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Ultimate Treehouse

This is the second edition of a game designed by Kate Hunt that the Fat Brain Toy Company first published in 2021. Like the original edition, this comes with neoprene mats for each player. The main difference between the two editions is the art. In the first edition the art was by Matthew LaFleur and this new edition features vibrant art from Tristam Rossin.

The premise of the game is that cute woodland creatures are helping you build a treehouse over the course of 10 days (rounds). On your turn, you play an action card, and possibly a bonus card, to collect resources and then use resources to build (ie: pay the resources to add one or more tiles in the central display to designated spots on your player mat). Different treehouse elements score different amounts, in part reflecting how easy or hard it is to meet their resource cost, so players have a balancing act in deciding whether to go for easy low-scoring elements or those that are higher scoring but harder to construct. Some elements can be duplicated or built in triplicate. These offer a small advantage for multiples, tho' Kate Hunt's design eschews the triangular scoring (1, 3, 6, 10) commonly found in set collection games.

With a round representing a day, each new day brings with it a change in the weather. The weather card for the round functions as an event card that may affect what can be built or the cost of building. Commendably, the weather is 'forecast' in advance: the weather card for the next round is always revealed, which means players can plan ahead.

Part of the charm of Ultimate Treehouse is the high quality of production. In addition to the neoprene player mats, it comes with printed wooden resource tokens and very well-finished cards. Tristam Rossin's art adds further to the game's table presence. You might infer from the theme and the anthropomorphic woodland creatures that this is a children's game but Ultimate Treehouse is actually a light 2-4 player family-friendly strategy game. It functions well as a gateway game that introduces the basic mechanics and 'gaming lingo' of a modern resource management and set collection game to players whose previous experience may have been limited solely to simple roll & move games. When playing with younger children, just be warned that there are some 'take that' effects on some of the cards (for example, snatching resources from other players rather than the general supply).

Playing time depends on the number of players. We found that with two players, games mostly ran to around 30 minutes, with four-player games taking around an hour. The rules instruct players to draw a card at the start of their turn but if instead you draw at the end of your turn, it speeds the game up as it means players can better plan their actions while others are taking their turns. It's a small house rule variant you might want to try.

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