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I know what you’re thinking – who is this cutting-edge fashionista with his fancy card games? But if there’s not space in the 21st century for a card game in which you score “one for his nob” then I don’t want to live in it. For those of you with me, here’s my verdict on what is the best cribbage app.
Cribbage with Grandpas (4 stars)
Let’s face it, Cribbage is an old boys’ game, and so if you’re going to play you might as well face off against some AI elders. Cribbage With Grandpas lets you do just that, allowing you to customise a care home’s worth of card-playing pensioners, each of which have their own personality traits, style of play and skill level.
You also get to customise their appearance and living quarters, and then ahead of each session you can decide which of your personalised pensioners to take on. Each keeps score, so if you’re finding Alf too tough you can move on to Malcolm.
I’ll square with you, I find the in-game chat (text rather than audio) a bit wearing. Thankfully, one of the grandpa settings lets you adjust their chattiness. I prefer mine to shut up and play cards, truth be told.
As for the gameplay itself, it’s pretty strong, with the different skill levels clearly evident. The cards have a rather odd design, which takes some getting used to, and unlike the other two cribbage games here, you have to score your own hand (selecting the cards that make a ’15’, for example). If you make a mistake, grandpa won’t prompt you to recount – you just lose the points. Trust me, I’ve tried.
In one game we saw a bug where it wouldn’t let us count a flush, which was infuriating, but we’ve only seen it once in a dozen or more hands. Otherwise, it’s an entertaining take on the game and only a couple of quid on either Android or iOS.
Cribbage Classic (4 stars)
Cribbage Classic is the game I’ve had on my iPad for a year or so, and it’s one I keep coming back to. It’s not only a decent game, it’s a knowledgable teacher, too. And it’s free.
There are three difficulty levels: Easy, Standard or Pro. Easy is insultingly soft, Standard will give you a decent game, and Pro is almost infallible. Everything is kept dead simple – there’s no flashy graphics, rewards to be earned or intrusive ads (on the iPad, at least). The worst you’ll get is a tiny banner ad for the thing you bought on Amazon last week (God bless targeted adverts).
The best thing about this game is what happens after the game has finished. There is a Discard Analyser that assesses the cards you put in your own crib or handed to an opponent, telling you how many points better off you’d have been on average if you’d done things differently. There’s a grim satisfaction to be had from gradually beating down your “suboptimal play history” into single digits.
The Discard Analyser can be used during games too, allowing you to enter your hand and take advice on which two cards to discard. It’s cheating at a Lance Armstrong level, but a helping hand for those learning Cribbage or trying to re-remember the rules, having last played with Grandad in 1985.
Cribbage Classic is also available on Android and from the Windows Store, although Windows Store reviewers complain of bugs in the app, delivering an average rating of only 3.3 stars.
Cribbage Deluxe (3 stars)
Windows players who can’t get no satisfaction from Cribbage Classic should give Cribbage Deluxe a try. It’s pretty similar to Cribbage Classic, although it includes a reward system, where the more you play the more coins you can put towards fancier card decks or boards. I’ll leave it, if it’s all the same…
Cribbage Deluxe is a little gentler on beginners, giving you a summary of all the scoring after each hand, instead of hoping that you’ll follow the counting like Cribbage Classic does. You can stop a game midway through and resume where you left off, which is another plus over Classic.
The ads are a little larger than they are in Cribbage Classic, but they won’t scare the chickens. And given the app is free, it’s almost churlish to complain.