How to Play WaveLength
Place the color labels (and “you choose” and “they choose” labels) on one die and the number labels on the other one. Give each player an answer pad and a pen or pencil to write with. Then divide into teams of two and have each team pick a different color token to place on the start space. The team with the oldest player goes first and play always goes in a clockwise direction.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is to score points by matching your partner’s top 5 rankings for things like top TV dinner brands, Beatles songs, or famous Andrews. Scoring points allows you to move your token around the board. The first team to reach the finish space and match their partner’s #1 answer wins the game. In WaveLength, “top 5” has no meaning outside of whatever you think it means. There are no wrong answers, even if you name your unremarkable second cousin a “famous Andrew.” Even if the answers are factually incorrect, as long as you match your partner you can still score points.
Every round begins with the rolling team picking a card from the tray and rolling both dice. The color die determines the color of the question (unless “you choose” or “they choose” is rolled) while the number die determines the point value for that round. The color die has the following possibilities on it:
- Yellow, pink, green, and blue sides-Play the question on the card that matches the color rolled.
- You Choose-The rolling team gets to pick which of the four questions on the card will be played this round.
- They Choose-The non-rolling teams get to pick which question to play this round.
The scoring die only has two possibilities, 1x and 2x. 1x doesn’t affect scoring at all while 2x doubles the points awarded to the rolling team for that round (non-rolling teams don’t get the benefit of it). After a question has been selected, turn over the sand timer and players from all teams have 60 seconds to secretly write down their top five answers. Answers can be written in any order as long as you eventually number which one is #1, #2, etc. When time is up, teams compare their answers starting with the rolling team.
Each match is worth one or two points (unless the rolling team rolled the 2x on the number die in which case they are worth two or four points but only for the rolling team) depending on whether or not they matched on rank as well. If they match in rank (for example both players ranked the Green Bay Packers the #1 sports team), they are worth two points. Otherwise, if they don’t match in rank they are worth one point. Answers that don’t match at all are unsurprisingly worth zero points. Non-rolling teams also get to score points for matches. Teams advance their token one space for each point earned in the round.
Whenever the currently rolling team starts their turn on a “wave war” space, the rules for the round are different. In wave war rounds, teams are competing for the highest score in the round since only the highest scoring team will score points and be allowed to move their token. In these rounds, the rolling team only rolls the color die (the you choose and they choose sides of the dice still work the same way). Other than competing for the highest score and only rolling the color die, everything else is done the same way. Teams are still trying to match each other, they still get 60 seconds to do so, and so on. Once the round is complete and the highest scoring team is determined, move their token the amount of spaces they earned. If two or more teams tie for the highest score in the round, they both get to move the amount earned while other teams stay put.
Once one or more teams have reached the finish space, they will have one more test before they win the game. Play is stopped and the team(s) on the finish space will immediately go to the Winner Round. They pick a card and choose the question they want to try to match on. Both players then write down their #1 answer to the question and compare their answers. If they have matched, they win the game. If not, the team moves back five spaces and play continues where it left off. If two or more teams reach the finish space at the same time, the Winner Round is played simultaneously. Each team gets to pick which question they will play. If only one team matches, that team wins the game. If no teams match they each go back five spaces and play continues. If multiple teams match, any teams that didn’t match (if any) go back five spaces and the matching teams play another Winner Round until there is only one surviving team.
My Thoughts on WaveLength
First of all, I will point out that WaveLength is very similar to Richard Garfield’s What Were You Thinking?, which we played and reviewed about a month and a half ago. While there are some minor differences as well, the biggest difference is that this is a team game while in What Were You Thinking? you are trying to match other people in order to avoid becoming the loser. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree but I personally prefer WaveLength by a very slight amount (so slight that they still wound up with the exact same ratings though), mostly due to my dislike of the other types of questions in What Were You Thinking?. I also tend to like cooperative games more than competitive ones, so playing with a partner is a plus over an individualistic game.
While WaveLength is a decent enough game, I will flat out admit that I had trouble coming up with many positives about it. It is an extremely generic match your partner party game with some problems. First of all, I dislike the addition of the scoring dice. It just adds a ton of luck to the game for no good reason. If a team gets a 2x side in a round where they score a lot of points, it is almost to the point of being overpowered. Doubling the amount of spaces you get just because you lucked out on a dice roll is not a good mechanic in my opinion. Theoretically, if you get a category where you and your partner are completely on the same wavelength and match everything correctly, you could get up to twenty spaces in a single round (almost half the board). While this is very unlikely to happen, it shows you just how OP this stupid mechanic could be.
Another problem with WaveLength is that the cards vary significantly in terms of difficulty. For example, things like favorite sports teams or TV shows would probably be pretty easy to match your partner as long as you know them at least semi-well. Since they are probably your friends or relatives, you probably have a lot in common with them so things like that should be pretty easy to match. Contrast that with cards like “famous John’s.” That might seem easy until you realize there are probably about 50 great answers for that question. Giving myself one minute to think, I came up with Johnny Appleseed, Pope John Paul, John Stockton, John Adams, John Hancock, Johnny Unitas, John F. Kennedy, Johnny Depp, John Lennon, John McCain, and Johnny Cash. There are easily at least 50 other great answers out there as well. Good luck matching more than one or two things on a card like that. Making the difficulty variance even worse, there are actually some cards where there are only 5-10 possibilities you could even come up with (making it easy to match at least three or four answers).
My final problem with WaveLength is that the whole concept of the game (seeing whether or not you are on the same wavelength as your partner) is completely pointless since nobody is going to write down their actual “top 5.” Instead, they are going to try to match their partner even if they have to put a TV show they hate (like say “The Big Bang Theory”) on their list since they know the partner they are playing with loves it. Even if all of the players in the game somehow did actually rank their top 5 for every round, it would give certain teams with very similar partners a huge advantage over teams who have less in common or are even polar opposites. Either way you play the game, its either unfair for certain teams or you are completely getting rid of the main concept of the game.
I spent the entire review portion of this post bashing WaveLength. That’s mainly just because the game is your typical match your partner party game that has been done approximately 50,000 times already. While the negatives I pointed out are legitimate, they are mostly pretty minor as long as you don’t mind a ton of luck in your games. Overall, WaveLength is a very average party game that I would say is on par with its very similar counterpart What Were You Thinking?.
Should You Buy WaveLength?
I personally don’t think either game is worth purchasing unless you are a huge fan of party games, but there is definitely no point to owning both What Were You Thinking? and WaveLength. If you like the concept of the two games, the decision on which to purchase will probably come down to whether you prefer a team (this game) or individual (What Were You Thinking?) game.