Game Buzz: Games in the Forest

Today, I wanted to take a look at a couple of games coming out at or around Gen Con that I’m interested in.  And they both just happen to loosely share a forest theme.  Let’s start with

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Fox in the Forest is a two-player trick-taking game from designer Joshua Buergel that is being published by Renegade Game Studio and Foxtrot Games.  The game has a loose fairy tale theme, but the goal is this – win tricks, score points, win the game.

The game comes with 33 cards and 17 scoring tokens.  The cards are divided into three suits of 11 cards each.  At the start of the game (and each round), you’ll deal each player 13 cards, setting the other seven aside as a draw pile.  The top card of the draw pile is flipped, and will be known as the Decree card (it will identify the trump suit).

image by BGG user yowza71

The non-dealer will lead each round.  To lead, play a card from your hand.  Your opponent then follows by playing a card of the same suit.  If she doesn’t have a card of the same suit, she may play any card.  The winner of the trick is the one who played the highest card of the lead suit, or the one who played the highest trump card.  The next trick is led by the player who won the previous trick.

Every card with an odd rank in the game has a special ability associated with it.  These trigger when played.  These cards could give you the lead in the next trick, allow you to change trump, allow you to draw and discard, give you points, change a card to the trump suit, or force your opponent to play a certain card if they can.

The round continues until all thirteen cards have been played.  You then score.  You get six points for winning 0-3 tricks, one point for winning 4 tricks, two points for winning 5, three points for winning 6, six points for winning 7-9, and zero points for winning 10-13 (you are GREEDY).  Keep playing until someone has at least 21 points, then whoever has the high score is the winner.

image from draftmechanic.net

There seems to be a revived interest in trick-taking as a mechanism recently.  I feel like there are more trick-takers coming out than used to, although that’s possibly just me being more aware of them.  Regardless, this looks like a pretty good game.  It’s rare for a trick-taker to be for only two players, but I think the special card abilities and the scoring twist of not wanting to take ALL the tricks helps that.  This is one I think will stand out in the genre, and its one I’m definitely interested in seeking out to try.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Photosynthesis is a game designed by Hjalmar Hach, published by Blue Orange.  In this 2-4 player game, which takes 30 minutes to an hour, players are trying to grow trees, collect light, and score the most points.

The game comes with a board, a sun board, 4 player boards, a first player tile, 24 score tiles, 4 sun tokens, 32 corn tokens, 32 little trees, 16 medium trees, 8 big trees, and a wooden token.  The rules for the game have not yet been published, but from what I can tell, each player gets a player board that stores four seeds, four little trees, three medium trees, and two big trees.  You’ll also get two extra seeds, four extra little trees, and two extra medium trees that are off your board as ready.  The board will be seeded with two small trees per player, and you’re ready to play.

image by BGG user mg92

The first phase of each turn is the photosynthesis phase.  The sun board will be placed on the edge of the board so it runs along two edges of the hexagonal play area.  In this phase, it shoots light out and trees collect light points – one for a small tree, two for a medium tree, and three for a large tree.  However, if a tree is completely in the shadow of another tree (one space behind a small, up to two spaces behind a medium, up to three spaces behind a large), it gets no light points (unless it happens to be a bigger tree).

After this happens, you take actions.  Spend as many light points as you wish.  These can be spent on buying plants, planting seeds, growing trees, or collecting big trees to score points. Once everyone has taken a turn, the sun rotates one click and the first player token passes.  Once the sun has made three complete revolutions around the board, the game is over and the player with the most points wins.

image by BGG user seth0n

The first thing that is going to grab anyone about this game is the look.  The cover is gorgeous, and the aesthetic effect of all those 3D trees popping up all over the board is very striking.  Once you get to playing, it looks like it’s more of an abstract than anything, with lots of long-term strategic decisions to be made.  This is one that I think would really appeal to my wife, who really likes her games “pretty”.  I think I’d probably enjoy it as well.


With all this talk of nature stuff, I think I need to go take a hike.  Thanks for reading!

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