How hot is coffee? On a scale from hot to cold, it would probably call on the left side of that spectrum, right? But how far to the left? There are definitely tings that are hotter, like molten metal or the sun. And what if you wait for your coffee to cool down before drinking it, or (god forbid) like iced coffee? In Wavelength, these kinds of discussion and debates are commonplace, as each round one player is trying to get their team to guess where something falls on a scale between two extremes. You have to put your psychic powers to the test to guess what they’re going for!
The premise behind Wavelength is pretty simple — get your teammates to guess within a range on a scale between two extremes. Each turn, a player from one of the teams is the active player and draws a double-sided card with two different scales to choose from (e.g. “important/unimportant” or “easy to spell/hard to spell”). Then, that player closes the screen and spins the wheel. This randomizes the target somewhere on the scale between those endpoints. The middle of the target is worth 4 points, scaling to 3 and 2 points further from the center. The clue giver looks at where the target falls, closes the screen back up, and gives a clue to their team. The team then has to turn the dial to try to guess where on the spectrum the clue giver is trying to indicate. Once they’ve given their guess, the other team has a chance to guess if the actual target is to the left or right of where the dial was placed. Then, the screen is opened and the target is revealed. The active team gets 2-4 points if the dial falls within those ranges from the target, and the other team gets a point if their left/right guess was correct. Then play passes to the other team, where someone else takes a turn to be the clue giver, and the process repeats. Play continues until one team gets 10 or more points, in which case they win! Are you able to get on your team’s wavelength?
I’m always on a lookout for good party games for our game group. There’s substantial satisfaction with easing your way into your game session with something lighter or ending the evening with a bit of a laugh. So when I was doing my biannual perusal of Kickstarter games, wavelength caught my eye. I was excited about the playtime, the ability to play with a lot of people, and of course, that sweet game wheel.
Opening the box to the game for the first time was a real treat. The main component of gameplay is the wheel and screen, which are expertly crafted and are a thing of beauty. I hope my pictures do them justice; they were so lovely to look at and have an excellent hand feel. We did have minor technical issues with the wheel during gameplay; a few times, when we tried to open the screen, we found that the dial behind it had moved as well. We were able to make it work during gameplay, so overall, it’s a minor issue, but something to watch for during your games.
As for gameplay, we had a blast playing the game. Ethan and I ended up on the same team, so it was a real test of our relationship to see if we could get on the same wavelength. Trying to tap into other people’s minds, trying to figure out how hot coffee is hot on their cold-to-hot spectrum, is an exciting way to get to know your friends (or strangers!). However, in playing by the rules of the game, once someone hits the max points, the game sort of just ends. There was a “that’s it” feeling when the game was over like we were expecting something more. When we get more plays in of this game, I expect we will likely house-rule the ending of the game instead of using rules-as-written.
Wavelength definitely caught my attention as soon as I saw it announced. We play a lot of party games with our gaming group, and are always looking for fun new entries in the genre. Wavelength has some elements in common with other team based clue-giving games like Codenames, but the sliding scale mechanic is unique as far as I know. The big wheel is certainly a highlight of the game — it’s intriguing to look at and fun to play with. They probably could have made the game differently, but component quality here is top notch. Game play is very easy, and most people should have no problems picking up the concept in a matter of minutes. I think this game would be great for gamers and non-gamers alike, and the discussions and conversations that it engenders are great as an icebreaker, or a way to start off game night right!
I think that my biggest issue with the game’s rules as written is that it can be incredibly short. If a team is extremely in sync, they can win the game in two rounds (correctly hitting the 4-point target and correctly guessing left/right on the other team’s turn). When we played with our gaming group, everyone was doing well for both giving and receiving clues, so there were a few 4s to be had. Ultimately this isn’t a huge deal, as you can easily play to any target, play multiple games, et cetera, so this is more of a minor nitpick. I’m sure there are plenty of people for whom this game will turn into more of an activity or icebreaker, playing without keeping score until people get bored. The beauty of the game is that you can keep playing, because while there are a finite number of clue cards, the clue giver and target will always be changing, so there are many possible variations to be seen. The other small caution I can offer is that the screen on the clue wheel closes a bit too snugly, so it can jostle the target wheel if you’re not careful when opening it. From what I’ve read online, this seems to be pretty common, but there is a strategy in flicking the screen open so that it doesn’t shift the target — we will have to try that next time to see if it helps. Plus I’m sure that with repeated plays the wheel will loosen up a bit and not be as much of an issue. I’ve seen that in the very rare instances where there is an actual issue, the game designer/publisher is eager to offer replacements, which is always appreciated.
So, if you are a fan of party games, particularly those where you need to be in sync with members of your team (such as Codenames or Dixit), check Wavelength out! On a scale from “not fun” to “fun”, the target is definitely towards the right end of the spectrum!