Balloon Pop! is a push your luck, dice rolling game published by TMG. Designed for one or more players, it is a family game in which everyone is trying to inflate their balloons as large as they can without the balloons going pop! The bigger a balloon is inflated, the more points are scored, but if a balloon pops, the points it scores are greatly reduced. The game is played over three phases, each phase ending when any player’s balloon pops. This is a called a break. Points are then scored for the size of each player’s balloons. The game ends when there have been three breaks. Scores are added for each of the three breaks and the player with the biggest balloons—and most points—is the winner.
Playable in ten minutes, Balloon Pop! comes with a pad of scoring sheets, six dice, a pencil, and the rules sheet. The scoring sheets show six columns of numbers, one for each type of balloon—yellow, blue, red, star, moon, and diamond. The numbers in the columns rise from between zero and two up to between twelve and sixteen. The columns are not all the same height, but at the top of each column is one more number. This is marked in red and is the break number—the point at which the balloon pops! It ranges between three and eight, so is drastically lower than the maximum score that can be rolled for each balloon.
The six dice are custom dice. They each show yellow, blue, and red balloons and star, moon, and diamond symbols on those balloons. There are more red balloons on the dice than there are blue balloons, and more blue balloons than yellow balloons.
On his turn, a player rolls three dice and records the results on his scoring sheet, circling the higher numbers as he goes. If he does not like the results of a dice roll, he can roll again, but each time he does, he must roll one more die. Once a player has recorded the results he wants or rolled the dice a maximum of three times, his turn is over.
If at the end of his turn, a player reaches the top of a column, that balloon pops. This is a called a break. Everyone scores the highest number they have circled for each balloon, adds these scores together, and records the total for the current break. Once a balloon has popped or a column has triggered a break, that column will score no further points. After three breaks, the game is over and the winner is the player with highest combined score from the three breaks.
Balloon Pop! is a simple push your luck game. Each player is trying to trying to get as many points as he can for each break, but without triggering a break. It is all a matter of deciding when to stop rolling the dice or deciding that you really need better results knowing that having to roll more dice means a greater chance of rolling the symbols that you do not want.
Physically, Balloon Pop! is nicely done. Although the rules need another edit, they are clear and simple to understand. The dice though, are lovely, really nice customised dice such that you wish you had another game to roll them for.
With a short playing time, simple rules, and nice dice, Balloon Pop! is best suited for playing with younger players and for introducing younger players to games and dice rolling games. For older and more experienced players it is probably too simple to play amongst themselves, but for a nice and simple family game, Balloon Pop! is a decent choice.