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How To Play Celestia

Celestia

Celestia is a push-your-luck game of bluffing and cloud-based treasure hunting. In a team of two to six players, you must navigate the tricky skies, avoid pirates, storms and an all manner of crafty shenanigans. One player is the captain and has control of the ship, it is up to them to get the crew on his side and follow him to treasure or even, sometimes, epic failure. Choosing when to stay on board, when to jump and when to trust the captain is vital and will garner whether you go home with a fist full of loot or a face full of air as you fall to your doom.

Celestia: The Setup

Before you start you will have to punch out what can only be described as a lovely 3D airship model with a working propellor. This model carries your pawns up and down the cities of the skies and while it was not really necessary, it really adds a lot to the table presence of the game. It is also quite entertaining putting it together, it's not often you have to assemble cardboard vehicles in board games.

Setup in Celestia is simple, give each player a coloured pawn and matching reminder disk. Lay the nine city locations across the table, shuffle the associated treasure cards for each city and place them next to their location. Then, place the previously assembled model, with all players pawns in, next to the first city. Shuffle the main deck, which is made up of the four equipment types, used to avoid hazards and a few special power cards. After that, deal out either eight or six cards to each player depending on how many players are taking part. Decide in your own little way who is captain for the first round and you are ready to set sail!

Celestia: The Turn Structure

Each turn plays out quite simply. To navigate the skyship to the next city, the captain must roll the amount of dice indicated at the next location. They start off at only two dice but as you soar through the skies, the amount of dice and therefore the chance of hazards, increase. Once the dice have been rolled the captain must play cards matching the symbols on the rolled dice to successfully navigate the hazards and make it to the next city.

Hazard symbols cover four sides of the dice, the other two sides are blank. If the captain rolls blanks then the crew cheer, as no symbols have to be played to progress. Otherwise, for each hazard symbol rolled, the captain must match it with a card from their hand. There are lightning, clouds, birds and pirates to thwart and as I stated earlier, the hazards get more numerous as you progress further but the loot is more remarkable in return.

The captain then advises the crew whether they can pass the hazard check or not. They do not have to tell the truth though. The captain may want the crew to jump out early so they get the better treasure for themselves. They may also want the crew to come with them if they fail so everyone, in this round, ends up out-of-pocket. The captain can never leave their ship while it's full. If they reach a city alone, however, then they can choose to carry on or jump out to get some of that sweet, sweet treasure.

When you jump out of the ship, whether you are the captain or a crewmate, you collect the topmost card for that location and add it to your score pile. First to fifty points at the start of a new round wins. While the treasure is slightly random, they do get, on the whole, more lucrative the further you make it up the row of cities. Everyone collects a new card from the deck, the ship moves back to the start, the next player clockwise becomes captain and the journey begins anew.

Celestia: Special Power Cards

Mixed among the equipment cards you need to progress are five types of special power cards. The crew or the captain can play these cards to help or hinder the current voyage. The turbo card acts as a wild and can be used to quell any type of hazard the captain needs to overcome. The Ejection card allows the captain to eject a crew member out at the skyship's current location. This can be used to get rid of a crewmate and force them to take a lower rank treasure or to help a crewmate if you are going to fail and are feeling especially kind. (This is not the way I would use it that's for sure)

The jetpack card can be played by anyone when the captain has failed the hazard check and allows you to exit the ship and take a treasure from the current location, even though the ship is going down and everyone else onboard will be going home empty-handed. The alternative route card allows the captain to reroll any of the hazard dice once, possibly rolling into other cards in their hand. The gust of wind card allows any passenger to force the captain to re-roll any blanks, even if they have already exited the ship and claimed some booty. Devious, if I do say so myself.

Also, mixed into the treasure cards of the first four cities is a special treasure card, the Magic Spyglass. If unused it's two points towards your total, or you can use it to skip the current location and move the ship straight to the next location, bypassing any hazards and any need for the captain to play any cards. Quite powerful indeed.

The End

The whole crew goes on various journeys, playing cards, claiming loot and lying to each other. If you ever empty a location of treasure you turn the location over and skip it on future voyages, which did happen in all of our games. The first person to reach fifty points at the start of a new mission wins. Celestia is a nice simple push-your-luck game tat is easy to setup, play and understand, it's not my favourite of the genre but I would never turn down a game of it. Happy treasure hunting folks!