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Cryptid Review


Quick Look:

Designer: Hal Duncan, Ruth Veevers
Artist: Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Osprey Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 3-5
Ages: 10+ 
Playing Time: 30-50 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

From the publisher: 
You've studied the footage, connected the dots, and gathered what meager evidence you could. You're close — soon the whole world will know the truth behind the Cryptid. A group of like-minded cryptozoologists have come together to finally uncover the elusive creature, but the glory of discovery is too rich to share. Without giving away some of what you know you will never succeed in locating the beast, but reveal too much and your name will be long forgotten!

***

TL;DR: Cryptid is a very impressive multiplayer logic puzzle. If you like logic puzzles but wish they came in a competitive multi-player format with some sweet box art, you will like Cryptid. 

Box art by Kwanchai Moriya
 ***
Did you ever do logic puzzles in school? They were some of my favorite exercises. They read something like this:

Five kids are very close in height, but they want to know how tall they are in order. If the shortest person is lying, and the rest are telling the truth, can you order how tall each kid is from tallest to shortest?

Dallas: Kelly is taller than me.
Jennifer: I'm taller than Dallas.
Rebekah: Dallas is the second tallest.
Christopher: Jennifer is lying.
Kelly: Christopher is the third tallest.


These exercises were generally solo plays, and it was ultimately the student against the puzzle. You may be racing against other students, but there wasn't anything you could do to throw someone off of the trail--either you were the fastest or you weren't.

I liked the challenge of the puzzles and working through the given clues until you found a solution that fit all of the requirements. I also liked the self-induced competitive aspect of trying to be the first to complete them. A quarter-century later, I still like to pass the time with these logic based exercises like Sudoku--and I am still competitive. There are many social deduction games, but didn't seem to be many competitive board games that utilized this logic-based format that were also competitive and multiplayer.*

So after hearing about Cryptid, I jumped at the chance to review it. The hope was that this was a game that was going to scratch a very specific brain itch.

Cryptid is a very good logic puzzle, it is multiplayer, and you can strategically throw your opponents off the trail in order to decrease their likelihood of winning. It takes the things that logic puzzle fans like, and uses them in a competitive game. It scratched the itch.

First, Cryptid is a strong deduction-based logic puzzle. I was skeptical at how challenging a board game version of this type of puzzle could be, but it can be tough. There are nine locations on the modular board from which to deduce the habitat--five terrains, two animal territories, and two structures. And the secret clues aren't all as simple as "(the habitat) is on water". Some clues are related to the number of spaces between the potential habitat and a location--e.g. It is within two spaces of water--making it harder for players to deduce. The game also has an advanced mode using inverse clues such as "not within two spaces of water". Moreover, your opponents can strategically place their cannot-be-here cubes in places that keep their secret clue somewhat convoluted. More on that in a moment.

There are 9 locations that need to be resolved: the 5 terrains, 2 animal territories (highlighted with red and black boarders), and 2 locations (standing stones and abandoned shacks).
Second, Cryptid is easy to teach. In short, players take turns selecting one of their opponents and asking "could the creature be here?". The questioned opponent must honestly respond with either yes (with a disc) or no (with a cube) based on their clue. If a player thinks they have pinpointed the location, they can search the spot requiring that one of their opponents disprove their theory based on their individual secret clues. If their opponents cannot disprove the location, the player has discovered the habitat and wins the game. That's it in a nutshell. No added gimmicks, or morning/afternoon/night phases, or extra fluff in an effort to be anything more than the logic puzzle it is. Also, the online set-up aid at https://ospreypublishing.com/playcryptid/ is a great resource.

Third, Cryptid is strategic. When the active player is required to place a cube on the board after questioning or searching, they have the liberty of playing it anywhere on the board that meets the requirement of their secret clue. So, if your secret clue is that the habitat is within one space of water, you could place the cube on a dessert, mountain, cougar, or even a water space, so long as it is within one space of water. Unlike a solo logic puzzle, players have to not only deduce where the habitat is, but they must actively think about how to disguise their clue from the other players.

Finally, Cryptid has replayability. I went in with the concern that there would be a small number of different scenarios and then once they were exhausted, you would have to set the game aside for a time in order to forget, and then you could come back to it. I was way off. The game comes with 54 set-up cards and players can also generate more map set-ups on the Play Cryptid website. You could play this game once a day for months without a repeat. I am very impressed with the thought and design of the clues and modular board that allow for this many different habitat locations.

Cryptid comes with 54 set-up cards including an advanced mode--designated with black borders.

If you like logic puzzles, but wanted one that would allow you to actively compete against your friends, Cryptid is that game.

Now let's look closer at set-up and rules.

Review:

Game Play:
In Cryptid, players take on the role of the of a cryptozoologist looking for the habitat of the Cryptid. Each player receives cubes and discs in the color of their choosing, and a map set-up card is selected. The modular board is set-up as indicated on the selected map set-up/clue card (either normal or advanced). The set-up cards card also indicate where the standing stones and abandoned shack structures should be placed. Finally each player is given a clue booklet that contains their secret clue for the scenario. The secret clues eliminate potential location(s) of the Cryptid (e.g. the habitat is within one space of water). Players match the the numbers provided on the card with the corresponding clue in their clue book and the first player pawn is given to the player that set-up the board. 

