While the dexterity genre can be quite diverse, one of the most popular types of dexterity games is the building game. In most of these building games the goal is to carefully add blocks or other objects to a tower trying to avoid knocking the tower down. While one of Kaboom’s major mechanics is a similar building mechanic, there is much more to worry about than just unsteady hands. While you build in Kaboom you also have to deal with dice being flung at you by the other players. Basically Kaboom is exactly what you would expect out of a tower building game where you fling dice at the other players.
How to Play Kaboom
Place the Mega Tower tile in the center of the table. Shuffle the small tower tiles and randomly place them around the Mega Tower Tile.
Players will take turns playing as the Master Builder with the youngest player being the first Master Builder. The Master Builder takes the timer and all of the building blocks. All of the other players will play as saboteurs. Each saboteur takes a launcher and a number of dice based on the number of players:
- 2 players: 8 dice
- 3 players: 4 dice
- 4 players: 3 dice
- 5 players: 2 dice
Each round begins with the Master Builder flipping over the timer. The Master Builder then begins placing blocks onto the tiles trying to recreate the towers shown on the tiles.
The Master Builder can choose to build on whichever tiles they want. They can build multiple towers but they only have two of each type of block so only a couple structures can be built on a player’s turn. Once a player builds a tower they need to keep it standing until the timer ends in order to score the points. If a structure is knocked down the player can rebuild it if time hasn’t run out.
While the Master Builder is building, the other players try to sabotage them by knocking down their structures. Players place one of their dice on their launcher. They flip their launcher in order to launch their dice into the air. A player can move their launcher around but it must remain at least a foot away from any tile. Each dice can only be launched once during a round. The Master Builder is not allowed to purposely block any saboteur shots and the saboteurs are not allowed to interfere with the Master Builder outside of launching the dice.
An optional rule in Kaboom involves dice landing on tiles. If the players choose to use this rule, the Master Builder cannot build on any tile that a die lands on. If the Master Builder has already completed a tower on the tile that the dice landed, the tower can still score points if it is not knocked over. If the tower is knocked down it cannot be rebuilt.
As soon as the timer runs out, all players immediately stop. Players check to see if any complete towers are still standing. For every complete tower still standing the Master Builder takes the corresponding tile which will count for the corresponding amount of points at the end of the game. The building blocks are given to the next Master Builder and the player who was the previous Master Builder takes a launcher and the corresponding number of dice.
When everyone has been the Master Builder, one round has been completed. The game continues until the desired number of rounds have been completed (the game recommends three rounds). Players count up the number of points on the tiles they collected during the game. The player with the most points wins the game.
The Mega Tile
If at any point a player is able to complete the Mega Tower and keep it standing until the timer runs out will automatically win the game.
My Thoughts on Kaboom
While I can see this as both a positive and a negative, Kaboom is the perfect example of a filler game. Kaboom is a game that is not meant to be taken seriously. If you are a highly competitive person and always need to try and win, Kaboom might not be for you. Kaboom is a game that you play to have fun and eventually hope to end up winning. While some players will be better at the game than others, a lot of luck goes into winning Kaboom so the game should not be taken that seriously.
The main reason why I would consider Kaboom to be a filler game is that basically anyone can easily pick it up and play it. All you have to do is build the towers on the cards and launch the dice. Kaboom is pretty short with most games taking 15-30 minutes depending on how many rounds you decide to play. Since three rounds leads to a pretty short game, I personally would recommend four or five rounds if you want the players to get more than a couple tiles each. Kaboom is a great game to play when you want a quick change of pace or don’t have a lot of time to play a game. The short length is good because while Kaboom is a fun game, it is the type of game that I would only play one or two times and then put away to play a different day. I just see Kaboom as a game that could become a little boring if you played it for more than an hour at a time.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that it is more enjoyable playing as a saboteur than it is to play as the builder. It is still fun to build the towers but there is just something satisfying about launching dice trying to knock down towers. It is really satisfying knocking down another player’s tower as soon as they finished completing it. I was actually surprised by how easy it is to knock down towers in the game. Before playing the game I thought it would be quite hard to knock down towers since how easy could it be flinging a small dice at a tower and actually hitting it since the catapults couldn’t be that accurate. Unless my group is just really good at launching the dice, at least one tower was knocked down every turn. Unless the other players have terrible aim you are lucky if you can keep more than one or possibly two towers standing in any given round. There were several turns where the builder was unable to keep any towers standing at the end of the game.
While it is an alternate rule, I would recommend playing with the rule where a player is unable to build on a tile that a dice lands on. While it doesn’t drastically change the game and saboteurs have little impact on where their dice actually land, I think it is an interesting mechanic since saboteurs can really mess with the builder by landing a dice on a tile that they wanted to build on. This can hurt even more if a player can partially destroy a tower and then keep the dice on the tile so the player can’t rebuild that tower.
