Wednesday, March 22, 2017

More than a Hill of Beans (Bohnanza)

Buy low, sell high.  The mantra of the world.  And nowhere is it more applicable than here!  Plant those beans and watch the price go higher and higher.  But be careful, because you never know what seeds are going to be delivered.  Oh, you thought you chose what to plant?  Don't make me laugh.  We get what's shipped, so you'll have to rely on your fellow farmers out here in Bohnanza.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Bohnanza is a card game published by Rio Grande Games, and is designed for 2-7 players.  Players attempts to collect various types of Beans to sell.

SET-UP:  Each player starts with 2 Plots of land to plant Bean cards.  Every player is dealt 5 cards in their hand, and must keep the order in which they were dealt, with the first card in front.  Each time a player draws, that card must be placed as the last card in the hand, at the back.

PLANTING:  At the start of their turn, the player must plant the first Bean card in their hand in one of the fields.  If there is already a matching Bean card, they may place that card on top on that Bean.  If there's no empty fields or matching Beans, they must Harvest and sell a Plot.  Then, they may Plant the next Bean.  If a player has no cards in hand, this phase is skipped.

TRADING:  Next, the player draws 2 cards, and lays them face-up.  The player may set aside 1 or both of the cards, donate 1 or both to other players, or trade 1 or both for something.  The player may also donate or trade any cards from their hand.  You cannot trade or donate Beans that have already been traded or donated.  Any Beans traded or donated must first be accepted, and are set off to the side to be planted once Trading finishes.  However, planting may occur in any order.

END TURN:  Once the turn ends, the player draws 3 cards, one at a time, and places them at the back of the hand, to keep the order in which they were obtained straight.  If the deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile.  The next player to the left begins with the Planting step.

HARVESTING:  Players may Harvest at any time.  You must Harvest all Beans from a Plot.  First, you count the number of Beans planted. Then, look at the bottom of the card.  You get the number of Coins according to the number sold.  Flip over the Beans equal to the number of Coins obtained, and keeps them in a stack.  Then, discard the rest of the Beans.  In some cases, you may not gain any Coins.

3RD FIELD:  At any time, a player may buy a 3rd field to plant Beans.  To do this, they discard 3 Gold coins so that the Bean side is face-up in the discard pile, and place the 3rd Field indicator card in front of them.

WINNING:  The game ends once the deck has run out of cards 3 times.  If this happens during Trading, the player may draw 1 or 2 cards, depending on the amount left, and the game continues until Trading has finished.  If this happens when a Player is drawing for their hand, the game ends immediately.  All players discard their hands, and Harvest all beans currently in their Fields.  The player with the most Coins wins.  In the case of a tie, the player with the most cards in their hand and the most Coins wins.

CONCLUSION:  This game is interesting.  On the one hand, I like the level of strategy and the finagling required to be able to get the right Beans before anyone else.  I also like the adaptation the rules have, depending on the number of players.  On the other, the forced order of Bean cards can make it frustrating for any new players, especially since the rest of the game plays like a more "traditional" game, with trading and scoring.  This is a game that while it has a good theme and strong mechanics, they're hindered by some weird, forced choices.  Still, this is a game worth playing every once in a while, especially among more competitive players and friends who don't mind stabbing each other in the back once in a while.

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