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Subject: First time playing (2 - player) - had a great time rss

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Jeff Knapp
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Amazon had suggested this game a few times to me, and it's on my wishlist, but I kept aiming for heavier games when it came to spending money, so I kept letting this one slide.

This past weekend we visited a brand new boardgame cafe here in Dayton, OH, and when I saw this on the shelf, I instantly grabbed it and took it to our table.

A quick online video (the cafe has tablets at each table!) taught me how to play in less than 10 minutes, and after a few quick glances at the rules, we were off to the forest.

It only took a few turns for us to grasp the concept, and our forest pretty quickly became cluttered with trees of various sizes. The colors and artwork of the board really are refreshing, and the play is fairly fast and efficient.

I'm usually a person who plans several turns in advance, especially in games that have a lot of "actions" to choose from when your turn comes around. Photosynthesis is fairly "rinse, wash and repeat," but at no point did the game play feel boring or stagnant. I'm sure I could have spent more time calculating the value and effect of each tree as the sun continued to spin, but honestly it felt relaxing to just sit back and let nature do its thing.

The best part was when we both realized, "Oh wait - we have to cut these things down to actually get points" - and started doing so - and somehow finished the game with 51 points each (probably a low score compared to seasoned players) and had to break a tie by count of trees/seeds on the board. Usually when my wife and I play a new game, I get way ahead in score. But I think that, due to the more-or-less random way we chose places to put trees, trees to upgrade, etcetera, we ended up playing very similarly to each other.

I enjoyed Photosynthesis. I look forward to a four-player game which I know will be much more challenging, but also visually beautiful on the table.

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John Rudolph
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Do you feel like it is a worthwhile purchase if mostly being played as a 2 player game?
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Jeff Knapp
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Sorry I didn't see this sooner, Putzmanrudy1!

I honestly haven't gotten to play this game again, and I still haven't purchased it, so it's a little hard to consider all the possible pros and cons for a frequent 2-player team (such as a married couple.) Married with Board Games (YouTube channel) did a top-10 list though and this one placed in there; so that might be worth something.

For starters, it's very different - there's no worker placement, no resource collecting, no lofty goals you have to work towards. So if your only board gaming friend is tired of farming/working/dice-rolling/chit-counting, this game could be attractive.

It's not very confrontational, and what little bit of "take that" there is could be easily shrugged off.
"Oh I'm sorry - I didn't even realize I blocked your trees for the next 3 turns!.." You shouldn't often find yourself being told how much you suck...

It suffers from minimal action-paralysis. Your available actions each turn are so simple, and while your biggest challenge might be picking the right spot on the board to place your next tree, it's so hard to consider the advantages/disadvantages that, unless your playing against an international chess champion, most players won't BOTHER to weigh out the pros-and-cons, and simply toss a seed down.
"Screw it - I'm going here..."

The game really is pretty. I can't imagine how pretty - and crowded - the board would be with 4 players. But even picking opposing colors (blue and yellow, green and red) should make for a pretty play field.

But the game also isn't very heavy - and this could be good or bad, depending on you and your usual players. I'd get bored with it quickly, I suspect - which is one reason why I haven't grabbed it. On the other hand it's easy to teach, with only one confusing rule, and that is the "active" area of your table, which is basically just... ...the table. You have to buy stuff from your player mat in order to use it, but you don't have to use it right away. In that period in between, the stuff sits in the "active area" which doesn't exist on other your player board OR the game board, but just somewhere on the table, in between. That took a turn or two for my wife to understand.

I think it'd make an excellent gateway game, and I think it'd be a great game to break out when family visits or casual, non-gaming friends, or when you're just looking for something to play at home that isn't too "thinky" or requires a long setup.

If however you both prefer bigger games, more take-that games, or more strategic games, I don't think you're going to find much here to cut your teeth on.

So, if you're still wondering, well then I hope that helps! Cheers!
 
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