The Art of Trick Taking – The Crew the Quest for Planet Nine

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Game Terminologies

(1) Trick-taking : When doing a trick, the player must play cards of the same suit . It can be same color, same type,  depending on the game. In the Crew, the same suit means the same color. The trick’s color set will depend on the first player. If there are no cards of the same suit, the player can play 1 card of another suit or 1 rocket card. The player with the highest value cards in the same suit wins the trick.

(2) Rocket Cards: when players don’t have the appropriate card, they can play a rocket card. A rocket card can triumph all other suits. If the player has the rocket with the highest value in the trick, that player wins the trick. If the rocket card is the starting card for the trick, all players must play the rocket card if they have one.

(3) Quest vs Task: in a game, players will together complete a quest. In a quest, there will be a certain number of tasks. The job is actually one of 36 cards of 4 color sets. To complete the task, all the assigned tasks must be successful. If any task fails, or they were not completed in the right order, the quest fails.

(4) Completing the Task: player with the assigned Task will have to win the trick having that matching Task. Specifically, Player doesn’t have to be the one playing that card. The player can complete 2 Tasks in the same trick if possible. Depending on the task, the order of completion of the tasks is also different


Learn to play

(1) Before assigning tasks, players will deal all the cards equally to every crew member. The 36 card deck consists of 4 suits, each with 1 to 9, and 4 rocket cards from 1 to 4. If there are 3 players, then one player will have 1 more card than the other 2.

(2) Each quest will have a certain number of tasks. Randomly select the number of tasks that match the number of jobs required in the task. The player with a 4 value rocket card, will be the leader in the first turn. He or she will choose the first task.  Clockwise, every one will assign tasks to themselves until there is none left.

(3) After that , the leader will start the first trick. And the game officially begins. If someone wins the trick, then that person becomes the next leader.

(4) During the game, there is no verbal discussion among the crew members. Players can only communicate with each other through 1 Token. To make contact, the player selects 1 card from his hand, places his token in 1 of 3 places on the card

Communication Token

a. Top of the card: this is the highest value card in the suit that the player has. For example, placing a token on top of a 7 gold card, it means that card is the highest gold card player has on hand.
b. Middle of the card: this is the only card of the suit that player owns.
c. Below the card: this is the lowest value card in this set of colors that the player owns. A token at the bottom of 5 Green means that is the lowest Green card the player has.

In addition, players can only this token once in a whole mission. After a player uses a card with a token placed on it for a trick, the token will turn red. This signals the player has finished using his tokens for this mission.

(5) The game ends when the player completes the quest or the mission fails

Ease of access to the playing audience

There are many factors that make The Crew highly accessible. The first thing is not to depend on language too much – Language Independence. In the game, apart from the rule book, the only time the player needs to know English is to find and understand the challenge of the mission. During the game, players dont have to speak any words.

The different suits is also another point making the game so accessible. In the game, the suits illustrates with different icons: Square for pink, X for yellow, Round for blue and Triangle for green. The game designer did not forget about the players who were unlucky in their perception of color. This is a very meaningful thing, for me, because Board Game is a hobby that does not belong to anyone. It is for everyone. You can also find the same approach in other games, such as the train cards in the Ticket To Ride series.

The next thing is the increasing difficulty in each mission. Like other Campaign-based games, The Crew leads players on a journey to find the 9th planet. It starts with beginner missions, learning about the mechanics, how to play and so on. The higher you go, the harder the challenge, requiring players to Level Up according to each mission. And this factor also contributes to the game’s second plus point: high replayability.

High replay-ability

With 50 different missions ranging from beginner to expert, as well as different challenges and setups, The Crew makes it easy for players to play over and over again. Although there are many different ways of setting up, the game setup time is usually no more than 3 minutes. Just after the initial learning period, players can directly participate in the quest.

Not only that, the playing time of a mission is also very short. For a quest below level 25, the player can finish the mission in 5-10′ (sometimes 2′ if someone accidentally broke the mission). As for the quests after level 25 onwards, it will usually take about 15-20 minutes. In addition, the player does not spend too much time restarting the mission if it fails. Shuffle the deck, set up the tokens, and pick a new job, is all the player has to do. Although this is a plus point, but sometimes, encountering a try-hard player, doing the same level 43 task over and over in 3 hours is a different story. “Well, lets give it another try” – and so on from 12pm to 3am.

Flexibility in problem solving

Lets revise the rule book a bit here: “to complete the assigned task, the player must win the trick that has the same card as the assigned task. ” The first thing that players often think about is that they must own a card that matches their assigned job. But no, that’s just one of the approaches in the game. The player can still complete the job if another player plays a card that matches the job.

