Preview Review of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival

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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out an upcoming new game. I received a prototype copy of the game along with rules for play. This is my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a game designed by Christopher Chung, published by Foxtrot Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be artisans trying to impress the emperor with their choice of lanterns for the harvest festival. The player that can gain the most honor will be declared the winner.

To begin, all the Lantern Cards are separated by color, creating 7 different colored piles. These are then placed face up to the side of the play area. Depending on the number of players, you might have to remove 1 or 1 of the lanterns from each stack. Next the Dedications are separated into the 3 different types creating a stack for each. These are then arranged in descending value with the highest value on top. The generic gray tiles are set aside. Once again, depending on the number of players, a token or two might have to be removed. This is all covered in the rules. The starting Lake Tile with a star in the center is placed face down in the middle of the play area. The tile is flipped over with each side of the tile facing a player. The directions of north, east, south and west are decided upon and each player belongs to that area. Lake Tiles are shuffled and then 3 are dealt to each player with the remainder being placed to the side in a stack. Just like the Lantern Cards and Dedications, a certain number of tiles will be removed depending on the number of players. Finally each player will take 1 Lantern Card that corresponds to their color on the starting tile. Play starts with the red lantern player. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they may perform the following 3 actions; exchange a lantern, dedicate a lantern or place a lake tile. The first two are optional while the last one is mandatory. The first action that is optional is to exchange a lantern. To do this a player can spend 2 favor tokens to exchange one of their Lantern Cards for a different colored Lantern Card from the card stacks. Of course at the beginning of the game, no players will have favor tokens.

The next action that is optional is to dedicate a lantern. To do this, a player must discard a set of Lantern Cards. There are only 3 possible sets that may be used; four of a kind, three pair or seven unique. Four of a kind is simply that, four Lantern Cards of the same color. Three pair is three pairs of two matching Lantern cards. Seven unique requires one of each of the seven different colors of Lantern Cards. Only one dedication is allowed on a player’s turn. The cards used for the dedication are placed back in their respective stacks. The player then takes the top Dedication Token from the appropriate stack and places it in front of them. A player can not have more than 12 Lantern Cards in his hand after this action or they must either make a dedication or discard down to 12 cards.

The place a lake tile action is the final action and it is mandatory. To do this a player will place a new Lake Tile face up and adjacent to another existing Lake Tile. All players will receive a Lantern Card from the new tile and if the colors match, the player that placed it gets a bonus card. Basically what this means is that the color of the new tile that faces them determines what color Lantern Card they will receive. If the player matched the colors together when they placed the Lake Tile, they get an extra Lantern Card of the matched color. If either of the matched Lake Tiles had a platform on it, the player also receives 1 Favor Token. Once all this is done, the player will then draw a Lake Tile from the stack to replenish his hand back to 3. Play then shifts to the next player.
The game ends once all the Lake Tiles have been drawn and placed. Players will then take one final turn to exchange lanterns and make dedications if they would like. Each player will then add up the honor they have accumulated. The player with the most honor wins.

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COMPONENTS
Of course with a prototype copy, things are going to change. The Lake Tiles, I’m told, are pretty much final in the artwork. However the Dedication Tokens, Lantern Cards and Favor Tokens are prototype versions of them. I can only speculate that the quality will of course be better and the design will be improved upon. Even so, the simplistic design makes this feel like more of an abstract game than anything. It’s really easy to understand what you’re doing and what each piece does. To me that means that with a little bit of polish and finesse, these pieces will get even better. That’s saying a lot as I already like what’s here. The tiles and cards are really great. I’m hoping that the finished artwork only adds more beauty into an already cool looking game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
Just like the components, the rules that I received were prototype as well. They consisted of 7 pages of rules, some of which is in color. There is a great overview of the game with everything explained really well. There is even an appendix that walks you through several examples of game play. It has some pictures but mostly of just the components. As with any pre-production set of rules, I’m sure that these will just get better with great art and a pretty design. As it is, it gets the job done with no problems. I found nothing that was difficult to understand or read.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
The game is really fun. It has a lot of similarities to a couple of games, Jaipur and Carcassonne. In Jaipur, you sell your goods to gain points and bonus points for 3 or 5 of the same good. In this game, the dedication of lanterns action nets you points. It’s very similar to me. That particular mechanic is really very fun to me. I love trying to hurry to get enough of the right cards to be able get the higher point tokens. That’s one part about the game that I really like. The other part is the placing of the lake tiles. I really find it a bit like Carcassonne in the placement of the tiles. However it’s really unique in that when the tile is placed, every player gets a card for your action. In Carcassonne, you only get points for your action. The game is really seamless in how it plays. It’s really simple and fun, even for non-gamers. It’s light and easy to play with most games not lasting longer than 30 minutes. I really love playing this game. It’s great fun.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a light tile laying game of set collection. There is some strategic game play to it and it will entertain both gamers and non-gamers alike. It’s simple and fun with most games lasting no more than 30 minutes. The artwork is really nice and should look even better once the game is produced. I would definitely recommend this game to fans of both Jaipur and Carcassonne as the games share similar mechanics. I really like the simplicity and fun of this game and enjoy playing it a lot. This is a game that I would highly recommend.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other games, please check out Foxtrot Games at their site.

http://foxtrotgames.com/

You can also preview the game right now on Kickstarter, as well as back it once the campaign goes live next month.

http://lanternsgame.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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