Let’s Play: Takenoko Review

Let's Play (2)

A once monthly feature to focus on tabletop game reviews, hauls, and kickstarters.



Source: Purchased
 Family Game
 Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4.5/5

A long time ago at the Japanese Imperial court, the Chinese Emperor offered a giant panda bear as a symbol of peace to the Japanese Emperor. Since then, the Japanese Emperor has entrusted his court members (the players) with the difficult task of caring for the animal by tending to his bamboo garden.

In Takenoko, the players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow, and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain this bamboo garden. They will have to bear with the immoderate hunger of this sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo. The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the delicate appetite of the panda, will win the game.

Takenoko is a beautifully illustrated game that centers around completing gardening tasks for the Emperor, and with each task done gain points that will see that the player wins favor and possibly the game.



I won’t lie…I bought this game solely because it’s gorgeous. I love the tile pieces, the little stack-able bamboo, and the adorable little panda and gardener figures. I did however have a good reason to think we’d enjoy this one, we need a low stress game and this one seemed to fit the bill.

Pros: The pieces are all gorgeous and have beautiful illustrations, and the tiny panda is so cute! I also love a game that requires me to interact directly with the layout, it keeps me focused and it’s always fun to watch people squirm when you mess up one of their tile placements to make it more suited to your needs. While the game does have the appearance of being super involved and detailed, the rules are actually very simple! Plus if you forget you have this nice little cardboard player cards that tell you what each die symbol means, how many turns you get, and little spaces to keep up with your water and bamboo pieces. And it’s a pretty good game for the whole family, but it does have small pieces.

Cons: The play time can be a bit lengthy and lasts for around 45 minutes or so, so those with shorter attention spans be warned. Tons of pieces! It does come with little baggies perfect everything, but things can get a bit out of hand and that bamboo can roll pretty quickly.

Overall: Takenoko is a very fun game that is a pleasure to play and to look at. It’s one that I wouldn’t mind teaching to others and it seems like something all types of tabletop gamers can enjoy from the super serious strategist to the guy who just wants to chill out.

4.5 Stars

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5 Responses to Let’s Play: Takenoko Review

  1. Christy says:

    That looks fun! I love board games and such, but hardly play them anymore. Well, technically no one will play with me …

  2. janceewright says:

    This is one of the games at the top of my list to get! I keep getting distracted by other things first – my roomies and I are in a gaming group at a local game store, so usually I end up buying the stuff we play there. Which is how I ended up with Smash Up, which is now one of my favorite games!

    • It’s definitely worth it! Smash Up is a lot of fun too, I’ve only had the chance to play i a handful of times but it’s really awesome to try new deck combos and see how they go. Zombie Robots seems to be the unbeatable pair for our group.

      • janceewright says:

        I was able to snag the Wil Wheaton deck, plus I bought the Pretty Pretty Smash Up expansion, but what seems unbeatable for us is the Wil Wheaton/Wizards combo. It’s so unbeatable that I’m forbidden from ever playing that combo again.

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