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How to teach "The Crew, Quest for Planet Nine"

· 8 min read
Cory Cunningham

Captain's log, star date: 22:56Z5G. It started as a normal solar cycle but something has since happened to my crewmates. One of them randomly took my badge and demanded that I start calling him “Captain” because he had “the biggest rocket”, or something strange like that. That definitely made me uncomfortable. He then proceeded to start handing out tasks for each of us to do and told us not to talk while we carry out our tasks unless we wanted to use our one “talkie token”. Not sure what has gotten into him, but one thing is for sure. We have yet to see this planet we have set out for and if we don't find a sign pointing to this cause soon, I fear “talkie tokens” might be the least of our worries.

Game Basics

In “The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine” you are a group of astronauts tasked with finding the mysterious ninth planet in the solar system. You do this by cooperatively working your way through a list of tasks and scenarios in your “Log Book” that involve certain people winning certain cards and sometimes even in a certain order. Work through all fifty(!) of these tasks and you'll find yourself in another world, to say the least.

Seems simple enough, no? Well, to spice things up, let me tell you about the twist. What if I told you that you have to make sure each person wins the tricks they are supposed to and in the correct order without telling each other what's in your hands. Everybody gasp!

How to Teach

One of the great things about this game is that you really only need to teach a few things to get up and running. The time to teach should be quite short, especially if the group already knows what a “trick taking” game is. For the most part some of the components you'll only need to introduce as you get to them in the Log Book.


Pull out the “Four Rocket” card and make sure you get that so you can start the game's first trick. Shuffle the cards and deal out the rest of the deck to those playing. Deal out three of the objective cards.

Note: Yes, this is starting at Scenario Four in the Log Book but let's be honest, the first three are kind of a joke. They almost feel like you didn't really play the game at all.

Don't hand out the communication tokens just yet.

Trick Taking

First, ask if anyone is unaware of what a “trick taking” game is.

If someone says “no”: Explain that a trick taking game is where one person leads the round by playing a card from their hand. That card's suit is then the lead suit and everyone who has that same suit has to play a card from that suit, either higher or lower than the card played. If someone doesn't have that suit they can either play a card of a different suit or a trump card (in this case, the trumps are the rocket cards). Once everyone has played a card then the group of cards played, or the “trick”, goes to the person who either played the highest card of the leading suit OR the highest trump card.

After this brief explanation, reference other classic trick taking games, like Spades, Euchre, or Hearts to help give them more context.

Ground Control to Major Tom

As you are handing out the objective cards tell your crew,

Start by asking everyone to take a look at their hand and how they relate to the objective cards. As they are looking defeated and worried about how they could possibly bring victory to the citizens of Earth, start to hand out the communication tokens to each player, green side up. It helps to recite some sort of sci-fi quote as you do this.

Once they are showing some well earned confusion on their faces, let them in on the secret sauce. “These are how we communicate with one another.”

Now explain the communication tokens: “Once per turn before a round is started, a player may place a card from their hand onto the table placing their communication token on top of it.”

TopThis is the highest card of this suit that you have in your hand.
MiddleThis is the only card of this suit that you have in your hand.
BottomThis is the lowest card of this suit that you have in your hand.

Note: I know that feels repetitive but our minds like patterns so, repeating the end of the sentence over and over should help it stick more.

Commencing Countdown, Engines “ON”

From here play the first game and see how well you do! Remember: You should be starting the first trick since you saved the number four rocket for yourself. Make sure you use your communication token!

The Encounter Phase

When you're finished with the first game, make sure everyone understands what's going on with the mechanics and that they feel comfortable with the flow of play. If someone still seems confused or you failed the mission, then play again with three new objective cards or even two if you feel that's necessary.

If you won the scenario and everyone is feeling great, then go ahead and shuffle and deal out the cards again. If you have the number four rocket again then make sure you explain why you get to be “The Captain” again, that being because you have the number four rocket in your hand. If you don't have it, ask who does and then dawn them with the Captain token and start the next round. Here is where you'll also introduce the newest mechanic, the “order task tokens” (“>”, “>>”, etc.). Set out three new objectives and then place the first two number tokens out as well. Explain the only real shift here is that the objective with the “>” token has to be won before the object with “>>” and the third objective can be won at any time.


Not being able to communicate is obviously the gem of the game here. It creates such tension in each round. Everytime the cards are dealt, everyone's mind is flooded with the question of “how can I best give one clue to help push the needle one more trick toward victory”. The fact that you only have one chance per game to offer up any secrets to what's in your hand creates such a riveting game, round after round.

One of the best aspects of “The Crew” is that after every game everyone breaks into 'what went right?' and 'what went wrong?' conversations. But not only that, each round is over so quickly that you'll find yourself easily asking everyone, “Ready to go again?”. The Crew is a blast to play, and easy to pick up with how affordable and readily available it is.

Also, if you blast your way through the 50 scenarios, then there is another game in the series you can pick up, “The Crew: Mission Deep Sea”.

As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to @ me on Twitter or pop an email in my inbox.

May your tokens be useful and your tricks be clever and I hope this teachtorial helps you get “The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine” to the table.

- Cory 🎲


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