23 November 2019
Designed for very young children Orchard is a charmingly made game
Designed for very young children Orchard is a charmingly made game of chance about collecting fruit from the orchard before a voracious raven swoops in and eats it all. The educational goals are to encourage correctly choosing colours to match the roll of the dice, motor skills, and understanding basic chance.
The pieces are beautifully crafted brightly-coloured wooden fruit (including cherries with thread stems). Once rolled and collected these are placed in attractive reed baskets.
Roll a basket and the child can pick double the amount of fruit from anywhere – teaching a kind of resource management. Roll a raven and a piece of the puzzle at the centre of the board is added to. If this raven is completed before the game ends, the children 'lose' although it’s hard to argue it’s a heavy loss with so much fruit in the baskets already.
If there were any criticism it is that it’s not particularly well signalled as to where the child should start with the puzzle-pieces. Clearer signposting around the edges may have helped. The building of the raven puzzle does provide a sense of mild threat, and is, as with everything else in the game, handsomely put together.
The game is collaborative and encourages working together, fostering an understanding of chance. If the children take all the fruit from one tree when they have rolled basket, they learn this makes things more difficult for the team. With that comes a sense of doing the right thing for 'we' and not 'me'. If your goal is to give a group of young children the chance to learn about collaborative gaming, with a tiny bit of resource management then Orchard is a charming place to start.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN EGGETT
PLAY IT? YES
Designer: Anneliese Farkaschovsky
Artist: Walter Matheis
This review originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.