Noctiluca Review | Board Games | Zatu Games UK

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    Awards

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You Might Like

    • The beautiful translucent dice.
    • The multiple ways to score.
    • The integration of different gaming mechanisms.

    Might Not Like

    • The lack of a dice bag.
    • Some players may suffer from analysis paralysis while they try to work out what to do on their turn.

    Have you tried?

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    Noctiluca Review

    Noctiluca Feature
    Taken from Board Game Geek

    I was vaguely aware of tiny organisms who live in the sea that have the ability to glow, but until the release of the game, Noctiluca, I didn’t have a clue what they were called.

    Wikipedia describes Noctiluca as: “Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as the Milky seas effect sea sparkle, and also published as Noctiluca miliaris, is a free-living, marine-dwelling species of dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence when disturbed (popularly known as mareel). Its bioluminescence is produced throughout the cytoplasm of this single-celled protist, by a luciferin-luciferase reaction in thousands of spherically shaped organelles, called scintillons.”

    Okaaaaay… Thankfully you don’t have to be a marine biologist to play the game named after these glowing critters! Anyway, the board game Noctiluca is a game where one to four players will be placing their diver pawns on the bank of a tropical pool, who will then swim through the pool to collect Noctiluca and bottle them up for the mysterious “great healers”. Each filled jar awards points, and after two rounds, the player with the most points wins.

    Taking the plunge

    I actually bought this game on the day of its release for three reasons: Firstly, the designer is Shem Phillips, of Raiders of the North Sea and Architects of the West Kingdom fame – Noctiluca is a very different game to these two but the designer’s name carries weight with me. Secondly, I was mesmerised by the box artwork and beautiful components. Finally, dice drafting and allocation is a gaming mechanism that really catches my interest and Noctiluca promised that as one of its main gameplay features.

    To begin the game you will roll and place groups of dice at random on the spaces on the board, placing four dice on each of the inner spaces and five dice on each of the outer spaces. Players then distribute the 12 diver pawns equally between themselves.

    Algae Alright

    During a player’s turn, they will place one of their pawns on any unoccupied shore on the edge of the pool and choose one of the two straight paths adjacent to that shore. They then announce a number between one and six and must collect all dice showing the announced number in the spaces along the chosen path, regardless of colour. They place any noctiluca on the matching empty spaces in their jars and will “cash-in” any completed jars for the topmost point token from the stack matching the colour of the jar – there are three different types of point token and they ascend in value through the game as more are taken.

    After all pawns have been placed, the round ends and the pool is refilled before one more round is played. At the game end, players will tally-up the points on their face-up and face-down point tokens, any bonus points on their jar cards, they reveal their favorite noctiluca (a secret objective) to score one point for each matching noctiluca on their delivered jar cards, and lastly they get one point for every two noctiluca dice on jars they were unable to deliver.

    Pretty Lights

    Firstly, let’s just say that this game is very, very pretty and unlike anything else I own. The muted, almost murky colour scheme of the board works to highlight and emphasise the resplendent translucence of the dice as they sit upon it. The almost Gothic cartoon-style illustration is utterly beautiful but for me it highlights a dearth of soul in this game. I feel the game would have benefited from an injection of character, literally in the form of a few illustrations of the divers or the healers themselves to put some humanity into the game.

    The components are of top quality but there is a big omission – for a game that requires you to seed the pool with randomly drawn dice you would have thought a dice bag would be a must, but is absent here – I ended up finding a bag somewhere and slipping it into the box as I think it’s fairly essential.

    The mixture of worker placement, dice drafting and set collection combine logically to form a pleasant experience. I also really like the numerous ways to score, although you will crash and burn if you neglect any of them.

    The Tempest

    The game’s solo variant asks you to flip the board and pits you against the “Tempest”, which slowly rotates and removes noctiluca from the board, playing as an opponent who scores similar to a real-life opponent. It’s tough, but beatable, and a nice challenge if you have the urge to dip into the pool but can’t muster a human opponent.

