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Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
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I purchased Bohnanza a little while back because it looked like it would deliver on several levels:
* Fun
* High degree of player interaction
* Easy to learn

It also didn't hurt that it was designed by Uwe Rosenberg. I've only played a couple of his games, but I have yet to be unimpressed. The man makes farming interesting.


Initially the wife and I sat down for a two-player game, and it was pretty decent, but not that memorable. I think we have better two-player card games, but I guess it's nice to have the option. The game really shines when you get more players. We managed to get several games of three, four, and five players in over a weekend; the game went over great.

The main idea in Bohnanza is to plant and harvest beans. Bean planting is very serious, and there are very serious bean planting rules. You always have to plant the first bean in your hand at the start of your turn, and you can never organize or reorder your hand of cards. You also only have two (or possibly three later in the game) bean fields to plant beans, so you need to manage your hand and the cards you draw on your turn by trading with other players. This game is all about trading. This game is about knowing what's likely to come up in the deck. This game is about knowing what the other players have in front of them. You need to be the most efficient heavy-math-cracking bean planter possible. Alright, maybe I exaggerate. A little. The truth is that all the information you need is right in front of you. The different bean cards have a number on them to tell you how common they are in the deck. You and other players always play bean cards in the open for everyone to see. You can harvest and sell off a bean field (stack of beans) at any time, so you really shouldn't have to put yourself into a losing situation very often. You'll totally get the hang of this game by the end of your first play.


Your turn order breaks down like this:

1) Plant the first bean card in your hand. Either plant it on a field containing the same bean type, plant it in an empty field, or harvest of a field to create an empty field. You can't harvest a bean field with one bean card if you have another bean field with multiple bean cards. This prevents you from having a "garbage dump" bean field.

2) Draw some cards. You will have to plant these cards too if you can't trade them away. Maybe they're cards you want, maybe they aren't. You can trade with any other player(s). You can also trade away cards in your hand. Any cards in your hand are fair game for trading. Cards you get in trade do not go back into your hand, they are set aside until Step 3.

3) Plant all the cards you drew and didn't trade, and all the cards you received in trade. Remember you can harvest at any time. Other players also have to plant what they received in trade.

4) Draw some cards directly into the back of your hand. Make sure to preserve the order of your bean cards in hand.


That's really all there is to it. It sounds simple and a bit stupid, and it feels a bit stupid arguing and negotiating in the realm of bean trades. Well, it is stupid. Stupidly fun. We let the table-talk fly, honesty of course being optional. The game is a little bit cooperative in the sense that trades will usually benefit both players to some degree, but ultimately you want to harvest more beans for bigger profit than the other players. There's a bit of treachery, but not real confrontational in-your-face backstabbing. In theory you could play the game nicely and always help out your fellow players, but that's just a theory.

The games we played generally took less than a half-hour, and the play was good enough that when we had four or more people we always played at least twice. Bohnanza delivered on all my initial hopes, and I'd definitely bring it in before or between the "big games" on a game night. The only downside to Bohnanza is that it isn't terribly deep, but deep wasn't what I was looking for when I bought a card game with cartoon artwork about trading and planting beans.

The Verdict: 8.
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nyn -
United States
Portland
Oregon
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One of our favorite "filler" games. Easy to set up, portable and fast gameplay. I agree that it's not a great two player option (Citadels is much better for that), but I have found that my 5 year old daughter loves it (we play with hands showing - strategic trading is still over her head).
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Larry Welborn
United States
Anderson
South Carolina
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A nice little game that I recently introduced to my two children, ages 10 and 8. They both love it.
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