16 December 2015
Build a garden and feed a panda in this charming gateway game
Matagot | Family | £29.99 | 2-4 players | 45 minutes | www.matagot.com
From the perils of bloody warfare to the tranquility of creating a beautiful Japanese garden, while also making sure a panda gets enough bamboo to eat. From the moment you take Takenoko out of the box, this is a game that oozes charm – from the lush vegetation of the playing tiles to the little pieces of bamboo and a delightful little model of a panda.
The game works by players taking it in turns to place pieces of coloured terrain, which can then be used to grow bamboo on. Each turn the player has two actions to either place a new tile, move the panda miniature, create an irrigation channel to a plot of land to let more bamboo grow or draw an objective card. Knowing when to do what is a fine balancing act.
Most of the time it’s the objective card that’ll dictate what you do. Each player has secret objective cards that describe a certain ‘mission’, e.g. grow a particular amount of pink bamboo or form a pattern of land by placing tiles in a special way. Once you’ve completed your objective, you score the points and the game is over when you’ve finished between seven or nine objectives, depending upon the players. What adds to the fun, of course, is that no one else knows what your objectives are – so you could be scheming to build a formation of pink terrain tiles, only to see it scuppered by another player who needs a different pattern; or you may need to grow five pink bamboo shoots but another player wants the panda to scoff the lot to complete their mission. As they say “the best laid plans of pandas and men…”
Takenoko is a superb entry level game for families who want to try something different than Monopoly or Cludeo but, put it in front of a group of experienced gamers and it quickly becomes a game of scheming and devious tactics.
PLUS: We later talked about Takenoko in Issue 44, in our Have You Played? Feature. You can check that out by clicking here.
This article originally appeared in the very first Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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