Remember that unnamed floating island game I was working on a few months ago? Well, here’s the followup to playtesting, and refining the design!

Cloudguides is a roll-and-do game in the vein of Cafe Romantica and Machi Koro. On each turn, one player, the Guide of that turn, rolls two dice, and picks one. The dice picked shows where players can build their buildings this turn, where the refugees of the Roll have found resources. Then, starting with the Guide, each player picks a building to craft, from a range of options.

These buildings are for improving the lot of the refugees that make their homes across the islands. Windmills, Workshops, and Crystal Mines are all facilities that improve the lives of the refugees. There’s also the Sacrament Statues, which can be recovered from beneath the soil, or the Wizard towers that can be reconstructed and repaired to create a network of connections between the islands.

The buildings can relate to one another. Sacrament Statues and Wizard Towers, when recovered, are in need of repair. Workshops can repair them if they’re on the same tile – restoring them to their full power. For Wizard Towers, they get stronger the more of them you have across different islands. For the Sacraments, each one is individually stronger or weaker, and gets you bonus points based on how many buildings it’s near.

You aren’t just prey to the winds, though; you have a zeppelin you can use to move around the board, letting you create connections where there might not be. Whenever the dice shows a 1, you can put it on the 1 tile, or you can put it wherever you put your zeppelin. Then you have to move your zeppelin, as the winds blow you on. Windmills also let you move your zeppelin, letting you potentially create short-term bridges.

What changed from the first playtest?

  • Originally, I had each player rolling individually and doing things on their own turn. This created a waiting period and people weren’t interested in other people’s turns.
  • Originally, this individual play meant each player fished tokens out of the bag themselves, and laid them out and picked from them. Now the Guide pulls out three tokens, plus one for each player, then at each player’s turn, they pull out an extra token for their mines that activated.
  • Originally, there was one dice. Two dice gives players more control over that and feels slightly more theatric to look at, meaning you’re less likely to get stuck with a tile you can’t place on.
  • Players can now bank tiles; if they don’t want to place a tile, they can save them for later.
  • The game ends when the players have a total of 21 tiles: this means that tiles not placed are giving up points, but it also means that the game doesn’t have to continue until you roll six sixes, five fives, and so on.
  • The wizard towers used to be visually signified with different fine details, but those details disappear at scale. The battered versions are now black and white and have no signifier markers on them, and the repaired versions have the signifier symbols on them that indicate which of the four types they are. Each tower is worth 1 point for each type of Wizard tower you have across your islands. So if you have 1, it’s worth 1, if you have all 4, it’s worth a whopping 16.
  • Those signifiers are also used for the Sacrament statues. Since the Sacrament statues require two actions to improve, they should always be worth at least 2 points.
  • The game now has a world, and an explanation for what you’re doing. The islands are the remnants of a continent that broke apart, now floating high above a sea, and the people who live there are trying to reconstruct their lives. I may want to add some settlements to the rocks, and maybe build one more building type to emphasise that you’re helping people make nicer lives.

The scoring system needs some refinement at the moment, but this is the next stage of development. If this goes through, the current expected cost for the game is as a sort of $25-30 USD game. Getting copies to myself here in Australia obviously add a huge price markup, but that’s something for me to deal with in the development phase.

Hope this update was interesting, particularly showing thought process. This is really hard to do! A lot of these choices were made already, and then once I made them I had to go back and check in my mind how many of them were ‘different’ to what they currently were, and what I tested. Data capture is tricky!

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