Meeple Blog > Meeple’s Eye View – Takenoko

Meeple’s Eye View – Takenoko

Meeple’s Eye View – Takenoko


The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. This week’s column is written by featured blogger Rick Grayshock.

The Emperor of Japan was given a rare panda as a gift, and set it loose in the imperial garden. The panda loves his new home, and especially the tasty different kinds of bamboo growing in it. You know who doesn’t love the new panda? The gardener, who is trying to keep the emperor’s garden beautiful. Can you find the delicate balance between feeding the panda and helping the gardener while keeping the emperor happy?

Theme: Japanese gardening

Number of Players: 2-4

Game Time: 45 minutes to an hour

Age Appropriateness: 8 and up

Game Type: Takenoko is a set collection, tile placement kind of game in which players control a Japanese gardener and hungry Panda to achieve goals and score points.

Game Play: There are three types of cards, and three ways to score points in the game. The panda cards will have a number and color of bamboo that the panda must eat in order to achieve the goal and score the points on the card. The gardener cards feature different colors of bamboo at specific heights. Match the goal on the card with the bamboo on the board to score these cards. The emperor cards are patterns of tiles that the gardener must follow, again worth points when matched.

TakenokoOn a player’s turn they use their two actions to draw a card, draft and place a tile, move either the gardener (to grow bamboo on a tile in the garden) or the panda (which eats a bamboo) or grab an irrigation stick that will help them expand the garden and enable new bamboo growth.

There are rules governing movement of the panda and gardener, and certain tiles have special characteristics, such as built-in irrigation, fertilization or a greenhouse to keep out the panda. A weather dice is added after the first round to give players a bit of a bonus to each turn.

The game is over when the predetermined number of goal cards is played by one player. This number changes depending on the number of players in the game. The rest of the players have one final turn to finish any goal cards they are working on. The player with the most points on their goal cards played is the winner.

Component Quality: The components are fantastic. The tiles are heavy cardboard, the bamboo pieces are great, and the painted panda and gardener figures are high quality as well. I would prefer the cards to be a little larger, but that would be nit-picking. The artwork is tremendous including an outstanding looking rulebook with a short panda/gardener comic for flavor.

My Take: My family played this one over and over when we first got it. My wife and daughter especially loved it. I remember we taught it to my mom and all played a few times as well.

I’m not sure if we played it too many times, or if we just got other games and lost interest in Takenoko, but it is a game that we don’t play very often anymore.

My daughter suggested it recently so we went back and played it again. I think this is one of those games that has a certain number of plays in it, and then there is really nothing left. I believe I have hit that number.

It is definitely a family weight game, and one that we did enjoy for a while, but I don’t think it has staying power in my collection.

Expansions and Replay-ability: There are no expansions for Takenoko. There was a deluxe edition made, which I honestly can’t even imagine buying given the quality of the original game.

Rick Grayshock is a husband and father who is a digital content producer for FOX Sports Ohio and is a co-founder of the Cleveland sports website Rick is excited to contribute to Meeple Moments and to write about his ‘other’ favorite hobby.