The Perfect Wave

The Perfect Wave

Surfing originated in ancient Polynesia. But it has evolved from riding waves on traditional wooden boards to a global phenomenon celebrated for its athleticism, adventure, and connection to nature.

The Perfect Wave is a completive surfing game designed by Jason Mowery and Chase Williams, published by The Op. In this vibrant world of sun-soaked beaches and crashing waves, players embark on a strategic journey, drafting and placing cards to construct the most dazzling sequence of tricks during an epic ride on a long wave. Showcase radical skills to outperform your opponents and ride the perfect wave to victory. 2-4 players can partake in a surf session that lasts about 30-60 minutes for ages 8+.

The Perfect Wave setup
Set up for four players.


Choose a start player – whoever has most recently been to a beach. Take turns around the table. On your turn, you can spend two action points, in any way you choose. Unspent actions don’t carry to future turns, and cards cannot be moved once they are placed on your board.

1 AP Actions

  • Take a Wave/Maneuver card into hand – Choose any face up Wave or Maneuver card on the Pier or top of the respective deck.
  • Take a Wave/Maneuver card and play it – Take any face up Wave or Maneuver card or a card from the top of the respective deck and play it face down to your board. If it’s a Paddle Out (Maneuver) card, immediately move your surfer one Paddle space to the right, then discard the card.
  • Play a Wave or Trick card from hand – Play the card to your player board face-down.
  • Play a Paddle Out card from hand – Move your surfer one space to the right and discard the card.
  • Move your Surfer – Discard one Wax token to move your surfer one space to the right.
  • Take a Wave card from the discard pile – Discard one Wax token to search the Wave discard pile for a card of your choice. Reveal it to all players. Then you may play the Wave card or add it to your hand.

2 AP Actions

  • Activate a Public Goal – Place a Surfboard token from the supply below any Public Goal card; it cannot be moved. Only two Public Goals may be activated during a game.
  • Gain One Wax token – Gain a Wax token from the supply

Free actions

  • Reveal new Wave cards on the Pier – Discard a Wax token to discard all the Wave cards on the Pier and draw four new Wave cards face up.

After spending Action Points, players prepare the Pier for the next turn. Discard the card furthest to the right into its corresponding discard pile, slide the remaining cards to the right without altering their sequence, and replenish any empty spaces with new cards from their respective decks. If the last card in the Wave deck is drawn, shuffle the discard pile to form a new deck.

When the last Maneuver card is drawn, the end of the game is triggered. Shuffle the Maneuver deck and continue playing until all players have had an equal number of turns.


After all players’ final turns, it’s time to surf your wave! Discard any Trick cards not above a Wave and all cards to the right of your surfer.

Ride the wave until you wipeout or run out of Wave cards. Starting with your surfer’s current location, check the Wave card at that location, then move to the left. If the revealed number exceeds any previously revealed number, you Wipeout. Discard the card with the higher number, along with all Wave and Trick cards to the left. If an empty wave space is encountered, you’ve finished. Discard all Wave and Trick cards above and to the left of the empty space.

Players can earn victory points in six different ways.

  1. Wave cards – After riding the wave, score the number of VP points shown in the bottom circles of all slots that still have a Wave card.
  2. Sets – Score more for a series of at least three adjacent Wave cards all with the same number.
  3. Runs – Score for a series of at least three adjacent Wave cards with consecutive numbers.
  4. Trick Cards – Score points if you met the requirement; otherwise, discard and score nothing.
  5. Public Goals – Score the points shown if you meet the requirement on an activated Public Goal.
  6. Private Goals – Meet the requirement of your private Goal and score points.


The Perfect Wave blends two of my favorite game mechanics – drafting and set collection – into a groovy mix that’s truly unique. What sets it apart is the way players slot the drafted cards to score at the game’s end, making every decision count. From waves to tricks, it’s all about strategic placement of your cards.

This player has a really long wave – if the numbers are in order!

Just like in surfing, timing is everything. Cards on the Pier shift each turn, adding tension and urgency. You can’t rely on a card being around next time since Pier cards drop off after every player’s turn.

Stay balanced by playing trick cards that work well with your wave, and paddling out to advancing your surfer. Stay still and and you’ll wipe out during final scoring! Both Private and Public Goal cards are worth a significant amount of points, so work on your Private Goal when you can, and activate a Public Goal when the timing is right.

Since only two Public Goals can be activated in the game, it’s a powerful action to take if you can recall what your opponents drafted!

Surfboard above public goal "Reveal a wave exactly six cards long."
Activating an Public Goal

Surf Theme For Families

Everything gels in this theme, and The Perfect Wave boasts a tubular presence, requiring plenty of table space. Adding board wax was a delightful choice, especially as it enables the surfer to paddle out or fetch cards from the discard pile.

The Perfect Wave scales well across multiple player counts, but I enjoyed it most with three players. The faster cycling of cards on the pier kept the game cruising, and required quick strategy adjustments every turn.

The Perfect Wave is family friendly, but there’s a lot going on so it might take a little while for the younger kiddos to hang ten. Thankfully there’s a player aid to guide everyone along.

Ready to surf the dawn patrol? Pick up a copy of The Perfect Wave directly from The Op, find it on Amazon, or get it at your friendly local game store.

The Op provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of The Perfect Wave for this review.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

The Perfect Wave
  • 8/10
    Art - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Mechanics - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Family Fun - 7/10


Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-4
Playtime: 30-60 minutes