Photosynthesis is an example of how to make a game based on pretty common and known to everybody process. Everybody at school learns what photosynthesis is and what are photosynthesis products. So if you combine that common knowledge with simple but engrossing mechanics you will get a really great product. The guys at Blue Orange Games really knew how to create a boardgame and came-up with a great boardgame design. So let us see what we can do to optimize our actions within it!

I would like to share with you my ideas / thoughts / experience from over 10 Photosynthesis games. How to play to achieve best results. Some of them seems pretty simple, some obvious but being aware of all of them together makes you a decent player in that game. 

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Set-up properly

This is very important part of the game – that really defines whether you will be able to get good position for mid- and late game. Of course, depending on the players order you might not have all the choices possible, but in case you have – let us see what path is worth following.

Let us analyze initial board set-up, with sun on its first round space:

Initial board set-up
  • The most obvious places and definitely first target when setting-up are the spaces numbered 1-6. Each of them allows three continuous rounds of sun, not being shadowed by any other tree.
  • At the beginning of the game you need constant flow of light. For that, my personal opinion is that place 2 is the best – you would for sure have light in 1st, 2nd and 3rd round.
  • Another good spot is number 3 – you risk a little if fourth player puts their tree next to you to deny the light in first round, but usually at that stage of game nobody plays negatively (yet 🙂 ) Also, it is really risky only in a four players game, as with less competitors there is enough of good places 1-6.
  • So to sum up: take spot 2 & 3 if you can. Otherwise, try to get as many spots 1-6 as possible. 

Expand quickly

Ok, you placed your tress well, you start to accumulating light, but what next? There is only one answer to this: get to the center before anybody else does!

It is not so easy, competition is fierce, you might not be able to get there first (players order might be decisive) but what you should do is to play optimally, in the smallest possible amount of moves and see if the luck smiles to you.

Analyze below sequence:

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You should be able to get to the center in 5 steps (counting the initial placement of trees). It might cost you small tree in the second step but it is still worth it.

Score on time, not too late, not too early

Well, that is most important part of the game, isn’t it? So how to score most points and at the same time deny them to your opponents? Let us see.

Please analyze below picture:

Last turns of game

As a reminder, few important rules of game:

  • We play three full circles of sun around the board (18 turns)
  • It takes 5 rounds from planting a seed to the cutting of a large tree (1. plant seed 2. grow small tree 3. grow medium tree 4. grow large tree 5. cut large tree)

Having all this in mind I can propose some ideas:

  • Do not cut the center tree earlier then Turn 15. You can gain most points then for the center and deny everybody points for this place. At the same time you can score light from the moment you grow a large tree there – it is a really good point, often not in the shadow.
  • Cutting in Turn 15 gives you enough time to grow the large tree in the “three leafs” circle, closest to the center

Ok, so that it all – couple of tips and ideas which hopefully will be useful in your session with Photosynthesis!