Winter is here with it’s gray and cold. A game centering around growth and the great outdoors seems like just the thing right now.
A friend brought this game over, and I loved it, though I must admit I got really hung up on one of the cards. 😬
Man vs. nature – a very basic conflict, which in this game it’s manifested as a gardener trying to grow bamboo while a panda is eating it. Anyone who has dealt with deer eating bushes or dogs digging up flowers can relate to the poor gardener.
Here’s the breakdown:
Play time: 45 minutes
Here we go- I’ll rank it on Accessibility, Mechanics, and Engagement.
When most people think panda, they think the large, black and white, bear-like creature gracing these tiles. Not the crazy cute red ones dubbed the First Pandas by the Chinese – Red Pandas, nor the “Trash Pandas” that grace our lawns – raccoons. That’s a different game.
In this game, you will at times gain control of either the panda or the gardener. These tokens are not monopolized by any players.
Players find out the weather, draw and place a tile, move either panda or gardener, irrigate the land to help bamboo grow, gain or place tokens (anti-panda, and for/against tokens for irrigation and fertilization), or they may draw new goal cards.
The weather effects the actions for the turn. A die is cast indicating whether it will be:
- ☀️sunny (extra action)
- 🌧rainy (one extra bamboo)
- 💨windy (two of same action if desired)
- 🌩stormy (scared panda dashed through the forest then gorges itself for comfort)
- ☁️cloudy (no irrigation, fertilization or anti-panda tokens may be placed)
- ❔and lastly, a wildcard ❔side
Gameplay is very straightforward. The beginning of the game gives you three goal cards (like Ticket to Ride). There is no penalty for incomplete goals – you simply don’t receive the points for them. I should have tried to get more goals earlier in the game. Instead I was hung up on a specific tile pattern placement goal and … ya snooze, ya lose. As I’m wont to do, I did not play as aggressively as needed to be successful. Though honestly isn’t that my mood toward life? Hmmm. Too philosophical and deep for this cutesy game.
Placing the tiles and choosing a course of action are pretty quick, but there are so many options as the game progresses that it can be time consuming to decide your turn.
Here’s one point where it did struggle a little. I found my mind wandering as others played. There’s not a lot that can be done while other players are thinking about their turns.
The game play is fairly quick, so I wasn’t bored for long.
Planning my own turns ahead of time was not very successful. The board changes quite a bit with four players by the time it’s your turn again.
This is an adorable game. It even has a chibi expansion! I can see it appealing to a wide care of players. It’s like Catan with pandas. The backstory of this game is that a long time ago a Chinese emperor offered a Japanese emperor a panda as a symbol of peace, but it was challenging to take care of. This game incorporates tile placement like Settlers of Catan and requires strategy for fulfilling the goal cards like Ticket to Ride. Unlike Ticket to Ride, the tickets do not count against you if you fail to complete them (I shoulda grabbed more tickets!!!!!).
This post is #NotSponsored. Takenoko is available at Walmart (yes, Walmart). I’m suggesting them because I price checked and as of this date the difference was substantial.