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Subject: The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Tavarua rss

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Eric Buscemi
United States
New York
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Tavarua, the second board game designed by Cody Miller, is a beautiful surfing themed game that, at its core, is a push-your-luck game. The game plays 1-6 players, and takes about 45 minutes to play. Players take their turns at the same time, which speeds up gameplay, and can lead to fun situations where players fight to catch the same waves. This simultaneous action selection is a bit reminiscent of Steampunk Rally, although the mechanics and goal of that chaotic racing game are quite different.

The gameplay, despite looking a bit complex from the game's twelve-page rule book, is fairly straightforward and intuitive. Each player takes a meeple and either their shortboard or longboard (both will be used every game) and begins paddling out the channel. They then decide to catch a wave, and try to maintain balance over the next few turns while riding that wave back to shore -- or wipe out trying. All of these actions are done using cards, numbered one to four, from the player's hand (although players are not allowed to use the '4' cards while on longboards).

The rides are then scored, with bonuses awarded for catching the wave at the right moment and successfully riding through tunnels. The players continue attempting to catch and ride waves until the wave deck runs out, and each surfer's top two longboard scores and top two shortboard scores are totaled to see who scored the best on each, and then, who is the overall winner.

Pros: The game features gorgeous components, and the artwork really brings out the surfing theme. The custom-designed wave dice, while still standard D6s, are an especially nice touch. But more importantly, the game is very enjoyable, with the mechanics really merging with the theme to evoke a high-level surfing competition. The wave riding is handled in an inventive way that is unlike anything I've seen in any other game. Also of note is that Tavarua, mimicking the individual sport it is based on, plays well as a solo game.

Cons: There is a high level of randomness in Tavarua, which may or may not be a detractor depending on personal preference. From the cards you draw in your hand, to the bonus stoke cards you can draw, to the wave dice, to the wave deck, almost every aspect of the game features randomization. That said, there are mitigation elements, with the stoke tokens allowing you to alter the numbers on your cards, and the wave deck card backs giving some hints of what wave is coming next. Additionally, the game's rule book, while thorough, is not organized as logically as I think it could have been, which led to a lot of flipping around searching for answers on specific edge cases, all of which I eventually found.

Overall, I am very glad I backed this game, and it will be staying in my collection for the foreseeable future. Its blend of interesting mechanics and atypical theme make for a unique, fun experience that is perfect for summer game nights.

See more of my board game reviews here, and read my other board gaming thoughts on my blog, The Cardboard Hoard.
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Board Games World
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Good review, thanks

I have one comment, I beleive the randomness in this game is accepted as it reflects the real surfing randomness in real life.

Regards
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Sam Freeman
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We played for the first time last night after receiving my Collector's Edition on Friday. It took a couple of hours, which was a surprise, but that first hour was full of learning and rulebook flipping.

Once we got going it went pretty smoothly, as most people were either riding waves, recovering from wipeouts or paddling out and catching.

The artwork, components and mechanics all meshed into the theme pretty seamlessly and I'm looking forward to my next play
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Mark Robinson
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Potatopotato wrote:
... the randomness in this game is accepted as it reflects the real surfing randomness in real life...


THIS! Exactly this. cool

Whilst the overall type of wave can be classified, water is still subject to random localised movement. Hence the wave card backs giving you a general hint of what you may expect as you say.

Good review!
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Eric Buscemi
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DIFFLOCK wrote:
Potatopotato wrote:
... the randomness in this game is accepted as it reflects the real surfing randomness in real life...


THIS! Exactly this. cool

Whilst the overall type of wave can be classified, water is still subject to random localised movement. Hence the wave card backs giving you a general hint of what you may expect as you say.

Good review!


Thanks! And I agree completely, I thought it was a great game and a great surfing simulation, and the randomness didn't bother me at all (though I don't mind some randomness in games as a general rule), I was just pointing out that certain types of gamers wouldn't enjoy it due to that factor.
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Cody Miller
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Thanks for the review Eric!! I think you did a great job communicating the core of the game, and who may or may not enjoy it!

Thanks! -Cody
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