3-5 players (2 player variant), Competitive, Deduction
Designer: Hal Duncan, Ruth Veevers
Artwork: Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Osprey Games
Overview of Gameplay
In Cryptid you play as a zoologist on the hunt for the mysterious and elusive Cryptid which is basically a mythical beast like the Yeti or Sasquatch or Loch Ness monster etc. On your turn you will be placing a cube on the tiled board in a very specific spot that which does NOT pertain to your given clue of where the beast resides. That or you can ask a question to another player about the whereabouts to kinda get an idea of what they may know. Each player goes around and takes one of these actions until someone deduces the exact location of the critter and that person wins!
The game board is composed of 6 large tiled sections that fit together in different arrangements to give variability to the playing board for each different game played. On top of that there is an entire deck of cards that the only purpose of which is different tile arrangements. The board pieces are of a thicker cardboard and of a good quality. The other tokens and bits in the game are the colored cubes for the five players, each of a different color and also a special “clue” booklet for each player as well. The cubes and pegs are all wooden and also of a good quality and even though the cards are only used to set up the specific map you are playing, they are a decent quality as well.
The box is on the smaller side and everything fits in perfectly snug so there really isn’t any room for movement. The insert is just a small cardboard piece that is mainly there to hold the board pieces above the tokens. You will have to bag up all the tokens individually but they do include 5 small baggies to do this with for each player’s pieces. Of course there are still a few other tokens such as the monument and camp wooden tokens that will need a bag. Kinda strange they didn’t include just one more bag for those. Either way the game is pretty fast to setup, one of those games that I actually enjoy setting up actually. Draw a random card to see what map layout you get and then position the tiles in a specific way. After that set up the camp and monument tokens on specific spaces. Flip the setup card and each player has an exclusive number that corresponds to a particular clue that only they will know that is listed in their clue booklet.
Visual Appeal /Theme
Visually the game is pretty bland. The board tiles have different environment hex spaces like water, mountain, swamp, desert and so on but the artwork is super basic. The game definitely isn’t a head turner in the art department. The cubes and pegs you will be placing on the board are also visually basic with just different colors to differentiate the players. I will say though I do enjoy the color choices of the cubes in the game. The theme is fantastic though with the hunt for a cryptid! The theme actually is what drew me to the game, the thought of competing zoologists trying to find this monster intrigued me greatly. Of course this is mostly a mental thought as the components don’t really go far to visually stimulate that at all.
The rulebook is a pretty straight forward affair for setup and teaching. There is also a tutorial setup spot on their website that walks you through how to setup and get started if you so desire. However I can say that the game is surprisingly simple to get going. The biggest point of confusion on my part was the asking a question aspect on your turn. That portion of the game can get very tricky on how and what kind of question can you ask. Luckily the rulebook does give multiple examples of what you can and can’t say and it does emphasize the importance of being truthful in the game as well.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
Lots and lots of table talk as you are trying to kind of work with the other players to locate the lair of this beast. I mean there can be only one winner here but it is in your best interest to ask questions to try and narrow down your search but without giving away too much of your own information in the process. There will be a lot of theory-crafting and ideas floating around and you never really know just how clever someone is being……like could she be saying that just to throw the rest of us off? Which is entirely possible! You could inquire about a specific tile that you already KNOW the beast could not be JUST to confuse the others and buy you more time.
It was stuff like that that really improved the fun for me and our team. The constant deduction and theories that kept creeping up was exciting and this only got more intense as we got closer to the end. One game I absolutely was sure where the beast was BUT another player beat me to it on the same round. It was a close game for sure.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
Unfortunately there is no solo aspect to the game and the minimum listed player count is 3. However there is a 2 player variant on their website that you can print out, (it’s a single page for the rules). I have yet to try the game two-player and after skimming the rules it looked like it just consisted of each player using a second color of cubes with a couple other tweaks, nothing too fancy. I can say the game plays wonderfully at five players with very little downtime to be found. I have heard stories of games with 3 players running out of cubes before the end which is a shame for sure but I have not had that happen to me yet.
The replayability is crazy high here. I mean the game comes with a decently large stack of cards that each have a completely different board setup. There are individual booklets for each player just filled to the brim with different clues. There is an advanced game setup included that adds another camp and monument. I mean it would take many, MANY plays to ever see all the setups and by the time you got through them all you could start over from the beginning of the setup cards and it would still be new as you would have forgotten everything at that point.
Positive Final Thoughts
A super fun strategic deduction game. The turns are fast and the player interaction is pretty high. The gameplay gets more intense as you play towards the end. Overall I just very simply had fun! It is a game that I could bring out with a group that is pretty thinky but simple enough to enjoy without having to learn a myriad of rules.
Negative Final Thoughts
The graphic design is super basic and the tokens are also pretty basic. This didn’t detract from the game persay but it did pull away from the theme for me. If the artwork on the board was better, more intricate I think it would have improved the idea of a search for a cryptid. Also there just are not enough tokens included in the game. Multiple games I have played either one or more people end up running out of cubes. I ended up ordering some extra cubes from a website just to supplement.