Gaming from A-Z – Bohnanza (with Plus Expansion)



Beans, Beans, the magical game

The more you harvest, the better your chances of winning.

(Sorry it doesn’t rhyme)


  • Name: Bohnanza
  • Year published: 1997
  • # of players: 2-7
  • Ages: 8+


Bohnanza (or as some in my family call it, “The Bean Game”) is a card game where you are dealt various types of beans.  Unlike most games, cards in your hand can NOT be rearranged, but must be played in order of being drawn (with exception to trading).

Players begin their turns by playing the first (and second if they want) cards from their hands.  The “bean fields” are where you play cards, and players only start with two (with an option to buy a third later in the game).  Beans have to be played in empty bean fields, or with other beans of the same kind.  At times when you play a card, you have nowhere to play it to, which means it’s harvest time!   Harvesting can be done at any time, and on how many beans you have planted will determine how much money you collect.   Each card has a depiction of 1, 2, 3, and/or 4 coins and a number associated with each.   The number tells you that in order to earn the associated coins, you need to have that many beans.  After you determine how many coins you get, you turn the cards over that you are harvesting and put the appropriate number into your coin stack (which determines the winner in the end).  The remaining cards get discarded.

After cards have been played from your hand, two cards are flipped up from the draw stack.  This is when the game comes alive, as negotiations are now open with the active player.  The active player may offer or ask for beans from any other player.   Cards can come from the two that were drawn face up or from anywhere in your hand.  Sometimes it could even be in your best interest to give a card without getting one in return.  Once all trading has finished up, players must now plant their new beans.

Finally, the active player draws three new cards into the back of their hands, one at a time.  This marks the end of their turn.

The game ends after you’ve exhausted the draw deck three times.  The winner is the one who has the most coins.

Dad’s Thoughts

Bohnanza is one of the first board games I purchased as an adult.  It’s been pulled off the shelf a lot lately now that we’ve got a couple kids that can play with us.  There’s nothing magical about the theme, however it does bring some humor to this light game.  The game itself allows for different styles of playing, when it comes to the negotiations that can arise.  Sometimes I’m feeling nice to people, so I give them cards they need.  Sometimes I am feeling ruthless, so I’ll try and get cards I need, without trading anything in return.  Most of the time though, trades are in between.  I’ll give something another person needs for something I need in return.  We like this game, and usually the score comes out fairly close, however usually one of the adults ends up winning, since they’ll strategize a little better when making trades, and determining when to harvest.

Dad gives it a:  THUMBS UP

Kids give it a: THUMBS UP

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Bohnanza Plus

Bohnanza - High Bohn Plus


  • Name: High Bohn Plus
  • Year published: 2004
  • # of players: 3-7
  • Ages: 12+ (but our 10 year old still plays)


High Bohn Plus is an expansion for Bohnanza.  Actually, it’s a couple expansions for Bohnanza, but I’m only going to cover the “Plus” expansion, as that’s the only part we have played so far.

This expansion contains Order cards, which allow you to earn extra coins, if you can match a pattern of planted cards to the order card currently in your hand.   Order cards enter your hand just like other cards, and get brought to the front as you play the cards in front of it.  During that time, if you can stack the specified number of cards in your bean field, you can remove the card, consider the order fulfilled, and then move the order card to your coin stack.

Additionally, there is a new bean type to play with, The Field Bean.   It allows you to harvest and depending on how many you have, trade in for a 3rd bean field (if you didn’t already buy one).  Because we played this game with 3 players, we all started with a 3rd bean field, so this new bean type wasn’t added to the deck.

Dad’s Thoughts

This was the first (and only so far) expansion we’ve played with Bohnanza.  The nice thing about it, is that if you want to ignore it and pretend it’s not there, then it really doesn’t affect the gameplay much.  I did however end up taking advantage of the extra coins here and there, but only when it made sense.  Grace had a hard time figuring out when to attempt to fulfill the order and ended up throwing away other potential coins from harvests.  I do plan to play this one again, as well as try out some of the other expansions.

