Opening the Box
It almost sounds like too simple a task to write about, but if I am to be honest about this whole experience, it's a big, exciting, somewhat stressful adrenaline rush to open the first of what I hope will be many, new games. I tore off the cellophane, opened the beautiful blue box, and found the instruction booklet on top. It is pictured on the left. If your reading glasses are not nearby, let me save you the trouble of retrieving them. You are not seeing things- the instruction booklet is 11 pages long with an appendix! (Entry Level?)
I shrugged off the intimidation factor, and was somewhat relieved to see illustrations accompanying the directions. They seemed easy to follow, so I looked at the rest of the box, and immediately began separating the cards from the perforated sheets of cardboard.
The cardboard is thick enough to separate the cards and pieces easily without bending, and the various colors are attractive. That was the easy part. Once I had all these neatly stacked piles or cards, and a small mound of wooden tokens laid out before me, I opened the instruction booklet. Pep and I read the overview of the game out loud: The Harvest is in, and now its time to celebrate! Players act as artisans decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns. The player who earns the most honor before the festival begins wins the game.
So we were artisans. We could do this!
So we continued to the set up instructions, and made our first attempt at setting up the play space. (I am using the term 'play space' rather than 'board' because technically there is no actual board to this board game, just cards and game pieces. Perhaps, if I ever have the mind to, I will address this, but for now I'd rather get back to the review.) Once the play space was set up, we compared our version to the picture in the instruction booklet.
Here is the picture of our first attempt, Pep checking the book for accuracy, then the reset to match the booklet. (Thank you, Pep, for being a visual person)
Once we got the play space set up properly, it was time to figure out what we were doing. We went through the pieces, and got used to the names of each: lake tiles, lantern cards, dedication tokens, favor tokens, and a start player marker (which we never used).
Playing the Game
It took going through and really reading the instruction booklet, but the game was relatively easy to grasp (surprise, you have to read directions to know what you're doing) Once we got the basic concept (collect lantern cards and trade them in for honor tokens) it became easy and very playable. It took us playing almost halfway through the first game to realize the strategy involved, rather than just going through the motions, playing a game of chance. But once we did, (well, technically Pep figured out the strategy... I was a bit slow on the uptake), the competitiveness in both of us surfaced, and we began to really have fun. It was close, but I won.
Rematch? Of course! Since we were "pros," the second game took on a much more lively feel, and since Pep was out for revenge, he wasn't quite so forgiving when I accidentally put down the wrong lake tile. "Forget it!, You already let go of it! Too bad!" (So much for 37 years of helping-each-other- out, marriage. ) As fate would have it however, and despite occasionally laying down the wrong lake tiles, I managed to win game 2 as well. I'm not saying Pep is a sore loser, but that was the end of that game for the night!
This is a great entry level game for anyone looking to enter into the "golden age of board games." It's simple enough to understand quickly, but complex enough to keep it interesting and engaging. This one has earned a place on the game shelf!
Rating- Instructions, simplicity and coherency: 6 out of 10
Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
Enjoyable: 8 out of 10
Overall: Made it to the game closet.