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You’ve Got Crabs

Choose your teammate and come up with devious signals to let each other know when you’ve got the crabs! But keep a sharp eye out on your opponents and try to intercept their signals to stop them from winning the game.

Published by Exploding Kittens, You’ve Got Crabs is a 20-minute card game for 4-10 players all about collecting matching crab cards and letting your teammate know it (without informing the rest of the table).

Gameplay

Players split into teams of two (you must play with an even number of people). You and your teammate secretly confer and agree on a secret signal.  Everyone then sits around the table. You should attempt to sit so that teammates are sitting at a diagonal across the table from each other. The table is then divided into two halves with teammates on opposite sides. The crabbing license is placed on the table, pointing at the side that will begin the game.

Each player takes two crab tokens, and eight crab tokens are placed in the box top to form the crab pot. Each player is dealt four cards and four cards are placed in the display, known as the ocean. The rest of the deck is set aside for the draw pile.

Turns are simultaneous for everyone on the side of the table that is currently active. When it is one side’s turn, everyone on that side can swap out cards from their hands with cards in the ocean display. You must always have four cards in your hand. You can only swap cards when it is your side of the table’s turn.

Once everyone on your side of the table has finished swapping any cards they wish, it becomes the turn for the players on the other side of the table. Both sides of the table continue taking turns and swapping until no one on either side wants to swap cards with the display. You then discard all cards in the display, placing them face-down into the discard pile and drawing another four cards and continuing play.

When you have four matching crab cards, you use your secret signal to let your teammate know. Your signal cannot be anything verbal and must be something that is fully visible to all players (it can’t be something underneath the table for example). If your teammate notices the signal he shouts: ‘you’ve got crabs!’. If he was right, then you show your four cards to the table, take one crab token from the crab pot, discard your four cards, and draw four new ones. If your teammate was incorrect, you do not show or discard your cards, but your team has to put one of its crab tokens back into the crab pot.

However, if an opponent believes you have four matching cards (either because he has been keeping track of which cards you’ve been picking up or he thinks he sees you give a secret signal) he can shout ‘you’ve got crabs!’. If the opponent was correct, he can take one of your team’s crab tokens, and you must discard your cards and draw four new ones. But if he was incorrect, you can take one of his crab tokens. Signaling and accusations of having crabs can occur regardless of which side of the table is currently taking its turn.

If both members on your team have four matching cards in their hands, you can accuse each other at the same time and then your team gets to take three crab tokens from anywhere around the table (including the crab pot or from opponents).

Once there are no crab tokens left in the crab pot, the game is over. The team with the most carb tokens wins.

You've Got Crabs Components

Review

You’ve Got Crabs is an enjoyable party card game. It’s got mechanics that are going to be nostalgically familiar, such as trying to collect four of a kind, but puts its own twist on it in a clever way. The secret signals are quite fun to come up with and you can even get extra creative and come up with false signals to throw off the other players. That, keeping an eye out for other team’s signals, and also focusing on swapping cards, is an excellent combination.

The simultaneous gameplay works well here as you race each other to make certain swaps while also making it more difficult to track what other players are collecting, which increases the suspense in those moments when you think a player might have four matching crabs but you’re not sure. The ability for two teammates to accuse each other at the same time also serves as a helpful, potential catch-up mechanism if a team gets too far behind, while being difficult to get right, as another team can always jump in to accuse you if they think you’re getting close to it.

Player count is broad going up to 10 and the game play balances fairly well across those player counts, but it’s also restrictive since you do need an even number of players in order for the game to work and there’s no work around for odd-numbered groups. This is particularly unfortunate for party games like this one.

The game’s title is likely to give you a very wrong impression of the game itself. The box says the game is recommended for ages 7+ and this really is accurate if you set aside the innuendo of the title and shouting ‘you’ve got crabs’ at each other. In fact, the crab cards have family-friendly pun names such as ‘bunny crabbit’ and ‘crabuccino’.

You’ve Got Crabs feels like a creative twist on a familiar genre. It reminded us of games we played as kids, but with enough added to keep it interesting and fun.

Pros: Great player interaction, it’s fun coming up with the signals and look for other teams signals

Cons: Game’s title, you need an even number of players

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.