I read a review of Lanterns: The Emperor's Gifts that argued:
The base game of Lanterns has a flaw, and it was one that threatened to kill the game for me over time. You see, the "four of a kind" tiles were statistically better than the other types, to a degree that if you did nothing but target them through most of the game (until they were depleted enough to make the card-cost-to-VP ratio more even with the other dedication types), you were probably going to win.
In a reply, the reviewer explained:
So, in the base game, to start, it's 4 cards for 8 points, or 7 cards for 10 points for the first tile. The latter is wildly worse, for what I believe are obvious reasons. It's a 2:1 point ratio vs. something near 1.4:1. You get 2 less points, but keep 3 cards toward your next turn-in. At that point, those three cards are worth more than 2 points regardless of which dedication type you use. Now extrapolate that advantage across a whole game. Taking it a step further, a 6-point four-of-a-kind dedication is still a better ratio. Which is exactly my point. It takes a lot of depletion in four-of-a-kind before this isn't true. And if the other piles are being similarly depleted, it's often going to be true for the entirety of a game.
My experience is the game is very competitive. I just finished a 4-player game that ended 45, 43, 43, 42. (I was 43 and my 7-year-old son was the winner!) We depleted the 3-pairs dedication and almost depleted the all-7-colors dedication leaving 4-of-a-kind barely touched. If one of us had saved their lanterns by going after 4-of-a-kind, would we have made up for the smaller payout of that dedication? Does the one-dedication-a-turn rule come into play in the analysis?