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Balmy Balloonists
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Store:  Strategy Games
Theme:  Ballooning
Genre:  Racing
Format:  Board Games

Balmy Balloonists

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 60 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Philip Vogt, Rick Heli

Manufacturer(s): Up And Away

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Product Description

Balmy Balloonists is a strategy game in which players compete to be the first to fly their hot air balloons completely 'round the world. It can be played by anywhere from 2-6 players and special rules even permit challenging solitaire games. Balmy Balloonists is designed for players aged 10 to adult and lasts between 15 and 90 minutes, depending on the number of players. Each game contains rules printed in both English and German.

Bits include 6 plastic balloon pawns, one each in red, blue, yellow, white, purple and black, each equipped with a set of three stacking altitude adjusters to match. By this means everyone can tell the current altitude of each balloon, whether it be Low, Medium or High, at just a glance. Players employ chips in three colors to record the all-important levels of ballast, fuel and helium gas. Also included with each set are 2 plastic silver-colored pawns, a storm tile and one hundred text-free cards which comprise the Quadrant, Local Wind, Misfortune and Advantage decks.

The game is played on a polar stereographic view of the northern hemisphere. The main balloon tracks are indicated by latitude bands, essentially, race track lanes around the globe. Between 64 degrees North latitude and 15 degrees North latitude are the main jet locations so there are five "lanes" numbered 1-5. Red longitude lines on the polar view are used to divide the map into four 90 degree regions called Quadrants. The red longitude line running through North America also serves as the start and finish line for all balloons, at least in the main game, although there are rules for many other races as well.

Lanes are further divided by vertical lines to form spaces.

The yellow colored spaces represent Exclusion Zones over which special flying conditions obtain. Each depicts a special image which is related to the corresponding nation. Each image is linked to an Advantage card which confers a special flying privilege.

Other special spaces include mountains over which balloons must strive to fly high. These come in two varieties, Medium and High.

Strategy & Subterfuge
The engine of speed in the game is neither dice nor cardplay, but simply the player's ability to best navigate the given wind situation. Just like real balloonists, players change their altitude by jettisoning ballast or releasing lighter-than-air gas. Cards are used to represent the random local winds by which balloons may change their lane or sometimes that of others. However, ballast, gas and fuel -- needed to fly at the highest altitude -- are finite and if used each turn will not last the entire race. Moreover after having played three cards, players must first use a card on another's balloon. Cards represent the chaos in the system and may also be used to trigger a Misfortune card or even to randomly change the weather in a quadrant. Thus plays on another's balloon may be used to slow down a leader or, conversely, to help a balloon that is lagging, perhaps in exhange for a similar favor in return? Players need to take careful note of resources, positions and card states and not just their own, but also those of their opponents. Also they must not neglect the all-important wind rose which dictates which balloons are currently vulnerable, and which will next be vulnerable. Still to be mentioned are the special Advantage cards which give each player their unique condition, as well as the tricky decision of when to discard them in order to take another player's card off the table. Overall we hope the game offers considerable scope for strategists and tacticians alike.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Philip Vogt, Rick Heli

  • Manufacturer(s): Up And Away

  • Artist(s): Tatyana Chou

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2 - 6

  • Time: 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 435 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).


  • 1 game board
  • 6 balloon figures
  • 18 altitude adjusters
  • 50 local wind cards
  • 28 quadrant cards
  • 12 advantage cards
  • 10 misfortune cards
  • 66 fuel chips
  • 54 helium chips
  • 54 ballast chips
  • 2 silver pawns
  • 1 storm tile
  • 6 plastic bags

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