GTM #215 - The Way of the Panda
by Sean Jacquemain

Centuries ago, the land of Xian was one of the richest and most beautiful parts of the Panda empire. However, that’s only a memory now, kept alive through stories and tales passed down through the generations. Long ago, human ninjas occupied the region with a non-stop campaign of pillaging and plundering. The panda inhabitants had no choice but to flee. But now there’s a new Emperor sitting atop the Black Lotus Throne, and he’ll not allow this outrage to continue! The time has come to fight back and reclaim your land!

In The Way of the Panda, players take control of a panda clan trying to liberate their ancient territory and rebuild their once-glorious cities. The clans of the White Fist, Yellow River, Night Lily, and the Sand Fox all have the same goal of ousting the human invaders, but only one will gain enough victory points to earn the favor of the Emperor and win the game.

The land of Xian is covered with locations connected by an intricate system of roads. To reclaim the region, players have to deploy their Guards strategically to defeat the humans and reconstruct the buildings. Each clan is led by three champions: the Monk, the Warrior, and the Governor. These champions have actions associated with them that players can build their strategy around.

The Way of the Panda is played over a series of rounds, broken up into individual turns. Each turn, players select an action on the Action Board, then place Guards and spend Action points to pay for it.

The Action Board is a grid of the different possible moves a player can make. It’s here where most of the difficult decisions in the game take place. Each column refers to actions related to one of their Champions, with a fourth column representing wild actions that can be performed by any of the Champions. Each successive row down the grid represent more and more powerful actions. The further down players choose to go, the more powerful the move they can make, but the more Action Points it costs to execute.

Actions can be used to move Champions around the board, develop their strength and complete quests, or to construct new buildings. Once a player has selected an action, all future actions must be further to the right or lower down on the grid. This limitation forces players to be patient and plan their moves accordingly. They must take simpler actions to begin a round, setting themselves up for a big move at the end. Speed and risk-taking are not the ways of the panda. Players continue to take actions until they run out of Guards or Action Points, or they decide to pass. Once everyone has passed, players regain Guards deployed on the Action Board and Action Points, and prepare for the next round.

As the different clans regain control of the roadways in Xian, they’ll be able to start construction in the various locations. Monks build Gates, Governors build Markets, and Warriors build Pagodas. Each time a new building is placed, the active player receives points. Once the three building types have been constructed, they are exchanged for a City Base. City Bases show the progress a location has made, but construction can continue on those sites. Each City Base has a spot for a Gate, a Market, and a Pagoda, and if all three are built again, the location becomes a Capital.

The Way of the Panda ends when either the fifth City Base is placed on the board, the last Building is constructed, or a second Capital is built. Players earn points throughout the game for constructing buildings and get victory points for how strong their Champions have become and the Quests they’ve completed. Peace will fall over Xian, with the land returning to its rightful owners, but only one clan will take their place at the side of the Emperor.

The Way of the Panda will be available in Q1 2018 at your FLGS.

Sean Jacquemain is the Marketing Coordinator for CMON and Managing Editor and photographer of The Daily Worker Placement blog.