In Treehouse Diner, it seems that cute woodland creatures have entered the restaurant business. It's not immediately obvious why woodland creatures are running a diner but the premise does at least give us the opportunity to benefit from Hendrik Noack's cute artwork in Rudiger Dorn's set collection drafting game from Funtails. In an earlier incarnation of the game - Da Luigi (Kosmos) - the diner staff and customers were human. For Treehouse Diner the earlier game design has been refined, and some variants have been added that let players step up the difficulty.
The 2-4 players each have their own boards with six slots representing the amount of time a diner is prepared to wait to be served. Diners are represented by cards that show the time slot into which they are initially placed and the ingredients needed to satisfy their dietary requirements.
On your turn you either take ingredients from the pantry or you take new orders (add diners). The ingredients are grouped with 1, 2, 3 or 4 in a section. You must take all the ingredients that are grouped together and for each you take you have to advance a diner one place along your track: so if you take from the spot with three ingredients grouped together, you must move your diners three spaces in total (which could mean moving one diner three spaces). If a diner gets moved off the track before they've been fed, their card is discarded and you move a 'mood marker' to the left. Depending on its position, the mood marker will contribute positive or negative points at the end of the game.
If you don't select ingredients, you 'answer the phone' to take new orders. This means picking a card from the display of customers. Other players then make their pick and you additionally take the card that remains (so you get two and others each get one). Watch out tho' - picking up customers can be a liability if they are slotting into spots already close to the end of a player's board.
This basic game of Treehouse Diner makes for a fun easy-to-play family game with a light good-natured 'take that' element. We especially appreciated tho' the incremental add-ons that Funtails have included in the box. You can add chilis into the mix of ingredients and play with more challenging order cards. These cards are designed to work with a deck of 'secret ingredients' cards that also shake things up. Additionally or alternatively you can incorporate a 'Save the Bees' module. This adds bees into the bag of ingredients and these can be added to your order cards. Complete an order with a bee on it and the bee is added to the hive on your board, which means it will score a point at the end of the game. You can also play using 'challenge cards', each of which rewards you with two positive advances on the mood track when an objective is met.