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Subject: Takenoko: A Review rss

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Kristen McCarty
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The story is set in the Japanese Imperial Court, after many years of arguing the diplomatic relations between China and Japan are finally on the mend. The Chinese have sent a sacred Giant Panda to celebrate the alliance.

The Japanese Emperor has entrusted his court members (the players), with the task of caring for the animal by setting up his bamboo garden. The court members will cultivate land plots, irrigate them and grown of the three species of bamboo on the plots, with the Imperial gardeners help.

The court member who grows the most bamboo, managing the panda's ravenous hunger for the delicate bamboo, and the plots will win the game.

Components


The components for Takenoko are beautiful and top quality. The plots are large hexagonal pieces. They come in three colors, green, yellow and pink. There is also the starting "pond" tile where bamboo does not grow.



The wooden bamboo comes in two different shapes; the base / top and center pieces. They also come in the same three colors of the plots; green, yellow, and pink.

Because the bamboo needs water there are included wooden blue irrigation sticks. The last wooden component is the weather dice. It is rolled to determine what the weather condition will be during a players turn.

There are also three types of improvement chips that players can use to help the bamboo grow. There are three categories of objective cards that help players earn victory points. At the end of the game the Emperor card will visit the garden and declare the winner.

My favorite components are the Gardener and Panda. The Gardner supervises the bamboo to make sure the bamboo grows. The Giant Panda roams freely through the bamboo and eats the bamboo the Gardner has tried to grow.



Game Set-Up

The special "pond tile" should be placed in the center of the playing space with the Gardner and the Panda. The other Land Plot tiles are mixed and placed face-down as a draw pile. The irrigation channels and improvements are placed next to this draw pile.

Set aside the Emperor Card, but sort the others by category (plot, gardener, and panda.) These should be shuffled and put into three draw piles.

Give each player a player board, two action chips, and one card of each category. The tallest player starts.



Game Play


On their turn, a player must perform two steps. First they determine weather conditions and then perform actions and complete objectives.

1. Determine Weather Conditions

During the first round weather does not come into play so ignore this step and go to the next.

The player rolls the weather die and applies the effect.



Sun - "Great sun shines on the bamboo garden." With this roll the the player gets an additional action, it must be different from the other two action.

Rain - "A fine rain nourishes young bamboo shoots." The player may place a bamboo section on the irrigated plot of their choice. There is a limit of imit of four sections per plot.

Wind - "A refreshing breeze blows through the bamboo garden." The player may, but is not required to, take two identical actions in this round (instead of two different actions).

Storm - "The sky rumbles and lightning strikes, frightening the panda." The player may place the panda on the plot of his choice and it eats a section of bamboo.

Clouds - "Gray clouds darken the sky. Never mind, it is time to go on and perform same handy work." The player chooses an Improvement chip. They may place it immediately on a plot or stored it. If there are no Improvement available, the player applies the effect of another climatic condition, their choice.

Question Mark - If they get the "?" face, the player chooses what conditions they wish to apply.

2. Perform Actions and Meet Objectives


The player now has two actions. There are five options and the actions must be different from one another. The player puts two chips on the appropriate spaces of their individual board to show their choice. The player chooses which order to play the actions and then passes the die to the player on their left when finished.



Plots - The player draws three plots and chooses one.

Irrigation Channel - Tak an irrigation channel, they player can use it immediately or save it for a later turn.

Gardener - The player moves the gardener in a straight line in the direction of his choice. Where the gardener stops he grows a section of bamboo. Each adjacent plots of the same color also grow one section. Bamboo may grow only on irrigated plots.

Panda - The player moves the panda in a straight line in the direction of his choice and the panda eats a bamboo section from the plot where he stops.

Objective - The player draws an objective card of their choice and adds it to his hand.

Plots

The player draws three plots, chooses one and places the other two back on the bottom of the deck, face down. They choose the order. The plot is then put into play. It must follow either one of both of these rules: The plot is adjacent to the special "pond tile." The plot is adjacent to two plots already in play.

Each irrigated plot can grow one and only one bamboo shoot of its color.

Note: the plots next to the special pond and those with the watershed improvement are automatically irrigated! a bamboo section is immediately added (see irrigation).



Irrigation Channel

The player takes an irrigation channel from the reserve. Irrigation can be put into play or stored. Irrigation channel in reserve, can be used at any time during a players turn and does not count as an action. Irrigation channels are placed on the border of two plots and form a network that always starts from the corner of the special "pond tile."

A plot is irrigated if it has at least one of the following conditions:

- It is adjacent to the special "pond tile"
- At least one of its six edges hosts an irrigation channel.
- It has a watershed improvement.

When a plot is irrigated for the first time, a section of bamboo of its color is added.




