Cryptozoology for Beginners is a game by Mataio Wilson, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of students on a field trip to capture the best photos of some of the most elusive and mysterious creatues ever. The player that can best complete their assignments and collect the most points will be declared the winner.
To begin, the Assignment deck is shuffled and placed face down near the middle of the play area. The Cryptid deck is also shuffled and placed facedown but on the other side of the play area, leaving room in the middle for a Public Assignment Area. All of the Reward tokens are turned facedown and shuffled together to form a pile. The first player is chosen and is given the Bus standee. Play now begins.
The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round is divided into 4 steps. The first step is to choose assignments. To do this, each player is dealt 2 Assignment cards facedown. Each player then chooses 1 to place in front of themself faceup as their Private Assignment and 1 to place in the Public Assignments area in the middle of the play area.
This brings us to the second step which is to draft cryptids. Each player is dealt 8 Cryptid cards facedown. Players will choose 1 card from their hand and place it facedown in a stack in front of themself. The remaining cards are then passed to the player on their left. This continues with players choosing a card and passing the remaining cards until there is a stack of 8 cards in front of them. The last card that is passed to the player is placed on top of their stack. One thing should be noted, players may look at their stack of cards at any time during the draft.
The third step is when players take their turns. At this point, players take their stack of cards into their hand. They will then take turns playing and activating cards beginning with the first player and going in turn order. Each player’s turn consists of 3 steps. First they will choose a card from their hand and place it faceup in front of themself. They will then activate any abilities on their faceup cards. To activate a card, the player must turn it sideways along with the required number of cards of the same type. If the player doesn’t have the required amount of cards of that type, then the card may not be activated. Activated cards that have been turned sideways are not allowed to be activated again or to be used to activate another card until it has been readied by turning it right side up. For the final step the player may complete assignments. If the player has any faceup cards that meet the requirement of a Public Assignment, they are allowed to claim the card and place it in front of themself sideways to show that it has been completed. If the player can complete their Private Assignment, then this card is turned sideways to show it has been completed. It should be noted that some assignments reward the player with a bonus effect that takes effect immediately upon completing the assignment or at the end of the round based on the card’s text. Also of note is that some card effects grant the player a Reward token, which is drawn randomly from the facedown pool. The player is allowed to look at it secretly once it’s been taken before placing it facedown in front of themself. These provide points that will be used to help determine a winner at the end of the game.
If a player has no cards left in their hand at the beginning of their turn then their turn is skipped. Once all players have no more cards left in their hand to play, the round ends. This brings us to the final step which is the end of the rournd. In this last step all the Cryptid cards that are in front of the players, both the activated and unactivated ones, are placed in the discard pile. Some Assignments allow a player to keep a card if they choose to, or it may be discarded along with the others. If a Cryptid card is kept, it is readied by turning it back right side up. Any completed Assignments and any uncompleted Private Assignments are kept. Uncompleted Public Assigments are also left as well. The first player marker is passed to the player with the least amount of points from completed Assignments, not counting Reward tokens. A new round will then begin and each player is then dealt 2 new Assignments from the deck.
The game continues until the end of the third round. At this point players will then reveal all their Reward tokens and add up both the points on these and the points on any completed Assignments. The player with the most points is the winner.
This game comes with two types of cards, a first player marker and a series of Reward tokens. The first player token and Reward tokens are all made of thick cardboard. The first player marker is a standee showing a Bigfoot riding on the back of a school bus full of kids. It’s actually quite funny looking and is in the same art style as the artwork on the various cards. It’s a really fun piece that helps players keep track of who goes first. The Reward tokens have stars on them and a point value of either 3, 4, 5 or 6 points. These are nice and get the job done. Nothing really spectacular with them, but then there doesn’t have to be either. The main part of the game is the cards. There are Cryptid cards and Assignment cards. Both sets of cards are really well made and have a really nice almost linen finish to them. The artwork is kinda goofy and fun. It’s done in the Steven Rhodes style and has that sort of zaniness about it. They look quite nice and I enjoy the art style. It’s not quite as out there as Let’s Call the Exorcist, far as the artistic design goes but it’s definitely unusual to say the least. It’s not going to blow you away but it’s still fun and may make you laugh. I rather like it.
