What can you say about a game that pits you against your opponents to try to grow the most anthropomorphized beans? Fun, I say!
Bohnanza, by Uwe Rosenberg and distributed by Rio Grande Games, is such a game. Likely the only one, I'd wager. The game is a little challenging to explain, but once understood, is really easy and fun to play. The game itself is cute, of good quality, with friendly drawings of each kind of bean on the cards, and one gold on the reverse of each card.
The gist is this: you have a hand of cards with beans of different values on them. Plant the right number (place cards) of a certain bean in one of your two plots of land, and you can sell them. Once sold, flip the appropriate number of them over and they become gold. The player with the most gold wins!
Different beans, different money...
That's the simple explanation, but the reality is more complex. On each player's turn, they get to plant beans in one of their fields. A number of cards from the draw deck are revealed, and the player can plant them immediately. If they have enough to sell, they can do so at any time. But... you have to use the cards in your hand in the order they were received, first in, first out. It therefore takes planning to get the right set of beans together.
Each kind of bean has a different scoring schedule. For example, a stink bean can earn one gold for three of a kind, two gold for five, and so on, while a blue bean needs four for one gold and six for two gold.
It's cool to have
Fret not, though. If the cards in your hand aren't in the order you need, you can trade! The current player must be in all trades, but any cards (no matter where in your hand) can be traded, as long as they haven't been planted. And, you can donate as well. You may want to if a card in your hand blocks a play you want to make. Oh, but... you need to plant your trades/donations at the end of the turn. If you don't have space, then you may have to forfeit some of your beans in order to finish your play. Unless you have enough gold to buy a third plot of land. Three is the limit, but that third plot can make the difference.
Play continues like that until all the cards are drawn, with special rules for situations like only one card left to draw or which part of the turn it is.
Inside the box - pretty simple,
The fun of this game (once you work out the rules) is in the trading. Players come up with crazy or sincere reasons for accepting or denying trades. Anything from "I like your shirt" to "you forgot to take out the garbage" are all legitimate options.
Around here, shouts of "yay!" usually meet the suggestion of "Let's play the bean game!" I highly recommend this lighthearted romp in beanology.