Players navigate rafts down a river. To win, be the first to paddle your raft across the finish line.
Order Cards: Place the splash cards face-down in a stack. Split the rest into sets of six cards of the same color. Each player gets one set as a starting deck.
River Cards: Shuffle river cards for phase 1, 2, then 3. Place the cards face-down in a stack with the two empty starts on top, then phases 1, 2, and 3 in respective order, then the two end cards on bottom.
Power-Up Cards: Deal one to each player. Players pick either the front or the back of the card to be their power-up.
Set aside the chance cards and turn card. Pick the two start cards from the river deck with the start lines and place them next to each other with the start line facing the same way on both cards. Each player picks a chance card. Starting with the highest number, players place their rafts in the empty spaces behind the start line.
Turn order is determined by raft position at the start of each round. The raft farthest along the river goes first. If many rafts are tied (all in the same row), the raft furthest to the left goes first and so on.
Each raft moves twice per round: once in the order phase and then again in the river phase. Use the double-sided turn card to keep track of the current phase.
Order Phase: Players shuffle all their order cards and draw a hand of six (in the first few turns of the game each player will only have six cards so there’s no need to shuffle). Players then choose one card from their drawn hand, or can choose none at all and instead get rid of splash cards (more on this later). All players reveal their chosen card at the same time and proceed to perform their chosen orders (see orders) in turn order (starting with the player furthest downstream, and the most left player if several are in a row).
River Phase: Each raft moves forward one space in the river phase. See the obstacles section for exceptions. Once a raft moves past the existing river cards, the player in last place (the furthest upstream, and the most right player if several are in a row) picks the next two river cards and places them side-by-side in any order and facing either direction just after the existing river cards.
There are three types of order cards: movement cards, attack cards, and splash cards. There are four different movement cards and two different attack cards . Each player starts with one of each for a total of six order cards. Splash cards are not started with and are obtained during play, more on splash cards later.
A raft cannot be moved past the sides of the river. Chosen orders are revealed by the players simultaneously, but executed in turn order (starting with the player furthest downstream, and the most left player if several are in a row). However, attack cards always go first (again, in turn order if there are multiple attacks).
Here are the different types of orders:
Paddle Forward: Move your raft forward one space.
Double Forward: Move forward two spaces and add a splash card to your deck.
Paddle Left: Move diagonally left one space.
Paddle Right: Move diagonally right one space.
Splash Attack: Before anyone else moves, choose a raft in one adjacent (left, right forward, backward, or diagonal) space. Pick a chance card and add that many splash cards to that chosen player’s deck (deck, not current hand).
Paddle Attack: Before anyone else moves, choose a raft in one adjacent (left, right forward, backward, or diagonal) space. Move the raft one space left, right, forward, or diagonally forward. If the movement causes the raft to occupy the space containing another raft, the owners of both rafts must test for collision (see rules on this later). If the victim of the paddle attack chose to do a move order, they must still do the move order after the paddle attack moves them to a new location, even if the new move is not what they wanted (however, the move does not happen if it would cause the raft to move off the side of the river).
Splash cards do not do anything but take up space in your hand, making it difficult to draw the order cards you need. During the order phase, you may elect to play a single splash card instead of a standard order card, in which case you may discard all the splash cards in your current hand. If a player uses their order phase to remove splash cards they do not move (unless forced to by an attack or collision).
At the start of every order phase a player shuffles all of their cards (their standard orders, plus splash cards, plus the order card played last turn, plus any cards left behind in the player’s order deck) and draws six cards. Any cards not drawn into the hand are left on the table in what is called the player’s order deck. Any new splash cards that a player receives in the same phase are not placed in the hand but instead placed on their order deck. It’s entirely possible that in the order phase a player may draw nothing but splash cards in which case their only possible action is to skip the phase to remove them.
Chance cards are drawn from the pile (in player turn order) and discarded next to the pile after use. When the chance card pile is empty, shuffle the discards and make a fresh pile. Players may observe discarded chance cards to predict the next possible cards drawn. If two players need to draw chance cards and only one remains, the player who is furthest downstream (hence turn order) draws the remaining card, and the other five cards are shuffled and then the second player draws.
If one raft attempts to move to a space occupied by another raft, both players pick a chance card. The player with the higher number decides what will happen. Either the one raft displaces the other raft one space in the direction of travel (forward or diagonal), or the one raft is unable to move and the other raft stays put.
There are three types of obstacles: Eddies, Rapids, and Rocks. They are encountered by moving rafts into spaces in the river where obstacles are present and can affect movement or damage a raft.
Eddies: If a raft ends the order phase in an eddy, it not move forward in the river phase.
Rapids: If a raft ends the order phase in a rapid, it moves extra spaces forward in the river phase and takes splash cards as written on the splash symbol.
Rocks: If a raft moves into a rock, at any time in any phase, the raft is done moving for that phase and takes splash cards as written on the splash symbol. The player picks a chance card. If the chance card is the same number as any of the numbers in the damage symbol on the rock, then the raft is damaged. If the raft is damaged then the play randomly removes a standard order card (not a splash card) permanently from their deck. Do not remove the order that was currently played in this phase. For instance if a player played a double-forward order and hits a rock, and does take damage from the rock, then the player randomly discards from splash attack, paddle, attack, paddle left, paddle right, and paddle forward but not double-forward because the double-forward was the order used this phase.
A player may have less than six cards in a drawn hand if damage causes the player to a lose orders and they have no splash cards. If a player manages to lose all 6 standard order cards due to damage, the raft is considered sunk and they are out of the game.
Each player starts with a power-up card that can be used once to assist that player. The owner can only choose one side of the card to use at the time they pick the card. The card is played as specified on the card. Once used, power-up cards are discarded and placed back in the power-up card stack.
Recharge Spaces: One recharge space can be found in each zone of the river. Rafts that pass through the recharge space (they do not necessarily have to stop on it) can choose a new power-up card from the power-up stack. Like at the beginning of the game, the owner can only choose one side of the card to use at the time they pick the card.
In Raft Race, cards are used rather unusually as a game board. Choose a playing surface with enough room to accommodate.
For ease of transport, the game is not supplied with tokens to represent rafts. Each player should pick a coin, stone, safety pin, or otherwise suitable object that fits in a raft space to represent their raft on the game board. When on the game board, rafts are always assumed to be facing downstream.
The game ends when a raft crosses over the finish line. If multiple rafts cross the finish line in the same phase, then the player with the fewest remaining splash cards wins the game. If both players have the same number of splash cards, draw chance cards to determine a winner.