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Lanterns is a tile placement game. The starting Lake Tile is placed in the center of the table with the red side facing the first player. 7 different colored Lantern Cards are separated into stacks and placed off to the side; the Favor Tokens are also set aside; Dedication Tokens are separated into 3 stacks by type and set aside; the Lake Tiles are stacked to create a draw pile. Each player then draws 3 Lake Tiles. Players then receive Lantern Cards matching the color that’s facing them on the starting Lake Tile. First player will get a red Lantern Card.

There’s also a little boat token which can either be given to the first player or used to mark the last tile played to help with distributing Lantern Cards.

Each turn players will place Lake Tiles and gather Lantern Cards. As long as there are cards of the color available, everyone will receive at least one card beginning with the active player. If a stack of Lantern Cards runs out, players who would have received that color, receive nothing.

There are two bonuses players can get. If you match colors on Lake Tiles you receive an extra Lantern Card of that color (blue to blue means 2 blue Lantern Cards). If the Lake Tile also has a Platform (a symbol in the center), you also receive a Favor Token. It’s possible to make more than one color match and to match with other Platform Lake Tiles, so you can get quite a few cards and Favor Tokens with really good matches.

There are two other options during your turn, but they have to be done BEFORE you place your Lake Tile.

First, you can exchange a Lantern Card by using 2 Favor Tokens. You turn in your 2 Tokens and trade one color Lantern Card for another.

Second, you can make a Dedication. You can turn in your Lantern Cards to receive one of the 3 Dedication Tokens:

  1. Four of a Kind (4 cards of the same color)
  2. Three Pair (6 total cards, 2 each of any three different colors)
  3. Seven Unique (7 cards, 1 of each color)

If you are the first player to make that type of Dedication, you receive the token worth the most points (10 points for Seven Unique, for example). The next player to make that Dedication receives the next value token (9 points). If the Dedication Tokens run out, players can still receive 4 points for each additional Dedication.

You can’t exchange Lantern Cards after you make a Dedication.

After you place your Lake Tile and everyone has received the available Lantern Cards, you draw a new Lake Tile. Once the draw pile runs out, players each take one more turn as normal. The player with the most Dedication points wins.

This is an easy game to learn and goes pretty quickly. There is a bit of strategy involved but not so much that the game can get bogged down with decision making. Sometimes you do have to change your plans if someone else plays where you wanted to or takes the last of a Lantern Card you needed. It’s also important not to get too obsessed with getting the highest point Dedication Tokens. Those don’t always win the game. Sometimes having a lot of lesser value Dedication Tokens can win you the game.

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