FTW Staff Picks - Arboretum

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.


Genre: Hand Management / Tile Placement

Designer: Dan Cassar

Player Size: 2 to 4 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Lost Cities: Card Game, Battle Line

An arboretum is plainly considered to be a collection of trees. And with such a fancy term, comes a fancy game. In Arboretum, players collect and plant cards representing different types of trees into their own arboretum. But equally as important as what is played and seen, is what remains in players' hands and hidden. 

Arboretum feels like the Lost Cities: Card Game experience stretched out to potentially 4 players. Managing your discard pile is just as important as your arboretum, as players can draw from it. But to further expand on things, the placement of your trees matters greatly in regards to scoring. To create a scoring path, each tree in a sequence must increase numerically, and the type of tree used to begin and end the path must be the same. And just to add another thing to think about, only one player will score each type of tree, the one with the highest total sum value of that tree in their hand. This twist on the typical rummy-style scoring is what really makes Arboretum shine in a crowded card-game genre. 

For a game all about trees, the aesthetic of the game spares no expense. The rulebook is printed on an almost papyrus-like textured paper. The cards are printed with a finish that really makes you consider whether they should be sleeved or not. When making a small box game, every detail stands out. And it's nice to feel like you're receiving a quality product, regardless of the size of the box. 

Everyone has their favourites when it comes to sequencing, rummy-style card games. There are ton out there. But Arboretum really highlights all the aspects I enjoy about the genre. It draws out a level of interactivity, rarely seen among its crowd. And I think I can safely say it's the best game ever made about trees. 

Earl OliverosComment