Takenoko: A Review

End of the Game

The game end conditions depend on the number of players:

– 2 Players:  when a player completes his ninth objective, it triggers the last round.

– 3 Players:  when a player completes his eighth objective, it triggers the last round.

– 4 Players:  when a player completes his seventh objective, it triggers the last round.

The player who started the final round takes the special “Emperor” card (worth 2 points) and finishes his turn.

Note:  A player may still complete other objectives during the turn in which he triggers the final round.

The other players then each have a final turn in which they can attempt to complete objectives to improve their scores.

Finally, the Emperor rewards the most deserving of his servants after an extensive inspection.  Each player totals the points indicated on their objectives completed during the game.  Any cards still in hand have no value.   The player with the highest score wins the game and receives the congratulations of the Emperor.

 In case of a tie, the player with the most points on their Panda objective cards wins.  In the event of a further victory the tied players share the victory.

My Thoughts

 A cute giant panda, colorful bamboo, and a hard working Gardner create a visually stunning game.  These outstanding components draw players in and makes them want to stay.  The figurines are adorable and high quality.  The bamboo pieces are stunning and one can imagine a bamboo forest sprouting into a beautiful garden as the game is played.  Of course, the Panda might eat it all.

 These wonderful components are safely kept in the brilliant box insert.  Everything has its place where they are securely kept.  It is also easy to take the pieces in and out of the box without fear of tearing or damaging them.  I really wish other games came with such wonderful inserts.  It is also usable during the game.  We keep the box on the table and take the pieces out as needed during the game.

Another beautiful component is the rule book.  It starts with a comic about how the Panda came to the Japanese Emperor.  This is a really cute way to set the tone for the rest of the rulebook.  The rules are easy to read and understand.  The pictures give you a clear idea of how to set up the game and play each turn.  The approachable rules, quick playing time, and charming components make it a great family game. The pieces are small so families will want to be careful with young players.

Takenoko is also a great couples game.  My husband is my main gaming partner and we are always looking for games that play well, or best, with two.  Takenoko is definitely one of those games.  Anyone looking for a game to play with their significant other should consider Takenoko. The game was a very sweet Christmas present from my husband.  It certainly isn’t a game he would buy for himself; but he knew I would love it.  If you do play with more than two players it may be a good idea to play with the variant rule that says if you draw a card and the condition is already met you should discard it and draw another.

Takenoko is a superbly elegant game.  The components and game play combine to create a game that is both visually stunning and fun to play.  Like many Euro style games, Takenoko is about efficiency.  Players must use their two actions to reach their objectives before their opponents.  Knowing when to draw new objective cards, take an irrigation canal, or move the Gardner over the Panda.  This isn’t the most strategic game, players may only be looking one or two plays ahead, but it is an important aspect of game play.

The Gardner growing bamboo, the Panda eating the bamboo and the modular board all merge to create a unique game.  This also lends to the re-playability of the game.  Every game will be a unique experience.

Luck plays a big role in the game.  The weather die can give a player extra actions while letting another take the same action twice.  A player may also get the luck of the draw with the objective cards.  Some will be easier than others to complete and they may even draw one that is already complete.  Players can agree to discard objective cards that are completed when drawn as a variant rule.  A few players may be turned away by the luck.  I like luck in games and I’m glad it is included.  I really like the weather die.  I feel it is thematic how weather affects the bamboo garden, scaring the Panda or helping the bamboo grow.

Overall I have really enjoyed playing Takenoko.  It may not come to the table every week but it is an option any night.  The components, the sweet figurines, and unique game play make it a hit with me.  The beauty and elegance combine to create a relaxing game play experience.

Quick Stats

 Designer: Antoine Bauza

Artists: Nicolas Fructus, Picksel, Yuio

Publishers: Asmodee, Asterion Pres, Bombyx, Hobby Japan, Matagot, REXhry

Players: 2-4

Game Length:  75 minutes

Ages: 8 and up

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Steve "Megatron"

Co-Creator @GeekCastRadio | Creator @AlteredGeek | Voice Actor | Podcaster, Husband | Father | Web/Graphic Design | A/V Editor | Geek of Games, Tech, Film, TV.
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