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Subject: And there is a good winning strategy... maybe? rss

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Anja
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I really like this game and I know that many people complain about the high amount of luck. That is true but I figured out that there is a quite simple strategy that overruns your opponents and served me well for a 4 out of 5 plays win at BGA (first game lost due to the fact it was the first game of Takenoko in my life). I know, it's not enough to prove if this strategy really works but I want to discuss it anyway:

First: Don't draw plot objectives. They simply cost to much actions including irrigating and are valued to low compared to this. They can also block your hand objectives if there's no possibility left to complete them. Panda objectives should be preferred because they are easy to complete, have high values and you will never get stuck with them (which can happen with some gardener objectives which can also need a high amount of actions to irrigate a certain field). Another advantage: If it's a tie, the player with more panda points win.

Second: Don't play your plot and panda objectives if they are completed. If you play them all at once to end the game, you'll get the emperor card but you will also surprise your opponents who will then not have the chance to complete all of their remaining objectives. Keep in mind that you are allowed to play more objectives than necessary to start the final round!
Of course, you will still need some luck to draw high value objectives and get the possibility to complete your objectives in as few rounds as possible.

I am thinking about some house rules to destroy this strategy (and I saw that other people came up with the same ideas to deal with this problem). For example, you could count plot cards although they are not irrigated, increase values of plot objectives or allow people not to have more than one card above the card numbers of your lowest card type (so you must have 2 plots and 2 gardeners to have 3 panda objectives). Or people can just store up to 5 bamboo sections or whatever...
What do you think?

 
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Dan Vore
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My wife has thought about this. She said she thinks that going for nothing but panda objectives will win. She tried this last time we played. I won by a few points, but just barely. I do not think it is fool proof. It won't win every game, especially if you do not get the higher point cards.

one house rule I've been thinking of doing is limiting the amount of one type of objective card in your hand. So basically you can't have a hand of 5 panda cards. The limit would be two of any one type. I think this will force players to round out their strategy.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Conversely, we NEVER take panda objectives.

You need to do all of the work yourself. With plots and bamboo, you go in with other players doing the work for you.
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Dan Vore
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you never take them by choice? or have a house rule that you can't?
 
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Paul DeStefano
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chang1701 wrote:
you never take them by choice? or have a house rule that you can't?


Choice.

Overall, they take more actions to complete. The more players in the game, the less efficient the pandas are.
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Dan Vore
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I've also found that to be true. In four player games the Panda isn't as effective.
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Craig Coffin
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In my group, everyone is aware of the panda strategy, which tends to have a bit of a balancing effect.
We've also discussed house ruling a maximum of 2 (or 3?) of any type of objective in hand at a time.

Another potential house rule is that players may play a maximum of one objective per turn until someone has claimed the emperor card. This might help offset some of the last-minute panda objective rush.
 
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David Jensen
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Ephyra wrote:

Second: Don't play your plot and panda objectives if they are completed. If you play them all at once to end the game, you'll get the emperor card but you will also surprise your opponents who will then not have the chance to complete all of their remaining objectives. Keep in mind that you are allowed to play more objectives than necessary to start the final round!
Of course, you will still need some luck to draw high value objectives and get the possibility to complete your objectives in as few rounds as possible.

I am thinking about some house rules to destroy this strategy (and I saw that other people came up with the same ideas to deal with this problem). For example, you could count plot cards although they are not irrigated, increase values of plot objectives or allow people not to have more than one card above the card numbers of your lowest card type (so you must have 2 plots and 2 gardeners to have 3 panda objectives). Or people can just store up to 5 bamboo sections or whatever...
What do you think?


I'll offer some house rules but mostly my reply will explain why the current rules are awful.
- Immediately when you complete and objective, show it. There is no reward for hording up objectives.
- After a player reaches the emperor, one round follows; but you can only play a maximum of two objectives.
- Never reveal objectives but once a player reaches 10 collect the emperor. One round follows. This allows players who have 9 one more round to complete and objective in hopes of acheiving more than 3 (or more!) points.
- The first player to collect 5 completed objectives must finish the game. The player with the highest score using no more than 5 objectives (plus the emperor) is the winner.

Under the current rules it extends the game end for no reason. Many of you have done this; purposefully wait to collect more objectives before ending the game. If your opponent was doing the same, the game goes on for longer than it needs to. I can't think of any top ranked game that allows you to do this - none!

