Your construction lot: a grey platform, surrounded by grass. Your materials: an assortment of colored blocks. Your foreman: a rather unbalanced fellow who pushes you to get the building done first… or else your opponent can detonate the TNT under your platform and it all goes up in a jumble and a clatter.
This is Build or BOOM.
Welcome back to Boter Reviews Something, where I review games labeled for ages 4+ even though I sometimes have a mental age that doesn’t quite qualify. Today’s project: Build or BOOM.
Let’s set some expectations from the get-go – this game is definitely a kid’s game. That’s not to say that adults won’t enjoy it too, but it lacks the depth of even most board games. And you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes you just want to build a tower and blow stuff up.
/me glances at Minecraft shortcut on desktop
In Build or BOOM, you and your opponent are both trying to build a structure, as outlined on a blueprint card, before the other can do so. When you finish, you slam the dynamite-shaped air bladder connected to your opponent’s platform, sending their construction flying.
The Good: It’s fun! It’s fun to build a project with your hands, racing against a similarly-skilled opponent, and then to slam the air bladder. The blueprint cards are very clear and easy to read, and all have fun names (“Do You Even Lift”, “Barrel of Monkeys”). The game goes very fast – the first to ten points wins, and each round is under a minute, meaning you’re looking at maybe twenty minutes for a full game.
Setup is super easy. With all of the pieces, Build or BOOM reminded me of the old Mouse Trap game, but the pieces are all so big that it’s very easy to just lay them in a box in the middle of the players to draw from, and to tuck them back into the box (though you may want to get a bit Tetris when putting them away if you want the box to close well).
The Bad: Pieces are going to be so easy to lose. Whether by just handling or by a construction getting blown up at the edge of a table, we went crawling multiple times in one game to try to find blocks. Again, to draw the Mouse Trap comparison, try to remember how many times you lost those darn marbles. This is probably the single biggest frustration in the game.
There are others, too, but I don’t think they’ll be as annoying to the target players. The Foreman pieces aren’t balanced that well and constructing something with them was more frustrating than fun. After a few blueprints we decided to just not use any with him in them, and immediately we started having more fun. Also worth pointing out is that slamming the detonator is fairly likely to make your own tower fall down, so you’ll be going on trust that your opponent properly constructed their tower before it came down.
And there’s a bit of unclarity in the rules: you’re supposed to build your tower, then blow up the other person’s. At one point while playing, one of us finished the tower first but I finished right after, and we both detonated at the same time. House rules will be somewhat important, which sounds pretentious in a kid’s game but really you just need to lay down the ground rules – “first to build wins” or “doesn’t matter, you blew each other up, that’s a tie, no points awarded” – just so there’s agreement. Or just figure it out as you go along; it’s a simple game without a ton of time investment, so that’s cool too.
Aside from the ease of losing pieces, these negatives are all ones that are really easy to work with. Make up some rules, decide not to use the Foreman, that sort of thing. In the end, the game is simple, quick, and fun. What more do you need?
A fun game for kids, quick and simple to play. Longevity of the set is in question with the prospect of losing pieces and the air bladder/hosing maybe getting punctured, but that’s what readily available replacements are for.
Build or BOOM
Designer: Proto. Toys
Set of replacement blocks: $9.99
Platform and Boomer replacement: $4.99
Expansion pack of blueprints: $6.99