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Subject: Takenoko ~ Deranged Review. rss

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~Deranged Review~


Hello! Welcome to this Deranged Review . Please be seated. Here's some nice background music .

Takenoko deals with feeding a pandabear while maintaining the aesthetics of a well-kempt Japanese Bamboo-garden.

One day when I had nothing to do, sing rickety-tickety-tin. And as I have no baby brother and in any case quite like my family, I decided to play a game of Takenoko, to see what all the fuss was about. Well, this review is all about what the fuss was about, so I'll let you get to it .

I'll be giving grades on several aspects of the game, such as discussed here.
For ART, I look at the big picture, and how that picture looks. EASE covers ease of play and learning curve, FLEXIBILITY covers the amount of free will you have and is therefore linked to replayability. FUN might be deceptive, as it's a gut thang, but I'll try and specify in the text, and COMPONENTS should be self-explanatory. I'll not say a lot about rules and specifics - you can find those out for yourself.

The Game Itself: Panda-points.
Use actions to feed panda/grow bamboo, play cards for points. Most points wins!

ART
The game looks like fun, with bright colours and an actual panda (not actual size). Everything looks just extatic, like a Carebear cosplay convention in My Little Pony-Land. All the symbols are easy to understand and work with. The dice might take you one or two plays to get used to, but that's it, really.

The art of the game is one of its strong points in general. It makes the game look enticing and is fun to look at in between turns.

EASE
The game has few rules and little to no conflict. It's one of those games you'll fully understand at the end of the first game, which is ofcourse not the same as winning .

There's a handful of intricacies to navigate, such as seeing which is the most rewarding route and economic use of limited actions under the circumstances, deciding which objective card to take, or whether to move the panda here or there. The freedom of options and the disconnection between point value and moves remind me a bit of a Martin Wallace game distilled to the point of being playable by kids (#1). But perhaps that's because I nearly always lose :/ (#2).



FLEXIBILITY
As every player has a random set of objectives, you might get free reign in assembling your goals. Or you might have to work around someone trying to eat all the pink bamboo in front of you. You can easily change to a new set of objectives; if your opponent seems to be fond of growing bamboo, your eating of any stalk you can find will help you and annoy him. Likewise, if your opponent is fond of adding plots to the garden, he's just feeding you. On the other hand, plot-related rewards are difficult to counteract, and gardening rewards tend to be higher, so each has his own worth.

Keeping an eye out on what your opponents might try to achieve is always wise, but Takenoko mostly rewards you for efficiently finishing your objectives.

I must say I've repeatedly been told "No" by the game, so perhaps the rules are not fully intuitive; or I wasn't paying attention to the explanation. For example, I tried to put a "Panda can't eat here" token on a patch with four stalks of bamboo, which is apparently frowned upon. In the same vein, four patches of three green stalks each does not mean four patches of at least three stalks each. That incarnation of the gardner had to relieve himself from duty for his gross incompetence, but thankfully his replacement was far more attuned to the aesthetic needs of such a garden (#3).


FUN
-Yes, I am slightly vulnerable to components. Moving a miniature panda to eat bamboo is just inherently more fun to me than changing the position of a gamepiece to remove a counter. I also find myself stacking every possible wooden gamepiece in any game that has'm.

However, this category is about fun in more ways than mere components - otherwise you could just go play with Lego. The game is fun to play - it's nice that you can plan out your turn for a bit, it's fun to eat bamboo your opponent is frantically growing, and it's certainly fun to rattle off three objectives at once! It's in the Goldilocks-zone; deep enough to feel clever without getting lost.

COMPONENTS
-Yeah, the components, and how awesome they are.

Pretty darn awesome.

The stackable bamboostalks in three colours make for endless enjoyment on the sidelines - and while not Bakelite seem very sturdy nonetheless.



Pro's
Looks like it's painted with a mixture of crushed happy pills in lieu of paint.
Very kid-friendly.
Fun to play.

Con's
Sometimes, you just can't finish an objective.


End result:
Takenoko looks like it's purely a game for kids on the surface. It isn't.

Like mentioned before, it's not all that hard to understand the basic rules and tendencies of the game, especially since the theme is so wonderfully easy to understand, and exquisitly integrated. It's bright and colourful with wonderful components.

But below the surface... Now there's a sneaky game of manouvring different pieces along the ever-expanding board, connecting tiles with power lines, efficient moving and removing of counters, and trying to abuse the mercurial weather to your advantage. While still simple enough to be played well by children. Eight year olds, Dude.

The theme and gameplay are very well integrated, which really helps with keeping the game from being too difficult. It's a marvel of design, really. The die adds just enough chance to keep things interesting without fully determining the game (looking at you, Catan), mostly because it's a little something on the side rather than "the thing you can do this turn".

In general I'd advise this game to anyone with kids of about ten, or a semi-gamer girlfriend. Its eye-catching components will draw in attention, its well-integrated theme will make learning the game easier, and the hidden depths will mean you'll enjoy it yourself, too! It's easy and fun enough to play until you are experienced enough to see the game underneath the pieces. And it won't bore you for quite a few plays after that ^^. Besides, you're not really playing against them, which is a big plus in the Girlfriend And Kids Departments.

As usual, please give your opinion in the comments .

Oh, by the way, I am Deranged. I like to have fun with boardgames, and have played many of them over the years. I've been furniture in my FLGS for years ^^. I tend to like old games; well, I tend to like good games, most of which have been around for bit ^^. I've written 67 reviews as of yet, which you can access here. If you want me to write a review for you or recommend me a game, there's this neat little envelop near my avatar!

googoo

#1: From age 8 and up, with a weight of about 2.
#2: Thanks, BGA, for keeping details on my failure.
#3: In other words, I seldom play for gardner goals. They seem to be too fiddly and not rewarding enough in comparison.

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Rachel Irene Lunan
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Derang3d wrote:

In general I'd advise this game to anyone with kids of about ten, or a semi-gamer girlfriend. Its eye-catching components will draw in attention, its well-integrated theme will make learning the game easier, and the hidden depths will mean you'll enjoy it yourself, too! It's easy and fun enough to play until you are experienced enough to see the game underneath the pieces. And it won't bore you for quite a few plays after that ^^. Besides, you're not really playing against them, which is a big plus in the Girlfriend And Kids Departments.


I was with you until this paragraph, and I'm sure you can guess why.
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Deranged
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Rachelthfirst wrote:
Derang3d wrote:

In general I'd advise this game to anyone with kids of about ten, or a semi-gamer boy- or girlfriend. Its eye-catching components will draw in attention, its well-integrated theme will make learning the game easier, and the hidden depths will mean you'll enjoy it yourself, too! It's easy and fun enough to play until you are experienced enough to see the game underneath the pieces. And it won't bore you for quite a few plays after that ^^. Besides, you're not really playing against them, which is a big plus in the Girlfriend And Kids Departments.


I was with you until this paragraph, and I'm sure you can guess why.


Really? I don't consider you a semi-gamer. I was more continuing from my and other's assertion that Lost Cities is the perfect game for couples as it offers (just a bit) of co-op-opportunity as well as enough depth to stay interesting. I do believe many semi-gamer-girlfriends would enjoy Takenoko - and I know those are far more common than semi-gamer-boyfriends (who'd not be as immediately roped in either).

Yes, stereotypes. Generalisations, rather.

Fixed it for you .
 
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José Giménez
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Great review! My girlfriend is a semi-gamer who enjoys light games like Sushi Go, Carcassonne, Machi Koro and King of Tokyo. This seems to be a nice edition to our collection! Thanks
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Deranged
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Glad to be of service .
 
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