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Takenoko – Review

Bombyx / £35-£40 /  Players 2-4 /  45mins / Age 8+

A long time ago, the Emperor of China offered Japanese Emperor a Giant Panda as symbol of peace. Your delicate mission is to take care of the animal by growing a bamboo plantation. But be careful with the sacred animal and its unhealthy appetite for the crispy shoots . . . – Bombyx



We first saw this game on Table Top and I fell in love immediately with the cute artwork and little panda miniature. We had to wait a while before purchasing this game after it suffered from the “Tabletop Effect” and was out of stock for ages. Then one day we decided to go to Forbidden Planet, one of our FLGs, however this store doesn’t stock too many games so we had no hope. As we walked through the doors I spied the game, ran across the store and started my bad habit of hugging games whilst I walk around the shop!

Takenoko & Chibis

This is a great game to play with those new to gaming. It is a good gateway game. However we tend to play this one after we have introduced new players to Ticket To Ride and they understand there is more to life than Monopoly! We have fun as experienced gamers, thinking through our strategy, picking cards and getting what we need. New players love moving the miniatures around  and getting to grips with some new mechanics.

Takenoko Rule Book

The artwork on this game is gorgeous, so cute. It has an anime/cartoon feel, even the rulebook starts off with a little comic strip. With a cute little panda and a pink palette, this is defiantly a game for the girls! Your girlfriend/partner/kids will love the look of this game If you are trying to get them into the hobby, Takenoko has simple enough mechanics to learn but heavy enough gameplay for others. Another bonus, this game plays just as well with 2 players as it does with 4, it is not often you find the suggested play and actual gaming match!

Takenoko Player Boards

The above boards are the ‘alternative artwork’ from the Board Game Geek Store. I love the little drooling panda on the left! You play with one of these boards, two tokens and a dice and it makes playing super easy as you don’t have to remember a ton of rules. A quick quide:


You will be given three objective cards to start with. The first player to complete a certain amount ends the game. However each objective scores different points. Either satisfy the Panda by eating certain pieces of bamboo. Satisfy the Gardener by growing specific bamboo to certain heights. Or create a pleasing arrangement of land tiles.


You roll the dice and take the action it shows; Red ring of fire = an extra action  Blue rain = grow a piece of bambo where you want  Green wind = take the same action twice  Yellow lightning = panda moves to location of your choice (and because the lightning scared him he needs to stress eat a piece of bamboo!) Purple = take a token of your choice (play straight away or hold on your board next to they symbol) Question Mark = choose which action you want to take.


Now use your two wooden tokens to decide on your actions this turn.

  • Take three tiles and choose one to add to the board
  • Take a piece of water/irrigation, place it directly on the board or place on your board, in the space with the symbol
  • Move the Gardener, he can move any number of spaces you wish in ONE straight line direction. Once settled bamboo grows by one in each of the same colour areas surrounding the gardener – so long as it is irrigated
  • Move the Panda, he can move any number of space you with in ONE straight line direction. Once settled he eats one piece of bamboo – do check he is allowed on a tile, some say No Eating for the Panda! If he eats a piece of bamboo it goes into his tummy on your board
  • Pick a card of your choice from the piles.


At the end of your turn check to see if you have completed any objectives for the cards in your hand. If so, pop it to one side. Put any ‘eaten’ bamboo back into the box.


Voila, you are now playing Takenoko. Simples. However there are tactics to learn and cute little Chibis to add once you know what to do! Its all fun and games until another player moves the Panda to the only tile that can stop your best laid plans 😉


Squee Pandas

Inside the box you get a lovely insert to put all the little pieces. There is a mix of wooden, plastic and cardboard tokens and all are reasonably well made. The bamboo pieces all fit together, and only really fall over if you stack more than 4, which is good as that is the limit in the game. There are more green pieces than pink, so in theory it should be harder to get hold of the pink pieces when playing – I have never noticed this and it does make me giggle everytime we play. The gardener is growing pink bamboo all over the place and the panda is gobbling it up without a care 😛  We have noticed the paint job is wearing off our little plastic panda miniature, but this game does see a lot of table time!

Takenoko Box Insert

Takenoko is one of those boardgames where you don’t really know who is going to win until you count up all the points at the end. Sure someone could get the 7 cards needed to end the game super quick, but they could all be low scoring and your 5 high scoring cards absolutely trump them! It makes for a fun game as you want to get the most out of each turn you take and maxamise points. The dice included is a really great way of doing this as it mixes up your strategy a little each time.

Playing Takenoko

We totally recommend this boardgame for your collection. Get it because it looks cute for your girlfriend/wife/partner/kids, she will love it. Bring it out to play with new gamers because it is easy to explain/learn. Then keep it, because actually it’s a really good game time after time.

Takenoko Chibis

Best of all, there is now an expansion called Chibis and it includes a female panda and little baby panda tokens! Squee!

Panda in Bamboo

For more information check out:

Publisher Bombyx

BGG Takenoko


Reference Pig Time:

The magnificent beast on the left is Buddy, having a cheeky chew on a piece of bamboo! The poser with the fabulous hair-do on the right is Scampi. As you can see introducing guinea pigs to Takenoko resulted in carnage with the modular board being completely destroyed. But hey, these guys get away with it because they are cutie pies 😉

Reference Pig




Published inBoardgame Reviews

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