-Quick, easy gameplay
-Bright, colorful, well-drawn graphics
-Simple yet strategic
-Lanterns card are on the small side
-Player token serves no purpose other than to indicate turn
-Honor tokens are rarely used
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a fairly new game that has been getting high praise from around the internet, with actor and mega-gamer Wil Wheaton most notably singing it’s praises. Based on that, I decided to get a copy of the Mensa award-winning game for my daughter for Christmas.
The concept of Lanterns is simple: the harvest festival is about to begin, and it’s the job of you, the players, to make it’s as spectacular as possible. Based on that, how does it play out? Turns out the play is almost as simple.
The game is for 2-4 players, and involves tile-laying in a similar fashion to Carcassonne. The same tile always starts the game, and players take turns laying down tiles around the starter, matching lantern colors in order to earn corresponding cards, which are then in turned traded back in for points. If you lay down a tile with a picture in the center, you can also earn honor tokens, which you can then trade in for the lantern cards you need to finish a set. This continues around the table until the tiles are exhausted (you draw new tiles as you play them, similar to a card game), and that’s when the festival begins. From there, you add up your points, and the person with the highest score is the winner.
Even though the game play is simple (you should have it mastered after just one game), that does not mean there is no challenge. You have to be smart with how you lay your tiles as you attempt to score the cards you need and trade them in for maximum points. Putting thought into each move improves your chances of winning.
Now, the big question is, with the simple format, is it still fun? The answer is a resounding yes. The ease makes for a quick game, and you can get in quite a few rounds in a short amount of time. Plus, thanks to the concept, combined with quality components that are beautifully drawn with vivid colors, it is very relaxing and encourages friendly competition. Also it’s very family-friendly and great for kids. The recommended minimum age is 8, but at just under 7 years old the first time we played, my daughter got the hang of it with no problems.
While not the most complex game, Lanterns is a great game for a few friends or family members and a welcome addition to any game night. It’s well designed and is great in execution. After only a handful of rounds, it’s already found it’s way into regular rotation on game night in our household. If you’re looking for something fast-paced but still encourages competition as well as strategy while being easy on the wallet, pick yourself up a copy.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is available now from all good board game shops.