WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2-6
Published by: Loosey Goosey Games
Designed by: Ikhwan Kwon
This is a the reviewers own copy, paid for with our own money. See our review policy here
When I was looking at games to check out for Essen 2023, there was one game that stood out, more for my curiosity than anything else. I did not know much about the designer, publisher, or indeed anything about the game itself. I honestly didn't even know it was a card game. I just saw the name and box art on the BGG hotlist (a website that lists all games released at Essen, then ranks them by users' thumbs up), and that was enough! A surfing T-Rex! Come on. That's got to be enough for anyone, right? Fast-forward a few months, and I have now played the game many times and realized that, it seems, by pure fluke, this game is ace! Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
How To Set Up Surfosaurus Max
Based on player count, hand out the handy-dandy player aids so everyone can see at least one. This provides clear and succinct visual aids on how to win a trick in the game. It will also tell you how many cards to remove from the game based on your player count.
Once this is done, deal seven cards to each player. Each player takes one Surfboard card, along with one full and half-full coconut card. Finally, determine who will be the starting player. There is no advantage to this, as all players will get to be the first player an equal number of times. Give them the dinosaur meeple and tell them to place this onto their surf board card, and you are now ready to begin. Although, it is recommended everyone has a little play with the cool dino meeple at this point to avoid later distractions.
How To Play Surfosaurus Max
Starting with the first player, each player now plays one card face up in front of them, then draws back to seven cards. When it gets back to the first player, a second card is then played. This continues until all players have played two cards, or three in a two or three-player game. All players will then compare the cards played to see which is the collective best combination of four cards played, or five cards in a five or six-player game.
The best combination would be a sequential run of cards in the same colour, then four or five cards of the same number, followed by cards of the same colour. If you don't have any group of cards, the focus then moves to a sequential group of cards using any colour before finally picking the highest numbered cards. The cards in the highest group are then taken by the players who laid them and placed under their full coconut card to be scored at the end of the game. If there were any ties, the tied cards are placed under the half coconut and score half points at the end of the game. Half points can score for a few reasons, for example, if a straight was made running six to nine, but multiple people played a six, all duplicates would be included at half points.
In a two-player game, you will play six rounds with each player starting three rounds each. Four rounds are played with three or four players. With five or six players, you will play one round per person. When the game is over, count up all your points, and unsurprisingly, the most points win.
Is It Fun? Surfosaurus Max Card Game Review
This game is so much fun with three players. With two, it's okay but feels more functional. But in a four or higher, oh my! This game really sings. You will be surprised at just how much fun you can have with this game. Considering all that you are doing on your turn is playing a card and then picking it back up, it's amazing how you will become so invested in this game. And how much satisfaction you will get from scoring cards as you play.
As you are only ever scoring the top four or five cards (based on player count), trying to get your cards to be one or two of the chosen ones feels important. There is a constant competitive edge but all the way, mixed with a real sense of camaraderie. Your cards can only ever form part of the top group; you need other players to play cards that work with yours. If you play two tens and then someone else plays a ten, that feels exciting. You feel a sense of teamwork as the round progresses. But then if someone else starts laying a colour sequence to trump your same number sequence, this feeling is quickly replaced with one of competitiveness again. The state of the game changes with every card being laid. New potential "best hands" are being formed all the time. And what once was, may not ever be again. Who said that?
Surfosaurus Max is a great filler game. It works perfectly in the pub. It's an ideal game for families to take on holidays or play after dinner. It works in so many environments, and I would recommend it to anyone, so long as you are not relying on playing it solely at two players. It's fine in two; it just loses most of what makes it fun. It has quickly become a firm family favorite for us, and I can see us playing this for years to come. I am so glad I was pulled to the quirky cover at Essen. The theme is largely pasted on, and the giant first player dino is pointless. The surf cards to place the dino on serve for almost nothing, and the artwork is distracting more than thematic. But none of this matters when you are having fun.