Bohnanza

RRP: £19.99

NOW £15.49
RRP £19.99

Bohnanza is a set collection, hand management card game all about trading and planting beans. It might come as a surprise to discover that Bohnanza was designed by Uwe Rosenberg (10 years before he created Agricola, Le Havre, Caverna and many other ‘bigger’ games). However, despite being overshadowed by those weighty titles, this card game still provides clever, fun mechanics an…
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Category Tags , , SKU ZBG-RGG155 Availability 5+ in stock
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Awards

Great For Two

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The great player interaction.
  • High quality cards and artwork.
  • That it can be really thinky and competitive.

Might Not Like

  • That it can run a little long for what it is.
  • Enjoyment relies on the group you're playing with.
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Description

Bohnanza is a set collection, hand management card game all about trading and planting beans. It might come as a surprise to discover that Bohnanza was designed by Uwe Rosenberg (10 years before he created Agricola, Le Havre, Caverna and many other ‘bigger’ games). However, despite being overshadowed by those weighty titles, this card game still provides clever, fun mechanics and punches above its weight for a game that has been around for more than 20 years. Bohnanza’s deck consists of many different types of bean. Players (up to seven) will be aiming to plant beans of the same type in one of their two ‘bean fields’, and eventually harvest them to earn coins. Once the deck has been exhausted three times, the player with the most money wins. On your turn you have to play a bean card from your hand into one of your two available bean fields. Only beans of the same type can be played into one field, so if you have to play a different (third) type of bean other than those in your fields on your turn, you must first harvest one of your fields. Players can purchase a vital third bean field for three coins, giving them more flexibility. Bean types earn you differing amounts of coins, depending on how many beans you are harvesting at the time (some beans are rarer than others, and therefore worth more coins for having fewer of them, and vice versa for more common beans). On the reverse of every card is one coin. Harvesting your beans for coins? Simply flip over the appropriate value of cards of those harvested beans to keep for yourself, while the others return to the discard pile. This means, therefore, that there are now less beans of your just-harvested type available when the discard pile is shuffled and becomes the new deck later on. There is a really neat twist in Bohnanza, and it kicks in as soon as the initial cards have been dealt out to everyone. Players can look at but not rearrange their hand of cards. They must always play their top card, and any cards they acquire go to the back of their ‘queue’. Therefore, players need to be clever about how they ‘rearrange’ their order of cards… On your turn you can vocally offer to trade any cards in your hand with the other players. Therefore you could get rid of beans you don’t want and receive ones you do – but be careful, you could be gifting big points to other players! Of course, you may have no choice, because you might want to avoid being forced into harvesting one of your bean fields before you want to, if your next card is a type you’re not collecting! Bohnanza is an unsung hero from Uwe Rosenberg’s collection of board games. It takes strong willpower not to rearrange your hand (like you would in literally any other card game!), but that’s the brilliant thing about it. Believe us, it makes for a lot of fun when it comes to desperate trading of cards! Player Count: 2-7 Time: 45 Minutes Age: 13+

 

Bohnanza is a perfect example of games not being defined by their components. Nowadays, with Kickstarter tabletop games popping up left, right and centre, a greater emphasis is placed on the components that come in the box than the rules that tie everything together. It feels like most big Kickstarters are now just competitions to see who can put more in a box: more components, nicer minis, finer details, and so on.

Now, let’s look at a very simple game: Bohnanza. Here’s what you get in the box:

Cards.

These cards are wonderfully illustrated, with the silliness of the artwork definitely lining up well with the silliness of the theme (imagine asking your friends to join you in a game of bean farming). Furthermore, the iconography is near perfect, as all the information you need is easy to spot despite the card art. Card quality is top notch as well, with professional playing card quality stock that would definitely survive quite a lot of use.

Bohnanza - The Game

In Bohnanza, published by Rio Grande Games, players are bean farmers trying to make the most money. Cards in Bohnanza are beans, with a specific name and value (selling x many will yield y amount of dollars). These cards are essentially sets for players to collect, and the more you collect of a certain type of bean, the higher your payout will be once you harvest them.

Rounds are quick and can be divided into a few phases - planting, revealing and trading, and drawing. Each player has two bean fields at the start of the game,with an option to buy a third field later on. Each field can hold one type of bean.

A crucial part of Bohnanza is that players can’t change the order of their cards in their hand, which means that your hand is essentially a conveyor belt of beans, some good and some bad. This brings me to the best part of the game; trading. Players can trade or even donate beans to other players. In this way, you’re trying to get rid of beans you don’t want before you have to plant them, creating an interesting dynamic where giving away cards cards does help yourself, but you don’t really want to give them too much.

This is what separates Bohnanza from other games centred around trading; trading generally benefits both parties, and the winner of the game is generally the player who manages to make small gains over several trades. The free-form trading allows players to really get creative in how they negotiate, as players are constrained by trying to convince others to help them while also trying to cull unwanted cards from their hand. The game can be extremely cut-throat, or it can be really lighthearted. It really depends on your group.

Sometimes it might be worthwhile to deny someone else a card they want, even if it means having to sell off a set that hasn’t been completed. Since there are different amounts of beans in the deck, beans are valued differently.

Rarer beans are harder to come by, but they only require smaller sets to reward you for collecting them. But since multiple people may be vying for the same bean, the competition for that type of bean may go up, and someone who manages to get some of them can capitalise on the competition between collectors. The perceived value of certain beans fluctuates dramatically as some beans get scarcer and scarcer, and players find themselves dealing with a very fickle bean stock market (beanstalk market? Yes. I’m rolling with this).

That being said, much like most games with a negotiating and trading mechanic involved, the mileage you get from Bohnanza really depends on your group. If they love the back and forth negotiations and deal-making, this game will be a hit. If the group is generally quieter and more reserved, Bohnanza can definitely fall flat.

 

Another key issue with Bohnanza is that it tends to run pretty long. The game ends once you’ve run through the deck between two to three times depending on the player count. This turns a light game about trading beans into a rather drawn out affair. Depending on how well players have taken to the game, it may feel like it’s overstayed its welcome. However, if players are fully engrossed, the rounds can fly by, and these games sometimes feel like they ended a little too early.

A huge plus for Bohnanza is that it can hold up to seven players, although it does have a sweet spot of around five or six. Like many games with large player counts, there’s always the concern of downtime. This is kept to a minimum though. Even though it isn’t your turn, you’re engaged, paying attention to what happens on other players’ turns – what are they planting? Do they want to trade? How many garden beans are left in the deck?

Closing Thoughts on Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a fantastic game. It definitely lacks the component wow factor most games have nowadays, but for a small deck of cards that can easily fit in a backpack, it really packs a punch. There’s a lot of game in this small box, and for just over ten pounds, it’s a steal.

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!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The great player interaction.
  • High quality cards and artwork.
  • That it can be really thinky and competitive.

Might not like

  • That it can run a little long for what it is.
  • Enjoyment relies on the group you're playing with.