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Subject: "It's a game about beans?" rss

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Chris Rogers
Mexico
Georgia
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My wife and I had our friend Jason over this past weekend for some gaming, pizza, and American television*. We decided to try out Bohnanza first. Susie and I had played the two-player version, which was a little disappointing, and we really wanted to try it with the regular rules. Jason was a bit tough to sell, producing the probably not uncommon question that is the title of this session report, but when we convinced him it was a vicious trading game, he went for it.

Going through the rules was easy enough, as it quickly becomes obvious why you will (or will not) want to trade with the other players, and that skillful deal-making is going to win the game. At first Jason was skeptical of the three-player rule of "the game ends when you go through the deck twice," but with 5 cards moving per turn, we figured the game wouldn't take too long.

When we got into the game, Susie took the lead quickly. If I remember correctly, she got a killer opening deal and was able to plant a solid collection of rare beans. I, on the other hand, got stuck collecting extremely common beans... eventually I was able to get 4 gold for my fields, but it cost me too many turns and cards compared to the others. Jason did pretty well too, but in the end, Susie's advantage won her the game with 27 gold. Jason and I tied at 21.

If those scores seem a little high, I can tell you why. When explaining the game, I forgot to mention the rule that you can't sell a one-bean field unless that's all you have. Somewhere in the middle of the game, Susie and I both realized that we had forgotten, but since we had played it that way for a while, we kept the broken rule and finished the game out. It didn't ruin the game, but there were far too many times where trades were turned down and a single bean burned to keep it away from someone else. Hopefully, we'll remember the rule next time we introduce the game.

A couple of post-play observations:
It's hard to know how much value a trade has for both of the players involved. I think experience with the game will help with this, but since this was our first game, I got the feeling that we made a large number of sub-optimal trades.
Also, I'm anxious to try this game with more people. I'm thinking that five or six would be quite excellent, and make the trading aspect even more powerful. And that is definitely the fun of the game, the thing that all of the mechanics drive play towards.






*We all are living in backwater Japan, and these three things together are the trifecta of "stuff we miss from home."
 
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nick s
Australia
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Lowest I've played with was 3, and it seemed very "tight"... little room for negotiation, amongst other things. 4 or 5 seems good with my groups
 
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Chris Rogers
Mexico
Georgia
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Although I haven't played with more than three, I suspect that 4 or 5 would be better. There just weren't enough opportunities to trade, and with more players more people will be going after the same beans, so it will probably be more cut-throat. I'm waiting for a chance to play with 4+ before I write a review, and that may happen soon enough. We periodically have game nights out here, and there is probably time enough for at least one more before my wife and I move back to the United States.
 
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Jessica Conley
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Perrysburg
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It is much easier and more fun to play with 4. We ended up with a lot of trading and a lot of donating (enough to frustrate each other). It isn't nearly as good with 2 or 3 because it does get very limiting. I think next time we play with 2 or 3 we will change the rules to be more challenging. I'm not exactly sure how.
I wondered why it isn't called beananza, but in german bean is bohn, so i'm content with that much.
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