    Final Thoughts on Noctiluca

    Noctiluca gets a regular number of plays in my household, which proves it has a fair amount of replay-ability and I find myself intrigued by possible strategies and have never refused a game so far.

    The game can take a while to setup and some players may take a while pondering the many options on their turn, but overall I love the challenge this game brings and the feeling I get when I complete two jars from a single dive! Maybe you should take the plunge too?...

     

    Zatu Score

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You might like

    • The beautiful translucent dice.
    • The multiple ways to score.
    • The integration of different gaming mechanisms.

    Might not like

    • The lack of a dice bag.
    • Some players may suffer from analysis paralysis while they try to work out what to do on their turn.

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    Purchase arrived within a few days as stated. Ordered the 2.0 which was unavailable on the official CAHwebsite and got 2.1 instead which was a pleasant update. The bigger box came with a lovely selection of Box cards which I shall treasure in the same exact order they came in. Now waiting for Lockdown to end so we can start proper parties.

    Purchase arrived within a few days as stated. Ordered the 2.0 which was unavailable on the official CAHwebsite and got 2.1 instead which was a pleasant update. The bigger box came with a lovely selection of Box cards which I shall treasure in the same exact order they came in. Now waiting for Lockdown to end so we can start proper parties.

    excellent service, fast dispatch and delivery. looking forward to ordering from you again.

    excellent service, fast dispatch and delivery. looking forward to ordering from you again.

    This website and the products offered are great. I never realised there were so many boardgames about and the informative reviews, unboxing and blogs offer clear insight into what games I might want to buy and play in the future.

    This website and the products offered are great. I never realised there were so many boardgames about and the informative reviews, unboxing and blogs offer clear insight into what games I might want to buy and play in the future.

    Great game, great price and it was delivered very promptly. We’ll definitely be buying here again

    Great game, great price and it was delivered very promptly. We’ll definitely be buying here again

    Second time I bought on Zatu. Good prices, fast shipping and very good handling of products. Can't recomend enough. 5*

    Second time I bought on Zatu. Good prices, fast shipping and very good handling of products. Can't recomend enough. 5*

    I love buying games from Zatu! Customer service is always excellent and super friendly! Also the mystery boxes are SO much fun!!!!

    I love buying games from Zatu! Customer service is always excellent and super friendly! Also the mystery boxes are SO much fun!!!!

    Really fast international shipping, i got my game 4 days after my order has been dispatched. The game was in mint condition as expected despite the fact that one unimportant card was missing, which isnt too bad as its not needed for casual gameplay. Would and will order again

    Really fast international shipping, i got my game 4 days after my order has been dispatched. The game was in mint condition as expected despite the fact that one unimportant card was missing, which isnt too bad as its not needed for casual gameplay. Would and will order again

    Excellent service and delivery time.Delivered to my granddaughter as a gift and she was delighted! highly recommend buying from this firm.Many thanks!

    Excellent service and delivery time.Delivered to my granddaughter as a gift and she was delighted! highly recommend buying from this firm.Many thanks!

    I can't fault the service provided by Zatu. Their prices are competitive, easily matching the current prices offered even by Amazon, and sometimes with deals on certain games making them even cheaper. Yet the quality isn't compromised. I ordered a restock request item with the knowledge that it might take 2 months to ship, but I got an email saying it was on its way after 3 weeks. Shipping was quick, packaging was good, and all games in pristine condition. I will definitely be using them for future game purchases.

    I can't fault the service provided by Zatu. Their prices are competitive, easily matching the current prices offered even by Amazon, and sometimes with deals on certain games making them even cheaper. Yet the quality isn't compromised. I ordered a restock request item with the knowledge that it might take 2 months to ship, but I got an email saying it was on its way after 3 weeks. Shipping was quick, packaging was good, and all games in pristine condition. I will definitely be using them for future game purchases.

    Faultless service, competitive prices and a good reward scheme. Believe the only improvement would be a a free delivery incentive when spending large amounts.

    Faultless service, competitive prices and a good reward scheme. Believe the only improvement would be a a free delivery incentive when spending large amounts.

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