Last night our gaming club got in a truckload of new board games, in particular Firefly, every boxed set of Dominion and one that I had wanted to play for a while – Takenoko.
For those not familiar with this game all players are trying lay different coloured tiles down to grow that colour bamboo forests in the Japanese Imperial Palace in order to keep the Imperial Panda happy. Isn’t that nice? No, the little bugger can sabotage your plans as he can be controlled by the other players to eat different coloured bamboo in order to achieve objectives in the game.
This was our first time playing so we quickly skimmed the rulebook, laid out all the pieces we needed – the starting pond with the Imperial Gardener and the Panda on it. Each player is dealt 1 objective from the 3 categories – Tiles, Panda and Gardener – more about these later and their own playing mat. The mats are great as they give a quick graphical representation of what you can do in the game and what each weather effect has. We shuffled all the coloured tiles and were ready to begin.
During a player turn you roll the weather dice and apply the effects and then decide which 2 of the 5 actions to take. You cannot take the same action again and can complete actions in any order. Some weather conditions allow an extra action or to perform the same action again. Rain allows you to grow a bamboo section in any 1 tile but bamboo cannot grow higher than 4 sections. Clouds allow a player to take an improvement token and either place it immediately or save for later. Improvements come in 3 varieties – Fertilizer to help grow more bamboo, Panda enclosure to stop pandas eating on that tile and irrigation to make a tile irrigated without using irrigation channels. It’s important for Bamboo tiles to have access to water to grow.
The actions are pretty clear as well. Tile actions allow a player to take the top 3 tiles, pick one and play it. the remaining tiles are put back on the stack. A tile can only be placed adjacent to 2 other tiles or next to the pond. If there is an irrigation channel touching 1 side the new tile will sprout bamboo. Controlling the gardener allows a player to move the gardener any number of tiles in a straight line. His final place will allow bamboo to sprout in his tile and all adjacent tiles of that same colour that are irrigated. Irrigation actions allow a player to take an irrigation channel piece and either play immediately or place on his mat for use later. Controlling the panda allows the player to move a panda any number of tiles in a straight line. The final tile he lands on will have 1 bamboo section consumed. the controlling player keeps that section and can be used to score panda objectives. The last action is to pick a new objective card. Maximum of 6 cards in your hand.
Objectives are the scoring system in the game. There are 3 types – The tile objectives are easiest to score by creating patterns represented on your card on tiles being placed. At any point in your turn you can show the objective card to score points. Gardener objectives require a certain number of sections in a certain colour in a certain number of tiles to score points and panda objectives involve the panda eating the number and colour required on the card.
When 1 player has scored 7 objectives (in a 4 player game) he triggers the last round and also gains the Emperor Objective card worth 2 points. Every other player then has 1 round in order to score what he can. Once all players have gone the scores are added up and the victor is the gardener with the most points.
In our game last night the Emperor Card achieved victory for Raymond by 2 points over his brother.
A good fun family game with lots of twists and turns.