Dale Yu: Review of Surfosaurus MAX

Surfosaurus Max

  • Designer: Ikhwan Kwon
  • Publisher: Loosey Goosey Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Played with copy provided by publisher

Outcooperate the competition!
Surfosaurus MAX’s cards come in seven suits, with values from 01 to 12. The higher a card’s value, the fewer victory points are on it.
When it is your turn, you play a single hand card and draw a new one immediately. Once the right number of cards has been reached, the one strongest possible combination out of all the cards played by all the players wins. If you contributed a card to the winning combination, you get to score it.

In slightly more detail, take the deck of 84 cards, shuffle them and then make up the deck by secretly discarding some cards based on player count. Each player is dealt a hand of 7 cards and the remainder of the deck is available as a draw pile.

Each player gets a full coconut card, a half coconut card and then a surfosaurus card. Each player also gets a player count based player aid that will remind everyone of the setup rules, the number of rounds to play and the ranking of hands.
Starting with the start player, each player will play one card from their hand, placing it face up on the table, and then immediately replenishing their hand back to seven cards. When all players have played the prescribed number of cards, the group then makes the best combination possible from all the cards played to the table. Depending on player count, this will either be a 4 or 5 card combination.

In poker terms, the ranking goes: straight flush -> 4 or 5 of a kind -> flush -> straight -> high card. Within a certain class, the highest ranked cards would take precedence. Therefore, a 9-8-7-6 straight would be better than a 7-6-5-4 straight.

All cards in the winning combination are scored by the player who played them, usually placing them underneath their full coconut card. If there are cards which are tied in value (and that particular rank would be included in the best combination), they are scored, but placed under the half-coconut card, meaning they will be worth half value at the end of the game. Note that the cards with higher values on them score fewer points.
Any cards not used in the winning combination are simply discarded back to the box, and the game continues on until you have played the number of rounds as indicated on the player aids. At the end of the final round, add up your points, scoring full points for cards under your full coconut and half points for the cards under your half coconut. The player with the most points wins; ties broken in favor of the player with the most physical cards scored in the game.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
This is a challenging game of semi-cooperation – you’re always looking to score the most points for yourself, but you have to read the table and other players intentions to actually score those points. Turn order is a big deal here as you will have the best chance to direct the contents of the winning combination when you play last – though you may not be able to as your hand size of 3 doesn’t give you quite as many options as you’d like! The earlier you play in initial turn order, the more chance you have to influence the plays of the following players.
There is a nice push and pull between the cooperative and competitive nature of the hand. Sometimes I like to keep my low valued cards in my hand and wait to play them only when they complete a combination, preferably near the end of the round so someone else can’t snake in there with a higher card that would then cut me out. There are other times, like when I have a pair of 3s, where I might play them in my first two plays, trying to cajole two more 3s to come out… The risk here is that if no one else joins in (or if no one else has the 3s), I may have just wasted those high scoring cards and gotten nothing for them!
The deck is big enough, with its 7 suits, that nearly every combination is possible but at the same time, nothing is really quite sure – again, the small hand size keeps the overall portion of the deck in play at any time to a small proportion. You also might need to put your memory skills to use near the end of the deck as you might be able to remember if you’ve seen a lot of a particular card or not…

The artwork is really superb. The graphics of the different surfing dinos is great, and the color scheme is nice as I find I have no issues trying to keep the 7 suits distinguished from each other. And while it seems like a bit of overkill, I’m actually glad that there are enough player aids for every player to have one at every player count. No sharing required in this game! The player aids give you all the necessary information, and really, no one has any excuse for not knowing how the round is going to go or how the hands are ranked.
Surfosaurus MAX is a quick playing game with a delightful amount of challenge in figuring out how to best play your cards. Well timed card play is a must, but you also have to be lucky enough to have the right card at the right time. In a recent game night, it passed one of the most important tests – as we finished a game, and I started to clean it up, some of the players clamored for another game before putting it away!

  • Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
  • I love it! Dale Y
  • I like it. Ryan P, John P, Eric M
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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