Takenoko board game – Game Review

Let’s start with the usual glossed over background of this adorable game. “Takenoko” means ‘bamboo shoots’ and that is essentially the main mechanic of this farming / territory building game. Designed by Antoine Bauza, “Takenoko” sees the players taking care of a garden housing a giant Panda. Said panda was gifted to the Japanese Emperor by the Chinese and players need to keep him happy and fed in order to accrue points and thus, win the game.

Cutest Tabletop Games - Tile Game TakenokoTakenoko is a great little game. Definitely cute!

“Takenoko” is a 2-4 player game that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to play dependent on how quickly the players trigger the games end. The rules are simple enough for “Takenoko” to fall firmly into the gateway game arena, there’s nothing too taxing here at all and it is a wonderful game to lure those unsuspecting non gamers in with. As we’ve suggested on other reviews here at Gameapalooza, if one person knows the rules, just play it, don’t try and explain it, we’ve found this works best.

Setup & Gameplay
Setup of “Takenoko“ is – like everything else in the game – simple and adorable. Placement of one tile kicks of the boards beginnings and the usual card stacks, player cards and of course those adorable characters are all quick and easy to place.

Gameplay starts with the tallest player, which you might think is a bummer if you’re short, but not necessarily, because like some other games, “Takenoko” let’s all players finish the round, once the games end is triggered. So how does play work? Simple, players start with their player board (adorable), two action tokens (beautiful) and one card from the three available categories, those being plot (as in land plot not story), panda and gardener. Each card has a score on it and when players reconcile the objective beautifully illustrated on the cards, they set aside that card and it goes towards their overall score at the end of the game. Play ends when a certain number of objective cards have been collected by a player, this number differs dependent on the number of players.

Ugh you know we hate talking rules here at Gameapalooza, as we always say, that’s what the rulebook is for. What’s important to note is – as previously touched on – the rules are simple, the gameplay is fluid and you’ll have fun taking part. Objectives do range from easy to difficult to fulfil and the point total will – for the most part – reflect this difficulty.

Takenoko tabletop board game cutest gamesWho doesn’t love a panda? Takenoko – Cutest Tabletop Game

Let’s briefly talk about that weather conditions die. There is one dice roll in the game and it takes place before each players turn (after the initial round of play). That die is the weather die and it essentially allows for 6 randomised actions that the player can take. This is a nice edition to play as it gives the player not only a nice thematic edition to the story, but also a sweet randomiser you need to consider before taking your moves. One of the sides of the die features a “?” allowing the player to chose any of the actions on the other 5 sides. So what are the actions? Lightning Storm: The panda is terrified of lightning so you can move him to any space on the play area (usually you can only move him in straight lines), Sun: It’s such a beautiful day you get an extra action of your choosing (different to your other two regular actions). Clouds: Damn, it’s a rotten day, but don’t let it get you down, take an improvement chip instead. Rain: All bamboo needs water to thrive, add a bamboo anywhere you like, so long as it’s previously irrigated. Wind: Take two of the same action (not usually allowed and is optional).

Without going into every rule, the only other thing you need to know is the player who triggers the end of the game collects the Emperor card, giving him or her an additional 2 points. If it so happens after scoring there is a tie, the player with the most Panda objective points wins, still a tie, it’s a shared victory for the tied players.

Game Build Quality
“Takenoko” is a beautifully made game. The board tiles, cards, tokens, figures, even the die is beautifully crafted and don’t get us started on that gorgeous bamboo! Even the box for “Takenoko” is beautiful, the insert is beautiful… did we mention “Takenoko” is beautiful? As tabletop game quality goes, this is it.

Takenoko tabletop board game box insert beautiful - board game reviews AustraliaThe Takenoko box insert, so neat it will bring a tear to the eye

Gameapalooza House Rules
We tend to use the advanced rule when we play “Takenoko”. That means if you chose to take a card and that card – by sheer luck – is already a complete objective, it’s discarded and the player redraws. This removes an element of luck from the game and makes the players work for the objectives on the cards using strategy.

There’s really nothing negative to say about “Takenoko”, it is a charming, beautiful thing and something you need in your board game collection. Unlike a lot of other board games, there’s no urgency with “Takenoko”, there’s no drama, it is almost meditative in nature, a relaxing tabletop game that’s fun for all gamers. It’s also a great gateway game for introducing n00b’s to newer tabletop board games. Veteran gamers who love a lot of depth might find this a little light, but we think even they would be swayed by its charm.

2-4 Players
Ages: 8+
Setup Time: Less than 5 minutes
Play Time: 30-60 minutes

Australian Tabletop Gaming News and Game Reviews- Gameapalooza Critical Hit!

[author] [authorimage timthumb=’off’]/content/images/2016/02/gameapalooza-micro-review-icon-sm.gif[/authorimage] [authorinfo]Micro Review – A must buy game, absolutely beautiful. Gameplay is simple for all levels of gamers (including total beginners) and the quality is gorgeous. Can’t really think of any negatives, maybe veteran gamers that love loads of depth will find it a little shallow, but you know what, if that’s the case, they have hearts of coal. A wondrous, relaxing, charming tabletop game. Buy it![/authorinfo] [/author]