Good morning ya'll. I've recently had a chance to play Cloudspire, solo. And, I decided I would like to share my first impressions with ya'll here. But, before I do that, I do feel that I need to give just a little bit of background.
Firstly, I'm planning on doing this "review" using yo Brian's Battery format.
Secondly, this isn't really a review, these are very much first impressions. These first impressions are garnered from one play, solo two handed, of the included walk-through, followed by one play of the first solo scenario.
So Cloudspire is a bit of weird bird in the boardgame world. It's a MOBA/tower defense game, that you can play solo. I was sceptical about how well something like that would translate to a physical medium, but, I was highly intrigued by it. The weird design space that it occupies is the reason I got it over #Too Many Bones.
This is a thick box, and quite full.
Basically the game is played over a series of rounds. During the rounds you get a certain amount of stuff to spend, and you use that stuff to build yourself an army of minions and heroes, as well as some towers and fortifications. Then you send your army down to do damage to the other guys fortress and see how well your army handles what your opponent, or the ai, has constructed to receive you and yours. It's a strangely compelling experience, made more so by the hugely asymetrical nature of the factions. Think #Root level of asymmetry.
So, without further ado... Let's go to my impressions.
This game is a great example of how dedication to one aspect of game or a component at the expense of usability can have negative affects. By and large the components feel great, chunky chips, lovely neoprene, dice that feel nice.... But then you find some warts.
The cards need to be waterproof. So they are made of some sort of slick nasty plastic. They are terrible. They are easily my least favorite cards ever. You stack them up, and look at them wrong and they slide all over. Nobody is playing their games in water, we don't need waterproof cards, we need functional cards.
Another issue is the neoprene tiles that make up the board. You're supposed to shuffle the bloody things so you can have a random setup. Try shuffling neoprene, go ahead, I dare you.
Lastly, the health chips they ship with the game are laughably terrible. I did get the premium health chips with mine, and I think, after having handled both, that the premium chips are almost a necessity.
Of course, this is somewhat subjective, but I find that the art is great, absolutely awesome.
The rulebooks are really great. They are almost perfect. I have a few small niggling issues with them that aren't even really worth mentioning. They provide awesome, well organized player aids that are genuinely helpful. My knock against the rules is all the keywords. This game has tons if keywords. If you look at only the non faction keywords, you have over 100 of them. Then each faction adds a bunch more. Fortunately the player aids help a lot with that, but I do believe it complicates the game unnecessarily.
Solo play +
As I mentioned, my first impressions are built on solo play. And, I bought it primarily for solo play. Truthfully, while I think it would be great as a two player game, I never want to have to teach it to someone.
The solo play consists of several options. There is a campaign, divided into chapters of increasing difficulty. I'm not sure how repayable the campaign is, it'd be technically repayable, but I'm not sure how satisfying it would be to start over with the easier chapters. But, there are a lot of chapters, and it looks like many of them you would need to play through several times to pass
In addition to the campaign there are some coop scenarios which you could potentially solo, as well as something called the endless mode for solo play.
All in all, it feels like it is plenty replayable.
Final thoughts. This is a wonderful game in many ways. But, I don't think that it is going to be a universally appealing game. I do think that many people are going to bounce off of the price, they are going to bounce off of the keywords, they are going to bounce off of the theme.... And etc... But, I confess, there is something deeply satisfying about building an army, placing your spires just so, and then seeing what happens. The whole puzzle is, for me, a deeply engaging one. I wouldn't surprised to see it in my top 10 solo games next year.
Someone or something is about to go down.