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How to Play: Photosynthesis

Game the Game is Geek & Sundry’s tabletop board game show that airs Wednesday starting at 4 PM PT on Twitch and Alpha. Though we’re not streaming over the holidays, we’ll be back at it in January, where host Becca Scott will return to break out some of the best boardgames the industry has to offer, with new guests each week! 

This week, Becca is showing us how to play Photosynthesis, a game we covered in a full editorial overview, as it’s one of the titles on our Best In Tabletop 2017 list. From that editorial feature, written by Shea Parker, we’ve excerpted a few passages to give you a sense of what Photosynthesis is all about.

With so much entertainment in the world glorifying violence, destruction, and mayhem, sometimes it’s good to pick up a game that’s just nice. A game where instead of playing as gladiators, you’re all just trees in the middle of the forest. And instead of counting kills, you’re collecting sunlight and planting seeds. It could be a game where everyone is pleasant and no one attacks each other or gets in anyone’s way. Well here’s the thing: Photosynthesis, by Blue Orange Games isn’t quite that.

Now, it is a game about planting seeds, collecting sunlight, and growing trees, however, there’s something much more intense beneath this unassuming veneer. The gentle theme, the simple mechanics, the adorable woodland creatures poking out of the trees, they all serve to mask the truth: hidden within this bouquet is a cutthroat, treacherous, backstabbing game that you will want to pour your brain into again and again.

The gameplay starts off simple. Each player puts two small trees down on the board, then collects sunlight for each tree that the sun hits. Sunlight is your currency, and will be used to buy seeds as more/bigger trees. Once you’ve bought them, you can also spend sunlight to plant seeds and grow your trees from seedlings to towering wooden behemoths. The bigger the tree, the more sunlight it collects and, more importantly, the more sunlight it blocks.

Of course, if you want to win, you don’t just worry about blocking other players. You’ll also need to avoid blocking yourself, because shade is indiscriminate and I still haven’t mentioned the most important thing: the sun rotates around the board every round, meaning that the shade each tree casts will affect different spaces throughout the game.

If you like competitive, in your face, area control games, or if you like complex puzzles that you can really sink your teeth into, Photosynthesis should be right up your alley.

Read the full editorial feature, and be sure to tune in to Twitch and Alpha in the new year when Becca will be back on Game the Game to play more games with new guests every Wednesday starting at 4PM PT on Twitch and Alpha.

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