8 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is very similar to the one for Let’s Call the Exorcist. It’s the same size and is laid out pretty much the same way. The book is the same length of 10 pages. The first page gives an overview of the game and goes over the components before spending the next 7 pages giving you the setup, explaining the rules and telling you how to win the game. The last couple of pages are used on clarification of different things and concepts in the game; such as keeping cryptids and gathering new assignments. The back of the rulebook adds some optional rules for playing the game for the first time and also for playing with only 2 players. The book has plenty of pictures and examples. I think that the rules are pretty well written and do a good job of explaining how to play the game. It’s fairly quick to read and is pretty simple to understand. The one bad thing about the book is that the pages are black with white writing. With books like these I find that the pages end up getting smudged fairly easier than with white pages. It’s not a major concern but it is a pet peeve of mine. Overall though I think the rules are laid out quite well and the book is nicely done.
8 out of 10
One game mechanic that I rather enjoy is card drafting. This game takes that mechanic and adds a bit of a twist to it by adding assignment cards and powers to the cryptid cards that you draft. Of course there is some luck to game as you don’t know what you’re going to draw on that opening hand. You might end up with a couple of cards that help you complete your private assignment, or you could draw absolutely nothing to help you. This is mitigated at least a little bit by the public assignments, as there’s usually something that you can try to draft towards. Speaking of private assignments, why are these face up? Shouldn’t a private assignment be…I don’t know….private? If the card is face up then your opponents are going to know which way you’ll probably be drafting towards and could very well try to hate draft so that you wind up with nothing to help you. What this winds up doing, at least as far as I’ve seen is not a lot of points being scored. Instead there tends to be a lot of random cards played which don’t do a whole lot as far as scoring goes. I think for the most part, there should be some errata released which changes the private assignment to face down. That way at least you’ve got something that your opponents can’t work against you on. Then it becomes more of a thinking game. For example: “There were three Nessies in this hand when I got it earlier, now there’s two. I’m guessing that one of my opponents could possibly be going for Nessies. Better take one of these to keep them from being able to possibly activate a card.” This makes playing the game a bit more strategic instead of aggressive. In any event, I thought the game was pretty ok. I mean, it has some nice mechanics and I did enjoy playing it. The problem is that it’s doesn’t do quite enough to make it that much different from any other card drafting game. That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun. As I said, I do enjoy it, there’s just not a lot of variety with it. That said, I do think that fans of card drafting games will enjoy this one. I’m sure I’ll be playing it again very soon. The theme is one that my family enjoy quite a lot. Honestly I didn’t see anything that would keep this from being a fun family card game. The gameplay might be a bit advanced for some of the younger players and the artwork might be a bit scary for them as well so it’s probably better played with teens or preteens and older players. In any event, this is one that I’d recommend. It’s full of crypto fun.
8 out of 10
Cryptozoology for Beginners is a light weight drafting card game with a few small twists. It doesn’t take a long time to play. Most game sessions last around 30-45 minutes. The cards and tokens are well designed and the artwork is a lot of fun. The rulebook is well designed and easy to read through. The game itself is fairly simple and is your basic card drafting game with the addition of trying to complete assignments to score points. I don’t really see that the theme fits with the actual game but at least it looks cool and is still fun despite that. There are one or two things that I didn’t like, such as the private assignments not being private, but other than that it wound up being an enjoyable game. I think fans of card drafting games will probably enjoy this one, although it doesn’t do that much different from any of the other card drafting games out there. I think the one thing that keeps it fresh is the artwork. For that I think the game works pretty well with teens or preteens and older players. Overall this is one that I’d recommend. Just make sure that you bring your camera, never know when you might spot one of those elusive creatures.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cryptozoic Entertainment at their site.