Today we’re going to be talking about Lanterns. How they go, where they go, and what you can expect see when they get to where they’re going. Most of these things are true, some a bit of a stretch maybe, but true nonetheless. We’re going to talk about one of my favorite games of recent years, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival.
You might remember our discussion about my love for this game awhile back. I’m glad to report that my passion for this game remains untainted.
Lantern’s is a 2-4 player tile laying game for the whole family, provided the whole family is at least 6-8 years old, and it takes about 30 minutes to play. The game is designed by Canadian designer Christopher Chung and is published by Foxtrot Games in conjunction with Renegade Game Studios. If you want a complete break down or if you want to try it out on a basic print and play, you can go the BGG page for the game.
The best mechanism in Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is the way Lanterns are distributed.
During you turn you will receive 1 bonus lantern for each side of your tile that matches the tile placed next to it, but they need not match any side. So, if you placed a tile that was green on the right side and orange on the bottom, and the corresponding tiles sides were green and red, you would receive 1 bonus tile because you only matched one color. You’d also receive a lantern for the color that is facing you. That’s where it gets good.
Players form a square around the table and each position matches with the facing of one side of the tiles. So, if you’re the red player, the starting tile would be placed so that the red side is facing you. That’s why you’d start with 1 red lantern. Each time a player lays a tile, they get their lanterns but all other player at the table ends up with the lantern facing them as well. A gift from you to them, whether you’re feeling generous or not.
This mechanism drives me crazy with it’s elegance. The primary reason is the distribution of lantern is based on real world position. It’s more than just clever it’s just brilliant. But it’s not just that because the distribution of the lanterns to everyone, not just the active player, works so well in keeping other players engaged.
In the end, the game isn’t just a set collection game, or a tile laying game. This is a race game. Which brings us to scoring and how it integrates with the mechanism I love so dearly.
The fact is that the two aren’t intimately tied together at all. The distribution leads to lanterns and favors which lead to collecting sets which lead to collecting victory points. So if the distribution is the alpha then I suppose the scoring system would be the Omega.
I do like the Omega directive, though, because it rewards the first player to each stack with a higher score than the others. The current distribution allows for some self ̶ adjustment based on where each stack is. One minute the 3 pair might be the best possible way to score and by the next round your 3 pair are practically worthless when compared to what else is out there. I really like how the scoring tiles countdown. It rewards initiative and smart play.
On a completely unrelated note, here’s something really cool done by Andrew Brooks. I’ve seen several of his setups and they are all amazing.