The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by KOSMOS to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.

Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Publisher: KOSMOS
Design: Thomas Sing
Art: Marco Armbruster

Mechanisms: Co-op, Trick taking, Limited communication, Campaign game
Number of Players: 2 – 5
Game Time: 20 minutes

Description: In The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, you are a team of astronauts going out into space in order to find the fabled planet nine (which is out past Pluto, which was the 9th planet when I was a kid). You will work together in order to maintain your ship, avoid disasters, and get to Planet Nine – hopefully.

How? Through a clever series of trick taking games, each of them with a different twist on the main rule of trick taking. In short, a trick taking game works as thus:

  • the “lead” (first player) plays a card from their hand.
  • Everyone else at the table has to “follow suit,” i.e., play the same suit as the lead card (in this game, the “suits” are just colors – blue, pink, green, and yellow/orange/gold something like that).
  • If everyone does so, then the highest number card wins the hand (also called the trick)
  • The only exception is if someone doesn’t have the lead suit/color; then, they can play anything from their hand. Typically, they will not win the hand.
  • This is true unless they have what is called the “trump” suit. In this game, it’s the rocket cards (shown below). Cards in this suit win no matter what. If multiple trumps are played in one hand, then the highest number wins.
  • The person who wins the hand is the lead for the next trick (hand).

So, how in the world does a typically competitive type of game become cooperative? It’s about who wins when.

I was going to try and explain the entire thing to you, but it’s actually really difficult to do in written form. Meeple University has an awesome rules video that makes it really easy to understand how to play, so I recommend you check that out.

Review: Recently nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres, hit game The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine has been turning a lot of heads. Sarah and I were super interested in it. KOSMOS was generous and hooked us up with a review copy so we could give it a spin.

The two player adaptation of the game can be pretty tricky. It’s going to provide more of a challenge at higher player counts, of course, but playing it at 2 players doesn’t take away any of the fun. Because of social distancing for COVID-19, we haven’t yet played with a higher player count, but we’ll add an addendum when we do.

The cards definitely have a sci-fi feel to them. Every number in the deck has its own art, and the 9 pieces of art portray astronauts doing various tasks. The backgrounds on the cards are nice, and I like the card backs as well. It’s simple, clean, and easy to understand the information that you’re being provided.

My only real complaint about the game is that the cards could have been a little bit thicker This is one of those games that we’re probably going to end up sleeving at some point, especially because they’ve set it up so that you can play up to six different, full campaigns.

Where the game really gets going is the campaign book that is provided. It starts off really slowly – the first few games act as a tutorial for you, introducing you to trick taking and to the specific mechanisms that will lead you to victory. But, it starts to ramp up really quickly, throwing in twists and making things more difficult to navigate. The story is a little generic, but that doesn’t take away from the game at all. 

We haven’t finished the campaign completely yet, but where we’ve gotten has already made us wrack our brains. We’ve even failed once, already (Sarah and I aren’t always the best at limited communication, despite being married, haha). As you may expect with a card game, luck can bite you in the bum and make it near impossible to win a scenario.

But, even if you lose, you get to try again. What you mark in the log book is how many attempts it took to complete the mission.

While trick-taking games may feel like a dime a dozen, The Crew stands out among them all. By taking the limited communication idea and putting it into a trick-taking game, designer Thomas Sing has made a game that I believe will start some great trends in the limited-communication sphere.

Try, Buy, Deny: If you like cooperative games or trick-taking games, you need to buy The Crew and add it to your collection. It is an outstanding title, it’s got a great price point, and it’s well worth your time.

Game On!

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