Mom’s Thoughts

The expansion is good for people who’d played the base game and know the game, but for younger players it adds difficulty.  I liked that you didn’t have to use the Order cards.

Dad gives it a:  THUMBS UP

Mom gives it a:  THUMBS UP

Kids give it a: THUMBS UP

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Gaming from A-Z – Aargh!


Let’s kick off the A-Z games with a kid’s game that we haven’t played before.


  • John
  • JoAnna
  • Thomas (5 years old)


  • Publisher: SimplyFun
  • Year published: 2005
  • # of players: 2-4
  • Ages: 3+


Now who doesn’t enjoy a game about pirates, am I right?

Aargh! is a memory game for kids 3 and up, where you start by laying tiles down on the table, and your turn consists of trying to find matching tiles to earn gold.  The person with the most gold at the end of the game (when the gold runs out), wins.   The twist in this game which differentiates it from classic memory, is that you aren’t just trying to find matching tiles to remove, but you’re trying to find as many of the same tile (without removing tiles).  Your turn ends when you find a tile that doesn’t match and the unmatched tile becomes the starting tile for the next player.  Depending on how many matches you find determines how much gold you get that turn.

Dad’s Thoughts

Limited to only 25 tiles on the table (4 are randomly removed at the beginning of the game), it’s pretty easy to remember where the sets of tiles are located and I consistently was able to score 2-3 gold per turn.  Obviously, I’m not in the target demographic on this game, so it’s no surprise I wasn’t challenged, but given the abundance of other memory games out there, I’ll choose one of those if given the choice (ie. Buggo, Chicken Cha Cha Cha).  Is that to say I’ll never play this again?  No.   If my kids REALLY want to play this, and REALLY want me to play, then I’ll play (assuming I haven’t removed the game from my collection before that happens).

Dad gives it a:  THUMBS DOWN

Kids give it a: THUMBS UP

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Gaming from A-Z

In an effort to post more frequently and get some games played, I am starting up a series on playing through games that start with the letter A through the letter Z.

Ground rules:

  • There is no time table defined.  That means I can play through the alphabet as quickly/slowly as I choose
  • All games will have myself and at least one other member of my family as players
  • New to us or old favorite?  It doesn’t matter, as long as it starts with the correct letter

Sounds simple, right?  26 letter = 26 games?  Not quite!   Some letters are a bit restrictive.  There’s only so many games that start with letters like X.   Also, since I work during the week, the only time I’ll be able to play is evenings and weekends.  And even with those time slots, having five kids of ages 10 through newborn leaves us exhausted, so finding quality time where we’re all awake enough to think can be difficult.

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Game night with the kids

Friday night, JoAnna had plans to go play Bunco with friends from Church, so I got left at home with all the kids.  No question there on what we should all do, but which games to play?!   Out to the shed I go to grab some that are age appropriate for everyone (well, except Mary since it’s a bit hard to find games for a < 2 year old).   And just to make things a little more interesting I went to the kitchen and poured some pistachios into a bowl.  The rule was that the winner of each game got to take 1 pistachio.  So Tommy, Madeline, Grace, and I settled in for a night of playing, starting around 7pm.

This was the first game. It’s a nice memory game where you get to try and figure out which of the 6 animals is hiding under the unguarded tile. When you guess, you move the wooden animal over to the tile and flip it. If they match, you take the tile and put a new one in its place. The next player then guesses the next unguarded tile. That continues until every tile is taken and the person with the most wins. Our game ended with Madeline, Grace and I all having the same amount.

Car’s Uno
Next was Tommy’s favorite game (at least for now). He’s done well with this in the past, but tonight was not his night. The game started with Madeline getting hit with multiple Draw 4’s at the beginning, however we all got down to 2 or 3 cards right before I finished off this game by playing all my cards.

