Bamboleo is very easy to learn. You take the wooden cone. You put the cork ball on top. Then you take the wooden disc and you put all 25 wooden pieces on top of the disc. If you are so minded, you can put some of the pieces on top of each other as well. Then, with great care and remarkably adept physical control, you place the piece-laden disc on top of the cork ball and slowly, slowly remove your hands, while praying that the disc doesn’t fall off. If you succeed, you are ready to play, and might just have had a religious experience. If not, you simply gather all 25 pieces, place them back on the disc, and hope that this time you’ll manage to get the thing to stay on.
OK, it’s not that hard to balance the disc on the cork ball. But it is just hard enough that you can congratulate yourself for having succeeded.
The rest of the game is about taking off just the right piece – the one that doesn’t make the whole thing come tumbling pointedly down. Once you touch a piece, you have to take it off, or admit momentary defeat and give up one of the pieces you’ve already collected. You can pass, but then you have to give one of your pieces to the next successful player. If the next player also passes, and the player after succeeds, she gets a piece from each of the players who’ve passed. You lose 4 pieces if you cause the disc to fall.
The manufacturer also recommends that you play the game in pairs, with the partners working together, and attempting to remove two pieces, simultaneously. Another variation requires a scale, so that the player whose accumulated pieces weigh the most wins.
This gives you just enough of a hint of yet more variations that you might consider exploring. What if you allowed each player to use two hands? What if a player could decide to add a piece, or move it somewhere else?
Some might find the game too challenging to be fun, unless they have a very good sense of self-deprecating humor. On the other hand, so to speak, most will appreciate the subtlety and delicacy of play, and will find the game to be major fun.
A round takes maybe 10 minutes, maybe 20. It can be played by 2 to 6 steady-handed players. Bamboleo is designed by Jacques Zeimet, manufactured in Germany by Zoch Verlag, and made available in the US by Lion Rampant Imports