Bohnanza

 

Personal Ranking (2015): #35

Time to play (in my experience): 45-75 minutes

Age Level: I’ve had great success with this game with kids as young as 6 or 7.

Difficulty Level: 2 (5-10 minutes to teach, less than 90 minutes to play)

Type of Game: Negotiation/Hand Management. In a negotiation game, the interaction among the players is paramount, there is usually lots of “wheelin’ and dealin’” going on. In this game, the active player may negotiate with all other players about the beans he/she has available. In a hand management game, managing the hand of cards that you are dealt is a key element. In this game, the negotiation with the other players is how you manage your hand.

Game setting: Bean farming… sounds exciting, right?

Brief overview of how to play: The key element of this game is that you can not sort your hand of cards. This is unlike any game I have played in this respect. Your hand is your “queue”, the order in which you must play your cards. On your turn you play the first card in your hand into your bean field (maintaining the same order throughout the game). Then you may play the second card. Then you reveal two cards from the top of the deck and place them in front of you. This is where the negotiation comes into play. You may barter with other players for those two cards. If you want both of them, you take them and plant them. If you want to see if you can get something better, offer one or both up for trade. Other players may trade cards from their hand (at any point in their hands) for those cards. Any cards taken are then planted, then at the end of your turn you draw three cards from the deck, placing them at the back of your hand.

How do you win? By scoring the most coins from harvesting your beans. 

How many players does it play?: 3-7 with a 2 player variant.

Ideal number?: 5-6. 7 takes a little long between turns, though it’s one of the few games I have that plays 7 people. I’ve never played this 2 player, and I have other games that I’d rather play with 2.

Why do I love/recommend this game?

1) Huge hit with families and children: It is usually referred to as “The Bean Game” and is usually requested often. I’ve seen some children who are great negotiators. 

2) Loud and raucous fun: It’s hard to believe that bean farming could be so fun, but generally people, especially children, get into it. 

3) Cute artwork and cute choice of beans: The artwork is great, and it’s great to have “Stink Bean” and “Wax Bean” included with the beans.

 

Look at all these cute beans! Stink Bean is a favorite among many.

4) The game gets faster as it goes along: You play through the deck three times, which, when you first look at the deck looks like it will take forever. However, more and more cards are used up through planting and harvesting as the game goes along, so by the time that you get to the third time through, the deck is often very small.

5) Unusual hand management: The way that you have to keep all of your cards in the order that you got them, and then try to trade away cards that are “in your way” is really interesting. Since you can only play a maximum of 2 cards from your hand each turn, trying to get both of those played (and make them count), takes some skill.

6) Clever scoring: The back of the cards are the scoring points. When you harvest a bean field you keep a number of cards according to the number of beans you had in the field. You then discard the rest. Those cards that you kept are your points at the end of the game. Thus, this thins out the deck, and if you are really good at counting cards (I’m not), you can can have some idea of what cards will be in the next time through the deck.

 

The back of the cards are coins which are your points at the end.

Is there anything offensive in this game? Anything at all? Aside from the invitation to potty humor with the Red Bean (who is red because he has to go to the bathroom) and the Stink Bean, no.

Final Word: I’m not a big fan of negotiation games, but this one has negotiation contained in such a way that I’m usually very happy to play it. It’s super fun to look that person across the table and say, “You’re offering me 1 Blue Bean for my Red Bean? Is that the best you got? Because Ryan over here is offering me 2 Stink Beans.” Super fun.

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