Player count: 1 (more with several games)
Play Time: +/- 10 minutes
In this period of confinement, I discovered the wonderful world of PNP games. PNP? Print and Play of course – well don’t worry I did not know much about them before this whole staying at home situation. Definitely an inexpensive, pocket-size and fine way to play – well for the ones that are good because it is a very crowded market!
Orchard was awarded in 2018 best nano game during a design contest (link) on BGG – aka Board Game Geek. On year later, Side Room Games created a Kickstarter to fund a physical version of the game and it is now available for you to buy online or to print for free.
What is Orchard ?
It Is a solo card game where your objective is to harvest as many fruits as possible. How do you do this? AT the beginning of the game, you select 9 cards which are all bearing 6 different fruit trees (yellow, purple or red) and shuffle them. You start off your orchard by drawing the first card and setting it on the table.
Then you will take two cards in your hand and you are ready to go! On your turn you will select one of your cards and overlap the trees that are the same on both cards, for each of them you will score points (symbolised by your dice of the same colour). You then draw a new card and select again one from your hand to lay over the fiel in front of you to score more points.
As the game advances, your dice will bring more points depending on how many trees overlap: starting with one, then three, six and then the maximum (10). This is why the physical version uses a specific die with a fruit basket to symbolise this bonus. Of course, the overlapping will get more and more tense as combinations get trickier. Never mind, you have two “rotten fruit” tokens you can use if you overlap two different kinds of tree. However, these will subtract 3 points at the end of the game and also block the trees they rest on until the end of the game!
How does it play?
Orchard is definitely an excellent pocket size game! I love the replayability value and the scoring system. I found it very addictive and also really appreciated the fact that the game comes with 18 cards, meaning that during initial setup you basically split the pack of cards in two, meaning as soon as you are done with your first game you can just start over right away.
However, this has also the limits of its format, which to be fair is nothing to blame the game about. It does what it says on the tin: great fun little game which will keep you entertained for a few sessions at a time. So yes, the theme could be basically anything and randomness plays a big role in it but who cares because your game might be over and done with after 5 minutes, leaving you with the urge to start another one right away!