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Into the science game melee enters Photosynthesis, a game about growing trees and making use of the sunlight to help them reach their full potential (while also stunting your opponents’ trees). Just remember that sun is your friend, shade is your enemy.

Is it a game of happy little trees (oops, now I’m stealing from Bob Ross’ Art of Chill game), or does something dark lurk in this pretty forest? You are in charge of a species of tree (or you are the trees, however you want to look at it) and it’s your job to get as much energy from the sun as you can so that your trees can grow, thrive, produce seedlings for the next generation, and ultimately end their life cycle as strong, healthy trees.

The game ends after three full revolutions, or twelve rounds.[Author’s Note: I realized after publication (and only after having it pointed out to me by someone smarter than myself) that we played this incorrectly. We somehow glossed over the part in the rule book where it says, “Around the hex.” Apologies!

Playing it correctly would not have changed my overall verdict on the game, however.

And unlike the other two games I just named, the perspective is ever-changing as the sun revolves around the board.

This is the hook that differentiates it from others.Taller trees cast a shadow which means that trees behind them may not benefit from the sun’s rays. If they’re not shaded, a small tree earns one point, a medium tree earns two, and a large tree earns three points.The position of the sun changes the vantage point of the sun’s rays each round, so what’s in the shade this round may not be in the shade next round. In the morning it’s coming out of the east so the shadows point one way, but in the afternoon the western sun turns the shadows in the opposite direction. You can use them all, or hoard some for future rounds.Doing so costs four points per tree, but enables you to take the top scoring token from the pile that matches the type of soil your tree was rooted in.Photosynthesis is one of several “line of sight” abstract games to release lately including Seikatsu and Topiary.It moves four times around the board before coming back to its start position.After it returns to the start position, having revolved completely around the board, you take the top revolution counter from the pile and drop it back in the box. We were playing only moving the sun around the four corners. The trees show the four seasons, the player boards show four seasons, so four times around “seemed” right.You begin the game with a small selection of seeds and trees that are immediately available, but everything else must be bought.Planting a Seed: Seeds cost one light point and can be planted around existing trees.Science is just such an underutilized theme in my mind and there is so much that can be done with it game-wise.Plus, if a little education/learning about the world around you sneaks into game time, it’s got to be good for you, right?

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