Adorable Pandaring is a three- to five-player card game for ages 10 and up that plays in five to 10 minutes. It was created by Chris Cieslik, designed by Alanna Cervenak, and illustrated by Maya Lior and Will Pitzer.
Published by Asmadi Games, Adorable Pandaring has a suggested price of $12 but can be found for about $8.
In the game, players are trying to collect the most adorable pandas, thereby winning bamboo. But they must follow whatever law is in play at the time to determine whether their pandas are indeed adorable. Cute? Yes. Fun? Let’s see.
How it works:
The deck is full of pandas numbered from one to 10. There are four possible panda laws — odd numbered cards, even numbered cards, low cards (from 1 to 5), and high cards (from 6 to 10). The first player gets to determine the law.
Each card also has an ability, such as revealing another player’s face-down cards, stealing cards, copying someone else’s card, getting bamboo, playing an extra card, changing the panda law, and more.
Players start with four cards. On their turn, they play one card face down, followed by one face up. Then they do the action on the face up card. They draw back up to four cards.
Play continues around the table until there are the required number of adorable pandas face up, which depends on the number of players.
All face down cards are revealed. Players with at least two adorable pandas get one bamboo. The player with the most adorable pandas gets one bamboo. If at least three No. 5 cards are in play, each of the cards gets its owner a bamboo.
Adorable pandas (and the No. 5’s if there were at least three) get shuffled back into the deck. The player whose turn it is gets to choose the new panda law.
Play continues until at least one player has five bamboo.
Why you might buy Adorable Pandaring:
Adorable Pandaring reminds me a bit of Uno. That could be an insult. But it’s not.
It’s a more sophisticated take on playing cards that each do something different, often to the other players at the table. It’s funny, it’s social, and people will want to play it again.
That said, it has a lot more going for it than Uno.
The art is really cute without being cutesy. It’s silly, and that lends to the feeling of fun around the table.
While the game is random and light, there is some strategy involved. The more players understand it, the more that strategy will be evident. There are things you can do to force a quick ending or draw the game out a bit.
It’s quick and relatively easy to learn.
Why you might not like Adorable Pandaring:
The groups I played with had a bit of trouble understanding what to do at first. It took a few plays for them to warm up. I don’t mind that, but you might.
This is a light, family-friendly card game. If you’re looking for an epic strategy game, you’ll be disappointed.
Sometimes the game can end a little too quickly. After a scoring round, another can be triggered immediately if the next player chooses a law that matches the pandas left on the table. That’s part of the strategy, but it can be frustrating.
I don’t want a shelf full of games like Adorable Pandaring, but I do want it on my shelf.
It’s light and fun, but it goes some surprising directions. It works for families, but there is plenty of game here for adults, too.
Every time I play, I find myself commenting out loud how much I love the art. Sometimes several times during the game. I’m no panda collector, but the graphic design is stellar and color choices are just right.
The price is great, and you’ll get lots of play out of this game provided you have a group with just a little bit of patience.
Full disclosure: I got a review copy of Adorable Pandaring from Asmadi Games. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.