Catch the Glowing Noctiluca
Navigate the water and prove your skill
A scintillating rainbow of color dances on the rocks around you as you peer out across the pool. For a moment, you’re lost in the interplay of light and hue, before focusing in on the task at hand. With a well-honed eye, you pick out the patterns in the fabulous display, and nod to yourself as you see your next dive take shape. You’ll bring home the perfect jars for certain this time…unless one of your fellow divers gets to the landing first.
In Noctiluca, players are competing to fill jar cards with rare noctiluca dice retrieved from the pool. Grateful healers eagerly await the delivery of specific arrangements of the mystical noctiluca and will reward you for every filled jar. You must carefully balance their requests and strategically gather noctiluca to prove yourself as the best diver in the Cerulean Pools!
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Plan Your Dive
The most important aspect of Noctiluca is gathering noctiluca dice from the pool. You’ll need to carefully plan your dive into the water. On each of your turns, you will place a pawn on the shore around the edge of the pool. Then you will have a choice. You can dive straight along one of the two straight paths accessible from the shore you chose. Then choose a number and collect each die showing that number along the path you dive through.
You can place a pawn on any empty shore, but once a pawn has been placed on a shore, no one else can dive from there for the rest of the round. Placing a pawn can both claim the perfect noctiluca dice for yourself, while simultaneously blocking off what your opponent needs!
Once you’ve collected noctiluca from the pool, you must place them on matching-color spaces on your jar cards. Choose your dives wisely, because any noctiluca you cannot place are passed to your competitors, potentially helping them complete their own jars! Will you choose a more cautious path that doesn’t give you everything you need, or bring in a larger haul at the cost of helping your opponents?
In the dive above, the player chose to pick up the dice with a 5 on them. This let them gather up three green noctiluca and two purple noctiluca. The two jar cards in front of them have spaces for two of the green dice and two of the purple dice. The leftover green die can’t be put on a jar, so it gets passed to the neighboring player who then has the chance to put it in one of their jars.
Once you have filled all the spaces on a jar card, you turn it in for a reward! Each jar card corresponds with a stack of point tokens (the yellow moon, the red flower, or the brown coral) and completing a jar of that color gives you a point token of the same color. Each stack has low-value tokens to start, but as tokens are taken from a stack over the course of the game, more valuable tokens are revealed.
Below the player completed the yellow moon jar is able to deliver it to a healer for a reward. They take the top token from the stack as their reward.
After you fill a jar card, you take a new one from one of the four faceup stacks. You could go straight for the jars that will get you the most valuable point tokens, but there are other considerations to keep in mind as well.
In addition to considering which noctiluca to collect from the pool to fill your jar cards with the minimum amount of extra to pass on, you must also keep an eye on the point tokens your competitors are collecting. At the end of the game, the player with the most point tokens of each color will receive all the remaining tokens of that color as 1-value tokens. Stay one step ahead of your opponents, and you might grab a pile of points with ease!
Finally, each player has a hidden goal to collect a certain color of noctiluca. Each noctiluca of that color on completed jars will score you additional points at the end of the game. Carefully consider which point tokens you want, which noctiluca you can collect, and your hidden goal to influence their choice of jar cards.
After all twelve pawns have been placed, the pool is refilled with noctiluca dice and a second round begins. After the second round, the game ends and players total up their points to see who has proven themselves to be the most skilled diver in the cerulean pools!
The Glowing Pool
Collecting noctiluca and filling jars for points is the core of Noctiluca, but within this simple task is a world of strategic depth. Check back soon when we dive into Noctiluca’s engaging solo mode, or read the full rulebook here and pre-order your copy of this beautiful game from acclaimed designer Shem Phillips.