Designer: Alexander Pfister, Arno Steinwender
Publisher: Nanox Games, DLP Games
Player count: 1-4
Set-up time: 15 minutes
Play length: 45-60 minutes
Win condition: win/loss based on scenario or campaign goals
how the solo game works
CloudAge comes with a small solo board with 8 cubes that correspond with the cubes you have on your airship. After you've placed a cube in the city you're in, move the leftmost solo cube down and take the corresponding action, after which you'll take your usual city board action.
Solo play is explained in the back, set-up is unchanged. I do not think this is the clearest of rulebooks though, it could have done with a seperate playthrough of chapters 1 and 2, and there are lots of rules mentioned as sidenotes, in danger of being glossed over.
missing in solo
Deck building, grid movement, hand management and the campaign are all unchanged in solo. A minor change in the game is: there won't be any spaces blocked off on the board by opponents. Also, when choosing a clouded card during your solo action, you may end up with nothing, read on for more on that specific rule.
There is an effortless flow to your actions once you get the game down. The campaign is well structured – save a slow start – giving you extra goals or new directions halfway through a chapter. Components are really good, with clouded sleeves to cover up part of the cards in them. It adds another layer of looking if you can spot a clue through the clouds on what area is biggest, or what bonus you'll get with which resource. And who doesn't want to build their own airship, turning puzzle pieces to upgrade your tableau? Actions are displayed on your player board, albeit not as clear as was done in Blackout: Hong Kong.
There are stickers. There are stickers you'll need to get onto sleeves without bubbles. I'm still recovering from the stress. Also: starting the campaign, there is a weird discrepancy between what feels like a boring game but one that is still a stretch to succeed at. This is due to the learning chapters: rules and components are slowly added to easy you into the game, but for me this didn't really work. Also: don't expect the story to be immersive; it's just there to support the game play.
In your solo action, if you happen to choose the biggest resource on the clouded card, you'll end up with nothing. That is quite a difference from the multiplayer, where you'll always get something when following your opponent. You can change this brutal rule to getting just one resource instead of three. This house rule is Pfister approved! (Scroll through this thread on Boardgamegeek.)
It took me a while to appreciate this game, and 'a while' is something not all players want to invest, so if you're looking for a game that you'll instantly fall in love with, this might not be the one. But this can be a very rewarding deck building, tableau building campaign game, and one that - for me at least - is rather hard to master, so I'll soon be starting the campaign again to see if I can succeed this time around. CloudAge needed some time, but then it really grew on me.