Best Board Games (Part V)

These games are fun for people of every age.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS

Take a stand as Mother Nature, battling with other players to plant trees of your color in the top spots in the forest, where they’ll get the most light. Not only does the arboreal theme make this game appear incredibly beautiful. The 3D trees will entice anyone into playing. The fact that every player’s trees are a dissimilar shape and color helps colorblind players.

At the beginning of the game, you’ll put two small trees in places close to the edge of the hexagonal board. You’ll also put the big sun token near two sides of the board. The sun’s light beams in straightforward lines across the board from the token. If your trees get touched by it, you receive light points that you can spend growing your existing trees or plant more.

The issue? If your tree is behind someone else’s, the sun can’t get to it, so you’ll receive fewer light points that turn. The larger the tree, the lengthier the shadow it casts. When the sun goes around the board three times (18 rounds), the game is over.

JAIPUR

Jaipur is made just for two players, and it pits you against each other by creating an almost Prisoner’s Dilemma-like system where you have to determine whether to go for quality or speed. It’s a trading game: there are cards in the middle of the table you can pick up. If you collect enough matching-color cards, you can swap them for tokens with points values on.

Some color tokens are worth way more than others. So, do you both vie for the same high-value stuff or do you go for a good number of the lower-value cards your opponent is disregarding?

Even apparently simple wins can be tough decisions. There are just five cards in the middle of the table to take from at any time. If three greens come out, you may feel that’s a bonus for you. However, those three will be replaced with something as soon as you take them. What if something more valued appears that you leave open to the other player? Decisions, decisions, decisions…