This is another of Tommy’s favorites.  It’s a game that doesn’t require any strategy, but is good for teaching color matching.   The goal is to select a tile which contains a section of a snake.  The section can be either a head, a tail, or a body piece.  The body pieces show two different colors, which you use connect to existing snakes if they match, or to create a new snake.  Eventually the snakes grow larger (and look like big gummy worms) until finally you have one with a head and a tail.  Once this happens, the player takes all the tiles that made that snake.   In the end, the person with the most tiles wins.   In our game, I had the most tiles.

Match of the Penguins
This is a fun, quick game which gets everyone excited.  Cards are flipped over which have pictures of penguins on them with differently colored items.   If you see that two cards have an item that is of the same color as another card, you say the name of the thing first to claim all the cards that have been flipped up before that.   In some cases, you might find that cards have more than one matching item, so you try to be the first person to grab the black pawn.  If the cards are identical, be the first to grab the white pawn.   Finally, if a card has more than one fish in the bucket, knock on the table.   This creates a very energetic environment with everyone on edge trying to be the first to find matches.   Tommy had some trouble with this, as he wasn’t quite fast enough, but again I took the victory.

Snap: The Interlocking Dragon-Making Game
We’re relatively new to this one.   I’ve owned it for a while, just hadn’t played it yet until last week with Tommy.  The goal is to connect your dragon pieces to pieces on the board and be the first one to use all of them up.  There are special rules which allow you to take another turn and to give your next piece to someone else to play.   In our first game I think we played a little wrong, because Grace was able to play all her pieces in one turn.   We amended the rules for the next game, which was a much more even game.  In the end, I won that one.

Drachenstark (aka Fiery Dragons)
Grace decided she didn’t want to play this game, so she went to go read.  In this game, the players move their pieces around the track by trying to find tiles that match the creature their playing piece is sitting on.  The goal is to go completely around at return to their starting position.  The game got off to a quick start for me, however as usually happens with these type of games, the kids end up doing better.  I guess my memory isn’t what it used to be (ok, really, my memory has never been very good).   So in the end, Tommy and Madeline were both very close to winning, and I was left behind.  I wasn’t able to catch up, and Madeline flipped over a bunch of matching tiles in a row, and was able to win!

The Secret Door
Grace rejoined us for this cooperative game.   This is one where there is no single winner.  Everyone wins or everyone loses.   This game is similar to the traditional game of memory, where you flip 2 cards over and try to find matches.  The twist comes in that you may flip over a clock piece which counts down to the end of the game.  If twelve clocks are found, then game is over, and you get to attempt to win.   How do you do that?   Well, at the start of the game, one of the players randomly picks 3 cards to be hidden behind the secret door.  This means that there will be 1 or 2 items that will not be matched up and removed by the end of the game.  So once you find all the clocks, you need to look and figure out which pieces are most likely behind the secret door.   Unfortunately for us, we found all the clocks rather quickly, and had to choose between 6 different items.   We guessed wrong (but still had fun).   The nice thing about this game is it’s rather quick to play, so multiple games can be played.

Buggo is completely new to us.  Once again, it’s a game I’ve owned for a while, just haven’t gotten to the table.   This is another memory game, but with a bit of push your luck.  Players flip over a card which tells them to find up to a certain number of bugs, or to find Buggo the Spider.  Players can stop at any time if they haven’t reached their goal and claim their tiles, however if they find more than they were supposed to, they have to flip all the tiles back over and it’s the next player’s turn.   Game is over once four Buggo’s have been claimed and the winner is the one with the most tiles.   That winner was Madeline in the first game, and Grace in the second.

