Crypt is a quick-to-play strategy game with deceptively deep decision making. It recently Kickstarted, and the publisher, Road to Infamy put a full version of the game up on Tabletopia to be enjoyed for free.
The game mixes up worker placement and push-your-luck mechanics to provide a unique challenge.
Stand Out Mechanics
Simplicity: The game itself is simple to learn and simple to teach, and after one round, you pretty much know everything you need to know to play the game. There's definitely a lot of variety in the art and the cards, but the rules are straight-forward enough where even the more complex "B" side for the collectors only takes a minute or so to explain to players. The game is at its best when making simple strategic decisions.
Unique Dice/Worker Placement: In most dice-based worker placement games (like Alien Frontiers and Kingsburg), you place your dice "workers" based on what you've actually rolled. The twist in Crypt is, you can set your dice to whatever you want, but the higher you set a die, the better chance you will lose the die. After treasure is collected, you must roll each of your workers and if you roll less than what you've set the worker to, you lose them (but you can get them back by resting or using card abilities.) This is a really neat mechanic and should be borrowed by much more ambitious dice-worker placement games in the future. (If this exists somewhere else, please let me know in the comments!)
Set Collection: Each treasure falls into a specific category, and each category has an aligned collector who provides a specific benefit. This benefit can be one of two things: a bonus to scoring at the end of the game, or an ability that can be used in the game to secure a variety of benefits.
What We Liked
The game really shines when you are trying to figure out the best values to set your workers to discourage others from stealing your dice. Going early in the game round (being "First Player") is a major disadvantage as other players can easily see what cards are important to you and attempt to steal them from you to break your set.
The set powers are very well-thought out and give modest benefits that don't completely blow up the game. Powers that give huge victory point bonuses are much harder to complete than ones that give modest ones. And the in-game abilities that are unlocked add a layer to the strategy, allowing you to set your dice at dangerously high levels because you know you're going to get them back.
Another smart twist is that if you end up completely losing a turn and not earning a treasure, you do get all your workers back for free which will make subsequent turns easier for you.
What Could be Improved
The game is not very interesting in one or two player mode. In fact, I would strongly recommend not playing in either of these modes as all of the interesting strategy and decision making made in the 3-4 player game go out the window. I think there's a perception that all games must support 2 players, but Crypt should have probably passed. It's goes from a strong "8/10" with three players to a "5/10" with two players.
Initially I had played the game several times with two players and had just about given up on it, but I had a feeling it might come alive with three. I'm really glad I gave it a chance at the higher player count (and now I'm regretting missing the Kickstarter boat.)
Notes on the Tabletopia Version
The port to Tabletopia is clean and well-implemented. The scans are beautiful, and the card has hot spots that snap cards to them making setting up each round painless. Additionally, this game doesn't have any card-searching mechanisms that makes a lot of newer card games hard to play on Tabletopia.
Two minor issues exist in the Tabletopia port: First, when playing with counter clockwise turns, the order does not match the table order, so you are jumping around in an odd order as you attempt to pass turns. You can supercede this by enabling free-form turns. Second, there's no way to secretly look at the cards in your inventory (hand functionality). It's rare that this is really necessary, but there is hidden information in the game and knowing which card you have (without showing it to the whole table) would be useful.
If a revision is made to the Tabletopia version, I recommend adding the ability to put cards in a hand so you can inspect their values privately mid-game. I also recommend that a bit more space is given to each player area. Placing the First and Last player cards can be difficult in the space given, and if you collect 5 sets, the space starts to get crowded in a three or four player game.
Where to Buy
Alas, the Kickstarter has ended, and you won't be able to buy the physical copy until it hits retail. The good news is, the Tabletopia version is up and is free-to-play.
Time to Learn: 10 minutes reading rule book, 5 minutes to teach a new player.
Price: $9 basic version, $25 for the "Gilded" version.
8 out of 10 (Very good - enjoyed playing it, and would recommend it)
But it play with 3 or 4!
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