Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Since Miss 15 is on a break from formal academics she has a lot of spare time. Normally we'd be out birding, but that's not really possible until my health issues are resolved. So we're spending a lot of time at home, connecting and having fun together playing games instead. And the game currently getting the most use is Bohnanza.

Bohnanza doesn't seem to be as well known as some of our other favourite games. It is a card game in which players plant, harvest and sell beans as profitably as possible. The player with the most gold coins at the end of the game wins.

The game consists of 154 bean cards. The front of each card  includes the name of each bean and an illustration, a number telling you how many of that particular type of bean, plus a strip telling you how much the beans are worth once you sell and harvest them. For instance there are 24 coffee bean cards(pictured below) in the deck. At harvest time you can earn 1 gold coin for 4-6 beans, 2 coins for 7-9 beans, 3 coins for 10 or 11 beans and 4 coins for 12 beans. You must harvest your field of coffee beans once you have 12 beans and if you harvest fewer than 4 beans you earn no coins. Each card features a gold coin on the reverse.

Each player starts with 5 cards in their hand and two blank fields (each player may buy one additional field during the course of the game). Player 1 starts and must plant the first bean in their hand and they may also choose to plant the next bean as well. Then they turn over 2 cards from the deck. These beans must be planted. If the person who turned them over doesn't want to plant them they can offer them to the other players - either by attempting a trade or making a donation.

I have a one field with 4 stink beans and another with 2 blue beans and have just turned over a blue bean and a soy bean. I'll plant the blue bean and then try to trade or donate the soy bean - unless I have one at the front of my hand of course! If I'm not successful I'll have to plant it. And since I only have two field at this stage I'll have to harvest one of them. If I harvest the stink beans I'll earn one coin; if I harvest the blues I won't earn anything. My decision will be partly influenced by what I have coming up in my hand. If I have more stink beans coming I'm probably better to harvest the blue beans now even though I won't earn anything for them.
Once the two turned over beans have been planted Player 1 can try to trade cards in their hand with other players. Any traded beans have to be planted immediately. Finally Player 1 takes three cards from the pile and adds them to the back of their hand before Player 2 starts their turn. Players can harvest and sell beans at any time, even if is not their turn. You simply remove the bean cards from the field, check to see how many coins you have earned. If you've earned two coins keep two cards (remember to reverse them to reveal the coin and add them to your coin pile) and discard the rest.

The trading of beans has a couple of advantages. First it means all players can potentially be involved even if it isn't officially their turn, which reduces boring wait time. It also adds an element of strategy and bargaining. Sometimes the strategy can look like being generous to an opponent. If I have a coffee bean coming to the front of my hand which I don't want to plant since I would have to harvest a field before I wanted to, my first call would be to try to trade for a bean I did want. If nobody wanted to trade and one of my opponents already had a field of coffee beans I would see if they would just accept it as a donation. On the other hand if two of my opponents both wanted that coffee bean I might be able to negotiate a very favourable deal as they attempted to outbid each other!

Odds and probability may come into play as you decide which bean field to harvest. Imagine that you have a field of coffee beans and a field of soy beans. Both need one more bean to reach the maximum number of gold coins yet you must harvest one.There are 24 coffee beans in the deck but only 12 soybeans. So a coffee bean is theoretically more likely to turn up. But if lots of coffee beans cards have already been played you might be better to harvest your coffee bean field and pin your hopes on the soy beans instead.

Bohnanza can be played by between 2 and  players. The makers claim a game lasts for about 45 minutes and is best suited to players aged 12+. While I have never timed our games I suspect they last closer to 30 minutes, but these days we mainly play with just two players. Adding more players may increase the playing time. My oldest kids were aged around 8 when we bought the game and they picked it up with no difficulty. Even though it is old hat to Miss 15 and she's long since gained any educational benefits  it is still a fun game that we can both enjoy playing together..


  1. So important to have games and such like this for when an illness has disrupted the routine and made life more homebound. {{hugs}} I hope for better days ahead for you with returning health and vigor.

  2. This looks like a fun game! I would never have given it a second thought if I had not read your review. Plus after adding it to my Amazon cart it looks like there are crazier editions. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us!