Designer: Iori Tsukinami (月並いおり)
Artist: Tansan & Co., 赤瀬よぐ (Akase Yogu)
Publisher: DEAR SPIELE
Playing Time: 20 minutes
Times Played: 3 with a purchased copy
Photome’s follows in the fresh footsteps of Savannah Smile. The distant tracks of Auf Fotosafari in Ombagassa. Games about taking photos of animals. There are other “Fotosafari” games which have players thematically photographing chunky wooden animals in the veldt, but Photome’s has the players cooperatively taking photos with their smartphone of animals in an urban setting.
An owl sitting in a street lamp. The rabbit on the tricycle. A squirrel sitting on the bench. Chewing on his star. As one does.
Together, we place the town center and then form a line with the remaining buildings. A conga line of sorts of buildings and urban critters. You’ll draft a building from the first 3, and add one to your growing town center.
You have animals you love to take photos of. For me it’s turtles and goats. There’s also some animals you just don’t want to ever see photos of. Cats. Photome’s also assumes that nobody wants to see any moles, and that’s troublesome: the city seems to have an infestation.
You add all the buildings to your town and decide it’s enough. Step back and admire your work. Take a picture. It’ll last longer they say.
Can y’all see the animals you set out to photograph? Not see the ones you didn’t? Victory!
Two to six is a broad range of players. The game makes some accommodations as at lower play counts you have more photographically assigned animals, but I’m not sure I like it at the extremes.
It’s its own puzzle. How to place each building to satisfy everyone’s requests. Block this mole. Don’t block this foofy dog. Now I can’t see that cat.
There are options. Each creature makes 4 appearances. Two times each on two buildings.
While we’re at it, the game has a two cheek rule. It’s like Crokinole’s one cheek rule. But for both of them.
It also has one of those All Sales Are Final rules for when you stop touching the building you’re adding. It can be hard to see around each others’ hands.
There aren’t many rules on where you place the buildings. Close together. Far apart. Two dimensions. (Three when the players adjust their view up or down.)
There’s a puzzle here. It’s easier with 2 than it is with 6. Ideal seems to be 5. Which building do you choose. Where do you place it. If you miss that duck, there’ll be another. If you can’t stomach photos of cockatiels, you must avoid both. Keep stomping the moles.
The loosy goosy placement. The moving vantage points. It’s its own puzzle. Sometimes a game uses a square tiling. Others have a hex grid. Photome’s has no zoning. Place it where you want. That feels both unique and unsatisfying. There’s not so much angst without the restricting corset of placement rules.
There’s also something odd about, well, the final photos being fairly unattractive. Maybe I’m doing something wrong: I don’t play games in order to have a great social media photo, but shouldn’t Photome’s produce more visually satisfying end products than it does, given the theme and mechanisms?
My plays have been “fine” enough, but I’m OK moving on.