online, turn-based, strategy game built on the rich tradition of classic board games. It features collectible trading cards and artwork in an online format.

    SpiritWars combines aspects of games like Magic: The Gathering and Chess, as well as other board war-game mechanics.

    One article[which?] reported that over half a million games had been played by 2006. Unlimited free play, tournaments, league play, regular game expansions, and a friendly online gaming community made SpiritWars interesting to players that are into online strategy games.

    Like the ancient game of Go, SpiritWars was designed to take a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.

    Gameplay[edit]

    SpiritWars is played head-to-head between two opposing players, similar to most other Collectible/Trading Card Games (CCG/TCG's). An online server matches up players seeking a game and relays their actions and text communications.

    The basic concepts of SpiritWars are quite simple. The game is built upon the traditional design legacy of classic board games, like Chess. The actual mechanics and goals of the game are easy to learn. To win, you must destroy your opponent's castle (home base) before he destroys yours. Castles begin the game with 10 defense (health) and a player loses when their castle defense falls to 0 or below.

    The main difference between SpiritWars and most other classic CCG's, is that the playing field is a map with differing terrain (map spaces) instead of a blank playing area or table.

    Before play starts, players must construct a deck of cards from their own personal collection to use during each game. Players begin each game with 8 cards in their hand chosen randomly from their deck of at least 30 cards. There are four basic types of spirits in SpiritWars: 'Energy', 'Combat', 'Defender' and 'Spell'. Players must use these spirits to find and destroy their opponents castle before their own castle is destroyed by their opponent.

    The basic elements of gameplay are simple:

    1. place spirits on the playing field (map);
    2. move them;
    3. attack your opponent;
    4. cast spells that affect pieces in play.

    Since the game is played exclusively online, they can be restricted information about their opponent, such as the number of cards in their hand and deck, their energy pool, and which spirits they have in play. Since players are restricted certain information, this introduces an element and a whole new level of strategy that isn't found in most TCG's that are also played offline. For example, initially, a player does not know where the opponent is, but somewhere out there is the enemy and their castle. Players must explore (uncover) the map spaces to find their opponent. This allows for a "fog of war" mechanic found in other online strategy games, such as Age of Empires and Starcraft. The "fog of war" is a fog-like layer that hides everything but the terrain. If a player does not maintain vision of a map space, the "fog of war" obstructs their vision of any playing pieces that are on that space or any that may unknowingly move onto it.

    In addition, each map space is also a type of terrain, such as desert or forest, that may provide combat or resource bonuses to some spirits (playing pieces). For example, many animal spirits have woodlands as their native homeland and receive an attacking and defending bonus while in forest spaces. Players must use terrain and vision to their advantage to find and destroy their opponent's castle and win the game while simultaneously protecting their own castle from destruction as well.

    Deck Construction[edit]

    Each player is the ruler of their kingdom in the world of Valhalla and has a population (collection) of spirits (cards) that are unique to each player. In order to play a game, players must construct a dungeon (deck) of spirits from their population with certain restrictions. To be legal for play in a standard game, a dungeon must:
    • contain at least 30 spirits,
    • contain no more than 5 copies and any spirit,
    • contain no more than 1 copy of any "unique" spirit.
    NOTE: Some powerful spirits are considered "unique" and allow only one copy per dungeon. A player may have as many "unique" spirits in a dungeon as they like, as long as they're different spirits.
    Primary and Secondary Homelands (Colors)
    Each dungeon must also designate a "primary" and "secondary" homeland. The primary and secondary homeland chosen will provide the player with additional (base) energy from those homelands at the start of the game and during the last phase of each round. The primary homeland will provide 2 additional energy and the secondary homeland will provide 1 additional energy. A player may choose the same homeland as both primary and secondary homeland, in which case they will receive 3 additional energy for that homeland.

    Energy[edit]

    Almost every action in SpiritWars requires energy resources. There are 6 different energy colors, one for each homeland. Spirits may only use energy from their specific homeland (i.e., no dual-energy spirits) and therefore will never be able to use energy from a homeland other than its own. There is no "neutral or uncolored energy" in SpiritWars.
    Energy is generated during the last phase of each round by all 'Energy' spirits as well as some 'Combat' and 'Defender' spirits. In addition, three units of energy are generated by a player's castle based on their primary (2) and secondary (1) homeland colors.

