It doesn’t matter if it’s board, mobile, video, role-playing, or card — games are a way to bring people together, to learn and hone new skills, and to collaborate on elaborate world building. They are for first dates, family fun nights, team-building, or any other social gathering. Take a step into the new Boardwalk board game café in Abbotsford and it can’t be denied there’s a game culture thriving right here in the Fraser Valley.

So what are we playing? With so many ways to play, it can be daunting to pick up and learn a new game. We’re here to help you along as we play new games, or discover classic favourites. We’ll even tell you where you might find these games to play yourself.

Takenoko

Players: 2-4
Play time: 45 mins

Takenoko is one of those games I’d seen on the shelf and admired the artwork, but never ventured under the lid. I opened it up this time looking for a good two-player game. Inside there was an adventure in growing bamboo and a hungry panda waiting to be fed.

Takenoko is a territory building game reminiscent of Settlers of Catan. As the story goes, a long time ago a Japanese Emperor is gifted a panda, and entrusts his gardeners (the players) to care for it. Your task is to cultivate and irrigate bamboo plots, move the panda around the board to eat, and complete objectives. Objectives consist of building a map in various configurations with coloured hexes, growing bamboo to specific heights, and contending with weather and a changing panda diet.

Chances are you’ll spend the first round figuring out the benefits of planting versus eating, and building versus improving land. The mechanics are all explained logically: you irrigate land because bamboo needs water to grow. You roll a dice to determine weather, because weather is random. After a couple play-throughs you can start to prioritize different actions and narrow down your strategy.

This game works well for 2, but also plays up to 4 nicely. Between map building, dice rolling, and objective selection, it is never the same game twice. This provides decent replay value in varying groups. You can test it out at Boardwalk or pick up a copy at Nerd Haven both in Downtown Abbotsford.