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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.


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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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