    Homelands (Colors)[edit]

    The spirits populating your kingdom in the world of Valhalla are divided into homelands (colors) based upon the terrain type from which the spirit comes. Each class of spirit has an associated terrain type, color and unifying traits and characteristics.
    It is important to know the nature of each homeland when choosing which spirits you wish to use in your dungeon (deck) and to determine which homelands fit your play style. The better you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each homeland, the more effective you will be in creating dungeon combinations and synergies that will lead to victory. It is equally important to study the nature of opposing spirits in order to plan adequate defenses against the diverse range of opponents you will face on the field of battle.
    The definitions below are designed to provide some initial guidelines to aid you in the study of spirits from the various homelands.
    FLATLANDS (White)
    Ruled by the iron fist and military power of the great Caesars, the Flatlands attract spirits of (transmission garbled)...
    DRYLANDS (Yellow)
    The scorching sun and arid heat of the Drylands can (transmission garbled)...
    WOODLANDS (Green)
    Wildlife and nature are the dominant themes of the Woodlands. Don't be surprised, however, to find the cast of animals, fairies and sprites accompanied by storied characters who made the wooded lands their sanctuary.
    WETLANDS (Blue)
    From the depths of the oceans, to the murky waters of the rivers, to the crystalline clarity of mountain lakes, the minions of the Wetlands are ruled by Neptune's Trident and the vast power of Poseidon's stare.
    HIGHLANDS (Brown)
    Drawn by the legendary power residing atop the ancient Mt. Olympus, the Highlands represent a class of great power and characters mythical in nature and storied through the corridors of time.
    DARKLANDS (Black)
    The Netherlands represent the world of the undead and the unholy. Populated by a vast range of spirits, united in their basic foreboding nature and supernatural, this is not a spirit class to be mastered by the faint of heart. From the bloody reign of Vlad the Impaler to the creatures drawn from the nightmares of the ages, Darklands spirits draw upon the dark powers of the underworld.
    Even though the game places no restrictions on the creative combinations you can try, there are some inherent relationships between various homelands of which you should be aware. Each homeland has a natural ally in the world of Valhalla. Each homeland also has two opposing homelands that are considered to be natural enemies by nature.
    This does not mean, however, that you can't use conflicting homelands (colors) of spirits together in your dungeon. It just means that there are some inherent advantages and synergies that may be exploited when using certain color combinations, and that certain colors create some natural advantages when playing an opponent who favors a conflicting spirit class.
    The chart below shows the basic structure of these inherent relationships between spirit classes:
    Homeland Ally Homeland Primary Enemy Secondary Enemy
    Flatlands Drylands Flatlands Highlands Darklands
    Drylands Flatlands Drylands Wetlands Woodlands
    Woodlands Wetlands Woodlands Darklands Highlands
    Wetlands Woodlands Wetlands Drylands Flatlands
    Highlands Darklands Highlands Flatlands Drylands
    Darklands Highlands Darklands Woodlands Wetlands

    Types of Spirits[edit]

    There are four different types of spirits, which fall into two exclusive categories: physical or spells. 'Energy', 'Combat' and 'Defender' spirits are all physical playing pieces that are 'put into play' on the map when activated. These physical spirits have attributes, such as attack power, movement range, defense, etc., and occupy a map space while in play. Only one physical spirit can occupy a map space at a time, but they all can be moved or destroyed. Spells are unique in that they aren't physical spirits and are not represented by a physical playing piece on the map. 'Spells' are enchantments or events, sometimes global, that can have a wide arrange of effects on the game.
    Here's a brief description of the four types of spirits found in SpiritWars:
    Energy spirits
    Energy spirits are the primary source of energy in SpiritWars. These physical spirits normally have low defensive ratings, no offensive power and can not move. They do, however, have the ability to generate new energy in their respective color at the beginning of each round that they remain in play.
    Energy spirits, when activated, can enter the playing field in any hex on the map that is adjacent to a friendly-occupied space. Most energy pieces create one energy point per turn, although some enhanced units can create more than one point (including a few like the Aqueduct that creates one blue and one white energy point each turn). Energy pieces that are placed on a terrain location that matches their homeland receive an energy production bonus of one point per round.
    Combat spirits
    Combat spirits are physical spirits that are essentially your army. They are your primary offensive tool and are used to scout out your opponent, attack their playing pieces and destroy their castle. Some combat units have increased movement range, can use ranged attacks, cast spells or use even special abilities.
    Combat units are the only physical unit that is able to move by default, with a few exceptions. When activated, they must enter play in one of the map locations adjacent to the player's home castle. If there are no adjacent spaces open, no new combat units may enter the playing field.
    Each combat piece has the ability to perform one move event and participate in one combat event per round of play. Most combat pieces are unable to move or enter combat in the round that they enter play and subsequently can't move or attack until the following round. Some pieces have special attributes, such as "move first turn" or "attack first turn" that allow them to move and/or attack in the same round they are activated.
    Defender spirits
    Like energy pieces, defenders can't be moved once they are positioned on the playing field. They also follow the same activation rules as the energy pieces, being placed in any empty map location adjacent to one of the player's pieces.
    The distinguishing attribute of Defenders is that while they can not attack, they can intercept an enemy attack directed at another piece. A Defender has a special attribute called "blocking range." If an attacking piece is within this distance from the Defender, the defending player has the option of using the Defender to intercept that attack (thus defending the targeted piece).
    The majority of Defenders have a "blocking power" of zero, which means that they absorb the intended damage and do no damage in response to the attack. If the Defender's blocking power is greater than zero, it has the ability to inflict damage on the attacking unit.
    Defender's get the same defensive bonus when placed on their Homeland terrain type as do other combat pieces.
    Spells
    Spells are used at the beginning of a round and have a wide range of various effects, far too many to be summarized here. Some spells can damage your opponents spirits (or sometimes castle), while others can heal yours. Some spells can boost your spirit(s) attributes (e.g., attack power, movement range, etc), grant special abilities (e.g., resurrection), or remove them from you opponents. Other spells have global effects that can affect all spirits on the map or can even change the terrain on the map itself.

