As a board gamer with young kids, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to hook my family into enjoying the hobby with me. The trouble with most kids games is that they offer little in the way of interest for adult players. Splash Party, whilst clearly aimed at younger players, has just enough about it to interest everyone for its brief duration.
The components, first and foremost, are fantastic. Each copy consists of a metal tin that makes up both the box and the board, and when opened, you’ll find a plastic insert nestled into the base of the tin that creates a rim around the edge. This rim, combined with a cardboard insert that goes into the recessed middle make up a compelling swimming pool.
The only other components are eighteen meeples (complete with swimwear stickers applied before your first game) in six colours, an instruction manual, and six tokens that match the colours of the meeples. For just over a tenner, I really can’t fault the quality of the content here and even though this is a small box, it’s a really attractive one.
The object of the game is super simple — each player will draw a token in secret, assuming the role of the meeples that match that colour. They will then try to ensure that one or more members of their team are the last meeples standing beside the pool, but the other players must not find out what colour they are, or they may be able to eliminate them from the game.
Once underway, Splash Party is simple. The current player chooses any meeple (whether their colour or not) and then looks underneath it. On the bottom will be a stickered number from one to three. The player then counts that many spaces around the pool in either direction and knocks in the meeple occupying that space, replacing it with the one they just picked up.
If this movement should mean that the player moves the meeple past the diving board space, then they may guess at the colour being played by one of the other players. If they are correct, then that player is eliminated — but if they are wrong, it is them who will be counted out. In all games, meeples of all colours are used, so at anything less than six players, there will always be some “dummy” meeples.
Splash Party can be anything from simple and deterministic to tense and fraught with misdirection, depending on who you play it with. The younger the player, the more likely they are to repeatedly choose meeples of their own colour, or to give tells that older the players will pick up on. With older players, the experience is flipped, and what begins as light-hearted fun soon becomes a battle of wills.
Obviously, because Splash Party is designed for family play, it often becomes a reality that these two different approaches merge together, with kids (like my own) playing with older players. The first four or five games (assuming you don’t let the kids win) will go the inevitable way of the older players, but if Splash Party has taught me one thing — it’s that kids soon learn how to be devious, regardless of their age!!
Splash Party is therefore a game that I enjoy either with the kids and the family directly, or as an observer when they have friends over to play and want to show off what they know. As a product, it’s a really nice package for the price, and perhaps the only downside I can see is that the number stickers are already starting to come off — but writing them back on in marker is a simple fix for that.
You can purchase Splash Party on Amazon.