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CLOUD 9

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Out-of-the-Box GAMES, 3- 6 players, ages 8 and up; 20-30 minutes; $12.99)

 

Some games dare you to risk it all! This generally brings to mind wargames (when you commit your troops in a last ditch attempt to turn the tide of battle) or casino gambling (when you hope and pray that the right card or roulette number comes up). Yet, the intensity of this sort of challenge can still be present in a family game as Aaron Weissblum proved with his charming Cloud 9. Unfortunately, the game went out of print. Fortunately, the game is back with some new graphics and a few tweaks to the basic rules.

The game comes in a smaller, brightly colored box only a fraction of the size of the original bookshelf boxed F.X.Schmid edition. This game could fit into a backpack with no problem and travel well. Graphically, this version is much more appealing from the card definitions found on the sides of the game box to the plastic hot air balloon basket used to hold player pawns as they rise from cloud to cloud.Cloud9new

We featured Cloud 9 several years ago. We’ve run the original review in this issue so we don’t have to go over the same turf regarding rules and procedures. The game play is substantially similar but a few differences have been made.

Pass the Barn cards which enabled the player committed to sending the balloon higher to shift that burden to another player are no longer here. In addition, using a wild card to meet the balloon soaring requirements is now voluntary. The former eliminates a degree of unpredictability to the game as you always KNOW who’s on the spot as well as removing the decision of playing or not playing the card; the latter creates a decision so basically, it’s a wash. Believing that more is merrier, the winning score for the game has been raised from 45 to 50 points. The biggest game change, however, concerns the drawing of additional cards.

In the old version, each player drew a new card to add to his hand once a balloon ride was over. That is still true. But there was also times (when the score hit the 11, 22 and 33 mark) when the player in last place could draw a bonus of two cards. We liked that as a balancing mechanism keeping last place players in the game. But here, those opportunities for the last place player have been removed. Fortunately, players can reinstate the original rule on their own if they so desire.

Cloud 9 is still lighter than air. But it is the kind of game that brings children and adults to the same gaming table. As is typical with the Out of the Box line, the game boasts a high quality production at a very reasonable price. Like the hot air balloon it simulates in the game, Cloud 9 soars! – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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Winter 2005 GA Report Articles

 

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