5/18/21 Tree of Life Mama’s Board Game Of the Week: Photosynthesis


We played this for last family game night. Looking at the instructions was daunting at first. It reminded of the line from the documentary Gamemaster, which is something like, “The most exciting moment for a gameplayer is opening the box for the first time. The most boring moment is reading the instructions.” LOL! So true! How did they know?! Fortunately I have a teen who has a gift for reading what looks complicated and explaining it in simple terms. I call her my attorney in training. I had come home after a long day being out and felt exhausted. I wasn’t sure if I was up to playing it, but I had been planning on playing it all week and wanted to push through initial inertia. It was like having planned a hike for over a week, and then in the moment, not wanting to do it. But then after playing the game, it was like achieving the summit. I felt full of delight and victory!

Here’s why I love this game:

  1. It involves strategy, including looking ahead and constantly asking oneself, “What’s the goal and what’s my best next move?”
  2. It teaches some basic science. The trees that are in the sunlight get you “light points” to remind/teach you that trees use light to make food and grow.
  3. It teaches logic. You have to constantly apply rules to know how much light points you get and how much you can buy.
  4. It’s fun! It’s really fun to rotate the “sun segment” and see how the changing of the sun’s position, and the position of the trees (whether or not they are standing next to taller trees) affects how much light they get. After you rotate the sun segment, you collect your light points after counting up how much you get, based on where your trees are. That part is super fun. Then it’s fun to figure out how to spend your light points: on a seed, or a tree from the nursery to put in your available space, and which size tree, based on what sizes of tree you already have, or harvesting a full-grown tree. The trees that grow in the middle of the forest grow in better quality soil so get you more victory points when harvested. The player with the most points wins.
  5. It’s fun to switch out the trees and see the progress of your forest growing. The cardboard is super thick and durable.
  6. I like that it has three rounds, just like in Wingspan, so when you play, you can see the end in sight. It’s not like other games where you sit down and you start to feel anxiety because you don’t know how long it’s going to last and where your exit is. I do like playing tabletop games but I also like to know they aren’t going to drag on for hours and hours. (Risk and Catan I’m looking at you!)

It would be so fun to pair this book up with a book on trees and photosynthesis, like the one below, for gameschooling, #abookandagameaday.

The video below explains briefly how to play it. We usually watch one of these whenever we play a game for the first time. It helps reduce the initial eye glaze and brain fog.

Here’s a longer video explanation. Happy playing!

Want more board game reviews? Go here.

Want more gameschooling ideas, including a free PDF on how to build a board game collection inexpensively? Go here.

Want tons of tips on how to make a board game culture in your family? Read this book, over here, and scroll to the bottom of the page, to access a free digital copy of The Board Game Family, by Ellie Dix.

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