If you’re looking for a great family game, not too complex, light on strategy, but fun for all,  Takenoko might be a good choice. Instead of being highly competitive and cutthroat, players in this one focus on caring for a giant panda and feeding it. The farmer has to grow different types of bamboo, irrigate the land, then move the panda around to feed on the plants.

Takenoko Board Game


  • Cute panda and trees artwork
  • sold by and shipped from Amazon.com
  • gift-wrap available
  • $36.78
  • for 2-4 players
  • 45 minutes of playing time
  • players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow a species of green, yellow, or pink bamboo
  • ages 6 and up
  • by the makers of “Seven Wonders”


Asmodee has created a beautiful-looking game. The artwork is stunning; the bamboo pieces are sturdy and interlock; the land tiles are thick cardboard; the farmer and panda figurines are cute. Even the instructions are in colorful comic book form. The whole thing gives the impression of quality and fun-filled family entertainment.

The game is quick to teach, and plays relatively quickly. There is very little reading involved, which makes it nice for small children. The players build a garden and move a farmer and panda around it, while trying to achieve goals set by the cards drawn. The players’ actions will influence those of their opponents, because some goals may compete with others, adding to the gameplay choices. When one player has achieved a set number of goals, the other participants get one final turn. Victory points (gained by meeting goals) are totaled up at the game’s end to determine the winner.

There are three types of goal cards: (1) panda goals: claiming a certain color of bamboo by having the panda eat it; (2) plot goals: redeemed when certain parts of the farm are irrigated; (3) garden goals: to grow colored bamboo to a specific height. On a person’s turn, the player chooses from the following actions: drawing garden plots, moving the panda to eat bamboo, moving the gardener, laying irrigation pipe, or drawing a goal card. Although the game involves a fair amount of luck, choices do influence the game’s outcome. There are also weather tiles, which for simplicity’s sake, need not be used if small children are playing. It is a good “gateway” game to introduce non-gamers into the field.

One downside may be the lack of balance. The panda cards are too easy to achieve compared to the other cards, so players may choose those and avoid the more difficult ones. This can be remedied, however, by other players using tokens in a timely way to prevent certain tiles from having their bamboo eaten. The lack of competition and suspense may be boring for some people. Veteran gamers won’t be challenged.


Families who like games that aren’t too cutthroat will enjoy Takenoko. It doesn’t feel like you’re playing against each other; rather, you are sharing the garden in your desire to please the Emperor. It is nonviolent, easy, and pleasing to look at.

Click Here to get the Takenoko Board Game