Saturday, March 01, 2014

Kosmos Two Player Game Series - Balloon Cup by Stephen Glenn

In Balloon Cup, the players are hot air balloon pilots, racing through either the plains or the mountains to win prizes. Balloon Cup is pretty similar to Heave Ho! in that the players are playing number cards to either side of the board, represented by four tiles, in order to have the highest or lowest strength. The double-sided tiles represent either the plains or mountains and are marked with a value, 1-4, which is the number of colored cubes, drawn randomly from a bag, that are placed on that tile. Each player has a hand of cards which have values from 1-13 in one of five colored suits.

On your turn, you play one card either to your or your opponent's side of a tile, then draw a new card. When cards are played next to a tile, they must match the color and number of cubes on the tile. For example, if the 3 Tile has one blue and two yellow cubes on it, the players must play one blue and two yellow cards on each side of the tile before the race is concluded and a winner determined. 

Winners are determined by the total value of the cards played. In the mountains, you want a higher total value of cards on your side than on your opponent's side, and in the plains you want a lower total value of cards. Whoever wins the race, gets the cubes on the tile. The tile is then flipped over to the opposite terrain, more cubes are placed on it from the bag, and the next race for that tile begins.

If after a race you are the first to have a certain number of cubes (3-7 depending on the color), you win the prize card for that color. Once a color's prize card has been claimed, leaving you with unused cubes, you can use three of that color as a wild cube to claim another prize. Win three prize cards and you win the game.

The twist to the game is that there are fewer of some colors than others, both in cubes and cards.  For example, there are thirteen red cards (values 1-13), but only five gray cards (values 1,4,7,10,13) making some races more challenging to complete and limiting a player's options.

This was an unusual game of Balloon Cup as neither Carol or I collected any prize cards for the longest time. We just went back and forth amassing a huge amount of cubes, but neither gaining enough to claim any prize cards.  Finally, I won my third gray and my fifth green cubes (as above) in one turn to get their prizes and shortly thereafter collected a fourth blue cube for the win.

Final scores:

     Bob    3
     Carol  0

Coming up:  We battle for ancient Greece with ships, swords and Gods in Hellas.

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