Gardener


The player moves the gardener in a straight line, any number of plots in the direction of his choice. The gardener may not move over empty spaces. Where he finishes, he grows a section of bamboo. Plots adjacent and of the same color also get a bamboo shoot. Four sections in the maximum size of a bamboo shoot. Non-irrigated plots never grow bamboo.





Panda

The player moves the panda in a straight line, any number of plots in the direction of his choice. Like the gardener, the panda may not move over empty spaces. Where the panda stops he eats a bamboo section. The player uses this to fulfill a Giant panda objective.




Details on movements: The Panda and Gardener can cross or end their movement on the "pond tile," they cannot cross an empty space, and to benefit from their action, a player must move them at least one space.

Objectives


The player draws an objective card and adds it to his hand. Players have ea maximum of five hand cards. They may not draw a sixth card.

Plot Objectives:[/i] These cards represent three or four adjacent plots.To fulfill this objective, the configuration shown on the card must be reflected in the bamboo garden and each plot must be irrigated.

Gardener Objectives: These cards represent either: a bamboo shoot of four sections, with a specific improvement, a bamboo shoot of four sections, without improvement, a group of several bamboo shoots of three sections without any improvement constraints. To fulfill this objective, the configuration shown on the card must be in the bamboo garden.

Panda Objectives:
These cards represent two or three bamboo sections. To fulfill this objective the player must have the required sections on their board. Once a panda objective is completed the sections are put back into the reserve.



Improvements


The improvements may be built into a plot; they are printed on the plot. They can also be added with an improvement chip. A player may place an improvement at any time during their turn. This does not cost an action.

Improvements can only be added to plots were bamboo has not yet grown (this means plot which were just placed, plots which are not irrigated, and plots where the panda has just eaten everything!). But each plot can have only one improvement.

Enclosure: The enclosure protects the bamboo in its plot. The panda can move across and stop here, but not eat any bamboo.

Fertilizer: Fertilizer increases the growth of bamboo on its plot. Each time the bamboo grows, two sections are added instead of one. There is still a four section maximum.

Watershed: the watershed provides the bamboo with water and it does not need to be irrigated. It may not be used as the start of an irrigation system.



End of the Game

The game end conditions depend on the number of players:

- 2 Players: when a player completes his ninth objective, it triggers the last round.
- 3 Players: when a player completes his eighth objective, it triggers the last round.
- 4 Players: when a player completes his seventh objective, it triggers the last round.

The player who started the final round takes the special "Emperor" card (worth 2 points) and finishes his turn.

Note: A player may still complete other objectives during the turn in which he triggers the final round.



The other players then each have a final turn to try and complete objectives.

Each player totals the points indicated on their objectives completed during the game. Cards in hand have no value. The player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, the player with the most Panda Objective card points wins.




My Thoughts


A cute giant panda, colorful bamboo, and a hard working Gardner create a visually stunning game. These outstanding components draw players in and makes them want to stay. The figurines are adorable and high quality. The bamboo pieces are stunning and one can imagine a bamboo forest sprouting into a beautiful garden as the game is played. Of course, the Panda might eat it all.

These wonderful components are safely kept in the brilliant box insert. Everything has its place where they are securely kept. It is also easy to take the pieces in and out of the box without fear of tearing or damaging them. I really wish other games came with such wonderful inserts. It is also usable during the game. We keep the box on the table and take the pieces out as needed during the game.



Another beautiful component is the rule book. It starts with a comic about how the Panda came to the Japanese Emperor. This is a really cute way to set the tone for the rest of the rulebook. The rules are easy to read and understand. The pictures give you a clear idea of how to set up the game and play each turn. The approachable rules, quick playing time, and charming components make it a great family game. The pieces are small so families will want to be careful with young players.



Takenoko is also a great couples game. My husband is my main gaming partner and we are always looking for games that play well, or best, with two. Takenoko is definitely one of those games. Anyone looking for a game to play with their significant other should consider Takenoko. The game was a very sweet Christmas present from my husband. It certainly isn't a game he would buy for himself; but he knew I would love it. If you do play with more than two players it may be a good idea to play with the variant rule that says if you draw a card and the condition is already met you should discard it and draw another.



Takenoko is a superbly elegant game. The components and game play combine to create a game that is both visually stunning and fun to play. Like many Euro style games, Takenoko is about efficiency. Players must use their two actions to reach their objectives before their opponents. Knowing when to draw new objective cards, take an irrigation canal, or move the Gardner over the Panda. This isn't the most strategic game, players may only be looking one or two plays ahead, but it is an important aspect of game play.

The Gardner growing bamboo, the Panda eating the bamboo and the modular board all merge to create a unique game. This also lends to the re-playability of the game. Every game will be a unique experience.

