I had first heard of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival when it was announced to be a game at Geek and Sundry’s 2015 Game Night event. The event was going to be available at my friendly local game store, Six Feet Under Games, but my wife was sick that night and I was unable to attend. Not to be deterred, I ordered a copy because it looked like a game we’d enjoy.
Lanterns is a tile-laying game similar to Carcassonne, but instead of building, you’re trying to convert lantern cards into point tokens. Each time a lake card is placed, not only does the active player receive a lantern card, but every other player will receive a card depending which color is facing them.
The starting tile is placed upside down and then flipped over. Whoever is sitting on the side of the red lanterns receives the first player marker, which is a wooden boat piece. They also receive 1 red lantern card and the rest of the players receive the corresponding colored lantern cards based on which colored lanterns are facing them. The starting player can now place 1 of their 3 lake tiles next to the starting tile.
Once again, all the players get lantern cards based on which color is facing them. However, if the active player matches colors to each other as seen above, they also get a lantern card of that color. Essentially, it is possible for the active player to receive up to 4 lantern cards on their turn.
If a tile is placed with an island image in the middle of it, that player also receives a wooden token. Once 2 tokens have been collected, they can be used to trade in 1 colored lantern card for another color.
The point of trying to collect certain colored lantern cards is to trade them in for point tokens. These come in 3 varieties: 4 of a kind, 3 pairs, or 1 of each color. So if you’re the first player to collect 1 of each color lantern card, you can trade them in for the 10 point token. Once you collect this token, the next one of that kind decreases in value (depending how many players there are, the number and value of point tokens will vary).
Once all lake tiles have been placed down, each player gets a final turn to trade in any lantern cards they have for point tokens if possible. Then scores are tallied by totaling everyone’s point token values. In the event of a tie, the winner is determined by which player has the most wooden tokens. If this is also a tie, the players share the victory.
Overall, this is a really fun game. It’s easy to explain the rules to new players and there’s enough strategy to keep gamers engaged. The components feel nice, but I do wish the lantern cards were on thicker card stock and maybe a tad larger. Regardless, this is definitely a game worth checking out.