    Playfield and Terrain[edit]

    SpiritWars is played on a board (map) with a hexagonal (6-sided) grid, in contrast to most board games, which are played on a board with a square (4-sided) grid, such as Chess and Stratego. The map has 86 spaces (hexes) comprising up to 8 different types of terrain, such as deserts and forests, and both castles. The terrain type can provide attacking/defending bonuses during battle or generate an additional unit of energy from energy-producing spirits when occupying their native homeland terrain. Using terrain to your advantage is one of the most important strategies in SpiritWars as it can often turn the tides of battle.
    Basic Terrain
    Any spirit may occupy any of the basic terrain spaces regardless of its native homeland; however, a spirit will only receive the terrain bonuses if it is their native homeland. The following is a list of the basic terrain types along with their native homeland:
    • Plains (Flatlands)
    • Desert (Drylands)
    • Forest (Woodlands)
    • River (Wetlands)
    • Mountains (Highlands)
    • Swamp (Darklands)
    Special Terrain
    Special terrain spaces have slightly different rules (restrictions) applied to them compared to basic terrain spaces. The following is a list of the special terrain types and their restrictions:
    • Deep Sea (Wetlands)
    Deep Sea spaces may only be occupied by Wetlands spirits and still provide terrain bonuses. Deep Sea spaces are not impassible. If a playing piece has a movement range of 2 or more, it may pass through or fly over a Deep Sea space regardless of the playing piece's native homeland.
    • Cursed Lands
    Cursed Land spaces may not be occupied by any playing piece. Cursed Land spaces are not impassible. If a playing piece has a movement range of 2 or more, it may pass through or fly over a Cursed Land space.
    Castles
    Each player begins the game with a castle on the map. Player 1 will have a silver castle and Player 2 will have a gold castle. Castles are immobile and cannot be moved by any means. As the game progresses, players will activate spirits from their castle to be used in the game. 'Combat' spirits must enter the game in a space adjacent to its home castle but can be moved after entering play. 'Energy' and 'Defender' spirits may enter the game adjacent to any friendly piece on the playing field, including a player's home castle.
    Castles begin the game with a defense rating of 10 and can be damaged by direct attacks from combat pieces in play and magical spells. If a castle ends a turn with a defense rating of zero or less, the game ends.
    No playing piece is allowed to move onto or occupy the castle space. However, if a playing piece has a movement range of 2 or more, it may pass through or fly over a castle space, similar to the way a Knight moves in Chess.
    Terrain Bonuses
    As mentioned earlier, spirits receive terrain bonuses while occupying its native homeland space during certain phases of each round.
    • Damage Bonus—Spirits receive +1 damage bonus to all attacks while in its native homeland.
    • Defense Bonus—Spirits absorb (ignore) 1 point of damage from all attacks while in its native homeland.
    • Energy Bonus—Any energy producing spirit that ends a round in its native homeland will produce an additional unit of energy for that round.

