Blue Octopus Review
Game: Blue Octopus
Developer: Benton Holmes
Blue Octopus is a delightfully fun card game for 2-5 players, designed by Benton Holmes. In Blue Octopus, players are vying to complete goals before one another using cards that feature different colored animals. To set up Blue Octopus, each player is dealt seven animal cards and one goal card is drawn from the deck of goal cards. In Blue Octopus, there are three types of goals; active goals, passive goals, and challenges. Active goals usually get completed as soon as they are drawn and are resolved using cards already in the player’s hands. For example, one active goal had each player draw a random card from their hand and the highest valued card claimed that goal. Passive goals take quite a bit longer to complete and require a bit more strategy to accomplish. Passive goals are completed through a series of turns in which players play cards from their hand onto a 3×3 “grid”. For example, when we played we had the passive goal of making the entire “grid” the same color. The final type of goal card is challenges. Challenges are cards that modify passive goals. In our game, we had a challenge card that required us to keep our hands in front of us, face-up until the goal was satisfied. Each goal card has a point value (all values are in increments of five) and the game ends when someone reaches the target point value (either 15, 20, or 25) depending on the number of players.
Playing cards onto the “grid” is the key component to successfully completing passive goals in Blue Octopus. The “grid” is set-up by drawing one card from the animal deck to be placed in the center. On their turn, players can play a card from their hand on an empty space or on top of another animal card that has already been played. Cards that are played on empty spaces do nothing other than removing the card from your hand. Cards that are played on top of other cards however, can activate the animal’s ability. There is a catch however, the card must be played on a card of a certain color.
Let me explain. There are red, blue, and green cards in the animal deck. There are two cards of each animal for each color. For example, there are two Green Ant cards, just like there are two Red Ant and two Blue Ant cards. In order to activate an animal’s effect, it must be played on the correct color depending on which color the animal being played it. So, if I played a Blue Fox card, it would only be effective if I played it over a red card that is already on the “grid”. Blue activates when played over red, red activates when played over green, and green activates when played over blue. It sounds like a lot to remember but, fortunately, each animal card tells you what color it needs to played over in order to take effect with these splats of paint that look like something straight out of Splatoon. The animal effects add a solid amount of strategy to the game and are crucial to giving yourself an advantage over others or setting them at a disadvantage.
There is one animal card that drastically affect the outcome of the game is the Black Kraken card. There are only two Black Kraken cards in the entire game and they will activate when played over any card on the “grid”. When a Kraken is played it basically resets the game. The “grid” is cleared and each player discards their entire hand and redraws a new hand of seven cards. While a Kraken never appeared in our playthrough, it is very easy to imagine how damaging the Kraken could be to a player who is on the verge of completing a goal.
With a very well done mix of strategic elements to chance, Blue Octopus is a very well made, fun game to play. We thoroughly enjoyed playing it. It’s simple to learn but has good depth in its strategy. With its relatively small size, it would make a tremendous travel game, a la Love Letter or Coup, but is also fun enough to be the center of any game night.