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- 78 cards
(13 types of Crab Cards - 6 of each type)
- 28 Crab Tokens
- Crabbing License
4 - 10 players, split up into teams of two.
(An even number of players is required.)
Catch the most crabs by the end of the game.
What is this?
In this game, each player will get a hand of 4 cards.
You will swap cards from your hand with cards in the middle of the table until you have four of a kind.
Then, pass a secret signal to your partner.
Your teammate sees the signal and shouts, You've Got Crabs!
If they’re right, your team gets a point.
If they’re wrong, your team loses a point.
If you see other teams passing signals, and correctly accuse them of having crabs before they do, you can steal their points!
At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins!
Form teams of two players each.
(5 teams max)
Each team meets privately to come up with a NON-VOCAL signal to indicate when either teammate collects 4 of the same Crab Card.
- Tapping on the table
- Touching your nose
Don'tuse words, numbers,
or anything vocal in your signal.
Don'tuse signals other teams can’t see
(touching under the table, etc.).
Don'tcheat. If it feels like cheating,
When all teams have returned to the table, each player should sit diagonally across from their teammate.
Don’t worry about perfect seating. The goal is to put distance between you and your partner so that other teams have a chance of noticing your signals.
Now that everyone is seated, we’re going to divide the table into two sides. Sides are different from teams! Imagine an invisible line down the center of the table to create SIDE 1 and side 2. One member of each team should be on each of the two sides.
Only one side plays at a time. For now, all you have to worry about is that one member of your team is on SIDE 1, and the other member is on side 2.
Remove any two types of Crab Cards; e.g. remove all 6 Jab Crab cards and all 6 King Crab cards so that you’re playing with 66 cards instead of the full deck.
Shuffle the deck and put it face-down on the table to form a Draw Pile.
Put the Crabbing License next to the Draw Pile and leave space for a Discard Pile (face-down) and 4 more Crab Cards (The Ocean).
Distribute 2 Crab Tokens (points) to each player and put 8 Crab Tokens on the table forming the Crab Pot. You can use the box lid as the Crab Pot.
If you have extra Crab Tokens, put them back in the Crab Drawer. They will not be used.
From the Draw Pile:
Deal 4 cards to each player.
Deal 4 cards face-up to form The Ocean.
Pick one of the two sides to go first, (sample criteria: most allergic to seafood, awesomest birthmark, most oblivious to game title innuendo) and rotate the Crabbing License to point to that side.
Each player is trying to get 4 of the same Crab Card in their hand.
One side plays at a time. On a side’s turn, all players on that side can simultaneously swap any card from their hand with a card from The Ocean.
- You should always have 4 cards in your hand and there should always be 4 cards in The Ocean.
- You can only swap cards when it’s your side’s turn.
- There is no limit to the number of cards you can swap when it’s your side’s turn.
There are no individual turns in this game. All players on a side swap as many cards as they want at the same time.
If you see a card in The Ocean you want, grab it quickly before someone else does!
When you don’t need any more cards in The Ocean, put your cards face-down on the table to indicate that you’re done swapping. When everyone on a side has put their cards down, check to make sure no one wants to swap any more cards, then rotate the Crabbing License to point at the other side to begin their turn immediately.
You can always pick your cards back up to look at them (even when it’s not your turn). Putting them down is just a visual indicator to the rest of the players that you are done swapping cards.
After rotating the Crabbing License, you can also countdown “3... 2... 1... Crabs!” before anyone starts swapping to ensure that all players on a side start swapping at the same time.
Replacing the ocean
Gameplay continues until 1 side doesn’t swap any cards. Without rotating the Crabbing License, ask the other side if they would like to swap any more cards. If any player on the other side wants to swap more cards, rotate the Crabbing License to the other
side and continue play.
If no one on the other side wants to swap, put the 4 cards from The Ocean face-down into the Discard Pile. Replace The Ocean with 4 new cards from the Draw Pile, and continue play from whichever side the Crabbing License is pointing.
If the Draw Pile runs out, reshuffle the Discard Pile and continue playing.
When you have 4 of the same Crab Card, you can't say anything out loud. Instead, when you’re ready, give your secret signal to your teammate. When they notice, they will point at you and shout, 'YOU’VE GOT CRABS!'
- If they are correct, you get a point. Show all 4 cards to everyone to verify them, take a Crab Token from the Crab Pot, discard your 4 cards, and draw 4 new ones from the Draw Pile.
- If they are incorrect and you don’t have crabs, you lose a point. Put one of your Crab Tokens into the Crab Pot. (You don’t have to show your cards. Keep them and continue playing.)
BUT, if a player on another team suspects you’re passing a signal, they can point and shout, 'YOU’VE GOT CRABS!'
- If they are correct, they steal one of your points. Show your cards to everyone, give the accusing player one of your Crab Tokens, discard your 4 cards, and draw 4 new ones from the Draw Pile.
- If they are incorrect, steal a Crab Token from the accusing player. (You don't have to show your cards. Keep them and continue playing.)
You can accuse any player of having Crabs at any time even if it’s not your side’s turn. After any accusation is resolved, play continues.
You and your teammate share Crab Tokens (points), and add them all together at the end of the game.
When your team must give another team a Crab Token, either teammate can give up the Crab Token.
If no one on your team has any Crab Tokens and you owe one to another team, take a Crab Token from the Crab Pot and use it to pay your debt.
Ending the Game
The game is over when the last Crab Token has been taken from the Crab Pot. At that point, all teams should count up thier combined Crab Tokens.
The team with the most Crab Tokens wins.
In the case of a tie, continue playing with just the teams that tied.
The next point wins.
Three More Things
You are not allowed to look through the Discard Pile.
You don’t have to see a signal to make an accusation. You can mentally keep track of what cards another player has in their hand.
Your team can devise false signals to confuse the other teams or multiple signals for more complex strategy.
One More Rule - Double Crabs
If both members of your team correctly accuse each other of having crabs at the same time (correct accusations must come within 1 second of each other), your team gets to collect 3 Crab Tokens from anywhere on the table. You can take Crab Tokens from other players, from the Crab Pot, or any combination.
This is a great way to get points without taking them from the Crab Pot, which could potentially end the game.
Shuffle the Imitation Crab Card into your deck of You’ve Got Crabs and play as normal. When someone draws the Imitation Crab Card, 2 things happen:
- Wild Card: Acts as the fourth card to any set of 3 matching Crab Cards.
- Crab Claws: The player holding the card must wear both rubber Crab Claws for as long as they have the card.
The Imitation Crab Card makes it much easier to get crabs because if you have it in your hand with any three of a kind, you now have crabs. But the Crab Claws make it much harder to hold your cards and pass signals.
The claws are also a reminder to the other players that you have a Wild Card in your hand. Also, they’re hilarious.