The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Box Feature

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea Review: Silent Teamwork

Play Time: 20 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ / Publisher: Kosmos / Designer: Thomas Sing

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea Ratings and Summary

Teen Rating
Parent Rating


Teen rating from our son (14).

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is a fun cooperative trick taking game with a nice twist due to limited communication. There are some satisfying challenges as you progress through the missions and plenty of variety. If you really don’t like trick taking games though we don’t think this is going to change your mind.



  • Games can be set up and played in 10-15 minutes
  • 2 player variant works very well
  • Wide variety of task cards and increasing mission difficulty keep each game interesting and fresh
  • Limited communication prevents one person dominating decisions which can be an issue in some cooperative games.


  • Although there is a story weaved into the missions it doesn’t feel particularly thematic
  • If you really don’t like trick taking games this is unlikely to change your mind.

What You Will Find in The Crew: Mission Deep Sea Review

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The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is a follow on from the very popular The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine. While I had heard about the first game a fair bit, the idea of a cooperative trick taking game didn’t really excite me and so I didn’t feel compelled to try it. When designer Thomas Sing, and publisher Kosmos released The Crew: Mission Deep Sea I finally relented and thought I would at least see what all the fuss was about. So, did I end up agreeing with all the hype on this one? Absolutely, but… as is often the case in our household not all of us are on board with this game. You are going to have to read on if you want to know why, go on it won’t take long so grab a cuppa and enjoy the read.

How to Play The Crew: Mission Deep Sea


The rule book will tell you that you are tasked with exploring uncharted waters in the vast ocean, to boldly go where no one has been before. There are mysterious discoveries to be made and your crew have the financial backing to get to the bottom of it all. Sounds exciting right?

Except that’s not really what you are trying to do in this game. Yes, you have missions with some nice stories wrapped around them but essentially your goal for each mission is to complete one or more task cards as a team. This is a cooperative game, so you win or lose together.

The tasks don’t really have anything at all to do with exploring the mysterious depths of uncharted waters. Instead, the tasks revolve around winning or not winning certain cards. So, suit up, get your scuba gear on, and get ready to search the oceans for…. well maybe a green 7, or a series of odd numbered cards perhaps.

Set Up 

The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Game Set Up
The game set up and ready to go, the captain gets a snazzy cardboard standee.

Set up for a 3+ player game involves picking a mission from the mission logbook and then dealing all cards evenly to players. The player with the 4 submarine card is the captain and will start by getting first dibs on any task cards. The captain also gets a snazzy cardboard figure of a crew member in full scuba gear.

Speaking of task cards each mission will require you to complete a number of task cards that have a difficulty equal to a certain point value. The point value for tasks varies at different player counts to recognise that the difficulty of each task may change depending on the number of players. This is a good way to ensure the game functions well at all player counts.

Players will also gain access to a communication token (sonar token) each. In this game you can’t communicate anything about your cards other than by using this token. So, if you have people who like to dominate a game in the household, this is likely going to work out well to make sure everyone can participate. We’ll explain how these sonar tokens work a little later.

Playing Missions

You may have played trick taking games before and so this will all sound familiar, but if you haven’t here’s a quick rundown of how they work. In trick taking games each person plays a card to the table and each hand played like this is referred to as a ‘trick’.

In trick taking games, you must follow suit, unless you don’t have any of that suit in which case you can play any other card. Typically, the highest card played wins the trick unless a special ‘trump’ suit is played. I once forgot to point out that the highest card wins the trick when I was teaching this game, which resulted in a loss on the first hand. Everyone just looked at me like, “we spent 10 minutes learning the game and we lost on the first hand? Thanks mate.” I don’t assume anything anymore when I teach this game.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Wild Cards
The submarine cards act as trump cards in the game and can beat any other suit. The crew member that starts the game with the 4 submarine is the captain for that mission.

In The Crew: Mission Deep Sea players will complete missions that are contained in the logbook, each subsequent mission gets just a little harder as the total point value of the tasks required increases and other conditions are placed on players. While there is a deep-sea themed story that goes with each mission, we often forget to read it or skip it. Fundamentally everything boils down to completing task cards and adhering to any restrictions for that mission.

There are a heap of task cards in the box, 96 in total. I am amazed at how they have been able to come up with so many unique tasks and balance them all. My son and I really enjoy seeing new tasks that we haven’t tried before so we try to separate out the ones we have used and not use them again so we can see new tasks each game.

