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Defenders of the Realm board game
Quoridor board game
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Steam Park board game
Escape The Curse of the Temple dice game
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Between Two Cities board game
Dominion card game

Light your Lanterns for family fun

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

Have fun creating a colorful lantern festival with your family.

We’ve never participated in a Chinese Lantern Festival. But we can imagine how cool it would be to see.

After all, we’ve seen the hope lit lanterns can bring in Disney’s movie Tangled. And that led to “happily ever after”, right?

Of course, that was an animated movie and I don’t recall any of the Tangled characters being Chinese – so that must mean our total for Chinese Lantern Festivals is still zero.

But we’re trying!

Playing Lanterns: The Harvest Festival by Foxtrot Games and Renegade Game Studios is our next attempt at being close to the real thing.

And it’s quite an enjoyable experience!


How to play Lanterns: The Harvest Festival

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

We love tile-laying games and Lanterns is a great one.

Lanterns is a tile-laying game where players create the board as the game progresses. And in this case, the board is a lake with colorful lanterns all over. The placement of the tiles determines which colored cards players will collect — which they’ll then be able to turn in sets of cards to score points.

Like we enjoy in fun family board games, the game play in Lanterns is very simple to understand.

Set Up

To begin, players set the starting Lake tile (the one with the image of a boat in the center) in the center of the table so that each edge is oriented toward one of the players.

All of the lantern cards are set to the side in their individual stacks by color.

The Dedication (scoring) tiles are also placed to the side in stack by color in descending order with the highest value tile on top. Depending on the number of players, some of the Dedication tiles will be removed from play.

Each player draws 3 Lake tiles to their hand and the rest of the Lake tiles are placed in a face down stack to the side. The number of Lake tiles used in a game also depends on the number of players.

Each player also collects a lantern tile corresponding to the color on the starting Lake tile facing their direction to begin the game.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

Let’s get this lantern festival started.

Player Turns

Players may do the following 3 actions in this order on their turn.

1. Exchange a Lantern card

At the beginning of their turn, the active player may spend 2 Favor Tokens to exchange one of their Lantern cards for any other Lantern card of their choice from the supply.

2. Make a Dedication

The active player may use a specific set of Lantern cards to make 1 Dedication.

Each stack of Dedication tiles specifies the type of set needed to claim a tile. The options are: Four of a Kind (4 of same color), Three Pair (2 each of any 3 different colors), and Seven Unique (1 of every color).

This is the main objective in the game as players race to claim the most-valuable Dedication tiles first.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

The most valuable Dedication tiles get taken first.

3. Place a Lake Tile

The active player chooses a Lake tile from their hand and places adjacent to an existing Lake tile on the table.

Although the colors on each side of the touching Lake tiles do not need to match, the active player will benefit by doing so. If the color on any side of the newly place Lake tile does match the color on an adjacent tile, the active player will collect that color Lantern card from the supply.

In addition, if any of the matching Lake tiles have Platforms on them, the active player also received a Favor token for each Platform.

Then each player (active player and others) will collect a color Lantern card matching the color on the side of the newly played tile facing them.

So on every turn, every player collects a colored Lantern card!

The only caveat is that the supply may run empty for that color. In which case, that player is out of luck.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

I can place the Panda Platform Lake tile to touch both the black and white side to score bonus cards and a Favor token!

Once a player has placed their Lake tile and Lantern cards are collected, the player draws another Lake tile to replenish their hand to 3 Lake tiles and play continues to the next player.

Game End

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

It’s fun to see the lake fill with lanterns.

After the last Lake tile has been placed, players each take one final turn.

Since they’ll have no more Lake tiles to play, the only things they can do is turn in Exchange Lantern Cards and Make a Dedication.

Players then total up the scores form their claimed Dedication tiles and the player with the most points wins the game.

(And let’s not forget — the final step is actually taking a photo of the finished, colorful lake.)


Can the whole family enjoy Lanterns: The Harvest Festival?

Lanterns is an absolutely wonderful board game for families of all ages.

The simplicity of play makes it easy for kids to understand and enjoy. Yet there’s also a level of strategy that adults can enjoy as well.

And all age groups will enjoy the cool, colorful lake of lanterns that results.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

We love the colorful tile and cards.

On the light side, we simply love the tile-laying aspect where it doesn’t require edges to match.

In Carcassonne (still one of our favorite family board games), all tile edges must match. Thus, placement of tiles requires strategy in creating the countryside for maximum points.

In Lanterns however, any Lake tile can be placed next to any other tile. But if placed well, the active player will get bonus cards. And the more cards you collect, the better off you’ll be in creating sets for scoring later.

So while matching isn’t required, it does pay dividends for those who seek it out.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

Snag an extra purple card plus a Favor token.

Another element that makes Lanterns great for family play is that all players get cards on everyone’s turn. There really isn’t any downtime between turns because players are constantly getting cards. Not only does this make for quick game play, but it also keeps players engaged the whole time.

This also means that the state of the Lake and options for making sets will change between your turns. You may have plans to make a dedication with a certain set of cards, but based on the cards you collect between your turns, by the time it comes back to you, you may be able to turn in a more valuable set of cards. Score!

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game

The lake is starting to look nice and colorful.

Which also leads to another layer of the game.

If you’re playing with others who like games that are more competitive in nature, you’ll find something else to watch out for due to this game element.

Because other players will get cards on your turn, you’ll be choosing your tiles even more carefully. Now you’ll not only be looking for which cards you’ll receive, but which cards you’ll be granting to others. And you may choose to hold back on playing certain tiles because they’ll help an opponent make a valuable dedication.

