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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Light Roast

Today we returned to Mama Bear’s Bakery & Cafe to drink white mochas and play Lanterns: The Harvest Festival.  While they may not always keep their menu up to date, their coffee always delivers a sweet and rich flavor unlike any other coffee shop in the area.  In this 2 - 4 player tile-placement game, players will act as artisans decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns.  The player who earns the most honor before the festival begins is the winner.  Lanterns has really earned its spark among the tabletop gaming community so read on to see our thoughts.
At the start of the game, there is a beginning tile that is placed in the center of the table to mark the point of origin for how the remaining tiles will expand out over the lake.  During the game, the active player may perform one of the three actions: 1) Exchange a Lantern Card (optional), 2) Make a Dedication (optional), or 3) Place a Lake Tile (mandatory).  If you draw a tile with a platform and animal in the center, you can attain what are known as favor tokens which can assist you to should you decide to dedicate during your turn.  Say you were short one type of lantern, but had multiples of other colors.  You could substitute one additional color during your dedication by paying two favor tokens and swapping out one additional card for another color to help assist you if you are short one card during your dedication.  The more lantern colors you can match that are connected to one another, the more lantern cards you will receive (if available).  As you exchange and make dedications, you will be awarded honor tokens which have numbers on them indicating how many points you can earn by the end of the game.  After all of the lake tiles have been allocated and played by each player, the festival begins and all players add up their points on their honor tokens.  Whoever has the most points, wins! 
Technically, the tiles in this game are to be placed down in a diamond shape manner, but for the purposes of our table space, we knew we could set our cards out a little easier if we played it sideways.  The process and mechanics in this game lends itself to multiple strategic paths that you can choose to overtake your opponent/s.  The idea of placing lanterns over a lake to achieve the greatest honor is very cool to me and I love how it’s integrated into the mechanics of the gameplay.  Tile placement is not always what I tend to flock to first, however in this game it almost demands that I return and try to find other loop holes to enhance my strategy the next time I play it.  Like a lot of other games, there is some luck involved as you shuffle the tiles and allocate from draw piles, but you do have options and like a lot of other games, your decisions will have a lasting effect on the outcome of your game.  For a smaller box game, Lanterns does take up more space on the table than you may want, unless you make some slight modifications to how you play the game.  I think this is to be expected though when it comes to tile-laying games.  As for the components, we really like the favor tokens being made out of a thicker wood, rather than thin cardboard.  The game does not require more density to be better, it carries the right amount of mechanics and strategy as it is for a decent little filler game.  I’m a real sucker for set collection and pattern-building games anyway so this one plays well with us at our game nights. This is a great, strategic game for the family.

Overall Meeple Rating: 7/10

Game Mechanics:
1) Tile-Placement
2) Hand-Management
3) Set Collection
4) Pattern Building

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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