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Subject: Space Beans - A Review rss

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Craig Hargraves
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Space Beans

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Year: 1999
Players: 2-6
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 45 minutes

The Idea
Space Beans is a card game in which players are making and converting sets of “space beans” in order to have the most points after someone reaches 30 points.

In the Box
The compact box is constructed from good quality linen cardboard and contains 105 playing cards and a single sheet of rules. The rules are well laid out and clear with some nice quality illustrations clearly showing how the game is played. Summary notes down the right hand side of each page serve as an excellent reminder of the key rules when you need to remind yourself.

The 105 cards are of pretty good quality and come in seven colours and numbered from 1 to 9. Each colour has its own science fiction TV series or movie associated picture including Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, 2001, Alien, and Babylon 5. The last won’t be familiar to most English speakers as I’m informed by a German friend that it’s an old German show (the name of which I have since forgotten). It should be noted here that the space theme really has nothing to do with the game at all but the illustrations are cute (I particularly like Darth Bean) and do make the game more enjoyable.

Basic Game Play Summary
During the game each player will have up to 2 collections in front of them where beans of the same colour are collected. The first collection is face up so everyone can see what you’re collecting. The second collection is secret and is placed face down. The idea is to make as large a set of bean cards as you can (up to 9 cards) however the collection can only be scored if you have a numbered card in the collection that equals the number of cards in the set. For example if you have 6 cards in your collection then you must have a card with the number 6 on it in the collection. To keep track of your score you will set aside your number 6 card and the other cards are discarded.

The game play of Space Beans may feel a little bit strange at first because there are things happening in two directions at once but after a few turns it’s easy to get the hang of. If players play quickly and stay focussed then it tends to be easier.

On their turn, players have the option of drawing 2 cards. Next there is the option of converting one or both of their collections into points. They then have to plant bean cards from their hand into one of their two collections in front of them. If they can’t play a card (because they don’t have a matching colour) then they must convert their open collection (scoring points if possible). Their secret collection then becomes the open collection and they must then play one or more cards to form a new secret collection. After playing cards you pass the remainder of your hand to the player on your right (who won’t have any cards at the time). Play then goes to the left. That’s the confusing bit. After the next player’s turn is completed you’ll be handed some new cards which you’ll be able to use next turn.

Play continues until one player has scored 30 points by converting their bean collections. At that point all players convert their collections and total their scores with the player who reached 30 first getting a bonus 4 points. The player with the most points wins.

The play time given above is the manufacturer’s stated time but games usually play much quicker than this. A 3 or 4 player game is unlikely to go much longer than about 20 minutes.

Who Would Like It?
Space Beans is the loose sequel to “Bohnanza” (another bean themed game) and if you liked it then you’ll probably enjoy this one too. Space Beans is a much quicker game and simpler than Bohnanza However it has less player interaction than Bohnanza which some people may not like.

Science Fiction fans may be interested even though the theme has no relevance to the game itself. The illustrations are good and will be appreciated by fans of the various shows and movies.

Space Beans is essentially a filler and most fans of Eurogames will probably enjoy a quick game or two of this before playing something a bit heavier.

People who don’t usually play Eurogames will also probably enjoy Space Beans as it isn’t overly complex and it doesn’t take too long to play. Space Beans makes a great travel game to pull out whenever you have the opportunity to play games with your non-gamer friends.

Where to From Here
If you enjoyed Space Beans and haven’t yet played “Bohnanza” (also from Rio Grande Games) then it ‘s the most logical choice for your next stop.

Also worth looking at are “Mama Mia!” (also by Uwe Rosenberg) and Coloretto which are another couple of popular card games available from Rio Grande Games. Like Space Beans, both of these card games play fairly quickly.

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