There has been much talk about The Crew, including the prestigious Spiele Des Jahres award, I like it, it’s fine, it’s not my game of the year though. We’ve always been a fan of trick taking games in our family, growing up as I did playing whist, or partner whist, or hearts, or spades, we were playing trick taking games practically before we could walk. When other kids were out partying and doing drugs, we were playing Dutch Whist for money.
So maybe that’s why trick taking games feel less gamery to me, they feel more like a twist on a classic. In The Crew, the twist is that the game is co-operative. Rather than competing to see who can win the most tricks, players are trying to get specific members of their deep space mission team to take specific numbered cards. And no… the theme makes no sense.
To start the game the deck is dealt out between all the players. The deck contains 4 suits numbered 1 through 9 and 4 rocket “Trump” cards. Armed with that knowledge the players then draw a number of goal cards. Players then divvy up the goal cards amongst them. Each goal card shows a specific card, the Blue 2 or the Pink 9 etc. The player that took the goal card must win the trick containing that card.
Play then begins. The player with the four of rockets plays any card from their hand, other players must then follow suit, i.e. play a card of the same colour, if they can’t follow suit they may discard any other card. The player who played the highest card of the suit wins the trick, unless a trump card was played, in which case the highest trump wins.
Play continues in this fashion until the players complete their mission by completing all the goal cards or they lose when a goal card becomes unachievable. Each mission increases the difficulty as players progress to higher and higher levels through a 50 game campaign. The core mechanism however remains unchanged but the puzzle increases as you try to ensure the right player takes the right trick…
… Oh and did I mention that you can’t talk? The players can only communicate a single piece of information in the game, placing a token on a card from their hand to indicate if it is their highest, lowest or only card of that colour. It is this limited communication that adds the challenge to the game, as players need to silently communicate what is in their hands, through the way they play.
I’m always up for a game of The Crew, it’s a thoroughly pleasant and relaxing experience, but it’s just not my game of the year!
On the seventh day of Christmas, Santa gave to me seven deep space missions.