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Spencer Sloe
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Balloon Cup, by Stephen Glenn, is my "new favorite" 2 player game. With a simple premise and a surprising amount of strategy, Balloon Cup offers the casual gamer the opportunity to introduce a fun, light game that has rules which are easy to grasp and can be played in under 30 minutes. It's a nice filler game for the more serious enthusiast but its real lure lies in its ability to attract the wife or girlfriend. The ladies love this one, and for good reason.

When there is a lot of hype surrounding the release of a new game, I am usually excited but cautious. I don't like to get caught up in the hype of a new game only to find out later that the mechanics are very topical and the game play is uninspired. The last thing I need is another game sitting on my shelf collecting dust.

Thankfully, Balloon Cup is not one of those games. While the theme is a little strange, the actual game mechanics are wonderful. Stephen Glenn has created a little slice of balloon heaven and has invited us along for the ride.

The game itself is beautifully produced, with pastel illustrations and high-quality cards. There is a cloth bag for selecting the painted wooden victory cubes and the hops are made of sturdy cardboard. I am especially fond of any game with wooden bits and pieces as opposed to plastic. I think it makes the game more classic for some silly reason.

While Balloon Cup is not a game that two people are going to play all day long, it is a nice game to play with a friend for an hour or so. I find myself playing this one a lot with my girlfriend at night before bed. Its not overly taxing on the brain, provides some nice interaction and is very competitive...in a good way.

While it may seem to be a game of luck, Balloon Cup has an interesting amount of strategy that reveals itself at the end when two trophies have been taken and players can now do a 3 for 1 swap. There were many times when the winner would be down two trophies but would hoard their victory cubes until the end. This allowed for less cubes being thrown back in the to draw bag, thus preventing your opponent from getting the colored cubes they need for the third trophy and allowing for a massive trade in at the end for the win.

There is one problem with the mechanics of the game that has been mentioned called "lock-up". This is when there are too many victory cubes on the hops, but not enough balloon cards in the deck to fulfill the requirement. To prevent this, the manufacturer has taken the suggestion of many play testers to limit the number of victory cubes on each hop tile to one minus the requirement for the trophy of that color. For example, its takes three grey victory cubes to secure the grey trophy. Thus, according to the new rule, there may only be two grey victory cubes in total on all of the hops at any one time. When a hop tile is completed, if the number of victory cubes drawn plus the number on the hop tiles is greater than one minus the trophy requirement total, then place the overage from the draw back in the bag and redraw. It's a great suggestion that works and will probably be written into the rules of the reprint.

All in all, Balloon Cup is a light-hearted affair that peaks the interest of serious and casual gamers alike. If you are looking for an inexpensive game to break the nerd ice with your girlfriend or wife, this is a perfect way to go.
 
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Glen Burnie
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Re:User Review
sloehand (#477195),

Good review, except that when the cubes are used to claim a trophy the cubes DO NOT go back in the bag. If you read the rules they go back in the BOX, ie. out of play.
 
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Ender Wiggins
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Re:User Review
Nice review Spencer. One small correction/clarification:
In connection with the fix for "locked" games, you wrote in the second last paragraph:
Quote:
"limit the number of victory cubes on each hop tile to one minus the requirement for the trophy of that color."

Shouldn't this read:
Quote:
"limit the number of victory cubes on all the hops at any given time to the requirement for the trophy of that color minus one."


Also a question: have you been playing according to the published rules (where cards may be placed on the opponent's side at any time) or the creator's original rules (where you can only place cards on your opponent's side when your own side is full)? I wouldn't mind hearing any thoughts and observations you might have about this.
 
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Spencer Sloe
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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EndersGame wrote:
Nice review Spencer. One small correction/clarification:
In connection with the fix for "locked" games, you wrote in the second last paragraph:
Quote:
"limit the number of victory cubes on each hop tile to one minus the requirement for the trophy of that color."

Shouldn't this read:
Quote:
"limit the number of victory cubes on all the hops at any given time to the requirement for the trophy of that color minus one."


Also a question: have you been playing according to the published rules (where cards may be placed on the opponent's side at any time) or the creator's original rules (where you can only place cards on your opponent's side when your own side is full)? I wouldn't mind hearing any thoughts and observations you might have about this.


I have been playing by the published rules. Didn't know there were creator rules as an alternative.
 
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