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Subject: Montgolfiere: An Introduction rss

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James Smith
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Montgolfiere is a game by Dominique Ehrhard (Condottiere, Serenissima) for two to six players, which lasts for about twenty minutes to half an hour. The object of the game is to be the first player to get your Hot Air Balloon to the Moon.

The layout of the game is simple there is a board that is divided into steps which the player’s balloons are placed on and players progress up or down the steps depending on the outcome of each round. Each player has an identical deck of cards to the other players (like in Great Wall of China). During a round a player plays a card, cards depict: a ballast, a storm, a super motor, a grappling hook or sleeping gas. Each card has its advantages. Sleeping gas affects the cards played by players on the step below you. Storm cards cause a storm to occur when there are odd numbers of them played in the round and they cause players who would have progressed to instead descend, however, if an even number of storm cards are played they have no effect. A grappling hook can be used to latch on to the player in the space directly above you and if they ascend you do as well. A super motor allows you to ascend two spaces (or one during a storm). Finally, ballast cards which are the majority of the deck have a value on the card and whoever plays the highest one in a turn ascends one space. As you can see this game is very chaotic as you are constantly trying to second guess what your opponents are going to play, much like in Condottiere. The fact that you must play a card every turn means that there are many times where you do not have a card that can really help you this turn, but the question is what card do you use anyway knowing that you will not get it back.

This game is deliciously simple and has a very healthy dose of luck so that it can be played with young children and non-gamers alike. This is one of my favourite light games to play to pass the time. One of my favourite ways to play is to play with 2 or 3 players and 2 robots where each turn the bots just take the topmost card of their deck and play it, it makes the game very chaotic but also heaps of fun, as you can see which cards have been played it is a bit of push your luck type gamble when you play a ballast card with a large number and hope against hope that one of the bots or even one of the players do not foil your plans.

I really like Dominique Ehrhard’s games as I think that he is very good at deciding what his target audience is for a game and then getting the mix of luck and strategy just right. In Condottiere there is much more strategy and less luck, but it is still an accessible game, whereas in Montgolfiere there is much more luck and strategy is really only limited to working out the probability of a card being played based on the others player’s current position and what cards they have already played. Excluding Make ‘n’ Break which is god’s gift to gaming, this is my favourite underrated game to play and I would very rarely refuse a game of it whether it is just as a two player game for fun or a six player filler during a long gaming session.
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