Bohnanza is older than some of the card games I review here, but it’s also probably one of the more unusual card games I’ve written about, too. Even the word is spelled funny–that’s because this is originally a German card game, and the American version is a translation. (“Bohne” is German for bean. You already know what a “bonanza” is. Get it?)
The players are bean farmers, basically, and Bohnanza offers a lot of different kinds of beans for you to farm. Some of these beans are real world beans, but some of them are beans that I’ve never heard of. Here’s a partial list of the beans in the game, but there are quite a few, so I won’t list them all here–just a representative sampling of the real beans versus the fantasy beans:
- Coffee beans
- Stink beans
- Green beans
- Blue beans
There are about a dozen bean varieties in the game. Depending on the type of bean, there might be a lot of them in the deck or very few of them in the deck. For example, there are two dozen coffee beans in a deck, but only four cocoa beans in a deck. This matters, because it affects gameplay.
Another unusual aspect of the game is that you have to keep your hand in the order in which the cards were dealt at all times. That’s unlike any other card game I’ve ever played.
When it’s your turn, there are things you have to do, and there are things you can opt to do. For example, you have to play the first card in your hand into the field. You can (if you like) also play the second card in your hand into the field. Then you have to take two cards from the top of the deck and place them face up on the table in front of you.
Players can then trade cards from within their hands for the cards in the trading area. The trading phase continues as long as the active player thinks it should continue. When trading ends, the players takes the cards that are left in her trading area and plants them in the field too.
Then the players get two or three more cards from the deck to replenish her hand, and the next players gets to take her turn.
Another aspect of the game involves harvesting your beans. You must have a certain number of beans (depending on the type) planted in the field in order to harvest them. This amount varies by the type of bean. The harvested beans get turned into money, and some of the cards go back into the deck, which gradually gets smaller as the game progresses.
If this sounds complicated, it’s probably more because of my writing skills (or lack thereof) than it is the complexity of the game. Once you’ve read through the rules and followed them step by step, you’ll have no problem playing Bohnanza. I think once you’ve played it, you’ll also find that it’s one of the most entertaining and enjoyable card games you’ve ever played.
Bohnanza is published in the USA by Rio Grande Games, and the production value and quality of all their games is excellent. Bohnanza has been popular enough to warrant multiple expansions and spin-offs. If you’re looking for an economic-themed card game that plays differently from Monopoly or other economic games, then Bohnanza should fit the bill nicely. And it’s a good value for the money, because the replay value is excellent.