Noctiluca is a fresh new dice and card game from Shem Phillips and Z-MAN Games that challenge players to collect tiny little noctiluca and fill their healing jars. As a fan of table top board games that play quickly, this has become one of my top must plays.
First time setup and the rules read through might be a but frustrating, but once you start to play, everything makes sense. The game moves quickly and while you still have to pay attention to what is going on around you, it never felt like you couldn’t strike up a conversation with your friends at the same time.
The game can be played with as little as one player or up to four players. For multiplayer game play, each player is responsible for filling their own jars and working against each other to collect the most points. The small colored dice are placed at random which means that every game will be different. Players will then take turns placing their pawns on the shore, calling out a direction and number between one and six and then collect all of the dice with that matching number from those pools. Any dice that can not be placed onto their jar cards are then passed onto the next player giving everyone a chance to use the unwanted dice on their own jar cards. Any left by the time it reaches the starting player, the rest are discarded to the box for round two.
Once all the player pawns have been placed, remove the left over noctiluca from the pools and use the dice in the box lid to fill the pools again. Game play starts with the last player and goes in the opposite direction. This really helps to shake things up as now the advantage flips. The game will continue in the same way until the round ends. At this point all the jars, tokens, and favorite noctilucas are tallied up and the player with the most points win. The solo game play follows similar rules, however after each turn, the tempest descends on the pool and wipes out one of the small unsuspecting pools. This adds a bit of complication that can be seen in the multiplayer game when other players take your much needed dice.
The artwork for Noctiluca was managed by Samuel R. Shimota and someone needs to give them an award! The art from the board, cards, the colors used for the dice all flow so beautifully. It was honestly the art of the game that drew me into wanting to play. I think it really adds to the allure of the narrative of the story itself. When I first opened the game, I was expecting to have to add dice numbers or match them in order to collect, however I was happy to find out that it was a mix of the numbers and colors with no adding (until the end of course). While it might seem a bit elementary to be matching numbers and colors, it was actually challenging in a fun way. It also made it easy to teach the younger kids how to play as well.
The game is really fun if you have a small group of people. Noctiluca gets passed up most game nights for us simply because we have more than the maximum amount. However when we do have a smaller group, this is the go to game. Since the rounds move quickly and the game ends after two rounds, you can get through multiple games to see who is truly the winner. This is also a great game to introduce to younger players to get them trying out new and exciting things. With the small amount of people that can play, it gives them time to figure out their game plan and stay invested. On the opposite end, it has just enough going on for more experienced players to really formulate strategies and work against other players in order to win.
I recommend adding Noctiluca to your next game night! You seriously can not go wrong. The game can be found online at the Z-MAN Games website!