Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Takenoko

Game- Takenoko

Producer- Asmodee

Price- $30 OR $300

Set-up/Play/Clean-up- 1.5 Hours

TL;DR- A great family friendly game 95%

 

Basics-It’s time to be a gardener in feudal Japan.  The Emperor of Japan has received a gift of a panda from China.  Players take the roles of different court members chosen to care for the panda.  This involves growing certain bamboo, feed different types of bamboo to the Panda, or make different patterns of tiles in the garden.  Each turn players role a die to determine the weather.  The weather lets players break the rules by getting extra actions, modifying the board through tokens, take the same action, or grow some bamboo, or move the panda.  Then players get to choose two actions that include: drawing tiles for the garden, moving the panda so it eats bamboo, moving the gardener to grow bamboo, draw victory cards, and drawing irrigation channels.  Moving the panda causes the bamboo to eat bamboo and you collect it.  The gardener causing all irrigated plots he is on and adjacent same colors to grow bamboo.  When you draw victory cards, you choose the type: bamboo eaten, bamboo grown, or tile layout.  At the end of your turn you can place their tokens to make bamboo grow faster, automatically irrigate the tile, prevent the panda from eating that bamboo, and place irrigation channels.  The first player to earn a number of victory cards also gets a bonus card from the Emperor for two extra points.  The remaining players get one more turn, than the game is over.  Players with the most number of points win the game.

 

Mechanics- This is an interesting take on an action selection game.  The game is very simple, deceptively simple.  Each turn the map changes entirely.  You may set up the perfect turn, but your opponents may completely change the map by the time it gets back to you.  Also, since each player has its own goals and these goals are hidden, players may end up working together OR massively destroying your carefully laid plans.  The randomness of the game makes this not quite a Eurogame, but the action selection and planning doesn’t throw this one into the American style either.  All told, it’s a lot of fun and it plays very quick. 5/5

 

Theme- The game has a lot of theme.  I don’t feel like a noble, but I did feel like I was caring for the panda.  The instructions start with a nice comic that tells the story of the game.  The art makes this game have a cute theme from start to end.  The mechanics work well complimenting the theme of competing nobles with different plans.  It’s not perfect for theme, but it does have a lot of theme going for it. 4/5

 

Instructions- I liked these instructions.  It starts with a nice comic before entering into the rules.  More games need that to set the stage.  The rules are well written and give lots of examples of what they mean for each specific rule.  5/5

 

Execution-  Ok there are two games here.  Asmodee released the original game for ~$30 bucks.  Its good, but the components are smaller.  That’s not bad.  The original has these nice stacking bamboo pieces that just look fun.  However, if you have the cash, for $300 you can get the AWESOME box that is much better!  I am cheap and played on http://www.boardgamearean.com for FREE!  In all the cases, it was fun with quality cards and components. 5/5

 

Summary-  I really liked this game.  It’s quick, well put together, and family friendly.  I played this online with my family.  We watched a youtube video to learn the rules as I read them from the instructions.  Then we played, and we had a blast.  I lost horribly, but I learned a lot and can’t wait to try it again.  That’s the sign of a good game.  You lost, learn, and want to do it again! 95%

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