Designed by Anneliese Farkaschovsky
Release Year: 2009 Ages: 2-4
👥 1-4 Players ⏰ 5-10 min 💸 ~$35 🔗 Buy
The gameplay in First Orchard is extremely simple. On your turn, you roll the die, and get to pick the matching fruit off of a tree and put it in the basket. If you roll a basket, you can choose any fruit. However, if you roll a raven, then the black raven will move one step along the path, inching closer to the fruit that remains on the trees. If you can collect all of the fruit before the raven reaches the end of the path, you win!
First Orchard is one of the first games I would recommend when introducing a toddler to board games. Its simplicity means it will likely get outgrown fairly quickly as kids get older, but I can see kids up to age 4 still enjoying it.
There aren’t really any necessary prerequisites to introducing First Orchard, but some of the key concepts include color recognition, taking turns, and rolling a die.
The nice, chunky wooden pieces are also great for the target age range, and don’t pose any choking hazards.
Things Kids Like
✅ Rolling a Die - Regardless of how old you are, there is something inherently fun about rolling dice and seeing the randomized outcome. First Orchard could be a kid’s first exposure to this concept, and it is enough to get toddlers excited about what result they are going to get each turn.
✅ Moving Fruit to the Basket - At this young of an age, even the simple act of picking the matching fruit and dropping it in the basket is something that kids find fun. It is a very tangible activity and those big wooden fruits feel nice and substantial in their little hands.
✅ Exciting Tension as the Raven Moves - Each time the raven moves, the tension goes up a little bit as the kids see it getting closer and closer to the end of the path. And for kids that are anything like my son, they may even enjoy seeing the raven move and be rooting for him to eat the fruit.
Things Adults Like
✅ Simple Enough for Really Young Kids - As an adult who loves board games, it is cool to see a game that is truly simple enough to work well with the youngest of kids. Where most children’s games would have you wait until they turn 3 or 4 to get started, First Orchard is a game that lets you share a fun experience and introduce them to the joys of board gaming at age 2, or even earlier.
✅ Some Unknown in the Outcome - There are some kid’s games that are “on rails” and just proceed to an inevitable outcome, so it is kind of nice that First Orchard has the unknown of whether you are going to win or not. Yes, there is hardly any influence the players have in that outcome, but when you play a game like this over and over, it helps when it plays out differently and even has opportunities for dramatic comebacks.
Things Game Teaches
✅ Taking Turns - Being a game for the youngest of kids, First Orchard is introducing every little gaming concept from scratch, and one of the most fundamental is taking turns. And not only does learning this concept help within board gaming, but it translates really well to other scenarios where they are sharing toys with other kids.
✅ Color Recognition - Color recognition is another major concept here: kids will have plenty of repeated practice in identifying the matching red, blue, yellow, or green fruit.
✅ Rolling and Reading a Die - Another fundamental gaming concept is rolling a die on the table, and then acting based on the result on the top of the die. This serves as a building block for any other games that use dice moving forward.
✅ Understanding Winning and Losing - Additionally, this may be a child’s first exposure to the concept of “winning” and losing.” Learning it in a cooperative context removes the competitive edge, but still gives parents the opportunity to teach their kids how to have a healthy attitude whether they win or lose.
Things to Dislike
❌ Can Be a Bit Repetitive for Adults - It is kind of inevitable for a game targeting 2-year-olds, but there’s no doubt that it can get a bit repetitive to play First Orchard over and over. We found that having a few games in rotation at this age was helpful for keeping our sanity.
❌ Late Game Can Have Dead Turns - And, it’s a little thing, but towards the end of the game, it is possible to have a lot of die rolls that “do nothing” because the rolled fruit is already all in the basket. You can pretty quickly take turns to get past it, but with just one fruit left, half of the sides of the die are essentially “skip your turn” which can be a little disappointing for a 2-year-old.
Ryan (75 Plays) - 9.5
Is It For You?
If you are looking for games for kids who are a little older or have already played some board games, there may not be enough here to hold their attention. 👎
But if you are looking for a “very first board game” to introduce your 2 to 4-year-old to board gaming that does a good job of teaching fundamental concepts while providing a fun cooperative experience you can share with them, then First Orchard is one of the best we’ve found. 👍