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Collecting Flowers For Spring: A Review of Lotus

Lotus

(All photos of Renegade Game Studios product were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise specified)

On Mother’s Day it is fairly traditional to gift mom with some jewelry, slippers, beauty supplies, coffee mugs, cards, or flowers (or, in my mother’s case, an actual plant) as well as spending some quality time together. For a less conventional approach, but sticking with the theme of flowers, Lotus is a gift that will never wilt and can be enjoyed for many game sessions to come. Designed by Mandy and Jordan Goddard and featuring dazzling artwork from Anita Osburn and Chris Ostrowski, this beautiful card game can be played in 20-45 minutes depending on the numbers of players making it a great way to spend the evening as players work to collect Lilies, Cherry Blossoms, Lotuses, Irises or Primroses with the aid of their Insect Guardians. This is a great game for any card game loving mom and has been a favorite in my house for several years now!

Lotus is a 2-4 player card game that utilizes light strategy paired with lovely illustration. The game focuses on card-laying and set collection through area influence. Lotus was released in 2016 by Renegade Game Studios, which is when I was first introduced to it after coming across a demo copy at my local game store. I was instantly drawn to that little white box and I am not even a huge fan of flowers, but I had fallen in love with the set collection mechanics that are central to another Renegade Game Studios game (Lanterns) so I picked up the demo copy and brought it over to the table to try to convince my Player 2 to give it a go. Contained within the box are decks of Petal Cards for each player, a neutral “Wildflower” deck that all players can draw from, sets of Special Power Tokens for each player, Scoring Tokens, and Insect Guardians along with their Elder Guardian counterparts in the form of meeples.

Lotus Set Up

A 2-player set up for Lotus!

There are four colors available for players to choose from: red, green, yellow, or blue. Each of these colors also has a corresponding Insect Guardian (ladybug, caterpillar, butterfly, or dragonfly). Once each player has chosen which of the Insect Guardians they would like to enlist the help of, they then take the matching components for that color/Guardian: a Player Deck and the 2 Insect Guardian meeples. The game is designed to scale based on player count, so before each player shuffles their decks, they need to be prepared. Once the specified number of Petal Cards (if any) are removed from the decks, each player will shuffle and place their deck face down in front of them. The Wildflower deck is also shuffled, place face down within reach of all players, and has the top 4 cards dealt face up to form a pool. When it comes to sorting the various tokens, I tend to put the silver Elder Guardian meeples over with the Special Power Tokens so they are easy to distribute if a player decides to pick up that ability. Once all of this is done, the game is ready to play!

Lotus Flowers

The different types of flowers that can be grown and eventually picked when playing Lotus.

When playing Lotus, players work to nurture flowers to their full potential one petal at a time while vying for the right to be the one to control them via the use of Guardian Symbols (having more symbols matching their player color than other players). There are 5 different flowers with 5 different petal counts that players are trying to grow: Primroses, Lilies, Irises, Lotuses, and Cherry Blossoms. Each player, starting with the player who has the greenest thumb, will draw four cards from the top of their Player Deck to form their starting hand. During a turn, a player must perform 2 actions and then draw their hand back up to 4. The actions to choose from include playing 1-2 Petal Cards from their hand on a single flower, discarding 1-2 Petal Cards to the bottom of your Player Deck and drawing the same number of cards back to your hand, or moving a Guardian either from another flower or from your personal supply to any incomplete flower. When drawing back up to 4 cards, players may choose to draw from their own deck of to take Petal Cards from the Wildflowers. It should be noted that any cards that are drawn/played that are Wildflowers will not have any Guardian symbols on them.

Lily

This lily was completed by the dragonfly player for 6 victory points at the end of the game. However, the Ladybug player has the most influence on it so they will get to choose to get 5 points or a Special Power!

Once a flower is completed, it gets to be “picked” by the player that completed it to be used as victory points at the end of the game. However, before picking the flower, control must be determined. That’s right, just because a player has more influence over a flower doesn’t mean that they get to take ownership of the flower for points! What they do get, though, is the opportunity to choose between a Scoring Token worth 5 points or to gain the use of one of their Special Power Tokens for the remainder of the game. Personally, I am all for having special powers during the game as they can drastically increase my chances at not coming in dead last (I do not often win many of the games we play as a group, but this doesn’t mean I necessarily lose either). Though completing a flower that you do not control may not seem like the best of ideas, it also gives you a chance to start a new attempt at the flower (only one of each type of flower can be under construction at one time). The game ends once a player draws the last card of their Player Deck. Each player will take one last turn to try and score as many points as they can and then all points are tallied. Any incomplete flowers will be claimed by the flowers that have the most influence on them, so this leaves lots of options for that last round! If influence is tied, the flower is divided evenly with any extra petals being discarded.

Frozen Lotus Promo

The Frozen Lotus!

After the initial release of Lotus, Renegade Game Studios also put out a promo pack in the winter of 2016. This pack, called Santa’s Renegades, contained various promos for ten different Renegade Game Studios games. One of these promos was a 7-card pack with a “Frozen Lotus” to be used in place of the 7 Lotus Petal Cards that are in the Wildflower deck. Santa’s Renegades is still available every now and again on Amazon.com and there are also often sales of the promo pack on Board Game Geek itself through their Geek Market (not to be confused with the Board Game Geek Store!).

In addition to the physical game, Renegade Game studios paired up with Dire Wolf Digital to create a digital board game app of the game! It was released in the Summer of 2017 and was very well received. Dire Wolf Digital has also released digital versions of Clank! (along with the various expansions for Clank!), Pokemon TCG Online, Clank! In! Space!, and, my personal favorite, Lanterns. While I am a huge fan of the artwork in the card game, the digital version manages to surpass it! The app features both solo play and competitive play (either via pass and play, a ranked game, or between online friends in the app). When playing solo, players can pick what player count they would like to play at. It also keeps track of each player’s influence on a flower while it is being built. The app is available for both iOS and Android for phones as well as tablets for $4.99.

Lotus Digital Start Screen

So many play options with the app!
(Image from the Google Play Store)

This screenshot is absolutely beautiful! As with all of these images, it can also be clicked on to enlarge it to see all of its detail!
(Image from the Google Play Store)

Last year, I featured Lotus on my gift giving ideas for Mother’s Day and this year it is returning as my suggestion. I really do love it that much and am probably picking up a copy for my own mother (who hopefully doesn’t read this before I get a chance to celebrate with her)! There is so little text involved that it is easily teachable and playable by anyone. It’s great to play with the kids to teach pattern recognition, colors, simple math (adding up Guardian Symbols or counting petals), or even flower types or to play with a group of adults looking for a relaxing evening. Even though I own the game, I will still pick up that much-loved demo copy at the game store and bring it over to play when I want a break from the heavier games we’ve brought with us or when I want to introduce new players to the hobby. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just another average gateway game. There are several different levels of strategy one can apply while playing so Lotus is a game that can be played with new or experienced gamers alike, which makes it perfect for spending some quality time with the family on mom’s special day!

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