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Subject: Lotus Review rss

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Andy Hunsucker
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Bloomington
Indiana
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After seeing a gameplay video and being struck by the card laying mechanic and the beauty of the art, I made sure to get a copy of Lotus at GenCon. I've finally gotten it to the table, and here's my review.

NOTE: This review is after a single play. An update at the bottom discusses some insights from an additional play.

Overview
Lotus is a set-collection/area control card game where players build flowers, and attempt to gain control of them through color majorities. The really interesting part of the game is the way players collect their sets. Rather than just keep a stack of cards nearby, each card represents a single petal, and players overlay them in such a way to create an entire flower.



By completing flowers and maintaining control of flowers, players gain special powers and points. Whoever has the most points wins.

Components
The game comes with several decks of cards, and wooden markers in each color in the shape of different bugs that act as guardians which players can use to increase control on various flowers.

The cards are good quality, and all the wooden bugs are recognizable, and kinda adorable.

The big draw here is the card artwork, which is beautiful. The petals are in a really nice, realistic style, and their backgrounds change with different petals.

Each card also includes a subtle guide to show how to align the next card to complete the effect.

There are 5 different kinds of cards, from 3 petals all the way up to 7 petals, and the cards look great on the table.

Gameplay
Each player has an individual deck of petal cards to draw a hand of 4 cards from. Players do 2 actions on their turn, from among 3 possibilities:

Play up to 2 cards on a flower - Players can play 2 matching cards from their hand onto a single matching flower in the garden (the middle of the table).

Exchange cards - Players can take 2 cards from their hand, place them at the bottom of their decks, and then draw 2 new ones.

Move a Guardian - Each player has 2 insect guardians that they can add to flowers to increase their control. With this action players can move a guardian from their play area to a flower, or from a flower to another flower.

When a player adds the last petal to a flower, the flower is scored. The player who placed the last petal takes all of the cards on the flower, and each is scored as a single point at the end of the game. Then control is counted. Each players card has 1 or 2 symbols on it. Whoever has the most symbols and guardians has control of the flower. Whoever has control of the flower may either take a 5 point token, or a special power. There are 3 special powers in the game.

Increase hand size - The player can have 5 cards in hand instead of 4.
Play more petal cards - The player can play 3 cards with a single action instead of 2.
Gain an elder guardian - There are 4 bonus guardians (one in each player shape). This power allows the player to take theirs, and use it. It counts as 2 guardians when counting for control.

At the end of their turn, the player draws back up to their hand size. They can either draw from their deck, or from a community deck of petals that everyone has access to.

The game ends when a player draws the final card out of their personal deck. Everyone gets one more turn (including the player that drew their final card), and then players count their score. Each score token is worth 5, and each petal card they've collected is worth 1 each.

Thoughts
I was pretty pleased with this game. I was attracted to it because of the artwork, and the card laying mechanic, but I wasn't totally sure how well it would play. And it really works. It plays fast. My group got through it in about 30 minutes. The card laying mechanic is really easy to learn, and the cards look great on the table.

The game is also really light. There's always value to having a simple, quick, lightly themed card game in your collection to play with people who might not go in for a bigger or longer game.

For more experienced gamers, this is a nice break from longer heavier games, but I can see more serious gamers not be to enthralled. I personally made sure to play my cards in the correct configuration every time, but when completing a flower, a more serious gamer at the table just dropped his final cards nearby, counted everything up, and gathered everything. This kind of disappointed me. Without laying out the flowers correctly, the game doesn't quite have the same magic.

If you have a group who will get into the theme, and commit to creating something beautiful on the table, then this game is right up your alley. I'm sure there are games that match it's beauty, but it's almost certainly the most beautiful games in my collection, and it will stay there.

UPDATE: I got this on the table again last night in a 2-player game, and my friend raved and raved about the game. He also really got the strategy, and showed me how deep the game can really get. In a 2-player game, it's a highly strategic game, where every move has to be carefully calculated. Starting a flower is a gamble, and having a plan to complete it yourself is essential. Without that, you're going to lose out on a lot of points. I raised my rating on the game after playing it last night.
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Steve Raab
United States
Novato
California
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Thanks for the review. I would be interested in an update from you to discover if you think the game remains interesting after 10 to 20 plays.

Your review mentioned scoring by the player who adds the last petal:

mangler103 wrote:
When a player adds the last petal to a flower, the flower is scored. The player who placed the last petal takes all of the cards on the flower, which they score as a single point at the end of the game, and the control is counted.


The rules indicate at page 14: "Petal Cards -- 1 Point each." The examples on page 14 also show by the size of the scores in the example that each petal of the flower taken counts as a point. So placing a final petal on a seven petal flower is more valuable than getting a five point majority token. Did you score that way, and would it change your opinion of the game?

 
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Andy Hunsucker
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
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Yeah, that's a poorly written sentence, but we scored it exactly that way. Each petal card is worth a single point.

So there's definitely a challenge to timing how you play cards. You definitely don't want to leave a high scoring flower with just a couple of cards left, because even if you maintain control of the flower, you might end up giving your opponent more points.

This is tougher in a 4-player game, because things get more chaotic.

Interestingly, at the end of my 2 player game, we both had almost the exact same number of points from 5 point tokens and cards. I scored 30 points for each, while my opponent scored 40 from tokens and 44 from cards. (I got destroyed).
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Thomas
United States
Michigan
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Is there enough tough decisions in this game for heavier gamer? We mainly paly two and don't mind lighter games as long as the decisions are there.
 
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Andy Hunsucker
United States
Bloomington
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I'd say there are some decisions. Whether to exchange cards to try to find the cards to finish off a flower. Deciding when to play cards on a particular flower when you can't complete it. Which special power do you take when you have the chance?

So on and so on. I think there are definitely some decisions.
 
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Ryan Schoon
United States
Indiana
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My question is this:

Since there are 3 actions (play a petal, move a guardian, draw cards) and you only have to take 2, what is the motivation to play a petal on a flower you can't complete?

Like, if it's a 6 petal flower in a 4 player game and I'm adding the 4th flower, why would I play the 4th flower? Chances are someone will finish it. And if that logic follows, why would ANYONE play the 4th flower on a 6 petal flower? Wouldn't it sit out there? What's your motivation to help someone else make a flower?
 
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Andy Hunsucker
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You can play the same action twice. In addition, a single action allows you to place two petals. So if you have the cards, you can put 4 petals down on a single flower on each turn, and if you have the infinite growth power you can put down a lot more.

But the simple reason is to gain control. The person who has control when the flower is finished gets either 5 points or a special power.

There's also no guarantee that the other person has the cards to finish the flower. In their personal deck players don't actually have all the cards they need to finish the 7 petal or 6 petal flower. If you watch the community deck, you can have a good idea of what they've taken and what they're planning.

Lots of ways to mitigate it really.
 
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Ryan Schoon
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So the idea is you have to know what is in their deck and watch what they're playing.

When you know that no other player has the petals they need, you can safely bring a flower to 5/6 or 6/7 and then try to finish it next turn.

Also when I demoed it at Gen Con we were told wrong. We were told that you couldn't take the same action twice, so that the most you can play in one turn was 2 petals.
 
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