Build Your Engine and Gather Resources to Call Forth the Mighty Cosmoctopus | Casual Game Revolution

Build Your Engine and Gather Resources to Call Forth the Mighty Cosmoctopus


Summon the mighty Cosmoctopus from the inky realms and compete to be the first to call him forth with hallucinations, forbidden knowledge, and ancient relics.

Published by Lucky Duck Games, Cosmoctopus is an engine-building game for 1-4 players with a 60-90 minute playtime.


Nine inky realm tiles are placed in the center of the table, and the Cosmoctopus is placed on one to start the game. When learning the game, the rules recommend you place the tiles in a three-by-three grid, but later on, you can get creative with their layout.

On your turn, you always start by moving the Cosmoctopus one tile. You can move him additional tiles by spending one of the game’s four resources for each extra tile you move him. Once you have finished moving the Cosmoctopus, you earn the bonus shown on the tile he ended his movement on. The bonus typically involves resources, but it can also be drawing cards from the display. Any time a card is taken from the display, a new one is immediately drawn to replace it.

Next, you may play one card from your hand. Each card has a resource cost for playing it. Typically, it has a set number of a specific resource you must pay, and then an additional number of any resource you must also pay to play it. There are four types of cards in the game. Scripture cards remain in play and count as permanent discounts for you for specific resources. Relic cards also remain permanently in play and typically provide you with extra resources when you collect a particular resource type. Hallucination cards are discarded after they’re played and give you a one-time bonus. Finally, when you play a constellation card, it goes in front of you. Each constellation card lists a number of resources. You must earn these resources (you cannot use any you gained before playing the card) and add them to the card. The resources must also be added to the card in a specific order. Once you’ve fulfilled the resource requirements, you discard them and the constellation card, and earn the reward listed, which is always a tentacle and some extra bonus.

When you earn a tentacle, you add it to your summoning circle. Other ways to earn tentacles are some hallucination cards, and also earning a forbidden knowledge tile. If you manage to collect 15 of one resource, you may spend them to buy that resource’s forbidden knowledge tile if it is still available, which earns you two tentacles. This is difficult because at the end of your turn, if you have more than eight of any one resource type, you must discard down. The same goes for the number of cards in your hand.

Some cards also have additional abilities such as allowing you to draw more cards, play an additional card, or even move the Cosmoctopus again and trigger another inky realm bonus.

When playing cards or buying forbidden knowledge tiles, you may discard certain cards in place of certain resources. Finally, the first time you gain a tentacle, you get to claim one of the first contact cards which are free to play and have powerful bonuses.

The first player to collect eight tentacles summons the Cosmoctopus to his summoning circle and wins the game.

Cosmoctopus Components


Cosmoctopus is a satisfying engine-builder. The rules and mechanics are not complex, but it always feels like you’re having to choose between different paths, and balance going after tentacles and going after resources. Each card feels like it has useful abilities, but since each one also has a cost to play it, you need to decide what’s worth it to you and which strategies you want to work towards. Your strategy also ends up being determined somewhat by what cards are on offer since there are only three cards in the display at a time, so you’re constantly having to adapt based on that.

It’s a nice touch that there is a cooperative variant, but we particularly enjoyed the different ways you can lay out the inky realms to change up gameplay and increase or decrease the difficulty. This in turn can make some of the abilities more powerful, particularly those that are based around moving the Cosmoctopus.

Aesthetically, the game is really fun. Adding your tentacles to your summoning circle, moving the Cosmoctopus around the realms, and then placing him on your completed circle when you win the game, all ties together in an attractive way. The cards are also of a nice quality, and the artwork fits the game well. Some of the iconography, though, is confusing, and it is easy to confuse the icons for some of the card-based abilities. As we were playing the game, we were often checking the rules again, to remind ourselves what certain icons meant. While this is an issue that will go away the more you play the game, it makes learning the game frustrating.

The game can run a little long, with playtime definitely going up when more players are added to the game. But despite the game time, it’s still a fairly accessible game that doesn’t take too long to teach or to set up. If you’re looking for a slightly hefty game that still doesn’t have too much of a learning curve, Cosmoctopus is thematic, nicely put together, and offers a good balance between intriguing choices and simple engines.

Pros: Theme and component quality, solid variants, great player choices

Cons: Game can run a little long, iconography is confusing

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.