Arbor is a city on the Elder Continent, built half in dream. You can travel there in your sleep via A Dream of Roses, and a variety of intriguing and profitable interactions await you there...
|Arbor, of the Roses|
|< 5||≥ 5|
Arbor runs on three qualities: Arbor: Permission to Linger, The Rose-Red Streets, and Attar. The first controls the length of your stay, while the last two affect your position. All of these qualities are persistent (although Arbor: Permission to Linger will be 0 when you leave), meaning you return to Arbor in the same place that you left it.
This is essentially a clock. It is set to 7 by all of the options in A Dream of Roses, and nearly all actions in Arbor cost both 1 action and 1 Arbor: Permission to Linger. Once this hits 0, you will be ejected via Leave Arbor (which also costs an action), so most trips take 9 actions. There are a few notable exceptions, though: Several locations have options that will drain all of your Permission to Linger, allowing you to leave more quickly. These actions are Serve as a Serpent-Shepherd, Labour in the temple, Become a serpent-tender in exchange for Attar, and Leave Arbor early. Enter Far Arbor doesn't cost Permission to Linger for some reason.
This directly determines your position along the North-South axis, with The Palace being south-most and The Temple being north-most. The actions Walk North and Walk South are available in all parts of Arbor, and move you accordingly at the cost of one action. There is also the special movement action Take a short-cut north, which is only available in Near Arbor (South) and moves you 2 North for the price of 1. However, if you fail the Watchful check you are sent to a random location (including possibly where you wanted to go).
This is a currency of sorts, and also determines if you are in Near or Far Arbor. The first time you visit, you will have no Attar and be in Near Arbor. On subsequent visits, Return to the City of Roses will place you in Near Arbor if you have 0-5 Attar, while Return to the City of Roses 2 will put you in Far Arbor if you have 6+. Both of these also remove 1 Attar at the beginning of each visit, which is important to keep in mind when calculating profits for money-making schemes.
When gaining Attar inside Near Arbor, if you rise to 5+, Enter Far Arbor becomes the only option available, costing 1 action (but no Arbor: Permission to Linger). This also resets The Rose-Red Streets to 3, so your position is set to Far Arbor (Centre). In contrast, if your Attar falls to 2 or less, you are forced to play The city washes away. This costs 1 action, does cost Arbor: Permission to Linger, and does not reset The Rose-Red Streets, so you are left in the corresponding place, but in Near Arbor. The asymmetry between the two options is strange, but verified.
Arbor is an excellent place to earn some Echoes, for those with high stats and for players who are just starting out. However, all the strategies are card-draw based, in that they rely on the 9 (or fewer) actions you normally get from each draw of A Dream of Roses.
It is also worth noting that Arbor has no opportunity cards, and is outside of London - so you can't do social actions, use the Bazaar, etc. while here.
All of the following EPA numbers were taken from this simulator.
This is by far the simplest option. Park in Near Arbor (North) and repeat Spy on London's Embassy whenever you have the chance. If you have the 125 Watchful needed to 100% the check, this is 3.89 EPA, or 35 Echoes/trip.
This is the fastest option - once established, you will spend only 3 actions in Arbor, making this nearly as fast as a Flash Lay reset. Head north to the temple, and then choose the appropriate option, depending on if you are currently in Near or Far Arbor. Both will drain your Arbor: Permission to Linger, kicking you out again. With 125 Dangerous, this turns into a pattern that repeats every 7 visits, for 5 EPA, but only 15 Echoes/trip. It's actually better with low Dangerous, reaching 5.83 EPA (17.5 Echoes/trip) with 0 Dangerous - but it only starts getting significantly better below ~30 Dangerous.
The general strategy here is to do something in Near Arbor to gain Attar, dumping you in Far Arbor. Then do something else, gaining more Attar, until you hit some specific threshold, at which point you travel south to the Palace and use Gift your Attar in tribute to the Roseate Queen. That action is both highly profitable and has a ~25% rare success which drains all your Attar at once, so the action costs of moving and cashing-out are dwarfed by the costs of building the Attar.
There are a variety of specific strategies that all revolve around this basic premise. These are generally the most profitable, but the downside is that to achieve maximum profit, you have to delay "cashing in" your Attar for many card draws. However, a balance can be struck that is still more profitable than other options, while still getting you Echoes reasonably quickly.
If you have 167 Watchful, the best way to build Attar is with Explore the Gatehouse Market in Near Arbor and Walk the walls in Far Arbor. With 100% success, this tends towards 6.02 EPA (54.17 Echoes/trip), but only when done in unreasonably large batches. If you convert once Attar ≥ 200 (requires roughly 22 card draws), it hits 5.50 EPA (49.80 Echoes/trip). However, a target value of as little as 35 (requiring ~4 card draws) is enough for a 3.92 EPA, beating the simple strategy of Spy on London's Embassy.
With Watchful significantly below 125, the best way to Far Arbor is generally Become a serpent-tender in exchange for Attar, which has no skill check. In Far Arbor, if you have very low Persuasive, Surrender some of your Attar becomes an attractive choice. Contrary to the title, if you can reliably fail the check, you will gain Attar, and also 1 Extraordinary Implication. At 0 Persuasive, this tends to 4.72 EPA (42.5 Echoes/trip) in the limit, as well as 3.11 +cp Persuasive/Action. However, this falls off rapidly with higher persuasive, and at 33 Persuasive it merely breaks even (on average) instead of gaining Attar, with a 2.93 EPA. If your Persuasive has gotten too high, it may be best to switch to Labour in the temple + Serve as a Serpent-Shepherd until your Watchful reaches 167. (This can be done while you are still in Far Arbor.) You can also plug your specific stats in to the simulator to see what your options look like.
It used to be possible to use Investigate the Near-Arbori to gain Arbor: Permission to Linger, allowing you to stay in Arbor indefinitely and creating possibly the best general-purpose Echo grind. The action was changed in late July 2020, and so active grinding in Arbor is no more.
Besides money, Arbor is a good source for several difficult-to-procure items.
You can only get this here. Currently it has uses in Laboratory research, it can have a monograph written about it, and a player can use it to cook dishes at Station VIII. None of these actions consume the attar. You can also Plant a rose-garden in the Palatinate, which will consume the Attar at the cost of gaining a Favour: Her Roseate Splendour. You may retrieve a new vial of Queenly Attar after doing this. Bring 77 Foxfire Candle Stubs and build Attar to 7, and the action Light your candles will be available everywhere, even if you have no Arbor: Permission to Linger. It is best to wait until then, because it will end your stay.
This is another item that doesn't have many uses currently. Probably the biggest bulk use is in Plan a Wedding, where there are better options. Another one is in Jericho Locks when building up Esteem of the Guild. If you need a bunch, Witness a trial in Far Arbor (South) trades 3 Attar for 3 Sworn Statement as long as you already have one. You can also Barter your Attar at Near Arbor (Palace) to gain a few, unconditionally, if you have none and need to get started.