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Cloud 9 will take you straight up through the clouds! The higher the balloon rises, the more points you can score. But watch out, the balloon can fall at anytime. How long are you willing to stay on and risk losing it all?
Reach new heights with Cloud 9!
I played Cloud 9 for the 1st time this week. We played a two games with 3 players and three games with 4 players.
The rules are well written and the play was very smooth. However, there was one annoying thing we noticed. The 1st 3 games were won by the player who was fortunate enough to draw the most wild cards. Typically, wild cards did not get played until the owner of the wild card(s) was alone in the ballon.
We figured the wild card needed to be weakened.
Suggestion 1: Instead of the wild card being sufficient to pilot the ship, we made the wild card equal to any one card (owner's choice). As before, the owner of the wild card was never obligated to play it. We adopted this change and all the players thought it was a good upgrade.
Suggestion 2: Only allow one wild card to be used in any given trip. This might introduce some interesting strategy, especially if there are only two players left in the baloon. We did not try this one.
Suggestion 3: A player cannot use a wild card when flying solo. We did not try this one either.
The rules as written make this game a 4. Fixing the wild card problem makes this game a 5.
Out of the Box has the most amazingly brilliant formula for creating games. At first glance you would almost think their main goal is simply to make their games easy to learn. This IS a major selling feature of all of their games (it's definitely part of the reason that everyone I've played with likes their games). But the amazing part is that they don't sacrifice anything in the quality of the game, when making it easy to learn.
Cloud 9 is another great example of Out of the Box brilliance. It takes me 1 minute to explain the rules of the game, but once everyone understands it takes several plays to develop strategies.
For a detailed description of the rules see other customer reviews. I will merely impart a wee bit of strategy I have developed, in anticipation that you will try this great game. My strategy is simply this, don't look at your own cards. Until you actually have to see if you have the cards to make the balloon rise, don't look. Then you have the greatest poker face of all. No one can read from your expression whether to stay in the balloon or to jump, because you are as clueless as they are. Hey, it may sound silly, but it works for me.
In conclusion I will reiterate that this is a great light game. With easy to follow instructions and very attractive components, pick this one up. It is a blast for the whole family.
One thing I’ve always appreciated about Out of the Box’s (OOTB) games is their ability to work well with a group of people who rarely play games. I think that there are better party games than Apples to Apples, but it’s definitely the first game I’ll pull out when initiating a new group. Likewise, Fish eat Fish and Squint are games that are fun, short, and above all, simple to teach. Cloud Nine (Out of the Box Publishing, 2004 - Aaron Weissblum) is yet another one of those games - outrageously fun with tremendously simplistic rules, yet with only a smidgen of strategy.
When I first opened the box and saw the large plastic balloon basket piece, I knew immediately that I would enjoy the game. (This is shallow; I know, but striking components really do add to most folk’s enjoyment of the game.) The theme, jumping out of a balloon before it crashes, is tantamount to a game of “chicken”, and one that many people find exhilarating. (Of course, the risks in a board game are remarkably fewer.) The game is basically one of bluffing, where players attempt to ascertain the cards in opponent’s hands; but there are a few small memory and strategic elements. But pure, unadulterated fun exudes from Cloud 9, and it’s definitely on the short list of games that I will take with me to situations where there are groups of people who’ve never played many board games before. It’s a terrific introductory game and certainly has that “let’s play it again” feel to it.
A long, thin board is placed on the table, and each player places a pawn of their color next to the beginning of a scoring track that wraps around the outside of the board. Between the scoring track are nine spaces, each showing two, three, or four dice, and numbered in order of victory points (1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 20, and 25 respectively). The balloon basket is placed above the first space, and each player places a pawn of their color inside the basket. Four special six-sided dice are placed near the table, each with two blank sides, and four sides showing a different colored balloon (red, yellow, green, and purple.) A deck of cards, made up of eighteen cards of four different colors (same as on the dice) and four “Wild” cards, is shuffled and placed near the board, with six dealt to each player. One player is chosen to go first, and the game begins.
Cloud Nine is made up of several rounds or “balloon trips”. Each trip starts with one player, with play proceeding clockwise around the table. The active player is the “pilot” of the balloon and rolls the number of dice indicated on the space the balloon hovers over. Each other player, starting with the player to the left of the pilot, decides whether they will “jump out”, removing their token from the basket and scoring the number of victory points on the space the balloon resides or stay in the basket. After each player has made the decision, the pilot then must play, if possible, cards matching each color balloon rolled on the dice. If the pilot manages this (or plays a “wild” card, which matches ALL the balloons), the balloon rises to the next level, and the player to their left, if still in the balloon, becomes the new pilot. This continues until the pilot cannot play the cards necessary, causing the balloon to crash with no one inside scoring any points. All “jumped” tokens are placed back in the basket, and another round begins.
