Publisher: HABA, Amaroni Toys

Designer: Anneliese Farkaschovsky, Annemarie Hӧlscher

Artist:  Reiner Stolte

Release date: 2016

Players: 1-4 (or more in teams)

Age: 3-6 years

10-15 mins per game

Favouritefoefunlearning score: 9/10

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Please click below to see My Big Orchard Game Collection in action!

* 10 Game Collection * Accessible * Versatile * Sustainable * Colourful * Dice Games * Tile Games * Memory Games * Set Collecting Games * Co-operative Games * Competitive Games * Solo Play *

HABA is celebrating 35 years of its iconic Orchard Game! With over 3 million copies sold so far, this simple co-operative game for kiddies has an almost cult following. And I can see why. Lovely chunky wooden and card components, bright colours, and a mix of easy but engaging mechanics; this game is a wonderful introduction to a future filled with board gaming fun.

Not only that, however, its support for development and learning by our littlest gamers, makes it an ideal addition to any #gameschooling #funlearning environment. 

With that in mind, I think this is the perfect time to bring it into the #favouritefoefunlearning library for you to see it in action.  

Before I do, however, I have one more surprise. I am not just going to be shining a spotlight on the Orchard Game. The lovely people at HABA and Amaroni have been generous enough to send me 9 more games in the collection to test-drive as part of my favouritefoefunlearning series; welcome to  My Great Big Orchard Game Collection!

Bountiful Box Harvest!

From the moment we popped the lid on the enormous yellow box, I knew Mini-meeple and I were going to be in for a treat. So many colourful components! We honestly didn’t know which ones to pick up first!

Chunky, colourful, and wonderfully illustrated; even Gertrude the Gardener meeple has both the front and the back printed to show both sides of her work clothes! As well as bright and beautiful, however, with various shapes and sizes, the pieces are ripe for exercising little fingers and minds.

Now, before I go on, I am going to do this review a little differently. If you don’t mind, I am going to start with our overall impressions, and then give you a quick summary of each of the 10 included games. I know you’re keen to know what games are inside, but I simply can’t wait until the very end to share our thoughts!

Great Minds!

Overall, the Orchard collection is super. Following the simple and easy to understand rule book, the games start with the most basis and become progressively more involved.

To assist, HABA have helpfully added a guide age for each of the games within the box, and each game uses a combination of pieces in different and engaging ways. There is also a great mix of co-operative and competitive puzzles within the series.

And this is excellent. Competition is ever present, but having the skills to work in a team is essential in life. Further, encouraging and getting the best out of everyone to achieve a shared objective is a fundamental ability, regardless of the context. In gaming, however, it seems to be a rarer beast.

Thankfully, it appears to be a mindset that comes naturally to Mini-meeple. I think his age has a lot to do with it, but also his personality. Don’t get me wrong, he loves winning and being crowned “the Beateroo!”. But if he can help someone, or do something together, then he loves that even more. And My Great Big Orchard Game Collection has several games where only a team effort will result in success.

Confession time; we did add a little house-rule into “Watch Out! The Gardener is Coming!” as he was just too good at getting us all evading Gertrude. But that is what is wonderful about a set like this. In a way, HABA have given us a structure and rules. But also the building blocks to so many things; to ways which we can use the components and adapt the gameplay in order to keep the learning fresh and relevant as our littlest gamers grow.

We also really liked the range of competitive games. None felt overly mean, and, just like the co-operative games, they involved different components, mechanics and skills. Fruit Tart Fingers was one we all particularly enjoyed; seeing Mini-meeple race to pull the right fruits out of the bag before daddy could get the coveted cake cards was such fun.

Age Appropriate!

Whilst Mini-meeple is at the top end of the recommended age-range for this set, he honestly enjoyed playing all the games. Of course he has already developed many of the skills needed to understand and strategise those simpler games with ease.

And I am not joking when I refer to strategy. Even though these games are simple, some of them had him thinking about how to achieve the end goals. When he put his plan into action, the results were often successful, but just the process of seeing him forward plan, weigh up choices, and make a decisions, was great to see.

As mentioned, we did add a house rule or two when we thought he could be challenged a little bit more. But there is no harm in reinforcing and strengthening what he already knows; practice makes perfect after all! And, in truth, they were fun.

