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Subject: More than a cute game? rss

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Jason Rupp
United States
Marion
Iowa
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Background: First off, a little background about my tastes. I tend to enjoy a majority of the games I play, but the ones I enjoy the most are the meaty, complex games such as Agricola, Le Havre and Dungeon Lords. However, I do enjoy a lighter game from time to time and I'm always looking for a new under 1 hour game that is enjoyable. My favorite lighter games would include Samurai, Portobello Market and Ingenious.

End of the game

Components:I have to admit, I purchased Takenoko because the components are awesome. I was not disappointed one bit. I normally don't include pictures in my reviews but for this game I'll make an exception :) The figures are very cute and fairly well detailed. The bamboo pieces are very very cool looking and the hexes are of good quality. I don't have any complaints about the cards. The one small complaint I have with the components is that the player boards are a bit thin and mine curl a tiny bit. I'm sure I can fix it with a heavy book, it's not a major issue.

The panda!

Gameplay: This is a light game. I think it would be a mistake to buy the game and think it's something deep. It's not deep, but that doesn't stop it from being fun. Throughout the game you are growing bamboo with the gardener and eating the bamboo with the panda. It's pretty neat to watch the game grow as it progresses. There are 3 different types of goal cards you can purchase which all have an objective on them which will net you points if you can finish them. It's hidden, so sometimes you may help your opponent, but some of the game is trying to figure out what your opponent is doing and make it more difficult for him. Most of the objectives include growing a type of bamboo to a certain height, eating a certain color of bamboo or having a certain configuration of tiles in a row.

I'm a little worried about the balance of the 3 types of cards. It seems like the panda cards are the easiest to complete. However, since you can only do each action once on your turn (you get 2 actions), it's more efficient to get more than just panda cards so that you can accomplish 2 goals at once. The tile and growing cards sometimes share a synergy with each other (same color) so you could try to focus on those and hope your cards match up. Sometimes it will work wonders but other times you won't get cards that work well together. I kind of wish that you could draw 2 cards and keep 1. That might mitigate the luck a little more. It also seems to be better to draw the cards that deal with the red bamboo (the most rare bamboo). They are worth more points than the others, so depending on the board layout, they may be vastly superior.

The player board

Thoughts: I've played the game 3 times so far and each game was a lot of fun. It doesn't feel like the most balanced game in the world but that's not really something that I expect from a 30-45 minute filler game. I can let that slide. Honestly though, the balance seems close enough that it doesn't hurt the fun. The cards are fairly balanced (but the land cards are the hardest to complete).

I will rate this a solid 7.5 out of 10. I'd be happy to play it when I'm not in the mood for a 2-3 hour heavy strategy game.
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Mark M
United States
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Thanks for reviewing. Just received this yesterday, hoping my daughter might enjoy. Hope we like it!
 
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Nick Witchey
United States
Laguna Hills
California
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Both my daughters (9 and 4) very much enjoy this game. The four year old asks to play all the time.
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Caleb Beech
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Do you change any of the rules for your 4 year old?
 
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