It’s possible that the balloon might make it to the final space in which case all players still in the basket score twenty-five points, and a new round begins. Players who jump can no longer participate in rounds, until the balloon crashes or reaches 25. The pilot can never jump from the balloon, unless they are the only passenger. When a new round begins, all players are dealt one additional card, and play continues as normal with the pilot position passing to the next player. As soon as one player reaches fifty points, the game ends, and the player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: The game comes in an extremely sturdy, brightly-colored box, which keeps all components snugly inside. The board folds up like a “Jacob’s Ladder” with six folds but is quite durable and has a blue background, showing up well on the table. The pawns and scoring markers are wood, and the cards are thick and glossy (although they really should have put different pictures on the different colored cards - this is a critical problem for color blind people.) But certainly, the centerpiece is the plastic balloon basket structure, which is just slightly smaller than a typical computer mouse. It is mounted on two clear, plastic stands, so that it is raised above the board and has six slots in it for the tokens to “sit” in the basket. This piece looks really good and is one of the best single components I’ve ever seen in a game.
2.) Rules: As usual, the rules for this OOTB game were clear, simple, and well formatted. They were printed on a seven-page folded booklet of heavy cardstock, in full color with a few illustrations. The game play itself is extremely easy to teach people and just like many other OOTB games was able to be taught in less than a minute.
3.) Bluffing: The game comes down to bluffing, as players seek to not reveal to the others what cards they have in their hands. Many a game has pauses as players search their opponent’s face, trying to figure out if they should jump or not. Normally, most people don’t think twice about staying in the basket at lower levels, although in one game a groan from a player caused my wife to jump the basket before it even started. (The balloon went all the way to the top on that trip, causing her extreme annoyance.) It’s when the balloon is on the “9”, “15”, and “20” spaces that things get fairly hairy. Should one take the sure points or stay in the game, hoping against hope that the balloon makes it to the top? These aren’t long, drawn-out decisions, but they are slightly nail-biting and make the game a lot of fun.
4.) Other factors: If one has a good memory and remembers what a player cannot play on their previous turns, they have an advantage in the game, albeit a dim one. Players also can look at the cards in their own hands, determining whether they should jump now, knowing that their own piloting skills won’t be too good. Players can also hold their wild cards until a crucial moment, saving them for that last big roll! Other than this, though, the game is just bluffing and guessing.
5.) Fun Factor: Bluffing and guessing makes for a good light game, even though many game strategists would pull their hair out with this game. There’s certainly a “light” feel to the game, but the game certainly fits its niche well. It’s a lot of fun to see the balloon crash on the first level for several turns in a row then suddenly rise to the top. Laughing at other players’ “piloting skills” and holding your breath when people roll the dice or play/don’t play cards makes this game quick and fun.
6.) Players and Time: The game lasts less than twenty minutes, as long as all players are actively involved, making decisions in eye-blinking time. I do think that the game is best with five-six players, as something is just lost with only three or four.
This game is a great deal, especially when comparing the tremendous components to its relatively inexpensive price. The game looks great, plays quickly, and is a lot of fun. No, it won’t win any awards for strategy; but when searching for a filler or a game to introduce the folks at the party I’m at to quality board games, this is one of my first choices. I’ve often wondered about Aaron Weissblum, as he is usually (in my mind at least) paired with Alan Moon and their tremendous collaborations. But if this game is an example of what he can do on his own, well, I want him to continue on designing enjoyable games.
"Real men play board games."
First of all, I am blown away by the components in the Out of the Box edition. On opening the compact box you find a thick board that folds out to over two feet in length, a sturdy folded card containing well-written rules, six wooden pawns and scoring markers, four large custom dice, and a pack of good-quality cards. Perhaps most impressive is the molded plastic balloon basket into which players put their pawns; it stands above the game board on clear plastic legs, giving a charming impression of the theme, which is a journey up into the clouds.
This is a remake of the original edition, with only one substantial change that I know of -- the elimination of the 'pass the barn' card.
I'll just summarize the game play here; more complete descriptions are available on the page for the original game.
Players are dealt cards in four different colors. In each turn, one player is the pilot, who is responsible for making the balloon rise a level. The pilot throws 2 to 4 dice (the number increases at higher levels) which indicate what combination of cards he or she must play to make the balloon rise. All other players then have an opportunity to bail out of the balloon, winning the points for the current level. The pilot then plays the necessary cards, if able; otherwise the balloon crashes and all remaining passengers get no points.
So it is a simple risk-taking game where you evaluate the likelihood of the pilot's being able to play the necessary cards to get you to a higher-scoring level. This is largely guesswork, of course, but card-counters will have some advantage. A nice twist is that if you're sitting to the pilot's left you have to look ahead to the next turn. If you don't bail out now, you'll become pilot next turn whether you like it or not, and you don't have the opportunity to bail out then unless you're the last person in the basket.
This is no brain-burner but a quick, fun, colorful game suitable for families. I have a soft spot for the original game because it was one of the first German-style games I was introduced to. It's very pleasing to see it reissued in such an attractive format.