Strategic Depth: Intermediate
Setup Time: 5-10 mins.
Play Time: 40-60 mins.
Players: 2-4 (Best with 3)
Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Dice Rolling, Grid Movement, Modular Board, Patter Building, Set Collection, Tile Placement
Production Info: 2011|Bombyx, Matagot, Asmodee|Antoine Bauza
Takenoko is another brilliant game by Antoine Bauza (Tokaido, 7 Wonders, Hanabi). It's a 2-4 player game where players cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo in order to earn the Emperor’s trust. Each player will cultivate bamboo plantations and maneuver the Emperor’s panda to eat for strategic purposes. The players roll a weather die at the start of their turn and that will help decide their actions. Players use those actions per turn to battle against their opponents to complete plot, gardener, and panda objectives. The player with the most points at the end of the game will win the Emperor’s congratulations! This is an excellent game for all ages, has a very fun theme, and will appeal to all types of gamers.
- The Good -
Possibly the most intriguing aspect of this game is the components and artwork that you see in the game as soon as you open the box. Every time I have introduced this game to someone new they comment on the game pieces and the artwork. It's a very beautiful game and I like to refer to it as the "Panda" game and then everyone knows what I am talking about. It's definitely an interesting theme and seems like a kid's game but you will be pleasantly surprised at how strategic the game is and that is where Antoine Bauza's expertise shines. The box inserts are also a positive as it is very organized for all the components along with a very colorful insert. The amazing and colorful looking components are a huge draw for the game Takenoko.
Takenoko shines with a great gameplay balance along with easy to follow rules. Everyone has a game mat that has all the symbols of what you can do on your turn along with storage space for the bamboo, dice, irrigation channel, and improvement tokens. I recommend on every turn to use the chips on your game board to show which actions you will be taking as it can be hard to keep track of without. The turns go pretty quickly in the game and usually beginners catch onto the game fairly quick. It is on the lighter side for a Euro-style game but that is good because the fun and efficient gameplay draw in players that are new to the game. It's a game that I love to introduce to friends and family because of this unique gameplay.
Takenoko has an excellent balance of gameplay and theme, which is rare with Euro games and that is part of the reason for great replayability with this game. The game also scales well with players 2-4 which increases the chance for you to play the game more often. The components make the game so much fun along with the strategic decions for each turn. Despite the game being on the lighter side, I find the strategy very appealing and intriguing as I always feel like I could have done something better. All of these things lead to wanting to play this beautiful panda game again!
- The Bad -
The main complaint that I hear about that game is the luck factor. The reason being is that you roll a die to determine your actions which there is always luck involved with any dice. Also, the objective cards drawn can make a big difference and that is where I see the most luck factoring into the game. Some objectives are easy to complete for points and others are not but once again any game involving cards will have an "unlucky" component.
Name of the Game
The luck factor is the main complaint about this overall wonderful game but the name Takenoko is the second most observed complaint of this game. I have heard the name pronounced several different ways and I have pronounced it several ways myself. I just call it the panda game for those that have played the game. It might seem trivial, but the name of a game makes a big difference and this is one that I find matters. I understand that they used a Japanese name because of the theme but in most circles, people just call it the panda game and everyone knows that it's Takenoko. The game does not have many faults and that is why something like the name is being scrutinized.
- Overall -
Takenoko is a fun and beautiful Euro game that does an excellent job of blending gameplay and theme. The box insert, components, and instruction manual make this game stunning and organized right out of the box. The gameplay is fairly simple but has enough strategy to entice experienced gamers and light enough for beginners. Luck does play a major factor in the game but it doesn't deter from the fun and unique game experience. Everyone loves to build bamboo and the irrigation channels and land plots remind many people of Catan. The 3 different type of objective cards help with replayability and they play off each other throughout the game. This makes the game very interesting because you can be either helping or hurting your opponent from gaining their objective card. I have introduced this game to several different groups of people and they have all enjoyed the gameplay, theme, and eating bamboo! Antoine Bauza has made another and it has increased in popularity since coming out in 2011. I would like to get the expansion to add some more strategy, depth, and options. This game will continue to be in frequent rotation on my gaming shelf and I look forward to introducing new players to the game.
The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rule book which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.
