In 1997, a young and (at the time) unknown German game designer published a game about beans that soon become a major hit. The designer was Uwe Rosenberg that is now among the most famous game designers worldwide and, as you may have guessed, the game was Bohnanza.
To celebrate this great game and its story so far, Amigo has published this year a Bohnanza 25th Anniversary edition of this historical card game. The rules of this edition have not changed since last edition, but the game now comes with a sturdy box, a few additional rules and game modes and some new components designed to celebrate a new milestone in the story of this game. Let’s start our review from there.
When A Bean Ages Well – 25th Years Of Bohnanza
As mentioned, Bohnanza was first released in 1997. As happened for some other great historical game, people may have bought and played one of the first editions without thinking they would still see this game on the shelves after 25 years.
From the first edition, Bohnanza has been published in a couple of different versions with just a few small differences. For example the early Rio Grande was designed for 7 players while the most recent Amigo could be played up to five. The latest versions are very similar to the original one with just a couple of rules tuned to make the game more interesting.
The game has also received quite a substantial number of variants and expansions. Some of them increased the number of different bean cards to add more complexity as the 1997 expansion set featuring for the first time the Cocoa and the Coffee beans. More beans were also linked to special events or collaborations like the Peanut bean (2018).
In other cases, the variants added new features and new mechanics together with new beans type. For example, in Al Cabohne (2000) you play against the Bean Mafia while each type of beans in Bonhanza: Ladies and Gangster (2015) will come in male, female and baby version and impact the score differently. Other variants took the game to a whole new level as in Bohn Hansa (2002), where players have to to deliver beans across all Europe to fulfil contracts.
As we are now in 2022 and Bohnanza is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the publisher decided to celebrate this milestone in the history of this game by releasing the original game with some additional content and some improved material. The choice is very understandable but not too innovative as Amigo previously followed a similar approach for the 10th, 15th and 20th Anniversary of the game.
Recipe For A Celebration – 25th Anniversary Box Components
Bohnanza 25th Anniversary comes in a cool sturdy box designed to be opened like a book. Very thematically, the box inner art reminds of a wood crate and there is a nice velvet organizer for the cards. Although it looks very nice, I would have probably preferred a different packaging as this one could be a bit challenging to bring around as the lid does not close safely. A small magnet on the lid would have probably worked as a charm but instead Amigo opted to provide you with an elastic band to wrap around the box. Not a great choice but at least it works.
Under the (difficult to be kept closed) lid, the new edition provides you with a good selection of materials. First of all, there is a wider selection of the star of this game, the Beans cards. Together with the standard 8 types of Bean cards from the original game, farmers will have also access to Cocoa Beans, Wax Beans, Coffee Beans, Field Beans and Magpie Beans. Although these Bean cards have been released previously in other editions, they are not usually part of the base game therefore is nice to have them added here. All the newer Beans can be used in the game variants described later.
Together with the cards, the box comes with 7 cardboard bean fields mats to allow up to seven players to play the game. This is more than the base game that plays only up to 5. Each of the mats has two fields on one side and three on the other side as usual although the artwork has been fully reworked from previous editions. The two main differences are the addition of a “25th” logo and of an area dedicate to store all the coins collected by selling beans. Small versions of the Beans and other features have also been added making the mats quite nice to play with.
Finally, the box contains two postcards of the Artist and Designer of the game (Bjorn Pertoft and Uwe Rosenberg) and a metal coin. The metal coin has been designed as the one depicted on the back of the Bean Cards and it looks absolutely great. Players can use this coin to decide who goes first for example or use it in one of the new game variants to spice up the game.
What’s My New Bean? 25th Edition vs Standard
The Bohnanza 25th anniversary edition does not change any of the rules of the standard game but introduces a few new variants. I will focus here on these last ones but you are welcome to check the gameplay of the base game if interested.
The first game variant (“Three New Beans”) is played by adding the Coffee beans, Cocoa Beans and Wax Beans cards to the deck depending on the number of players. The other main difference here is that all players draw one card every turn (not just the active player). This variant is not dramatically different from the base game although I like the new drafting process as it could seriously damage player strategies.
In the second variant (“The Field Beans”), harvesting 2 Field Beans cards is the only way to obtain the third bean field. This change seems minor at first glance but it can trigger a dramatic competition among players.
The third main variant (“The Duel”) changes substantially the trade mechanic. In fact, trading beans is not allowed in this variant. Players will still draft cards after planting from their hand but instead of donating or trading, they will leave all Bean cards they don’t want to the next player to plant or discard. In addition, players could discard cards from their hand to compensate for the lack of trading phase. Overall this variant of the game is quite interesting although it takes away one of the main aspect I like of Bohnanza.
In addition to the three variants above players can add the Magpie or the Amigo coin to their games for further variability. The Magpie is treated as a Bean card but instead of been planted, it allows a player to steal up to two Bean cards from other players. The Amigo coin, on the other end, must be earned by having a certain amount of Beans in your field and it allows a player to draft more cards than all the other players. Both of these items are quite interesting and they are fun to play with although I recommend to not mix them to the variants as I don’t think the games would be balanced enough.
How Good Is The 25th Edition? Let’s Check The Beanometer
Personally, I really like the contents of the new 25th edition. The mats, the coin and the other items are nice and look great on the table. The selection of Bean cards is also quite good and I love to have all the additional cards in one box together with the Magpie and the Field Beans.
The box could have been designed better but overall it is not a dramatic drawback.
All in all, this new edition is a good starting point if you still don’t have Bohnanza. The 25th Anniversary edition packs much more fun for almost the same price of the base edition and I would recommend it for all new players.
If you already have Bohnanza, I would still consider to purchase it anyway. The two main reasons are the additional cards and the fact you can play this edition up to 7 players while the base game has components only up to 5. Considering the price of the Bohnanza 25th Anniversary edition is quite good, I would consider for example to have this box at home and to take the base game around on holidays.