In “Reaping the Rewards,” I take a look at the finished product from a crowdfunding campaign. Crypt was successfully funded on Kickstarter in May 2018, and shipped to backers in December. It’s now available for purchase from Road to Infamy.
The king is dead, and asked to be buried with all his treasures. The problem is, he promised those treasures to us, his heirs. So, naturally, it’s time for a field trip to dear old dad’s crypt. Round up your servants, and send them to fetch those heirlooms!
What Is Crypt?
Crypt is a set-collection game for 1 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 25 minutes to play. It costs $15, and is available directly from Road to Infamy, Amazon, and a few other online retailers. Although the box says 14 and up, I think the gameplay is simple enough that you could go with as young as 8 or 10 (as long as players can do some addition for totaling up scores).
Here’s what comes in the tiny box:
- 48 Treasure cards (8 each in 6 types)
- 6 Collector cards
- 4 Player cards
- 2 Torch cards
- 12 dice (3 each in 4 colors)
The game is really compact: the box is big enough to hold the cards and dice with a little breathing room, but not much bigger than that, so it could be a great choice for gaming on the go.
The bulk of the cards are treasure cards. There are 6 types of treasures, valued from 1 to 4 (with 2 copies of each). Each card has a banner showing the treasure type, a gold coin showing its value, an illustration of the treasure, and a space for dice at the bottom. The backs of the cards also show the type (but not the value), and the illustration on the back shows the crypt with that type of treasure in it. It’s a nice detail, though it does make me wonder: if that’s the king lying on the slab, why are there 6 different bodies?
Some of the cards have a “III” or “IV” on them so that you can remove them from the deck, depending on the player count.
The player cards help indicate your player color and have a space to store your three dice; the cards are double-sided so you can pick a spoiled girl or a spoiled boy (one even has a dog). There’s not much diversity on display here, but they’re all the king’s kids, so I give that a pass for thematic reasons. There are a couple of the collectors who aren’t fair-skinned, so there’s at least a little variety there. In my opinion, the portrait illustrations aren’t terrific, but that doesn’t really affect gameplay much.
The dice are small six-sided dice, and they have a nice look to them: I like the color choices, which are a little different from your typical four choices, and the metallic gold pips are a nice touch.
How to Play Crypt
The goal of the game is to have the most coins (on treasure cards and from collector effects) when the treasure deck runs out.
Give each player a player card and the three matching dice.
If playing with fewer than 4 players, remove the appropriate treasure cards from the deck and set them aside, and then shuffle the treasure deck. Set the collector cards where everyone can see them. Each collector card has an “A” side and a “B” side with different effects; you may use any combination of these.
Set the box and box lid nearby. The box will be used for exhausted servants (dice), and the lid will be used for unclaimed treasure cards.
Choose a starting player and give that player the “Leader” torch card. Give the “Lights Out” card to the player sitting to their right (i.e., the last player).
The game is played over a series of rounds. During each round, you set up the treasure cards, then use dice to claim treasures, and then pass the torches.
Set up treasure cards
Draw cards from the treasure deck and place some face-up, some face-down, according to the chart in the rulebook:
- 1 or 2 players: 2 face-up, 1 face-down
- 3 players: 3 face-up, 1 face-down
- 4 players: 4 face-up, 2 face-down
In turn order, each player may place any number of their available dice onto treasure cards. You may turn the dice to any number desired, and you may place multiple dice on the same treasure card, but all the dice on a single card must be the same value. The values represent the amount of effort that servant is using to get the treasure: the higher the value, the more likely it is that your servant will be exhausted.
You may push another player’s dice off a card if you place a higher total value of your own dice. For instance, you could replace a 3 with two 2-value dice. A later player could replace those two 2s with a single 5, and so on. Dice that are pushed off are returned to their owners. The last player, the one with the “Lights Out” card, may only place dice on a single card (though they may still place any number of their dice on it).
If you have any dice that were exhausted on previous turns, you may retrieve all of your exhausted servants instead of placing any dice this turn.
After everyone has had a turn to place (or retrieve) dice, players claim the treasure cards that have their dice on them, placing them face-down, sorted by treasure type. (You may look at your own treasures, but anyone else’s.) Any unclaimed treasures are placed into the box lid, face-down.
Then, everyone must roll their dice to see if their servants are exhausted. Each servant die must roll equal to or higher than the value that was set. So if you set a die at 4 to claim a treasure, then you must roll a 4 or higher. A 1-value die does not need to be rolled. Any die that does not roll high enough is placed into the “exhausted servants” box.
