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How to Play: Bohnanza

How to Play Bohnanza

Our 'How to Play' series teaches you how to play some of the very best board games available on the Zatu store. We also share some sneaky hints and tips on how to get the better of your rivals. In this edition, we take a look at Bohnanza by Rio Grande Games.

The Premise

In Bohnanza, we’re all bean farmers (pause for dramatic effect and for comedic timing, chances are someone’s going to laugh at the theme). So, during the game we will be trading and planting beans, before harvesting and selling them for money. At the end of the game, whoever has the most money wins the game.

The Cards and Points

So each card represents a bean, and there are a few things you need to take note of: The name of the bean, the number on top, which represents how many of these cards there are in the deck, and the coins at the bottom that show how much money you get for harvesting the beans. So if you harvest three beans from your field, you get one coin, two coins for harvesting six, three coins for harvesting eight and four for harvesting nine.

When you harvest, you put the beans into a discard pile, and depending on how many coins you get, you keep that many cards, flip them over, and they become your money.

Fields and Harvesting

We all start the game with two imaginary fields. Each field can only hold one type of bean, so if you have to plant different type of bean than you already have, and all your fields are being used, you’ll have to harvest one of the fields to plant the new bean. Later on in the game, you are allowed to buy a third field for three coins.

Playing a Round of Bohnanza

It’s important that you don’t rearrange your hands, it’s a part of the game. Your turn in Bohnanza is split into three steps:

  1. Plant the first card in your hand (the foremost card) into one of your bean fields. You can also optionally plant the second card as well.
  2. Draw two cards from the top of the deck and place them in front of you, for everyone to see. You can either plant the beans or try to trade them to other players. If other players are interested, they can trade away cards from their hands (usually cards in their hands that they don’t want). They must plant the card they get from the trade immediately, and so must you. If someone else wants a bean that you have, but they don’t have anything to offer, you can just give it to them.
  3. Draw two cards and add them to the back of your hand.


More on Trading

There are a few rules that sort of govern trading, but other than these the trading in this game is very open so feel free to get creative. The first rule is all trades must involve the player whose turn it is. So if it’s player A’s (use names of people in your group), person B cannot trade with person C. Second, trades can only take place between two players, no more. So person A can’t give person B a bean, who would give another bean to C, who would give another to A.

You can try to make deals and agreements which involve a future payout or future preference in trades, but players don’t have to honour these deals.

A Demo Round

Let’s say I have two fields, one with five chili beans, and another with two blue beans. In my hand, the first card is a chili bean, so I plant my chili bean. My second card in hand is a soy, so I don’t plant it. Then I draw two cards, a green bean and a soy bean.

I could choose to plant them, but since I’ve got two fields of beans already, I choose to trade them away instead. So I ask everyone if they have anything to trade. Person A offers me two blue beans for the soy bean. I instead offer two soy beans (the one I drew from the deck, and the one at the front of my hand), and they accept. The reason why I’d do this is because keeping the soy bean would make me have to harvest one of my fields, which I don’t want to do just yet.

Then, I offer to trade away the green bean, but nobody wants green beans. Therefore, I am forced to plant the green bean. Since my chili bean field has five beans on it, I’d get one coin. So I flip one of those beans over and keep it, while discarding the rest.

Then, I draw two cards, and them to the back of my hand, and it’s the next player’s turn.

Game End Condition

When the deck runs out, we shuffle all the discarded cards together, and then put this new deck in the middle and continue. The game ends once we’ve gone through the deck three times. Then we harvest our remaining beans for money, and then count up our money. The richest player wins!

Hints and Tips for Bohnanza

Bohnanza is all about trading, so it’s important to get the most out of each trade. So, a few tips for making good trades:

  • Try to keep count of what cards have been played and discarded. As there is a fixed quantity of each card in the deck, knowing how many have shown up will help you figure out how likely more beans of that type will show up!
  • Be aware of what other players are looking for!
  • Try to make agreements with other players and build yourself up as a good trade partner. This might help you get preferential trades in the future, or even be selected for trades over other players!
  • Sometime, including cards from your hand in trades is better than not doing so. Even though you’re giving another player more cards, you’ll have less to worry about in the future!