Review: Würfel Bohnanza

In the world of board games, few designers are as prolific and well known as Uwe Rosenberg. Most gamers have played at least one Rosenberg title, and many count him among the most talented designers in history. To me, one of the greatest testaments to the quality of his work is that you can ask a dozen gamers what their favorite Rosenberg title is…and you’ll get a dozen different answers.

I’m one of those annoying people that won’t be able to answer that question – some days I’ll tell you that my favorite Rosenberg is Le Havre, other days I will answer Ora & Labora. God, those are good. But, no matter what title is currently at the top of my list, one that is never far behind (and sometimes tops the list), is Bohnanza. It’s a game that I’ve played more than most in my collection, and I’ll still bring it out during game nights.

When I heard that there was a dice version of Bohnanza in the works, I was…well…disinterested. In my experience, when a dice version of a game is made, it’s not that great. So when it was released overseas and wasn’t brought to the US, I wasn’t heartbroken. I figured it would make its way over here at some point…but that was four years ago and still? Nothing.

Fast forward to Origins 2016 – one afternoon, Patrick Hillier of the What Did You Play This Week Podcast Thing, pulled this game out of his Quiver (an amazing game carrying case) and I joined the group to check it out.

Würfel Bohnanza is a game for 2-5 players from Uwe Rosenberg that is comprised of 66 cards, 7 dice, and one bean field card. Play time on this game will vary between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the number of players.

wb01There are two groups within the dice – one set of four white dice and one set of three “beige” dice. Each set of dice, white and beige, have their own die faces with different colored beans on them. The white dice have orange, green, blue, and purple while the beige dice have orange, yellow, red, blue, and brown.

Much like the original Bohnanza, the Harvest cards serve two purposes: on the front side are 6 bean orders. These are the orders that the players will work towards fulfilling, some showing a number and color of beans required, others showing general orders (three different pairs of dice, six with no orange, etc.). On the back side are the thalers, which are the coins you need to win.

To begin the game, each player is given two Harvest cards and chooses one to work on first, placing the second card below the first, using it to cover the orders which are completed. Set the rest aside as a draw pile. During a player’s turn, they will roll the dice, and keep at least one, placing it in the bean field. They will continue to roll until they choose to stop or are out of dice. At that point, they complete the orders they can using the dice on the bean field and the turn moves to the next player clockwise. Each die can be used more than once, so completing multiple orders is possible.

wb02While the active player is taking her turn, the other players are able to complete orders as well, using only the dice that have just been rolled. Once dice are planted into the bean field, only the active player may use them to complete orders. For instance, if the order I’m currently working on is for two reds and a blue, and the active player rolls that, I can complete that order immediately. Because of this, it is important for the active player to make sure that everyone has had a chance to look at their cards before locking one of the dice.

Once at least three orders have been completed on a Harvest card, it can be turned in for coins. This can be done at any time, even if it is not your turn. The number of coins you’ll receive will increase with the number of orders you’ve completed – three orders can be turned in for 1 coin (simply flip the card into your scoring pile), whereas six orders can be turned in for 4 coins (flip the Harvest card and take three more facedown from the draw pile). This makes the card you were using as a “cover card” your current Harvest card.

After this, draw a new Harvest card, which becomes your second card to cover the orders on the card you’ve retained. It’s important to note that when you make this switch, especially if it is your turn, there’s a chance that you’ll be able to auto-complete orders on the new card. So if the last order on your first card was for two reds and two blue, and the first order on your new card was for two blue? Well, you’ve already got that!

Play continues until someone winds up with 13 coins after cashing in. Play stops and that person is the winner!

So was my disinterest well placed? Was this another “dice version dud”? Not in the least. There’s a lot to like about Würfel Bohnanza and, admittedly, a couple of really sizable downsides. Let’s take a look!

  • Würfel Bohnanza is easy to teach, and doesn’t take long to play. In fact, as you can fulfill orders on another player’s turn, we’ve found that adding more players has almost no effect on the playtime.
  • The Bohnanza theme is there, but this doesn’t attempt to pawn itself off as a dice version – this game stands alone just fine.
  • Each bean order has a little number on the right side. This is the percent chance that you will complete this order on your first roll. Two oranges? 33% chance. Two reds and a green? 6% chance. Knowing this can be important because…
  • The game allows you to bail out on orders that are tough to complete. That two red and a green? That’s a tough one, even with seven rolls. Once you’ve completed your third order, it’s time to evaluate and move on if the rest on the card are getting too hard to complete.
  • As you are able to complete orders when it isn’t your turn, players are always engaged in the game. In fact, there’s often (at least in my groups) a craps-like feel to the cheering. “C’mon now…roll me two orange, two orange…” It’s a lot of fun.

