EXAM – Summer is here! That means it’s time for picnics in the park and barbecues on the beach! When you gather outside with family and friends to eat and have fun, it’s the perfect time to put away your phone and pull out a lawn game or two for some friendly competition. In this review I will be looking at a new lawn game from Caliber Games, TourBall!
What is that?
TowerBall is a casual group lawn game where players take turns tossing hacky balls through holes in the pyramid-shaped tower for points. There are eight balls, and the tower can be disassembled and placed in the carrying case for easy transportation. Caliber Games is an American family business. their mission is to “strengthen families by facilitating shared in-person play experiences.”
What’s in the box?
- The four panels that make up the tower
- Eight soft hack balls (four green and four blue)
- Backpack carrying case
- Game guide
- support card
- Weight: 15.4 lbs for the tower, 18 lbs for the whole set
- Dimensions: Tower measures 29 inches high x 25 inches deep and wide; the balls are 2.5 inches in diameter
- Thickness: tower panels are 0.5 inch thick
- Material: the tower is made of PP plastic, the backpack is made of nylon and cotton, the balls are made of cotton mesh with plastic pellets inside.
- Players: In my humble opinion, this game is ideal for two to four players; Caliber says up to 16 players can play, but when it’s only eight balls, I don’t really understand.
Design and features
TowerBall is a unique shape game. It has four side panels that are put together to form a two and a half foot high pyramid. One panel has one hole, one has two, one has three, and the last has four; the more holes on a panel, the smaller they are. The sides are held together by a simple slotted locking mechanism, and the result is a very sturdy tower.
It even has a few handles on the top to make it easier to grip and move. It is a clean, simple and effective design.
Setup and Setup
Installation was simple. Two of the panels have connectors and two have slots. All I had to do was insert the panels with connectors into the panels with slots, then slide them up to lock into place.
I did this first for two of the panels, then added the third and finally the fourth. That’s all we can say about it. Once I get the hang of it, I can put the tower up or down in less than a minute.
The basic idea of the game is to get away from the tower and take turns trying to throw the balls through the holes. Game details can be found in the different game modes you can play. Caliber includes rules for three different game modes: TowerBall Classic, Around the Tower, and HORSE. In Classic ball trick, each side throws the four balls on each side and scores points according to the number of holes. If the side has two holes, for example, each throw is worth two points. The highest point total wins. Around the Tower requires each side to throw the balls through each hole in as few throws as possible. HORSE is the classic backyard basketball game brought to life for TowerBall. Players take turns calling trick shots which, if successful, force opponents to duplicate the shot. The first to miss five times is the HORSE.
The balls look like little round bean bags. Caliber calls them hacky bullets, and I guess that’s because they’re very similar to hacky bags that football players played in the 80’s. The cotton mesh seems to be very durable, and I think these balls will last a long time. I wish the Caliber website offered a way to purchase a few replacement balls, as I’m sure one or two will get lost (or eaten by the dog) eventually. In the meantime, I could pick up some generic hacky bags from Amazon.
One of the brilliant features of this game is that each of the panels lays completely flat when taken apart. This allows all four panels to slip easily into the carrying case, which has a pair of shoulder straps like a backpack. There is no designated place for hacky balls; I just have to throw them inside the case once the panels are in place. I wish Caliber had added a little pouch or pocket on the front of the case for the hacky balls.
While it may not be as comfortable as one of Osprey’s everyday backpacks, it’s the perfect way to transport TowerBall from the car to the beach or picnic site. Nice, especially since the panels really aren’t that heavy. I really appreciate Caliber’s foresight in designing an easy way to transport this game. This design also takes up minimal space when storing TowerBall in the garage or shed.
TowerBall will inevitably draw comparisons to other well-known lawn games, such as cornhole, croquet and pétanque. Although very different, these three games each have one important feature that TowerBall lacks: player interaction. In croquet, if you hit another player’s ball, you can kick it. In bocce, you can position your ball to block the other team’s path to the pallino. In the corn hole, you must avoid dropping the other team’s pouf into the hole. Unfortunately, there really is no equivalent to this concept in TowerBall, mainly due to the almost vertical surface of the tower. On the plus side, however, TowerBall has an equally important feature that each of these other games lacks: flexibility! While TowerBall comes with predefined modes and predefined rules, it is a game that absolutely demands internal rules and new creative modes. What if you put a ball through the small square hole at the top? That’s ten points! What if you could bounce it off the ground and into the hole? This doubles your score! What if you throw over it? That’s an extra point! How about a speed mode, where you will compete to get the balls into the holes as fast as possible? How about a blindfold mode, where you close your eyes while throwing? How about a monkey mode in the middle, where one player “guards” the tower and tries to stop the other four players from throwing their balls into the holes? The possible variations of this game are only limited by your imagination, and that’s what makes TowerBall amazing and gives it such replayability.
TowerBall’s current price is $190, which is admittedly quite steep, but there are two things to consider. First of all, this set is both sturdy and durable; although the panels scratch easily, it’s the kind of gadget that could last a generation or two. Second, it compares well to corn-hole boards. It is certainly true that TowerBall is much more expensive than bocce and croquet sets, which can be found for around $40. However, good quality regulation sized corn hole panels tend to start around $150 and can go up to $350. These points don’t make the price cheaper, but they do help give some perspective.
What I like
- Robust construction
- Easy to transport and store
- Flexible rules and game modes
- Summer fun!
What I would change
- Put extra hacky balls for sale on the online store
- Add a pocket on the carry case for hacky balls
TowerBall is a group lawn game that is sure to amuse family and friends while having a picnic or hanging out in the garden. Players toss small beanbags into various holes on the sides of the pyramid-shaped structure to earn points. The game itself is both durable and portable. While the gameplay lacks the player interaction of other lawn games, it makes up for it in creativity and flexibility. If you are looking for a new way to have fun outside this summer, I recommend this game.