Another recent addition to my board game collection is Photosynthesis. This is a gorgeous looking game in which species of tree compete to develop from seeds to towering giants and then finally to decompose back to the earth – at which time they finally yield a harvest of points. Each tree is made of a couple of pieces of interlinking cardboard so they stand up on their own and the forest can be seen growing and changing.
Energy to power the different stages of growth and decay is generated by the sun. Tall trees cast shade so their shorter neighbours don’t feel the benefit and that is the central mechanic of the game. You are trying to work out where to grow your trees so that they benefit from the light and, ideally, shade your opponents. If the sun always came from the same direction it would be simpler but it rotates three times round the board during the game so you have to be careful about not shading yourself as well as avoiding shade from your growing neighbours.
That gives plenty of scope for strategy and, with the beautiful cardboard, one that is still good to look at even if your strategy isn’t working out so well.