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Photosynthesis is a beautiful science themed game that features the tree life cycle and a rotating sun to collect light points. Blue Orange Games published Photosynthesis and it is recommended for players 8 years old and up. The game plays two to four players and takes 45 minutes to an hour to play. In Photosynthesis the sun moves around the board three times and players plant and progress trees through their life cycle to collect points.  The trees are three dimensional and provide a beautiful visual as the forest “grows”.

Game Components

  • Game board
  • Sun Segment
  • 4 Sun Revolution Counters
  • 4 Player Boards
  • First Player Token
  • 24 Scoring Tokens
  • 4 Light Point Trackers
  • 24 Seed Tokens (6 of each variety)
  • 32 Small Trees (8 of each variety)
  • 16 Medium Trees (4 of each variety)
  • 8 Large Trees (2 of each variety)

Game Play

Photosynthesis plays in rounds. Standard play is three rounds, and there is an advanced variant that adds a fourth round. Each round consists of two phases: the Photosynthesis Phase and the Life Cycle Phase. In the Photosynthesis Phase the Sun Segment moves clockwise to its next angle.  There are lines on the board creating a hexagon to guide the sun placement and a square on the bottom of the sun segment to help the Sun Segment stay in the proper place. Once the sun is moved light points are calculate for each player.  Each tree that is not in the shadow of another tree earns Light Points.   Your own trees cast shadows and potentially cost you light points. Also, larger trees cast larger shadows. We found it helpful to go one player at a time and count collaboratively so we did not omit a tree’s light point or miss a shadow. Players track their light points on the individual player boards.

During the Life Cycle Phase players spend their light points.  Players can complete multiple actions, however they may not take more than one action the same space within a turn.  Players spend their Light Points to buy trees or seeds, plant seeds on the board, grow a tree, and collecting.  Collecting is when you take your large trees and end their life cycle.  You then earn a scoring token based upon their location on the board, which represents the richness of the soil.

The game ends after the sun makes three complete revolutions around the board.  Points are then calculated based on scoring tokens and unuse light points.

Family Gaming Assessment

This is a wonderful game for the family.  We played it with a nine year old and he picked up the format of the rounds fairly quickly. He did need significant coaching for the strategy. The very first game took over an hour as we all learned the rules and mechanics, but the game moved more quickly once we completed the first round.  The complexity of the rounds and strategy is sufficient that this game would not scale down well. After seeing the coaching needed for the 9 year old, it may be better for 10 and up.

The format of the rounds are straightforward, and the game progresses smoothly once all players understand the flow of each round.  We found it helpful to collaboratively count light points with each movement of the sun, since as the board became more full it was more challenging to keep track.  Though not for the younger players, this is a great family game with older childern.


Photosynthesis is a great addition to your game collection.  It is playable by a wide range of ages, incorporates science, and the artwork is beautiful. Plus, for any parent or child who has heard the album Here Comes Science, by They Might Be Giant, you can’t help but hear their song Photosynthesis in your mind as you play.

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Shaky Manor, from Blue Orange Games, is a game unlike any I have ever played before. I got my hands on it at a demo table at New York Toy Fair this past weekend and enjoyed it a lot.

Shaky Manor is a game where each player is given a tray containing eight square rooms each connected by doorways. Players place an meeple, an ghost, and three treasure chest cubes into the tray. They then shake the tray to try and get the meeple and the cubes into an designated room without the ghost. The first player to do it five times is the winner.

There is an petty neat catch-up mechanic as well. The game comes with an number of other interesting game bits. They ranged from eyeballs and snakes spiders. Whenever someone wins an round their opponents can place another piece into their tray. This makes successive rounds extremely difficult. It definitely evens the game out if someone gets out to an early lead thanks to some dumb luck.

My demo was brief but I enjoyed it a lot. Shaky Manor is an interesting game experience that will be immediately accessible to anyone who has played with a marble maze or something like that in the past.

People familiar with me will know that I regularly say that anytime you buy a board game you are buying the components to do with what you wish. This is a prime example of that theory. They provide a number of interesting game rules and game modes, but I can imagine all manner of interesting challenges coming out of this kind of dexterity challenge. It is intended to be an race, but it could be anything that you want. I could even imagine some youngsters,including my youngest daughter, using these like a temporary doll house while other people are playing.

Shaky Manor will be released this year so keep your eyes on EFG for more updates. What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Blue Orange Games, the award winning tabletop game publisher, is set to release a full slate of sixteen board games during the American International Toy Fair this year. Their lineup is very diverse including party games, puzzles, and everything in between. They may be different, but they all align with the company vision. They are all intended to be “easy to learn, fun to play, and enjoyable for all.”

Family Games

Blue Orange Family Games

Pool Party

  •  2-4 players
  • 6 and up

“In this high-energy party game, players use one finger to launch their divers into a pool that is precariously perched atop a spring. The topsy-turvy pool sways from side to side every time a new diver lands and too many swimmers can cause it to tilt, spill over, and toss everyone out! The first player to land three divers in the pool wins, so accuracy, speed, and a little bit of luck is crucial for the win. Unique components and frenzied gameplay make this title fun for all ages.”

