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TREELINGS

Designer Paul Schulz uses a Reiner Knizia stalwart game style (collectible cards based around a mathematically designed scoring system) to excellent effect. Published by Pegasus Spiele it is for 2-5 players and last 4-5 minutes per player (less once all players are up to date with the scoring system). It is an ideal game for families and gamers.

A superb game that is available online for just £8.00 from Firestorm cards. Other online stores run it up from £8.29 to £13.25 on eBay; just don't forget to check on the postage costs when looking to purchase online. Your local game store might be a better place. I don't say this too often, but TREELINGS is worth at least twice the price. 

TREELINGS sounds like it is going to be about creatures who live in trees. It isn't! It is an abstract colour-card-collecting game with its name derived from the excellent illustrations on the large deck of cards in six different colours, that represent the six Treeling Tribes' housing communes.  I really like that each colour/community has their own style of abode even though the different illustrations have no importance to the play. Each of the Players DO NOT have a colour each, the cards are shuffled together to form the draw deck.

There are score-reference cards, and [End Game] card, a Lantern (Start Player) card and 5 cards which are nothing to do with the game, except that you can write a short message on them and separately send them in envelopes to friends so they look for the game, good PR and advertising.

The cards are thoroughly shuffled. This is very, very important, for at the end of each game the cards will be colour blocked in several lumps; they should be as randomised as possible without actually setting them. A number of the cards from the deck are removed and placed face-down (unseen) on the table with the End Game card placed on top of them, the remainder of the deck is then placed on top sandwiching the End Game card. Turn over the top five cards to form a Display.

Three cards are dealt to each player, these being placed face up in front of their owners. If you have three different colour cards you lay them in a row - you can leave spaces between them if you wish, but once placed they remain in the same place. During play you will add new cards, either on the previously laid cards of the same colour or on an edge, or inbetween previously placed cards where you have left a space. You may not move any previously laid cards to make room for new cards as you gain them.

On each player's turn they have to take card/s from the centre display, making it back to five with cards from the deck after they have chosen. The cards taken are important as they immediately become part of your personal build; cards of the same colour are positioned together in an overlapping column so that the number of cards in each column can be easily counted.

Taking cards from the Display is where the cerebral part of this clever game comes into play. When you take cards you only have two options; you either take ALL the cards of one colour (where there are multiples of that colour) or you take ALL the cards in the Display of a single colour.
Examples:
a) if there were five different colour cards in the display you would take all five of them. 
b) if there were a pair of one colour and three separate colours different from the pair, (as shown in one of the photos) you could take the pair of the same colour or ALL of the three different coloured cards.
c) if there were three of one colour and two of another then you could take either the three or the two. 

Simple card selection, but so important to you being able to score VPs and win the game.

The scoring system is minimally confusing as you have to remember that each end of your row of columns is compared to the opponent's column on the respective ends - that is, your left-most column is measured against your left-side opponent's right-most column, and your right-most column is measured against your right-side opponent's left-most column, as if all the columns are in a circle; size matters, colour doesn't.

There is luck in as much as you have no control over what cards are in the display for you to choose from but there is thought, not really skill, as to which cards you take; you need to think long term. When scoring, the cards either side of each of your columns are taken into account. 

This is not just another game of building columns of the same colour and scoring for the highest/lowest column in each, as in many other games. It is about balance, the more columns next to each other that are of the same height the better. You only score columns in your skyline and then only if the columns either side allow it. 

The cards in each of your legal columns are counted together (not per colour) and the player with the highest overall total wins. Games are quick-play allowing you to play one game or multiple games, keeping score of each game and tallying the totals after a predetermined number of games.

In the above photo, as it is shown and not accounting for (currently unseen) opponent's cards on either end, the Red, Blue and Grey columns have 4 cards each so they would score 12 points (3 x4), the Green cards would score 7 points (7 cards) = 19 points total. The Purple and Orange cards do not score because they are over-shadowed by the height of the Green and Grey columns.

I and my gaming friends and family all enjoy TREELINGS. Once you understand the scoring you understand the game, it really is a simple game mechanic with a semi-complex scoring mechanism. There are no mulligans, thus you cannot remove all cards in the Display and draw new ones (unless all five are of different colours). You cannot move columns around, once placed they stay in the same position throughout. There can only be one column for each colour, though when making a new column you can look around the table to see how other players cards lie. You can count cards around the table, there are 18 of each colour, to know how many cards remain of each colour. Players hold no cards in their hands, all cards are either on the table, in the display or in the stack.

That's it! That is the game. In a nutshell - collect cards and place them in front of you in colour based columns. The game ends at the end of the round in which the end game card (blue starry sky) is drawn, so that all players have had an equal number of turns.

See my video of TREELINGS

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015