The Perfect Wave is a hand management, drafting card game by The Op. This game lets you grab your board to paddle out in the ocean, and surf your way to greatness. The game is for 2-4 players and takes under an hour to play. You create a wave by drafting cards to make a sequence, and then earn points for how long you can surf it, how well you can surf it by performing tricks, and how good the wave is itself. This is a very thematic game that would be great for players as young as 8 to as old as you can imagine.
What’s in the Box?
- 1 Pier Board
- 4 Player Boards
- 72 Wave Cards
- 72 Maneuver Cards
- 30 Goal Cards
- 4 Player Aid Cards
- 4 Surfer Tokens
- 12 Wax Tokens
- 2 Surfboard Tokens
- 1 First Player Standee
How’s it Play?
Players perform actions on their turn to setup their board to score points by sequencing their wave cards, performing tricks, and completing goals. You play in clockwise order until the last card of the maneuver deck is placed out.
Players have 2 action points to use on their turn, and players have a player aid card to help guide them throughout the game. Players can use one of their action points to pick up a wave card. This can be placed in their hand or played out face down on a spot on their player board. Players try to place cards in an ascending sequence to make a good wave, and then try to surf that wave by performing tricks.
Another action that costs 1 action point is drawing a maneuver card to either keep in your hand or to play out face down above the player board. Paddle out cards are performed immediately and cause your surfer to move one space. You only score points with the cards according to how far your surfer gets to the righthand side of your playing area. So if your surfer doesn’t get out too far right, all cards to the right of it are not used.
Players can use an action to play a wave or trick card from their hand, this sometimes makes for some better planning rather than hoping you line up cards when placing them out straight from receiving them. Tricks have requirements, and if those are fulfilled you gain extra points.
You can use your wax token to move your surfer out one spot or to take a wave card from the discard pile. Another use for the wax tokens is to use it to discard all wave cards and deal out 4 new ones face up.
Two action points can be used to activate a public goal, placing the surfboard token under it and gaining possible points for fulfilling it. 2 action points can also be used to take a wax token from the supply.
Players perform their actions and then cards are placed back in the gaps when needed, and one of each card the is discarding as the waves move forward.
Now, timing matters in this game because you want to move your surfer further to the right to score more points, but you can only place out cards in spots where your surfer is currently located and to its right. So there is a push-pull type mechanic that makes planning even more important.
When the last maneuver card is placed out, the game ends with all players taking the same amount of turns. Players flip over their cards and find their best wave that will score them the most points. There are 6 ways to score points. The points from spots used on your player board is one, and the points for having sets or runs of wave cards in your wave is another. So, you want to plan to get similar numbers to run together or to have sequential numbers placed next to each other. Tricks are then scored, public goals, and then private goals. The player with the most points, wins the game.
This is not just another recycled card game with a new theme. The idea of cards crashing in and falling off the board like a wave is just so thematic and makes it so you can cycle through the cards. Then players place cards in order to make points. The hardest thing is knowing when to swim out as the game ends when the stack of maneuver cards end, so timing things out to get the most points is very important.
Technically a player could focus on just number cards and getting their surfer out to the far side of their board, or they can not go as far out and use trick cards to get points. Each way can lead to victory depending on how well players place their cards.
The game is direct, players continue to be engaged during play because cards come and go so fast, and you are trying to hope for certain cards. The game is different each time playing because of how random the cards are, but the idea is always the same. Strategies will change depending on available cards, which adds another layer of replayability.
Overall, this is a fast board game, though it might be a little longer than a typical card game. The game is very thematic, which is fun. I like the strategy in players having two choice to make each turn in order to start “catching waves” and performing the best tricks. Card placement is very important in the game, and trying to have your cards and surfer set in the best position when the game end is triggered, which add layers of strategy that I enjoy as well.
I have played many games from The Op, and this one is one of their better games that will continue to get to my gaming table.
Images via The Op
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