My 100th Play of Orchard with Simple, Fruity Rules

March 3, 2020 | Sessions | 6 comments

Jump into a session of Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game that leads up to my 100th play of this simple classic.

It was in 2018 that I began my journey with a highly recommended solo game called Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game. The joy of overlapping fruit trees and harvesting a tabletop orchard is always fun! Recently, my new copy arrived and I had a reason to celebrate… I was about to close in on my iconic 100th play of this classic!

Game Overview

Game Name: Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game
Publication Year:
2018
Designer:
Mark Tuck
Artist:
Mark Tuck
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)

There are only a few games I feel like I can explain in a couple of sentences. This set of rules is so simple, yet strategically complex. Quite an accomplishment!

With just 9 cards, fruit trees of the same type must overlap to yield a better harvest. Dice track points. That’s about it!

The Cutest Rotten Fruit

There are instances when different trees overlap. When this happens, the rotten fruit tokens are used. Although worth negative points, who doesn’t like this cute worm?

Rotten fruit is an interesting sort of mechanic. I often fall into the trap of using it too early and ruining my chances of doing well. Those negative points can hurt!

On the other hand, there are situations when a newly placed card can still produce plenty of positive points.

During my session, I simply couldn’t escape from these smiling worms! They seemed poised to take over.

Plotting and Planning

As I neared my 100th play, I had to laugh a little bit. Even with all that experience, I’m far from a master harvester!

Some luck is involved, of course, but it can be difficult to see where the best card placement is. Sometimes it takes a lot of turning and rotating to find the best move.

Early on, I used to focus on getting all 15 dice out at once. Now I know better… Higher values are more valuable!

This is also a very clever way to use dice. None are rolled, but they rotate to simply keep track of the points on each fruit tree. The final calculation is quite simple with them!

Rows of Healthy Trees

The main goal is to keep the play area as compact as possible. Overlapping fruit trees in the same spot is the key to reaching scores well into the 40-50 point range.

Part of me longed for my older copy while I played. These dice were a little smaller, and I had to get used to them.

The plastic cards also had a rather extreme odor… I aired them out for a few days before I dared to approach. The final result still has a mild to moderate chemical smell.

Still, I enjoyed seeing this upgraded copy in play! I kept putting together plenty of healthy orchards. Yum!

Following the Dice

I struggled with a few of my starting cards. Some selections were atrocious, with practically no overlapping areas. I did my best and kept similar trees separated.

Having a small area with a lot of similar trees can be disastrous. Every card contains a 2×3 grid with exactly 2 of each type of tree: Apples, pears, and plums.

If 3+ apple trees get placed near one another, it leads to a guaranteed situation of a rotten fruit token. 

As I mentioned, the rules are simple. Figuring out how to best use every set of cards is challenging and fun, though!

The Power of Simplicity

Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game is probably one of my simplest solo games. It took me a few minutes to learn and memorize the rules. So what’s so great about a simple ruleset? Strategy! I spend no time referencing edge cases, which lets me fully focus my attention on every decision. It’s a wonderful way to play without worrying about mistakes.

It’s nearly impossible to make a rules mistake. I make horrible placement decisions from time to time, but the rules are so straightforward. I love it! Lengthy rulebooks for complex solo board games are most welcome, but it’s nice to have something so easy to understand within reach. This is why I highly recommend taking a look at this one.

Session Overview

Play Number: 95-100
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)
Required Play Space: 10″ x 10″
Setup Time: Almost None
Play Time: 10 Minutes per Play
Outcome: 32, 31, 42, 38, 30, and 39 (1 Win, 5 Losses)

Even with all of my prior experience, things didn’t quite go to plan! Maybe I have a luckier deck in my collection…

I often say that I don’t like to play many times in a row. However, that doesn’t seem to hold true all the time!

The 100-Play Rating Update for Orchard

My overall rating has fallen over time, though this isn’t necessarily a negative. A major part of my rating system has to do with categorizing different solo games. At a glance, I can usually tell which board game would make a good choice when I’m in the mood for something particular.

I also use this scale in conjunction with my estimated time needed for setup and play. All of these statistics sometimes seem a little unnecessary, yet there’s always a reason! Even if these values don’t necessarily help others, my system has helped me understand my preferences a lot more. And with so many choices, this information is invaluable.

%

100 Plays

Affordability

Price & Value

10

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

10

Originality

Design & Theme

5

Quality

Components & Rules

10

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

7

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

4

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Continue the Conversation

What do you think of Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game? Even if you don’t own the game, I recommend taking a look at the rulebook to see how simple a game can be. This one isn’t for everyone, but it was still a surprise for me! Are you a fan of simple rules, or are in-depth rules your favorite? Here’s to another 100+ plays of this wonderful little gem!

6 Comments

  1. Stealthy Elephant!

    Reply
    • Yes, indeed! Apparently I’m growing more in these orchards than mere fruit. Nicely spotted!

      Reply
  2. Finally, I’ve spotted an elephant before knowing it was there!

    My recent ISGOYT geeklist posts may include a stealthy mouse.

    Reply
    • Roger, you’re awesome! It took me a while, but I was thrilled when I finally spotted the hidden one. I see I need to keep an eye out in the future. Ha ha! This is amazing, and I see the stealthy training has spread to the rest of the animal kingdom.

      Reply
  3. Congratulations on your blog – it looks great!
    Also thanks for playing (100 times!) and posting about Orchard. I love your photos – they make the game look so appetising!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Mark! I appreciate the kind words, and I thank you again for creating such a wonderful game. I always label it as simple but strategic, because it’s one of the few games I feel like I could teach in a minute or so. Perhaps I’ll reach my elusive goal of 55 points one of these days. Ha! All the best to you!

      Reply

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