Now here’s a game that the kids love because of the artwork and humor, however for me it falls flat.  Players try to make a match of 4 cards in their hand, and  so by passing cards around.  The problem I see is in how cards are passed.   The starting player, “The Head Hog” draws from the deck and decides to keep or pass the card.  If they keep it they need to pass a different card.  This keeps going until the last player gets a card passed to them.  They figure out what they want to pass, and instead of it going to another person, it goes to the discard (scrapple) pile.   All you can really do is hope that no one else is working on building the same set of 4 that you are working on.   In the end I won, but that doesn’t mean I’m jumping to play another round.

Mystery Garden
Finally, we played another game which was new to us, though I bought it a while back.   Yes, I see a trend, I own way too many games to be able to play all, but I’m going to try and work on that this year!!   Anyway, in this game, the playing piece gets to move along a path of 15 stepping stones to reach the castle.   It gets moved as players to to guess the randomly chosen tile which corresponds to something on the playing board.   It’s basically a board game version of 20 questions (er, make that 15 questions).  The player that makes the guess to what the item actually was gets to take the tile, and first person to 3 tiles wins.  If no one guesses the tile by the time the playing piece gets to the castle, then the person answering the question keeps the tile.  The game started off slow for Madeline, however she came from behind and won the game!

So overall, we played 10 different games, some of which got multiple plays, and everyone had fun.   The fact that the winner got to eat a pistachio made things a bit more fun (though sometimes I’d give mine to someone else who didn’t win, which helped to make them feel just a tad better).  Looking at the clock, it was now almost 10pm!  Wow, 3 hours worth of playing went by pretty quickly.   Just as the kids got into bed, JoAnna got home from her game night, so she was able to go in and say goodnight.

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A turning point for my son

Yesterday, we bought a new dining room table, and in order to break it in, my 5 year old son wanted to play a game.   Since it was close to his bed time, I grabbed Cars UNO (which he’s played a couple times, but with help).   He was playing on his own against me, and HE WON!   Now, it’s one thing for him to play a game that is 100% luck and win, but there are some strategies to Uno.  He was even laughing as he forced me to draw two!

It was a proud moment as I realized that he’s starting to get it, when it comes to planning moves and that he can see the benefit to it.  Now I just need to make sure that he sees that it’s also alright to lose.   I’ll make sure he gets a chance to try that tonight!!!  :)

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Game day with Grace (still exploring my feminine side)

So, after yesterday’s game of Powerpuff Girls: Saving the World Before Bedtime, we had to continue the theme. So after going out with Grace this afternoon to sell Girl Scout cookies and coming home to no one else home, it was time to play this…

Powerpuff Girls, The: Mojo Jojo Attacks Townsville Game – by Milton Bradley

Date: March 6, 2010
Players: Myself, Grace (daughter 9yo)

FIRE THE LASER!!!   That was my goal today.   Once again I played a game with a Powerpuff theme, but this time it was xxxxxxxxxxxx.  In this game, one person takes control of The Powerpuff Girls, and the other person controls Mojo Jojo.

In the first game, I played as Mojo Jojo, and quickly ended up going Kablooey!  Then I took control of the girls and gave them another quick victory.  So it all comes down to a final game.  A game in which Grace chooses to be the girls once again (as they are undefeated) and I get stuck as Mojo Jojo.  But I don’t let that discourage me!!!  I will win!!!

Pew!  Pew!  Pew!!!   A few strategic moves and throwing the die (er, firing the laser), I removed one of the girls from play.   Then another, and finally the last one!   I have done it, I have taken over Townsville!   Long live Mojo Jojo!

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation – by Fantasy Flight Games

Date: March 6, 2010
Players: Myself, Grace (daughter 9yo)

This was a game that I’ve had since December, and hadn’t unwrapped yet.   It’s a two player only game, which is a format that hasn’t really seen the table much lately since I now have kids old enough to join in the game playing.  However for today, it was perfect, as Grace and I were the only ones home and last week we spent time watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

This is a game that requires strategic thought for initial piece placement, for movement, and for battle choices.   Once the rules have been gone through, it’s fairly easy, though the choices are makes this game complex.

