Mmmmm....fresh apples straight off the tree; they are the best! I wonder how many will be in this year's harvest?
|Orchard: 9 Card Solitaire Game (2019)
Side Room Games
|1 (multiplayer rules with additional copies)
Orchard is a quick abstract strategy game where you will be placing cards down with trees on them in a 2x3 grid, and you are trying to overlap matching trees increasing the number of fruit produced during that harvest. The concept is pretty easy, but the luck of the draw and strategy is key in this game. It is a cute compact card game ideally for a single player that is a lot of fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed small games like this the last 2 years and was excited when I looked over the game at my FLGS.
The game comes in a small box a little bigger than a deck of cards, and the box insert slides out of the box cover similar to how you would remove cards from a deck box. The box is very sturdy and provides the quick details on the outside regarding the type of game it is. The box also have very little wasted space which I really appreciate; it is just as big as it needed to be for the game and components.
The game includes:
- 18 Orchard Cards: The cards depict 6 fruit trees (2x3 positioning) on each card of the three types of fruits (Red Apples, Yellow Pears, and Purple Plums). These will be placed down overtop of each card. There are numbers on each card numbered 1-18 that will be used for the multiplayer rules.
- 15 Fruit Dice (5 Red, Yellow, and Purple dice): Unlike typical dice usage, these are going to be used as score tokens and not rolled. The sides shows 1, 3, 6, a basket (10), and two leaf sides that are not actually used and are just for show. These dice will be placed on the trees throughout at the game as points are earned and rotated the current score for those trees.
- 2 Rotten Fruit Tokens: These wooden tokens are used when rules must be violated (more on that in the Player Turn section).
- Small Rulebook
The cards are interesting as they are not your typical cardstock. Unless I am mistaken, they are actually plastic cards, which resulted in the cards holding their shape despite folding them before 90 degrees. They do slide a bit because they are plastic, but I really like how they feel and look. The dice are also very cute with their custom pips; they feel like your standard dice material wise. The two wooden rotten fruit tokens have a cute little worm on them. So the components are pretty solid.
The core rules are only on about 3 1/2 of the tiny rulebook pages and are very easy to follow. The game maybe took 5 minutes to learn meaning there is very little investment in learning the game the first time.
The game is very simple to play. Essentially, you will play a single card from your hand to expand your orchard while also making your existing trees produce more fruit as you cover up matching trees.
The setup for the game is very quick as you will only 9 of the cards, the 15 dice, and the Rotten Fruit Tokens.
- Shuffle the 18 cards and create 2x nine card decks. Place one within reach to be used this game.
- Draw one card and place it into the middle of the table.
- Draw two cards.
- Place the dice and rotten fruit tokens nearby.
You are ready!
Turns are very quick and follow this sequence (in order):
- Place one card overtop of part of an existing card(s). The trees depicted on the placed card must match the tree(s) below unless you want to use a rotten fruit token.
- Place a dice on all trees on the top card that overlapped another tree. If there were dice already on those trees cover, you will rotate the dice to the next highest number (1-3-6-Basket ).
- If you need to place a card over a tree that won't match, you may use the Rotten Fruit tokens to place on the unmatched tree. This will also allow you to reclaim a used dice if the rotten fruit is being placed on a tree with a die. The downfall of using the Rotten Fruit tokens is this space may no longer have a card overlapped onto it.
- Draw a card (if there is still one in the deck).
Once all cards have been played, add up the points on your dice and subtract three points for each Rotten Fruit Token used. Since this is a solo game, you will be comparing your score to your prior games and to the chart provided in the booklet. A score of 35+ is what appears to be a good middle score.
While the game is a solo game, there are multiplayer rules available that require each player to have their own copy of the game. This is where the numbers on the cards come into play. The game is played mostly the same as the solo game, but each additional player will have all 18 of their cards either laid out nearby or sorted in their deck. Essentially, the caller (the player who will player by the standard rules) will call out the card number used initially as the starting card, the two cards initially drawn into their hand at the beginning of the game, and then the number of each card they draw each turn. Essentially, this is keeping all players using the same cards in their respective games, but they will be playing them in different orders to create their own Orchard. Players total their scores and compare; the winner is the player with the highest score. Ties are sorted out initially by the player who used the least Rotten Fruit tokens and then finally the player who used the most dice.
So you are still playing a solo game, but everyone is playing using the same cards throughout the game, which is a simple and clever way to make the solo game a competitive game.
This year I have found myself enjoying more and more solo games. When I spotted this on the shelf of my FLGS, I was immediately interested. I had never heard of the game before I bought it a few weeks ago. I played it a few times once I got home and have continued to enjoy it; it stays near my copy of A Gentle Rain, which I enjoyed for its compact and quick gameplay.
Multiplayer rules are a nice addition to the game. It allows multiple people to own their own copy of the game to enjoy on their own time, but they can bring them together to enjoy with others. I really like this and would love to see this in more games of the size.
They are actually going to be releasing a new sequel to this game called "Grove: 9 Card Solitaire Game." Without knowing much about the sequel, it appears that it builds on the existing mechanics while adding in cards that are adding challenges/score bonuses. This will be a game that will be hitting Kickstarter October 18th; I will certainly be interested in this Kickstarter since I have enjoy Orchard so much.
If you are like me and find yourself needing a little break in between heavy games or even hobby/work projects, check out Orchard as a short mental relaxer.
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