All popular games have a clearly defined end and most games encourage a better bonus for being the first to cross the finish. Perhaps I just like the race style endings. But even if you prefer a revealed (hidden objective) ending, I simply can't see this as the way to do it.

Its my opinion that this game will not be a classic. After the catchy amd cite Panda fever wheres out and the another year of award winners the game will lose a lot of its momentum and be on someonese shelf for years to come.
 
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Anja
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Thanks for your thoughts. I won a four and a three player game only by the panda tie rule and I see that the game is more balanced with this amount of players. I also used gardener objectives and waited for other players to help me with that and it worked quite well. The plots are still a bit tricky and it depends on luck if someone is so kind to irrigate your plots.
Having to play objectives immediately after you completed them is another good idea. I prefer short house rules that do not change to much about the game.

I didn't find the panda less effective with more players. It highly depends on your other players and where they place it. Thunderstorms are pretty mighty with that, too, because you can place the panda just anywhere.

notyetsuperman wrote:

Under the current rules it extends the game end for no reason. Many of you have done this; purposefully wait to collect more objectives before ending the game. If your opponent was doing the same, the game goes on for longer than it needs to. I can't think of any top ranked game that allows you to do this - none!


I don't think that it will slow down the game if all players hold back their objectives. It should not change the actual game speed because all players want to finish their objectives as soon as possible to surprise their opponents. If they wait to long, the chance that other players will complete their objectives is too high.

notyetsuperman wrote:

Its my opinion that this game will not be a classic. After the catchy amd cite Panda fever wheres out and the another year of award winners the game will lose a lot of its momentum and be on someonese shelf for years to come.


I have to admit that the theme is a huge bonus for this game but I like it for easy play without to much thinking. Definitely not a classic but for me worth to keep it.
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Brian M
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Quote:
Conversely, we NEVER take panda objectives.

You need to do all of the work yourself. With plots and bamboo, you go in with other players doing the work for you.

I'm baffled about this one. We've found panda objectives to be extremely good, often to the point that in a 4 player game we'll run out the panda deck.

A panda objective only takes 2 or 3 actions to eat the bamboo. More to grow it...but if someone else is working on the garden, they'll be growing bamboo for you. Or you can just grow bamboo as a side effect of the garden objectives you are going after.

But gardening and plots - those take a lot of actions. For a gardner, you need to place the tiles and move the gardener. You need to work to keep the bamboo at the right height if you need 3 height bamboo. For plot objectives, you not only need to place the tile, but to water it, which can take a while to get all the irrigation pieces you need.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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StormKnight wrote:
A panda objective only takes 2 or 3 actions to eat the bamboo. More to grow it...but if someone else is working on the garden, they'll be growing bamboo for you.


Late game, it is very easy to cash in a plot or gardener action one 1 or 0 actions. 2 or 3 MUST be spent at least to eat bamboo. You can't get freebies.
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Brian M
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Quote:
Late game, it is very easy to cash in a plot or gardener action one 1 or 0 actions.

Our first game or two, this was true. After that, nobody sets up things to complete unless they themselves are scoring them.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
Late game, it is very easy to cash in a plot or gardener action one 1 or 0 actions.

Our first game or two, this was true. After that, nobody sets up things to complete unless they themselves are scoring them.


There are cards that are subsets of other cards.

And if you take a plot, you have to play it. Often solving someone else's card.

Same with the gardener. He grows multiple bamboos. Often, exactly what someone else needs.
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Brian M
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Quote:
And if you take a plot, you have to play it. Often solving someone else's card.

Put it some place where it doesn't match the surroundings. Plot cards always involve at least two of the same color. And, except in the first few turns, even if you put it where someone wants it, someone still has to irrigate it.

Quote:
Same with the gardener. He grows multiple bamboos. Often, exactly what someone else needs.

We're really not seeing this happen.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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StormKnight wrote:
We're really not seeing this happen.


You've never seen a whole series of points scored by drawing cards and having them already fulfilled?

 
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Brian M
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Quote:
You've never seen a whole series of points scored by drawing cards and having them already fulfilled?

First game or two. Then we switched to the "if you draw a completed objective, discard it". Then we realized that, after a few plays, we were never drawing completed objectives now that we knew not to set people up for them, so we dropped the variant, and still don't draw completed objectives.

