Takenoko: Review

OVERVIEW

Our Rating:

Ready to take care of a Panda, all while trying to grow some bamboo and expand your farming area? That's what you will be up to in this game by Asmodee! The game is set in imperial Japan and you must watch and feed the panda that was gifted to you by the Chinese Emperor. You must also cultivate and irrigate crops as well as grow different types (colors) of bamboo. Be the first to meet your objectives and win the game!

RYAN'S REVIEW

My Rating:

Likes

  • Miniatures used in the game.
  • Ease of learning.
  • Theme is great.
  • Not too intense of a game (could be a con).

Dislikes

  • Not a tonne of strategy involved.
  • Some of the objectives can be too easy.

Intro/First Impressions

This was one of the earlier games that we played (soon after we got a couple of our fellow Hexagamers hooked on board games). We had heard a lot about this game, yet it was fairly new when we played it.

They pulled it out and showed us the components with its hexagon tiles, its miniatures, and the bamboo. I was thinking it was going to be like some sort of game like Catan but with better parts to it. In a sense it was, but in another sense it was a totally different type of game!

Thoughts

One of the first things that I noticed, or rather was shown to me, was the little figurines or miniatures that come with the game. You have a little panda, a gardener, and some bamboo. These are awesome. I am not sure why they brought me the happiness they did, but they for sure added to the awesomeness of the game.

As mentioned in the overview, you have to take care of a panda while growing bamboo and expanding your farming area. The theme of this game is also fantastic. It is present throughout the components and objectives of the game. Again, if a game gets this right like Takenoko did, it can enhance the enjoyment of the game.

Game Play

The game play of this game is pretty simple and easy to understand. There are a few nuisances that you have to keep in mind (like how irrigation and initial growth works), but for the most part it is straight-forward. It was explained to us in less than 10 minutes by a couple of people who had only played it a few times themselves. The ease of entry of this game if one of the main reasons this game made it in as one of the highest rated gateway board games for beginners.

There is some strategy to this game despite its simplicity. You have to plan what you are going to do on your next couple of moves, Eg. You might irrigate the land first, then move the gardener so you can grow bamboo. You do have your objectives in mind when making actions of course.

The element of luck does play a part in this game. There is a dice roll to start your turn which can change what you are planning to do that round. For the most part I look at this as your added bonus for the round. Are you going to get a bit of extra bamboo to play or maybe a whole extra move?

Luck also plays a part in the objective cards you draw. Some of these cards are really easy to finish. Sure, they aren’t worth as many points, but get a few of these in a row and you are way ahead. You might pick up one that is worth a lot of points, but only needs one small step to finish it. I look at this luck similar to the way I looked at in my review of Catan in that sometimes it should all even out with the randomness of probability though. There isn’t anything you can do to change it, and the game needs it to be successful. Luck plays a part in the tile you pick up from the pile, but again it doesn’t change your play that much and is minor.

Interaction Among Players

There is a fair amount of interaction in this game, though a lot of it is indirect. Since people don’t really know what you are going for in your objectives, it makes it hard to try and block each other. You can pay attention to what they are doing and try to foil their plans, but usually it is better to just focus on your own objectives. As players lay tiles, or move the panda, or gardener, etc. you will have to adapt. Usually they are doing these things to benefit themselves or for lack of a better option, but you must then just adapt. It somewhat feels like a lot of people doing their own thing in the same space, getting in the way of your progress.

The real interaction comes when a couple of people are fighting over the panda and/or the gardener, but usually one person will just move on to a different objective. So, yes, you are interacting, whether you realize it or not but not usually directly.

Intensity

The intensity of this game is pretty low. You kind of just carry on your with your gardening, making as much progress as you can without worry about other. Now that I think about it, which is sort of fitting for a game about Japanese gardening.

It isn’t a game for your hardcore strategist, but it does keep you hooked while playing. I find this to be more of a beginner type of game which introduces elements of strategy and adapting on the fly. It is one you can pull out with newer gamers and have a casual game without the heated rivalries of some board games.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this game. We don’t play this one as often as we probably should, but that is due to the volume of games we have not due to its quality. The price of the collector’s edition is so high that I can’t justify the price, and especially couldn’t recommend it to others. People that were willing to pay the high price tag would be your intense gamers or collectors, and honestly the intense gamers might not get that much out of it. The original is reasonable priced, and I could honestly recommend this game to most groups of players.

About the author

Ryan

I love playing board games with my family and friends when I am not busy playing sports or working away. Check out my full Bio on the About Us page!

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: