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Subject: A fine two player game. rss

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Robert .
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Royal Oak
Michigan
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Balloon Cup

The Components (Bits):
Once again, as with all Kosmos games, this one has excellent production values. The cards are of nice stock with wonderful illustrations, and the board squares are thick and produced well. The cubes are wood, painted with a glossy finish and the game comes packaged with a bag to hold the cubes. No complaints here whatsoever, very high standards were observed.

The Setup and Rules:
Unfortunately the praise for the production ends at the rules. This game has “Fiddly” rules, and some people consider the rules as published, to be rather broke. For the sake of this review, we played with the as-packaged rules, and have yet to try the author variations. But I can say with some authority, that these are quite poorly written rules, vague, difficult to follow, and missing some key elements on how to resolve game issues. Given that this game is often used as a entry level lure for new gamers, we can only hope a second edition comes out with a complete rules overhaul. Setup is a breeze, and takes less than a minute.

The Theme:
I like the theme to this game even though it is considered pasted on. The balloon illustrations are fun and light hearted with clean lines and fresh colours. One of the things that attracted me to this game was the fun theme and interesting artwork. However thin and pasted on it is, there is no denying the fun and interesting artwork!

The Gameplay:
Fiddly rules aside, the gameplay is pretty fun in Balloon Cup. It consists of playing high and low cards on a set of four balloon hop tiles with cubes on them, attempting to collect the required number of cubes to win “Balloon Cups”. Once any three balloon cups are won, the game ends and the person to collect three of them is the victor. When playing by the published rules, there is a giant “Take that” gameplay system in this game that allows you to play cards on your own side of the hop tiles, and on the side of your opponents. I’ve been told there is a rules variant that requires you to fill your sides of the tiles before playing on the opposing side. I have yet to play this variant, and hope to in the future, as it sounds like it might present a more thoughtful game. Balloon Cup plays quickly at 20-30 minutes, and is likely something almost anyone can get some enjoyment out of.

The Depth and Tactics:
Balloon Cup is a very light and easy to understand game once you get past the fiddly rules. Tactics amount to careful hand management and conservative card play. Do you play a high card immediately on your side, or do you expend it on the opposing side to thwart the other player? There are plenty of decisions like this in a typical game with no lack of options in how to manage and play your hand. The primary mechanism here is hand management, card drafting – and deciding what to play at what time and under what conditions. There aren’t really any agonizing or painful decisions and the game flows quite efficiently with two people that understand the mechanics.

Summary:
Balloon Cup is a fine game, one that I would categorize as slightly above average. It doesn’t offer any extremely compelling reasons to play it day after day, but is a fine game to pull out every once in awhile. While I do enjoy Balloon Cup, I get the feeling this game wasn’t play tested as much as it could have, or the rules were changed from what was originally tested - something about it feels slightly incomplete. With that being said, this is a fun game, and a worthy addition to any collection. Its reasonable price, combined with easily accessible gameplay mean that it will pay itself off fairly rapidly. A major plus is that the ladies seem to really enjoy it!



Kobra
www.boardgamespiel.com
 
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