Luck plays a big role in the game. The weather die can give a player extra actions while letting another take the same action twice. A player may also get the luck of the draw with the objective cards. Some will be easier than others to complete and they may even draw one that is already complete. Players can agree to discard objective cards that are completed when drawn as a variant rule. A few players may be turned away by the luck. I like luck in games and I'm glad it is included. I really like the weather die. I feel it is thematic how weather affects the bamboo garden, scaring the Panda or helping the bamboo grow.

Overall I have really enjoyed playing Takenoko. It may not come to the table every week but it is an option any night. The components, the sweet figurines, and unique game play make it a hit with me. The beauty and elegance combine to create a relaxing game play experience.




Quick Stats


Designer: Antoine Bauza
Artists: Nicolas Fructus, Picksel, Yuio
Publishers: Asmodee, Asterion Pres, Bombyx, Hobby Japan, Matagot, REXhry
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 75 minutes
Ages: 8 and up

Picture Credits: Humphrey Clerx (hclerx), Laszlo Molnar (lacxox), Henk Rolleman (henk.rolleman)(2), Oceluna (jueguetistorias) (Oceluna), Laszlo Molnar (lacxox), Ama Honeymoon (LoLoGalaxy), Antony Hemme (Toynan), Henk Rolleman (henk.rolleman) (2), Laszlo Molnar (lacxox), Oceluna (jueguetistorias) (Oceluna), Mario Brunelli (sprunx), Henk Rolleman (henk.rolleman), Arnaud MATAGOT (arnaud4matagot), Henk Rolleman (henk.rolleman), Laszlo Molnar (lacxox), Jybe Jybe (Jybe)

Thanks for posting your beautiful pictures!

Read more of my reviews at: A Game Built for Two (and sometimes more) Game Reviews
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Kevin Garnica
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Darling review of one of my favorite lighter games. Sounds like you're very luck - and have a smart husband.
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Thomas
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This game doesn't get the attention it deserves. Pure elegance through beautify components and design.
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the kitster
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That Antoine Bauza sure is versatile!
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Kevin Garnica
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thekitster wrote:
That Antoine Bauza sure is versatile!


He's becoming one of my favorite designers of late. Feld is slightly overrated, imo.
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The Soot Sprite
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Quote:
The Chinese have sent a scared Giant Panda to celebrate the alliance.


Poor Panda! Great review, though!
 
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Jay Weesner
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Now you've done it. Your review convinced me to pick this up for my wife!
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David B
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pacman88k wrote:
thekitster wrote:
That Antoine Bauza sure is versatile!


He's becoming one of my favorite designers of late. Feld is slightly overrated, imo.



Feld is only overrated amongst those that don't care for his games that much. Amongst those that like his games, his rating is just fine. But Bauza is good, too.
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Kristen McCarty
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Coltcomics wrote:
Now you've done it. Your review convinced me to pick this up for my wife!


I hope she likes it and you should as well.

I like both Feld and Bauza. The Castles of Burgundy is one of my favorite games and though it doesn't get played as often, (not that great with two) I enjoy 7 Wonders as well. Both are great designers and I'm glad they have contributed so many great games for us to enjoy.
 
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Kevin Garnica
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xcrun55 wrote:
Coltcomics wrote:
Now you've done it. Your review convinced me to pick this up for my wife!


I hope she likes it and you should as well.

I like both Feld and Bauza. The Castles of Burgundy is one of my favorite games and though it doesn't get played as often, (not that great with two) I enjoy 7 Wonders as well. Both are great designers and I'm glad they have contributed so many great games for us to enjoy.


Oh, I think the consensus around here is that Castles of Burgundy is actually "best" with 2 players. Personally, I can play it with any player count and is one of the few Feld games I enjoy.
 
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Thomas
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pfctsqr wrote:
pacman88k wrote:
thekitster wrote:
That Antoine Bauza sure is versatile!


He's becoming one of my favorite designers of late. Feld is slightly overrated, imo.



Feld is only overrated amongst those that don't care for his games that much. Amongst those that like his games, his rating is just fine. But Bauza is good, too.


No one even mentioned Feld in this thread.

 
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Bruce Murphy
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LunarSoundDesign wrote:
pfctsqr wrote:
pacman88k wrote:
thekitster wrote:
That Antoine Bauza sure is versatile!


He's becoming one of my favorite designers of late. Feld is slightly overrated, imo.



Feld is only overrated amongst those that don't care for his games that much. Amongst those that like his games, his rating is just fine. But Bauza is good, too.


No one even mentioned Feld in this thread.



Apart from the two people you quoted, and yourself, yes?

B>
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aaron belmer
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Small correction to rules,the remaining plots are placed under the stack, not on top of.

Nice review!!
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Ian Ichamoe
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zenmazster wrote:
Small correction to rules,the remaining plots are placed under the stack, not on top of.



Our house rule: draw three tiles, choose one to play; of the other two one goes on top of the pile and one goes on the bottom.
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