Takenoko Review

So yesterday I promised a review of Takenoko. Here it is! There is a rich backstory to the game of Takenoko and I would be a poor reviewer if I left it out. So let’s dive in. 

The Emporer of China, in gratitude for a commercial alliance, has gifted the Emporer of Japan a panda. The panda is released into the royal garden. The gardener is frustrated that he now has to grow bamboo to feed the panda. He is enraged that the panda keeps eating the bamboo as he plants it! (Oh, and Takenoko means bamboo sprout in Japanese.)

You have three goals in Takenoko. Goal one: configure the garden tiles in accordance with the card(s) you have. Goal two: grow bamboo how it is on the card(s) you have. Goal three: have the panda eat the bamboo you have on your card(s). 


On your turn you can take two of five actions. You can draw three tiles and place one, take an irrigation stick (which you can place at any time), move the gardener to grow bamboo, move the panda and eat bamboo, or draw a new card of any type. Every turn except the first you also get a random action from the die that may help you complete your goals. The first person to play seven cards gets two extra points from the Emporer card and each other player gets one more turn. 

It might sound complicated but it’s not. It’s basically a tile laying game with an aspect of set collection (which I’ve talked about a lot lately… I must really like set collection games).

This is a fun one to put out on the table with players new to board gaming. With the easy to understand gameplay and the wonderful theme it should catch anyone’s attention. I know it’s one of my favorites. 

It’s enough of a favorite that when the expantion came out I had a friend pick me up a copy at Gen Con so I could have it earlier than store release!

Ah the expantion. Chibis!


It adds new tiles. It adds new cards. It adds a girl panda. And best of all, it adds babies! (Unfortunately the babies are not figures but round cardboard pieces.) 

The tiles and cards add some interesting gameplay, that would be hard to describe in my short posts if you’ve never played Takenoko. The girl panda and babies however, that I can explain easily. 

When you pick the move panda action you may move the girl panda instead. If the girl and boy panda end up on the same tile, and the player whose turn it is gives up a bamboo piece, they get a baby panda! (Wonder why that is…) the baby pandas do one time actions that you can do any time including: place an irrigation stick, take a tile improvement, or replace an objective card. 


I think I’ve gone on enough, though I could go on a lot more. If you want to know more just let me know! 

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