    Spirit Attributes[edit]

    All physical spirits have attributes, which are what helps to make them unique from one another. The following are a list of these attributes:
    Attack First Turn
    By default, units can not move or attack the round they enter play. This ability allows 'Combat' and 'Defender' spirits to attack or block the same round they are activated.
    Attack Power
    This indicates the amount of damage the spirit inflicts on an opponent during an attack event, whether they are initiating an attack or defending themselves. Units that are on their homeland terrain gain +1 bonus to their attack power.
    Attack Range
    This defines the maximum distance, measured in hexes on the playing map, between an active piece and the target of its attack. For example, if a piece has an attack range of two, the target of its attack must be located within two hexes of the piece. Most combat units have an attack range of 1 by default. 'Combat' spirits with an attack range >1 are commonly referred to as "archers" in SpiritWars.
    Blocking Power
    "Blocking" is the ability to intercept an attack directed at another piece on the playing field. All 'Defender' spirits and a few 'Energy' and 'Combat' spirits have the ability to "block". This powerful ability is determined by a spirit having a blocking range greater than zero. A spirit can only attack or block once per round.
    'Blocking Power' is the damage a blocker will inflict upon the target it blocks.
    Blocking Range
    "Blocking" is the ability to intercept an attack directed at another piece on the playing field. All 'Defender' spirits and a few 'Energy' and 'Combat' spirits have the ability to "block". This powerful ability is determined by a spirit having a blocking range greater than zero. A spirit can only attack or block once per round.
    'Blocking Range' measures the range/distance between the blocking and attacking spirits (not the unit under attack).
    Defense
    This is the critical measurement of the life force remaining for the unit in play. If a spirits 'Defense', aka 'Defense Rating', is reduced to zero or below, the unit is destroyed and removed from the playing field.
    Energy Production
    All 'Energy' spirits, and some rare 'Combat' and 'Defender' spirits, have the ability to generate energy points during the "Energy Phase" that begins each round of play. This ability is represented by colored windmill icons. Some pieces, such as the Aqueduct, have the ability to create more than one color of energy resources each turn.
    Healing
    Some spirits have the ability to heal themselves after they have been damaged. Each round, after combat is resolved, any surviving spirits with the healing attribute will have the opportunity to self-heal, or repair, some/all of the damage they have suffered. An associated "healing cost" must also be paid in order for the unit to be healed.
    Healing Cost
    For those spirits with the "healing" ability, an associated "healing cost" determines the cost of self-healing. This rating reflects the cost, in color-specific energy points, to heal one point of damage. The Unicorn, for example, has a "healing cost" of two points. To heal 3 points of damage would require 6 green energy points.
    Maintenance
    Most spirits have a "maintenance" rating of zero. These pieces, once activated, have no ongoing energy requirements to remain in play. Some spirits, however, have a "maintenance rating" greater than zero and require an ongoing "maintenance" (energy fee) in order to remain in play each round.
    If a player can not pay this fee, or for strategic purposes chooses not to pay, the spirit is removed from play. (Be aware that a spirit with the "resurrection" attribute may be resurrected back to the courtyard when it has been destroyed by not paying for its "maintenance".)
    Move First Turn
    By default, units can not move or attack the round they enter play. This ability grants units the ability to move the same round they are activated.
    Movement Cost
    Some units can move without any associated energy cost. If this attribute is greater than zero, however, you must be prepared to pay a "movement cost" when the unit is moved. This cost is always paid in energy resources (or points) of the homeland color of the spirit.
    Movement Range
    The distance, in hexes, that a unit can move in a turn. A unit has one movement opportunity per turn and can move any number up to this maximum "movement range". Some units have a "movement range" of zero, indicating that they can not be moved.
    No playing piece is allowed to move onto or occupy the castle space. However, if a playing piece has a movement range of 2 or more, it may pass through or fly over a castle space, similar to the way a Knight moves in Chess.
    Resurrection
    A spirit with the resurrection ability can be resurrected (revived) when it has been destroyed. If resurrected, the dying spirit is returned to the courtyard of the player's castle and reverts back to its original state, losing any enchantments that it may have gained while in play.
    A resurrection opportunity will only occur when there is room available in the courtyard of the controlling player and that player can afford to pay the associated energy costs. When these conditions are met, the player will be provided with an accept/decline option to resurrect the unit. If the player declines to exercise a resurrection opportunity, the unit is removed from play for the duration of the game.
    Resurrection Cost
    For physical spirits with the ability to be resurrected, this is the energy cost required. If the player can not afford to pay this energy cost, the resurrection opportunity will not occur.
    Shielding
    Some spirits have shielding that protects them from physical attacks by spirits from specific homelands.
    A spirit with yellow shielding, for example, will not suffer any damage when attacked by a Drylands spirit. This shielding, however, only protects the piece from physical damage normally inflicted during combat events and does not provide any protection from spells.
    Some spirits enter play with shielding, while others may gain shielding by the use of magical spells. Shielding can also be stripped from a spirit by magical spells.
    Special Abilities
    Some physical spirits also have special abilities or spells that they can use once they are in play. These abilities can be used once per round during the "Movement Phase". There will be an energy cost required to use a spirits ability each time.
    Vision
    This determines the distance the unit can see. As with all distance-related attributes in the game, this is measured in physical hexes on the playing field. A spirit with a "vision" of three can see three hexes in all directions from its current location.

