Catch a wave in COWABUNGA, the card game of ups and downs
Box Size: 10.25″x7.75″x1.75″
Invented by Reinhard Staupe.
Ride high on the wave, dodging obstacles as you play number cards to raise or lower the water level. Once a tide gets too high, it starts dropping. Too low, and it goes back up again. Each time the tide changes, somebody receives an obstacle card. If you crash on someone else’s obstacle, it’s wipeout city for you, mate!
If you can finish the game with the least amount of wipeouts, you’ll be the big Cow-huna!
Includes 17 surfing cow pawns.
Review by Ben Rainbird, Actor and Games Enthusiast:
In Cowabunga, players assume the unlikely role of a group of surfboarding cows. The goal of the game is to stay riding on a wave that is perpetually rising and falling. The players govern the height of the wave by playing Wave Cards. There are 59 of these included in the game, and the play starts with all the players being dealt 3 Wave Cards each, and one Obstacle Card.
Each player briefly shows their Obstacle Card and the number on it to their opponents, who must try and remember the number, as the Obstacle Cards are then returned to players’ hands. As the wave rises, indicated by an arrow card showing the direction, each player takes it in turn to play Wave Cards onto the discard deck on the table. The numbers on the Wave Cards are added on to a running total, up to the value of 30. If the card you play causes the total to go over 30, then the player to your right gets to take another obstacle card. The arrow card then flips so that the wave starts to fall, and Wave Card values are subtracted from the total instead of added, as the wave falls.
Once someone sends the value of the wave down to below 10, then the same happens again – the player on their right gets an Obstacle Card and the wave is reversed, so it starts to rise again. The wave continues to rise and fall in this way throughout the game.
The Obstacle Cards are where the game’s memory element comes in. If a player puts down a card that makes the number of the wave the same as the number on one of the other players’ Obstacle Cards, then their cow has hit an obstacle and wiped out. Remembering other players’ numbers however, can be tricky, as you only get to see the numbers on them once. This makes it important to try and avoid being the one to send the wave to over 30 or under 10, seeing as this introduces more Obstacle Cards into play and makes it more likely that you’ll wipe out. Wiping out means you must take one of the little Cow Pawns from the table, and as cute as the little fellows are, you’ll want to avoid them, as the first person to get four cows is the loser!
As soon as someone gets their fourth cow, the game ends and the player with the fewest cows wins. Once the rules have been learned play is deceptively easy, and it’s a very suitable game for children. While they will definitely get a mental workout from having to memorise Obstacle Cards and doing mental arithmetic to avoid tipping the wave above 30 or below 10, the pace of the game and its colourful visuals would definitely distract them from the fact that they’re doing maths…
Cowabunga is a pleasingly well-presented, sturdily boxed card game with excellent components. The cards are sturdy enough to survive the tender ministrations of your bright young things, and the artwork on the Obstacle Cards is colourful and funny – featuring all the sort of things that might cause your cows to wipe out, from a perilous rocky outcrop (covered with the smashed surfboards of previous unfortunate cows) to distractingly hunky fellow surfers. The Cow Pawns themselves – little cartoon cows with surfboards and jaunty red swimming trunks – are fun little gaming pieces, although it’s a shame that getting them means you’re losing, as if I were a child I’d want a sizeable collection, and might find myself ‘accidentally’ wiping out.
Distributed by David Westnedge Ltd., London.