- The Device
- 84 spectrum cards
- 3 Scoring tokens
- Custom plastic tray
Wavelength is a social guessing game where two teams compete to read each other's minds.
Teams take turns rotating a dial to where they think a target is located along a spectrum that's hidden behind a screen.
One player from the active team-the Psychic-knows where the target is, but can only give a clue ON THE SPECTRUM between two opposing concepts. After that, their team- mates have to guess where the target is.
Your team's goal:
Turn the red dial as close to the center of the colored target as you can.
Here's the twist:
The target is completely hidden behind this blue screen and is in a random location each round.
Fortunately, one of your teammates is psychic and knows exactly where the target is!
They draw a card that has two opposing concepts on it, like "Underrated - Overrated" or "Hot - Cold".
The psychic gives a clue where the target is located on the spectrum between the two concepts.
In this example, the target is slightly to the "hot" side, so the Psychic says "Coffee" since coffee is hot, but not the hottest thing imaginable.
Now it's up to the psychic's team to discuss the clue and decide where to turn the dial.
Everyone thinks out loud and ponders very dumb ideas-all while the other team poisons your brain with bad suggestions.
Finally, the psychic opens the screen to reveal whether the dial is in the target area.
The closer to the center of the target, the more points your team scores! (The other team also gets a chance to score).
Wavelength takes less than a minute to set up and is played entirely in the box: you can just pass the game around without ever taking anything out. To start, place the device (the big plastic thing with the dial and rotating wheel) into the slot in the middle of the box's tray.
Then insert the 3 tokens-the "heads" and guessing piece-into their various slots. The diagram on the left shows where everything goes.
Now divide into 2 teams of roughly the same size. Then decide who on those teams will be the Psychics (clue givers) for the first round.
The team that goes first starts at O points. The team that goes second starts at 1 point. We call the teams Left Brain and Right Brain, but you can call yourselves anything you like.
That's it! You're ready to play Wavelength.
How the game progresses:
- Psychic Phase: Current team's Psychic gives clue.
- Team Phase: Psych ic's team discusses and turns dial.
- Left/right Phase: Other team guesses left/right.
- Scoring Phase: Psychic reveals target and points are given.
After Scoring, the other team begins their round UNLESS the catch up rule is triggered, detailed in the next section.
Play continues like this, with teams take turns giving clues, with a new player being the Psychic each time.
An important catch up rule
No matter how much a team is losing in Wavelength, there's always a chance to catch up. If the Psychic's team scores 4 points, and is still losing to the other team after that round's scoring, they immediately take another turn (with a different player as Psychic).
This means that a team down 9-0 could hypothetically take 3 turns in a row and win.
A. Psychic Phase
Each round begins with the current team's Psychic spinning the wheel to randomize the target's location, drawing a wavelength card, and giving a clue ON THE SPECTRUM between the two concepts on the card.
The Psychic should do all of this secretly, so players on both teams can't see where the target is.
Here's the official order the Psychic should go in (it's a little over-detailed, but in practice it's easy):
Close the screen: Rotate the screen using the plastic handle until it's entirely closed and clicks into place.
Choose a wavelength: Draw 1 wavelength card from the deck. They're double sided, and the Psychic can choose the side they want to use for their clue. On most cards there's a "normal" side and a "weird" side. Don't think too hard about it: just pick the one you find most interesting!
Place the card in the slot in front of the device, with your chosen side facing forward, and read the card text so both teams can hear.
Randomize the target location: Turn the wheel-using your fingers along the wavy edges-until you're sure that the target is in a completely random position. The plastic screen should be CLOSED while you spin: you can't keep it open to select the target's location.
Open the screen: Using the plastic handle, open the screen and look at where the target is located. You should always open the screen COMPLETELY, even if you can see the target with it partially open: otherwise, players watching you will be able to guess the general target location.