    Rounds and Phases[edit]

    Every 'round' (turn) in SpiritWars is broken down into five 'phases'. During each of these 'phases', players will be able to perform different actions. Below is a description of each of these phases:
    1) Activation Phase
    The 'Activation Phase' is the first phase of each round. During this phase, players may activate spirits from their 'Courtyard' (hand) if they have the energy required for each particular spirit. When activating an 'Energy', 'Combat', or 'Defender' spirit, a player must also put that piece into play. Remember that these pieces also have certain rules about where they may be placed on the map when activated (see Types of Spirits). 'Spells' are also cast during the 'Activation Phase' and this is the only time during the round that they may be cast. Players may activate none, some, or all of the spirits in their 'Courtyard'. The only limitation is that a player may only activate one 'Energy' spirit per round.
    One other thing to note is that your opponent is not notified of any spirits that you activate during this phase except for 'Spells'. Meaning that if a you put an 'Energy', 'Combat', or 'Defender' spirit into play, the only way your opponent will know is to have vision of the map space you placed the spirit onto.
    2) Movement Phase
    During the 'Movement Phase', players can move spirits and/or use their ability. Moveable spirits (i.e., spirits with a 'Movement Range' > 0) can be moved once each during this phase. Remember, some spirits also have a 'Movement Cost' associated with them that must be paid in order to move.
    Spirits with special abilities may use them during this phase only. Special abilities can only be used once per round and have an energy cost.
    3) Combat Phase
    In the 'Combat Phase', players may choose to engage in combat with other units within their 'Attack Range'. Defender spirits may also use their defensive abilities during this phase as well. Spirits may only attack or defend once per round, so players must plan their attacks strategically.
    4) Healing Phase
    The 'Healing Phase' begins once all combat has ended. Spirits with the ability to regenerate (self-heal) can heal themselves, and only themselves, during this phase. Regenerating health has an associated energy cost that must be paid each time the ability is used. It can be used an unlimited number of times per turn until the unit is fully healed. For example, a Unicorn (woodlands combat spirit) can regenerate 2 units of health for 2 woodlands energy. A player may choose to regenerate 2, 4, 6, etc units of health for 2, 4, 6, etc energy in this phase.
    Since this is the last phase before energy is generated, players must plan ahead or keep a surplus of energy to meet the energy requirements for regeneration.
    5) Maintenance Phase
    At the start of this phase, players will receive energy from their energy-producing spirits as well as the three units of energy produced by their castle. Some spirits will have a 'Maintenance Cost', which must be paid each round in order to keep the spirit in play. If a player does not have the energy required to pay a spirit's 'Maintenance Cost', it will be removed from play. If a player wishes, they may opt to not pay for a spirit's maintenance (sometimes done for strategic reasons) even if they have the energy required and it will be removed from play.

    Business[edit]

    The name SpiritWars is registered with the USPTO, and has been successfully defended.

    The business model is free + fee. Anyone can play anytime for free. However players get more options for a few dollars per year.

    In the free mode, players get about 200 different spirits (cards), and the ability to customize their dungeon (deck).

    Paying members start with over 600 cards, plus hundreds of different maps. Paying customers gain new powers with each victory and lose some with each loss.


    Evolution[edit]

    As is with online games that have with an active developer and a dedicated fan base: SpiritWars they can and do get better with age as bugs are zapped and worthy features added.

    Launched in 1998, SpiritWars was kept online by Randy Chase, the original developer, after its original publisher disappeared into a merger.

    Chase kept it going for fans under the banner of Kellogg Creek Software and continued to add upgrades up to the moment of his untimely passing at age 53 in early 2009. Since then, his family has struggled to keep it running off and on. It is currently up and running.

    The Chase family is currently seeking a new publisher for the game.

    External links[edit]