What is an Arboretum? For those who don't know, it's an outside space full of trees of a variety of species. It can be quite relaxing wandering through this collection of trees, admiring the Willows and the Maples - and Arboretum the card game captures that sense of beauty and relaxation perfectly. You can imagine yourself casually strolling along admiring the trees as you lay down your cards.
What's In The Box?
Arboretum - The Deluxe Edition is such a beautiful production. Whilst the game itself is no different to the standard version - which can be found here! The deluxe edition feels just that - high quality & luxurious.
You get a lovely wooden box to store the cards in, which is velvet-lined, and a velvet bag as well as the rulebook and deck of 80 cards. The artwork on the box is beautiful, with the colour of the Jacaranda really popping. The cards themselves are foiled and super shiny - they look stunning on the table, but the foil does make them a little slippery which some people might find frustrating.
For me, it just adds to the beauty of an already beautiful game. The velvet bag is a sweet addition, making Arboretum really easy to transport without risking damage to the wooden box - it fits the cards perfectly, and we usually take a few score sheets from the pad and add them to the bag and we're good to take this with us on our holidays!
So, What Is Arboretum All About?
Arboretum is a card counting, set collection game with a bit of take-that thrown in for good measure. It's a one to four player game in which you are aiming to build the best Arboretum and score the most points in order to beat your opponents. To do this, you lay down tree cards from your hand into your tableau in front of you.
You start with a hand of seven cards, and on each turn you will draw two cards from either the deck or your opponents discard pile, play one into your tableau and then discard one. The game ends when the draw pile runs out, with the player who drew the last card getting to finish their turn.
Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite! In order to score points for the trees in your Arboretum, you need to have cards in both your tableau AND your hand that match that particular tree you're planting at the end of the game. HOWEVER, only one person can score one tree species, and if your opponent has one or more of that same tree in their hand, AND it totals higher than your value of yours, they get to score and you don't.
Meaning all your efforts to create a tableau of cards with a high score value are in tatters. And that's not all! Even if you do manage to play cards in your tableau and keep the highest value card possible in your hand (which would be an eight), you could still be thwarted! 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!
All this sounds very frustrating, yet surprisingly, Arboretum is really quite a relaxing game. It's very thinky and puzzly as you're trying to work out which cards to play at what time, which to keep in your hand for end scoring, and also keep an eye on your opponents tableau. Ideally, you want a good mix between cards for end scoring that match your tableau trees and cards that will prevent your opponent from scoring.
Final Thoughts On Arboretum
There's an awful lot of depth to this simple but beautiful deck of cards, and it keeps on drawing you in for more plays. 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. But things don't always go to plan in Arboretum, there's a lot of tension and you can spend ages going down one route & completely miss an opportunity elsewhere!
Depending on the player count, you take out a number of tree cards for your game, and it's fun at the beginning choosing which set of trees you like the look of most and which to leave out. I've played this over and over with different group sizes, but find it works best at two players, and we tend to exclude the same trees each time. Sorry, Dogwood! It's nothing personal!
So, Is The Deluxe Edition Worth Adding To Your Collection?
If, like me, you love all the bells and whistles and will ALWAYS upgrade to the best version, buy the upgraded components where available, then I would say YES! I'd also recommend it if you love the standard edition and it gets to the table often, as this version has better shelf presence. Be sure to remember that the actual gameplay is exactly the same in this as it is in the standard edition. This one just looks better!