Bamboleo Review

Bamboleo dexterity game leaning during play

I like dexterity games.  Ok.  Perhaps the term is that I love dexterity games.  Generally this means that I like flicking discs around various boards, tables, and race tracks.  Occasionally, though, this infatuation causes me to branch out and play games like Bamboleo.

Bamboleo is pretty simple.  First, you balance the board with all of the pieces on it on top of a cork ball that is raised off of the table.  Next, players alternate taking turns removing pieces from the board.  Preferably without knocking pieces off or knocking the entire board over.  Once someone fails at this (thus sending pieces flying), then each player gets a point per piece that they successfully removed.  The person that knocked the board over loses three points.  Then, you set everything up and go again - until someone gets 20 points!  There are other rules about what happens if you realize that you're not going to succeed and you catch the board, or you put your piece back, etc.  But, you get the idea - take pieces off; don't knock over the board.

taking a piece from the board in the game Bambolelo
The angles for the board are crazy
The first pro that I have for Bamboleo is the cork ball.  I really wasn't expecting this game to work very well.  Yet, the cork ball that the board balances on is really an amazing game piece.  It provides enough friction that the board doesn't immediately fall over as soon as it is at a slight angle.  Speaking of angles, they are my second pro - that you can have the board resting at all kinds of seemingly impossible angles.  And it looks amazing and ridiculous, all at the same time. 

The next pro that I have for Bamboleo is that you can actually customize the difficulty a bit.  If your group starts playing repeatedly and it becomes too easy to take pieces off, then you can set up the board so that it's a bit off-center (since there isn't a groove in the board to distinguish where it is supposed to rest on the cork ball).  This will make it more challenging to judge which pieces will affect the equilibrium of the board.  There are also various round shapes - some cylindrical, some oblong, and some just curved.  And these can be set on their sides instead of being flat.  Setting these pieces up differently will cause them to shift around as the board attempts to adjust back to equilibrium.  And, as they shift, they might send the board toppling over.  Finally, you can also stack pieces on top of each other to make the game harder - challenging players to attempt to take a lot of weight off of the board at once.  If they succeed, they will get points for each piece that they remove; but they'll probably fail.

As a final pro, there is a gameplay variant where each player's score is based on how heavy the pieces they remove are.  Whereas we didn't have a scale handy, so we didn't play this way, I think that it is a brilliant idea.  After all, the heavier pieces are far more challenging pieces to remove, so I like that this variant rewards you for taking them.

playing Bamboleo
Successfully removing many of the pieces
Yet, with all that is fun and exciting about Bamboleo, there is a major con - it is annoying to try to balance the board to start a round.  Once you've played repeatedly, I'm sure that someone will grow more skilled at this, thus speeding up the process.  But, especially when you just start playing the game, you may occasionally find yourself spending more time setting up the game than actually playing it.

The only other thing that I will address before wrapping up this review is whether you can play this with children.  The rules are incredibly simple, so from that perspective, you could definitely play with them.  However, the game is all about stability - very slowly picking up pieces, and not bumping the table while the game is being played.  And, well, I don't know your kids - so you'll have to decide if those are things that they can handle.  If so, then this might really be a fun game that you can all play together.  If not, then you might be incredibly frustrated trying to play this with them.

Overall, I give Bamboleo an 8.5/10.  This is a really fun game that I intend to continue playing with my friends when the opportunity presents itself.  Yet, it hasn't managed to upstage flicking games like PitchCar to become my favorite dexterity game.  But, hey - diversity is important, right?  Maybe there's room in my collection for dexterity games that don't involve flicking.

If Bamboleo sounds interesting, then you should also check out Elk Fest, Crokinole, and Fastrack.

1 comment:

  1. YOu might wanna give Riff Raff a try, too, if you can find a copy of it. Balancing game from last year that's fantastic.