How To Play: Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a strategic board game that thrives on managing light, placing trees wisely, and timing seed growth and tree upgrades. Mastering the sun's movement, blocking opponents, and choosing when to grow or harvest are key to winning. It's a balance of strategy, foresight, and sometimes, a bit of luck.

Hey there, green thumbs and strategy buffs! Ever tried turning sunlight into victory points? If not, buckle up as we walk you through the magical forest of the board game Photosynthesis. In this guide, we’ll lay down the game rules so simple, even my cactus gets it. Plus, we’ll spill the beans on the top strategies to outgrow your opponents. Ready to branch out?


What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Sun Segment
  • 4 Sun Revolution Counters
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 1 First Player Token
  • 24 Seed Tokens (6 per species)
  • 32 Small Tree Tokens (8 per species)
  • 16 Medium Tree Tokens (4 per species)
  • 8 Large Tree Tokens (2 per species)
  • 4 Scoring Tokens
  • Light Points

How To Play Photosynthesis: Rules Summary


  1. Lay out the game board in the center of the table.
  2. Each player picks a color and takes the corresponding player board, seeds, and trees.
  3. Place the sun segment around the board to mark the starting position.
  4. Players place two small trees on the outermost circle of the board.


  1. The sun moves around the board, simulating sunlight. The position affects which trees gain light points.
  2. Players use light points to buy seeds or trees, plant seeds, or grow their trees.
  3. Blocking opponents’ sunlight with your trees is a key strategy.
  4. The game progresses through several rounds, with the sun completing its cycle around the board three times.


  1. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
  2. Points are earned by completing the life cycle of a tree, from planting a seed to growing a full tree and ultimately removing it for points.
  3. Strategic placement and timing are crucial for maximizing points.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Seeds can only be planted in soil tiles that are a certain distance away from the player’s existing trees, based on the size of the tree.
  2. Larger trees can block sunlight from reaching smaller trees, even those belonging to the same player.
  3. The game ends after the sun has completed its third cycle around the board.

Those rules set a wonderful stage for both strategy and interaction, drawing players into a world where light is life, and timing is everything. Armed with these guidelines, anyone can jump right into Photosynthesis and enjoy the beautiful dance of trees competing for the sun’s favor.

Best Photosynthesis Strategies

Mastering Light: The Ultimate Strategy for Victory

Understand the Sun Cycle

Firstly, keep an eye on the sun’s movement. Every round, it changes position, altering which trees get light. Plan your moves to maximize exposure.

Strategic Tree Placement

  1. Place your taller trees in positions that won’t block your own smaller ones as the sun moves.
  2. Use your larger trees to cast shadows on opponents’ trees, limiting their light points.

Timing Your Growth

Growing your trees at the right time is crucial. Aim to expand during periods when they’ll receive the most light, based on the sun’s position and the shadow your own trees cast.

Mastering the Art of Tree Placement: Win at Photosynthesis

Getting your trees in the right spot is like finding the best seat in a crowded movie theater. You need a clear view! First off, remember the sun moves. So, picking a spot that stays sunny is smarter than grabbing the quickest shade.

Early Game Moves

  1. Start on the edge. It’s easier to catch some rays without bigger trees blocking you.
  2. Spread out. Don’t clump your saplings. Give them room to grow.

Mid-Game Strategy

  1. Upgrade strategically. Aim for spots that will get you the most light over the game.
  2. Block your opponents if you can. It’s not just about growing; it’s stopping others from soaking up your sun.

Late Game Tactics

  1. Focus on the big trees. They earn you the most points.
  2. Plan your last few turns carefully. Sometimes, it’s worth sacrificing a tree for the good of the forest.

Mastering Seeds and Growth Timing: A Winning Strategy

Getting your seeds and trees to grow at the right time is crucial in Photosynthesis. It’s all about timing and strategy. Here’s how:

1. Plan Your Growth Cycle

  1. Start by planting seeds in spots that will get a lot of light in future rounds. This ensures they grow quickly.
  2. Watch the sun cycle closely. Plant seeds so they’ll grow when they’re not in the shadow of larger trees.

2. Speed Is Key

  1. Grow your seeds into small trees fast. Don’t wait too long, or you’ll miss out on valuable light points.
  2. Upgrade to medium trees quickly, especially in less crowded areas of the board. This gives you more light and blocks others.

3. Harvesting Strategy

  1. Know when to let go. Sometimes, cutting down your big trees at the right time for points is better than more light.
  2. Balance between growing new trees and harvesting for points. Don’t focus too much on one over the other.

## Master the Forest, Master the Game

And there you have it, folks! After countless games, a few friendly arguments, and maybe too many snacks, we’ve figured out that winning at Photosynthesis is all about timing, strategy, and a little bit of luck. Remember, it’s not just about growing your trees. It’s about growing them smartly. Watch where the sun moves, block your friends (but don’t make enemies), and plan your moves ahead. Grab your friends, put these tips into action, and soon you’ll be the forest master among your group. Just don’t let the power go to your head. Happy planting!

Want to know what we think of Photosynthesis? Read our detailed review of Photosynthesis here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.