Weekly Challenge #2, Part 3: Arboretum

Arboretum, Renegade Game Studios, 2018 — logo (image provided by the publisher)

Trees, everywhere you look, you see trees! And they are beautiful to look at…but are brutal to benefit from! If you have ever looked into Arboretum you know that this game can be cutthroat and agonizing. Typically, this is a great thing for me. I love tough decisions in games, so I thought this would be a slam dunk, but I have been disappointed so far. To be fair, I have only played this at 2 player, so I still have hope. Here are my initial thoughts.

Out the gate, the games artwork is stunning. The trees are gorgeous, the rule book is simple and the small box is very appealing. Each turn is the same every time, you draw two cards, you place a card in your Arboretum, then you discard a card in front of you. The tension lies in that last part of your action. The top card of your discard pile is available to other players on their turns and you do not want to aid them in their endeavor OR hurt yourself in the long run!

The mechanics of the game are simple, but the scoring is where it gets confusing (I am seeing a pattern here with my impressions). Throughout the game you are building different paths of all the different tree varietals. You can include other trees in that path, but the numbers for the trees must always be ascending. You get special bonuses if it is a pure path (no other varietals) or if you start it with a 1-value card or end it with an 8-value card (the card values range from 1 to 8). The whole game is building these paths, but in order to score them, you need to be able to “win the right” to score them. Once the last card from the main deck is drawn, you go through the different tree varietals and see who has the highest value combined in their hand, not in their Arboretum. Again here is the tension, you need to keep high cards in your hand, but you also want to put them in your area, and you also definitely do not want to let another player get high cards of a varietal you have in your area.

The mechanics all make sense to me, the tension makes sense, at two players though, I felt as if I was able to do whatever I wanted and there were no problems. I am sure at 3 and 4 players there would be some more chaos and tension, but I have yet to experience this. I will hold onto this until I am able to experience the game in a way that allows it to shine!

Pros:

+ Simple rules

+ Very pleasing to the eye

Cons:

- Overly complex scoring

- Not much tension at 2-players

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4 months ago

Interesting that it didn't hit for you at 2 players - that's the highest rated player count on BGG! This game looks so cool but definitely not one that my wife would enjoy, which is why I haven't picked it up, haha.

4 months ago

I noticed that too lol. I guess I was expecting more tough decisions than I got in my couple of play throughs!

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