Finding Joy and Fun with Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game

Sep 24, 2023 | Sessions | 0 comments

Arrange an area filled with apple, pear, and plum trees for an excellent harvest in Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game.

Time for some more overlapping! An overlapping card game, that is. Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game remains a classic that features a simple rule set with interesting decisions. Dice are used in an unexpected way… No rolling here! It had been some time since I last played, and that was clearly the wrong answer. Time to get in some fruit harvesting!

Game Overview

Game Name: Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game
Publication Year:
 Mark Tuck
 Mark Tuck
Publisher: Side Room Games
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)

Very simply, trees overlap each other to increase the value of dice. Fruit must match, lest the adorable worms visit to indicate rotten fruit! Each play uses just 9 cards, yet the possibilities allow for plenty of choices that take a matter of minutes. Becoming almost imposs-apple is a feat!

A Bright and Cheery Sight to Start Playing Orchard

First Play

September 22, 2018



Latest Play

September 22, 2023



Setup Time

Almost None

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

5 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

12" x 12"


Low Score


A Lot with a Little

The component list is extremely small, consisting of an 18-card deck, 15 dice, and 2 rotten fruit tokens. I still remember the very early editions of this one!

It’s all about overlapping the same types of fruit trees. Each overlap allows the matching die to go up a level.

Nothing complicated here! However, I’ve played over 100 times and still enjoy the puzzle. A couple of card choices each round can be surprisingly interesting to think about.

I sometimes play without sharing since the end game state looks pretty similar, yet this one is really enjoyable.

Preparing to Harvest Apples, Pears, and Plums in Orchard

Back to Stacking Dice

Despite my high number of lifetime plays, I last got this one to my table almost a year ago. I was rusty… Or possibly underripe. Ha ha! Definitely not a good start.

However, I like how scoring is always available to count up. Sometimes, I keep track of everything from beginning to end. Other times, I just hope for the best. Ha!

The adorable worm visitor tricked me, although my score wouldn’t have been that great. I needed more practice.

Although it’s a small thing, I love how these dice are easy to rotate to the next levels. A small but important detail.

Making the Most of an Initial Return to the Puzzle of Orchard

No More Rotten Fruit

As cute as the worm tokens are, those negative victory points can be brutal! So I was just happy that I didn’t resort to using any in my next play. Still not a good score…

I should also note that I’m still playing with the original rules where a 6 is the highest value: The basket worth 10 points is still off-limits until I can reach 55 victory points.

Maybe this also means I should keep playing more often! That’s quite a lofty goal, but at least it’s not impossible.

Pardon me… Imposs-apple. Ha ha! Always love reading the puns in the scoring tiers at the end of the rulebook.

Trying to Maximize Some of the Central Dice in Orchard

Another Familiar Guest

So I guess I can’t resist the worm tokens? It can actually pay to use a single one in specific circumstances, but this wasn’t it. Another mediocre sort of final score.

The other nice thing is the way back-to-back plays are so easy to work in: Setup involves shuffling and splitting the 18 cards into a pair of smaller 9-card decks. Very easy!

Even when I was puzzling through every single move, my play time was still very quick. Always fun, too.

I was initially concerned the yellow dice values would be hard to see, but they have even more contrast in real life.

Dealing with Rotten Fruit and an Adorable Worm Visitor in Orchard

Making Better Decisions About What to Play

As I continue to rank my solo games to get ready to vote for my favorites during this year’s annual celebration, it’s become quite clear that I don’t have unlimited time to play… Does anyone?! Ha ha! Many favorites fell off out of my rotation, sometimes not hitting the table for a good 2-3 years. So I continue to look for ways to use my time wisely.

I still love trying out new solo games, so that’s not changing! Perhaps the biggest element is to stop giving mediocre games more and more chances. As always, what I consider mediocre is entirely subjective and in relation to me. The idea is that I want to spend more of my hobby time on exploring new titles and making sure I play my favorite games.

This all ties into me understanding my preferences more and getting better about parting with solo games. At this point, anything I rate 80% or higher is almost always a keeper. These are the games I strongly like or love. When I get into the 70% range, those ones might warrant some more plays. Or, my enjoyment might not be reflected in a number.

My real issue stems from anything I rate around 60% or lower. These are simply not games for me, as I’m sure everyone else has already realized. This also means I’m trying to cut out the step where I play a game just a few more times to make sure it’s not for me. But… How is it going to be extremely better after sitting around for 2+ years?

All of this is to say that I’m focused on making sure I stay focused on the one thing I love about this hobby: Having fun! Never do I want to feel like playing games is a chore or work. I don’t need to like or love every game. Hearing from those who like the games I don’t is a highlight for me, as it reinforces that idea! Bottom line: I’m using my time to have fun.

Session Overview

Play Number: 123-126
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)
Outcome: 32, 38, 34, 37 (4 Losses)

Not too shabby overall, yet I didn’t hit my victory threshold even once. Definitely need to work on my plays some more! This one rewards experience, particularly when the obvious move isn’t actually the best one. All of it started to come back to me just as I was putting the box back on the shelf. Just another reason to make sure I get this back into my regular rotation again! It really is an excellent solo game of strategically overlapping cards.

Some Improvement in the Face of the Worm Trap of Orchard


120 Plays


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • All of the fruit trees are easy to tell apart by both color and shape, which helps a lot with making quick decisions.
  • Splitting the deck during setup makes it very easy to play twice in a row with practically no time to reset.
  • The scoring tiers feature charming and funny puns, yet are also designed nicely to create a fun challenge.
  • Dice provide an interesting way to track the value of each tree, which helps with scoring everything at a glance.
  • Play time moves very quickly and is only slowed when considering multiple choices, yet even these are quick.
  • Very rarely does the play area expand beyond a few cards in each direction since overlapping a lot is the goal.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Reaching a high scoring tier is the main gameplay goal, and each play is generally very similar with the choices.
  • It sometimes feels like rotten fruit is a trap with the negative points, so it can be tricky to decide to use a token.
  • A fair bit of luck is needed to get into a good rhythm of covering up 3-4 trees on each card consistently.
  • Although this isn’t necessarily a game to master, the low variability can make the challenge a little static.

More Orchard

Explore related posts about Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game!

Victory Conditions

Score 40+ Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 80% 80%

Goals and Milestones


Score at least 20 points.


Score at least 30 points.


Score at least 40 points.


Score at least 50 points.


Score at least 55 points.

Continue the Conversation

Have you played Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game recently? What are some of your best scores? This one is very much centered around scoring well, yet I always enjoy the puzzle! I’ve been playing for years and only regret not keeping this in my regular rotation of solo games. Luckily, that’s easy enough to remedy with the quick play time and small box!


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