Starting with the captain, players will take turns looking at the available task cards and selecting one to complete. If there are fewer task cards than players, you can pass. There are rare cases where a combination of tasks may not be possible to complete as they conflict, in those situations you can clear the cards and deal a fresh batch of task cards.

When we first started playing my son and I weren’t as aware of potentially conflicting cards and on occasion would play through a few hands before one of us realised there was no possible way we could complete that combination of tasks. We would then have a laugh, and both claim that we had picked up on it earlier but were just waiting to see if the other one would cotton on.

I mentioned that you can’t discuss your cards with the other players except through using sonar tokens. Here’s how they work, before any trick is played you can choose to use your sonar token and it can only be used once. To use it, you reveal a card from your hand and place it face up in front of you, the token goes to the top of the card if it is your highest card of that suit, in the middle if it is your only card of that suit or at the bottom if it is the lowest card of that suit. It can be tricky deciding when to use your precious token and what card to communicate that will benefit your team the most.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Card With Sonar Token
The green sonar tokens are your only means of communicating specific card information during the game. You have to use these wisely as you only get one per mission.

What if you find yourself looking at the task cards on the table and have a sinking feeling (pun intended)? Maybe you just don’t think it’s all going to work out based on the hand you have been dealt. Instead of letting the team down bit by bit each hand and muttering sorry when you play each card you could opt to use the Distress Signal.

The Distress Signal token can only be used at the start of the mission once the task cards have been assigned. It allows all players to pass one non-trump card to the left or the right, you must all agree which direction to pass cards. The catch is you must indicate that you used the distress signal in the mission logbook, which increases the number of attempts for the mission by one as a penalty. Aside from that, whenever you look at your mission log, this is the mission that you will look back on in shame muttering ‘there really wasn’t any choice and anyone else would have done the same in my situation right?’

Playing each trick is pretty much the same as any trick taking game as I explained above. There are five suits: pink, yellow, blue, green and the trump suit with a picture of a submarine on each of the four trump cards. Once you have achieved all your tasks or failed any task the game ends immediately.

My advice is to make sure that each person’s task cards are easily visible to everyone. That will help you all remain aware of what needs to be achieved without accidentally sabotaging a task. Until we started doing this, we had a few occasions where a player would forget about someone else’s task and play a card that torpedoed their chances. It saves discussions like this after the game…’You played a low green, really? How am I meant to avoid winning any green cards when you play the 2 green?’

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2 Player Variant

The 2-player variant plays the same as the normal game but involves a dummy hand which is controlled by the captain. To set up the dummy hand you place 7 cards face down and 7 cards on top of them face up in the middle of the table. The captain will play for the dummy player and has access to any face up card, as the game progresses more cards are revealed and so more information about the dummy hand is available. For the 2-player variant you will use the task points listed for 3 players. Given the box says for 3-5 players the 2-player variant is surprisingly good.

Differences from The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

I haven’t played the original game but looked into both The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine and The Crew: Mission Deep Sea, when deciding which one to get. Here is my understanding of the differences between the two games.

Fundamentally the difference between the two games seems to be in the tasks, both their form and how the number of tasks needed to be completed is determined.

In The Crew: Mission Deep Sea all the information about a task is contained in a handy little card and the tasks seem more varied. They could involve winning more of one coloured card than another, winning the first trick, winning a hand with cards less than a value just about anything you can think of.

In the Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine the tasks seem a lot more similar and revolve around a specific player winning a certain card. There are tokens that can be added to the task cards that add other requirements, but they don’t seem anywhere near as varied and it seems a little fiddlier.  

In the Crew: Mission Deep Sea each mission requires a certain value of tasks to be completed and each value of a task varies with player count which makes it feel quite balanced.

In the Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine there are a certain number of tasks to be completed and each task does not have a specified difficulty weighting that varies with player count.

Overall, I felt that The Crew: Mission Deep Sea was a slightly improved version of its predecessor, so I went for that version.

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea Gameplay Experience  

The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Game In Play
During each mission it is important to keep track of what is being played to pick up cues from your crewmates. You can’t talk about any of the cards in your hand.

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is a simple game but adds some nice twists to the trick taking formula that sets it apart. For a start there is just so much variety in the task cards, the combinations and variations are different every game. This means that not only are the missions getting more challenging each game, but they also feel different. I have really enjoyed it and played around 30 games so far. We are not quite at the end of the mission logbook yet but I am still excited to continue playing the final third of the missions.

