Review: Takenoko


Designer: Antoine Bauza

Players:  2 – 4

Playtime: 45 minutes

The Emperor of Japan has just received a large panda as a gift!  However, it is currently eating the Emperor out of house and home.  It is up to players maintain the bamboo gardens, make sure the panda is well fed, and keep the Emperor happy.

Takenoko (translates to bamboo shoots) is a tile laying game where everyone playing works together to build the emperor’s garden, but each player has hidden goals for the gardens and the panda. There are three different types of objectives; panda, gardener, and emperor. The panda wants to eat certain combinations of bamboo (it comes in three colors). The gardener wants the tiles to meet very specific growing conditions. Lastly, the Emperor wants the garden to be arranged in certain ways.

Each turn players take two different actions from a selection of five. Those actions allow players to draw three tiles and place one, build irrigation, move the gardener to grow bamboo, move the panda to eat bamboo, or drawing new goal cards (players start with three).

Once everyone has taken a turn around the table the players begin rolling a dice to determine the weather at the beginning of their turn. Each type of weather gives the player a different bonus. Some of the bonuses are an extra different action, being allowed to repeat an action, growing bamboo, moving the panda, and gathering improvements.

The game ends after one person completes a number of goal cards. How many cards depends on how many people are playing. (The game plays 2 – 4 players) The player that signals the end of the game gets the favor of the Emperor, which is extra points, and then the rest of the players get one more turn. The player that ends the game might not be the one that winds up winning because of the different victory points on the objective cards.

The game has beautiful Japanese themed art and adorable miniatures representing the bamboo shoots, gardener, and the panda. The collector’s edition is also really neat as it is a huge version of the game with an eight inch panda. The game has lots of options and a modular board that makes each time you play a little bit different. The game is pretty simple and quick, played in under an hour, relaxing fun with a cute theme and adorable miniatures.