Lotus: Peaceful, yet competitive, flower building

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve noticed that I’ve been playing a lot of games recently, more so than usual. I think it’s been a way of decompressing from all the awfulness that’s happening outside in the real world. When your job requires you to stay informed with all the insanity that’s happening right here in our backyard, well … it’s upsetting and disheartening. Anyway, to combat all of that, I try to concentrate on simple pleasures and focus on uplifting things, such as family, friends and board games.

One game I’ve brought out a lot recently is Lotus. Lotus is a gorgeous card game that I purchased at this year’s BGG Con. It plays 2-4 players, clocking in at about 30 minutes. This isn’t a game I normally would pick up, but I couldn’t pass up on the artwork, and I’m always on the lookout for quality filler games. And truth be told, it’s actually a little bit cut-throat.

This is the breakdown of the petal cards in each player’s deck, plus two guardians in your color.

Each player starts with their own deck of 31 petal cards and two insect guardians. The object of the game is to gain the most victory points by either being the person who completes the flower, or controlling a flower that’s completed. On your turn, you draw up to four cards, and you can do two of the following actions:

  • Play petal cards.
  • Exchange petal cards.
  • Move a guardian.

When you play petal cards, you can play one or two cards from your hand onto a single flower. There are five types of flowers that can be built, and a player cannot build a new flower of the same type if the same one still hasn’t been completed. Some flowers require three petals to be complete, all the way up to seven petals.

This flower requires seven petals to complete. Each player card has one to two control markers.

When you exchange petal cards,  you place one or two of the cards from your hand to  the bottom of the deck and draw the same amount from the top of your deck.

When you move a guardian, you can move it from your supply onto a flower, or move it from one flower to another. Guardians are important because they give you control of a flower. Each petal card has a one or two symbols that correspond to your color. These symbols, in addition to your guardian, are totaled to see who controls a particular flower.

In this photo, blue controls the purple flower, red controls the pink flower, and green controls the yellow flower. The person who completed the flower takes the petals to score one point each.

When a player completes a flower, she gathers up the petal cards (which count as one point per card), and she checks to see who controls the flower. The person who controls the flower can take a special power token to use for the rest of the game, or collect a token worth five victory points.

The person who controls a completed flower can choose to activate one of these special powers instead of getting victory points.

There are three special power tokens. The Enlightened Path boosts your hand size to five cards. Infinite Growth allows a player to play three or more cards during an action. Lastly, the Elder Guardian allows you to use your special guardian, which is worth two guardians for purposes of control.

Until the wildflower deck runs out, there are always four wildflower cards that a player can choose from when drawing up to their hand size. But the cards don’t give you control points.

When you complete your two actions, you draw up to four cards again, which can be taken from the top of your deck or from the wildflowers in the middle of the table. Drawing wildflowers allow you to get petals for flowers you’re trying to complete, but the cards itself don’t give you any points for control.  The first person to go through their deck triggers the game end, and the person with the most victory points wins.

There’s something soothingly calming about playing flower cards but I still find it challenging enough to not be a mindless filler game. There’s some strategy in taking control of flowers and not setting up another player to take the petal cards for scoring. Lastly, the game is easy to each, which is always a bonus in my book.

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