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Subject: Gaming with my Girls - Part XXII: Cloud 9 rss

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Brian Homan
United States
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This is part twenty-two in a series of reviews that I am writing about the games that my family plays, why we love them and what you should know before making a purchase. I have three unique daughters, ages 12, 10 and 7 who love to play games with me, and a wife who sometimes likes to join in. We also have a new addition to the family: one of Kristin's co-workers, Marisa, is now living in our basement and she's made it her goal to play each and every one of my games. Who am I to argue with her? Finding games that we all enjoy can be a challenge, so I am constantly trying to introduce more games to the family to build a collection that we can all appreciate. Today's review:
Cloud 9

Beka, Lindsay and I had played this once at a friend's house and they were on me to get a copy ever since. I recently acquired it at an auction here on BGG and we gave it a go over the last several weeks with Kristin, Marisa and even some extended family.

Cloud 9 is a very simple press your luck game. So simple, in fact, that you can probably play this with kids as young as 4 or 5. The premise is that all of the players are in a balloon traveling toward cloud 9, but must first rise above eight other clouds before getting there. Players take turns being the pilot and rolling the required number of dice necessary before moving to the next cloud. The dice have four sides with colored symbols (yellow, green, red and purple) and two blank sides.

The pilot will need to play cards from his/her hand that match the symbols on the dice.

Before doing that, each player decides whether they want to jump out of the basket or stay in. Players will jump out if they think the pilot cannot play the appropriate cards and they will stay in if they think he/she can. If a player jumps out, they score points for the cloud they jump out on to.

If the balloon falls, then everyone left in the basket gains no points that round. Once everyone has decided to stay or jump, the pilot plays the appropriate cards if he/she can. Plots are required to play the appropriate colored balloon cards if they have them, but they are not required to play a wild card if they do not have a balloon card in the required color.

One person will remain the pilot until one of three things happens:
1. The balloon reaches Cloud 9 and all those still in the basket gain 25 points.
2. Every one has jumped out of the basket including the pilot (who must be the last to jump).
3. The pilot is unable to make the balloon rise to the next level and it falls back to Cloud 1.

After one of these situations comes to pass, all of the pawns are placed back in the balloon basket which is moved back down to Cloud 1, everyone gains another card and the dice are passed to the player on the pilot's left who then becomes the new pilot. Game play stops at the end of a round where a player has hit or exceeded 50 points. The player with the highest core wins.

So what's so great about this game?

thumbsup Very accessible. Young kids, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas can all learn to play this very quickly and have fun with it.
Doesn't overstay it's welcome. In fact, the more players you have, the faster this game can go. The reason for this is the number of cards you may be holding in your hand by the time the pilot role gets back to you. In a six player game, you will have six additional cards before you become the pilot again, so there is a good chance that you will be able to reach the higher levels and players will be able to score more points on each journey. A typical game lasts around a half hour.
It plays up to six, which is great for larger families. There are a number of great family games out there that only play up to four, so they just don't get played when we're all together for game time.
It has a bit of a bluffing mechanism and social interaction can play a big role in not only the outcome of the game, but also the fun that you have while playing it.
It's not overly expensive. I know, it's a small box, but that's a good thing. I promise! Cloud 9 retails for around $25, but can be had for about $16 new at some online stores and less than that in some auctions here. I got mine for $11 plus shipping, used.
It's a lot of fun for a super-light filler. I'm not one to suggest playing this all the time, as I prefer much deeper games; however, this is a filer that I wouldn't hesitate to play.
ninja It's very portable as a box, so it's easy to take places. This is one of several games that we brought with us on a recent trip to Michigan.
meeple The components in general are pretty nice. The wooden pawns, dice and scoring markers are pretty standard and are quite functional. The basket and the stand on which it sits are made of molded plastic which are nice in appearance, but smell of gasoline or some other hydrocarbon (not unlike the dice cups in Pirate's dice). The board is well constructed for the number of folds in it and stands up very well to repeated set up and take down. The cards, however, are a bit thin and tend to stick together.
All the members of my family don't mind playing this. While nobody absolutely loves it, no one dislikes it enough to not want to play.

So what's not so great about this game?
whistle Well, the theme is here, but it's a little weak. I really enjoy games dripping with theme, but this one is clearly a paste on. If you're a theme fanatic, this may leave you wanting.
soblue The board is pretty long, so it may not be convenient to play it everywhere you take it (even if the box for the game is very portable).
robot It's very, very light. While this makes Cloud 9 great as an accessible family game, many adults may get bored of this after successive plays. There just aren't many decisions to make they are not terribly interesting. Do I stay or do I jump? That's pretty much it. The social interaction is what gives this game it's charm.

So what do we think about it?

Beka's (13) Opinion: It's pretty fun. I like that there aren't a ton of rules to remember and that the game moves pretty fast. Beka's Rating: 6.5

Lindsay's (11) Opinion: This is an okay game. It's not my favorite, but I'll play it. I like that it doesn't take forever. Lindsay's Rating: 6

Abby's (7) Opinion: This game is fun, but I don't like to play it all the time. I like the balloon basket that we get to jump out of. Abby's Rating: 7

Kristin's Opinion: This is a game I'll play. It's not my favorite either, but it's good for a half hour of fun with the kids. Kristin's Rating:6

My Opinion: This is a fun and fast push your luck game. I personally prefer Can't Stop to this, but as I don't own that one, this will have to do for now. It's a fine game, and I enjoy it as long as I don't play it very often or even a couple times in succession. A couple times in a week is enough for me. My rating: 6.5

Overall Opinion: This is a bit of a conundrum for me. None of us really love this game, be we all have a lot of fun when we play. It's seen five plays in the last couple months, which is pretty impressive considering the number of games we play and the variety. With that being said, don't let the rating throw you. It's a great family filler by virtue of the fact that we will all play it and we will all enjoy doing so. Overall Rating: 6.4

Side Note: Many people select games based on ratings, and that's fine if that works for you. If have found, though, that some of our most played games end up in the 6-7 range according to BGG rankings and that most family oriented games fall in this category or below. If you are a new user here or even a seasoned veteran, I encourage you to check out games that fall below your ranking radar and find some reviewers whose views align with your own (at least most of the time)that review these types of games. You will likely stumble onto some hidden gems that you and your family will love. Happy gaming!

See my review series here!
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United States
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Be sure to play this with the FX Schmid rules. It makes the game more fun.
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