Floram & Gemsam

by Brent Vincent
published by Adacio

Latice is a simple, but elegant tile-placing game, where you’re matching tropically themed colors and images. The goal is to be the first player to use all of your tiles in your bag. Each turn, you are trying to choose a tile that matches in color and/or in pictures as many other tiles on adjacent spaces - the more connections that a placed tile makes, the better.  Match your tile on two sides and generate a “half stone,” match it on three sides and receive a “sunstone."  If you create a "latice,” by matching your tile on all four sides, that will give you two(!) sunstones. There are also several sun-filled spaces around the board that will get you a sunstone for free, just for placing a tile on them. These half stones and sunstones are important because they will allow you to take additional turns and you’re allowed to bank a limited number of them to strategically plan those extra turns.  The other special mechanic in the game is the use of  “wind” tiles that allow you to move pesky tiles out of the way (or into a better position so you can make more matches!)

How we came to play this game:
Susan backed this on Kickstarter last year (most likely it was the lizards that grabbed her attention) and received it just before Christmas.  She was about to give it as a “shared” gift to the guy she’d been dating, but when he ended things the day she was set to give it to him, she didn’t have to share any longer.  She learned to play it with her friend Katy (who got stuck in NYC after our huge snowstorm this year) and then recently introduced it to Mike.  It’s now been produced in both a deluxe edition and a standard edition, with cardboard instead of plastic tiles and a quad-fold board for a smaller box.

This reminds us of:
Susan:  It’s a bit of a twist on Qwerkle with maybe a touch of a dominoes.

Mike: It’s a slightly inferior version of Qwerkle’s iconographical Scrabble.

Game art:
Susan:  Of course, I love the tropical images - lizards, dolphins, flowers and more.  The board is simple, but pretty.  I’d be curious to see how the new deluxe edition looks and feels.

Mike: The island breeziness that Susan opines about so lovingly above is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I can’t shake the Jimmy Buffet Parrothead-ness of it. This is not to imply that the approach is unsuccessful, it is! It’s clearly what the designers were aiming for and they hit it right on the head! Even the style used to depict the tropical icons, done in what could be described as a “well-manicured stencil” bring to mind what may be adorned on crates coming off of an island supply vessel! I get it, and well done, but this design does not sit well with my sensibilities. Of course, she’s a little bit country, and I’m a little bit rock and roll!

Susan: Having worked on 15 Caribbean islands in my career as a tropical biologist/parasitologist, I think the island thing is just part of my psyche. 

Changes in attitudes changes in Latice-tudes nothing rema-...

Best part:
Susan: It’s really, really easy to learn this game and we’ve even gotten some of our other friends to play it!  Also, this game has to win the prize for rules in the most languages - 11! It’s a great game for kids and serious gamers alike. "I just got back from Florida and all I could think of is that this could be the next Mexican Trains or Bunco Dice game to sweep through retirement villages (though currently they all seem obsessed with cribbage.)"

Mike: The compound sigh of frustration and disappointment from your opponent is the prize you get when you exploit the mechanic of getting sunstones and use them to get extra moves in a manner that allows you to clear out your tile rack in a single turn! Whenever we play, I try to set myself up to be able to to this. It’s what I love more than anything in this game. Even when she attempts to muffle the sigh or otherwise hide the disappointment, I know it’s there, and it feels wonderful!
Don’t hide your feelings Susan. It’s unhealthy!

Susan: Which one of us has regular therapy? Not the cute blonde one of us.


Worst part:

Mike: I don’t have a crippling case of it, but my OCD kicks in a bit when I play this game. Unlike Scrabble and Qwerkle, the end result of the game is not a fine network of interconnected pieces, it’s a frustrating semi-network of MOSTLY interconnected pieces because of this agent in the game called the “wind” tile. This tile allows a user to “blow” a previously placed tile onto an adjacent open space on the board. This screws up the matching color/icon motif that you’d been building to and while you must lay new tiles according to the matching rules, the tile that was “blown” doesn’t need to! So you might end up with say, a green feather next to a yellow dolphin.
And have your brain explode as a result!
If you’re anything like me.
Susan: This doesn't bother me, but then I also spend more time in the tropics and things don't always line up nicely there.
It does drive me a little crazy that they spell lattice as “latice” - this has prompted us to pronounce the game "la-teece".  Also, if I have to hear Mike say “What? You blew a dolphin?!” one more time, I might scream.

Somewhere, Tony Shalhoub is  LOSING IT!

Mistakes we made:
Susan: We initially missed the rule that only full sunstones count against the imposed limit.

Mike: There’s this thing in my brain the precludes me from calculating the correct half stones/sunstones that I should be awarded when I lay a tile! I know! It’s not exactly rocket science, but I have to think hard every time! I’m broken!

Susan: And this proves I don't cheat because I always help you out. 

Play again?
Susan:  Absolutely. And it’s definitely going out to Fire Island with us this summer.

Mike: Yeah, for sure. Though it strikes me looking over this review that it may not seem as if I’m keen on this title. That is not the case; I do like playing it. I think it will be a good title for our non-gaming friends. Low bar for entry! That’s a nice plus. Cuz honestly, your Aunt Latice ain’t playing Arkham Horror with you after dinner next Thanksgiving, but she just might play this!

Boy, what in the lord's name is a "meeple"???

There’s a perfect spot
For me to lay this green bird
Give me a sunstone!

Times played:  
Maybe 4?

Game record - 
Mike- 3
Susan- 1

Click on the vid below to learn how to play, then go buy it!