It’s not just the task cards that are varied either, there are also additional restrictions for some missions. You may be told you can’t use your sonar token, or that you have a time limit, some even randomise the restrictions depending on a card drawn.

My son and I really look forward to seeing what the next mission will throw at us. ‘What do you think dad, do you think we are better off trying to play the hand in 6 minutes or sacrifice our sonar tokens? Can we afford the loss of those sonar tokens for more time?’

I also love the limited communication in this game. It feels different to other cooperative games we have played in that you have to really pay attention to the non-verbal information as the game progresses. The great thing about it is it limits the ability of one player to dominate the decisions in the game which is often a negative for cooperative games. It means that although you are working together, each player still has the space to make decisions on their own without too much interference or other players dictating the strategy.

My son and I started out really struggling with the lack of communication and in our early games there was often a bit of blamestorming going on if we lost a hand. The great thing is as we have played more missions, we have both become better at working together by paying close attention to what’s being played. We have also got a lot better at encouraging each other win or lose after the game.

Although there is a lot to think about here the game is fundamentally quite simple and each mission can be set up and played in 15 minutes or so. That makes it very convenient to play when you’re short on time. In our family the shorter and simpler the game the more likely it is going to get played.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Mission Cards
There are 96 unique task cards in the game. They are really diverse and keep things interesting each mission.

Although there is plenty to like here, like a lot of games we are not all on board with this one. My wife is not a fan. She is generally not that interested in trick taking games and this one didn’t convert her. Taking specific cards and winning specific tricks without the ability to communicate didn’t seem like much fun to her. To be fair she did hang in there for multiple missions before she just said…’hmmm I don’t really get it, it’s not really for me.’

My daughters (aged 8 and 11) don’t mind a game but aren’t mad about it, I think part of the challenge is they don’t really find the theme that interesting, and the lack of communication is challenging for them. I think due to the limited communication the game is probably better suited to an older audience.

The other thing to watch out for is the first 3-5 missions are very easy. Unfortunately, if this is your first introduction to the game it may seem a little boring because there isn’t much of a challenge, it could also put people off playing further missions which is where the real fun is at. When I introduce the game to new players now, I usually start on mission 4 to ensure there are at least 2 or 3 missions in play to keep things interesting. 

Thoughts on 2-Player Variant

One thing which is a bit of a surprise is how well the 2-player variant works. The box says 3-5 players which kind of implies that the 2-player game is more of a tack on but not recommended. I have played this game a lot at 2 players and love it. My son and I both agree it’s a great 2-player game.

It plays quite differently to the standard game because the captain can control the dummy hand. There is a very cool element of gradually flipping more cards from the dummy hand as rounds progress which uncovers more information for players. It just makes the role of captain so much more interesting in my view. I personally think the game plays well at any player count, part of this is because the tasks are valued differently to balance them for different numbers of players.  


The Crew Mission Deep Sea Review - Cards in Four Coloured Suits
Each card has a nice illustration linked to the sea theme.

The Crew: Mission Deep sea is a pretty compact game. You get 40 large cards, 96 small task cards, some tokens, and a cool little cardboard captain standee. The artwork from Marco Armbruster is quite nice too, each card has a nice illustration on it to support the sea theme.

The card quality seems pretty good too. I haven’t sleeved our cards and after around 30 games there isn’t really any wear around the edges.


Will this game immerse you in the undersea adventure you are working your way through? Will it feel like you are navigating the mysterious uncharted depths of the ocean? Well, not really. Despite some cool artwork and some nice stories weaved into each mission this is still a case of achieving tasks related to playing cards. I can’t really get too immersed in an undersea theme when my goal is to get more green cards than pink, or make sure I win the first three tricks.

I think they have done a good job here trying to weave some story around this game and my son really enjoys the back story for each mission, but I think regardless of what they did here it would still be hard to make this sort of game feel thematic. It doesn’t really matter to me though I enjoy it for the gameplay I didn’t really expect an immersive theme.

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Final Thoughts on The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is a cool variation on trick taking games. The limited communication and varied tasks make each game feel like a unique and satisfying challenge. My son and I just love this game.

We aren’t all on board though, my wife isn’t a fan of trick-taking games, and this game didn’t change her mind on that. My daughters find it ok, but they wouldn’t choose to play it, the limited communication is a challenge for them here and they aren’t too interested in the theme.   

