The Game: Arboretum
How Many Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+
What Type of Game: Strategic, set collecting, tile placement card game
Average Length: 30 min
What's The Story
Well, there really isn't much story to Arboretum. You are creating the Arboretum of your dreams, planning out where the trees should go to build beautiful walkways for your visitors. As the developer says, it is just a very tranquil and peaceful game. If you want to create more of a story to it, you can use your imagination. However, the game really doesn't feel like it needs more of one to be entertaining.
What the Gameplay Feels Like
If you are a fan of the Geek to Geek Podcast, you may recognize this game. Void has talked about it before in his best of 2019, which is actually where I heard about it. I'm so glad I did too.
As you can see in the image above, Arboretum is very easy to play. Each turn you draw 2 cards, play 1 card, and then discard 1 card. To create your perfect Arboretum you are playing cards in front of you in a strategic pattern. To create a walkway through your trees, the numbers must go from lowest to highest on the table, with the first and last in the walkway being the same type of tree. Cards can work for multiple paths. You also can obtain bonus points by using all the same types of trees in the path or starting with a 1 and ending with an 8.
However, you also need to plan ahead, as you will not get credit for your path if you do not also have a lot of those trees in your hand. The player with the highest point value of a tree variety in their hand is the only one who can count a path from those trees.
Sabotage your opponents, plan your walkways, and enjoy this beautiful art.
What I liked
The first time I played Arboretum we were in a hotel common area while having continental breakfast. Not only was it a ton of fun, quick to learn, and great for replayability, but also caught others' attention. We had a couple of people come up and ask us what we were playing and watch a bit. I would like to say this was because of our own vibrant personalities…but probably not. The fact is, this game is beautiful! The artwork on these cards is striking and probably what caught people's attention. Well, that and just the fact that we weren't playing a common game like Hearts.
As always, I also appreciate any game that can be played enjoyably with two people.
What I didn't like
I do wish there were even more varieties of trees, but that is a very minor complaint. There are more than enough for the number of players listed. I just like the artwork so much that I would love to see more of them!
Geek to Geek Rating: 5 out of 5 cherry blossoms
If you're looking for more board game fun, check out our review of Tinderblox!