A look at the FINAL FANTASY XIV Gold Saucer Cactpot Party board game

There ain’t no party like a Cactpot Party
By Duncan Heaney

Cactpot is great, isn’t it? The game’s a mainstay of the Manderville Gold Saucer in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, but now it’s broken out into the offline world - as a new board game.

Those of you who attended the FINAL FANTASY XIV Fan Fest 2019 in Paris will have had a chance to get your hands on the game already. But for the rest of us, it’s available for preorder now, and scheduled to be out in March 2019.

The Square Enix Blog team managed to get hold of the game ahead of release, so we thought it would be interesting to show you what you get in the box, and how the game works.

So what’s Cactpot Party then?

Anyone who’s played a good amount of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online will have no doubt taken a trip to the Gold Saucer, and probably played a few rounds of mini Cactpot.

The new (deep breath) - FINAL FANTASY XIV Gold Saucer Cactpot Party - adapts the popular mini-game into a fast-paced board game experience that’s perfect for… well, parties. The clue’s sort of in the name in that respect.

The genius of the game is that while it initially seems bright and simple, it soon reveals more hidden depths than the Mariana Trench. It’s quick to set up and easy to understand, but like games like poker, there’s a wealth of strategic options to triumph over your friends, destroy their hopes and crush them like the insignificant specks they are…


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How does Cactpot Party work?

Nine numbered counters are split between up to four players. They also receive betting tokens and some absolutely adorable wooden cactuar figures (aren’t they sweet when they’re not firing thousands of needles into your favourite character?).

The game is then essentially split into three phases:

Note: The example presented is a four-player game, but you can play with as few as two players.

1) Setup: Players place the numbered counters on the board - some face up, others face down. They place their cactuars on top of the face down pieces - so they know who placed which counter (in case one of those players wants to remind themselves of the number they placed).

When all player counters have been placed, there should be one left. This is placed on the board, and marked with a star.

You’ll end up with a board that looks something like this:

2) Betting: Players then take it in turns to bet on different lines by placing their betting tokens on the spaces around the edge of the board. They’re looking for these things:

  • Big Bingo: A line containing the numbers 1-2-3 or 7-8-9 (the order of the numbers doesn’t matter). Worth up to 5 points.

  • Straight Bingo: A line that contains three consecutive numbers. For example, 2-3-4 or 5-6-7 (again, the exact order of the numbers doesn’t matter). Worth up to 4 points.

  • 15 Bingo: The numbers in the line add up to 15. Worth up to 3 points.

There are a few other types of bet possible too:

  • Bingo Bet: Players can bet on how many bingos there will be in the game overall by placing tokens on the spaces to the right of the board. Worth up to 3 points.

  • Star Bet: Players can choose to bet on which number is underneath the star counter—you’d put a token on one of the numbers below the board. Worth up to 5 points.

Here you can see some betting counters laid out in a real-life game:

3) Scoring: The numbers are revealed and players total up their score. So in the example below:

Yellow Player:

  • 1 x 15 Bingo (6-8-1) = 3 points
  • Star Bet = 5 points (star counter was in center - player correctly guessed number)
  • Total = 8 points

Red Player:

  • 1 x Straight Bingo (5-6-7) = 4 points
  • Today = 4 points

Blue Player:

  • 1 x Big Bingo (1-2-3) = 5 points
  • Total = 5 points

White Player:

  • Oof! Nothing at all.
  • Total = loser

So after this round, the Yellow Player is in the lead. But fortunes change fast in Cactpot party, so that may not be the case for long…

Get Cactpot Party

What do you get in the Cactpot Party box?

Before we look at what you get in the box, we should look at the box.

Cactpot Party is a really pretty package - it’s a solid container, with embossed images and lettering that looks genuinely fantastic.

Plus because it’s black, it hides stains well - y’know, in case you accidentally dip it in gravy or something. ...which I definitely didn’t do with the sample they gave me to test.

Here’s the board - it’s around 7.9inches x 11inches (20 x 28cm) fully opened - that’s nice and compact for most tables. It’s also refreshingly sturdy - this is clearly built to last.

You’ll also get eight small cactuar figures, one giant cactuar (which marks which player goes first), 16 betting tokens, and a star token. All are made of wood, fully painted and feel premium in the hand.

Then there are nine number chips. They’re chunky plastic things, not too heavy but solid enough that they’re not going to slide around or fall off the board. The box also contains pull out point chips. You can use these to track players’ scores across different games.

Honest thoughts on (inhales deeply) FINAL FANTASY XIV Gold Saucer Cactpot Party - it’s a lot of fun. An extended play session over the weekend proved a hit with friends - even those who weren’t familiar with FINAL FANTASY XIV Online (I suggested they pick up the Starter Pack because I’m nothing if not an unrepentant shill).

It’s a breezy game that works for both a quick 20 minute session, or a three hour binge. So if you’re looking for something fun to pull out at parties, you should give it a go.

You can learn more and preorder the game at the Square Enix Store:

Get FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Gold Saucer Cactpot Party