Monday, 30 March 2015


"The Giant Panda and the Gardener"

Takenoko is a 2-4 player game created by Antoine Bauza and published in 2011 by Asmodee Games. It has received many awards, including 4 Golden Geek awards in 2012. Want to know why you should be so invested in growing bamboo? Click below to find out!

The Emperor has entrusted the players with building and maintaining a beautiful bamboo garden... with one small caveat; you must also look after his prized giant panda, and this panda LOVES bamboo!

The contents
The goal in Takenoko is simple; complete objective cards and score more points than everyone else. Players gets 3 objective cards at the start of the game and will largely shape the first few turns. Player turns consist of 2 phases. First, they roll the weather die which gives a bonus action such as take 3 moves instead of 2, or take 2 of the same action. The second phase involves the player taking 2 different actions (unless the weather die dictates otherwise). These actions are:

  • Place a new garden tile (pick up 3 and choose 1)
  • Take an irrigation channel (can be saved for later)
  • Move the gardener and grow bamboo
  • Move the panda and eat bamboo
  • Take a new objective card (up to 5 in hand at any one time)

Such a pretty looking board!
This is where the objectives come into play. Each player will be looking to complete an irrigated pattern (plot), grow a certain number/colour of bamboo sections (gardener), or eat bamboo (panda) to gain varying amounts of points. As the garden grows, you can choose to focus on a particular type of objective if you wish. Watch out for the improvement tiles. These will generally help achieve your goals (such as double growth), but can sometimes hinder too. Objectives can be completed at any time which often results in someone completing several at once or even inadvertently helping another player! The first person to complete 7, 8, or 9 objectives (dependent on number of players) gets the Emperor card, which grants them 2 extra points. It also starts the final round that sees everyone frantically try to complete any outstanding objectives!

Player card and objectives
The main tactic in play is deciding whether to complete easier objectives and get the points on the board, or try to concentrate on higher value ones (if you have any) which are more difficult to attain. This is where tile placement is critical. You'll want to place them so you can move the gardener or panda to them in one go. With the limited amount of moves per go, this is essential. There's nothing more annoying than another player moving them to a a place just out of reach!

The game plays in a very easy manner. After the first few turns, moves will become second nature to players which will minimise downtime. The game time is usually 45-60 mins which is just about perfect to kick off a games evening. It also scales up well when playing with more than 2 people. It will probably create a more colourful looking board with so many goals in play.

The first thing you notice about the game is the stunning artwork on the box. It's very eye-catching and colourful, and immediately tells you about the theme. It doesn't stop there though. Once you delve inside, you're met with one of the most aesthetically pleasing games I have seen. Lets start with the rulebook, which is done in the form of a comic book! The back story is even presented as a comic strip! It's definitely the most appealing rulebook I've come across. The tiles are of good quality and look great; each one as detailed as the last. The bamboo pieces fit together well enough. They could however have been made with a slightly tighter fit to minimise them falling over, although that's probably just me being clumsy! Lastly we come to the gardener and panda figurines. They look absolutely stunning, with a great amount of detail put into both pieces. I love the exasperated look on the gardeners face!


This has become one of my favourite games. It contains a nice balance of luck and strategy, and when you combine that with some of the best visuals of any board game out there, you're on to a winner! If there was ever a game that could brighten anyone's mood then this is it. It's hard not to feel happy looking at the board! The theme is fun and fits right in with the gameplay. It also has a good amount of replay value as the board layout is different every time. This would be an ideal game for a beginner due to its simplicity, but also good for a hardcore gamer. Sometimes it's nice to play a light, relaxing game! I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, charming, and beautiful looking game to add to their collection.

Rating 9/10