Very infrequently, the target's center (the 4 point wedge) won't be visible at all. If that happens, close the screen and spin again. If the center target is ever partially in view on the left or right extreme, that's valid-even if it's just a sliver.
Give a clue: Look at where the target's center is located spatially along the visible area of the wheel. Now think of a clue that is conceptually where the target is located ON THE SPECTRUM between the two concepts on your card. Rules for how to give clues can be found later in this book.
Close the screen: Using the plastic handle, close the screen completely. Now turn the box to face your team, so they can interact with the device.
Now the psychic stops communicating entirely!
After the Psychic has given their clue, they are no longer allowed to say ANYTHING-not even clarifications-and must keep an entirely straight face.
If a Psychic ever gives away the target location after giving their clue, either verbally or nonverbally, it's up to everyone playing to decide whether to penalize the team.
We tend to just let the Psychic give a new clue with a new card and target location, but we're generous that way.
B. Team Phase
After the Psychic gives their clue, it's up to the rest of their team to READING THEIR MIND and turn the dial as close to the center of the target area as they can.
This is the core of the game and it is almost entirely free of rules: teammates can discuss, debate, and argue in any way they like.
After the Psychic's team has come to an agreement, they let the other team know that they've finalized their dial position.
During this phase, just keep a couple things in mind:
Don't use percentages or numbers as shorthand for where to turn the dial.
Since Wavelength is based off of gut feelings, you should restrict yourselves to saying things like "way more to the right", or "down a little" rather than "turn it to 25%".
There's no penalty associated with doing this-you should just avoid it in the spirit of the game.
Everyone on the team has the right to turn the dial at any time. It's up to the team to determine how to negotiate this.
C. Left/right Phase
In Wavelength, BOTH teams always have a chance to score points from a clue.
After the Psychic's team has finalized their dial position, the other team gets to guess whether the center of the target (the 4 point wedge) is to the left or right of the dial. This discussion should be fairly brief, since it's a simple binary choice: LEFT or RIGHT.
The team makes their guess by placing the marker in either the LEFT or RIGHT slot next to the wavelength card.
For example, the image below shows the team guessing LEFT, i.e. they think the Psychic meant to convey something MORE HOT than the current team guessed.
D. Scoring Phase
Once both teams have finalized their guesses, it's time for the most exciting part of the game: THE REVEAL. The Psychic opens the screen to reveal the target. Their team scores points if the dial is within the colored target area, as listed on the colored wedges (2-4 points).
If the dial is ever on an edge between two results, the Psychic's team always scores the better of the two results.
The other team scores 1 point if they correctly guessed whether the target is to the left or right of the final dial position. If the Psychic's team guessed perfectly (the 4 point wedge), the other team cannot score.
Move each team's scoring marker by those amounts.
Scores the number of points printed on the wedge that the dial is in. Below, the team scores 3 points.
Scores by guessing if the center of the target is to the left or right of the dial.
Below, if the team had guessed LEFT, they would score 1 point.
End of the Game
Once a team has reached 10 points, the game ends and the team with the highest score wins!
If there's a tie, each team takes a final sudden death turn. The team that scores the most points that round wins (including the LEFT/RIGHT guess). If there's still a tie, repeat until a team has won.
In this mode, everyone wins or loses together as a single team. It works really well with 2-5 players, but you can play at any size. The rules are mostly the same, except:
To start, put 7 random wavelength cards in the card slot. When that deck runs out, the game is over. Then use the chart on the right to determine how well you did!
Points works the same as usual, except the center wedge is only worth 3 points-but you ALSO get to draw a bonus card to add to the deck, adding an extra round to the game.
Skip the left/right guessing phase.
|Score||How you did|
|0-3||Are you sure it's plugged in?|
|4-6||Try turning it off and back on again|
|7-9||Blow into the bottom of the device|
|10 - 12||Not bad! Not great, but not bad|
|+16 - 18||You won!|
|+19 - 21||You're on the same...wavelength|
|+22 - 24||Galaxy brain|