Review – Cloud City
|Publisher||Blue Orange Games|
|Category||Tile-Laying, Network Building|
Cloud City is a new release from Blue Orange Games. In this 3-dimensional puzzle game, players build high-rise towers that stretch into the clouds, with walkways connecting them. In classic Blue Orange and Phil Walker-Harding fashion, it is light on rules and heavy on fun – the kind of game that anyone can play and enjoy.
Phil Walker-Harding couldn’t make a bad game if he tried. Every single one of his games is a blast, and all for different reasons. They all have their own feel, their own personality, and all of them are fantastic.
Cloud City is his newest design. In this game, players try to earn the most points by building a tableau of skyscrapers and establishing connections between them.
Inside the box is a pile of plastic buildings in 3 sizes/colors.
Each player begins with 4 tiles: a starting tile that begins their tableau and a hand of 3 more randomly drawn from the supply. All tiles bear 2 colored squares, and any time a player places one, they immediately add matching buildings to both spaces.
As players place tiles and buildings, they can add walkways between buildings of the same height. Walkway pieces come in various different lengths, and the longer the connections – that is, the more spaces between the buildings – the more points they are worth.
The big caveat to this game, and arguably the rule that makes it really interesting, is that each building can only have 2 connections. This means players will often to have to choose whether to place a smallish walkway and guarantee points, or forego placing one in hopes of placing a longer one later. The walkways are also self-limiting, so if a particular size runs out, tough luck. What’s more, players’ tableaus must be contained within a 3×3 or 3×4 grid, depending upon how many are playing.
After a few turns, players’ tableaus will look something like this:
Play continues until all players have placed 9 (or 12) tiles. At that time they calculate their scores by adding up all the points on their connections. The player with the most points wins!
Phil Walker-Harding’s streak continues. Cloud City is yet another excellent offering from him – easy to learn, fast moving, and most of all, very, very fun. I love 3D games and puzzle games, so this one hits a particular sweet spot for me. Its spatial challenge is really cool, and its visual aesthetic is amazing.
As much as I love this game, however, I do have 2 nitpicks. First, it’s easy to bump the buildings by accident when adding a connection, especially when it’s in the middle of a “web” of them. I wish the tiles had been double-thick, so the buildings could have had sunken spots to sit in.
Second, the game comes with a tile tray insert that is significantly larger than it needs to be. I think it is supposed to hold both the tiles and the connection pieces, but it does not do a good job at the latter. If you store games on their side like I do, the connection pieces will fly all around inside the box. Players either have to toss the insert, thereby losing the tile tray, or struggle to barely squeeze everything back in the box.
Minor gripes aside, though, I really enjoy Cloud City. This is one of Blue Orange’s best games to date, right up there with Kingdomino and Slide Quest. If you like light puzzle games at all, definitely check this one out.
A review copy was provided by Blue Orange Games.
The Bottom Line
Cloud City is yet another fantastic family game from Phil Walker-Harding. Highly recommended.