Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 24 December 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Takenoko


ManufacturerBombyx & Matagot

Designer: Antoine Bauza


We were first introduced to Takenoko about 9 months ago at our first ever Board Game Club attendance. At the time it came across as quite an obscure game that only one member of the club owned. It was cute, simple and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. However, I didn’t particularly expect its popularity to sky rocket like it appears to have done in the past 6 months. At least 3 different people I know have discovered and fallen in love with the game and the new expansion appears to have given it a boost in popularity and mean more people are loving the game.

In Takenoko, each player is given a number of starting objective cards and can collect more using actions throughout the game. They can then use the Panda miniature, the Gardener miniature or place new tiles or irrigation channels on the bamboo plantation, to try and complete high value objectives faster than their opponents. The objective cards come in 3 type; one rewards the layout of the different coloured hex tiles, the second rewards different configurations of bamboo towers and the third rewards you for feeding the panda the correct colour combination of bamboo pieces.

On your turn you will typically select two different standard actions, plus a special action that you roll on the six-sided dice. The actions are to; draw three tiles and select one to place on the board, take an irrigation channel, move the panda and eat a piece of bamboo, move the gardener to grow bamboo or take a new objective. If doing any of these actions allows you to complete an objective card then you place that face up of the table. The first player to play a given number of objective cards (which scales depending on the player count) ends the game and receives 2 bonus points, and the points for each player are added up. The player who finishes first often does not win, because the value of some cards is much higher than others. In terms of colour, green is the most abundant bamboo, followed by yellow then pink, so the points rewards tend to reflect this rarity.

Early in the game, building out from the central lake.

Takenoko is a really easy game to teach and learn and the cute theme and artwork will make this game appealing to many new gamers. However, for me, although there are plenty of small tactical decisions in the game, it’s a little too random whether these decisions actually affect your opponent. Sometimes it can be obvious that your opponent is growing a very tall bamboo stack and therefore you should send the panda to eat some of their bamboo, but if you have no objective card for that specific colour of bamboo then I often seems that the benefit of doing this is not as great as if you’d just played the game as multi-player solitaire. I think this can be mitigated at the higher player counts as there are more objectives in circulation, but it means that Takenoko is one we probably won’t add to our collection and there are enough people around us who own and love the game which means we can get our fix of a fun, adorable, light game when we need it with one or two more players too.

Cutest miniature! Also a really nice special dice.
I’d definitely recommend Takenoko as a title for new gamers and families and in fact have recently done so as a Christmas present for a family with gaming experience of Catan and Carcassonne. For me – I’m very happy to play Takenoko once in a while, but the 2-player experience is not strong enough to add it to our collection. The Yellow Meeple thinks it’s a 7/10.

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