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Subject: A Year With Bohnanza rss

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Bohnanza was the very first game my wife and I played at the very first meetup of a new monthly group that had formed in the area. She took an immediate liking to it, and was her favorite game of the day. A few months later, I decided to buy the game as a stocking stuffer and she got to open it at Christmas of '10.

I like the game a lot too, especially if you have a fun, social group to play with since there is a lot of talking and negotiating going on throughout this game. The game will break down somewhat if players are being shy and not wheeling and dealing. Without the trading, the game just becomes a game of chance, favoring the player who draws the better cards. Trading is the heart of the game, and the better traders can help mitigate the luck of the draw.

Another thing about this game is that it handles up to 7 players. The downtime between turns is not too noticeable since you have a chance to make trades on any players turn, so you are always in the action.

I have played this game 10 times so far, and have since acquired both English expansions and look forward to giving them a shot.

The Premise:
Every player is a bean farmer, and you want to be the most lucrative. The more beans of the same type that you can grow in your crops, the more profitable you will be. Sometimes the only way to get the specific beans you want is to get them from the other farmers, who of course will be looking for specific beans in return.

The Components:
A huge set of cards, which are nice quality. The cards depict many different types of beans, and the rarity of each bean type is different. Seven of the cards (for up to one for each player) is a third field card for players that have purchased a third field to plant beans on.

The Gameplay:
I have never played the game using the 2 player rules, so my description will only be for 3-7 players. The number of starting cards, the beans used, and the cost of a 3rd field all depend on the number of players.

Each bean card shows a picture and name of the bean type, as well as a number which tells you how many beans of that type are in the deck. At the bottom of the card is a bean-ometer, which tells you how many beans of that type you need in your field to earn 1, 2, 3 , or 4 coins when you plow that field up. The rarer beans need less cards in order to make more money, but since they are more rare, getting them will be tougher. Each player has two imaginary fields in front of them (each field can hold one type of bean at a time) and will have the opportunity to buy a 3rd field once they have some coins.

Once you are dealt your cards and pick them up, you must leave them in order. Never are you allowed to rearrange your cards. You are stuck planting these cards in the order they are received. Unless you trade them away, and this is where the trading aspect comes in. Trading cards you don't want helps to move the cards you do want closer to the front of the line, as well as helps bolster your fields at the time of trade.

Each player on their turn has 4 steps to complete before the next player takes their turn. The first step is to plant the first card in your hand. There is no choice in this matter, which means if you have a bean card that does not match the beans in one of your fields (and you don't have an empty field) than you are forced to plow up a field to plant the new bean type. Anytime you are forced to plow up a field, you can choose which field to plow, except under one condition. If one field has only a single bean, and the other field(s) have more than one bean, than you may NOT plow up the single bean. Otherwise if they all have one, or they all have more than one, you are free to choose. After planting the first card in your hand, you then have the option to plant the next card.

After deciding whether or not to plant a second card, the next step is the trading step. Two cards are flipped face up from the deck and become your cards to either trade or keep. At this point, you may trade these two cards or any cards in your hand with any player. Cards in fields can never be traded. The other players may only make trades with the current player, not with each other. And once a card is traded, it can't be traded again. So you can't get a bean from one player, and then pass it right along to another. Trades where one side gets nothing are allowed, and can happen quite often if you have cards in your hand that you absolutely want to get rid of.

After the trading, all players that got cards in a trade must immediately plant them. Traded cards do not go into your hand. If the current player did not get rid of the two cards that were flipped over, then the player must plant those as well. All players choose the order of the beans they plant, which can be important if the player has more bean types to plant than they have fields.

Once the beans are planted, cards are drawn from the deck (amount depends on number of players) and placed in hand at the back of the line, and the turn is over, and the next player starts their planting.

As mentioned, players earn coins when they plow up their fields, earning the amount of coins as shown on the bean-ometer. The number of coins earned are taken from those bean cards and placed face down in front of the player, and the rest are placed in the discard pile. For example, say you plow up a field with 10 beans which earns you 3 coins. 3 of those bean cards are placed face down in front of you (the card backs are a coin), and the other 7 of those cards are placed in the discard pile. This is important because the cards that are kept as coins will never be returned to the deck (unless they buy a third field). This will be affecting the rarity of those beans in the future since the game doesn't end until the deck is gone through 3 times, with the discards being reshuffled to form the deck each time.

At the end, the player with the most coins is the winner. If there is a tie, than the tied player with the most cards in hand is the winner.

Final Thoughts:
As I mentioned at the start, this game is a lot of fun to play if you have a social group to play with. The art is fun, and since you're trading beans, the "musical fruit", there are sure to be a lot of jokes made. Even so, it can get quite rowdy with players trying to one-up each other on a trade to get some of those more rare and valuable beans.

I do prefer to play this game with as many as possible, 5 or more is ideal. More players means more available trades, and less chance of players getting stuck with things they don't want. It will still happen, and sometimes on purpose to force a player to plow earlier than they want to, but with less players, the luck of the draw is more prevalent.

I just think this is a good, solid, social game. It's not to be taken too seriously, but the game lasts long enough that it isn't a throwaway and you want to play with some strategy. I find it a lot of fun.

Using the BGG guidelines to rate games, I give Bohnanza an 8.5.

You can view my other reviews for games I've had at least a year at A Year With My Games. Thanks you for your patronage!
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Brian Foster
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An excellent review of one of my favorite games. Well done!

I do disagree with your assessment of the 2-Player variation. What I'd like people to keep in mind is that Bohnanza is really TWO different games: multiplayer 3-7 and 2 player.

Is the 2-Player as much fun? No, but it is still an excellent fast game that my wife and I have played many times. Our games are almost always close and very competitive which we like. We do enjoy playing with more people, but not many of our friends are gamers, so we do the Bean Duel and have fun with it!
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bboppr wrote:
An excellent review of one of my favorite games. Well done!

I do disagree with your assessment of the 2-Player variation. What I'd like people to keep in mind is that Bohnanza is really TWO different games: multiplayer 3-7 and 2 player.

Is the 2-Player as much fun? No, but it is still an excellent fast game that my wife and I have played many times. Our games are almost always close and very competitive which we like. We do enjoy playing with more people, but not many of our friends are gamers, so we do the Bean Duel and have fun with it!


Thanks for the GG! I didn't mean to imply that I didn't like the 2 player variation, or that it was bad. I was just saying I have never tried it. I've only ever brought this game out when we've had a larger group.

Whenever my wife and I play a 2-player game, it's usually either Carcassonne, or another Uwe game, At the Gates of Loyang. But I will make it a point to try out the 2 player rules of Bohnanza to see what we think.
 
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G W M
Australia
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Great review Doom Turtle, I love Bohnanza, though I must say we don't play this as much as I'd like these days. Your wife and yourself may like a few of the titles here - Nic and I have got a big selection of H+W games we love. All the best, GM
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