Take a break from Persona 5! We’ve got another real-life game night ready for you: This one is a little sampling of Japanese culture. Get some good snacks (cream puff drank, anyone?) and break out the board game, Takenoko.
Set in the royal gardens of the emperor of Japan, you get to feed a sweet little panda all the bamboo that it can eat. Who wouldn’t love that? (nobody, that’s who.) There are 3 things to focus on with this one; 1) expand the garden, 2) follow the emperor’s plans, and 3) feed the panda. So the real point of the game is to keep the emperor happy, keep the panda happy, and expand the gardens. The game is competitive (fish) but there is something pretty zen about just managing a giant garden (plus the little chubby panda is fun just to look at.) This is one game that won’t cause too much friction between the people at the table.
Best part: the game is freaking adorable. Takenoko has a lot of fun pieces and great design. The garden tiles are beautifully cartoony and the vibrant playing cards are laid out very simply. The bamboo stalk stacking pieces are colorful… and I know I keep talking about the panda, but it really is the star of the game. I have played this game with gaming amateurs and veterans; anyone can pick it up quickly.
You want to play.