I played as Sauron’s side, and Grace was the Fellowship.  I was able to quickly take a few pieces of hers off the board in the beginning.  When she finally got to a place where Sam and Frodo got separated, I attacked Sam (without knowing who it was ahead of time) which helped me to take out Frodo on the next turn.

Sometimes its fun being the bad guy!

Interested in these games? Buy them from the following online stores:

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Getting in touch with my feminine side

Powerpuff Girls, The: Saving the World Before Bedtime – by Milton Bradley

Date: March 5, 2010
Players: Myself, JoAnna, Grace (daughter 9yo), Madeline (daughter 6yo)

Ok, I can just hear the laughing now…   A grown man playing a Powerpuff Girls game?!  And then I hear the people trying to defend me, saying “Oh, he’s playing it because he has daughters and THEY must have talked him into it.”   Well, I have a confession, I was the one who purchased this game (without the girls) and I’m the one who has been wanting to play this as well!

Really, this game is quite different from other similar looking games.   Right off the bat, Grace and Madeline were arguing over who got to be the pink girl, but in reality, each player takes a turn being potentially all the girls each round.   The concept of taking turns has also been altered, because unlike a game where you go around clockwise, it’s based on the cards you picked in the round, and which one comes first based on the time printed on the card.

So you see, the reason I wanted to play this did not have anything to do with the theme, but because of the different mechanics used in playing the game.  This game could have a completely different theme, and still be a very playable game for kids.

We actually managed to get two games in, due to the quickness of the game, and for the first game, Madeline found and captured four villains first.  Seeing that she’s only 6 and the minimum recommended ages on this were 8 was not an issue.   She easily picked up on what was needed to do, but there is reading involved, so for some younger kids, that will be an issue.   In the second game, JoAnna, Grace, and Madeline all had 3 villains and were on the edge of winning, but Grace managed to do it first.

So it was a successful game, and I’ll even play it again I’m sure.   It just goes to show how assured of my masculinity I must be!

Interested in these games? Buy them from the following online stores:

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Gone thrifting – March 4, 2010

Weekly thrift trip, and nothing at St Vincent de Paul, so on to Goodwill we go, where I found a gently used copy of Taboo for $2.99. Buzzer even still works! I also found a copy of Take The Train for $1.49, and it was brand new! What can I say, I’m a sucker for train games, even if just loosely based.

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Gone thrifting – February 27, 2010

Today was a day to sell Girl Scout Cookies.   As the person who organizes my daughter’s troop’s site sales, I get to go to each of them (6 this year).  On the first day of sales, we sold cookies from 10am-noon, and then had a 2 hour break until our next sale at 2pm-4pm.   So we grabbed lunch and still had time left over, so headed to Aslan’s Thrift Store in Issaquah.   It doesn’t have the greatest stock of games, but today was a 25% off day, and so for $1.50, I bought Shuttles.  It’s a maze game, and both my daughter and I like mazes, so we’re hoping it’ll be fun to play.

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Gone thrifting – February 24, 2010

Once again, out for my weekly thrifting trip. First stop, St Vincent de Paul where I found a Gamewright game called Uglydoll for $0.69.  And since my family likes to go on road trips, I picked up something that we’ll pull out next time we’re in for a long drive.  It’s called Are We There Yet? which also was $0.69.  Coda was our next find for $0.69 as well. I already had one of these, but it was incomplete, so now I can either get rid of the old one as is, or send pieces to other people who are missing pieces.

But the find of the night was Warcraft: The Boardgame for $2.99!   Lots and lots of pieces inside the box, so there was no way I’d be able to inventory it in the store (once home I found it mostly complete, hopefully the game won’t be affected)

To top off the night, we went to Goodwill where I found Anachronism Achilles vs. Spartacus for $1.49 which was still in the shrink wrap.  Not sure if I’ll try playing this or if I’ll try to sell it.

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