Cryptid Board Game Review
WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 3-5
You’ll like this if you like: Treasure Island, The Search for Planet X,
Published by: Osprey Games
Designed by: Hal Duncan, Ruth Veevers
We're going on a monster hunt.
We're going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We're actually pretty scared, I mean it’s a monster hunt and those things are big with pointy teeth and sharp claws……...actually forget the monster hunt, we'll just stay in and watch T.V.
The Rules Yeti
In Cryptid players are cryptozoologists trying to hunt down the Cryptid of the week. To set up, pick one of the cards from the 60 card deck and set up the board as per the card. Then based on the player count, give each player a book of clues and let them know which number clue they’ll be using for this game. Each player will then place a cube onto a space where the monster isn’t, based on their clue.
On a player's turn you can either question or search. When you question, place the pawn on a space and ask a player if the monster could possibly be on that space based on their clue. If it can, then they place one of their discs on the space. If not then they place a cube. If they place a cube then you must place one of your cubes on a space on the board where the creature couldn’t be based on your clue.
A search is similar to questioning except you essentially ask the whole table. Place the pawn on a space which you know could be the habitat. You must then place one of your discs in that space. If you already have a disc there then you have to place a disc in another space which could be the habitat. Then in turn order, each player must place a cube or a disc, again based on their clue. Once a player places a cube the search ends and you place a cube in another space. If however all other players place a disc then the game ends and the player who called the search wins.
Shock ness monster
I love when board games surprise me. Not jumping out from behind the curtain kind of surprise me. Although that would certainly be a shock and now I’m trying to decide which would be the scariest board game to have jump out on you! Cryptid was a game I’d heard a lot of good things about and it was on my list of games I wanted to try but I never really looked into it much further than that. When I finally managed to play it though I immediately regretted not seeking it out sooner!
When you first look at Cryptid out on the table it certainly doesn’t boast the sort of monster hunting adventure that the front cover suggests and, let’s be honest it’s not that and the game never really confesses to being that. What it is though is a brilliant, pure deduction game that not only asks you to find out where the creature's habitat is, but also what information your opponents are hiding.
Chubpacabra’s clever clues
At the start of the game you literally have your clue and a couple of your opponents cubes on the board to help you find the habitat. It's one of those games that, when you start you can’t help but think of the term ‘needle in a haystack’ and even though you have those couple of clues, knowing where to start can be a bit overwhelming. This is where the game gets clever. The first couple of turns are usually a shot in the dark for all parties, but don’t forget that everytime someone gets a negative answer to a question, they have to add a cube as well. So quickly the board starts to fill up and it’s here where the deduction element kicks into high gear. Regardless of the outcome, each turn of questioning gives the group some idea as to other players' clues which is sure to keep players engaged throughout the game. The further into the game you get, the more it becomes a race to crack each other’s clues and find the habitat before the others. It gives the game a great escalation in tension and makes you don the deerstalker and get the old grey matter going as soon as you start the game.
There’s something fun about looking around the table and seeing everyone muttering to themselves with a huge quizzical look on their faces as they’re all trying to figure out everyone else’s clues. The game doesn’t stop there though as it gives you a fun way to add to that confusion. It would make sense to assume that if someone has questioned you about a space then it must mean that that space is part of their clue. But when you question you don’t have to question about a space that follows the rules of your clue so you can bluff your opponents. If you think it’s fun seeing everyone’s confused faces, then there’s nothing like seeing them when they think they’ve got your clue sussed out and then you bluff them!
A lot of deduction games will ask players to either play a role, be a traitor or bluff their way around things and, as bad as I am at them, I do love those styles of games, but they’re not for everyone. Not everyone feels comfortable with being “the one” in those games and not everyone is good at bluffing or keeping a good poker face. As well as throwing the game off they’re not always good for new gamers who aren’t used to that style of deduction. This is where I think Cryptid becomes the ideal deduction game for all of those people mentioned above. It gives you all the fun of deduction without having to rely on skills that some of us don’t naturally have. You may have already deduced from this paragraph that I’m not a good liar when it comes to board games……..or am I!?
Cryptid plays just as well at three players as it does five but as the player count creeps up things get a lot tighter and, as you can imagine, so does the amount of information you need to keep in your head. I won’t lie, that can be a lot as you're trying to figure out who has what type of clue. However there is now a deduction sheet that you can print off from Ospreys website. I’ve not had a chance to print this off yet but I’m eager to add it to the box as soon as I can.
Not a Big-Foot print
When you first look at Cryptid set up on the table you’ll be forgiven for thinking that this is an abstract game and I’d probably be the first to agree with you. The game doesn’t necessarily scream creature hunt. The artwork on the tiles is quite simplistic, well done of course but there’s just not a lot of it and the components are just some cubes and discs and other simple shapes. I know some people will see this and be tempted to turn away, but please don’t! Because it's not until you play the game that you realise that these are the perfect components for the game and that these are all they could realistically be for the game to work as well as it does.
Any more artwork on the board and it would be too busy and distracting. The wooden pieces are nice and simple and, again, are there so as not to confuse things and distract from the game. Just looking at the board you instantly know that a cube means no and a disc means yes and the structures are instantly recognisable. I can imagine there being publishers out there who would be tempted to put unique pieces for each player which would just confuse things.
It’s games like this that go a long way to prove that sometimes making big flashy components aren’t always a benefit to the game and just keeping it simple is sometimes what you need. All that being said, I really like the components. The boards look good when they’re all put together and the wooden pieces are oversized and are nice to handle.
Let’s talk about replayability. There are 54 cards in this box. 19 regular cards and 35 advanced and each of these have clues for all three player counts. Now I’m not going to get into the maths but that is A LOT of replayability. I’m not saying you’re ever going to get through all the cards but this is definitely a game that more often than not you’re going to want to immediately set up and play again. Let’s be honest though, unless you play this a ton, you’re probably not going to remember clues from each card.
Cryptid is a great deduction game that I would happily bring out to gamers and non gamers for a quick game of puzzly fun. The box states 30 - 50 minutes playtime but even at five players our games have generally been at the bottom end of that time, which means you can easily set up and play again and there’s a good chance that once you’ve found one Cryptid, you’ll want to repack your equipment and go search for another!