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How To Play – Arboretum

Arboretum Review

Arboretum is a set collecting, hand management game for you to puzzle your way through, whilst simultaneously trying to foil the best laid plans of your pals. Let’s see how to play!


Lay down cards to create pathways between those of the same tree species to score points. These cards are numbered and viable pathways between cards must be in ascending order. As always, whoever scores the most points wins.


Deck of 80 cards: These are broken down into 10 different species of tree, with each species having cards numbered from 1 to 8.


First, modify the deck based on your player count.

2-player game: Use 6 species of tree - 48 cards.

3-player game: Use 8 species of tree - 64 cards.

4-player game: Use all 8 species of tree - 80 cards.

Once you’ve gathered up the cards you’re using, shuffle them up and deal out 7 cards to each player.


At the beginning of your turn, draw 2 cards from either the top of the deck or the top of any player's face-up discard pile.

Then, choose one card to discard to your personal discard pile and one to play.

Playing a card involves placing it down in front of you, adjacent to another of your cards, unless of course it’s your first turn. Cards placed down must be orthogonal to an existing card, not diagonal.

Now, what you’re trying to do is create a pathway between cards of the same species. As long as the first and last card in that path are of the same species and the numbers continue in sequence, you can score. Numbers don’t need to be consecutive, so don’t worry about skipping some.

Keep playing until the main deck is empty. When a player draws the final card, they must finish their turn and then the game ends.


Scoring any given species is determined by what is left in the players’ hands. Only a player with the highest total of a given species in their hand can score for that species. If there’s a draw for the highest, they both may qualify for the points.

One additional rule is if a player has a 1 in their hand at the end, the value of the 8 in someone's hand of that same species is treated as 0.

For example:

Scoring Oak, Derek has a 2 and 8 of that species in his hand. Bradley has the 1 and 3.

Normally, Derek’s total would be 10, but the 1 that Bradley has nullifies the 8.

So, the totals are: Derek with 2 (2+0) and Bradley with 4 (1+3).

Now only Bradley can score for the Oak, even if he hasn't laid any of them in front of him.

Now for the points.
Score 1 for each card in a given pathway. Each species can only be scored for one pathway so pick your highest.

Score 1 bonus point if your path begins with a 1.

Score 2 bonus points if your path ends with an 8.

Score 1 additional point per card if your path is at least 4 cards long and all cards are of the same species.

And that’s everything! This is a brilliant example of a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Best of luck!