The prototype box that the game was mailed in.
As the hook glides on a perfect arc over the water it splashes effortlessly into the water. Suddenly it is pulled tight and it hooks onto its unseen target under the surface. Hand over hand the hook is brought back to the boat bringing with it the rope connecting two buoys. The rope is thrown onto an electric winch, and as the winch beings to strain, a half smile drifts across the fisherman’s face. Over the years, he has gotten a sixth sense for finding them; you don’t become the best captain in the Bering Sea without that sense. Before you can finish your thought the buoys bang up against the side of the boat and the men scrabble to their positions. Moments later the cage breaks the surface and the cheer rises from across the deck, “Crabs!”
- Each player takes a player aid card and a player token of the matching colour.
- Shuffle all crab cards together and deal a hand of six cards to each player, then deal ten crab cards face up in the play area as the starting crab pool. The remaining crab cards are the draw deck. Place it face-down where all players can reach it.
- Place the gear cards face-up near the crab pool and arrange them in ascending order (3, 5, 7, 10). Everyone begins with no gear, just their hands, so place the player tokens next to the lowest value gear card.
- Sort the vendor cards into stacks based on how many crab cards (1, 2, 3, or 4) each vendor wants. Shuffle each stack individually, then place the stacks face-down near the gear cards to create the Seafood Market. Turn the top card on each stack face-up. A crab card discard pile will form near the seafood market through scoring actions as the game progresses.
Beginning clockwise from the starting player, each player will perform one game action each turn.
- Upgrade Gear – Gear cards will give you bonus points when you are binding crabs, and will make it easier for you to acquire crabs of higher values.
- Grab Crabs – Take a total of two crab cards from the draw deck and/or the crab pool. You may freely choose the order in which you take the cards.
- Trade Crabs – Play any quantity of crab cards from your hand to the crab pool, then take back the same quantity of cards from the pool.
- Raise Crabs – Play any total value of crab cards from your hand to the crab pool, then take an equal value of crab cards from the crab pool.
- Catch Crabs – Play one crab card from your hand face-down onto the table as a rope card, then play one or more crab cards from your hand face-up on the rope card to represent the group of crabs you are catching. Total the relaxed value for each face-up crab card you play and add in the bonus value of the equipment card where your player token is located. Check the total on the following chart to see what value crab card you may keep. The crab card you keep MUST be one of the face-up crab cards you just played, so choose your cards carefully.
Add the kept crab card to your tableau of caught crabs then put all the remaining crab cards YOU played, including the rope card, face-up into the crab pool.
- Relax Crabs – Choose up to three stressed (horizontal) crab cards in your tableau of caught crabs and turn them vertical. These crab cards are now relaxed. Only relaxed crab cards can be sold to vendors for victory points.
At the end of the turn you discard down to your hand limit of eight cards before passing the turn to the player on your left.
After YOU have taken one game action, you may sell one or more crabs to a single vendor card in the Seafood Market.
- Select the vendor card YOU will sell crabs to and place the vendor card in your scoring area.
- YOU must immediately supply all the crabs listed on the vendor card from your tableau.
- Only relaxed (vertical) crab cards can be sold to a vendor card.
- YOU may sell any mixture of STAR and NO STAR crabs.
- Discard the NO STAR crabs to the crab card discard pile near the seafood market and place any STAR crabs on top of the vendor card you just added to your scoring area.
- Reveal the next vendor card on the exposed seafood market stack.
- Check your score total to see if you’ve triggered the end of the game.
Check your total score to see if you have triggered the end of the game. Your turn IS over and the player to your left begins her turn.
The end game is triggered when one player accumulates 25 Victory points or more (29 VP in a 2-player game). Complete the current round of turns so every player has had an equal number of turns, then tally up each player’s victory points to determine the winner.
VP will come from 3 sources:
- Accumulated vendor cards (total point values)
- STAR crabs sold to vendors (total STAR count)
- Upgraded gear cards (STAR count on your current gear card)
In case of a tie, the tied player who sold the highest value of STAR crabs to vendors is the winner.
Daily Magic Games has done it again! Crabs! is a beautiful, simple, well thought out game that just works on so many levels. One thing I love about this company is its diversity. They have a game for everyone no matter what style you enjoy playing. David from Daily Magic Games emailed me about this game; I Googled it first and noticed this was originally a Taiwanese game. So I watched a couple of ‘how to’ videos and actually felt the game was a little cluncky and seemed a little slow or awkward in areas. This could have been because of the players in the videos, but I did enter this game with a few reservations. But why I ever doubted Daily Magic I will never know as they have tightened the rules and given the game a new level of cohesion and focus. Not to mention they have brought on Claire Donaldson for additional art. I fell in love with her art on Food Truck Champion and she is an amazing talent.
At a recent games night, I was asked what I brought to the party and yelling out Crabs! raised a few eyebrows. But once I told them it is Daily Magic’s new game and showed them the meeples (I’m very excited for the awesome crab meeples in the finished product) there was a sudden air of excitement. I think this group of friends have as much love for Daily Magic Games as I do. So we quickly read the rules and it was game time. I must say this is quite an easy game to learn and teach. It has an 11 page rule book but like all of Daily Magic’s games they have an amazing talent for making rules extremely clear and precise. Even when a few rules could possibly be a little confusing, they added examples to make sure they were clear.
So let’s put it this way, I’m so glad I’m a good fisherman in real life because I suck at catching crabs. This game is so much fun and with quick turns it was a lot more strategic than I originally thought. Only being able to do one action really makes you think several moves ahead and allows for a spanner to be thrown into your works in an instance. Thankfully though, the game is forgiving enough that when it happens you can recover. Compared to the videos I watched, Daily Magic has apparently taken an average game and redefined it into a beautifully balanced, strategic, quick game.
Play assistance cards & Prototype meeples
As a quick afterthought, there is a bit of simple math in this game and the box does say for 12 plus. We did play a couple of games with a 10 year old who needed a little assistance. Though the game was a little slower and not as complex, it was still great fun and he loved it. So, if you have kids this is also a game I think you could play with them.
Daily Magic Games I believe has a great little game on their hands here. That being said, this so called light filler game took up three and a bit hours of our games night, and at 15-25 minutes a play through this was actually only one of two games we played that whole night (the other being Daily Magic’s Sailing to Osiris funnily enough).
Crabs! is a super fun, easy to learn game with a super cute and adorable theme and art styling, which I would highly recommend. If you want to check out Crabs! you can find the Kickstarter here.