Go Dumpster Diving With ‘Trash Pandas’

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Trash Pandas cover

One person’s trash is a raccoon’s treasure! Tip over garbage cans and dig for goodies, but watch out for doggos and kittehs! (Fortunately, you won’t have to face Jack-Jack.)

What Is Trash Pandas?

Trash Pandas is a press-your-luck game for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. The game includes set collection and “take that” elements, and is fairly easy to learn. It retails for $11.99 and is available directly from Gamewright, in stores, and from Amazon.

Trash Pandas components
Trash Pandas components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Trash Pandas Components

Here’s what’s included:

  • 54 cards
  • 6 wooden tokens
  • 1 custom die
  • 1 reference card
Trash Pandas box insert
A simple plastic insert holds the cards, tokens, and die. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

It all comes in one of Gamewright’s small game boxes, similar to Slamwich, which is easy to stash in a bag for travel, but if you’re strapped for space you could even just have the cards and tokens in a baggie and it would fit in your pocket. The rules fit on a single, folded sheet.

Trash Pandas die
The Trash Pandas die. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The die is a large, chunky die with the symbols etched and painted, which is nice because the images won’t rub off. The wooden tokens are just painted with those same symbols.

The cards are all illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya, with fun, disgusting things that you’d find in the trash, like pizza (covered with random things), fish bones, and partially eaten chocolate. Each of them has a silly name (“Feesh!”), some point values, and a special effect. Each card also has a number in parentheses that indicates how many of that card exist in the deck, which is pretty handy.

Trash Pandas cards
Feesh and Mmm pie!, two of the cards you might find in the trash. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

How to Play Trash Pandas

You can download a copy of the rules here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to score the most points by stashing valuable food and treasures.

Setup

Shuffle the cards, and pick a starting player. The first player gets 3 cards, the second player gets 4 cards, and so on. Set the tokens in the center of the play area, next to the deck.

Trash Pandas bust
I rolled “2 trees” but I already have that token—bust! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Gameplay

On your turn, you roll the die and take the corresponding token from the center. You may continue rolling and taking additional tokens as long as you like. However, if you ever roll a symbol that you’ve already taken, you bust: draw a card and then lose the rest of your turn.

Trash Pandas tokens
Each token gives you a different action. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Once you decide to stop, you may use the tokens in any order:

  • 2 Trash Cans: Draw 2 cards from the deck.
  • 2 Trees: Put 2 cards from your hand into your stash (face-down).
  • 1 Trash Can/1 Tree: Either draw a card or stash a card.
  • Hand Grabbing Bag: Steal a random card from another player’s hand.
  • Mask: Reveal the top card of the deck and then put it in your hand. Any of the other players may stash a card of that type, face-up. You draw 1 card for each card that was stashed.
  • Recycle: Trade this token for another token that you didn’t claim this turn.

If you get all six tokens, you get a bonus turn after the turn is over, but you may only claim up to 3 tokens on your bonus turn. (Note that if you have all six tokens, the Recycle token doesn’t do anything.)

Trash Pandas cards
Nanners and Blammo! can both help protect you from busting. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Each of the cards also has an action associated with it—you may play any number of actions during your turn, discarding the card after you play it.

  • Shiny: Steal a card from another player’s stash and put it in your hand.
  • Yum Yum: Play on another player’s turn to make them keep rolling the die.
  • Feesh: Take a card from the discard pile.
  • Mmm Pie!: Resolve a token twice.
  • Nanners: Cancel your last roll and then stop rolling.
  • Blammo!: Reroll your last roll.
  • Doggo: Prevent somebody from stealing from you, and draw 2 cards.
  • Kitteh: Prevent somebody from stealing from you, and steal from them instead.

You’re not allowed to play cards that you just gained on the same turn, though you are allowed to stash them if you have the right actions to do so.

Trash Pandas stash
What’s in your stash? Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Game End

When the deck runs out, the current player finishes their turn, and then the game ends. Discard any cards you have remaining in your hand, and then reveal your stash and sort it by card type.

Each card has a Gold, Silver, and Bronze number on it. If you have the most of a particular type, you score the Gold value. Second most scores Silver, and third scores Bronze. If there are ties for a place, the tied players earn 1 point less than the printed value. Blammo! cards are worth 1 point each, regardless of how many anyone has.

Highest score wins, with ties going to the biggest variety of cards, and then the most total cards.

Trash Pandas cards
Shiny and Yum Yum let you wreak havoc on other players. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Why You Should Play Trash Pandas

The short answer is: Trash Pandas is cute! It has adorable artwork and a funny theme. Certainly playing as cartoon raccoons is a lot more fun than actually encountering real raccoons knocking over your trash cans, and the silly names of the cards add to that.

The gameplay itself is simple to learn and pretty quick. Press-your-luck games are, by their nature, heavily luck-based, so if you constantly roll the same symbol twice in a row you’re going to be at a disadvantage compared to the person who can roll 5 different symbols on every turn without even trying. (That’s my daughter, by the way.) There are a few ways to mitigate that—using Blammo! or Nanners cards to reroll or cancel your last roll can let you press your luck a little further, but at the same time you have to watch out for other players using Yum Yum to force you to continue. At least you get a consolation prize of 1 card when you bust.

Trash Pandas cards
Kitteh and Doggo both protect you from thieves, with different bonuses. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Playing out your actions is pretty straightforward—you’ll have to decide whether to use the tree/trash token for drawing a card or stashing a card, and if you roll a thief symbol you’ll have to choose who to steal from, but for the most part the biggest decision you have to make is what to stash. Cards are only worth points if you stash them, of course, but they can also be pretty powerful if you use them. The question is: are you going to get more benefit by stashing that Nanners card (worth 7 points if you have the most!) or by hanging onto it in case you bust?

This is complicated by the fact that it’s not enough just to have some cards stashed—you really want to have the most of whatever you stash, to score the most points. So which do you stash? There are only 3 Shiny cards in the deck, so it’s easy to get first place—but that’s only worth 3 points. Maybe you go for the Mmm Pie! instead, because it’s worth 6 points—but with 9 of them in the deck, it’s harder to get first place. Plus Mmm Pie! lets you resolve a token twice, which is pretty great.

GeekDad Approved Tabletop Game 2018That’s basically what will be going through your head as you play Trash Pandas: Do I roll one more time or should I stop now? Do I stash this card or use it? Obviously, the more you stash, the better, but using card effects might help you stash more (or keep your opponents from stashing as many). It’s easy to pick up, and has just enough “take that” in the stealing to make things interesting.

If you like raccoons and press-your-luck and dumpster diving, then Trash Pandas is right up your alley! Look for it in stores or online.


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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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