Cryptid review


08 November 2018
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cryptid-72285.jpg Cryptid
If you go down to the woods today, you’d better take some cubes

From Bigfoot and the Yeti to El Chupacabra and the Loch Ness Monster, rumours of strange, undiscovered creatures are some of our most enduring modern-day myths. This game from first-time designers Hal Duncan and Ruth Veveers casts players as monster hunters on the trail of one of these weird beasts – and to find it before your rivals you’ll need powers of logic, deduction and just a hint of sneaky misdirection.

Cryptid revolves around a modular hex-grid board divided into different types of terrain: deserts, caves, forests, lakes. Before the game begins, you and your opponents consult a deck of setup cards to construct a landscape. Then, with the aid of a set of player booklets, you each receive one bit of information leading to the hiding place of an unidentified mythical creature, for instance: “It lives on in a forest or a mountain,” or “It doesn’t live in deserts or swamps,” or “The habitat is within two spaces of an abandoned shack.”

The clever bit is that however your board is set up, there will only be one possible space where your animal could live. Your goal is to find it before anyone else – to do that, you’re going to have to ask some questions.

On each of your turns you’ll be able to choose a location on the board and ask one of your opponents whether the creature could live there. They’ll either answer yes, placing a circular token on the space, or no, placing a cube. As the rounds progress, you’ll collectively cover more and more of the board with markers and, along the way, you’ll try to use the revealed information to guess what your opponents’ clues might be. Are they constantly placing certain types of markers on certain types of terrain? Are they guessing at locations close to particular structures or landmarks?

Over time and with some careful observation, you’ll be able to hazard a guess at the information they might hold, and hone your own search accordingly. That also introduces the possibility of misleading your opponents, asking questions about terrain you already know can’t possibly be the correct type; a stone-cold poker face can be a considerable advantage.

Mechanically, it’s easy to get the hang of and, once you’ve got the premise down, turns fly past very quickly. The game’s publishers also plan to release a companion app to simplify the setup process and, while it wasn’t available at the time we received our review copy, it promises to further streamline to process of getting the game to the table.

But while it delivers a slick, fast-playing hit of head-scratching deduction, Cryptid comes with one big problem: there don’t seem to be enough wooden cubes in its box. In our three-player games, we ran out of bits before we were able to guess at the creature’s location, leading to some deeply unsatisfying situations where we finished without a winner. Publisher Osprey later clarified that we should have kept playing with any substitute markers we had to hand. Surely a better option would have been to include a few more cubes with the game? It’s a rare misstep from a company that’s established a stellar reputation for its games’ physical presentation.

OWEN DUFFY

 

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WE SAY

Cryptid creates an engaging sense of incremental deduction. With each passing round you’ll uncover a little more information about your creature’s hiding spot, and the challenge lies in making sense of it before your opponents can. But it comes without enough bits in the box, which is enough to leave a bit of a sour aftertaste on what’s otherwise a fun little brainteaser.

Buy your copy here.

Designer: Hal Duncan, Ruth Veveers

Artist: Kwanchai Moriya

Time: 30-50 minutes

Players: 3-5

Age: 10+

Price: £30

This review originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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