I imagine meta-game is going to affect things a lot, but I think one person going panda crazy among a bunch of player pursuing other objectives is going to win. It would be an interesting experiment to try.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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StormKnight wrote:
I think one person going panda crazy among a bunch of player pursuing other objectives is going to win. It would be an interesting experiment to try.


We've done it.

Due to panda-mania, the first 5 or so games we played, my daughter would only do panda.

She never won.

Once she spread it out, she started winning.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
Due to panda-mania, the first 5 or so games we played, my daughter would only do panda.

I'm not sure a kid during first plays drawing panda cards because "pandas are cute" is the best strategy analysis.

I suggested Takenoko last night just so I could go for a non-panda play, focusing only on garden and landscape cards. I came in third; scores were 30 - 28 - 24 - 17. Lead two players both scored 4 panda cards.

And after saying we don't draw completed cards, we DID have two completed cards drawn this game. Both on the last turn, both relating to the same area of tiles; it was pretty obvious that were uncompleted smaller green cards in the deck. Both gave 2 points, and one of each went to the two players who ended in 1st and 2nd. Not a game changer.

I'm seeing there could be a meta-game difference though; if you have most players ignoring panda cards, you are less likely to have situations where you (sometimes repeatedly) build up your bamboo then just have everyone else eat it before you have a chance to score. If everyone is focusing on gardening, you're also likely to get more incidental help from other players.

I'm still sticking by panda cards being the best effort to point ratio. Heck, I wound up putting 'effort' into eating bamboo even though I didn't want to via rolling the lightning bolt. That gave me a few pieces of bamboo that I didn't get to score. (By the time my hand was down below 5, all the panda cards were gone).
 
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Dave E

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One of the official variants on the game is to not allow an objective to be completed if it has already been completed. If you draw an objective that has been completed you may discard/redraw until you get a unique one. This cuts down a lot on the panda cards being OP...

just something to consider.
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Brian M
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We played with the "no duplicates" variant until we decided that, with experienced players, it just didn't happen enough to stress about.

However, we never played that already completed panda objectives were discarded. That didn't make much sense, since you had to go through effort to eat the bamboo.

In practice however, the panda objectives matter even less since you'll usually eat the bamboo you've already got on your objective cards.

We've never seen someone draw an already completed panda card.
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Steven Myers
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I find most people winning on BGA are just picking Panda objectives. It's really taken the fun out of the game for me. Perhaps the plots need to be worth more, as they seem hard to complete and not worth drawing. The rule that completed cards get discarded just hurts the non-panda cards, also.
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Brian M
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Another 4 player game last weekend was won (by a very large margin) by the player with the most panda objectives. (She completed 5, no other player had more than 3).

I had one dang bamboo stalk I was trying to get to height 4 eaten down at least twice by that silly panda.
 
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Anson Bischoff
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The panda strategy is absolutely the best strategy, at least for 2 player, but usually even for three to four.

If you don't believe it, go play it online at boardgamearena.com as a two player game.

Try any other strategy, and you have about a 90% chance you will lose.

That's not to say that you shouldn't have a card each of the other objectives (which you start with anyway) because you can't do the panda for both actions. But honestly, it should be one of the two actions you choose nearly every round.

Plots scores need to be raised. Gardener scores are already fairly high, but seeing as you are trying to end the game quickly, aren't necessarily worth trying for.
 
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Anja
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fiscused wrote:
I find most people winning on BGA are just picking Panda objectives. It's really taken the fun out of the game for me. Perhaps the plots need to be worth more, as they seem hard to complete and not worth drawing. The rule that completed cards get discarded just hurts the non-panda cards, also.


And that's why I decided to buy the game now and to play only with people in front of me with modified rules. It is besides a game with absolutely amazing and beautiful components and totally worth owning it.
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This sounds interesting, but if I remember the rules correctly you can never have more than 5 objective cards in your hand at any one point. By keeping them all until you can play the lot, you are severely limiting your ability to cycle through them - and the number-of-actions required to complete many of the objectives ignores the fact that your opponents may inadvertently help you with them

panda objectives are better in early game (when the others are too difficult to complete), but the others are better once the board fills up, since you can often complete them as soon as you get them
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