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Bohnanza

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Doug Adams writes:

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Amigo Spiel
Players: 3-5 (3-7 with the expansion)

Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a wonderful little card game about beans. The players take on the roles of expert bean farmers who are each trying to plant, trade and harvest their own beans to make the most money.

The game comes in a small box, containing 104 cards. Each card represents a particular type of bean, and is complete with the name of the bean, the amount of coins paid out if you harvest those beans, and finally a very amusing and colourful cartoon drawing of the bean. The names of these beans are in German, but our game group quickly came up with a set of nicknames for the different bean types, based on the artwork on the cards.

There are 8 different types of beans in this game. The number of cards for each type varies between 6 and 20. The more rare a bean is, then the more valuable it is when harvested.

To begin the game each player is dealt 5 bean cards which they take up into their hands. The game departs from a normal card game in that cards in a players hand may not be sorted at all. The first card into a players hand remains at the front of the hand, the last card remains at the back. No card is allowed to be moved in the hand at all.

In front of each player lies their beansfields. Each player has two beanfields available to them and they are simply two spaces on the table where a player grows beans. Each beanfield may only grow one particular type of bean at any one time. The more beans players plant in their beanfields, the more coins they will earn come harvest time.

Play passes around the table from player to player. During a turn a player must follow a strict procedure:

  • The player must play the front card from their hand onto a beanfield. They may optionally play the second card from their hand onto a beanfield. If the type of beans being placed don't match any of the beans currently in the beanfields then the player must harvest beans to make room.
  • The player must then turn up the top two cards from the deck and either trade them to the other players or keep them. This is the heart of the game, as usually the beans turned up will be wanted by someone. Negotiations take place with the player whose turn it is and trades are discussed. Trades of 2 beans for one, and higher are allowed - beans can even be given away. Why ? Well, cards may be removed from any position in the hand during trading to sweeten the deal. This is an important mechanic as it lets players structure their hand so that when their turn arrives they will have the cards they want to plant in their beanfields at the front of their hands. The key to this game is to get beans you want into your beanfields quickly, so trading away unwanted cards in your hand is a must. The last thing you need is unwanted beans at the front of your hand that you have to plant!

    After trading has been completed, any cards that were traded must be planted in beanfields - harvesting to make room if necessary. Traded beans cannot be discarded, or taken into the hand, they must be put in the ground.

  • The player draws 3 new cards from the deck and adds them, in order, to the back of the hand of cards.

A player may harvest beans at any time. This simply involves scooping up the bean cards in one of the two beanfields, counting them and converting them to the correct amount of gold. On each bean card is a bean-meter which indicates how many cards pay how much gold. On the reverse side of each bean card is a gold coin - the appropriate number of bean cards are flipped over to convert them into cash, while the rest of the harvested beans are placed on the discard pile.

Each player also has the option of purchasing room for a third beanfield. This can be done at any time and costs costs 3 coins. It gives the owning player more flexability in growing beans. The catch here is will the game last long enough for the extra beanfield to pay for itself ? It's an interesting question that I haven't found the answer to yet, but I suspect it depends on the number of players playing the game.

When the deck is exhausted, the discard pile is reshuffled. When the third deck has been played through, the game ends. This tends to happen very quickly, because bean cards are being constantly removed from the game as coin cards. Players should be aware that once the third deck begins, they will probably only have two or three turns left and should plan accordingly.

When the game ends, players are allowed to harvest any beanfields and gain any coins from them. The coin cards are tallied and the highest total wins.

Bohnanza has been a huge success with our games group here in Australia. As far as I can tell, the game is flawless. The game keeps everybody involved for around 45 minutes, and seems to always produce close finishes (but not that many ties, oddly enough). There have been a few rough spots with the English translation of the rules, but nothing that harms the game at all. I've tried to consolidate what I've read about the rules issues into a definitive English translation, which is available on this web site in the Games Cupboard.

A fabulous game that can be played with family and friends. A gem.


Amigo Spiel also released an expansion deck of 50 cards late in 1997. It adds 3 new types of beans - Chocolate, Coffee and Brandy - that allowed the game to be played with up to 7 people. Amigo also included more balanced rules for specific numbers of players. Definitely worth tracking down if you're a fan of the parent.


The Billabong Boardgamers bean nicknames:

  • Blaubohnen = Cowboy Beans
  • Feuerbohnen = Fire Beans
  • Saubohnen = Poo Beans
  • Brechbohne = Spew Beans
  • Sojabohnen = Hippy Beans
  • Augenbohnen = Boxer Beans
  • Rotebohnen = Shy Beans
  • Gartenbohnen = Psycho Beans
  • KaffeeBohne = Coffee Beans
  • Weinbrandbohne = Drunk Beans
  • Kakabohne = Drowning or Chocolate Beans

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