Source: Thames & Kosmos

Calling all astronauts! Scientists say there is a mysterious ninth planet located at the edge of our solar system and needs you to join the adventure to find out if the theories are false – or to discover Planet Nine.

The Crew from Thames & Kosmos is a cooperative trick-taking card game in which players must work together to fulfill tasks and complete 50 different missions. The Crew has to have good communication and teamwork in order to win together — but, of course, it’s space, so nothing is as simple as it seems.

Although the gameplay is easy to master as you play and get used to it, definitely take some extra time before your first time playing to read through the rule book. Like most strategy games, The Crew has a lengthier rule book than typical games, so you’ll want to make sure you read through them carefully to get the hang of the game quickly.

The contents of The Crew cooperative, trick-taking game | Source: Thames & Kosmos

To start the game, all of the cards are distributed to “The Crew” (whoever is playing), then each player takes turns and plays one of their cards face up in the middle of the play space — this is the “trick.” The player who places the card with the highest value wins the trick, but only if that player has followed suit, or played the same suit choice as the first player. (There are five suits in this deck: pink, blue, green, yellow, and rocket cards.)

A task is fulfilled when one of the crew members wins a trick that contains the playing card that matches one of their task cards. (Pro tip: You can use one trick to fulfill more than one task, so there’s a bit of strategy to winning hands!) The catch? If a player wins a playing card that matching another player’s corresponding task card, the team loses immediately and has to restart the mission from the beginning, meaning communication is key — but players are not allowed to talk about the cards in their hand.

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Enter: the radio communication tokens. Each player is given a radio communication, which they are able to use one per mission. They can use it at any time before a trick, but never during the trick. If players want to communicate to the other players, they can take one of their color cards, place it face up on the table, and place the radio communication token on it in order to tell the other players information about their hand. At the top means that it is the highest card in their hand of that color; in the middle signifies that it is their only card of that color; and at the bottom notes that it is the lowest card of that color.

The game itself has about a 20-minute play time, which is a great introduction for kids to strategy games. Designed for kids ages 10 and up, it’s not too long or complicated, but does challenge them to get into the mindset required for more advanced strategy games. The gameplay is cooperative, which makes it perfect for a family game night. Players either win or lose together, so all players must help the others be successful in order to win — a different vibe than your typical competitive games.

Think you are ready to take on this next big space adventure? Then join The Crew and get ready for lift-off!