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Board Games Retro: Bohnanza is the Bean’s Knees

4 Minute Read
Nov 7 2019
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Sometimes you don’t want to save the galaxy from memory eating monstrosities or sword breathing dragons. Sometimes you just want to plant beans.

Board games have gotten pretty wild in the last 10 years. Spirit Island, Mage Knight, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, and others are way more complicated than, say, Candy Land. But even with the complexity of today’s games, games like Dune, Magic Realm and The Game Which Shall Not Be Named have upped the complexity ante for years before Settlers of Catan was even a crayon drawn prototype.

Klaus Teuber’s original Settlers of Catan prototype. https://t.co/pgJzQGJKHo pic.twitter.com/YPnFkol2ba

Which brings us to Bohnanza, a fun and simple card game with still a surprising amount of depth and strategy. But first….

A Very Little Bit Of History

Bohnanza was released in 1997 and was the first game of German designer Uwe Rosenberg.

Bohne is German for bean, hence the game’s title.

If you’re hip and with it in the gaming scene, that name might look familiar. He’s designed COUPLE of SOMEWHAT popular games.

He’s got my vote for for best Uwe.

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Not much else to say. No dramatic backstory this time, folks. Bummer.

Let’s get into the…

Gameplay

Bohnanza is a competitive card game with set collection mechanics. The goal of each player is to collect the most coins by the end of the game. Coins are collected by harvesting groups of the same beans.

Bohnanza uses a couple of strange mechanics which set it apart from other card games. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

On each player’s turn, they will take cards from their hand and plant them into one of their bean fields. All beans planted in a bean field must be of the same type.

Three bean fields of Blue Beans, Stink Beans and Red Beans.

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At any point, a player can harvest the beans in a field to collect as many coins as noted at the bottom of the card. The more beans harvested, the more coins are gained. There are a few catches though.

The cards in your hand remain in the order of which you gained them. You can only play cards in the front of your hand and new cards are gained in the back. Additionally, you only have 2 bean fields (but can buy a third). So, what to do with the cards you don’t want?! Trade them!

Trading is a big part of Bohnanza. During your turn, you’ll flip over 2 cards from the deck and you have to figure out what to do with them. You can’t NOT plant them, that would be madness! If you don’t already have a field for the new beans, you must either trade them (or give them away) to another player, or harvest one of your current fields to plant this new crop.

Giving them away sounds easy, but remember that your hand is ordered so adding new cards to someone’s hand might mess up a calculated plan. However, when trading out of your hand, you can trade any card. So, that could help you set up for some big harvests a few turns down the line.

Once the bean deck has been gone through 3 times, the game ends and players count up their coins. The player with the most coins wins!

Final Thoughts

If you don’t like games with a trading aspect, Bohnanza might not be for you. In order to maximize your harvests, you have to get rid of the cards in your hand that you don’t want. And the only way to do that is unload them onto another player.

So train up those Charisma stats before getting this one onto the table!

Thanks for reading!

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