Review – Celestia
A Push Your Luck, Bluffing game.
Year Published: 2015
Designer: Aaron Weissblum
Game Time: 30 mins
Set-up Time: ~1 min
Mechanic: Push Your Luck, Bluffing
How to win: Reach 50 points first.
You board an aircraft with a team of adventurers to perform many trips through the cities of Celestia and recover their wonderful treasures. Your journey will not be safe, but you will attempt to be the richest adventurer by collecting the most precious treasures!
First up, lay out the 9 “City” tiles in increasing order on the table and place the shuffled decks of matching Treasure cards next to them. Put the aircraft (That needs assembling before the first game) on the first city.
Each player chooses an Adventurer tile and matching colour Pawn, placing the pawn in the ship.
Shuffle all the larger cards together and deal 6 (8 in a 2 or 3 player game) to each player.
Choose a random start player, they will be the first Captain.
Players will take turn journeying from City to City taking turns to be Captain.
The round starts with the Captain looking at which events they will need to overcome this journey. To do this, roll a number of dice shown on the next card.
This shows how many cards with the matching symbol the Captain will need to discard this round. BUT NOT YET! There are steps to take before the Captain discards cards.
The dice have 6 sides with 4 different symbols and 2 blanks…
Blank – Nothing happened, No card to discard.
Cloud – Discard a Compass to Navigate through it.
Lightning – Discard an Arrester to divert the Lightning.
Birds – Scare them away with a Horn card.
Pirate – Fight them off with a Canon card.
Each player, in turn order, chooses if they will continue on the journey. If they think the Captain will manage to overcome the events, a player will declare they are staying.
If a player thinks the Captain will fail, they declare they are leaving and they disembark from the Aircraft, moving their pawn and drawing a card from that city deck. These cards are kept secret from the other players. The disembarked player is now out of the round.
The Captain doesn’t have the luxury of choosing to get off the Aircraft, even if they know it will crash.
The Captain now discards the right amount of cards from their hand to keep the ship going, if they can’t, they don’t discard any cards but the ship will crash.
If the Captain makes it, (and they MUST if possible) move the ship forward one space and the player to their left becomes the Captain and a new Journey starts with this process being repeated except players do not draw any more cards.
If the Captain fails the ship crashes, everyone still on the ship misses out on any Treasure this journey. The ship goes back to the first city, everyone gets back on and a new journey begins. Everyone draws 1 new Equipment card and the Captain token passes to the left.
That’s the basics, but there are some more interesting cards to play…
Firstly, those found in the Equipment card deck.
Turbo – A Wild card that can count as any symbol. Unlike other Equipment cards, the Captain can choose to play this if they want. (Even if it means deliberately crashing the ship)
Disembarkation – If the player is a passenger or captain of the aircraft and all players have decided what they are doing but BEFORE the Captain plays cards…
Force another passenger (not Captain) off the Airship. They still draw treasure but their Journey ends here.
Jetpack – If the player is a passenger or Captain and it crashes, play this card to safely disembark. Take a Treasure from the city you are currently in.
Alternative Route – If the player is a passenger or Captain and all players have decided what they are doing and even after the Captain has said the ship is crashing…
Force the Captain to re-roll all the dice of their choice. As passengers have already made their mind up, they can’t change it even after the dice have been re-rolled!
Hard Blow – Can be played by anyone, even if they’re not on the Airship, and after all passengers have decided what to do…
Force the Captain to re-roll all the blank dice. This can be played after the Captain has already said they discard the right cards.
There is also a special card found in the Treasure decks…
Magic Spyglass – This can be found randomly in the first 4 cities of the Journey. If the player is a passenger or Captain and everyone has decided what to do and the Captain says they’re going to Crash…
Discard the Magic Spyglass to overcome all the challenges without the Captain having to discard any cards. The Magic Spyglass is still worth 2 points at the end of the game if it wasn’t used.
Before starting a new journey, players check to see if they have more than 50 points. If they have they announce the game has ended.
The player with the most points is the winner.
This is a simple game to play and understand but it’s held back by annoying little timing rules and symbol that is hard to explain…
You have these action cards, they all do something different and each is played at a particular time and under a particular condition. It’s hard for people to remember what they all do but most importantly… when to play them.
Also, it means everyone has to know the timing, play to this timing and BE PATIENT!
If the Captain rolls and everyone in order says they’re staying on… The Captain needs to say they can make it… wait for cards to be played… THEN discard the required cards.
Generally what happens is the Captain discards the cards as a sign they’re successful which means cards like ‘Hard Blow’ take effect AFTER the Captain reveals what they’re holding.
That can have effect on future turns… But as these cards are played so infrequently, the Captain just gets on with it and doesn’t bother waiting.
I might be being picky but it harms what is a VERY good game…
I do like as the Captain rolling the dice, fanning out my cards, look at the dice, looking at the cards, looking at the dice, looking at the cards again… then looking VERY confident… Everyone stays on the Airship… then I declare I don’t have the cards and we all crash… Ha!
This is what you have to do as the Captain, if you’re failing and you’re not going to get Treasure you need to make sure as many other players go down with the ship alongside you.
Tactics come into it too. If you have very few cards in your hand, or you don’t have much diversity in your card symbols and you’re Captain next? BAIL! You can’t get off the Airship as a Captain but can get off before it’s your time to wear the Captains hat 😉
A GREAT little game harmed by overly complicated timing issues.
I give it 6/10