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Bohnanza: A Distraction from WoW Addiction?

June 26, 2008

If you’re coming down off your WoW addiction, have I got an electricity-free alternative for you: Bohnanza.

Bohnanza is a game about – wait for it – bean farming. The goal of the game is to get the most gold. Ironically, it’s not much different from gold farming or even level grinding, now that I think about it. Anyway, I played the game for a good hour and a half yesterday and am looking forward to playing it tomorrow. Apparently, the game’s hooked a good number of the Animation faculty here at SCAD as well.

From a design perspective, the game has some funky mechanics that aren’t common in games:

  • While you can look at your hand, you can never change the order of the cards.
  • You must play the cards in the order that you have them.
  • You must play the first card, and have the option of playing the second card.

The game also has a longer-than-usual turn cycle for a card game. You play your first card, maybe play a second card, harvest pairs, take two cards and place them on the table, trade or donate, place the traded/donated/drawn cards and finally, you restock your hand. The order took a bit of time to get used to, but once you get the pattern down, it goes quickly. From that perspective, it’s also an obvious study of just how much games train us into patterns.

I highly recommend Bohnanza (and it’s cheap, too). If you’re an educator, it’s a great game to prove you can make a fun game about anything (and it’s not the only game about bean farming, either).

In other news, I just got in a flotilla of new board games, a DS and a bunch of games to go with it. Tomorrow’s Xbox 360 shopping day. That’s the World of Warcraft Board Game pictured there, but that would kind of defeat the purpose (though I am really looking forward to playing that, too).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2008 6:17 am

    Hey, I just played this for this first time this week too.

    Great little game. Deep enough to interest gamers, light enough to be fun to casual players.

  2. June 27, 2008 7:38 am

    Bean farming? I admit I wouldn’t have given this game a second thought had you not blogged about it. But now I’m curious.

    Random aside, how do you find time with everything you do to try so many different types of games?

  3. June 27, 2008 9:11 am

    @Jay – that’s a great description of it. I actually didn’t get time to play this morning, but will this afternoon.

    @Dan – I guess it’s sort of habit at this point, and I integrate game play into my job as much as humanly possible. I probably play a couple games a day. is great resource for that. I also have a couple “play days” a month or so where I’ll blow through a bunch of console titles. I rarely finish them, but I do want to understand the core mechanics and the basic gameplay. Board games take longer to digest, but I also play them for fun. My kids also like playing board games, so I get to go through 1 a night, usually. What I find more challenging is finding time to read books. I currently have Flow and Homo Ludens on the go, and really want to read this new book I got, but should finish those two first. I need a long car ride.

  4. June 27, 2008 10:15 am

    Bohnanza is amazing, it’s one of a very few non-digital games that I play consistently, probably once every few months (which is a lot for me considering that I don’t get very much non-digital gaming in). The only other games that I play with any regularity is Fluxx.

    Jeff and I actually played Bohnanza last night. Fun as ever.

  5. June 27, 2008 11:42 am

    I will admit my love for board games has been rehashed recently (especially as I’m trying to finish up Stash) but the Wow-addict inside of me has been tingling these last couple of days thanks to Blizz’s splash pages. It is a good thing I’m not making any money right now or my account would be back up and running very soon, which is difficult to admit.

    Thanks for the Bohnanza suggestion. I’ll check it out as soon as I can.

  6. July 2, 2008 8:09 am

    I wonder if the WoW boardgame would help or hurt an online-WoW addiction. (Word of warning: set aside an entire day to play that one. Start explaining the rules at noon or so, if you want to finish and get to sleep at a reasonable hour.)

    Bohnanza is great. But then, so many Eurogames are great. Everything pictured in that box is great.

    The scary thing is, I recognize and have already played everything in that box. Except for the one in the lower right whose name isn’t showing. Not sure what that one is.

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