Wayward- IDW Games – Review

Box Art

Wayward is a medium-lightweight cooperative game with a lot of really cool ideas. Unfortunately, those ideas seem to be underdeveloped.

Jeremiah & Kara



Theme and What is it?


Dark spirits rule the shadows of your city, malevolent, mischievous, bringing destruction wherever they go. They control the supernatural happenings in Japan and they want to keep it that way.

A threat to their reign has emerged—wayward teenagers with extraordinary abilities are fighting back, and the dark spirits are doing everything they can to obliterate these teens from existence.

Wayward is based on a Japanese comic book series written by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings. In this game players work together as supernaturally gifted teens, fighting against the dark Japanese spirits known as Yokai.

By planning carefully, and playing off the strengths of their team, players will claw, punch, and scream their way to victory against the Yokai and secure their rightful place in the universe.

Gameplay Mechanics


Wayward is primarily an action-selection game; players earn energy which they can spend on various actions each turn. Do you want to fight some monsters? You can do that. Activate your special power? Spend the energy! Go shopping for some Ramen?… sure, you can do that too.

Every action costs energy and the most efficient way to get energy is from choosing and activating a threat tile at the beginning of your turn. Most of the options are bad. Some are terrible, but the terrible ones generate the most energy.

My favorite aspect of Wayward is that each character sheet has an upgrade system off to the side, with benefits and abilities that help your character evolve throughout the game. Every time a Yokai is defeated it grants the team a certain amount of upgrade points. Everyone on the team gets points which helps the characters to improve at an equal pace.

Even though there are a lot of actions to choose from on your turn, the one you should choose is usually obvious, and it’s usually combat. Other actions like move and shop just seem like a waste of time and energy.

One thing I don’t care for is that combat is heavily based on dice rolling. Players first spend energy to determine their attack strength and then roll dice for each monster to see how strong their defense was. It felt less like fighting monsters, and more like doing math homework. Ultimately, there were a lot of interesting ideas here, but they didn’t seem fully developed.

Initial Impressions


When I saw the beautiful cover for Wayward, I was excited and intrigued. I read through the rules and set up the first scenario for a solo game the next day. I was extremely underwhelmed, and a bit bored. I wanted to give it another chance, so the next day I organized a three-player game and it was much better!

The rules don’t say anything about rule changes for a solo game, but I highly recommend controlling at least three different characters.

Although I enjoyed my multi-player experience more than my solo game, Wayward fell flat for me. The most interesting part of the game is watching the different characters work together, but the other decisions made during the game about which actions to take on your turn are pretty obvious and lack meaningful depth.

Still, I think this game would be enjoyable to people familiar with the Wayward comic series, Japanese folklore, or who just want a lighter cooperative combat game.

Game Build Quality


Some components for Wayward are great, while others are lacking in quality. The board, for example, is thick and sturdy with a really nice finish. The cards shuffle well, and the monster tiles are made of high-quality cardboard.

Each character has a standee which is fine, but some standees are over-weighted on one side, which makes them easy to knock over.

There are also a lot of custom tokens for tracking energy, wounds, dice modifiers, etc. and they’re tiny—it’s difficult to pick the right ones out of the pile, and they’re easy to lose.

The insert for the game is your standard “3-bump-lump” with one section for cards and another for components. Overall, the components are fine, but they fall below what someone might expect from a modern board game these days. 

Artistic Direction


The art in Wayward is done by the artist of the comic series. The whole game has that cool, Japanese-comic-book feel to it, so if you like that, you’ll like this artwork.

Each scenario has a boss sheet with a great illustration of the main monster your team will fight, and a detailed setup guide, and a list of important rules changes and other things to remember. This is an awesome design choice, because it prevents players from having to refer back to the rulebook too often.

The character sheets also summarize each character’s ability and clearly show the added abilities you can gain over the course of the game. I do wish some abilities were more clearly explained on the player sheet, but once you become more familiar with the game, they make more sense. Also, the symbology used in the game is pretty clear.

Fun Factor


The theme of Wayward is so intriguing. Mutated teenagers fighting off evil spirits—awesome! But the mechanics are fiddly, and the decisions don’t feel meaningful.

Most of the fun comes from seeing how the different character’s abilities work together. The game plays from 1 to 5 players, but I think if you’re going to play it solo you should definitely control 3 or 4 characters; it just isn’t fun with only one character.

I thought the first few rounds of the game were really cool, but after that the turns started to feel redundant. Still, I think Wayward would be really enjoyable for those who are familiar with the Wayward comic series.  

Age Range & Weight


The Manufacturer recommended age for Wayward is 14+, and that’s fairly accurate. I think anyone 10+ years old with good reading and comprehension skills could handle this game, because although it requires a bit of planning ahead, it’s usually not difficult to figure out what to do. Most of the time you’re spending your energy to roll dice to fight the Yokai.



Wayward is a medium-lightweight cooperative game with a lot of really cool ideas. Unfortunately, those ideas seem to be underdeveloped.

I wanted so badly to love this game, and I really tried, but it’s just missing depth. I think it’d be most enjoyable for those interested in Japanese folklore and those who are familiar with the Wayward comic series.

It could also be good for introducing new board gamers to the hobby. However, for those who are looking for an immersive cooperative experience, I’m afraid this one won’t scratch the itch.