The summer is here! The stereo is blasting out ‘Summertime’ by Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, interspersed with Wham’s ‘Club Tropicana’ and The Lovin Spoonful’s ‘Summer in the City’. You’re spending your days poolside basking in the sun. The scene is set for a game of Splash Party.
This family game was originally launched in Germany as Ab in den Pool! in 1999. Since then it has had various pseudonyms, including Plouf Party, Przechlapane!, Bauchplatscher and here in the UK, Splash Party.
Splash Party revolves, as you might’ve guessed, around a swimming pool. The game comes in a really neat tin which doubles up as the playing board. To set up the game, you place coloured meeples randomly around the edge of the board.
At the start of the game, each of the 3-6 players is randomly allocated a disc, this will be their secret colour for the game. The aim of Splash Party is to be the last meeple standing and the closest to the diving board. To achieve this goal players take turns in lifting their meeple and seeing the number beneath (1,2 or 3). This, for me, is very reminiscent of playing hook-a-duck at fairs and I do enjoy the pang of nostalgia around it. The meeple then moves left or right around the pool that many squares. If another meeple occupies that space you unceremoniously push them into the pool and take their space. The next player takes their turn in the same way but cannot move a meeple that was moved by the preceding player. It really is as simple as that.
If a player loses all three meeples of their colour they are eliminated and announce such. Similarly if you take a meeple past the diving board you can opt to guess the colour of another player. If your deduction is correct all their meeples fall into the pool and they are out the game. If your guess is incorrect your meeples end up in the drink and you are out.
How it actually Plays
Splash Party is a fast-paced fun children’s game, the tin says six plus but my five year old plays this competitively with no issues at all. Despite its appeal as a children’s game, I will say it is not without some strategy.
Remembering the numbers beneath the meeples already played is a bonus. Children will also quite quickly learn that they will not get away with only moving their own colour. Bluffing in this way is essential, you need to position your meeples carefully but not arouse suspicion so that your colour does not get guessed by someone passing the diving board.
The compact size of this game will make it a winner. Everything fits inside the small tin and that is the footprint of the game too. It doesn’t sprawl like some other small box games such as Twin It! or Bandido. This makes Splash Party ideal for taking on your travels. You could literally play this on the fold down table of an aeroplane (turbulence allowing). Similarly I can imagine children playing this in a restaurant, or at the beach, or frankly most places you can think of.
Splash Party’s tin/playing board is really nice quality. The meeples are vibrant, bright colours and exactly what you want for a kid’s game.
The rules are clear and concise but then again this is not a complex game to learn how to play.
So what’s not to like? Well, if I were to have a gripe it would come in the form of the stickers that you will want to apply to each meeple. These give a characteristic and personality to each colour, from the Baywatch swimsuit for red to the unicorn inflatable of the white. Plus you have the numbers underneath each meeple.
The catch is, you are required to stick the stickers on yourself. For many this will be a breeze, but for me, stickers like this fill me with dread. Lining them up straight and neat is too much pressure for me to bear. Couple that with the one time only place and stick method that has to be adopted so that the stickers don’t start peeling days later and I have myself a sweat-inducing panic! Okay, I know it’s not that bad and fortunately there isn’t many to do, but my heart sank a little when I saw the sheet of stickers!
The positive to this is that they do look much better with the stickers on, so it is worth the effort. The stickers also make it accessible for colour-blind players.
Final Thoughts on Splash Party
I’m not a big fan of games with player elimination, especially for children. Splash Party however handles this in two ways which means it doesn’t bother me at all. The first is the secret identity of each player’s colour, this means it never feels vindictive when you are shoved into the pool. The other is a quick play time, so you are never out for long before the game resets.
This game has been a hit with my three boys. They are regularly found playing it together, as it is suitable for all three with no age disadvantage. Its transportability similarly means as parents it is one of the first in the bag, along with Dobble, when we are going out and about.