Cryptid is a deduction game designed by Hal Duncan and Ruth Veevers, with artwork by Kwanchai Moriya, where players take on the role of cryptozoologists seeking out the location of a strange and elusive creature hidden somewhere on the game map.
The challenge? Each player begins the game with just one secret clue about where the mysterious entity is located and must question the other players to gain knowledge to determine where it is (and isn’t) hidden. Players need to be careful to not divulge too much about their secret clue to other players, otherwise, this information could be used by them to discover the cryptid first and claim victory.
The game includes a modular board (comprised of six map tiles), five clue books, a deck of 54 set-up cards in two difficulty levels, eight structure markers, two types of player pieces (cubes and discs) in five different colors, and one pawn.
To set up the game board, first, pick a card from the set-up deck in your chosen difficulty (black-bordered cards are for advanced games). One side of the card shows a map diagram- arrange the six map tiles to replicate the diagram and create the game board. Note that each map tile is numbered and the black dot on the map diagram indicates the location of where the number is on the tile. Lastly, place the structures in the hex spaces as pictured in the map diagram. Regular difficulty games do not use the black structures.
The opposite side of the map diagram is a clue chart. Use this to delegate one clue to each player. The leftmost column of the chart indicates the number of players. Give each player a clue book and their numbered clue as printed on the chart. The rightmost column of the chart indicates the hint number which can be revealed if players are stuck and need help.
During gameplay, players question each other to determine if a specific map space could be the habitat of the cryptid (based on the clue they were given during setup). If the questioned player places a cube in the space it means it cannot be the habitat, but they place a disc it means that the space could be the habitat.
Players can also search a map space if they feel confident that the cryptid may be hidden there. Moving clockwise around the table, each player is asked if the space could be the cryptid’s habitat. If a cube is placed at any point, questioning of players immediately ends. If each player places a disc on the space, the player who initiated the search has correctly identified the habitat of the cryptid and wins the game.
Cryptid is a wonderfully elegant logic-based puzzle and is one of the best deduction board games available today. Gameplay can easily be scaled to be more challenging using the advanced set-up cards which include the use of the black structures and more complex clues. The game supports three to five players, and games can take between 30 to 50 minutes to play.
If players exhaust the included set-up cards, Osprey Games has made a companion site (ospreypublishing.com/playcryptid) available that includes additional set-up map diagrams and clues, and even includes a two-player variant of the game.