Whitewater Card Game


WhiteWater is a card game that launches you into the world of river running.  Learn about rapid classes, river hazards, and safety techniques while having fun with a group of friends during a simulated whitewater river trip.

Available on backorder

SKU: 0566 Categories: , , Brand:


WhiteWater is a card game that immerses you into the world of river running. Learn about rapid classes, river hazards, and safety techniques all while having fun with a group of friends on a simulated whitewater river trip. Face raging rapids, rocks, flips and wraps while learning how to save yourself with life vests, throw ropes, and z-drags. Wild cards have instructional pictures of signals, boating equipment, knots, and safety items. Watch out that you don’t get the Groover dumped on you.

Game includes:

  • 108 Card Deck – Rapid Cards, Hazard Cards, Safety Cards, Wild Cards and River Guide Cards.
  • Instruction Sheet – simple instructions, start playing immediately
  • Water Resistant container – Helps keep your game dry!

Fun for all ages, 4 – 104. Great for groups of all sizes, 2 – 12+

Now Let’s Go Boating!


What is “WhiteWater – the swift action river card game” TM ?

“WhiteWater – the swift action river card game” TM is a fun and educational card game that lets players experience the thrills and excitement of whitewater river running, while learning about the rapids, the hazards, safety techniques, and river equipment. There is even a Groover to avoid.

How many people can play “WhiteWater”?

Any number can play together, from 2 – 20+, the more the merrier. Groups of more than 12 may need to reshuffle the discard pile from time to time in order to have enough cards to finish a round. If you are going to play with an extremely large group, greater than 16 people, mix two or more decks together.

What is the age limit for “WhiteWater”?

We’ve seen kids as young as 4 grasp the game and play easily with a little prompting. On the elder side, any active mind can handle the game mechanics and interaction.

What if we encounter a situation not covered in the Instruction Sheet?

Every effort has been made to make sure the rules make sense and are clearly described. If you do find a situation that does not seem to be covered, then make a “house rule” satisfactory to all the current players, and continue play. Then go to our website and tell us about the situation so we can address it in future updates.

Where can I find any rule changes or updates?

Visit our website www.whitewatergame.com to check out the latest set of rules and to learn of any other updates to the instructions or card decks. You can also post your suggestions for new card ideas, your favorite rapids to enshrine in the deck, and other items to put on the wild cards.

What was the inspiration for developing WhiteWater?

Randy, the owner and creator of WhiteWater, has been a river runner since his early teens. Starting with canoeing in Texas, graduating to whitewater rivers in Idaho during college, and then managing rivers during his federal career with the US Forest Service, Randy has enjoyed the camaraderie of the river community, and the challenge of running rapids. There is nothing better than a river trip with family and friends. Randy took his river experience and distilled it into the basic concepts of “WhiteWater” to offer a fun and educational way for others to experience a river trip through the card game.

Why are there only 6 classes of Rapids?

American Whitewater, a nonprofit, dedicated to river safety and access, is the organization that maintains the rapid classification scheme used in the United States on most rivers. This spectrum of classes is sufficient to describe the types of rapids one will face on the river. The WhiteWater game has simplified the classes for the purpose of gameplay, but we hope that the picture and descriptions will still give you a clear idea of the challenges of each rapid class. Class 6, Extreme, is currently undergoing a revamping as kayakers and boaters push the limits of equipment technology and floating technique. Class 6 previously was considered Unrunnable, but since may kayakers now go over Falls, a new Class 5 + system is being considered. Check out the progress on this classification scheme at www.americanwhitewater.com.

Why are there limits on which Safeties apply to which Hazards? That’s not real life.

For the purposes of game play WhiteWater relies on a one to one match of certain Safeties to specific Hazards. Eg. Hi-Side misses Rock; Life Vest saves from Flip; Z-Drag unwraps Raft. These matches help keep the number of options for game play reasonable and tie to game play probabilities. While there are certainly other options available the matches cover most situations and provide a good conversation starting point about how to deal with any Hazard.

Rapid Cards:

Rapid Class Cards – each Rapid Card has photos which illustrate different rapid classes. These cards use the American version of the International Scale of River difficulty, Classes 1-6, with 1 being the easiest and 6 the hardest. The American Scale rapid descriptions can be found on the American Whitewater Website. This link also includes key safety information for whitewater river running. For the purposes of “WhiteWater – the swift action river card game ™” we have simplified the description on the cards to read:

Class 1 – Riffles
Class 2 – Waves
Class 3 – Drops
Class 4 – Rocks
Class 5 – Holes
Class 6 – Falls

Rapid Cards do not have a penalty or consequence except for scoring at the end of each round. Note the photos on each card illustrate the variety of rapids found on rivers in the U.S.