- Setup Overview -
- Place the special "pond tile" at the center of the playing surface.
- Place the Gardener and the Panda figurines on this plot.
- Mix the remaining Land Plot tiles to form a draw pile, face down.
- Lay Irrigation Channels and Improvement Tokens (sorted by type) in a pile.
- Set the "Emperor" card aside and sort the remaining cards by category (plot, gardener, panda) and shuffle them to form three draw piles, face down.
- Each player receives his own individual board, 2 action chips and one card of each category (each player makes sure to keep his cards hidden).
- The tallest player starts the game (my favorite starting rule:)
- Game Play/Player Turns -
Turn order proceeds clockwise. When his turn comes, a player must perform two steps in this order:
- Determine Weather conditions
- Perform actions and complete objectives
Warning: weather comes into play during the second round of play. In the first round, players ignore this step and proceed directly to the next. The player rolls the Weather Die and applies the effect of the climatic conditions obtained.
The player gains an additional action. This action must be different from their two regular actions.
The player may place a Bamboo section on the irrigated plot of his choice, up to a limit of four sections per plot.
The player may, but is not required to, take two identical actions in this round (instead of two different actions).
The player can put the panda on the plot of his choice. To recover from his fear, the shy animal eats a section of bamboo.
The player chooses an Improvement chip from those available in the reserve. It can then be placed immediately on a plot or stored on his individual Board. If no Improvement is available, the player applies the effect of another climatic condition of his choice (sun, rain, wind or storm).
If he gets the "?" face, the player chooses what conditions they wish to apply this turn: Sun, Rain, Wind, Storm or Clouds.
Perform actions and meet objectives:
The player has two actions to take which must be chosen from among five options: Plots, Irrigation Channel, Gardener, Panda, and Objective Cards.
NOTE: these actions must be different from one another.
To finalize their choices, the player puts two chips on the appropriate spaces of their individual Board. The order in which the actions are resolved is chosen by the player. Then the player passes the weather die to the player on his left.
- End Of 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:
- Winning -
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!
- Tie Breakers -
In case of a tie, the player with the most points on the Panda objective cards wins. In the event of a further tie, the tied players share the victory.
- Great Instructional Videos -
Here are a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.
Can anything grow or be placed on the starting pond tile?
No, starting pond tile is the only one that cannot have bamboo or improvements placed on it.
Can a plot carry more than one color of bamboo on it?
No, each plot can only carry one color of bamboo
What is the max height of bamboo on each plot?
Maximum of 4 sections of bamboo
Can a non-irrigated plot carry bamboo on it?
No, it has to be irrigated
How is a plot irrigated?
A plot is said to be “irrigated” if it is adjacent to the pond tile, if an irrigation channel is placed on one of its sides, or if it carries a watershed improvement.
What happens when a plot is irrigated for the first time?
A bamboo section is immediately placed on it of the plot color
Can you use the weather effect Rain on a non-irrigated plot?
No, the Rain effect only works on an irrigated plot
Moving the Gardener and Panda
Can the panda or gardener stay where he is in order to make bamboo grow there?
No, they have to move to a different plot on their action
How does the gardener action work?
The gardener makes bamboo grow on the plot he ends his movement on (as long as the plot in question is irrigated). The gardener also makes bamboo grow on all adjacent plots of the same color as the one he is on (if those plots are irrigated).
How does the panda action work?
The panda can stop on an empty plot, in which case he doesn't t eat anything. All other plots he would eat 1 section of bamboo that it lands on.
Can the panda or gardener land or move through the starting pond tile?
They can cross the pond tile or can end their movement on the pond tile.
BUY THIS GAME
You have a variety of options across the web where you can purchase this game. We have an affiliate relationship with Amazon where they will give us a percentage of anything you buy on their site if you click one of our Amazon links on this site. This costs you absolutely nothing and is a free way to support our site so we can keep providing you great content and keep this website ad-free! Thank you for your support!!
Highest Price: $49.99 (Dec 26, 2017)
Lowest Price: $22.75 (Dec 04, 2015)
Average Price: $38.38
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (6/11/2018)
Expanding The Game
Takenoko Chibis is currently the only expansion game for Takenoko.
If you like how this board game plays, you'll definitely want to check out these great games which play similar.