I was at my FLGS for International tabletop day, when I spied Night of the Grand Octopus on a 50% off table. I had seen ads for it, liked the way it looked, and since it was from Iello, who has a good reputation for fun light games, thought I would pick it up. Some friends also bought a copy and they sat down to play. From the laughter at their table, it looked like I had gotten a good deal. When time allowed, I joined in with them to see what it was like.
Night of the Grand Octopus has nice solid pieces, pretty art, and is simple to learn and play. Each player controls an “offspring” pawn (large) and a “cultist” pawn (small). The object is to be the first to collect artifacts on the University board in order to summon “Him” to earth. You collect an artifact if you can get to a room that has an artifact, and no one else’s offspring or cultist is there to stop you. You use a “command clock” to show where your two pieces will move. You move the large hand on the clock to show which room your offspring will travel to, and the small hand to show which room you will move your cultist to. You are trying to block others with your offspring while trying to get your cultist alone in a room. The more players you get, the harder this becomes. Essentially, this game is a game of random movement, trying to outguess where your opponents will go. Sometimes you’ll be right, most times you’ll be wrong. If your cultist ends up in the room with an opponent’s offspring, you lose life. You only have life equal to the number of players, plus one.
This game goes very quickly, playing in about 10 minutes. As we played, I kept telling myself, there has to be more to this game, some strategy, some… well… anything. But alas, there is not. This is a very simple game. So simple that it is almost boring after the first couple of plays. It is simply a guessing game. You guess right, or you guess wrong. Guess wrong too many times, and you die and are out of the game.
That being said, this might make an excellent drinking game. Instead of losing lives, taking a drink when your cultist encounters an offspring. I can see that becoming more enjoyable the more you play, because you’ll care less about the simple gameplay. *Not an endorsement for underage drinkers or binge drinking.* Just an observation.
So if you’re looking for a REALLY light, and I do mean REALLY light, totally random game, to burn a couple of minutes, Night of the Grand Octopus might be good for you. If you want any substance tho, look elsewhere.