I’m hardly an expert Panda Poet player, but in the interest of kicking off some activity in this part of the forum I’ll write up some strategy-related stuff that I’ve observed during our internal playtests here at Spry Fox.
– As some players have figured out, the speckled grass always contains vowels and the non-speckled grass always contains consonants. You can sometimes take advantage of this knowledge to starve your opponent of certain types of letters or unlock the types of letters you think you’ll need on future turns. E.g., if you notice that you can play a word that will consume all consonants currently visible on the board while revealing only vowels, this will force your opponent to play an all-vowel word.
– It’s not always about playing the word that can generate the most points on this particular turn. Often, there will be a bit of a “dance” around the fruits as I try to wait for my opponent to reveal the bonus so that I can claim it on my next turn, and he/she tries to do the same to me. Occasionally a similar dance will occur for Pandas as well.
– On many boards I’ll find myself not paying much attention to whether or not I make sleeping pandas, because the size of the panda is small and thus its points are easily regained through other means (making a good word, making a different sleeping panda, etc.). However, on the Mama Bear board you really have to pay attention to who finishes the game with the large panda because only one person is going to get it and the point swing from it is huge.
– The Go West board has a lot of bonuses on the left side of the map, but there is also a very large panda to be contested on the right side of the map. Go west, but don’t forget to pay attention to what’s happening back east!