Pojo Update: July 20, 2020 – The Crew was named the winner of the 2020 Kennerspiel des Jahres Award (German for “Connoisseur Game of the Year”)! The Kennerspiel des Jahres Award is one of the most prized awards a board game can receive.
The Crew (The Quest for Planet Nine) is a new card game from Kosmos Games. The Crew is a cooperative “trick-taking” game. Players of euchre, hearts, spades, or bridge will be familiar with the style of game. The crew is for 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up. Play-Time is about 20 minutes per mission. The Crew is kind of a mix of Hearts and “The Mind”.
Hearts is a typical trick-taking game, played with standard playing cards. A player leads with a card, and all other players must follow suit. Example – if the first player leads with the 8 of ❤, then all other players must follow suit, and the player with the highest ❤ takes the hand.
The Mind is a popular card game that has sold over 3.5 million copies. The Mind is a cooperative game that uses a deck of cards 1-100. You and your friends must play the cards in ascending order. But you cannot speak or communicate in any way. But you still figure out a way to work with each other. (The Mind was nominated for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres – Game of The Year – in 2018).
What’s in The Crew’s box?
The Crew is packaged in a relatively small game box. The box is only 5″W x 7″H x 1.5″D. Inside you get:
- 40 Large cards
- 5 Reminder cards
- 36 Small cards
- 1 Commander token
- 10 Task tokens
- 5 Radio Communication tokens
- 1 Distress signal token
There are 4 colors of large cards – blue, green, gold and pink. There are 9 cards for each color (numbered 1-9). There are also 4 black rocket ship cards that are The Crew’s trump cards.
How to Play The Crew
The Crew offers a modern twist on trick-taking games. Instead of playing against each other for points, The Crew is a cooperative game, where players win or lose as a team.
But, The Crew does not allow players to talk to each other. Players can still communicate – a little. Once per mission, each player can reveal one card from their hand to show the other players.
There are 50 different missions for players to undertake, and missions gets progressively harder. The early missions are simple teaching/learning missions. The entirety of all 50 missions can be played over days, weeks or months with your gaming group (depending on how often you can get together).
Shuffle Up and Deal
All forty cards are dealt out amongst all the players. The person with the 4 powered Rocket Ship card is the Commander, and is considered the starting player.
The players then consult the Mission Log and read what the goal of the Mission is. In the example above (which in not a beginner mission), Tom has to win the Pink 1 and the Gold 7. Julia has to win the Blue 9. Daniel has to win the Blue 5 and Caro has to win the Green 8. If the group pulls all this off, they win the mission, and move on to the next mission. If they fail a mission, they keep repeating it until they’ve won it before they move on.
Players are not able to discuss which cards they have in their hands, with one exception. All players are given 1 Radio Communication Token to show one card from their hands.
Each player can use the Radio Communication Token to show something important about their hands. You take the card out of your hand and play it face up on the table. The card is still considered to be in your hand. You can put a Reminder Card back into your hand to help can remember you have a card on the table. Then you place the Radio Communication Token on the card at the top, middle, or bottom to let everyone know if that card is the highest, lowest, or only card in that suit.
Tom may need to win the Gold 7 to win the mission, but his highest gold card is a Gold 6. So he reveals that to everyone with his Radio Communication Token. Now, everyone at the table now knows this. Tom might have to win that Gold 7 by leading with 9 Blue. And if Julia doesn’t have a blue card, she can toss Tom her Gold 7 allowing him to trump her throwaway card.
Kosmos Help App
There is a very nice app you can download from your App Store to your cell phone / tablet. The App has a Tutorial and a Logbook. Here is a look at both from inside the app:
Likes, Dislikes, and Final Thoughts on “The Crew”
Games are short and sweet. You win quickly, or you lose quickly. Each mission generally takes 15 minutes or less.
This is an easy game to teach. This is an easy game to learn. And yet, The Crew is very difficult to master. Each player has to come up with the strategies the best they can … quietly … by reading cards played and the Radio Communication Tokens.
There is a ton of strategy here for players. This is a co-op game, and a game where one player won’t dominate the gameplay. Dominating players can take the fun out of some co-op games – I’m looking at you Pandemic. Everyone shares the strategy load evenly in The Crew.
The Product is nice quality, which you expect from Kosmos games. The cards are made of good card stock. The box has a nice divider inside to help keep everything tucked in well.
The Crew has a fantastic Rulebook/Mission Log Book. It is 44 pages long, in full color, and easy to read. The Rulebook explains the game very well.
The price is right. The retail price of this game is $14.95. And that is very fair for a card game of this size.
The game travels well. The box is small enough to tuck into your travel bag.
The downloadable Kosmos Helper App is nice. It explains the game very well in video form. There is also a Logbook to show the missions.
I’m not sure this game is for everyone. This is not a Euro game, or an Area Control game, or a racing game. It is a co-op game, and if one player isn’t “into it” or “on their game”, the whole group is bound to suffer.
At first the game seems fairly simple, but the missions ramp up in difficulty quickly. As the game gets harder, some players might think it’s too hard to complete the missions.
The logbook uses iconography to explain each mission. This iconography is confusing at first. You will have to go back to the rulebook during the early missions to remind everyone what the goals of each mission are.
The game is for 3-5 players. There is a two player variant discussed in the box, but the game plays way better with more than 2 players.
This is a fun co-op game. I like co-op games where one experienced player does not dominate the group’s gameplay. Since you can’t talk about your cards, this is a true co-op game through and through.
If you have the right group of people, this is an amazing game. The strategies get deeper and deeper as missions mover forward. And the longer teams play together, the players will get better and better at the strategies of winning tricks and throwing tricks away.
The Radio Communication Token is a very clever game mechanism. And using it properly can really help you to complete a mission.
The Logbook is well thought out. You can use it to log your players, keep track of what mission you left off at, and how many attempts it took you to complete each mission.
This would make a fantastic travel game for families and friends if 3-5 people are vacationing together. You will be able to play this over multiple days and nights. It will be easy for everyone to learn, but difficult for everyone to master.