Since today is my favorite Holiday of the year, Halloween, I thought that I would bring you a creepy game review to scare you silly. Enjoy!
Night of the Grand Octopus is a game by Frederic Morard, published by IELLO. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players will be taking on the role as the head of a cult dedicated to the Grand Octopus aka Cthulhu. They will be searching for the necessary components to complete the ritual to allow him to return to Earth and thus gain his favor. The only problem is that the other players will be trying to do the same thing. The player that is best able to manage this will be declared the winner while the others will be food for the tentacled one.
To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. One of the 4 exterior locations is chosen and placed beside the board on the table as is the Dagger of Power. Players choose a cult color and are given the cultist pawn, offspring pawn, colored cube and command clock of their chosen color. The colored cubes for each player are placed on the Dagger of Power on the space that is equal to the number of players plus one. These are the cult’s power markers. Each player then places their cultist pawn on the library space on the board. The component tokens are placed on their correct locations as described in the rule book. The number of tokens on each location is equal to the number of players minus one. Play now begins.
The game is played over a series of five phases in which all the players will be playing simultaneously. Those phases are choice phase, revelation phase, conflict resolution phase, verification of victory conditions phase and revocation phase. The first phase is the choice phase. In this phase, each player will choose a location to send their cultist and their offspring pawns to by pointing their dagger and tentacle respectively at the corresponding location number on their command clock. Offspring can go anywhere but cultists can only stay where they are or move to an adjacent location. Offspring and cultists can not be sent to the same location. If a player inadvertently makes a mistake setting their command clock, they must first lay their cult’s pawn down to remind them. They will then lose 1 point of cult power and during the conflict resolution phase their cultist pawn is treated as if it’s not in it’s current location. For a player to be able to visit the exterior location, they must point their tentacle and dagger in the same direction on their clock. This allows the cultist pawn to be moved to the location during the next phase but the player is not able to invoke their offspring that turn. To leave that location, on the next round they must point the tentacle and dagger at two different locations which allows the cultist to reappear in any other location. One note about the exterior locations, they each have a special rule that applies to only them. This can either be a benefit or a hindrance to the player. The specifics of each are discussed in the rulebook.
The next phase is the revelation phase. In this phase, each player will reveal the choices they made and move their cultist and offspring pawns accordingly.
The third phase is the conflict resolution phase. Players will resolve conflicts involving their pawns in numerical order, starting with the library. If a location has only one cultist pawn on it, that player collects one of the components from it. The token is placed face up in front of the player. If a location has one or more offspring on it, nothing happens. If a location has one or more cultist pawns on it as well as one or more offspring, none of the cultists are able to collect a component and each cult loses 1 point of cult power to boot. If at any time a cult’s power drops to zero, they are eliminated and their cultist pawn is removed from the game. The offspring pawn stays until the end of the turn. If a location has several cultists on it and no offspring, the cultist must negotiate a resolution where either nothing happens, one cults collects a component or the cults fight and thus each one loses 1 point of cult power.
The next phase is the verification of victory conditions phase. In this phase, players look to see if one or more of the cults have collected their fourth component and have at least 1 cult power at the end of the turn. If so, the game ends and the player that controls that cult is the winner. If more than one cult has met the requirements stated above, then the cult that has collected a grimoire is the winner.
The final phase is the revocation phase. If there hasn’t been a winner crowned yet, each player takes their offspring pawn off the board to prepare for a new round.
I really love the creepy coolness of the components for this game. The board, component tokens, exterior locations, command clock and dagger of power are all made of thick cardboard. They look outstanding. Each one is beautifully detailed and has that creepy Cthulhu like feel to them. The cultist and offspring pawn as well as the cult power marker are made of wood and are very brightly colored. I really like the designs of these. That brings me to the stickers. Yes, I said stickers. These must be applied to the front and back of each of the offspring and cultist pawns. These things have to be the most annoying stickers that I’ve ever had the misfortune of stickering in my life. Granted, they look fantastic but they are oh so annoying to get off the paper and even more annoying to get placed properly on the wooden pawn without completely ripping or messing up. Let me tell you, I had quite a problem getting them done. I absolutely HATED that part. Other than that though, the components are great and are so immersed in theme that it will pull you right into the game. Even with the annoying sticker debacle, I still really like what comes with this game.
8 out of 10
The rulebook is very nicely designed. It looks really great and has lots of nice pictures including how to setup the game. Everything is explained really well and is easy to read and understand. There is a small section of variants for playing a quick 3 player game as well as for playing with more experienced player for a more challenging game. I love how perfectly laid out everything is and each part of the game flows nicely into the next with ease. Overall, the rules are well put together.
9 out of 10
For all of it’s creepiness, it’s actually a very light and fun game. It’s really very simple to learn and play. Even so, there’s quite a bit of strategy involved as well. You really have to be thinking about what you want to do and also figuring out what the other players might do as well. You definitely don’t want to end up losing all of your power points or allow your opponents to get those components first. There are times when you will find yourself second guessing what to do. This might lead to a bit of analysis paralysis. Sometimes it’s just best to make the move that first comes to mind. Chances are that your opponents will think the obvious moves would be the ones that you would never choose. It’s really about knowing your opponents and their game style and a little bit of bluffing. In any case, the game can easily be played in less than 30 minutes. It’s great fun and is even simple enough that the kids can join in.
9 out of 10
Night of the Grand Ocotopus is a light weight game with Cthulhu sized fun. It’s easily played in under 30 minutes, which is great as an introductory game to something meatier like Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror. The artwork is kinda light but definitely has that whole Cthulhu-esque feel to it. The gameplay is simple and involves a lot of knowing your opponents and bluffing. Fans of any of the Cthulhu type games like Arkham Horror and the like should really enjoy this light game. It’s super easy to learn and is great fun. I highly recommend it. For Halloween, it’s great to play after the kids have finished Trick -or-Treating and are still hyped up on candy. They’ll really enjoy it and so will you.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Iello Games at their site.