First, let me say that Night of the Grand Octopus from Iello Games is clearly about H.P. Lovecraft's mythos.  The Grand Octopus is Cthulhu --from the physical description to being imprisoned under the sea -- the library resembles Arkham University, and one of the Components is a Silver Key.  It's clearly Lovecraftian.  Anyway...

In Night of the Grand Octopus, 3-5 players are playing Cultists, gathering four different Components to summon the Grand Octopus and win the game (and, presumably, get eaten last).  Each player gets a Cultist Pawn (which goes on the gameboard), an Offspring (which resembles a giant evil Teddy Bear), a token that goes on the Dagger of Power to show how many Cultists a player has (everyone starts with the number of players plus one), and a Command Clock (with the rooms on the gameboard and two dials).  The gameboard has several locations, each connected by pathways and containing their own Components (Skulls in the Crypt, Grimoires in the  Library, and so on); each location has a number of Components equal to the number of players minus one.  There's also an Exterior Location (one of four available), which has a Silver Key and an unique ability.
On each turn, players secretly use their Command Clock to select destinations for their Cultist and Offspring.  (Players can also select the same destination for both, which Sends the Cultist to the Exterior Location and keeps the Offspring from going on the board).  Once everyone is set, the players reveal their Command Clocks and move their Cultist and Offspring to their Locations.
If a Cultist is alone in a Location, they can collect a Component (if they didn't already have that one); if at the Exterior Location, they can use its ability.  If Cultist winds up in a room with an Offspring, they can collect no Component and lose a Cultist (and get eliminated from the game if they have no Cultists left).  And if multiple Cultists wind up in the same Location, they have no negotiate: Everyone can agree that no one gets anything, one player can Dominate and be the only one to get a Component, or everyone loses a Cultist.  At the end of each turn, if a player has four different Components and at least one Cultist left, they win!

Night of the Grand Octopus is fun, quick, and a bit simple.  While the game is easy to learn and a quick play, the strategy consists almost entirely of anticipating/guessing where an opponent's Cultist will go and sending the Offspring there, while trying not to be as predictable themselves.  Night of the Grand Octopus is enjoyable, but it's a quick little game that's best played before a "feature" game.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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