The Simple Joy of Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game
Focus on the harvest in Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game while planting colorful apple, pear, and plum trees.
Onto a different game! This year, I’m setting some unspoken challenges for myself as I work through my games. There are many, and it’s not always possible to devote hours to a complex experience. Hence, it was a perfect time to pull out Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game. It’s so satisfying to stack the fruit trees and use the lovely dice as counters!
With the use of a small deck of nicely designed cards, fruit trees slowly stack up to provide more fruit at the end of the harvest. But don’t think it’s an easy sort of experience! The card patterns create a lot of choices and a little risk can be taken with rotten fruit and curious little worms!
September 22, 2018
January 4, 2021
10" x 10"
Getting Started Again
It was over 6 months ago since I last played. There was no need for a rules refresher because this is a simple game to learn… Not so simple to execute a good strategy, though!
This is the main reason why I love it. You stack the same fruit trees, using dice to slowly increase the harvest. Want to overlap different trees? It’s rotten fruit time!
That’s all there is to it, aside from drawing cards each turn. Truly, these rules might be some of the easiest.
My initial attempt was pretty mediocre, though it was nice to remember how quickly gameplay progressed. Lovely!
A Little Worm Friend
Hello, worm! This rotten fruit token reduced my score by 3 points, yet the card placement still yielded 7 extra points. Definitely worth it! And that worm was just too cute.
The rotten fruit mechanic is interesting in a way that doesn’t introduce much complexity. It comes down to calculating what will happen when a card is placed.
And even with me struggling to find useful placements for a few cards, my play time still clocked in at 5 minutes.
I intended to stop after just a couple of plays… But I could do better than this! A quick reshuffle and I was ready.
My old strategy came back to me, which is pretty clear after a few plays: The fruit trees need to be as condensed as possible to increase the values on the dice.
I was pretty proud of this little orchard! Still a far cry from my previous high score, but also not so bad.
Keep in mind that I’ve played over 100 times and still find myself wanting to try again. There’s some luck involved, but working out the best card placements is so much fun!
Besides, resetting takes a matter of seconds, especially with the split deck for back-to-back plays.
Very Nice Dice
Have I mentioned how nice these dice are? They never get rolled, though. This is a rare instance where they’re used simply for tracking values in their colorful way.
I’m still playing with the old rules that don’t use the harvest basket face. In that case, a 6-value die that gets another fruit tree will become a 10-value die.
Not just yet! I’m determined to hit the 55-point mark with the original rules and then move on. Wish me luck!
This final count wasn’t anything amazing, although it was nice to see myself hitting 30-40 points consistently.
Slow and Steady
These photos may look very similar, but this was far from boring. Every turn requires a card to be placed. Which one, and where?! I was stumped every now and then.
But there were some excellent turns when I had the perfect card arrive to cover 4-5 fruit trees at once. Yes!
I still made some mistakes without realizing it, though. Like when I had too many fruit trees of the same type in an area. That made it close to impossible to avoid rotten fruit.
At least those worms were kept at bay! I didn’t see any ways to do better with them popping up. Not today!
To the Horizon
During this play, I thought I was clever in keeping all of the cards centralized. At any moment, there was going to be the perfect card to result in tons of points…
Of course that didn’t happen! It was rather a pitiful attempt, although my strategy was sound. The cards just didn’t want to cooperate this time around.
Maybe this was a time to use the rotten fruit. No matter! It was easy enough to continue on and try again.
With such a short play time, I typically find myself playing until things feel a little repetitive after about 6-10 plays.
Play Number: 105-112
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)
Outcome: 29, 36, 34, 33, 28, 25, 39, and 33 (8 Losses)
No bountiful harvest for me this time! Yet I wasn’t all that surprised, owing to all that time since my last session. I don’t know if I plan to keep this in my regular rotation, though. At the moment, I’m craving some of my other neglected games! However, this is a very solid game that does exactly what it intends to do. It’s a nice puzzle every now and then with a very pleasant theme. I’ll hit my goal someday, and then I’ll be off to use the new rules!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- There are a lot of subtle strategies to learn over time with the placement of cards and planning ahead.
- Despite being just a tad smaller than I personally like, the dice are excellent with bright colors and simple marks.
- Planting and harvesting trees is a very simple and relaxing theme that’s appealing at almost any time.
- Setup is quick and involves splitting the deck for back-to-back plays, while total play time is only a few minutes.
- Since the goal is to overlap the cards as much as possible, the play area never gets unruly nor extends far.
- Keeping track of points happens during play with the dice and tallying everything at the end is very easy.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Although gameplay is fun, it gets repetitive at a certain point so that the game can overstay its welcome.
- The white markings on the yellow dice can be difficult to read at times, and a darker shade would have helped.
- Numbered cards are only needed for community challenges, and the numbers can detract from the theme.
- Plastic, waterproof cards are much more durable, yet they still have a noticeable and slightly unpleasant odor.
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
What is your favorite thing about Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game? It may seem strange that I’m using the old rules and ignoring the best face on each die, but just call me old-school! I still have my old version, too! Do you have a high score that’s pretty impressive? The way the game constantly challenges me is awesome, and I definitely enjoy it!