There are water balloon games…and then there are water balloon WAR games. The difference? A nice water balloon game can be competitive but gentle, fun and relaxed. But a water balloon war game is when backyard games get serious. Be prepared to run, slide, jump and hide…anything to serve your team. Not for the faint-hearted, these games are sure to get rivalries going and your adrenaline rushing! (Safety first though, of course, the only weapons here are balloons and water…and maybe some slimy stuff).
Prepare to get messy! You will certainly need old clothes for this one, or bathing suits which you don’t mind getting a bit dirty or stained. Be sure to get any outdoor furniture or pets out of the way if you don’t want them to get sprayed with color.
How many people: at least 6, but the more the better
What you need: water balloons, water, washable dye, food coloring or liquid water-color paints, a bucket to store filled balloons
How to play:
Prep: Get into two teams and assign each team with an equal amount of colors. You can have just one color per team, or an even number of multiple colors if you want to. Fill an equal number of balloons with equal amounts of color, i.e. the red and blue team has 10 red balloons and 10 blue. The Green and yellow team has 10 yellow and 10 green etc. so that the game is fair from the start.
Prep tip: You can use whatever coloring agent you have, just make sure it’s non-toxic and safe for contact with skin. Don’t use pure paint or dye as you will have far too much of a mess on your hands! Dilute the colors so that the color is clearly defined, yet pale enough to wash off grass and concrete.
Play: Each team goes to opposite ends of the playing field for a “huddle” where they will plan their attack. Each team will assign a “scapegoat” who will hide in a concealed area on their team’s side. For example, behind a tree, under a table, behind a shed. The “scapegoat” will go to his/her hiding place and stay there during the game…just hoping their teammates will protect them!
Once the whistle is blown (or just someone yelling “go!”), the teams will work together to make sure that one team member at a time gets beyond the opposing team’s boundaries, so they can pelt the opposing scapegoat with their team’s color. The remaining team members on the “war field” will protect their own scapegoat by keeping opposing members away by pelting them with balloons.
Here are the rules in a nutshell:
- You can only hit a player below the neck, preferably the torso
- Only one player at a time is allowed beyond the boundaries into the opposite team’s scapegoat hiding place
- Each balloon has to be thrown from at least 2 meters away from the player
- Players can protect their teammates by getting in between them and an opposite player who is about to strike
- If you are hit 3 or more times when you are on the field you have to sit out for 2 minutes, this means your team is weakened and the other team has more power against you
- Whoever strikes the opposite team’s scapegoat with 3 balloons first, wins
- You can alter the rules so that the team who can fully “paint” the opposing scapegoat with color wins. An old white t-shirt works best for this version.
You can really go for it with this game and add on more rules and tricks as you go along!
Technically, you can play this without the color…but it makes it so much more fun when colors are involved.
Soak the trenches
This is a real strategy game. You will need to get creative when making your “trenches”, but that’s half the fun! This game is perfect for nighttime, when the darkness makes for better camouflage and stealthy moves.
How many people: at least 4, but the more the better, teams of 4 would be ideal
What you need: water balloons, water, makeshift trenches from: tables or chairs with sheets draped over, blowup paddling pools turned on their side and propped up with baseball/cricket bats/sticks or branches. As long as your team is concealed and has a place to hide, anything goes.
How to play:
Get sorted into two even teams. Assign each team a base on opposite sides of the “field” or wherever it is you are playing. Each team will then make their trench with whatever materials there are at hand. You might even have to find sticks and branches and drape an old blanket over them!
Mark out the boundary lines. The space from where you can throw a balloon at the opposing trench must be 1 meter away from the trench, but within 3 meters of it. So, in other words, you have a 2meter gap from where you can throw a balloon.
Once your trenches are built, huddle into the trench and get your game plan sorted. Here are the general rules of the game:
- The aim of the game is to pelt the opposing team’s trench with as many water balloons as you can
- You have to be within 3 meters of the trench in order to throw the grenade, (water balloon) so you can’t just throw them from behind your trench, but you also have to be 1 meter away from the trench, so you can’t get into or directly next to the trench
- If you are hit with a water balloon while you are on the field, approaching the opposing trench, you have to retreat back to your trench and cannot throw a balloon at the opposing trench until the next time you venture out
- Only ONE person from each team can be on the field at once
- No one who is in the trench can throw a balloon, only the players on the field can shoot
- The job of the trench-dwellers is to keep an eye out on the field to see if the coast is clear and when to send the “soldier” on to the field
- The soldiers on the field can only throw a balloon at the opposing soldier if they are not in the “throwing boundary”, so you must time your attack to get them before they reach it. If they get to the boundary before you hit them, then you have to accept their shot at your trench
- Only ONE balloon at a time can be shot at a trench
- Soldiers can only take TWO balloons onto the field with them: one to pelt the opposing soldier, and one to pelt the opposing trench
- Each team must start out with an equal number of balloons
There are two ways a team can win, you can switch-up the rules to keep it interesting:
- The team who uses up all of their balloons first, loses. This means that you have to be really strategic with your shots, while still getting the opposing trench soaked, and the opposing members sent back to their trench
- OR you can make it so that the game ends when ALL balloons from both teams are gone, and the winner is the team who has the driest trench
Secret slime wars
This game is all about thrill and chance. It’s kind of like those Doritos with the super-spicy chips dotted through the bag…well this one is the water-balloon version, and “spicy chip” is the slime-filled balloon!
How many people: at least 4
What you need: water balloons, water, “slime”. Slime can be made out of anything you want, just make sure it’s non-toxic and safe for contact with skin. You can make it really gross by mixing together random kitchen ingredients like peanut butter/flour/mayo/soy sauce/yoghurt. OR you can make a nicer one with flour and water, or even use store-bought slime.
How to play:
Sort yourselves into 2 even teams. Make sure you have enough water balloons filled up for each team. Each team has ONE secret slime balloon in their ammo stash. You must make sure that the secret slime balloon is dispersed among the regular water-filled balloons so you don’t know you’ve got it until you throw it.
When the “go” signal is called, the teams must get into a straight line opposite each other. Go down the line and each team member gets to throw a balloon at the opposing member standing directly opposite them. Before each balloon is thrown, the team who is getting hit must vote “water”, or “slime”. If you vote “slime” and you get hit with water, then that’s okay, just keep going. But if you vote “water” and get “slime”, then the other team gets to fill another slime balloon to add to their stash. If you call “slime” and get “slime”, then your team gets to fill another slime balloon for the other team to get hit with, so then they have 2 coming their way instead of one.
Keep going until all balloons are gone, and the team who has been hit with the least slime balls, wins!
The trick to this game is all deciding unanimously on whether to call “water” or “slime”. It’s hard because if there has been a long chain of “water” balloons, then you assume the next has a higher chance of being slime…but you could be totally wrong!
These water balloon war games are more hardcore than regular water balloon games. The stakes are much higher, the strategies are more complicated, and the teamwork must be even more strong. These are great games to play with a group of friends when you’ve got lots of time on your hands and a hot, sunny day to enjoy.