How to Play Arboretum - Board Game Rules & Instructions | Happy Piranha

How to Play Arboretum | Board Game Rules & Instructions

How to Play Arboretum - the tactical tree game for 2 - 4 players.

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Read the Rules

The aim of the game

To win, you’ll need to plant your trees strategically, with well thought out routes, while maintaining a hand of high species value.


Arboretum consists of 80 cards, split into 10 species:

  • For a 4 player game use all 10 species.
  • For 3 players, use 8.
  • For 2 players use 6 species.

To start the game, shuffle the deck and give each player 7 cards face down, place the rest in a central draw pile.

The player who last watered a plant goes first.


Players then take it in turns to draw 2 cards, place a card  and discard a card to your personal discard pile.

Your first card is placed in front of you, subsequent cards must be placed adjacent to another one, to create your arboretum.

When drawing cards, you can take from a combination of the draw pile, or the top card of any players discard piles - including your own.

You may look at the first card you draw, before deciding where to take your second one from.

When discarding, choose any card in your hand, including ones you drew this round and place it face up in your own discard pile.

After discarding, you should have exactly 7 cards.

Play continues in a clockwise order until the draw pile runs dry. The player who took the last card finishes their turn, then scoring begins.


In Arboretum, you'll score points for creating paths of trees:

  • A path is a line of orthogonally adjacent trees, in ascending order which starts and ends with the same species.
  • The cards in between can be any species.
  • Each card in the path must be a greater value than the one before, but  values do not have to be consecutive. 

To score a path, you’ll need the highest value of that species in your hand. 

Go through the scorepad, calling out the species in order, and revealing the cards of that type you have. Whoever has the highest total sum of a species in their hand, wins the right to score their single highest scoring path of that species.

In the case of a tie, all tied players can score. 

However, there’s a catch! If a player has a ‘1’ in their hand, that cancels out an ‘8’ of the same species in another players hand. 

If you win the right to score a species that isn’t in your arboretum, you still stop others from scoring it!

If no one has a certain species in their hand, everyone can score that species.

When scoring a path you get:

  • 1 point for each card in the path.
  • 1 additional point for each card, if the path is at least 4 cards long and is ALL the same species.
  • 1 point if the path starts with a "1".
  • 2 additional points if the path ends with an "8".

  • You can only score one path per species.
  • A single card can be used for different paths of species

Whoever scores the most points wins!

That’s Arboretum.

A tree-rrific little card game!


Like the sound of that?
Buy a copy of
 Arboretum from the Happy Piranha store!

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