Skyward: The Airborne City - Review

Let me preface this by saying the copy of Skyward: The Airborne City I have is a promo copy. However, this being a Rule & Make game, the promo copy is just so beautiful it’s really more of a retail copy. I’m told that despite the fact the cards are great quality, the box is great quality, the tokens are sturdy and well cut, the rules are awesome (you get the picture), that the finished version will be even better. Awesome news for those of you who backed the project on Kickstarter last year.

So what is Skyward: The Airborne City if you missed that campaign? At its heart it's an 'I split / you choose' card game, wrapped up in some beautiful artwork.

In Skyward four warring factions have finally come together in an alliance to build the first airborne city. A city that will float above all 4 corners of the factions land based empires below. As a player you are trying to build the best airborne city in your airspace (the area your city / building cards will sit), thus crowning you as founder of Skyward.

At the start of the game one player is denoted as the warden, he / she draws up a set number of cards from a draw pile (dependent on player count), then splits the cards into piles for player pick-up. As the Warden you will go last, so you need to try and split piles in such a way that - hopefully - the cards you need or want will still be there by the time play gets back to you. The Warden token is placed on one of the piles of cards also, so that role will be taken on by whoever takes that pile. Play continues in a rinse and repeat fashion.

In the game there are four factions. All factions have a very different aesthetic style. To launch buildings you will need to cover the launch cost, by using matching faction cards (clearly shown in the iconography of the cards).

As well as faction cards, cog tokens can be substituted as any faction cost resource, so they’re an important part of in game resource management. If you take the card pile with the Warden Token, you will get a cog token. At the end of a turn you can also trade in 3 cards for one cog, other than instant negative effect cards.

Instant cards feature a lightning symbol, these are cards that will have an immediate / negative effect in play. Instant cards go into your play area and not your hand. In a clever twist however, you can actually change the overall scoring outcomes of these cards. As an example: pigeons will dirty up your city, with a -2 victory point cost at end game scoring, however if you build the rookery in your city, they have a home and become worth 1 victory point at the end of the game. Players can also give you pigeons, thus lowering their own negative VP, but at the same time upping the owner of the rookery with even more end game VP. Choices choices.

That's basically it, it's a game of splitting the deck wisely, choosing cards shrewdly and launching buildings that will aid you overall.

The end game triggered when 6 buildings are launched into your city, most victory points wins the game and that player becomes grand founder of the magnificent city of Skyward!

I've really enjoyed my time with Skyward: The Airborne City, there's little doubt about Rule & Make's adherence to quality in all aspects of game design and publishing. Game designer Brendan Evans came up with an efficient 'I split / you choose' game mechanic and their team of artists have outdone themselves with a some truly gorgeous artwork, all of which serves the theme very well.

Skyward: The Airborne City is a really nice game. There's nothing too taxing with it play wise, so it wasn't for everyone in the groups I played with, but if you are looking for an easy to teach / play city builder that's portable and gorgeous, I'd highly recommend Skyward: The Airborne City, it's just a really lovely thing.

Players: 2-4
Play time: 40 Minutes
Ages: 14+
(I'd suggest even younger)

You can pre-order Skyward: The Airborne City over at Rule & Make. They also have a really sweet Skyward Playmat.