The theme of Arboretum is for players to construct their most valuable pathway through trees. The trees are beautifully depicted on the cards. There are 10 different sets of trees, each numbered from 1 through 8.
The mechanics of playing cards and building a pathway is easy. Players start the game with a randomly dealt hand of seven cards. On each turn a player adds two cards to their hand. Next, they play one card into their arboretum in front of them and discard one card to their face-up discard pile. Cards added to a hand can come from the face-down draw deck and from the top of opponents discard piles. Paths that score must start and end with the same type of tree with every tree being in ascending order. Additionally, the player must have at least one of that type of tree in their hand at the end of the game.
The fun starts on round 1 and builds to a climax when the draw deck is exhausted and scoring begins. The challenge throughout the game is how to build multiple pathways, and more challenging, what to discard. Every card in hand is important to someone at the table. Anything discarded can be picked up by another player. A player needs to keep a card either to help themselves or prevent another player from using it. At the end, each species of tree can have only one pathway scored and it will be the player with the highest value of that species in their hand. Cards must be played to build the path and must be held to score the path. The game play is easy. The decisions are tough. The starts at the first round and rolls throughout. Arboretum is good with 2 players and really shines with 3 and 4.
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