Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Arboretum - My Print and Play version

Arboretum, a 2015 release by Z-man games, is a set collection game designed by Dan Cassar. Players are trying to play cards into their play area (or Arboretum) in such a way that when the end game scoring comes, they will first qualify to score points and then score as much points as they can based on the card placement. The copy that Z-man game has released has very clean and beautiful looking art based on trees but not that appealing to me so I decided to create my own version using animals which are cuter, in my opinions ;p

Its not that easy to score actually...
Players start with 7 cards in their hand and a randomly drawn face up card to start as their discard pile. During a turn, players draw 2 cards, either from any discard pile or from the draw deck, and then play 1 card into their play area and discard another card. The game continues until the draw deck is empty and then comes the final scoring. Going by each individual set, players first need to reveal how many cards of that set they have in their hand. The player(s) with the highest sum total based on the numbers of the cards will get to score for that set. Anyone else will score nothing. Interesting thing is if you have a "1" and another player has a "8", that "8" becomes a "0". To score, player traces the longest path that starts and ends with that particular set (animal in my case, specific tree in the Z-man edition) and must be ascending in numbers with no repeats. Players will get 1 point for each card in that path and if they have at least 4 crds of the same set in that path, they will double this score. Finally, if the set started with a number "1", they add 1 more point. If the set ended with a number "8", they add 2 more points. The winner is the player with the most points at the end.

So, how does the game feel? Its a very cool and elegant game. Most players will probably need at least 1 learning game to understand the nuances of what it means to keep certain cards in their hand to allow them to score as well as what to play to actually give them points. It is this decision making that I find the most interesting of the game. Do I invest in diversity to get a few points OR go for broke and try to get pure scoring on one set ? What do I keep in my hand to either ensure my scoring OR to block someone else ? Also, any cards I do not get to play during the game is actually dead weight in my hand, taking up a space. What card do I discard? Will it help someone else OR can I use the discard to tempt someone to waste a turn building up a set which eventually he cannot score ?

There are ample chances to sabotage your opponents and this is another highlight of the game. During my first game, me and another friend got 0 points because we were totally blocked out from scoring any points! It kind of reminds me of Mahjong in that you are trying to guess what other players are going for and what cards have yet to come up. Arboretum is an excellent filler game that definitely works your brain while being easy to learn. Played with the right opponents who think strategically, this will make for a very competitive and enjoyable game. I heartily recommend it!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe reading one more positive review will make me purchase this one.