Hazard Cards:

When a Hazard Card is played the next player is affected by the impact of that Hazard. The effects of Hazards include taking one or more cards from the deck, or a special action. Once the player has completed the penalty of the hazard their turn ends and play passes to the next person. Hazards that require taking one or more cards:

Rock – Player takes one card from deck and passes turn.
Flip – Player takes two cards from deck and passes turn.
Wrapped – Player takes three cards from deck and passes turn.

Hazards that require a special action:
Eddy – Play reverses course in the opposite direction. If currently clockwise, pass the turn to the next player in the counter clockwise position, and if counterclockwise, pass the turn in the opposite clockwise position.
Whirlpool – The next player loses their turn. Play proceeds to the next player in sequence.
Scout – When this card is played the player also gives a card from his or her hand to another player of their choice. Play then continues to the next person in sequence after the player who played the Scout card.

Special Hazard Rule: In real life Hazards can build up on each other. If a Hazard Card is played, the next player can match that Hazard (Rock on Rock, Flip on Flip, etc…) to pass the consequence of the Hazard to the next player.

Safety Cards:

Safety Cards allow a player to negate or cancel the effect of its matching Hazard Card. There are Safety Cards for most but not all of the Hazards. The color of the Safety Card does not have to match the color of the Hazard Card. A Safety Card of any color can be played on its respective Hazard Card match. Once a player plays a Safety Card on its matching Hazard Card play continues in the current direction to the next player using the color of the Safety Card. A Safety Card can also be played on a matching color of any card if no other card options are available. Safety Cards include:

High-Side – Negates the Rock Card, the player does not have to take a card from the deck. Hi-Siding means moving to the high side of your raft in order to put weight on tubes that may be being forced up while tubes on the opposite side of a raft are being sucked under by the water flow. This sucking action will flip a raft. Hi-siding can keep your raft stable and you dry.
Life Vest – Negates the Flip Card, the player does not have to take 2 cards from the deck. The Life vest is your most important piece of safety equipment (after your brain). Always wear your life vest in moving water. If you are thrown out of a boat in a flip, the life vest can save your life.
Z-Drag- Negates the Wrapped Card, the player does not have to take 3 cards from the deck. When you “wrap” your raft it is pinned to a rock or rocks and the force of the water keeps it from moving. It will take more force to move the raft and that’s where ropes and pulleys forming a “Z-Drag” or other configuration will be used to pull your raft off the rocks. The rope and pulleys provide a mechanical advantage that can free your raft from its wrapped position.
Throw Rope – Negates the Whirlpool Card. The player does not lose a turn. The throw rope is an essential safety item for river rafting and is excellent for helping a “swimmer” (i.e. someone who has been thrown into the river), to be dragged to a safe place along the shore.
Whistle – Negates any Hazard. The Whistle is another essential safety item used to warn others of impending danger or to communicate to others farther way than a voice will carry. Each rafter should carry a Whistle as a signaling device on their life vest.

Game Overview:

“WhiteWater – the swift action river card game™” simulates a river trip down a raging whitewater river. Each player starts with 6-8 cards. Play starts with the first player left of the dealer. With each turn the player must either 1) play a card that matches the color, the rapid class, hazard type, or safety card of the last card played or 2) plays the appropriate safety card to negate a hazard, or 3) plays a wild card if allowed. If unable to play, the player takes a card from the deck. If that card cannot be played that player’s turn ends. If the card may be played, it may be used immediately and then that player’s turn ends. Play then passes to the next person. Play continues until one player runs out of cards. Each player then adds up the value of the cards remaining in their hand to post their score for the round. The player with the lowest score at the end of the game wins. The game ends when one player exceeds a score of 300 or an agreed upon score if a shorter or longer game is desired.

Wild Cards:

The Wild Cards can be played to match any color of card and have special qualities.

Let’s Go Boating – This Wild Card matches any color and can be played on any turn not involving a Hazard. When played the player announces which color is active for the next player to match. The Let’s Go Boating cards also have illustrations of common equipment, knots, and signals used in whitewater rafting. These do not affect play, but are there to add to your playing experience.
Groover – This Wild Card allows the player who plays it to “dump” all the cards of one color on any other player of their choice. Play then continues to the next player in sequence. The Groover is an essential piece of river equipment as it contains all the human waste from your river trip which keeps the river environment clean and sanitary for you and future river runners. When played the player also announces which color is active for the next player to match.


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