The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Best Treehouse Ever - Forest of Fun
If you are familiar with Best Treehouse Ever, skip down below to go straight to my thoughts on the Forest of Fun expansion. If you’re not, I’ll catch you up right here. Still with me? Good, let’s begin.
Best Treehouse Ever is a small-box family-weight card drafting game that was published in 2015 by Green Couch Games, designed by Scott Almes with art by Adam McIver.
In the game, players each build their own treehouse, managing the balance of the overall structure and the need to group like-colored rooms adjacent to one another. There are six different colors of rooms, representing sports rooms, water rooms, food rooms, and so on. In between each of the three rounds the rooms are scored, with players able to manipulate the value of the six colors with scoring cards that can double the value of a color or make a color valueless.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that, but those are the basics, and the result is a quick-playing drafting game with a spacial placement element and an adorable theme. Win or lose, everyone at the table gets to create the treehouse of their dreams, choosing from crazy rooms like the surf simulator, the chemistry lab, the bowling alley, and my personal favorite, the board game room.
If I have any complaints about Best Treehouse Ever, it’s that it can be a bit samey after repeated plays, and the scoring can get a bit too tight. However, I bring this up not as a complaint, but as a segue into the expansion, Forest of Fun.
Forest of Fun Thoughts:
Best Treehouse Ever is Green Couch Games’ highest funding Kickstarter project to date, grossing over $52,000, so it is no surprise that it got an expansion. But fear not, this isn’t just a money grab off a popular property -- Forest of Fun enhances the base game by adding to the game’s replayability, and pushing players in new and different directions with its new elements.
It adds three main things -- oversized location cards which give players special abilities, pet habitats which score differently than regular rooms, and the ability to combine the otherwise stand-alone Forest of Fun expansion with the base game to play up to eight players.
The location cards are a fun addition, as they allow each player to break the game in a unique way -- such as letting a player store a card to play later, or not forcing them to balance their treehouse, or letting them keep the an extra card at the end of each round. Some of them are color specific, which also helps push players into different directions at the beginning of the game.
The habitat room cards do not score like regular rooms, but instead score at the end of the game for how many like-colored rooms are adjacent. These are a more subtle, and yet perhaps more impactful addition, to the game. They create interesting decisions during the drafting phase of the game, as they start with a value of -2, but become exponentially more valuable as like-colored rooms are placed adjacent to them.
The final addition -- and only addition that is not a Forest of Fun standalone -- is the ability to play up to eight, by shuffling Forest of Fun together with the base game. While the simultaneous nature of card drafting means this does not add time to main part of the game, it does make the bookkeeping and scoring more time consuming. Also, if you plan to play this with eight people, you better have a big table, as each treehouse builds to a substantial size.
While there is a different artist for Forest of Fun in Claire Donaldson, the same whimsical style is maintained and expanded with 60 new room cards including the Roller Derby Rink, the Blanket Fort, and the Coral Reef.
Pros: Both Best Treehouse Ever and the Forest of Fun expansion have a unique, fun theme that is family friendly, and gameplay that is easy to learn and teach. This expansion features beautiful artwork that compliments the base game perfectly, despite not being by the same artist. With both sets combined, the game can play up to eight players. The new box will fit both the Forest of Fun expansion and the base game.
Cons: This game takes up a lot of table space, especially at higher player counts. Some of the special abilities in Forest of Fun are universally useful, while others are much more situation specific, making them trickier to play.
Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun is exactly what you want to see in an expansion, as it adds variety and replayability to the game without losing anything that made the original so special. And of course, since it’s a stand-alone expansion, you don’t even need the base game to enjoy it. Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun succeeds in breathing fresh new life into a family favorite -- and make no mistake, Forest of Fun is still very much a family friendly game. It doesn’t overcomplicate the game, or add to the play time in any significant way, and it seamlessly integrates with the original. I’d highly recommend Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun for gamer families and for the inner kid in most everyone.
Full disclosure: I received a preview copy of the Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun expansion from the publisher.