Cloudspire is built with quality in mind and WOW.
Publisher: Chip Theory Games
Designer: Josh J. Carlson
Designer: Adam Carlson
Designer: Josh Wielgus
Artist: Jared Blando
Artist: Melonie Lavely
Artist: Anthony LeTourneau
Game Type: Variable Player Powers
Game Type: HEX Movement
Game Type: RPG Leveling Up
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 13+
Expected Playtime: 90-180 Mins
Number of Players: 1-4
Theme and What is it?
You will be circumnavigating a hex-based map, that will change based on what happens in the game, ultimately to destroy your opponent in a fierce battle of the wits (with my friends, and myself, it might be a battle of the twits).
You are traveling in Ankar, a MOBA inspired world that will put your logic to the test. You do not get a lot of control over your sub-characters, only your heroes. You can let them go off on their own, in a futile attempt at victory, or you can follow their path, in a futile attempt at victory. (I say this because this game had many moments that made it feel like I was just not making any headway, in a good and frustrating way.)
Whether or not you have enough attack through units, and enough defense through your judicious use of spires will determine your outcome.
You are a hero(s) and their armies. You will be moving in a capture the flag fashion across the board, and your army units travel in the most direct accessible manner. You can stop their movement with your hero, maybe, but not direct it (generally speaking).
As you move your units will attack and be attacked and have several powers that affect those attack and defense formations. Here is a game that allows for you to experience growth, and new powers based on that growth, and to make real choices that will affect your chances for victory.
Ultimately, the main spire that is reduced to zero HP, is the player that loses. You want to NOT be that player.
How you are not that player is where it gets interesting. You can attack with blunt force trauma, ranged attacks, or even with sneaky defensive spires. How you position these things, is largely up to you, within the ruleset and framework. Your HP is determined on each unit by how many red chips you still have, and your heroes can refresh by going back to your main spire. This game could be long indeed.
Cloudspire is huge and heavy, and for a casual gamer+, a bit scary to me. The box weighs nearly 937 pounds, without expansions.
Chip Theory has something here that screams to you, that you must see it at least once. If you like the gameplay, the quality that is heaped into the Chip Theory Games is ginormous.
This game wants your attention, and it seems to get it.
Game Build Quality
That is not your imagination, the game board is actually neoprene.
This is one of the few games I have EVER given a 10 to game build. Most games lose focus or do not care about the quality of components, and most of that is fair. Not many games will demand your attention the way Cloudspire will.
The hit-point tracker/experience on the spire, done with poker chips were hard to use. I 100% understand, I am being nit-picky, which is why I did not reduce my score at all, but I wish they would have made the chips to do that either thicker or the neoprene thinner, to make grabbing the tracker easier.
If you want the best in “cardboard”, it just might be neoprene.
The art of Cloudspire does not get in the way of the game, it supplements it in such a beautiful manner, that you cannot quite get it out of your head.
The group I played were all nature-inspired, and nature powered. The art made them feel like a part of a common story we as players were telling. This is high praise for the games artists.
Yet again, a ten on this, is nearly never handed out by me. However, I can tell, this game, more so than anything that has come before at Chip Theory, is very much a labor of love, by EVERYONE involved.
Art in games should be something that feels like it took a village to do. Here it does.
Do you like the idea of hex-based battles in the world of high fantasy?
Here the game excels at pulling you into that world. For that reason, I would say the games “fun factor” will be largely dependent on if you enjoy hex-based games, and enjoy the high fantasy theme.
Age Range & Weight
13+. I would agree this game is higher level ages. Though a younger player could play, the rules can be a bit cumbersome to get through initially.
I would not encourage anyone with a younger player to try to get them to play this. They will not likely be able to sit still that long.
I would have liked to see an EASY start guide, like a, do this, do this, do this, and do this. That was a round. For me, even the easy start, was tough, and I had to get help.
I am a fan of ANY game that makes everything to the umpteenth degree of quality.
Cloudspire is built with quality in mind and WOW. There are a few nit-picky issues, that I do not think detract from the overall experience. But, that should it do well enough for a re-print, I would love to see thought about.
The variable powers, are very interesting in use and take a bit of time to get used to, but make the game so very interactive, and to a large extent, MORE fun.
A collection without a game that is so well thought out, and so well crafted, should not exist. There are other games that might scratch that itch for you, but at my home, for the foreseeable future, that itch will not exist in the realm of Ankar.
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