L’Arbre – Spring feelings on the table
The birds chirp and a light breeze blows through the grass on the riverbank. The first strong sunrays hit the small tree with its still bare branches. The spirits of the forest will lovingly take care of the little plant and let it grow, green and blossom. In L’Arbre, you and your fellow players must let branches and leaves grow, form buds and finally blossoms and fruits. But the respect of the forest spirits can only be won by the player who has completed his task the fastest. We have taken a closer look at the 2017 Essen novelty from Asyncron Games for you.
Strong roots for the tree at the river – Basics
The rules for L’Arbre are kept quite simple. Each player receives the same number of components: branches, leaves, buds, fruit, a flower and a stem. Branches always grow on other branches. Leaves always grow at the end of a branch. Buds grow on a free leaf. Fruits and the flower grow on buds that are not yet occupied. Fruits can only grow on leaves hanging from a branch of the same colour or from a neutral branch. This sounds complicated, but the manual explains the rules very well and after the first moves it is no problem anymore.
On the table you place the river tableau with the draw pile and four cards face up. Then the trunk of the tree is placed with the first two trunk elements and the lowest four branches. The other four trunk panels are placed against the trunk with the grey side up. On the tableau there are also two tiles with the mighty forest spirits. On one of them are the earth-connected forest spirits, on the other the water-connected forest spirits. At the beginning of the game there is a random page on top. Now each player gets a starting hand with three cards and the game can begin.
The green thumb – hand cards let the tree grow
To make an element grow, you must play cards from your hand. If you want to grow branches, you need at least one card with a branch. For each branch card you play, you may place one branch from your supply on the tree. In addition, you may place one branch in the river for each branch card you play. Any jokers that are placed there also count towards this. If you also play a pair of another element, such as two bud cards, you may also place an additional branch piece. Leaves, buds, fruits and flowers can be placed in the same way. However, fruits and flowers are represented by the same card.
The spirits I called – magical helpers
On the cards you play there are also symbols of the forest spirits. If the forest spirit symbol matches an revealed forest spirit, you can use its power. One Water Ghost will let you pick a card from the river and the other will give you three cards from the draw pile, one of which you can choose and put in your hand. The Dryad supports you by letting you grow another element. And the Satyr gives a fellow player a new branch, which he must also bring to the tree. If you have used one of the forest spirits, its tile on the tableau is flipped over so that the other forest spirit of the element is on top and can be used by the next player.
Alternatively, instead of playing cards, you can take two of the cards from the river into your hand. This is often necessary because cards are not automatically drawn. You must also be aware of the hand limit of six cards. As a last resort, you can use your trunk tile once in the game to make the tree grow taller. This is done by rotating a trunk tile from the grey side to the coloured side. After that, three neutral branch elements are created on the right and left. In addition, you draw on six hand cards. First take the cards from the river and if you need more cards from the draw pile.
An enchanting game for the whole family
L’Arbre is a lovingly made family game with simple rules. It is easy to learn and children with experience in board games can also play here from 8 years of age. Our daughter is particularly attracted to the magic tree spirits, which are really beautifully illustrated. She thinks it’s great that you let the tree grow together and that it grows bigger and bigger and more branched during the game. However, at least three players should get together for a game. We didn’t really enjoy it as a two-player game. With three or four players there is simply more going on and besides, the tree grows bigger. L’Arbre is recommendable especially as a beginner’s game or easy family game. Although it has tactical elements and you can also annoy each other a lot with the Satyr, it’s rather not suitable for hardcore strategists.
We had a lot of fun with our games and it’s just nice to see a tree emerge on the gaming table, where you have built together. Unlike other tile placement games, there are no square pieces lined up, but each game creates a different, organically grown tree. This is especially fun for children and the vitalizing aspect of growing brings some spring fever into dreary autumn evenings.
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