Photosynthesis has been a much-anticipated game in 2017. After recently seeing so many Instagram posts I was itching to try it. Fortunately on my last visit to Offline Board Game Cafe they had it in stock. 


  • Published by Blue Orange Games
  • 2 - 4 players
  • Action Point Allowance


Each player receives a game board and places each of the following as shown below:

  • 1 sun token on the 0 points space
  • 4 seeds
  • 4 small trees
  • 3 medium trees
  • 2 large trees
  • Also shown - first player token

The remaining game pieces are set to the side of the player's game board and are ready to be played. 


Next, the main game board is set up. The sun is placed on one corner of the game board. Players now take turns placing two of their small trees that were initially set aside on the outer circle of the board. 


The following tokens are placed in piles in descending order. There are four types of tokens matching spaces on the game board: 1,2,3 and 4 leaf tokens. The game is now ready to begin. 


Playing The Game

Each round of the game consists of two phases:

The Photosynthesis Phase:

  • The person with the first player token moves the sun clockwise on the outer edge of the gameboard.
  • Each player gets light points for each of their trees that are not being shadowed by another tree. (Small trees shadow one space, medium trees two spaces and large trees three spaces)
  • Light points are added to each players individual game board using the light point tracker. 

The Life Cycle Phase:

Players can take as many of the following actions as their light points allow. As light points are used players should make adjustments on their game board using the light point tracker. 

  • Buying a seed or a tree: Trees and seeds cannot be used until they have been bought from the player's game board. The cost to purchase these is indicated on the player's board next to the item the player would like to purchase.
  • Planting a seed: Planting a seed costs 1 light point. Seeds can be planted within 1 space of a player's small tree, 2 spaces of a medium tree or 3 spaces of a large tree.
  • Growing a tree: A seed or a tree can be replaced by a tree that is the next size up. A seed to a tree costs 1 light point, a small tree to a medium tree costs 2 light points and a medium tree to large tree costs 3 light points. 
  • Collecting: A player can end a tree's life cycle for 4 light points. The tree is removed from the board and the player collects the top token from matching token pile.

End Game

The game ends when the sun has completed 3 revolutions around the board. This works out to 18 turns. 


  • Players count the points of their scoring tokens
  • Players get 1 points for every three unused light points

The player with the most points wins.


My Thoughts

  • Photosynthesis was easy to set up and learn.
  • The components really add a wow factor to the game. The 3D trees are captivating, colourful and easy to store as the box compensates for this without having to take them apart between games. 
  • Using sunlight in order to gain action points, plant seeds and grow more trees was a very interesting mechanic and reflects the science of photosynthesis. A fresh theme makes this game all the more desirable. 
  • The game can get very competitive depending on how aggressive you choose to get with your tree planting and wether or not you try to cast shadows over your opponents. 
  • The game would be ideal for 4 players. At 3 players I found that two of the players frequently clashed while the third player monopolized their own section of the board. A 3 player game was still a lot of fun but depending on your play style, 2 or 4 players would be optimal. 

Overall I enjoyed the game. I probably won't be adding it to my collection but I would definitely play it again with friends or at a board game cafe. I think it is both simple and strategic enough to be enjoyed by game players of all skill levels or on your next family game night. And let's face it - the game is beautiful.

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Have you played Photosynthesis? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment below.

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