Designed by Tony Nelson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published by Maynards
Reviewed by Ken Tidwell
1 - 6 players
My sister was in town visiting, again, recently (did I mention I'm enjoying having family in the same time zone?). She and her beau are huge cribbage fans and we've managed to refine our Cribbage skills a bit each time they've visited. A new game arrived in the post from an unknown company, Maynard's, just after their previous visit. I unwrapped it to find, of all things, CrossCribb, a Cribbage variant. I set it aside but promised myself that I would dig it out the next time they were in town. There's nothing like an expert opinion when it comes to game variants.
My wife had planned a big game party for the night that my sister was scheduled to arrive. It was to celebrate another bout of aging. I keep telling her she doesn't have to age just to have a party but she won't listen to me so every year about this same time she has another big shindig.
I just had time to show CrossCribb to my sister before a massive wave of guests arrived and I got swept up in starting them off in games (and joining in one myself). Several hours later, out of the corner of my eye I noticed that she had snagged CrossCribb and rounded up a set of players. Fifteen minutes later they called out, "Hey, this is pretty good!" Fifteen more minutes went by and they called out, "Hey, Ken! Where can we get one of these? Its REALLY good!" They've snagged my copy and will be taking it back to show it to the Seattle crib scene.
The game is a very simple but clever board variant on the classic Cribbage card game. Players are paired off in partnerships. In the four player game each player is dealt seven cards which are kept face down. The board is a five by five grid. A single card is dealt into the center space on the grid. On their turn players look at the top card in their hand and then place it on an empty space on the grid. One partnership is trying to build the best possible set of cribbage hands from each of the grid rows; the other partnership scores the columns. Once per round each player must place one card in the crib which is owned by the dealer's partnership.
The game is fast paced and challenging. It feels a lot like Auf Heller und Pfennig but the placement of each card requires more consideration. Only half of a standard deck is in use in any round but even so you have to be aware of which cards have been played and which hands have the best probability of completion.
On the downside, the game had a bit of a random feel to it. This was offset to a large degree by the strategies involved in card placement. But it was a bit worrying that all of our games ended in complete blowouts with one partnership reaching the target score within a few rounds while the other partnership was barely out of the starting blocks. The game also suffers a bit from being a card game that could be played without actually purchasing the game, although the board is a very helpful play aid. This is a common problem with card games and certainly nothing against CrossCribb.
On the upside, my sister assured me that it would appeal to all Cribbage fans. The games were very tense, requiring a lot of thought and planning. And we were always eager to play, again. CrossCrib is recommended for card players and others who enjoy a light strategy game.
The Game Cabinet - email@example.com - Ken Tidwell