This time on GS Table Games we play the Takenoko board game, a game all about tile laying, gardeners, water irrigation, growing bamboo and a giant hungry panda. Yeah trust me it really is as cool as it sounds.

When I first heard about this game it was through the Geek & Sundry Tabletop show with Wil Wheaton. I loved the idea of the Takenoko board game and it seemed like a lot of fun. I was not disappointed.


The players take the role of courtesans of the Nippon emperor and take on the role of caring for his Giant Panda by growing a bamboo plantation.

Their mission: to farm parcels of land, irrigate them, and grow green, yellow or pink bamboo. In turn, they see what the weather brings and perform two actions from among those offered to them: get a new plot of land or irrigation channel, grow bamboo, feed the panda or draw an objective card.



So the aim of this game is to complete objectives. The objectives could be how tiles are laid, how many bits of bamboo you have, courtesy of the panda eating them, or the grown bamboo columns on the board. Each time you complete an objective you show the rest of the group and select another card. This continues until the first player to complete 8 objectives starts the last round. Each objective has a score value on it so at the end you add up the total scores and the winner is the one with the most points. Pretty simple but how does the game play I hear you ask.

At the start there is no board but just one tile in the middle of the table. The idea is that as you add tiles you can then move the gardener to grow bamboo on that tile or send the panda to eat bamboo from a tile. This is how you can complete the objective cards I mentioned earlier.

You have a player board with two counters and also you start the game with three objective cards. Each player gets to choose two actions per round. The actions are, lay a new tile by selecting three and choosing one, send Panda to eat bamboo, send gardener to grow bamboo, irrigate a tile. Tiles must be irrigated to allow crops to grow. Lastly you can choose a new objective card. You can only choose two of these actions and they cannot be the same. Unless….

Yes before you actually choose your actions you roll a weather dice with various shaped icons which will give one of these options to do. Sun will allow you to complete three actions but the extra cannot be the same as the other two. Rain means you can grow a bamboo stalk one more section on any tile. Wind gives you the ability to use the same action twice if you want to. Storm means you can move the panda to any tile which means he can eat some bamboo. Normally the panda and the gardener can only move in a straight line and this action allows you to place him anywhere. A cloud means you can add an improvement to any tile. Improvements come in three ways, irrigation allows you to grow, fertilised means that bamboo grows at double the pace and lastly enclosure means that the tile is protected and the panda cannot eat anything on the tile. Some of these are already on a tile. The last dice icon is a question mark which means a wild card so you can choose one of the others as your action.

To win you complete the objectives on the objective cards which are split into three types. First is the tile type so it will show a tile design either all one colour or a mixture of two colours and design. So you complete this when you can see that the board has tiles matching the design and colour. Then you have the panda cards which show you a number of bamboo sections which you must have on your board which is done when the panda eats them and you collect them. Lastly you have the gardener cards which will show a design of grown bamboo trees which could be one section high or even 4 sections of a colour or two colours. When you complete a card place it face up and then on your turn get another card because the first player to get to 8 completed cards triggers the last round.

So that is basically the aim and the rules of the game now let’s talk about the actual game components.


What you get in the box

The box is a normal size box but inside it is a joy to look at because the pieces all fit really well in their various slots to the point you just smile when you open the lid and look in because it is a joy to look at. I am not kidding you. The rule book that comes with the game is a colourful and delightful book that is really easy to read and learn from. After a round or so everyone will be running with the rules no problem.  The tiles are strong and so far do not look like they will wear and tear any time soon as with the cards which are small but sturdy. The bamboo is great and works really when adding sections kinda like a LEGO tower. So for me all the components are of quality and made to last.

The game is designed for 2 to 4 players which is perfect as it last around 45 minutes and anymore would tip it over the hour length. Because of the simple rules and the ease of play this game is perfect for young and old. It is competitive but feels like a fun game as well so no one gets killed or eliminated. Moving the panda around allows you to go a bit silly and make nom nom sounds as he munches the bamboo. If you want to introduce a person to new hobby gaming then is a perfect way to do that. This will also fit really well in the family game section because of the theme and re-playabilty.

Also if want to have even more fun there is a limited edition BIG BOX version where the panda is about the size of a large action figure which is relative to the rest of the components.

Overall this great quality game plays well and is quick to learn and every game will be different. For me it is perfect game and concept. Five out of Five.

Check out the video below to get more of an idea of the game.

Contents: 28 tiles (plots), 90 bamboo sections, 20 irrigation channels, 9 landscaping cards, 46 objective cards,  4 individual boards, 8 action tokens, and one of each these, a weather die,  panda figurine, gardener figurine and rule book.



For more board game reviews on Geek Syndicate go HERE. Want to know where your closest game shop is then check out HERE

Source: Takenoko
Reporters: Montoya

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