I am not usually one for trick-taking games. There have been exceptions, but on the whole, I usually need something more to go with a game than ‘win hands’. That’s why The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine popped onto my radar when it first came out. And no, I won’t call it by its full title going forward!
The Crew is a game where the trick-taking aspect is turned into a cooperative puzzle to solve. The increasing difficulty occurs over a 50 mission campaign of sorts, giving a goal. And there is the crowd splitting rule of no shared information. In The Crew this is thematically more appropriate than in most games, though.
The way to win each mission is that specific players need to win hands with specific cards. The card play is standard trick-taking – there are four suits with cards 1 to 9, and 4 trump (rocket) cards. What people need to win is shared information. The catch is you can’t tell other players what you have in your hand.
There is a communication of sorts in the game. It’s a limited burst of radio communication, where you can display one card. The information you can share is if that card is the highest, lowest, or only card of that suit.
Some players hate this hidden information aspect of a lot of games. For The Crew, it makes sense to me. If you can freely discuss who has was, there is little to no puzzle to solve. People talk openly about cards and search what is played in The Game for example. A lot of these players then complain there is no challenge to it.
At first, the missions are simple, such as one player wins one card. But going forward things get harder. Specific cards must be won in order. One player cannot win any hands. The already limited communication is messed with. Things like that.
If you like the idea of a shared puzzle, The Crew may be a good game for you. And with it being available on Board Game Arena, it’s a great way to try it out for yourself!