Best Treehouse ever
Game Overview: Every kid has a dream of building a tree house. How many actually get the chance though? In this card drafting game, Best Treehouse Ever, you finally get to live out that dream. You don't have your standard tree house rooms though. Among the different rooms you can build are: Laser Arena, Cargo Net, Hammock Room, and a Coffee Shop just to name a few. Building your tree house, rooms are different colors and they must be touching a card of the same color, after the first color is played. Block out that color and you no longer can play that room color. An important aspect of the game is that you must keep your tree balanced. This determines where you can play your cards. The game consists of three rounds. After each round, a score is determined which goes towards the final score. The player with the highest score, has indeed built the Best Treehouse Ever.
A very small box that is just big
enough to hold the game cards, the rules, and
the wooden tokens. The wooden tokens are
nice, especially the acorns that are used to
determine the balance of your tree.
Clarity of Rules: A twelve page colored rules manual is done very well. It does a good job of explaining the rules so they are easy to understand and also includes multiple examples of how the tree house can be built.
Game Play: Each player starts with their tree trunk along with their wooden acorn token that sits on the tree trunk card which represents if your tree is balanced or leaning to the left or right. Each player starts with six cards. They choose one room card to play on their tree house and then pass the remaining cards in their hand to the next player. As you play the room cards into your tree, you must ensure that your tree will be balanced. If it is leaning to the left, you must play the next card on the other side to put it back in balance. The first time you play any of the color cards (Food Rooms-Brown, Activity Rooms-Orange, Education Rooms-Yellow, Entertainment Rooms-Purple, Outdoor Rooms-Green, and Water Rooms-Blue), they do not have to touch another card of the same color. However, after that first play of that particular color, you can only play that color again when it is touching a card of the same color. If you block yourself off from a color, you can no longer play that room type again in your tree house. At the end of the card draft, the final card that was not used is discarded. Next, comes the scoring phase of the round. Players get one point for each room they have in their tree house. Strategy will come into play here as players will also be choosing a game changer card, which allows them to choose to not score a certain room type that round or double the points per room of that type. Play continues for three rounds and then you move onto the final scoring phase. At this point, whoever has the most cards for each of the room types, gets additional points. Ties are not allowed, so if this occurs no one scores that extra point. In addition, at the start of the game each player is given a bonus card. This allows them to score extra points if they designed their tree house in the order listed on their bonus card. For example, a bonus card may indicate that if you build an Entertainment Room next to an Activity Room which is next to a Food Room, then that player gets three additional points. Scoring is tracked on three additional cards which go up to 50 points, using a token for each player.
Replay Ability: There is enough replay ability here where you will want to keep coming back. Some of the bonus cards may become repetitive since there aren't very many. However, you can purchase the promo pack which will provide additional bonus and game changer cards, which are noted below.
Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 8+. Even though there is text on the room cards, this doesn't come into play so someone even younger should be able to easily understand the rules and matching up of the colors.
What We Liked/Didn't Like: This is indeed a great family game. We enjoy the art and variety on the cards. We always find something new that we never saw before. As I was typing up the review, I even saw that in the computer room the kid using the computer is on the Board Game Geek website. Very cool indeed! The theme of building a tree house is very strong here as well. Initially, it was hard for us to get past the real life aspect of a tree leaning versus the way the game plays when determining if the tree is leaning or not. When we play a two player game, we are not as crazy about this game. You know what the other person is doing and what cards you will likely get back in the draft. The scores end up being very similar and for us it almost always came down to the bonus points to determine the winner. It was much improved once we got to the 3 and 4 player level. We also feel that the card drafting should change directions instead of going the same direction as noted in the rules.
Add-ons/Other Releases: At the time of this review, you can purchase promo packs from Board Game Geek for $5.00 + shipping that were unlocked objectives from the Kickstarter campaign. They add additional cards to the game which provide additional bonus cards, advanced score modifier cards, along with a birdhouse that can be played in your tree, for a negative point. These can be found here: Best Treehouse Ever