If, like me, you had to spend hours in drama class at school pretending to be a tree, then this is the game you have been waiting for! Finally, this is that one situation you can use those hours of experience! You will play as a species of trees, competing to grow and spread seeds in the sunlight.

The box contains:

  • Rulebook
  • Game Board
  • Sun Segment
  • 4 Sun Revolution Counters
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 1 First Player Token
  • 24 Scoring Tokens
  • 4 Light Point Trackers
  • 24 Seed Tokens (6 of each variety)
  • 32 Small Trees (8 of each variety)
  • 16 Medium Trees (4 of each variety)
  • 8 Large Trees (2 of each variety)
Photosynthesis Components

Give each player a player board, light point tracker and the six seeds and matching trees in their chosen colour (8 small, 4 medium and 2 large) Place the light point tracker on zero and place 4 seeds, 4 small trees, 3 medium trees and 2 large trees on the appropriate spaces on the player boards. Everyone should have 2 seeds, 4 small trees and 1 medium tree left over. These are the resources available to players at the start of the game. Put the board in the middle of the table with the sun segment on the side of the board you can see the sun symbol printed. Stack up the scoring tokens into four piles, according to the number of leaves on the back with the highest score on the top of each pile and descending order. Choose a start player and give them the first player token. Then, taking turns players place one of their available small trees on a space on the external edge of the board, do this twice so everyone starts with two small trees on the board. The sun segment will move around the board three times in the game so place the sun revolution tokens near the starting placement and have someone in charge of removing one each time the sun segment gets there.

Each time the sun is in one position, a round is played. A round consists of two phases. The Photosynthesis phase and the Life Cycle phase.

The Photosynthesis Phase

The player with the first player token moves the sun segment clockwise. Light points are then calculated for all players. Players get light points for each tree that is not in the shadow of another tree. All trees cast a shadow even over trees of their own variety. Small trees cast a one space shadow, medium trees two and large trees three spaces. A tree standing in the shadow of another tree will earn light points if it is taller. Players add their light points by moving the light point tracker on their player board. Small trees earn one light point, medium trees two and large trees three.

Photosynthesis Board

The Life-Cycle Phase

Starting with the first player, players are now free to spend their light points on any number of actions, however, you may not carry out more than one action on the same space of the main board ie. you may not upgrade the same tree twice in the same turn.

You may purchase trees or seeds from your player board, purchase from bottom to top (cheapest first) Any items you buy go into your available pool.

You may plant a seed, planting an available seed will cost you one light point. You can plant a seed in any direction from a tree, but the size of the tree determines how far away it can be. Only one space away from a small tree, two from a medium and three from a large.

You may grow a tree from one size to the next. A seed to a small tree will cost you one light point, small to medium two points and medium to large three light points. The new tree must be in your available area to upgrade. The tree or seed you take off the board goes back onto your player board and not your available area, however, if there is no available space it is removed from the game. Players may also choose to collect scoring tokens by harvesting their large trees. Remove the large tree from the board, placing it back onto the players board. Take the top scoring token from the pile that matches where the tree was rooted.

Photosynthesis Playerboard

After all players have had a turn, the first player token moves around the table clockwise, the sun segment moves and play begins again with a new Photosynthesis Phase.

The game ends when the sun has completed three revolutions around the board. Players then count up their scoring tokens and add one point for every three light points left on their player board. The player with the most points wins!

The first and most important thing to mention about this game is just how pretty it looks on the table! The 3-D trees are beautiful and a joy to behold (and were easy to punch out and build!)

My only criticism with the components is the sun segment, the piece is big, not particularly attractive (compared to everything else anyway!) and is quite clunky to move around the board (make sure you leave enough room for this when you set up)

The player boards are nice and show all the information you need to play the game to save you keep referring to the rulebook.

The gameplay itself is pretty simple but surprisingly thinky. After all, if you plant a seed next to a small tree, it will soon be in the shade and not be bringing in any light points for you. Especially when other people start building trees around it, this game could be considered quite ‘mean’ in that respect. I found it a pleasant surprise that a game this pretty could also be so mean, especially with a full complement of four players. There are also some extra rules for an advanced version of the game including an extra rotation of the sun and restrictions on planting seeds and growing trees in shade. However, I think I’ll try to master it at the ‘basic’ level before trying that!

Review copy kindly provided by Blue Orange