Issue 31: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea and Juicy Fruits
I'm taking a look at two exciting new board games, plus five interesting things happening across the industry this week.
Hello, dear reader! I hope you’re enjoying the transition to autumn, or if you’re in the southern hemisphere, I hope you’re enjoying the transition to spring. Both seasons provide generally good weather (at least, that’s often the case here in Salt Lake City) and are a good break from the seasons that came before.
This week, I’ve got an issue for you that’s focused on two new games. First up is The Crew: Mission Deep Sea, the well-anticipated sequel to The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine.
The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
I have made no secret of my love of The Crew since I started this newsletter, and I don’t suspect that will change any time soon, especially with the recent release of The Crew: Mission Deep Sea. We played a bit of it over the last week after our copy came, and I’m happy to report that, yes, it’s excellent, and no, it’s not that different from the original.
The core mechanics of the game remain relatively unchanged: There are still four equally distributed suits and an always-trump suit (submarines, not rockets, this time around), and you’re still trying to accomplish objectives that are distributed around the table.
The big difference — at least so far — is in the objectives you take. There are many more objective cards now, and each objective has a weighted difficulty listed on the back. A mission notes its difficulty, and you’ll draw objective cards until you meet that difficulty mark.
That change is the only major one that runs throughout, and it lends a real variability to Mission Deep Sea that The Quest for Planet Nine lacks. That, of course, is no criticism of the original: The way it ramps up in difficulty with objectives that are designed intentionally is part of what lends the game such magic. But once you’ve beat the game with a group, there’s not really anywhere to go with the game — and really, that’s fine. I’ve played hundreds of rounds of The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something.
A new game, with a new veneer and some variability in objectives? I’m absolutely on board. Mission Deep Sea can be a tougher game, and it can test you early on when you might expect an easier time. Objectives are wider reaching than just sometimes-ordered tricks to win. I like that a lot.
Would I recommend this sequel to newcomers? Probably not. It’s a great game, and I don’t think it’ll take too much extra explanation, but The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is magical, and that’s the experience I’d recommend first.
Five things in board games this week
Board gaming has been in the media recently because of issues with international manufacturing and shipping — and the latest public discussion of that is coming after an article in Time. [Time: The Board Game Business Is Booming, But the Global Shipping Crisis Could Be Disastrous]
T, a games manager at HABA USA, had an excellent thread on some of the very specific impacts of the above seen in gaming and other industries. They also had some great, common-sense recommendations for dealing with the disruptions — the best one, no doubt? Play the games you own. (That’s probably something I could be considerably better about. [Twitter/TheOneTAR]
Simone Giertz, a Swedish TV host and maker, posted this absolutely brilliant table on Twitter last week that she made. I would love to have this table. I would love to make this table, actually, although I am not at all skilled in woodworking.
I’ve been enjoying the Meta Game Minute series from The Brothers Murph, so I thought I’d share one of their more recent episodes about explaining games. It’s worth the quick watch, and their channel is generally worth a watch, too.
I liked this post on the board games subreddit — it’s about Vasel’s Law and contradictions to it. Vasel’s Law basically states that if a game is good enough, it will get a reprint. While I think that law held weight during periods in which there were fewer games released, I wonder if things will start to slip through the cracks from the last five or so years, which will likely go down as the most productive in gaming for some time — especially if shipping and production issues continue for an extended period. Anyway, a fascinating thread. [Reddit]
Capstone Games has rapidly become one of my favorite publishers of the last two or three years, owing to their commitment to releasing smart games with nice — if not overly elaborate — components and quality. They’ve recently started expanding their line into a Capstone Games Family line, which is where Juicy Fruits falls.
If you think you’re getting a light, breezy game you won’t have to put much thought into with Juicy Fruits because of that “family” tag, you should probably rethink that assessment. The game is easy to grasp, but I would hesitate to call it simple.
The core loop is pretty easy: Move a piece on your board to gain a number of the pictured fruit equal to the number of spaces it moves. Use that fruit to fulfill contracts with ships, removing them from your board and gaining points, or use it to gain new, potentially useful tiles for your board — or even entirely useless point-gaining tiles that fill up your board. The game starts pushing you to plan a turn ahead, then two turns, then as far as you can reckon. It’s a fun puzzle, it’s easy to get started, and it’s a game you can improve at over time. That’s a great mark of a family game.
Also, the wooden fruit tokens are perfection. They’re really what make the game tick. When I play, I want to maximize my opportunities to get fruit tokens, and only half of it is because that’s how you succeed at the game. The other half is because I want to play with them.
Photo of the Week: Juicy Fruits
Thanks for reading Don't Eat the Meeples. You can find me on Instagram and on Twitter. I even started a podcast this year, Vintage Sci-Fi Shorts, in which I read old science fiction short stories from the pages of old sci-fi magazines.