Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Reach for the light: a review of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a new board game that puts you in charge of growing and recycling trees in a forest. In nature, trees are in competition with each other, though by our standard that competition takes place over a long period of time. Photosynthesis shrinks that down to a board game that will take around an hour for four people to play.


Each player begins with a small selection of trees and a couple of seeds. In front of you is a board where you can buy more seeds and larger trees to increase and improve your presence on the board. The more trees you have bought, the more expensive your remaining trees become.

Sunlight is your currency.


At each turn of the game, you move the sun token around the board. In the image above, the sun is closest to the players whose board we can see.

As long as your trees are in the sun, they will collect sunlight. A level 1 tree collect 1 point, a level 2 collects 2, and a level 3 will collect 3 points of sunlight. This is the currency you spend to scatter seeds and grow your trees.

Sunlight can be blocked by other trees, so for example a level 2 tree will block a level 1 tree behind it from collecting any sunlight. Level 3 trees are quite capable of dominating the board.  As the sun moves around trees will have the chance to collect sun in one turn even if they were blocked in the turn before.


While large trees dominate the board, they don’t actually deliver any victory points. At the end of the game, the player with the most victory points wins, but the only way to collect the victory point tokens is to turn a level 3 tree to mulch.

Points are gained when you mulch your level 3 tree based on how close it was to the centre of the board. The game is in effect a race to get good board position and the best lifecycle speed you can, while still collecting enough sunlight to keep replanting trees.

This creates an interesting tension between gathering sunlight and mulching your largest tree to gain victory points. Go too quickly, and you might give up crucial board advantage. Wait too long and you’ll fall behind the other players even if you have better tree placement.

Photosynthesis provides for a good hour of fun, and has its own tactical depth to keep more seasoned board game players interested. All gamers will appreciate the colourful playing pieces. I played this as a family game and also with a group of gamers and both experiences were fine.

This game would be a good addition to a family’s board game collection, and will have its role at clubs and board game meet ups.

3 comments on “Reach for the light: a review of Photosynthesis

  1. Bookstooge
    April 15, 2018

    I’m sorry but all I can think of when picturing this game is a bunch of eco-terrorists playing it right before they fire-bomb an oil platform or something. It’s a rather hilarious picture actually.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. David Norris
    April 16, 2018

    This game looks so gorgeous, I need to get it out of the box sometime.


  3. Faust
    April 17, 2018

    Looks like a pretty interesting game. I didn’t realize initially that the different colored trees represent individual players. At first I thought they were evergreen and deciduous options and that there must be some sort of mechanic to separate them!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2018 by in Board Games, Review, Tabletop and tagged , , .
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