Updated: Mar 23, 2022
Published by FireStorm Labs and ShadyPets.com, Throw Octopus! is a light 2-5 player tile-laying game where you're trying, dominoes-style, to be the first to get rid of all your tiles. However, there's a twist in the deck of octopus action cards from which you draw every time you lay a tile with an octopus icon on it...
The 85 tiles all show a quarter of one or two sea creatures and, as you might expect, you have to lay the tiles so that they match up with those already played to the collective tableau. It'll be rare for you not to be able to place out any tile on your turn, but you'll ideally want to lay a tile that completes a sea creature (ie: that creature's fourth tile) as that will earn you an extra turn. Skilled or lucky players may even be able to cascade their plays into a sequence of two or three completed critters and so unload a succession of tiles. That means you'll usually want to deny such opportunity to rival players by, wherever possible, not laying a tile that leaves them the opening of a three-quarters completed creature.
But we've not yet mentioned the octopus cards. Play a tile with an octopus icon on it and you draw a card. Out of the deck of 28 cards, there are a few that penalise the drawer by making them pick up extra tiles but the large majority of the octopus cards are favourable; for example, allowing you to reposition tiles, swap a tile from your hand, take an extra turn, or require other players to pick up extra tiles. And then there's the eponymous Throw Octopus! card... Inside the box, alongside all the tiles and the deck of cards, you'll have found a cute-looking pink octopus soft toy. Draw the Throw Octopus! card and you are expected to literally throw the soft toy at an opponent of your choice to require them to draw two tiles and miss their next turn. Cue much hilarity, especially at the expense of any player who was taking this game far too seriously. In the preview copy we've been playing at Board's Eye View, the rules don't make it clear whether or not your throw has to hit the player in order to take effect. If you decide to play with that as your rule, then it adds a rather fun duck and dive dexterity element to the game which will particularly appeal to younger players.
The dynamics of Throw Octopus! changes with the number of players. Play with just two and you may well take a chance and lay a tile that sets up a three-quarter creature in the hope that your opponent doesn't have one of the specific tiles needed to complete it and that you'll then be able to do so on your next turn. The prospects of such a push-your-luck strategy paying off become markedly slimmer as you increase the player count: play with a full complement of five and you'd be crazy to hope such a gamble will pay off.
There's an option to play a solitaire game - in effect, seeing how quickly you can get rid of all your tiles - but if you play solo you've got no-one else to throw the octopus at, so where's the fun in that? :-)
Kids will have a lot of fun with Throw Octopus!, and it works well as a family game. The plushie soft toy octopus shouldn't do too much damage, but, to be on the safe side, don't play this game in a room where you are displaying delicately balanced priceless Ming vases.
Throw Octopus! is live now on Kickstarter on 22 March. Click here to check out the campaign.