Despite the slightly dodgy-sounding name (or is it just me?), Splash Party is a game that the whole family can play; you can learn it in minutes and play it almost as quickly. It’s a super fast, gently competitive game of bluff and survival, in which players pick up a wooden meeple and move it around the pool according to the number beneath its feet (so either 1, 2 or 3 spaces). If the space it ends up in contains another meeple, that meeple is knocked into the pool and eliminated.
The thing is, each player has been secretly assigned one of the meeple colours at the beginning of the game. So they’re going to try and ensure that their three meeples aren’t all knocked into the pool, because then they’re out of the game. Another way to eliminate a player is to get to the diving board: reach this space with a meeple and you can try and guess another player’s colour. Get it right and they’re out – no more pool partying for them – but get it wrong, and the guesser themselves are eliminated.
When there’s only two colours of meeple left (or three colours in a two player game), the one closest to the diving board is crowned King or Queen of the Splash Party!
One of the most immediately appealing things about Splash Party is its functional tin packaging, which houses the injection moulded board and into which you drop the pool itself (a nicely thick piece of cardboard). Though there are stickers to apply to the meeples which gives them great, pool-themed looks, my group has decided not to use these – any misalignment could easily result in a meeple being identifiable, allowing players more familiar with the game to essentially cheat by knowing which number is under which meeple.
The game moves so quickly – with only three meeples on a team – that it’s hard to do much bluffing, but once the pool is a little more full you can sometimes spot a player deliberately avoiding to sink a specific coloured meeple. Though player elimination is usually a big no-no for me, with games of Splash Party over and done usually in no more than five minutes, it’s hardly too much of a drag to observe the action rather than be a part of it – especially when it’s very entertaining to see the game heading towards a conclusion.
Far from the most strategic game and certainly – unlike the pool it comes with – lacking in depth, Splash Party is nonetheless a really fun little game. It won’t break the bank and it won’t intimidate or confuse anyone with tons of complicated rules. It’s suitable for players of all ages and the excellent presentation gives it a nicely tactile, pleasingly designed feel too. Hardly ground-breaking or essential, but a really fun, really well presented and compact game – which is travel-sized too – in its own right; one that you’ll always find time to play just one more game of.
You can purchase Splash Party from Amazon here.
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