Balloon Cup

by Stephen Glenn
Published in Germany by Kosmos

1. Material

Balloon Cup consists of the following material:

2. Setup

The four terrain cards are laid out in the middle and show alternately moutains and plains.
Award stones are randomly distributed onto the terrain cards: 1 stone onto the "1" card, 2 stones onto the "2" card, and so on.
Each player gets 8 balloon cards from the pile.

3. Gameflow

The player on turn (small red arrow) chooses one of his balloon cards and lays it face-up next to one of the terrain cards. He may place it either on his side or on the opponent's side of the terrain card. Then he draws a new balloon card from the pile.

The number of award stones on a terrain card determines the number of ballon cards that may be placed on either side of the card. The colors of the award stones on a terrain card determine the recommended colors of balloon cards that are played for this card. That means: each award stone on the card has to match each one card in color on both sides of the terrain. Example: On the "4" terrain card lye 2 blue, 1 yellow and 1 red award stones. Thus the players have to play 2 blue, 1 yellow and 1 red ballon cards on each side of the terrain.

The player in turn has to play exactly one card, even if the only card(s) he could play are more valuable for his opponent. Suspending voluntarily is not allowed.

When a player cannot play any of his 8 balloon cards, his cards are exposed to the opponent and he may discard 1 to 4 cards, replacing them with new cards from the pile: He checks the appropriate cards he wants to discard and clicks the button "Exchange". If he gets at least one card he could play he remains on turn. Otherwise the turn proceeds to the opponent.

4. Scoring

As soon as there are laid the appropriate number of cards next to a terrain card it is scored and the award stones are paid.

The winner of a scoring receives all award stones of that terrain. All balloon cards a discarded to the discard pile, the terrain card is turned over (mountains become plains and vice versa) and new award stones are laid onto the terrain card, drawn from the bag.

After a scoring it is checked whether the winner has enough award stones to get one of the available cups (see "Receiving a cup").

Afterwards the game proceeds with the player in turn who has lost the scoring.

5. Receiving a cup

A player who has the appropriate number of award stones of one color (red: 7, yellow: 6, green: 5, blue: 4, grey: 3) must exchange them at once for the corresponding cups card. Cups you have won once cannot be lost any more.

The remaining award stones of such a color are not out of game. Each player having three stones of that kind may "trade" them at any time before his actual move at a 3:1 rate to substitute an award stone of another color in order to buy another cup. Example: The yellow cup is already won by one of the players and a player has 2 grey and 3 yellow (or more) award stones. He may pay the two grey stones and additionally three yellow stones to substitute the missing 3rd grey one for receiving the grey cup. When a player is able to buy a cup by a 3:1-trade, a button named "buy cup" appears above his name.

Note: A player is not bound to a possible 3:1 trade. It might be useful to miss it, to avoid the opponent using himself the consecutively newly tradable color.

6. End of the game

In the near end of the game it might happen that there are not enough award stones left in the bag to refill a terrain card after a scoring. In such a case the terrain card is completely discarded and game continues with the remaining terrains.

The game ends immediately when a player receives his 3rd cup by winning or buying. This player then is the winner of the game.

7. Additional note

In some web bulletins it was remarked that a rules' mechanism is responsible for the game could being blocked, for example when 3 or more grey award stones are lying on a terrain card. Thus there are only 5 grey balloon cards in play you would not be able to complete a terrain card with 3 grey stones (you would need 6 grey cards to accomplish a scoring). On Gravon the game has a mechanism that takes care of no more than 2 grey or 3 blue award stones are laid on any terrain card.

8. Sample Screenshot

  1. Your own balloon cards on hand
  2. Terrain cards (blue = mountains, green = plains)
  3. Award stones on the terrain cards
  4. Here you place your balloon cards
  5. Award stones a player has won
  6. Cup cards that are still available
  7. Cup card(s) a player has won or buyed
  8. Number of remaining award stones in the bag
  9. Number of remaining balloon cards in the drawing pile (when the pile runs out of cards all so far discarded cards are reshuffled and build a new drawing pile)