On the backside of the set-up cards are specific clue books used for the scenario and where players will find their clue.
On a player's turn, they place the pawn marker on a space on the modular board consisting of one of different five terrains (water, forest, dessert, swamp, mountains), two animal locations (cougars and bears), and/or two structures (standing stones and abandoned shacks). The player can then either question a specific opponent if the Cryptid's habitat could be on that location based on their clue, or they can search the location, requiring any opponent that can eliminate that location to do so.

When questioned, players must answer truthfully and place either a cube (the habitat cannot be at that location) or a disc (it could be on that location) based on their secret clue. In the event that a questioned player places a cube, the questioning player must also play a cube anywhere on the board that is within the limits of their secret clue.

If a player searches a location, the remaining players, starting clockwise from the active player, must indicate if the habitat could not be at that location. Once a player places a cube indicating that the space is cannot be the habitat location, the search is over and no further players must indicate whether it meets their clue or not. Like questioning, if any other player adds a cube to the board, the player that conducted the search must also add a cube to the board. However, if no opponent can disprove the location selected with their clues, the searching player has discovered the habitat and wins the game.

Discs represent places the habitat could be, while cubes eliminate the space as a potential habitat.
There is a online tutorial and set-up instructions at https://ospreypublishing.com/playcryptid/

Mechanisms:
Solely deduction.

Artwork and Components:
The game includes:
5 player clue booklets
6 numbered modular board pieces
54 cards (plus additional set-up variations online)
5 sets of player tokens
4 standing stones
4 abandoned shacks
1 player pawn

The box art by Kwanchai Moriya is phenomenal. The cubes and discs are wood, and the modular board is sturdy. This should hold-up over the 100+ potential plays.

More Cryptid art in the instruction booklet.

The Good:
If you skipped the intro and were skimming this review for some easy to digest bullet points, I got you, fam.
  • Cryptid is a challenging logic puzzle - Players must deduce the habitat from 9 possible areas, and some of the secret clues are more vague than others. Moreover, your opponents can strategically place their markers in places that keep their secret clue somewhat convoluted. And if that isn't challenging enough, the game comes with an advanced mode with inverse clues.
  • Cryptid is easy to teach - In short, players take turns asking "could the creature be here" and the questioned opponent responding with either yes or no. If a player thinks they have pinpointed the location, they can search the spot requiring that one of their opponents disprove their theory based on their individual secret clues. If their opponents cannot disprove the location, the player has discovered the habitat and wins the game.
  • Cryptid is strategic - When a player is forced to play an additional cube after receiving a "no" response, they have the liberty of playing the cube on any space that doesn't contradict their clue. Players can keep their clue a secret longer by varying the type of terrain and/or structures and/or animal territories that they designate as "cannot-be-here" spaces.
  • Cryptid has replayability - The game comes with 54 potential scenarios and offers more on their website. You could play this game once a day for months without a repeat.
 
Several potential locations for the habitat, but only one space is correct.

The Bad:
One thing that stood out a negative was the color choice for the player tokens. There is a light blue-ish option and a teal color that are not easily distinguishable at first glance. I'm not certain why they decided on two colors that were so close to one another, but it is what it is. If you have difficulty distinguishing blues, you will want to replace one of the sets with a different color, or mark them with a dot or something that would set them apart from one another.

Another issue that arose is that there were a few times that a player ran out of their cubes prior to the game's end. I am not certain if this was intentional or not, but when it happened, we assumed that we had been playing wrong. A quick search online revealed that we weren't the only ones that had this issue, but it is still odd that there are more potential spaces requiring cubes, than available cubes.

The Other:
I only bring this to light because I know of people that will buy anything illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya--outside of the box and instruction book, there really isn't that much art in the game. There are little trees, mountains, etc. on the board pieces to differentiate the different terrains, but that's about it. The game relies more on the mechanisms than theme. If you are expecting miniatures or cards with yetis or chupacabras or any other mythical cryptid, you'll be a little disappointed. The board and wooden pieces are very simple in design. The box looks great though. This "the other" section is brought to you by First World Problems, Inc.

Final Thoughts:
Cryptid took the good from logic puzzles, added an interesting (albeit light) theme, and made it a competitive multi-player experience. I like logic puzzles and I liked this game. If you like logic puzzles, I think you will like Cryptid too.

Players Who Like: Logic puzzles, hidden role and deduction games.

*You followed the asterisk from the introduction, good for you! Ok, so I said that there didn't seem to be many competitive, multiplayer logic-based board games. Here's the deal--there are literally thousands of new games produced every year, and I play maybe .05% of them. There may be (and probably are) other competitive multiplayer logic-based games, but I, for whatever reason, missed them. So, if you made it this far and find yourself thinking "Balderdash! I know of other games that fit this description!", I want to offer an alternative to hate mail. If there are similar games that you like, or if you really like Cryptid too, let us know on the Everything Board Games Community Facebook page or on Twitter at @ETBoardGames.


Check out Cryptid on:
 
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/231223/visitor-blackwood-grove   https://resonym.com/game/visitor/  https://twitter.com/resonym  https://www.instagram.com/theresonym/  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv_nFagYZztjNyish6Cq21g   




Nick Shipley - Reviewer

Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. Nick lives in Oklahoma.

See Nick's reviews HERE.
Cryptid Review Cryptid Review Reviewed by Nick Shipley on April 01, 2019 Rating: 5

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