7/31/2017

Make your own lantern prade with Lanterns: The Harvest Festival

Lanterns board game

It's time for the harvest festival, and artisans all around the world have come to gather to make the best displays in the palace lake. The one who gains the most honor will be crowned the winner of the festival. Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a 2-4 player game of collecting sets of lanterns in order to get the most honor points. In each turn, all of the players will get a specific color lantern depending on the tile placed, which means not only do you need to keep track of which lanterns you want to complete your set, but you have to make sure that you don't give the opponents what they need to complete their own sets as well. It's a really fun game with everyone looking at each other with shifty eyes to see how they can turn the game to their advantage. Let's jump on the boat and see what kind of displays we can make with this game.

Components


lanterns components


36 Lake Tiles
56 Lantern Cards
20 Engraved Wood Favor Tokens
30 Dedication Tokens
1 Custom Wooden Fishing Boat
4 Turn Sequence Guide Cards
1 Rulebook

The whole design of this game gives you a very asian theme, including the wooden tokens which are engraved with the word 鍾, the same character in 鍾愛 which means devotion or dedication (the character by itself means 'bell', but I assume they use the character as in dedication).  The lake tiles and dedication tokens (used for scoring) are made of a thick cardboard which you initially punch out when you first open the game. The lantern cards and the turn sequence guides have a very nice print and are the perfect size for this type of game - no need to fumble around with giant cards while you're planning up your lanterns. They all fit nicely in the small box, which is a good size to bring with you to casual games with your pals. The rulebook is also very clean, straightforward, and is loaded with photos to further explain the examples and different situations. This is actually a kickstarter project, and most of the components have been upgraded through their stretch goals, which is a good move.

Rules and Gameplay


lanterns gameplay


This is a very simple game to explain, and the turn sequence guide greatly helps with the game flow. The goal is to get the most honor (indicated by the number on the small devotion dedication tokens) and in order to get that, you have to make different lantern sets depending on the color(such as 3 pairs, 4 of a kind, or 1 of each).

The game starts by placing the starting lake tile (the one with the boat) in the center face-down. You will need quite a bit of space for this game because the lake expands as you go on. Flip the tile until the red side faces one player and that person becomes the first player (because red means good fortune). You can pass the boat around depending on whose turn it is, and some people put it on the tile they put down as a marker, moving it around as more lake tiles are placed. Afterwards, create your stack of lake tiles and the dedication tokens depending on the number of players as indicated in the rulebook. 3 lake tiles from the stack are then given to each player, which is hidden from others. Each player is then given the color of the lake tile facing them.

Each round consists of 3 actions. The first is the option to spend 2 favor tokens (the 鍾 tokens) to exchange it for any lantern card provided that it's still available in the pile. A person can get favor tokens by matching their lake tiles with the same color of another tile which has a platform or by placing down a platform card. Take note that all actions in this game stacks, which means if you're able to color match 3 sides of your lake tile with 3 platform tiles adjacent to it, you can get 3 favor tokens. The next action is making a dedication to get dedication tokens. The types of dedication you can make are 4 of a kind, 3 pairs, or 1 of each, which all correspond to specific values. Take note that the value of the dedication reduces the more players offer that kind of lantern set, so you have to weigh what's the most economical value you can get with your current lantern set.

The last step is placing a lake tile. If you place a lake tile whose color matches the adjacent tile, the current player receives and additional lake tiles of that color. This also stacks similar to the platform tiles, so use it to your advantage. Everyone then gets the color of the lake tile facing them. This game actually requires a bit of strategic thinking, because not only are you trying to get the lanterns you need, but you also need to be aware if you're giving the opponents what they need when you place your tile. When the a specific color runs out from the stack, the player who's facing that color won't get anything, so you can use this to give your opponents less lantern cards. After each turn, the current player gets a lake tile until the stack runs out.

Once the lake tiles are gone and it's filled with lanterns, it's time to add up their dedications. The player with the most honor wins the game.

It's a simple game to explain and it's perfect for the family, and yet there's a lot of strategy involved here. However, it can be a bit luck-based, like no matter what you do you can't get the lantern you want because your lake tiles are all the wrong color, or the opponents get all the platform tiles, and so on. Because of this, it can also be frustrating when you're left behind, because it can be a bit hard to recover when you see your opponents scoring all the points. However, in the end of the game, it gives you a sense of accomplishment looking at the lantern display you made for the festival.

Length and Replayability


lanterns gameplay


One game lasts 20-40 minutes, and that time will definitely fly by because the game keeps you on your toes all the time; like when the opponent is about to place a tile where you would get that lantern you've been waiting for and he's not aware of it, or he places the perfect tile for you to match with the next turn to get sweet bonuses. Replayability is great (unless you keep on being the unlucky one with bad tiles) and there's actually an expansion (Lanterns: The Emperor's Gifts) which will add to the gameplay.


lanterns board game


Overall score

 

I love playing this game especially with those who are playing it for the first time as it's very easy to explain and raises everyone's competitive urge. The whole design of the game is absolutely beautiful to look at (which can be expected from successful Kickstarter games). My only gripe about it is that when you're really lucky, you can perfectly match tiles and get all the bonuses you want, and you can be also really unlucky where you get all the lake tiles which don't seem to match anywhere in the current board and nets you the worst outcomes. I'm sure there's a way to counter these, but I've yet to find that. I think it's a great game for everyone!

Have you played Lanterns: The Harvest Festival with your friends? Tell us what you think about it!

View the BGG game page here.




2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. This game is loads of fun!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. I have never heard of this game but love the intensity with which you have detailled it out. Sounds very intetesting.

    ReplyDelete

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