With all of that going for it, this game is a slam dunk. But, as I mentioned, there are a couple of pretty hefty negatives here as well. First off is availability. For whatever reason, this game just never made it out of Europe. I’m not sure if AMIGO Spiele couldn’t find a U.S. distribution partner, didn’t want to bother with translation, or what the story was…but it’s just not here.

wb03Thankfully, we have the internet. You can occasionally find this at an online game store, but it usually requires a special order. My suggestion would be to look on Amazon. There are several sellers from Germany that have this priced low with affordable shipping to the States. I’ve ordered from two different sellers with no issue.

Secondly, there’s an issue with the dice. The dice come in two different colors, white and beige. Unfortunately, the beige dice are a lightly colored beige. Very lightly. So light, in fact, that it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two dice…especially under low light conditions. This can be important – if you’re trying to roll a green colored bean, you need to keep rolling the beige dice and not the white.

This problem can be remedied in a couple ways: if you consult the summary cards that come with the game, it’s easy to tell which die you are looking at as they both have colors which are unique. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can take a marker to the beige dice. A simple dot on each corner will mark them as different.

The issue with the dice most people will be able to get around, one way or another. The availability issue will be a little more difficult, depending on stock levels from third party sellers. But I think you should make the effort, for this game is worth the hassle.

It’s not going to be a centerpiece to your game night – it doesn’t really have enough meat for that. But this game makes one hell of a good closer. You will find all the players engaged, you’ll get a new take on the Bohnanza world, and you’ll be able to teach it in under 10 minutes. To me, that’s worth the extra effort.

Kickstarter Update – 8/22/2016

Now that Gen Con is over, we will start to see the quality of Kickstarter projects increase. The crunch between now and Essen will be filled with new projects, so let’s take a look at a few:

First up we’ve got prolific designer Scott Almes’ latest collaboration with Eagle-Gryphon Games, Island Hopper:

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ihopperMany said that you would never be able to deliver goods to all the islands in this remote archipelago, but you and your partners are dead-set to prove them wrong! Yes, you all had to pool your money into buying one plane; and, yes, the plane is held together by duct-tape and some hope. To make matters worse the navigational instruments are completely broken, so in essence, you are flying blind. But if you cross your eyes just enough it looks like this airplane is perfectly fine! I mean what could possibly go wrong?…

Island Hopper is a game where you and other players fulfill contracts for the various companies scattered throughout the archipelago, while bidding amongst yourselves for who is going to pilot the battered plane. Bribing the pilot is essential since everyone has different contracts for different islands, and not enough fuel to get to them all! With none of you being actual pilots, and the navigation system being shot, this forces the pilot to rely on the other players for directions to successfully deliver cargo. Since everyone wants to fulfill contracts on different islands, the question really is, who should you trust?

Scott Almes designed Island Hopper, along with other titles such as Loop, Inc. and the Tiny Epic Series of games. It supports 2 to 6 players, ages 10+, and takes only an hour to play.Island Hopper is a fantastic addition to the gaming hobby, and Scott’s contribution is a game that you will keep coming back to time and again.

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This one is aloft until September 6th, so don’t get stuck on the ground! [link]


Next up, Daily Magic Games adds to their stable of wonderful games with their latest offering, Merchants of Araby:

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arabyBecome the wealthiest merchant prince or princess in all of Araby by establishing an entourage of merchants and allies, teaching virtues, summoning djinni, making shrewd caravan investments, and negotiating frequently.

During your turn, you’ll start a caravan and then perform as many actions as you like or can afford. You’ll add merchants and allies to your entourage, you’ll teach virtues to your opponents, and you’ll summon djinn for powerful effects.

You’ll also be doing a lot of negotiating. Simply stated, everything in Merchants of Araby is negotiable for everything. You can trade gold for camel placement, cards for products, actions for promised actions, camel placement for ally tasking, cards from entourage to entourage, cards from hand to hand, something for nothing. The list is nearly endless. If you can strike a deal, then feel free to do so.

Caravans are the primary source of income and the main reason for negotiations. Each space on the caravan will hold one camel carrying a particular product and each caravan represents a journey to a distant Araby city to sell those valuable products. Player participation, bandits, and market fluctuations will affect each caravan’s payout and you do not want to miss out on getting your share of the profits.

Add camels to caravans by tasking merchants, playing a djinn card, or negotiating with other players to generate the products you need or to add their camels to your caravan. An opponent may not add a camel to your caravan without negotiating for your permission, but unless you complete at least one full row or column on the caravan card, you’re not going to earn anything! When your turn ends, your caravan becomes locked to you and you may not add more of your camels to it unless the active player grants you permission to do so through some negotiation.

Your caravans depart at the start of your next turn, but be wary of bandits out to steal your goods as bandits tend to target the camels in the most lucrative caravan positions.

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This one will be around until September 13th, so check it out today! [link]


Finally, we have Good Games Publishing with their carnival themed Unfair:

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unfairUnfair is a theme park tableau building game like nothing out there. Mix your favourite themes from Pirates, Robots, Jungle, Vampires and now Ninja. