Dale Yu: First Impressions of Night of the Grand Octopus



Night of the Grand Octopus

  • Designer: Frederic Morard
  • Publisher: IELLO
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 7+
  • Time: 20 min


[Note: Normally, I prefer to play a game at least three times prior to writing it for the blog. However, given the time pressure coming up to SPIEL ’14, I have written up my thoughts on a number of games based on only one or two plays in order to cover as many new games as possible prior to the show. I fully admit that it is often not possible to see the full breadth of a design in a single play, and thus I shall not give a rating to any game at this stage with such a few number of plays…]


Night of the Grand Octopus (NotGO) is a lovely game that just was delivered to my doorstep last week. It was quickly opened and punched, and as soon as my kids saw the art, they were clamoring to play. It was a quick to learn game, suited well for families.

In the game, you are sneaking into a celebrated English university in order to find components that you need in order to complete a ritual to invoke the Grand Octopus. (Don’t ask me – this is what I’m reading in the rules!).   The gameboard shows the six different locations in said University – with each location being connected to a few others via staircases. There is also a seventh external location which is located on a tile – there are 4 different possibilities for this location. Each of the locations in the game has a ritual component that can only be found in that location.


Each player has 2 different pawns, a Cultist pawn and a larger Offspring pawn. Each player also has a clock which has a rotating mechanism in the middle. There are two dials, one ending in a dagger (for the Cultist) and one with a tentacle (for the Offspring). Each player also has a starting cult power – this starts at a value of the number of players plus one.


The game is played in a number of rounds – which all follow the same pattern.


1) Select movement – players use their clock to secretly and simultaneously choose where they want their Cultist and Offspring tokens to move to. The dagger is used for the Cultist and the tentacle for the Offspring. You should not send the Cultist and the Offspring to the same location. Offspring can move to any location on the board. Cultists can either stay where they are or move to any location which is connected with a staircase.


2) Reveal the clocks – move your pawns appropriately based on how you set your clock. It is possible to send your Cultist to the Exterior location – this is done when both the dagger and tentacle are pointing to the same spot. IF this happens, the Cultist is placed on the external location BUT the Offspring remains off the board for this turn.


3) Resolve the locations – best to do this in numerical order to not miss anything


IF there is only one cultist in a location, that location is “dominated”. The cult which is there is able to collect one of the ritual component tokens from that site.


IF there are multiple cultists as well as Offspring, then there’s a fight. Each Cultist loses one cult power (because they are beaten up by the bigger Offspring). If your Cult power is reduced to zero, you have been eliminated from the game.


IF there are multiple cultists, but no Offspring – there is a bit of negotiation. Players can agree to have nothing happen OR they can agree to let one cult gather a component while the other cult(s) get nothing. IF there is no agreement, then all cults present take one point of damage to their cult power.


You should also note that each of the four possible external locations has a special ability associated with it – if your Cultist ends the turn in this external location – you should also take advantage of the ability.

  • Dimension of Dreams: You gain 1 point of cult power (unless you have lost a point there this turn or picked up the Silver Key)
  • Agoba Marsh: If you dominate this location, you may exchange one of your Components for one of you opponent’s
  • Moon Men: If you dominate, but do not take a key, you can lose 1 Cult Point to then force an opponent to discard one of his Components
  • Lost City: Regardless of what happens in this location, all Cultists present first lose a Cult Point before the resolution of the location. (You could lose another point here as a result!)


4) See if someone wins – if any cult has 4 different components for the ritual, they are able to perform said ritual and gain the favor of the Giant Octopus. IF there is a tie, it is broken by the player who has the component from the lowest numbered space in the University.


5) Reset – if no one wins, then all the offspring are removed from the board, and you start the next round.


My thoughts on the game – In my first game, this was an enjoyable secret-and-simultaneous game that was enjoyed by myself and the boys. As I mentioned in the intro, the art is well done and very catchy to the eye – and that certainly drew my boys into the game. Like any secret-and-simultaneous game, you have to try to be the best at predicting what your opponents will do – and if you can read your opponents well, then you will do well in the game.


The components are well crafted. The movers are made of wood, and you have to apply the stickers to them yourself. The clocks feel sturdy, and blissfully, they come pre-assembled. I’ll admit to having had issues in the past constructing similar game pieces…


A red cultist on the left, his evil Offspring on the right

A red cultist on the left, his evil Offspring on the right

The game does have an elimination mechanic, which I’m usually not thrilled about – but in a game that lasts maybe 15 minutes, it really isn’t a big deal. Even if you are knocked out of NotGO, it’s not a long wait before the next game starts! The threat of elimination also modifies where you choose to move your Cultist – though if people read your intentions well, it could also give them information where to send their Offspring to cause you even more damage!


If you’re looking for a nice light game with some pretty kick-butt graphics, this one could be for you. I’ll report back after Essen when we have more time to play the game and see if it has staying power – but I think that it will fit the filler/starter/ender role nicely for game nights this winter.


Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor



About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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