In Cryptozoology for Beginners, you are students of cryptozoology on a field trip trying to find all the right cryptids in order to complete your assignments.
Setup & Gameplay
The game is played with a deck of assignment cards, a deck of cryptid cards, and a pile of face-down point tokens with numbers between 3 and 6.
A game takes place across three rounds, divided into four phases.
In the first phase, all players draw two assignment cards and choose which they want to keep as their private assignment, and which will be a public assignment.
After that, each player is dealt eight cryptid cards for the drafting phase, where they pick one card and pass the rest on until all players have eight cryptid cards for their hand.
Then, the longest phase begins. Here, players take turns performing three types of actions in order:
First, they must play a cryptid card.
Second, they may activate any of their played cards by tapping them to resolve their powers. For example, you can tap two nessies to draw a new cryptid card.
And third, they may complete their private or any public assignments whose criteria they fulfil with their played cards (activated or not), such as four red cards, or three monster hunters.
Once no player can play any more cards, the round ends and any end of round effects on cryptid cards trigger. For example, the player with the most mothman cards receives a point token.
Finally, all played cryptid cards are discarded, and a new round begins.
The player with the most points between their completed assignments and point tokens after three rounds wins.
There is so much for me to love in Cryptozoology for Beginners.
I really enjoy the mixture of drafting, power activation, and trick-taking. There’s a good few mechanics being used but because of the different phases, they do not clash, nor does the game ever get overly complicated.
I was worried that after you’ve drafted your hand, the round is essentially done. That you are entirely at the mercy of which cards are available to you.
Of course this is true to a certain extent, but as with many drafting games, a lot of the fun comes from deciding on a strategy to suit the cards available.
Moreover, a lot of the abilities you can activate with your cryptid cards let you draw more cards, take another player’s cards, or return cards to their owner’s hand. As such, there are multiple ways to make your hand go beyond the initial eight cards, and to let you interfere if an opponent seems to be building towards the same assignment as you.
I really like that level of player-interaction in a competitive game. Most of the game you just do your own thing, and you won’t have enough cards to completely wreck another player’s turn. But the few ways your plays can interact may very well be what decides who wins in the end.
The later in the game you are, the more assignments are available which makes it harder to decide which ones to aim for during the drafting phase. For example, if you know that you need an extra card to even have the chance at a high scoring assignment, you might need to draft nessies. However, the available nessies might not fit the colours needed for your other assignments, so you have to choose.
Finally, I like that, despite the strategising, this is quite a short game. The set number of rounds helps, as does the fact that, while varied, each individual phase is quite simple in its rules.
If you like Arcane Academy, you might like Cryptozoology for Beginners, and vice versa.
The games are similar in that both are about doing some kind of supernatural homework to get points, so if you like that kind of setting, you are in luck! At the same time, their mechanics are different enough to warrant playing both.
In Arcane Academy, you build your engine by placing tiles in a grid and activating them to get resources with which to complete your assignments. These assignments then grant you points and certain ongoing or one-off powers.
Alternatively, you might be interested in Cryptozoology for Beginners if you’ve played Sushi Go! and enjoyed the drafting mechanics in that but want a game that is just one or two steps above in complexity.
Cryptozoology for Beginners is a fun, short game with rules that are easy to learn despite a variety of mechanics built into it.It is also a very visually pleasing game. The art supports the theme of a field trip well in its amusing retro school book style.
It’s a game equally suited to be a palate cleanser between longer games and to stand on its own, for example as part of a lunch break activity or when hanging out in a café.