Simplicity. Strategy. Simple theming. Three key terms to describe my Kickstarter pick of the week –> Orchard, the 9-card solitaire game from Side Room Games and designer Mark Tuck. Orchard’s campaign has two days to go and one more stretch goal to try and unlock (plastic cards).
First off, Orchard is a 9-card game, but the production actually includes 18 cards — along with 15 dice and a couple rotten fruit tokens. The additional 9 cards essentially provide a bit of variety in the card selection from game-to-game and also allow for two individual games to get played back-to-back without any shuffling.
In Orchard, one card gets placed down to start and then you will draw two cards. Next, pick one of the two cards and place it on top of a card in the orchard with at least one tree overlapping.
The goal is to be able to successfully overlap as many trees as possible each turn. When this happens, you bear fruit! The first time you achieve an overlap on a tree, place the appropriate fruit die on that tree with one pip showing. On future turns, if you are able to overlap that tree again, the fruit die will upgrade to a three and then on a third overlap to a full six pips.
With one of your nine cards placed down as the starting card, you will essentially be taking eight turns during the game to try and produce as much fruit in your orchard as you can. Once all cards are placed, die totals are added up to see how you scored.
There may be times in which to score valuable overlaps on a card, you may have to allow an “illegal” overlap to occur. During the game, you are able to make this “illegal” move on a maximum of two trees. When you do, that tree needs marked as having ‘rotten fruit.’
These rotten fruit trees cannot be overlapped in the future and will count as negative three (-3) points during end-game scoring.
AND THAT…is essentially the game. As I said at the beginning, this is a very simple game, but I appreciate that it still comes with challenging strategy (being able to “see” the best card overlap possibilities, especially as the orchard grows) and knowing how to use one card in your hand to then be able to better utilize the 2nd card.
I also appreciate the light theming. This could easily be a completely abstract game, but the fruit tree theme works well and helps add a sense of purpose to the game, along with giving meaning to the colorful dice the game utilizes.
These days, many people have app games that they will pull out and play a few times now and then as either a quick, fun gaming experience or as a means to give their brain a bit of a mental challenge. If you are one of those people, but prefer physical gaming over virtual gaming — I believe Orchard would be a perfect addition.
Let me know what you think in the comments — is Orchard a game you’re considering? What do you look for in a solo game?