Cribbage With Grandpas is the latest addition to the surprisingly long list of cribbage apps in the App Store. It is also a polished, charming, and engaging introduction to the card game that is almost certainly the most endearing way to play. As someone who had never even attempted to play cribbage in the past, Cribbage With Grandpas not only taught me how, but also kept me coming back for more friendly (and not-so-friendly) matches against my growing list of grandpas.
The first part of the experience is creating your grandpa. Cribbage With Grandpas is just as much an adorable old man generator as it is a card game: you’ll be able to design everything from the bushiness of his eyebrows to the Hawaiianness of his shirt. The creator itself is simple and fun to play with, allowing you to drag features around his face and resize them with a simple pinch.
Once your grandpa is suited up, you can choose the setting for your match—such as a cozy den, the rec room of the VFW, or a scenic lake view porch—and your grandpa’s personality. You get to assign three out of nineteen personality traits to a single grandpa, and they range from “sweet” and “silly” to “sneaky” and “sore loser.” These traits seem to make a difference, as our “easy-going” grandpa was much more patient when we took too long to play a card, and was quick to offer guidance. Meanwhile, our “stubborn” and “tough” grandpa refused to give us tips on scoring our cards (although he always gave in after a huffy retort).
The cribbage game itself takes place against your AI grandpa, who sits across the virtual table from you (always with a pudding cup or other snack adorably stationed at his side). For new players like myself, there is a generous tutorial that you can play as long as you like. Even after the tutorial, if you need help with scoring or reminders of whose turn it is, grandpa will always help. Cribbage hands themselves are relatively small, with each opponent only holding four cards at a time, so the portrait-oriented gameplay is both comfortable to play one-handed and easy to read. The scoreboard is stationed around the screen like a frame, which is a clever use of real estate that keeps the current score always visible.
It’s a well-designed mobile card game, but the real stars are still the grandpas. Grandpa looks down at his cards while thinking, then back up at you when talking. He falls asleep when you take too long to play. He makes little rhymes while counting his crib. He brings the game to life in ways a username on a background never could. We couldn’t have cared less about cribbage before, but now we love Cribbage With Grandpas.