The only problem I had with the saboteur role is that you are basically guaranteed to be picking blocks and dice off the floor at the end of a player’s turn. I don’t think there was a single turn in the game where all of the components stayed on the table. You will regularly have to search the floor looking for components that flew off. The pieces are large enough that you shouldn’t lose them but you probably should count up the pieces after most turns just to make sure none are still on the floor.
While I preferred the saboteur role, the builder role was also fun. Basically the builder role is similar to every other dexterity building game with the added dimension that you need to rebuild towers that are knocked down by the other players. While you aren’t going to complete many towers each turn, I think it is fun trying to build while the other players are trying to knock them down. There is also some strategy in choosing which towers to build on your turn. You only have two of every type of block so you will likely only be able to complete two or three towers in a turn. Choosing which towers to build can become important since if you don’t plan ahead you could build a tower and then be unable to find another tower that you can build with the blocks you have remaining. I would recommend coming up with your strategy ahead of time because you will have trouble forming a strategy when the dice start flying and you have to fix towers that are knocked down.
The most interesting part of playing as the builder is the Mega Tower. It is quite tempting to try and build the Mega Tower since if you are able to complete it and keep it standing you automatically win the game. There is a reason that it is an automatic win though since it is quite hard. You need to build quickly and have some luck with the saboteurs missing in order to succeed in building the Mega Tower. It actually isn’t hard to complete the tower but it is really hard keeping it upright. Unless the saboteurs do a terrible job at shooting their dice they are going to knock down the Mega Tower at least once. If the tower is knocked down near the end of your turn you basically have no chance at completing it in time since there just isn’t enough time to rebuild it a second time before time runs out.
While I liked playing as the builder there is one thing I didn’t really like. I like the idea that you have to build the towers on the tile corresponding to the tower you are trying to build. This makes it easier for the saboteurs to knock down and also adds some strategy since you might choose towers to build based on where they are located on the table. The problem with building on the tiles though is the fact that once you place the blocks on the card you cover up the picture of the tower you need to build unless you build the tower on one of the corners of the card. I really don’t know how this could have been remedied but it adversely affects the game.
If Kaboom sounds familiar to some people, the Blue Orange Games version that I am reviewing is a new version of a game released in 2013 by HUCH! & Friends called Ka-Boom. The two versions of the game share a lot in common and only have a couple slight differences. First the original version included a large dice that the Blue Orange Games version does not have. I think this is for the best since it is already quite easy to knock down the towers and a larger dice would have made it even easier. The “earthquake” rule from the original game is also eliminated in the Blue Orange Games version of the game. The “earthquake” rule allowed that saboteur players to bang on the table in certain situations. I think this was also a good change since the old rule probably made it way to easy to knock down towers.
The biggest change between the two versions is the fact that the newer version uses rounds while the original version ended when one player reached sixteen points. While I didn’t play the game with the sixteen point rule, I think the round rule is much better. By playing a certain amount of rounds all of the players get to play as the builder the same number of times so no one gets an unfair advantage. Also by using rounds you can make the game as short or as long as you want by adjusting the number of rounds.
While I seem to make this comment with every Blue Orange Games board game that I review, I have to commend Blue Orange Games for the quality components included in Kaboom. For a game that retails for around $20 you really can’t ask for higher quality components. The dice, launchers, and blocks are all made out of wood and I have always been a sucker for wood components in board games. The components appear quite sturdy and despite most of the components having to endure a lot of wear and tear, I think the components should do a good job lasting for quite a while. The tiles might have somewhat basic artwork but they work well to illustrate the towers and are quite thick.
Should You Buy Kaboom?
While not perfect Kaboom is a fun little dexterity game. Kaboom is not meant to be taken seriously and if you take that into account as you play the game you should have fun with Kaboom. While it is considerably easier than I was expecting, there is just something satisfying about launching the dice and knocking down towers that another player is trying to build. While not as fun as playing as a saboteur, it is also enjoyable trying to keep your towers standing as the other players are trying to knock them down. Add in the quality components and there is a lot to like about Kaboom. The only real complaints I have with the game is that is a game best played in short doses and it is kind of annoying building a tower on a tile and having that tower cover up the picture showing you what you are trying to build.
As far as a recommendation I leave you with this. Does a game where one player builds towers while the other players shoot dice at them sound interesting to you? If the answer is no, Kaboom probably won’t be for you. If the answer is yes though I think you will have a lot of fun with Kaboom.
If you would like to purchase Kaboom you can find it on Amazon.
We would like to thank Blue Orange Games for the review copy of Kaboom used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.