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Subject: Story Board reviews Celestia rss

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Angelus Morningstar
New South Wales
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Synopsis: You are taking turns as the captain of an airship, chartering a voyage through the clouds. Your goal is the distant floating island of Meiji, but to get there you have to charter a course across nine different islands in the sky.

Each turn, one you assumes the captaincy. You roll hazard dice to show what challenges hinder you from reaching the next aerial island. To neutralise these hazards, you must play matching cards from your hand. If you can resolve the hazards, the ship moves onto the next aerial island. If not, the ship crashes and everyone on board is sent back to the beginning.

The passengers must decide whether to hold faith in the captain or whether to abandon ship and grab a treasure from the aerial island you are currently stationed on. The rewards you can recoup increase the further along the voyage you are.

This game becomes one about pushing your luck, o gamble on whether the captain can respond to the hazards, or whether to jump ship and hope the ship doesn’t travel too far into the beyond without you.

Commentary: The premise for this game is fairly straight forward, which is a re-implementation of Cloud 9. It can be taught in little-to-no time and this makes it accessible to a large range of players. Having played this game with different player counts, I agree three is not enough, but sometimes six felt like too much.

It’s also a game encourages social interaction to pull bluffs or negotiations, but ultimately this seemed to boil to down to counting the number of cards in the captain’s hand and making an educated guess on whether they have the right combination of cards in their hands.

There are times where I wish there was some way to negotiate information, but there is no secret exchange. I really think this game needs some way to form temporary alliances because otherwise the negotiation just seems to stifle a bit.

This is also one game where the components and graphic design work very well. The 3D ship model as a literal vehicle for the various player pawns helps ground the experience in the feel of a voyage, and it makes the decision to stay or go much more visceral.

Verdict: A great little casual game. I love the look and feel of the game. Best played with chatty players.

Expansion: The first expansion is A Little Help, gives passengers the ability to help out the captain. Giving them some say in whether the ship goes down. However, it also gives a few new tricks and deceits that players can indulge in to sabotage the mission.

I particularly like this expansion because it helps fix some of the issues I’ve had with this game, where the limited agency feels particularly galling at times. It changes passengers from being more passive to being more active in the decision-making. I like that.
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