Arboretum is a card game that blends hand management, set collection and tile-placement. Or, in Arboretum’s case, card-placement. An arboretum is a garden dedicated to trees, and in Dan Cassar’s game, players compete to build their own layouts. Who will make the best paths through their own tranquil woodland?
The deck is 80 cards strong, and the cards have outstanding, gorgeous artwork on them. They feature eight different species of tree, and each tree type has numbers 1-8 in it. You can almost smell the new foliage or feel the roughness of the bark, just by looking at them! Players begin with a hand of seven cards, and their own discard pile. The remaining cards make a public draw deck.
On your turn, you draw two cards – either from an opponent’s discard pile, or blind from the deck. Then you play one card from your hand into your arboretum, and discard one. You play cards to make a grid of sorts. Once the deck has run out, the game ends and scoring occurs. But there’s more than one thorn in among the branches, here.
Throughout the game you’ll aim to place trees in an orthogonal, ascending order into your grid. The tree types don’t have to be identical, but the first and last tree in a ‘path’ must be the same. This path can meander! It can go up, down, left and right. Each tree species scores at a rate of one point per tree in that ‘path’. (You score double if all trees in a path are the same type, though.)
The twist in Arboretum is that only one player can score each tree type. At the end, players reveal their remaining hand. Whoever has the highest tree card in their hand scores that tree species’ path in their arboretum. Meaning, everyone else scores zero for that tree type! Beware though, because a 1 wraps round and beats an 8 in this manner, so it’s no good hoarding all the 8s…
Arboretum is an interactive, cunning, strategy card game. It will ‘leaf’ you wanting to play it over and over again!
Player count: 2-4 players
Time: 30 minutes