Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bohnanza...spill your beans

So we played Bohnanza last night me, my non-gaming wife, my half-gaming brother, and my non-gamer friend from work. All I can say is that I can definitively see this being fun in our group. I have to admit; I prefer games like the ones Ben likes….Memoir 44, TI3, Conquest, etc. Basically true wargames or wargamey confrontational games. But still, I do enjoy good euro games both deep and light ones. Bohnanza is a light, but extremely fun trading/set collecting card game. I also have the expansion (which we didn’t play) that seems to make it even more fun and complex.

Players are basically farmers trying to earn gold by growing and harvesting bean farms. You have the ability to make 2 rows (farms) of same-type beans (there are over 10 types), and try to have as many bean cards per farm before harvesting them to make gold. You can also invest in a third farm for 3 gold Different bean types give you different amounts of gold; bean type rarity is what determines the gold you earn for a set number of cards harvested. The rarest is the Cocoa Bean with only 4 cards in the deck, and the most common the Coffee Bean of which there are 24. Where the game shines is when you have to trade around and negotiate in order to maximize these earnings.

There are some cool mechanics that make this game different from other trading games. First, you have to play the cards in your hand in the order that you get them…which is fine as long as that card is similar to any in your farms. But if the card is different, you are forced to harvest a farm to open space for that card. So there is some planning ahead to do. After playing the first card in your hand, you have to draw 2 cards and place them in front of you. You can play these immediately into your farms or trade them off. You can also offer to trade cards from your hand, but again they also need to be played immediately. If you can’t trade a card that you want to get rid of, you are forced to keep and play that card…and again harvest if you have to, to make room for that card. This “screw you” factor forces your opponents to harvest before they can maximize earnings. It also leads to more interesting offers from your opponents like “I’ll get rid of that card for you if you also give me (blank) bean card from your hand”.

Session Report: R (me), K (brother), C (wife), and CK (friend).
CK, even though he’s from Texarkana, is an inexperienced farmer. He was up to a slow start harvesting very small bean farms making very small but quick profits. He was a little overwhelmed by the beans he was being forced to plant, that were constantly forcing him to harvest before time. He didn’t realize that trading is key to compensate for the random beans dealt to him, until very late in the game. My wife, the true farm girl and investor that she is, quickly saw opportunity in the neglected cheap Blue and Wax Beans. It took longer to make a profit per farm, but everyone else would trade her these two beans b/c no one else was after them, filling up her farms fairly quickly. K and I are aggressive farmers immediately noticing the screw you factor mentioned above, and the potential to make money out of the more rare beans like Stink bean, the Chilli bean and Garden Bean. We were both head to head for a while, but then he went ahead and secured a win with 2 consecutive sales of huge farms of chilli and garden beans. This lead to me being an even more aggressive farmer, not wanting to trade at all with him, even when I needed his beans. I soon realized that this was bound to backfire and ended up screwing my score at the end of the game. I tried to recoup by playing the rarest bean in the game, the mighty addictive and aphrodisiac Cocoa bean, followed by all kinds of bribing and begging to CK who had another Cocoa Bean. This sadly wasn’t enough to win over K.

Final score: CK: 12, C: 15, R: 16, K: 17.

3 Comments:

At 3:47 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Kendahl said...

This is a fun, interactive game that I always introduce when I am with groups of non-gamers or casual gamers. It has gone over well every time.

 
At 8:12 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Fantastic, well written article and session report! Thank you for sharing.

I've never played the game, though I've been intrigued since I read Kendahl's newspaper column on the game last year.

Perhaps someone can bring it along to an upcoming game meetup.

 
At 6:07 PM, January 09, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Thanks Ben. When I'm not gaming, nothing is more fun than thinking about when you last were.

 

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