I played Cryptid for the first time last week, a competitive game of deduction where players are cryptozoologists trying to find the location of a rare creature in North America. Each player starts off with just one unique clue, which they keep secret throughout the game. Taking it in turns to ask questions, players must attempt to deduce what clues the others keep, and narrow down the location of the creature’s habitat to just one winning tile by placing markers that show whether a space could be (a circle) or couldn’t be (a square) the creature’s habitat.
The game takes a lot of thought and careful strategy – you want to gain as much information from other players as possible, while trying not to give away your own clue. Your clue might be something like “the habitat is on forest or swamp”, so to throw off your competitors, you might want to put your markers near to water or structures – the more misleading you can be (whilst being truthful, of course!), the better.
We played this initially with three players, and I actually turned out to be pretty good at it. As soon as a fourth player joined though, I was completely thrown – it was a lot harder keeping track of clues with just that one extra colour on the board. And when we tried out the game’s harder difficulty, that’s when I was totally lost. Suddenly, the clues had the potential to become much more complex, dealing in negatives like: “the habitat is not within two spaces of bear territory”. This was far too much for my tiny brain to handle, and I was constantly double-checking my clue book!
This is a perfect lighthearted family game. The competitive elements are really gentle, so there’s no bickering across the table, just lots of “I think I know what your clue is… but I have no idea about yours.” I’ll definitely be adding it to my board game wishlist.