Cloudage player board purple

Cloudage: is it really a dark dystopian future?

Water is the driving force of all nature

Leonardo Da Vinci
Player count - 2-4 players
Ages - 12+
Playing time - Around 90 minutes
Designers - Alexander Pfister and Arno Steinwender.
Artwork - Christian Opperer
Weight - Solid medium weight

Publisher DLP and Nanox Games

Ages come and ages go, but water will be ever presented

As a long-time fan of Alexander Pfister his work I waited too long to say something smart about this game. May it be the pandemic that gobbled up a lot of energy or perhaps the lack of enough energy, it is time to get back at it. Because clearly water, and especially drinkable water, is not something that we should squander away.

While many of us expected from Cloudage something it wasn’t, it surely made a splash for me. It is a more accessible strategy board game where Alexander furthers his skills in telling stories through a euro game. Something which was only imagined in those grand old thematic games, but nothing is further from the truth nowadays. Strategy games can have evolving stories baked into them, they don’t have to lead to rules overhead and they also won’t involve the need for a legacy aspect to set itself apart.

One of the key selling points of Cloudage is its sleeving mechanism. Cloud-covered sleeves will hide information on the city cards, so you need to make an educated guess on what is available in the city. It isn’t just a guessing game, you do have some information that you can attract from looking at the cards, but it does capture the feeling of flying there in your airship high above and trying to see what is out there.

Another of its interesting points is that it is playable as a campaign or as a standalone scenario-styled adventure. I do prefer the campaign variant and love the progress through those chapters. Bit by bit you gain experience and get the story forward. No, again, do not expect a Hitchcock-style story or a Tolkienesque saga, bring the correct mindset to this euro game and you will have storybook adventure delight.

Short and Sweet

  • Low complexity, but still meaningful strategies to pursue.
  • Easy ruleset and an excellent rulebook.
  • Text and iconography on the cards, it makes so much sense to always do this.
  • Campaign mode is solid and not mandatory and isn’t too heavily woven into the game itself either.
  • One of the lighter versions from Alexander and a great step up for families wanting to go deeper.
  • The hidden cloud cards are a fun twist and bring the setting even more alive.
  • The step-by-step drip feeding for new gamers is good, but….(1)
  • Overall very solid components and lovely looking game, but…(2)
  • (1) Totally not needed for anybody already familiar with modern board games. Don’t waste your time.
  • While you have enough choices, there is some randomness going on.
  • It is a lighter version game, so don’t expect too much deep strategy or huge combos.
  • (2) The game feels a little too blended. The orange-red is a tad much and could have been mixed up a little more.
  • The story is there, but it isn’t as well implemented as for example Maracaibo and lacks a touch of inspiration.

So what did I think?

It’s a very solid design and one of those excellent games to introduce to your friends who don’t follow the latest board game trends or want a deep strategy experience like Maracaibo or Great Western trail. It is a great example of the growth of the board game hobby as a whole. Better general designs, better component production, better ways to teach and learn games, and even more important also bringing modern-day gaming to your tabletop. Alexander, his approach to story and strategy is one I keep hammering on as essential to almost every designer. We can get both, we can make better hybrids and don’t need just the buckets of euro games or thematic settings. We are being spoiled and that is a good thing!

~ El Crosso

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