"These promoted skeletons have traded in their joy of destroying walls for a joy of destroying defenses. Deploy them to take out pesky mortars and cannons!"
Level 1 & 2
Level 3 & 4
Balloons are the sixth overall troop unlocked in the Barracks, and is the first aerial unit unlocked in the Home Village.
Balloons are "promoted" Wall Breakers that now attack from a hot air balloon. They drop bombs on the villages with a large area splash damage, but can be easily taken out by any anti-air defenses (such as the Air Defense).
Balloons are slow-moving aerial units that do devastating amounts of splash damage to ground targets.
They are the slowest-moving and slowest-attacking troops in the game. However, they have the fourth-highest DPS in the game.
When they are defeated, Balloons drop to the ground then explode, dealing additional damage when destroyed.
Balloons prioritize defensive structures above all other targets, and will bypass all other types of enemy buildings and troops while any defenses remain on the battlefield. This is true even if they are under attack by enemy Clan Castletroops, heroes or Skeleton Trap skeletons. Note that like all troops that prioritize defenses, Balloons do not consider the Clan Castle to be a defense regardless of whether or not it contains enemy troops, but do consider the defending Grand Warden to be a defensive building. Once all defenses are destroyed, Balloons become like any other troop with no preferred target; they will attack the nearest building to them regardless of type, and will turn and attack enemy units if they become aware of any nearby.
Balloons can be used to kill Clan CastleTroops due to its death splash, although it primarily attacks defenses. Group all the Clan CastleTroops together and as the Balloon gets shot down by the Clan CastleTroops it will use the death splash to its advantage to kill the Archers and Wizards beneath. Note that this technique is completely ineffective when dealing with air troops, because its death splash only affects ground troops.
Important note: In many cases a single Balloon will take enough time to destroy the remaining buildings (commonly in the Single Player Campaign maps) that your game will time out due to inactivity, which will cause your attack to end prematurely and be unsuccessful (regardless of how many stars you had earned prior to that point). To prevent this from happening simply change the view every few moments (by panning or zooming).
When raiding other players, time is limited, so make sure you take out all the Air Defenses and other defensive buildings that can target Air Troops (e.g. Archer Towers, X-Bows) quickly so you can sweep up the raid.
Groups of three Balloons or more can usually overwhelm an Archer Tower. Nine Balloons is generally assured destruction unless there are Air Bombs or an Air Defense nearby.
If Elixir and time are not priorities, dropping a Dragon or a Lava Hound near an Air Defense before deploying Balloons can protect them from being attacked for a significant amount of time, much like Giants can occupy a Mortar.
You can also send Balloons after Air Defenses themselves, but this isn't recommended if the Balloons have a long distance to fly for they will be shot down quickly.
Although Balloons are slow moving, their damage is excellent; a good option is to speed them up with a Rage Spell or a Haste Spell. "Rage-Balloons" is an effective, if not often used, strategy.
Balloons deal a lot of damage on their own and the extra bonus from the Rage Spell usually isn't necessary and can be traded with two Haste Spells.
Early on, some people forget to build Air Defenses; Balloons (as well as Minions and Dragons if you can obtain them) are a great way to teach them the error of their ways.
Beware of Archer Towers, though; destroy or distract them first or they will destroy small groups of balloons quickly. Troops with high hitpoints, such as the Barbarian can be effective as distractions for Archer Towers.
Destroy the Air Defenses, as their sole purpose is to destroy air units (and they are very good at it). Mistakenly placing a Balloon while the Air Defenses remains active will cost you!
Balloons can be very strong if you know how to use them, but never train an army of only Balloons; Clan Castletroops can make short work of them! Bring other troops to help out in this department.
If the Clan Castle happens to have a ton of Archers or other low health troops in it, a single balloon can be used to take them all out with the death damage.
However, this usually does not occur, since in higher trophy ranges, higher health troops such as Wizards and Dragons would be more likely to occupy the Castle.
From a defensive standpoint, it takes quite a few Archers to take out the Balloon, which effectively weakens the raid. Its only major weaknesses are Dragons and Minions, both of which can destroy it easily without fear of counterattack. A single similar-level Wizard (up to level 3) is also able to destroy a Balloon due to its high damage output, but only if it has sufficient range to fire twice before the Balloon closes (the Balloon will destroy the Wizard in one shot). Beyond level 3, two Wizards would be required.
However, under normal circumstances, one should not be too conservative in trying to destroy a defensive Balloon, since it will be able to deal more damage and reduce the amount of time the attacker has before the raid ends.
At lower levels the Balloon has such low HP that it is vulnerable to being taken down by two Air Bombs. Consequently, a great way to defend against lower-leveled Balloons is using a grouped pair of Air Bombs; they can take an entire group out before they get a chance to get healed with a Healing Spell. However, this can also hurt your chances of winning if the bombs target a small group of balloons.
Appropriately, at each level the Balloon pilot resembles a similar-level Wall Breaker.
The Balloon undergoes significant visual changes at levels 3 and 6.
At level 3, the Balloon receives wooden armour attached to the sides of the envelope underneath its rigging.
At level 5, the Balloon's basket gain golden spikes attached to its side and the bombs it drops become golden in colour.
At level 6, the Balloon's red envelope turns to black with a white skull on it, and the wooden armor become gray-black steel.
At level 7, the Balloon's steel armor gets plated with miniature golden spikes, it also gains larger golden spikes that replace some of the old spikes. The bombs it drops look like the level 5 and 6 Bombs.
You can have a maximum of 48 Balloons at one time in a complete set of fully upgraded Army Camps. This number increases to 55 if you include the 7 that can fit into a level 6 or higher Clan Castle. On the battlefield, you can clone an additional 16 Balloons with two fully upgraded Clone Spells.
Due to a peculiarity of the Balloon attack, the first bomb a Balloon drops on an individual building does damage the instant it is dropped; the last bomb it drops will do no damage.
Balloons "hover around" slightly while they are attacking.
A level 6 or 7 Balloon has the same design on its exterior as a Seeking Air Mine (a black sphere with a broad white skull), which suits as both do extremely high damage per hit.
The 17 Apr 2013 update granted the Balloon the ability to explode and deliver splash damage when it is shot down.
Although piloted by former Wall Breakers, Balloons do not use kamikaze-style attacks (though they do still explode on death).
The Balloon's damage upon death is the same as its DPS.
While most levels of Balloons drop bombs that are carried by Wall Breakers of the same level, the level 6 and 7 Balloons do not drop barrels (see Upgrade Differences above).
Each of the four upgrades which upgrade the Balloon from level 2 to level 6 increases the Balloon's damage by 50%.
This is not true for level 7 Balloon, its damage being increased by only ~22.22%.
A level 7 Balloon under a level 5 Rage Spell can do 2,138.4 damage per shot.
Currently, the Balloon is the only air troop that has no wings.