Not to mention, players do not necessarily have to have great value cards in their hand to win Trick. Sometimes a player can still finish the job with a card of value (1) or have no cards of the same suit in their hand. For example, player A wants to complete a green (1) job but only has the correct (1) green card in hand. To do this, player A would have to lure all green 2-9 cards and rockets out of play, and then player (1) green to initiate the trick. At that time, (1) green becomes the highest value card in the Green suit. In theory, this is possible (as it has happened), however, to do so requires all players to communicate with each other as efficiently as possible. And that is also the next plus point of the game

Communication is the key

What I like most in the Crew is the way players communicate and exchange information with each other.

The first point is the creativity in using a single token to exchange information – the highest value card, the only card and the lowest value card. Players do not have to randomly choose a card and then place the token on it, but have to deduce and calculate which card, and where to put the token. Not only that, players must choose the right time to give contact information. This will help the remaining players shape the strategy, should let who win which trick, play with which card, so that all work together, as well as the task.

The second point is not to use words when communicating. In all Coop games, there is usually a very familiar but also very sad motif. There will always be the presence of a game boss- aka Alpha Gamer- , a character (or more) who stands out to tell all the remaining players what to do. These people are mostly veterans (longtime gamers), and they want to win games. Although the whole village shared the same goal, this inadvertently created a certain inhibition. Because of the rest of the players, they no longer get the full experience of the game. Some good examples are Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Island etc. However, with The Crew, players have very few options to communicate and discuss. This point not only eliminates the Alpha Gamer factor, but also helps all players experience this game to the fullest.

High interactivity

One of the best experiences in the game is the high interactivity. Unlike the ancestor of the Euro game series – Catan, when players interact with each other through the Take That mechanism – many ways from stealing cards, resources, or Negotiate – negotiating to get the best deal.

In The Crew, players have to constantly interact with each other during each turn. With each turn of 1 trick, the player is constantly in a situation of reasoning and analysis. “Why is the 5 gold card?”, “Should I use this rocket card?” The player must not only respond with a random card, but also have to choose the most suitable card, to help other players complete their work. This is more noticeable in high level quests. Players must be really effective in how to respond to each trick as well as how to initiate the trick.

Because of this factor, The Crew gives the feeling that players are directly confronting each other to win, not simply playing against the game anymore. “Play the players, don’t play the game”. Indeed, each game, with different players, approaches and solves problems completely. The game no longer stops at players sitting down to play together, but playing to understand each other, and know each other’s ways of playing and thinking.

The boring graphics

(The first limitation is the presentation of game graphics. The game box is an appearance of two astronauts, and a black planet. Honestly, with such graphics, it is difficult for the game to make a first impression on those who are new to the game or do not know anything about the game.

Next are the cards. In the cards, once again the characters appear, doing some abstract action. If the important details are the numbers as well as the suit of each card, then accidentally the graphics take up more than 90% of the area but do not really stand out. This accidentally makes the game topic unrelated to the game. Although the name is “The Quest for the Planet Nine”, but in the process of playing, it is difficult to feel that the player is on a quest to find the 9th planet. This mechanism and gameplay, is completely possible. replaced with other topics such as: ocean exploration, arctic exploration, etc. For me, the topic of arctic exploration – the quest to the North Pole – might be better, because at least, players will know how the ice melts, how the polar bears are in danger.

Anyway, the theme and graphics are not the most limiting point of the game

The incomplete 2 player variant

Although the game received a lot of praise for its gameplay in the pluses section, ironically, the gameplay is also the minus point for the game – the two-player variant. In the two-player game, there will be a bot Jarvis. Jarvis will also have a deck of cards like any other normal player. However, half of the deck will be face up, and the other half face down. The player who is the Leader of the trick, controls Jarvis for that turn. The face-down half deck is visible when the other is out.

This inadvertently creates an element of luck in two-player games. Without the appearance of the card needed to complete the job in Jarvis’s half-up, the player has no way of completing the job. Not to mention that when the other half is flipped, the player has only 6-7 tricks (half of 13 or 14 cards) left to complete the mission. The rhythm and gameplay will also completely shuffle. At this point, the “Play The Players” element will no longer be, but instead a race to complete the task with the few remaining cards. Hopefully in the next versions, the game will be more complete for the two-player variant

Final Words

Although there are still certain limitations, but to be fair, it is a very solid game. The Crew has been bringing a lot of success for the first time cooperation between game producer Thomas Sing and publisher KOSMOS. There are so many good things about this game. It is easily accessible to players, as well as the flexibility in problem solving, or the high interactivity between players, and especially the creativity in communication for the game Coop. The Crew will bring players to experience a variety of emotions. Player will feel the extreme stress during the mission, the frustration of failure, the confusion when accidentally “losing each other”, or the frustration when solve a task.

The Crew can be an appetizer for a tactical Game Night, or it can also be the main dish for moments of sitting back and learning how to play each other. If I had to choose one sentence to summarize The Crew, for me, there is no better sentence than the saying of the father of modern Business Administration, Peter Drucker: “The most important thing in communication is to listen to what is not said.”

We are influencers and brand affiliates.  This post contains affiliate links, most which go to Amazon and are Geo-Affiliate links to nearest Amazon store.