Oaks, Elms, and Spruce, oh my!

Abstract is the best way to describe this game. Your currency comes from the sun, the board basically changes every round, and you don’t use meeples, pawns, or miniature warriors – you use trees. Photosynthesis is the name of today’s game, and as a friend of mine said when playing it for the first time, “This is a lot more interesting than what it sounded like.”


The premise is simple, you start with a couple trees, gain light points, grow those trees or distribute seeds, turn your seeds into more trees, harvest trees when they reach full maturity, and ultimately have the most points at the end of the game – which is the end of the 3rd sun revolution. To break it down further, it’s quite simple. You’ll start the game with two small trees on the board on the outer edge of the forest. This will ensure that everyone is able to receive light points from the first sun revolution stage (there are 6 each spots the sun ends up in each revolution. Using the acquired light points, you can spend them to either grow your existing small trees into medium trees, and then later medium trees into large trees. You can also use light points to place a new seed a pre-determined number of spaces away in order to grow new trees.

Every player will have a player board that acts as a sort of bank. You will need to purchase trees and seeds from your board in order for them to go into your supply and be available to be placed on the forest board. If at any time you remove a tree or seed from the forest board and there isn’t an empty space for it on the player board, you’ll lose that item for the remainder of the game.


Keep in mind when growing your trees and planting new seeds, that each time a round is over, the sun will shift its position to the next corner. Any trees in the shadows of equal sized or larger trees will not produce light points for that round. Therefor, placement and growth order is a very important strategy that must be used in order to be successful.

Once you get a tree to it’s largest size, you can then harvest it for points! ON each circle on the forest board, there is a specific number of leaves. When you harvest a tree, you gain a point token from the top of the pile of the corresponding leaf number. The point token piles are always placed with the highest point value on top to the lowest point value on the bottom. That means it is more lucrative to grow a tree through it’s stages and harvest it sooner, rather than later, in order to obtain the maximum amount of points.

My Thoughts: This is a nice change from the typical board game theme or mechanics. I’ve never really played another game like it, it’s definitely unique. It’s also another easy to learn game, so new players won’t feel overwhelmed. The first time I played it was fresh out of the box with 3 other people whom had never played it either. We understood all the rules and any questions we had were easily answered by a quick look back at the rules. I have only played this game once so far, but I will give it a 9/10 because I don’t see why I would never consider this game in the future.

Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.4
  • Playtime: 30 – 60 min
  • Complexity: 2.33/5
  • Mechanisms: Action Point Allowance System
  • Category: Abstract, Economic, Environmental
  • MSRP: $45


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