Back when I wrote about my FLGS The End Games I mentioned purchasing Photosynthesis by Blue Orange Games.
I finally had a couple chances to try it out, and I have to say I was not mislead. The game is great!
Unboxing took some time, but was so much fun I didn’t care. The trees being “3-D” really tapped into my love of models and added a layer to the game. My limited tabletop game collection doesn’t include anything like it.
Squirrels, birds, mushrooms, and the like all appear on various trees, and the forest that appears in the heat of the game is immersive!
I can’t fawn over the way the artwork adds to the gameplay much more, but it truly is art implemented artfully so.
The actual mechanics of the game are simple, but the choices you get to make can be grueling! The game leaves no room for luck outside of player decisions, and there is usually enough going on that strategizing a turn or two ahead is as challenging as it is rewarding.
In our first game there were a few different strategies attempted, and it became clear at the end of the game which paid off. Spread out the trees, and stay focused on the sun’s position. The field changes enough that waiting for your time in the light to come around isn’t enough.
After we saw what the late game looks like, my wife and I have played more and the parity was impressive. The game felt close the whole way through, and we were separated by only a few points. The 1v1 in this game felt great, and it will be guaranteed to get more table time because of it. Also important to us, took hardly 30 minutes from set-up to putting it back on the shelf.
The theme was unique and the interactions intuitive. Many opportunities to chat about how the board is shaping up, or make silly tree puns (what can I say, the game grows on you).
I am so grateful to my local game store representative as he hit this one out of the park.
Looking forward to further games of tree chess.
Co-founder of Cerebral Cellar