Today on Game the Game, Ivan and Becca will be playing Lanterns: The Harvest Festival with the one and only Wil Wheaton!
Every year, for more than 13 centuries, the people of China and Vietnam have celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival to commemorate the harvest and to pray for fertility in their crops and their families for years to come. There are many traditions associated with the Festival, but one of the most striking ones is the parade of lanterns. In Lanterns: The Harvest Festival, players take the role of lantern artisans, decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns and trying to earn the most honor by the game’s end.
Honor is earned by making dedications with Lantern Cards. There are seven lantern colors and three possible ways to redeem them for Honor. Whichever way you redeem your cards, you will receive Honor in the form of a Dedication Token with a set point value. All types of dedications start out worth roughly the same, but the values decline each time the Lantern Cards are redeemed for tokens.
Players slowly build up the lake every turn by playing Lake Tiles, which depict a section of lake and the lanterns floating in it. Each tile has a different color of lantern on each side of it. With each tile placed, every player gets a Lantern Card corresponding to the color of lantern physically facing them on the tile. If the active player also places a new tile and any side matches the color of an already placed tile, the player receives a Lantern Card of that color. Furthermore, if either of the tiles with matching sides depicts a platform, the active player receives a Favor Token.
Each player must put down a new Lake Tile on their turn, but as the game progresses, they may also take two optional actions before putting down their new tile. First, they may exchange a Lantern Card for one of another color, so long as that color has not been completely depleted. Next, they can make a dedication if they are able, but they may only make one per turn.
The game enters its final phases when the last Lake Tile in the game is placed. There is one last round where players can still exchange their Lantern Cards and make dedications. Then, the Harvest Festival begins, and the game is scored. Whoever ends up with the most Honor wins!
Though the game is very simple at its essence, the decision of where to place a tile can become surprisingly difficult. Do you put it somewhere where you can get multiple matching sides and pick up extra Lantern Cards? Do you make sure it goes onto a matching tile with a platform so that you can pick up a Favor Token? Or, do you place it in a way that screws over an opponent, preventing them from getting that Lantern Card they badly need? Even the most gentle and zen of practices can become intense in the world of tabletop games, and Game The Game will step into that lakeside arena today. Tune in from 4-7pm PST on our Twitch channel to find out who will sink and who will float in this game of Lanterns, and yes, I can hear your groans from that joke through the internet.
Featured image credit: Foxtrot Games