Review: Orchard

Orchard is a solitaire “tile”-laying card game that plays in under 10 minutes and has you harvesting fruit by overlapping existing trees. The more trees you can overlap, the more fruit you’ll pick.

The Good

Mental Heavy-lifting in a Tiny Box (+10)

What a punch in a tiny box! I’m used to this type of power only coming out of Japanese games so this is a breath of fresh air and increases my confidence in our ability to design complex games that don’t take so much space. This game has also won Print and Play awards before its standard published offering and I can easily see why. You can find the card files on BoardGameGeek for free, and as long as you have some D6’s handy and a placeholder for rotten fruit you can play this on a budget. Admittedly I love that I caught this for the kickstarter to be able to have the stretch goals for more aesthetic features on the cards and dice.

Always Room to Get Better (+10)

Games that give you the flexibility to make mistakes in strategic ways are the most enjoyable. Introducing a mechanic that allows you to break the rules a limited number of times is helpful in that you know it could be bad and it’s fun to try and run the simulation after the fact. When playing this game you’ll find yourself wondering “If I had played by the rules would I have had a higher score? I dunno, let’s try again without breaking rules next time!” There is an immediate return on investment in both your personal feelings of accomplishment and the comparative score scale built into the game rules too.

The Bad

I can’t think of any!

The Ugly

Nimble Hands Needed (0)

Since you are not only handling cards but also turning dice, placing dice and also stacking cards onto dice it takes some nimble hands. Not like extremely nimble like sewing or dexterity games but it can be annoying if you struggle with keeping your hands steady or precision placement. This is mostly situational and can be worked around with some patience so I didn’t dock any points for this. Just wanted to let you know.

Possibly Can Memorize over Time (-0.5)

There are only 18 cards in the box, and there are people out there that can memorize even more than that. When you’re playing a solitaire game there isn’t really anyone stopping you from using deductive knowledge in this way so if you pair this with incredible photographic memory you could really get some high scores. After you’ve played enough games in your lifetime, you definitely wouldn’t want a game you’ve simply memorized and created easy logic paths for. That’s boring.

Difficulty: 1/5 for Novice
Satisfaction Grade: A- (92.67%) for Amazing
Worth Your Money? Yes!