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Subject: Four minor house rules we use to good success rss

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Jim Robinson
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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A couple of minor variant rules we play with. We have found that all of those above really help to balance the game out:

1. When the weather die reveals the cloud (land improvement), and no improvements remain to be taken, you can steal an improvement off another player's reference card. Alternatively, you may treat it as a question mark per the normal rules.

2. Plot cards can be scored without requiring irrigation. If however, they are irrigated they are worth an additional 2 points. We place little blue cubes on top of scored irrigated point cards to remind us to count them as +2 at the end of the game.

3. Ties are broken with plot cards over panda cards.

4. The game comes with a few blank improvement tiles. I put a block symbol on them. These tiles can be drawn per the normal rules, but if placed on a tile they prevent any other improvements from being placed on them. Useful for blocking other players. However they cant be placed on a tile that automatically comes with an improvement.

The first one is minor and doesn't help with balance at all and hardly ever used. But adds just a little bit more of a competitive nature to the game and sometimes you really need an improvement to complete a gardener objective but there's no way to get it from a player who has hoarded them.

The second one really helps things a lot. People rarely go for the plot cards, so making them a little bit easier to score is a big incentive.

The third one is also to make the plots a bit more of an incentive, but not really. I've never actually seen a tied game so its never been implemented. But the intention is to make plots just a bit more helpful.

The fourth is just for variety. We don't use it every time, but it can be fun if you successfully block someone else.

In my experience people overwhelmingly go for the panda cards. They are also worth way too many points and are the easiest to score in our opinion, so the rules above really help even it all out. There's an argument to be made that the panda cards are the only ones you need to actively pursue, but they are still much too easy to get when compared to the other objectives. Many of them are worth too many points as well. If they were all 1 or 2 with only a few 3's it would be a different story.

I'm sure many of you will disagree, but if any of you players out there think the game is unbalanced or needs fixing I encourage you to give these a try. I think you might be surprised. Thanks for reading.
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Glenn B
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Bedford
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Nowadays I usually play Takenoko on BGA where the advanced rules are strictly enforced. FWIW, I find that people do use plot objectives a lot.

Nevertheless, I like the sound of your second variant (irrigated plots are worth +2). The next time I play this on the table, I think I will try it.
 
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Eloi Mercier
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Astrobot7000 wrote:

1. When the weather die reveals the cloud (land improvement), and no improvements remain to be taken, you can steal an improvement off another player's reference card. Alternatively, you may treat it as a question mark per the normal rules.


I play with the option to take irrigation channel instead of an improvement as people in my group tend to overlook irrigation channels. I've seen people using plot objective cards more consistently.
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Dan Smith
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Astrobot7000 wrote:
A couple of minor variant rules we play with. We have found that all of those above really help to balance the game out:

1. When the weather die reveals the cloud (land improvement), and no improvements remain to be taken, you can steal an improvement off another player's reference card. Alternatively, you may treat it as a question mark per the normal rules.

2. Plot cards can be scored without requiring irrigation. If however, they are irrigated they are worth an additional 2 points. We place little blue cubes on top of scored irrigated point cards to remind us to count them as +2 at the end of the game.

3. Ties are broken with plot cards over panda cards.

4. The game comes with a few blank improvement tiles. I put a block symbol on them. These tiles can be drawn per the normal rules, but if placed on a tile they prevent any other improvements from being placed on them. Useful for blocking other players. However they cant be placed on a tile that automatically comes with an improvement.

The first one is minor and doesn't help with balance at all and hardly ever used. But adds just a little bit more of a competitive nature to the game and sometimes you really need an improvement to complete a gardener objective but there's no way to get it from a player who has hoarded them.

The second one really helps things a lot. People rarely go for the plot cards, so making them a little bit easier to score is a big incentive.

The third one is also to make the plots a bit more of an incentive, but not really. I've never actually seen a tied game so its never been implemented. But the intention is to make plots just a bit more helpful.

The fourth is just for variety. We don't use it every time, but it can be fun if you successfully block someone else.

In my experience people overwhelmingly go for the panda cards. They are also worth way too many points and are the easiest to score in our opinion, so the rules above really help even it all out. There's an argument to be made that the panda cards are the only ones you need to actively pursue, but they are still much too easy to get when compared to the other objectives. Many of them are worth too many points as well. If they were all 1 or 2 with only a few 3's it would be a different story.

I'm sure many of you will disagree, but if any of you players out there think the game is unbalanced or needs fixing I encourage you to give these a try. I think you might be surprised. Thanks for reading.


I don't disagree. You can make 6 points in two turns with the panda objectives. Nothing else in the game comes close to that. And they are easiest to achieve since you need no setup, and there's never anything stopping you from moving the gardener or panda. On top of that, other players can mess with your other objectives even without meaning to. Setting you back several turns. Which doesn't happen with the panda.

The Takenoko Chibis game has a variant where every set of 3 different objective is worth an extra 3 points at the end of the game. That could be worth checking out for you.

I also know that some people play with the house rule that you take two irrigation sticks instead of one when performing that action.
 
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Brett Miller
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Interesting. I just played this game for the first time over thanksgiving and found it to be relaxing but not very engaging. But it was simply and easy enough that we played several times in a row.

We quickly added a house-rule that player hands are face up and get turned over when achieved. After they are turned over then no one (including the player) can look at them until the end of the game.

This was fun because it meant you can actively spoil other people's objectives because you can seem them now, and it also made the VP secret, all at once.

It added a somewhat more random element to the game-end where players genuinely don't know if they will win. And this is especially fun when it turns out they forgot that they had already allocated a bamboo segment for one bamboo objective and then allocated it to another, which of course means they didn't actually achieve both objective. Woops!

If I ever play again I will try adding these variant rules as well. I agree that vanilla rules makes plot cards fairly unattractive.

Have other people thought of playing the cards face-up though? Without fixing this aspect of the game (IMO) there's no point in fiddling with anything else because I genuinely don't feel invested in the game...
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