LS Game Review: Takenoko
Over the years my husband has used many different methods to try to foster a love of gaming in our house. Don’t worry, I’m sure eventually we’ll talk about them all, but for today we’ll stick to one- cuteness.
I love pandas. They are soft and fluffy, coordinated and uncoordinated at the same time, and seriously have you seen them eat? If I could have a spirit animal that is specifically for binge watching tv while eating popcorn, that would be it. So yeah, when he found me a game that is all about feeding pandas bamboo, I was in.
First the formalities. Takenoko is recommended for ages 8 and up, between 2-4 players, and is supposed to take about 45 minutes to play. Our house always plays with four people, because there are four of us, and our games usually take around 20-30 minutes. It’s a little complicated, so please, bare with me.
The board starts basic; the pond tile is laid out with the panda and the gardner ready to go. All players are then given an individual board, and on objective card from each of the three categories. Your individual board shows what you are able to use on each turn, and gives you a place to store things you are saving towards your goals. These goals, on the objective cards. Am I making sense? It’s okay, it should get more clear as we go.
Each player’s turn starts with a role of the dice that determines the weather conditions. The weather conditions allow you to make a special move. For example, if you roll the sun, you get an extra action on your turn, and rain will let you grow one bamboo section on any tile. (This step is omitted on the first round. The board builds as you go, and until you start building the weather doesn’t matter.)
After you have determined the weather, you will be able to make two different actions. These include adding more tiles to the board, getting water, moving the gardner or the panda, and drawing new objective cards. You can also complete an objective on your turn, but this does not require one of your actions.
Still with me?
Now, the objective cards. These cards are how you get points, and therefore how you win the game. There are three categories; plots, gardener and panda. Plots cards must match the exact placement of tiles on the board. Gardner cards use the bamboo on the board. Move the Gardner around the board to grow the color and amount of bamboo you need. Panda cards have to do with the bamboo not on the board. Move the panda to eat bamboo; eat the right color and amount of bamboo. Keep your cards secret until you claim your points, and make sure you match the card exactly.
The game ends when a player has completed seven objective cards. The first player to do so gets the bonus Emperor card and everyone else plays one more turn. The points on the cards are then added up, and highest score wins. Easy, right?
I promise it makes more sense when you have the game in front of you. And okay, yeah, I left a few details out. But come on, this is a blog, not the instruction manual. The most important thing is to keep the panda happy. If you can do that, it will all make sense.
This game gets a big thumbs up from me and not just for the cuteness. This game is technically competitive, but it is not cutthroat. Yes, at the end there will be one winner, but it isn’t easy to form alliances or target other players. Everyone is going for different objectives, and even if you can guess what someone else is trying to do, you are usually better served just focusing on your own cards. This makes it a great game for someone like me, who has trouble not taking the game too personally. It’s also great to play with kids; the rules are simple enough to follow, and feeding the panda is fun. Even kids too young to play on their own like playing as part of a team.
Happy playing everyone!
Plus, cute panda.