Watching him point out quite clearly that Daddy and I were not picking  the optimal fruits in Orchard was hilarious. Similarly, seeing him exercise his memory skills in the Garden Matching Game was great. I know he has more complicated games, and I know he can do more complicated things. But, sometimes, it is nice for him to reassure himself that he knows what he is doing. These early games in essence acting as confidence builders as the new games unfolded before him on the table.

Toddler Test -Driven!

Helpfully, we also had a very eager 3 year old cousin on hand to give My Great Big Orchard Game Collection a thorough test-drive. And without doubt the early games were a hit. A few of the games towards the upper end of the age limit were beyond him now. But that is why this set is probably designed like it is; a series of games that will keep little ones engaged as they move forwards in their development. 

Sustainable Strategies!

And, for that reason, this set is sustainable in more than one way. Not just because of the predominance of wood, fabric and cardboard, for which HABA are an industry gold standard. But also because, as hinted at above, the components can and will be used in so many different ways. No one and done here –  this set is a big box of bits, in reality limited only by imagination. And thankfully, gamers, especially little ones, have that in bucket-fulls!

I think my only concerns about My Great Big Orchard Game Collection are the longevity of some of the components. 3 – 6 year old aren’t the most careful gamers. As such, it is likely that some of the more fragile or smaller bits might become casualties of repeat plays. Similarly, because of the diminutive size of some of the fruits, leaving a 3 year old to play with them, could see them disappearing into places they shouldn’t go!

An Apple (or 10!) per Day…….!

Overall, however, these are very minor niggles, and actually testament to the popularity of the games into whosever tiny hands they are most likely placed.

We loved My Great Big Orchard Game Collection. Not only is it a set of short, fun, and engaging games, but it focusses on developing really important skills. And skills that young gamers can use both around the table and in every other context. Without doubt, it a definite addition to the #favouritefoefunlearning library.

Having said all that, I know you are all super keen to know which games are included in the set! And so, without further ado, here is a little summary of each juicy, ripe for the picking, gaming fruit!

Orchard (3+)

The veteran game, this is a great co-operative game where little ones are rolling a dice and trying to load up all the fruits from the trees into baskets before the 9 piece raven jigsaw puzzle is completed. Learning how to make smart choices that benefit everybody is the name of the game here!

Garden Matching Game (3+)

A simple, 32 tile memory game, there are 17 pairs of sweet illustrations that will have players trying to remember where they last saw a plum or a watering can!

Watch Out! The Gardener is Coming (3+)

Another co-operative option, it’s players v Gertrude the Gardener. Again, this is a game where players have to make choices. Although colours and the basket prescribe moves, rolling a raven will encourage them to focus on moving the slowest bird on the path!

Race to the Nest (3+)

Definitely a competitive game, little ones will be testing their memory skills in a racing context. With moves linked to finding fruits amongst the flipped tiles, everything gets thrown into a muddle when a pesky pussycat is revealed!

Fruit Tree Roll & Puzzle (3+)

A unique game in the set, this combines jigsaw puzzle with dice rolling. Match the colour on the die to the coded piece of your puzzle, and the first player to complete their jigsaw is the winner. Although 99% luck of the roll, practising jigsaw solving in a gaming context is great fun!

Fruit Tart Fingers (4+)

This one was a firm favouritefoe favourite! Diving into bags to pick fruit that match the illustrations on cake cards is a racing, real time treat! Speed, pattern matching, and accuracy are all key skills being put to good use here!

Winter Provisions (4+)

Rolling and racing up and down the ladders to collect fruits was a hit with Mini-meeple. With a dice that moves only 1, 2 or 3 spaces, the game is the right length and produces lots of fun groans when they miss the ladder by one spot!

To Market, To Market! (5+)

This is another great game that involves slightly more complex skills and development. Again with a mixture of prescribed moves and free choice, strategic skills are being developed with each roll of the dice.

Orchard Rally (5+)

This is a rally based game, again focusing on making smart choices and building on strategic thinking. It is also one where no board is required, allowing little ones to a degree to design their own player set up.

 Colourful Cake Buffet (5+)

This is without doubt the trickiest of the 10 games in the set. Having to compare the number and types of fruits on the card in your hand with those already on the table is a fun challenge. I liked the fact that it wasn’t simply a race to lose your cards (although that is how you win). Rather, with the focus being on processing visual information to make accurate choices, this is a great game for the older players.