Posted 20 hours ago

Renegade Game Studio | Arboretum | Card Game | Ages 8+ | 2-4 Players | 30 Minutes Playing Time

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Each time you pick this game from your shelf, you think you will do things differently to your previous play, in the hopes of a higher score. So, we’re starting to pivot slightly from Gen Con games to Essen games, which is good and fun, but I still have plenty of Gen Con games to get through, so let’s not leave that totally behind just yet. You can either try to build from the other end – using mostly high numbers – or you can try to build a nice core of middle numbers to start from which you can branch off with the extreme low or high numbers.

Arboretum plays great at all player counts, although I think it is a bit more of a brain burner with just two players. That’ll depend on what cards you have had dealt your way, of course, but there’s no harm in planning ahead.You see, the scintillating spitefulness of Arboretum comes not from the card collecting, nor the process of card placement. Fortunately the guys I have played with haven’t suffered from A-P but I can see that happening easily. As much as I enjoyed these crunchy decisions, it’s a game I’d rather play at a convention, or online, where I can dehumanize the opponent and allow myself to be mean. In the example above, you might hold the 1 back for a few rounds to see if the 8 comes out - any holding to an 8 can reduce your options.

On each player’s turn they have a choice to pick up two cards from the top of any player’s discard pile or from the deck. If your opponent has a card of that same tree with a value of one, it negates your eight card meaning you can't count the eight towards your total scoring!With one card at your disposal each turn, you will be looking to link the beginning and end of a path using the same species of tree. When a game slithers under my skin so insidiously that losing to my Bearded Moon causes my eye-balls to steam up and my hands to slam down in a visual display of seething wrath, we have a keeper. The game itself is simple enough to explain in 5 minutes, but difficult enough that once you have played it through once, the tactics of it really open up. You have to really think hard about what you want to do, and what you don’t want your opponents to do. For each card in a path that scores, the player earns one point; if the path consists solely of trees of the colour being scored, the player scores two points per card.

Arboretum is a game about minimizing your opponents score as much as it's about generating a score for yourself. Play continues in this vein until the final cards are drawn from the center draw pile, triggering the final turn of the game. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. The deck has 80 cards in ten different colors, with each color featuring a different species of tree; each color has cards numbered 1 through 8, and the number of colors used depends on the number of players. So really, if you have the first edition, you have an even more special version from a certain point of view.A lovely arboretum is made up of paths – paths begin and conclude with a tree of a particular kind, and have an ascending numerical progression that can be traced between these endpoints.

But all this brilliant game design was interspersed with the feeling of putting down my dog every couple of rounds. Each of those leaves, from each of your opponents, forms a drift that may contain treasures that you want for yourself. Three, only the person with the highest value of a single tree in their hand at the end of the game scores that particular type of tree.

It’s essentially 80 cards, which could probably fit in a Coloretto-style box, but it’s in a box that’s closer to 3 – 4x that size. This line, or path, can be made up of different plants, but two of the same species must bookend it. People more familiar with the game can probably relate, but the games presents itself like a mellow romp. Draw two cards – these cards can come from the top of the face down deck or from the top of any player’s face up discard pile. If a player doesn't have the most value for a color, she score zero points for a path that begins and ends with that color.

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