Cryptozoology is one of my guilty pleasures. I know a science surrounding the research of creatures that we have almost no proof of sounds ridiculous and illegitimate, but very few subjects grip me like cryptozoology does. Personally, I am not qualified enough to speak to the existence of cryptids, but rather enjoy the discussion of where these legends originated, and why. And, of course, I enjoy the never ending hunt for these creatures.
Cryptid is a social deduction game designed by Hal Duncan and Ruth Veevers, where each player takes on the role of a Cryptozoologist, each with their own vital clue to the whereabouts of the cryptid they are all racing to hunt down.
Each game of Cryptid is different, from the map layout, to the cryptid’s location, to the clues given to the players, each game is unique. The board is set up with five different biome types: deserts, forests, mountains, oceans, and swamps. Additionally, there are two structures of three different colors set up on the board, each color having a Standing Stone (a tall, cylindrical shape) and an Abandoned Shack (a triangular prism). Additionally, there are bear territories, and cougar territories to add further unique tiles to the map.
Each player is given a clue that only they know as to where the cryptid they are hunting can be. A few examples include ‘Within three tiles of a blue structure’, or ‘On a forest or swamp tile’, or ‘Within one tile of bear territory’.
Then, players take turns doing one of two actions. They can either Search, where they choose a tile and ask one other player if the cryptid can be on that tile according to their clue. If the cryptid cannot be on that tile, they place a cube on it, signaling the elimination of that tile as a possibility. If the tile does work for their clue, they place a disk on that tile, and the turn passes.
The other action available is to Question, where you choose a tile that (according to your clue) is possible for the cryptid to be on. Players go around, placing a disk if their clue works for it, and placing a cube if it does not. Once a cube is placed, the questioning and the turn ends, however if no cubes are placed and everyone places a disk, then you’ve found the cryptid’s habitat and have won!
Cryptid, by nature, is very similar to Clue in the questioning and elimination of possibilities. It is both shorter and, in some cases, more difficult than Clue, as everyone’s results are public knowledge, so it’s very much so a race against the other player’s ability to deduce what the other clues are. It’s a true race against time, and takes a lot of strategy in choosing where to investigate.
My biggest (and only notable) gripe with this game is the quick set in of analysis paralysis. The rules specifically say that players should avoid taking notes, as it greatly reduces the amount of mental gymnastics one has to do, and ruins the point of the game. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for players to take a minute or two to study the map before deciding which tile to investigate. I think the game would greatly benefit from the use of a thirty second timer that is flipped at the start of your turn.
Social deduction games are not my bag. I’m not great at them, oftentimes misread clues, and get frustrated being out-played by other players (notably my girlfriend who has won 12 of the 15 games I’ve played with her). But Cryptid gives you enough information to keep you on the edge, pretty sure that you’ve got it figured out. It perfectly delivers the information everyone is gathering on an even playing field, offering victory to every player equally, it only depends on the player’s ability to extrapolate from incomplete data.
Cryptid deserves to replace Clue as the family classic social deduction game.
Cryptozoology is driven by the need for understanding the unknown. Humans find evidence that can’t be explained reasonably and are great at filling in the blanks, but can only be done correctly by those with the drive to understand.