Is The Crew: Mission Deep Sea easy to learn?  The challenge here is remembering that you have to work together to complete all tasks as opposed to go it alone like most trick taking games. If you can remember that the rules are not that hard to understand.

What will The Crew: Mission Deep Sea teach my kids?  This game is all about paying attention to non-verbal cues and trying to anticipate what other players might play based on what you know.

What age is appropriate for The Crew: Mission Deep Sea?  The box says 10+ and I think that makes sense as a lot of younger kids may struggle with the limited communication aspect. However, the rules are simple enough for kids around 8 or 9 to be able to pick up.

Does The Crew: Mission Deep Sea have good replay value?  Yes, great replay value. The large variety of missions and task cards mean every mission feels different. There are 32 missions in the logbook and a way to ratchet up the difficulty and try again once you complete those.

We hope you enjoyed our The Crew:  Mission Deep Sea review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.  

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you discuss general strategy during task selection before the first hand is played?

The rules state you can not disclose any information about the cards in your hand other than by using a sonar token. Our interpretation is that it also means you cannot talk generally about tasks that are more or less favourable for you during the task selection phase.

The exception to this is when a mission includes a ‘free choice of tasks’ symbol (octopus). These allow you to speak freely about how to distribute task cards.

If your team achieves all tasks, then can you stop playing?

Yes, once you have completed all tasks then you may finish playing the mission. Be aware there are some tasks that require you to play to the end, for example a task that requires you to win exactly two green cards, you would need to play to the end to ensure you don’t win more than two. There are also tasks which require you to win the last trick or a certain card in the last trick.

Do submarine cards count when a mission depicts a multicoloured requirement?

These tasks typically depict a card with blue, pink, green and yellow quadrants. To achieve these missions, you cannot use submarine cards. Any missions that require you to use submarine cards will specifically show a submarine card on them.

For missions with rapture of the deep condition when there are 2 players does that mean neither will have a sonar token?

Our interpretation is that the dummy hand counts as a crew member and in that case, you would have 1 sonar token remaining for the other players. This may sound odd but here is our rationale, rapture the deep refers to two crew members losing their tokens not players. The two-player example in the rule book refers to the dummy hand as a crew member. Therefore, we interpret this to mean that the dummy crew member and one player can lose a token, leaving one sonar token left. This is also in line with the spirit of the condition which is to restrict communication not remove it.

Why are there no difficulty levels displayed for missions 21, 23 and 27?

This is because the mission requirements are printed in the logbook and do not require task cards.

Is there any way to communicate that you have no cards of a suit?

No, there is no communication allowed for that.

In a two-player game does the dummy crew member get tasks?

Yes, the dummy crew member will also get tasks which are selected by the captain but must be completed by the dummy crew member.

Strategy Tips

The strategy you use on each mission is likely to be very dependent on the specific task cards and conditions of that particular mission. Given that, I will try to focus on some general tips that should help:

  • Keep all tasks visible to the group – This may sound basic, but it tripped us up at first, remember you succeed or fail as a team. Make sure everyone can easily see each task and when they are complete have a system to make it visible. We like to put our task cards near the middle of the table and when we complete one, we turn it to the side, this means every player knows the status of each task and importantly is less likely to forget about one and sabotage the group.
  • Keep an eye out for players that have run out of a suit – When you notice a player has run out of a suit make sure you remember. This can be very important as playing that suit gives the other player a ton of flexibility to feed you cards you need or offload cards.
  • Communicating you have only one card of a suit can be very powerful – Linked to the point above, it can be very powerful to let your teammates know you have only one of a suit. That makes it a lot easier for them to clear that suit out of your hand and give you more flexibility to play cards during the game.
  • It is very challenging to win a low card you own – If there are tasks that require you to win the 2 green or a low card of any colour for that matter, it is very challenging to do that if you have that card in your hand. If that is the case try to avoid picking those tasks, it is easier for you to feed those low cards to other players at the right time.
  • Tasks that require you to win a certain submarine card are usually easier for the captain – The captain has the highest submarine card, so any missions that require someone to win a certain submarine card should be a sure thing for the captain to complete.
  • The task selection phase can provide useful information, pay attention – The tasks your crew mates select or pass on provide useful information about their hand. If someone picks a task that requires them to win more green cards than pinks, then it is likely that they have at least a few high green cards. Pay attention and keep that in mind during the game.
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