Shaky Manor 

  • 2-4 players
  • 7 and up

“In Shaky Manor, players race to protect their treasures from the spooky creatures that haunt the manor’s worn down halls. Each round, players must tilt and shake their individual manor boxes to try and gather certain objects into the correct room. But watch out- victory comes with a price! Each time a player succeeds in protecting their treasure, a new spooky creature is added into the mix to make the next round harder.”

Maki Stack

  • 2, 4, or 6 players
  •  7 and up

“A dexterity race of delicious proportions! In this game, players race their opponents to stack wooden sushi objects into the correct configurations. The catch? Each round, players must stack in “chopstick mode” using only two fingers or in “mask mode” with their eyes covered and a teammates’ voice as their guide. Play in teams with larger groups, or take on rival sushi chefs in solo competition, either way the first to complete their sushi tower before it tumbles takes home the victory!”

Preschool Games

Blue Orange Preschool Games

Happy Bunny

  •  1-4 players 
  • 3 and up

“In this cooperative counting game, players work as a team to help the bunny pick the best carrots from the farmer’s garden. Each turn, one player picks a number of carrots from the garden and sorts them into two piles, one for the bunny and one for the farmer. At the end of the game, everyone helps line up the piles for comparison. If the bunny’s line is longer, the players win! The durable carrot pieces are firmly planted inside the box, so the self-contained game helps little hands develop fine motor skills.”

Where’s Mr. Wolf?

  • 1-4 players
  • 4 and up

“A cooperative game where everyone pitches in on the farm! Players must work together as a team to help the farm animals get back to their barns before Mr. Wolf arrives. Every time a Mr. Wolf token is found, he creeps one space closer, and every time a farm animal token is found, players must remember which barn they belong to. The cute animal tokens, 3D barns, and shared goal help children work on memory and teamwork at the same time.”

Kitty Bitty

  • 2-4 players
  • 4  and up

“Kitty Bitty is a remake of the beloved Blue Orange classic, Froggy Boogie. This adorable wooden game has little minds use memory and color recognition to help their kitten make it around the yarn balls and back to the basket. Each turn, players need to find the correct mommy cat and pick up one of her eyes; if it’s blank they can move on to the next yarn ball, but if there’s a kitten printed on the bottom they stay put and it’s the next players turn. The first kitten that makes it around all the yarn balls and back to the basket wins!”

Fun-Sized Games

Blue Orange Fun Sized Games and Brain Teasers

Who Did It?

  • 3-6 players
  • 6 and up

“Was it YOUR bird that pooped in the living room? Because it wasn’t my bunny! In this hilarious card game, players race to get rid of their cards so they can avoid the blame of owning the animal that pooped. Each game is as funny as it is fast; quickly find your card, be the first to throw it down, and then blame someone else. The plush zippered pouch keeps all the cards safe and is the perfect size for on-the-go fun.”


  • 2-5 players
  • 4 and up

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a….bear? Clouds is a matching game that was made for the wildest of imaginations. In this game, players race to find the two halves of the picture shown on a challenge card, keeping the card as a point each time they are the first to find a match. A durable smiley-faced pouch with a convenient wrist strap stores all the cards and cloud tiles.”

Tofu Kingdom

  • 3-8 players
  • 10 and up

“Tofu Kingdom is a social card game of deduction and deception. Each round, one player assumes the role of Prince Mochi while the other players take on roles of their own. The Prince gets to ask each player one question to try and find his true love, Princess Tofu, but must take into account that not everyone will tell the truth. This clever game is adjustable to different player counts, making it great for parties and social gatherings.”


  • 2-4 players
  • 6 & up

“The silly face race! In this game, each player gets a set of colorful wooden cubes that have wacky eyes and mouths printed on their faces. Each round, they must turn and flip the cubes to match a face printed on the challenge card. The player who finishes first wins the card and gets to wear the face of a champion!”

Brain Teasers

Blue Orange Fun Sized Games and Brain Teasers


  • 1 player
  • 5 & up

“The Mindo collection consists of four logic puzzles, each with a different theme: puppies, kittens, unicorns, or robots. The rules of Mindo are simple, you need to turn and flip the double-sided tiles to recreate the color pattern on the challenge card. They only fit one way into a 3×3 or 4×4 grid, so careful planning and logic are required. Four levels of difficulty and 60 challenges ensure hours of brain teasing fun.”

Mindo Zen

  • 1 player
  • 8 & up

“The more sophisticated sibling of the Mindo collection. Serene game play, high quality tiles, and challenging puzzles to solve make this the perfect way to pass the time. The rules are the same, but the challenges are harder! Players will love indulging in hours of meditative puzzle solving with this clever brain teaser.”

Brain Connect

  • 2-4 players
  • 8 & up

“Brain Connect takes the classic sliding puzzles you know and love, and turns them into a brain teasing race! Players must work to connect two points on the puzzle by sliding and rearranging the tiles into the correct order. The sliding puzzles have 16 different start and stop points, so creating a clear train of thought is always a new challenge.”


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