Ahead in the Clouds – Kickstarter Review

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As the sun peeks through the window, you wake up and throw open the blinds. A small cloud floats past your window and it looks like it is going to be a great day to harvest. They may say being an industrialist is hard work, but when you’re an industrialist in the clouds, the view makes it all worthwhile. But you have no time to be admiring the view, the blimp will be here in a few days and the resources aren’t going to condense or convert themselves. Okay, maybe one more minute to admire the view from up here in the clouds.

To setup this game each player chooses a colour of habitat (red or purple) and takes the four resource tracking cards, placing them in front of them with zero at the top.

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The Dust Reclaimer, Vapor Condenser, and HydroSplitter are placed in the center of the table, along with the Magic Portal and Bank buildings (with randomly assigned sides face up). The Blimp card and Contract card are placed to the side, with markers on the ‘one square’ of the Blimp card and on each square of the Contract card.

The player who most recently traveled above the clouds goes first and takes two actions on their first turn instead of three.

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Photo approved by Eric from https://whatsericplaying.com

Each player has three actions and can do any of the following, with the ability to repeat an action more than once:

  • Activate buildings (any connected building, including the same building multiple times, once per action)
  • Cloudbursts (break the cloud network apart)
  • Rotate (rotate any cloud adjacent to yours to remove or make connections)

Players can also on their turn complete these tasks for free:

  • Connect buildings to any open spaces on their habitat
  • Fulfill contracts if possible

Buildings must always connect to a habitat, never directly to each other. One player may travel through another player’s habitat in order to get to a building not directly connected to their habitat at no cost. However, the player whose habitat acts as that bridge, gains either a stone or water. Which one they get depends on which side of the habitat is faced up, and is determined by the owner of that habitat before connecting to other buildings. The habitat can only be flipped after a cloudburst action is taken, forcing the players to reconnect their habitats.

A brief description of each building and what they produce or what their ability is are as follow:

  • Habitat ­ Acts as a bridge between other buildings and gives a player a resource when crossed by the other player
  • Vapor Condenser ­ Produces 2 Water
  • Dust Reclaimer ­ Produces 2 Stone
  • HydroSplitter ­ Converts 3 Water to 2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen
  • Bank ­-  Side 1: Converts 2 Water and 1 Stone to 3 Oxygen; or  Side 2: Converts 1 Stone and 1 Hydrogen to 1 Water and 1 Oxygen, or vice versa
  • Magic Portal ­-  Side 1: Converts 4 of any one resource into 2 of any one type OR 1 of a type and 1 of another type; or Side 2: Converts 2 of any one resource into 1 of any type

At the end of rounds three, five, and eight, a blimp arrives and must be paid resources by both players. Round three requires only one resource, round five needs two and round eight demands three. These can be any resources, and need not be all of the same kind. If a player cannot pay the blimp, they must give back one of their contracts and choose which one gets reinstated.

At the end of the eighth round, after paying the blimp, players compare completed contracts. If one player has completed more than the other, they have won. If the number of contracts is equal, players total up their gathered resources and the one who has more is declared the winner.

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Ahead in the Clouds is an amazing game and I’m shocked there can be so much to the game using so few cards. Daniel Newman has literally made an Euro game with 18 cards and a few counters that plays in about 20 minutes. When Button Shy asked me to review this game, I said yes sight unseen. They have a knack for making these small but super fun and clever games, and this one could possibly take it to the next level.

I played this with one of my friends at a gaming night we were having, and the mixture of complexity and yet ease of game play shocked us both. It truly feels like you are playing a worker placement Euro game. As most of you may know, I’m not a massive fan of Euro games. I like the rules and enjoy their mechanics, but sitting there for hours on end, sometimes not even sure if anything is happening or losing where I’m up to, just isn’t fun for me. I like quick games where you can play several times in a night, so Ahead in the Clouds for me is perfect. I get the mechanics and Euro style game play without the hours needed to play a single game. That being said, we did play Ahead in the Clouds for about two hours or so.

The art for Ahead in the Clouds is great too! Bryan Fischer has done an amazing job and should be applauded. He has managed to bring steam punk characters and buildings to life and set them upon beautiful clouds contrasted by a vivid blue sky. With the use of slightly lighter greys and silvers along with softer tones and colours, Bryan has made the building seem softer and less steam punk or industrial, and yet the added pipes, steam and vents, along with bronze colours, helps to keep that steam punk and industrial feel.

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My only complaint with Ahead in the Clouds is that you will need to supply your own coins or counters, and the stunning cover art characters weren’t seen in the game. But Button Shy has you covered – for an additional $3 (USD) you can get the Bonus Pack. This include the two character cards and character tokens for the game. This addition is a no brainer and I will definitely be getting the Bonus Pack, as what it adds to the game far outweighs the cost.

The Kickstarter is already live and on its way to unlocking the second stretch goal.

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