The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Trash Pandas

The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Trash Pandas

Trash Pandas, designed by Michael and Lisa Eskue and featuring the artwork of Kwanchai Moriya, just went live on Kickstarter. But if it already sounds familiar, that may be because it was one of the five finalists in the Hasbro’s 2016 game design contest, and had an earlier IndieGogo campaign that went along with that honor.

The game is a light family game that plays two to four players in fifteen to twenty minutes. Thematically, the players are raccoons -- or “trash pandas” -- that are digging through garbage cans and stashing the food and treasures they find. Mechanically, the game features card play and push-your-luck style dice rolling. The game centers around a custom six-sided die, and six tokens that each match the symbol of one face of the die.

The six die action symbols are:

  • Two Trashcans: Draw two cards.
  • Two Trees: Stash two cards.
  • Trashcan/Tree: Draw a card or stash a card.
  • Paw: Steal a random card from another player's hand.
  • Bandit Mask: Reveal and draw the top card of the deck. Add the card to your hand, other players can stash cards that match the drawn card.
  • Recycle: Exchange with another token that was not selected (functions similar to a wild ability).

On each player’s turn, they will roll the die. With each roll, they take the token that matches the symbol they rolled. As long as they keep rolling different symbols, they can keep rolling and taking tokens. If they roll a symbol they already rolled, they bust and only get to draw a single card, and their turn is over.

To score points, players will need to stash cards in front of them, using the stash action. Most cards are scored by who has the majority of them at the end of the game, although Blammo cards are worth one point for each, and Doggo and Kitteh cards do not have a stash value, and are only useful for their abilities.

In addition to deciding when to push their luck and when to stop rolling the die, players must manage their hand of cards, deciding which to play for special abilities and which to stash and score for points, which then cannot be played for their abilities. The abilities include:

  • Blammo, which lets you re-roll your last die.
  • Nanners, which let you ignore your last roll (in the case it was a bust).
  • Feesh, which lets you take a card from the discard pile.
  • Yum Yum, which forces another player to keep rolling.
  • Kitteh, which lets you steal from a player that attempts to steal from you.

The fun names on the cards, such as Feesh for fish and Nanners for bananas, help sell the playful, cartoonish theme.  The game ends when the deck runs out, and players will score up their stashes, with the highest score winning.

Pros: The cute art, family friendly theme, short playtime, and each to play and teach gameplay make this a good game for families with younger children.  The box is small and portable, making it easy to take on the go. Good mix of card abilities that encourage interactive gameplay. The $12 price point is very budget friendly.

Cons: As with all dice games, this can be highly luck dependent, and rolling poorly and busting early in a turn can be frustrating, even with cards to mitigate the impact. Drawing cards off the top of the deck also determines what cards are in your hand, so there is a luck factor there as well. That said, the game takes 15-20 minutes, so this isn’t a deal breaker by any means.

Overall, Trash Pandas is a fun family game with a cute theme and adorable artwork. The combination of push-your-luck and interactive card play will keep everyone at the table engaged the entire game, and the short play time ensures it never overstays its welcome at the table.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Trash Pandas from the publisher.

The Trash Pandas Kickstarter campaign, which launched on July 6, 2017, is already fully funded, and will be available to back until August 5, 2017.

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