Game Time: 45 min
Ages: 10 and up
PHOTOSYNTHESIS is a highly strategic game at its core. In the game, you plant and shape the ever-changing forest as you cultivate your seeds and your strategy. Players take their trees through an authentic life-cycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun’s rays. Carefully pick where you sow and when you grow, as trees in the shadows are blocked from light, and from points.
In Photosynthesis, there are only a handful of planted acorns and small trees around the edge of the map at the beginning of the game. Every round, players convert solar energy into actions, allowing them to plant more seeds, grow their trees taller and ultimately harvest them to score victory points. Once harvested, spaces open up for players to plant new trees and the circle of life begins again. The core of the game’s unique design comes into focus at the end of each round. A large yellow piece representing the sun gradually moves clockwise around the forest, granting energy to all trees in view. The taller the tree is, the more energy granted to its owner.
To win, players must focus on how the trees on the board cast shadows. All trees, regardless of height, cast imaginary shadows based on the position of the sun. The taller the tree is, the longer its shadow and the further it can potentially block a smaller tree from getting energy. Because of the gorgeous three dimensional pieces, it’s easy to see which trees will be successful and which will go hungry each round.
But while one turn may yield minimal energy, it’s entirely possible to see the opposite result as the sun moves on. Light will shine from a different angle, and the shadows will stretch in a different direction than before. This is what elevates Photosynthesis from a simple-yet-pretty game into a top-notch strategy title.
The game takes between 30 to 60 minutes to play depending on the player count and whether people already understand how to play. There is a bit of a learning curve for the game but we take time to teach everyone together before we start any game at a gaming session. It is categorized as a moderately strategic game.
Watch the videos below for more details on how to play the game: