Christopher Chung’s Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a 2-4 player board game, published by Foxtrot Games and Renegade Game Studios. This game, published in 2015, tries to match the serene beauty of the festival from which it gets it’s name. For those who want a casual board gaming experience with less focus on complex game elements, this is a great choice. Lanterns boasted an impressive list of awards in 2015 including the Mensa Select Award.
This board game is themed after the Lantern festival focuses on the serenity of decorating a palace with floating lake lanterns. Players compete to earn more honor by turning in enough lantern cards to earn them points. It’s a quick game that usually doesn’t take any longer than 30 minutes to play, and is very easy to learn and get the hang of.
As players decorate the lake with different colors of lanterns, they aim to connect the colors to make for a nicer design. Ultimately trying to get different colors of cards to turn in for points before their opponents can. It doesn’t have much focus on competition or deep strategy, it’s a great game to simply enjoy.
How To Play Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
One of the many strong points about this game is the simplicity. It doesn’t take long to understand the rules and grasp the strategy of the game.
The goal of the game is to earn the most honor points. Honor points are achieved by turning in colored lantern cards in certain patterns. The patterns are either 4 of the same color, 2 of 3 separate colors, or the full rainbow which is one of each of the seven colors.
The game opens with the boat tile placed in the center of the board. Players should sit in a way that one side of the boat tile points towards them and nobody else. The numbered tokens should be separated into groups depending on the pattern displayed, and stacked from lowest number to highest with the highest being on the top.
Each player gets one colored lantern tile corresponding to which color is facing them on the starting boat tile. Whoever gets the red card gets to go first, and turn order is clockwise after.
Players are each dealt 3 lake tiles. Make sure to hide these from the other players.
Players have three things to do on their turns:
- Exchange a Lantern Tile (optional)
- Make a Dedication (optional)
- Place a Lake Tile (mandatory)
Placing a Lake Tile
On their turns players place a single lake tile onto the board. The tile placed must be connecting to another tile vertically or horizontally. If they manage to connect two of the same color, they get a card of that color. After the tile is placed each player gets a card of the color that is facing them on the newly placed tile.
Making a Dedication
This is how players earn points. Once per turn, before placing a tile, a player can turn in cards matching one of the patterns of tokens to take a token from the top of the stack.
Exchange a Lantern Card
If a player has two Favor tokens they can trade them in for any Lantern card of their choosing. This can be done once a turn before placing a Lake Tile.
These are earned by placing tiles that have the dragon platforms on them. For each platform matched the player earns one Favor Token.
This section will be fairly brief as strategy isn’t the main focus of this game. In the Lanterns board game the main objective is to earn the most honor points. To do this you want to get them as early as possible before their value diminishes.
In order to boost your own score without boosting others, be very careful where you place your pieces. You want to make sure you’re not giving an opponent a lantern they need to make a dedication on their turn.
Try to keep an eye out for which type of dedications aren’t seeing as much action. If everyone is going for the 7 color rainbow, and nobody is touching the 4 of a kind pattern, that would be a good one to shoot for.
Always take the opportunity to match multiple cards if you can. It can prove very useful to simply be drawing more lantern cards than your opponents.
Where this game really shines is it’s simplicity. It lacks a lot of the complex elements and deep strategic decisions of some other games, which can be a great thing if you’re looking for a lighter game that you don’t have to stress over. So if you’re looking for something a little easier to sink your teeth into, or perhaps just something for a less competitive afternoon like a family board game night, this game is a great choice.
The balance of this game is very good, there’s no real advantage other than going first which I found to be pretty negligible. The strategic decisions to be made are very simple on the surface but it never feels like the undeserving player wins the game. The very simple mechanics combined with the overall calming design make for a much needed change of pace. I’d recommend anyone add this game to their collection.
Where to buy Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
You can order this game online, but you can also pick it up at a local game shop. There are tons of amazing, independently owned and operated game stores who have a lot to offer that you won’t really find while buying a game online. Many places will even sit down and play with you if they aren’t too busy, so you can try out the game first hand. Your options will depend on where you live, so if there isn’t much to choose from nearby, or you’d rather just grab your copy online, Amazon is always a good bet.