If you’ve read my post for “Hero’s Journey Home,” you’ll remember me as the novice gamer. Novice, also known as, the inexperienced gamer. Throughout my short but exciting journey into the tabletop world, I was introduced to Carcassone and Catan–two games that I highly recommend you play if you are interested in learning the basics of an action drafting and a resource gathering game respectively. The concept behind action drafting is pretty much a matter of placing a meeple (player piece) down onto a playing space/board, assigning a particular role/action for that meeple, and accrue points accordingly. A resource collecting game entails that you are collecting resources using actions (aka moves) to gain points. The basic mechanic of these two games allowed me to appreciate what Lanterns: the Harvest Festival has to offer.
Lanterns is an extremely straightforward game, which I genuinely appreciate as an inexperienced gamer. Upon first glance the game has a few basic components: cards, tokens, tiles, and a 1st player marker. Each and every component in this game has a purpose, and nowhere in the game do you get overwhelmed by the amount of inventory you have to keep up with as a player in the game. The instructions booklet is really concise, and tells you exactly what you need to know. Oftentimes instructions are the most daunting part about starting a new game. If you are anything like me, you become completely turned off by the amount of information in a rule book–games are supposed to be fun, and I don’t prefer being dragged down by the monotony of rule after rule. After rule.
At any rate, I played Lanterns with a fellow Indietabletop partner, and I absolutely LOVED it. The object of the game is very similar to Carcassone in that you are accruing points throughout the course of the game; however it takes a huge leap forward by adding the mechanic of needing to collect specific combinations of lanterns (aka resource gathering) in order to gain points. If Catan and Carcassone were to have a very colorful baby–this would be it.
The basic mechanic of the game is to utilize the colored lanterns found on each tile to gain lantern cards that would allow you to collect dedication tokens (that have a point value attached to them). The more dedication tokens you collect, the better chance you have at winning the game. The caveat to this mechanic is that you must collect these dedication tokens by matching the correct combination of lantern cards as the desired dedication token. Additionally, these dedication tokens will have point values in descending order so it is to your benefit to begin collecting as many lantern card combinations that fit the parameters of the dedication tokens as you can. The tiles themselves work as a means to build your lantern card collection–match the color of the lantern to the tile that is already placed down, and collect the lantern card for that color, as well as the lantern color that is facing you. There is an additional feature to the tiles (that contain platforms) that allow you to collect favor tokens. These favor tokens are used as a form of currency, if you will, permitting you to swap a lantern card when you pay 2 favor tokens. Each round allows you to take up to 3 actions: exchanging a lantern card, making a dedication, and placing a tile. The first two actions are optional, but placing a tile is absolutely mandatory.
Overall, I believe that Lanterns is extremely well crafted and creative. The game play itself is entirely novice-friendly, and has the perfect amount of competition involved.Lanterns allows you to have a good segue into a action drafting/resource gathering game, and I firmly believe that this should be added to your collection of games if you are looking for the love child of Carcassone and Catan.