Updated: Apr 12
Designed by Hal Duncan and Ruth Veevers, with art by Kwanchai Moriya, Osprey Games' Cryptid is a clever deduction game for 3-5 players where each person holds a unique clue to finding the location of the elusive Cryptid and there is a race to be the first to find the creature's lair.
Selecting a card from a deck shows how to set up the map using the 6 boards provided, then each player is given a booklet with their particular clue for that map. Clues can be to do with the possible terrain type or proximity to animal territories or structures. Players then take it in turns to select a specific hex, using the pawn, and then either ask any other player a question, or search a space. If a player answers that the creature could be in that space (according to the criteria in their clue), they place a disc. If the Cryptid cannot be in that space, they place a cube. If a cube is placed, the questioning player also places a cube but somewhere else that the creature could not be. Players searching a space place their own disc first and then go clockwise asking each player if the creature could be there. Any cubes placed stop the search immediately but if discs are added from all other players, the player searching is the winner.
Although you cannot lie in this game, there is a bluffing element as you try to misdirect your opponents by asking questions to which you already know the answer while you try and solve other people's clues in order to pinpoint the correct location.
Cryptid plays just as well with three as it does with five, but with more people it is helpful to keep pen and paper handy to keep track of clues given and one thing we found helpful was to have a pause mid-game and get everyone to check that their cubes and discs were correctly assigned, as we found a couple of errors each time! Erroneous giving of information can ruin the game, so this is not an ideal choice for players prone to making careless mistakes.
This game is a brain-burner (especially with more people giving clues) but it is a fun competitive essentially abstract puzzle-solving experience with a well-thought out, clear design. The helpful clue summary on the back of each booklet acts as a perfect player aid. There is also an advanced set of cards for a harder game, but don't attempt this unless you are well prepared to handle double negatives and vast permutations!
Cryptid is such a unique, well implemented game that it is surely deserving of its Kennerspiel des Jahres nomination, even tho' it won't be for everyone.
(Review by Matt Young)