We were kindly gifted Longboard by 25th Century Games for review. In this 2-4 player game you and other players will compete to make the biggest and best surfboards to be the best surfboard shaping shop in town! While there is not much of a story while playing, the pop art-style vibes will make you feel like you are sitting on the beach as you are “shaping” your boards to be the best shop. Setup is simple as there are only 3 types of cards.
To set up the game you simply shuffle all board cards and lay them face down in a stack, shuffle all objective cards and place them face down in a stack, the optional beach cards can be placed face down within reach or left out. Next, all players will draw 2 board cards and place them in front of themselves as their starting hand (the player with the lowest overall value is the starting player). Next, 4 objective cards are drawn. These cards will serve as every player’s goals for the game. Objectives range from having specific color boards to using no wild cards in your board. They give a nice range of objectives to keep strategies different during each playthrough. Beach cards are optional and are only used to mark a board that has been completed. They serve no other purpose other than to serve as a reminder that you have completed a board.
Board cards have 3 components: value, color, and stickers. Only cards of the same color may be added to your board as you progress through the game. Wilds can serve any color and are an exception. Stickers serve as additional victory points. You want your board to have a lot of stickers to have a lot of points. Value is a little tough to explain without explaining the gameplay.
On your turn, you may do any 2 actions. Those actions are: increase your supply, start/extend a board, or swap a card and use it. Increasing your supply is simply drawing a card from the top of the deck. Starting a board is deciding which card you want to use to start building your surfboard. When starting, the card CANNOT be a wild. As you build, the cards that are added must be the same color AND of equal or higher value. So if you had 3 blue cards of 3, 3, and 5, they should be placed in the order of 3, 3, and 5 as you would not be able to add an additional 3 if you had placed it as 3, 5. Swapping a card and using it is exactly what it sounds like. Every one’s cards are open information and you may give any player 1 or more cards from your supply and trade them for a single card of LOWER value than what you gave them. So if you traded a yellow 3 and red 4, you can only take a 6 or smaller card of any color you choose.
Players take turns taking their two actions as the game continues. Boards are considered “shaped” (the games lingo for finished) when they have AT LEAST 4 cards. This means that a player can hoard cards into their boards for as long as they wish. The game end score condition is met when a player builds a certain number of finished boards (4 for 2-3 players and 3 for 4 players) AND at least ONE of the boards has 7 cards. If a player meets these conditions they MAY trigger the end game but may choose not to (hopefully to score more points). The end game is also triggered if a player ever draws the final board card from the deck, leaving the deck empty.
Scoring is a little odd as there are many factors that can change your final score. You boards are scored and you only gain points for completed boards (4 or more cards) and you only gain points from stickers (which range for 1-3 points, 0 for wilds). You lose points for unfinished boards (-2 for 1 card, -1 for 2 or 3 cards). 5 points to the player with the most shaped boards and 5 points to the player with the longest board. You also score points based off of the 4 objectives. Then the final scores are compared and the highest scoring player wins. Ties are given to the player with the highest value wild card in a shaped board.
Overall the game is easy to set up, easy to learn but feels like it is missing something in terms of strategy. The game never truly feels like you are “building” anything and strategizing cards amounts to a lot of luck based factors (in this case literally luck of the draw). The artwork is vibrant and helps immerse you in the beach theme and the layout of the cards is easy and quick to understand. This is a game that may hit the table once or twice and is good while you are waiting for more players to arrive.
Language Barrier Playability: Decent. The game does a good job of using symbols in order to convey most information, however, the objective cards require translation which can lead to questions as the game progresses as a language barrier can prevent strategizing and planning.
Replayability: Good. There are a total of 14 objective cards which leads to a decent amount of variability.
Artwork: Excellent. The artwork is bold, bright and immerses you in the surfing theme, especially if you use the beach cards to signal your board is completed.
Quality: Good. The cards are texturized, the manual is glossy and the packaging is sturdy. The cards did, however, become slightly warped with use.
Strategy: Light. There is the idea of strategy but since you must draw cards often, it sometimes comes down to luck of the draw. You can trade cards with other players but sometimes the cost is not worth it, as stealing a card can sometimes put the other players at an advantage.
Instruction Manual: Excellent. It breaks down the entire game into short, easy to digest chunks. You can read the entire manual and learn the game in about 8 minutes.
Organization: Excellent. The components all fit in the box without effort and it has minimal dead space taking up your shelf.