And the last element we’ll mention that makes Lanterns a great family board game is that there’s a way to exchange cards. Granted, to do so players need to first collect Favor tokens by playing tiles with Platforms on them. But at least there’s a way to make a card swap that can make a big difference.

Whether you like your game play on the light side or with a bit more competitiveness, there’s plenty to enjoy in Lanterns.


How does Lanterns score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board gameLanterns scores very high on our “let’s play again” game meter. The game keeps players engaged the whole time and final scores are typically close together — prompting requests to play it “one more time”.

Lanterns also doesn’t take long to play and there isn’t much trouble in resetting the game for a subsequent play. Just flip all the Lake tiles over, re-stack the Dedication tiles, group the lantern cards, take your starting hand and you’re at it again.

Thanks Foxtrot Games for this great tile-laying and set collection family game with a colorful theme.

If you’d like a second opinion of Lanterns, we’d recommend you watch this short video review by the Game Boy Geek.


Six board game review

Six board game

Say hello to Six.

As much as we enjoy playing games all together as a family, we also really enjoy playing 2-player board games.

It’s fun to sit around the table with everyone for family together time. But it’s also fun to sit down one-on-one with a child and go head-to-head in a fun mental challenge.

And today we’re reviewing such a game by FoxMind: Six

Six is a short 2-player board game that’s simple and enjoyable to play again and again.

And Caleb gives it his highest rating!

Check out his short video review of Six to see how to play as well as why he likes it so much.


Can the whole family enjoy Six?

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Create your own solar system in Planetarium

Planetarium board game

Make your own planetary system in Planetarium.

Many people daydream about what it would be like to rule the world.

But have you ever wondered what it would be like to rule your own solar system?

Or better yet – create your own solar system from scratch?

In the upcoming game, Planetarium by Game Salute, you’ll be able to do just that.

The only catch is that the other players are trying to ruin your plans. They want to shape the matter in this new planetary system according to their own plans.

And the end result will be a blend of everyone’s plans where the player with the most points claiming victory.

Planetarium is a fun game with a great balance of strategy and luck that families throughout the galaxy will enjoy playing together.

Because if your kids enjoy Planetarium as much as our Caleb does, you’ll be controlling matter and planets for a long time to come.

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Kudos to Fathers everywhere

Father's Day

It’s so fun being a father.

Happy Father’s Day!

Today’s another great day to celebrate parenthood. We start with Mother’s Day in May and follow with Father’s Day in June. It’s a nice one-two punch for parents.

Cheers to those who sacrifice so much to raise their children!

It’s not an easy task.

Every year that passes, I come to appreciate fatherhood even more.

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Fugitive – A quick and fun 2-player card game

Fugitive card game

Fugitive is a fun 2-player card game.

Imagine for a moment you’re a Fugitive on the run.

(Of course, not that you would do anything to warrant being imprisoned. That’s why we’re imagining, eh.)

And your buddy, sibling, cousin, parent, or spouse is the Marshal trying to hunt you down.

How would you stay one step ahead of the Marshal so you could get away for good?

In the upcoming card game, Fugitive, by Tim Fowers, you’ll get the chance to figure it out.

Or you can take on the role of Marshal and use your wits, and timely card draws, to uncover the Fugitive’s hideouts and catch him/her once and for all.

We’ll cut right to the chase (pun intended) — Fugitive is a quick and fun 2-player card game that keeps both players on their toes.

See for yourself in Caleb’s video review of Fugitive.

Can the whole family enjoy Fugitive?

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Memoir ’44 week for D-Day Commemoration

Memoir '44 board game

Here’s to those who sacrificed all.

This past week I’ve played a lot of Memoir ’44.

And I’ve loved every minute of it!

Those that are familiar with our reviews will know Memoir ’44 is one of my favorite board games. And it’s my most-played 2-player board game.

It’s still strange to think that it would be such a hit with me because I never considered that I’d enjoy playing a “war game”.

However, Memoir ’44 doesn’t fall into the same category as other well know war games like Axis and Allies. It’s a lighter game with a great balance of strategy and luck that make for some very tense and fun games.

Since I first played Memoir ’44 with my buddies, we’ve held an annual D-Day Commemoration game night around June 6.

I always look forward to it and have yet to be disappointed.

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Escape The Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor

Escape the Room Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor board game

We’re ready to escape!

A few weeks ago, our kids had a blast at a youth activity at Getout Games in Provo, Utah.

They were each assigned to a different group and themed room within the facility in which they had 60 minutes to escape.

(If you’re unfamiliar with this new trend of “live escape room” entertainment, we’d suggest you check to see if there are some near you.)

Our kids came home very excited with many stories to tell about the types of challenges they had to solve in order to escape. And they were also begging for us to go as a family.

So when we made our family summer bucket list of activities at the end of school, of course we added Getout Games to the list.

But we also didn’t have to wait long to do another escape room activity.

Because that very week, we received a new game from Thinkfun called, Escape The Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor.

Having just participated in the live escape room activities at Getout Games, they were more than willing to jump in and play Escape The Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor.

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Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game review

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Ready to build some crazy castles?

If I ever get over to Bavaria on vacation, I’m going to check out as many castles as I can.

And the Romanesque fortress, Schloss Neuschwanstein, by King Ludwig II, is at the top of my “would love to see” castle list.

So when I heard about the board game Castles of Mad King Ludwig — where you get to build crazy castles — I was very anxious to give it a try.

My chance to play the game first struck at SaltCon 2015.

While I didn’t do very well on my first play, I was totally hooked. I left wanting to play again and again.

And Castles of Mad King Ludwig shot to the top of my games wish list along with Colt Express — both of which I was lucky enough to get for my birthday soon after.

Well, it’s finally time to post our full review of Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Enjoy!

Can the whole family enjoy Castles of Mad King Ludwig?

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