While we enjoy the Summer heat in Georgia, there’s something special about playing a Christmas themed game with the family. For a moment we can crank up the A/C and pretend that it’s that favorite time of year.
Christmas Lights is a new game from 25th Century Games that has up to 6 players organizing and arranging sets of lights. You want to be the first player to complete 2 strands of 5 lights according to pattern cards you’re given at the beginning of the game. Even though you have a hand of cards, you never actually get to see what you are holding.
This blind hand mechanic is present in games like Hanabi and Bomb Squad, two games that I really enjoy. You’ll hold a hand of 5 cards that is facing out to all the other players at the table. On your turn you can take up to 4 different actions in a specified order. These include trading cards, placing a card on your light strand, “selling” a card for information and drawing back up to a full hand.
A Recipe for Family Fun
Christmas Lights gives you simple actions that force you to plan ahead. You have two strands of lights that are dictated by cards you get at the start of the game. You have to follow the color pattern exactly. If someone at the table has a red bulb you need, trading cards is probably the most simple action. If you don’t have info on the cards you’re holding, you may end up trading away a really valuable card.
The sell action is really unique and is probably my favorite. You choose a card from your hand and place it face up in the middle of the table. Then flip a card off the top of the deck next to your card. If either of these cards is your next required bulb for your strand, then you can place that card immediately. If you can’t use either card then you can exchange one of these cards to an opponent for info about the cards in your hand. Asking for a player to “Point to the red bulb in my hand” or “How many broken bulbs are in my hand?” can be really helpful.
Christmas Lights is such a great family game because it challenges players memory. I found it helpful to flip a card upside down if I knew info about that card. After receiving info on a card I would put them in the order I need to play them on my light strand. This strategy also set me up for other players to grab a bulb from my hand in a trade when they realized what I was doing. More competitive players will find “take that” opportunities here.
There are bubble bulbs which can be used as wilds in your strand. Broken bulbs are really helpful because they can be placed in the light strand as placeholders. These specialty bulbs really fit the theme well and give players some flexability.
A really cool twist in Christmas Lights are event cards that can pop up in the deck. Events can force players to trade hands, discard their entire hand or end their turn. There are only 6 of these events but they really make an impact. Performing the “sell” action can be risky because one of these events can come off the top of the deck and put a kink in your plans.
Beyond a Holiday Game
I’m really excited about Christmas Lights and the work that 25th Century Games has put into this project. Not only is this a super solid game for a wide age range, but the final rule book will have a total of 9 games that can be played with the cards. This is an incredible value when you talk about replayability.
Having games of different difficulties means there is something for everyone here. Christmas Lights is definitely a game that is going to be played year round. This is a big accomplishment for a holiday themed game!
For the price point of only $15, we cannot recommend this game enough. Kids and adults are going to have a blast competing to finish their strands of lights first. The art is very inviting and has similarities to games like Sushi Go and Go Nuts for Donuts. Be sure to check out this Kickstarter campaign before it comes to an end in late June.
25th Century Games provided us with a prototype copy of Christmas Lights before their Kickstarter campaign. This in no way influenced our opinion on the game. Previews are a glimpse into an upcoming game with the pros and cons that we experienced prior to production of the game.