We first encountered Lanterns: The Harvest Festival through a Let’s Play video on Youtube and it was obvious from the get go that we were going to love this game. It rested at the top of our board game wish list for a while due to adult responsibilities and the constant release of expansions for other favorite board games of ours. However, this game never strayed far from our thoughts every time we visited our local game stores.
One day, I was setting up our pre-order for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths (Magic: The Gathering standard set release in March 2020) when I was just a bit short for free shipping. The local game store I was ordering from specializes in shipping preowned and out-of-print games and therefore has quite the warehouse selection to choose from. I happened to find a preowned copy of Lanterns for half price, which was perfect to complete the order.
Besides being absolutely adorable, it was surprisingly simple to learn. The instructions are clear, direct, and laid out well even though we actually hadn’t re-watched the Let’s Play before playing. After our initial rules reading, we only needed to consult the rules once to confirm when the game officially ended.
Due to a wonderful timing with quarantining, our first play was between two of our friends, my boyfriend Belmont, and myself. Teaching this game to friends was also an easy and stress-free experience. The whole game play experience brings on a calming and enjoyable mood for all players.
A good deal of the enjoyability and teachability of this game is really based on the symbology used in the design of the pieces, which made the rules easy to learn and remember. Another major selling point was that each of the different color lanterns also had distinct shapes, which is wonderful for Belmont with his acute colorblindness. We were even pleasantly surprised during our playthrough with how deep the strategy of this game was, despite the short and simple gameplay.
However, there were two things about Lanterns: The Harvest Festival that we were initially concerned about. First, a lot of games with this level of strategy have low replayability especially for 2 people playing each other over and over. Second, we did notice that with four players, the supply of the dedication tiles almost ran out, even the generic ones given for this purpose. Afterwards, I confirmed online that it is very rare to fully run out of tiles based on game testing, which will probably become clear with more games played. Also, we have not played with the expansion (Lanterns, The Emperor’s Gifts), but we are excited to purchase it in the future and see if it addresses these concerns.
All excitement/concerns considered, we’re confident that Lanterns: The Harvest Festival will be a long-time staple for us in the category of mid-length games, as well as being a shining example of a great game to teach people who are newer to board gaming.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a delightful set collecting/tile placement game designed by Christopher Chung with gorgeous art by Beth Sobel, release in 2015 by Renegade Game Studios in conjunction with Foxtrot Games.