Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gaming With Grandma - 43

Another Saturday morning gaming session attended by myself, my daughter Maddie (6.5) and my mother (AKA Grandma). As my younger daughter Georgia (almost 2) took ages to go down for a nap our gaming session was delayed somewhat. However, we did get to play a game I haven't played since the 23rd September 2006 - Balloon Cup.

In Balloon Cup, the players compete in several short balloon flights (hops) to collect the coloured cubes associated with each hop. Four landscape cards, two Plains alternating with two Mountains, are laid out and 1, 2, 3 or 4 cubes in assorted colors (grey, blue, green, yellow, red) are added. From a hand of 8 Balloon cards players must try to pass each landscape by adding cards matching the coloured blocks onto their side of table. High-valued balloon cards are played on the Mountains and low-valued balloon cards on the plains. Whoever has the respective higher or lower total of cards wins the hop and takes the cubes on the landscape card. When a player has collected enough cubes of a given colour, he earns the Trophy card for that colour. The first player to earn 3 trophy cards is the winner.

Maddie watched as Mum and I played the game using the optional rule that you must fully complete your set of cards on your side of the landscape card before you could play cards on the opponent's side. We also chose not to use the rule of cashing in 3 cubes of other colours for 1 cube of the colour you wanted. It was a close game with me scoring 2 trophies on the final turn to win 3 trophies to 1 trophy.

While it's an enjoyable game, Balloon Cup's mechanics compete with two other excellent and similar card games in my collection - Battleline and Lost Cities, both of which were designed by the prolific and talented Reiner Knizia. For me, Balloon Cup just doesn't generate the tension and excitement of those two games. In fact, Balloon Cup was very close to being listed on eBay with my recent auction. It was only reprieved when my wife stated that she'd enjoyed Balloon Cup when we'd last played it together (18 months ago?). So Balloon Cup remains in my collection, saved by a kind word by my wife. Don't get me wrong - it's not a bad game - it's just that it may not make the final cut of what I want my lean, mean, future board game collection to be.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the game due to my wife being out and having the camera with her. We also only had time for the one game today.

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