Pass the torch
Pass the torch cards to the left.
The game ends when there are no more treasure cards to reveal.
Players then reveal all of their treasures. Some of the collectors may award bonus points for certain treasure types.
Many of the collectors award bonus coins for certain treasures. For instance, the Jewelry Collector shown above will double the value of your highest jewelry card if you have at least two jewelry cards. The Tapestry Collector above will award 5 bonus coins to the player who has the most coins in tapestry cards.
Some of the other collectors give you additional abilities for certain relics: these are marked with a “flip” arrow icon. For example, the Remains Collector shown above allows you to flip over two of your collected remains cards to recover one die from the exhausted servants box. When you flip a card for these effects, you reveal the coin value, but you will still get to count it at the end of the game—it’s just revealed so that you cannot flip it again for the same effect.
Add up the total coins on your treasure cards, coins from collector bonuses, and 1 coin for each servant you have who isn’t exhausted. The player with the most coins wins! In case of a tie, tied players roll their unexhausted servants, and the higher roll wins.
Why You Should Play Crypt
Crypt is a quick, fun game with a cheeky theme. I like the way that you and your rivals will be jostling for position on the best treasures, raiding dad’s crypt for the stuff he should have left to you in his will. Okay, so that’s a little morbid, maybe.
The dice placement is nicely thematic: a servant who uses more effort can shove out the servant who isn’t trying very hard. Or, servants can join forces: two or three of them don’t have to try as hard to push out a single servant. But the more effort a servant puts into getting a treasure, the more likely they’ll be exhausted. Placing a die at a “1” is kind of like having them just stroll in and pick something up: anyone can easily overtake them, but if nobody bothers, then they just got a treasure at no risk.
The key decisions throughout the game, of course, are deciding where to place your dice, and what values to set them to. Do you spread out your dice across several treasures, hoping that you’ll come home with at least one of them? Do you make them high values, so that your opponents will have to take bigger risks (or spend more dice) to displace you? Or maybe you go all in on one treasure, placing three dice but at a lower value so you’re more likely to get those back for the next round.
The last player may only place dice on a single card (though they can use any number of dice on it), so that gives everyone a little information, too. If you’re the penultimate player, you know that the last player can only push you out of one card—and, if you leave more than one treasure unclaimed, the last player will only be able to take one of them (but without risk). Sometimes it’s good to force the last player to spend more dice. Sometimes it’s better to taunt them with unclaimed treasures.
As for what treasures to take, that’s where the set collection comes in. Depending on how the collectors are set up, the treasures will give different benefits: do you want to collect the most tapestries for bonus points, or go for the double score for one jewelry card? Or maybe you want idols so that you can re-roll dice, allowing you to play a little riskier with higher die values. Sometimes, of course, a treasure card is valuable simply because it will let one of your opponents complete a set. (Hate-drafting is perfectly acceptable when you’re fighting over heirlooms, of course.) And, of course, there’s always the unknown treasures: you won’t know how many coins they’re worth, but you know what treasure type they are, so you may find value in them even if they’re cheap.
Finally, of course, there’s the question of when to retrieve your exhausted servants. Aside from the A side of the Remains Collector (who lets you recover a die by flipping 2 remains cards), the only way you can get dice back is by skipping an opportunity to place dice. If you’ve only lost 1 die to exhaustion, it can seem like a waste to spend an entire turn just retrieving 1 die. On the other hand, if you get pushed out constantly and don’t end up with any treasures at all, you may as well have gotten all your dice back anyway. Either way, it’s important to keep an eye on your dice supply, because it’s a terrible feeling to be completely out of dice when that last pottery card you’ve been waiting for finally turns up.
Crypt does include a fair amount of luck in the order that the cards turn up and whether your servants are exhausted. While you can’t control the order of the cards, though, you do have some control over the exhaustion. Placing several low-value dice gives you better odds than placing a single high-value die. There’s also a bit of bidding and bluffing going on: if you know that a later player really wants an item, you can commit a die to it just to increase their minimum bid—but if your die is too high, they might just let you have it, hoping that you’ll exhaust your servant. Paying attention to what other players are collecting is important, and so is keeping track of who has the “Lights Out” card each round.
Overall, I’m impressed with Crypt: there’s a lot of fun packed into this small box, and it can be a pretty cutthroat game at times. It’s short, though, so even if you’re doing poorly, you won’t be stuck playing a losing game for a long time. If you like bidding wars and set collection, with a little hint of press-your-luck, it might be time to raid this Crypt!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.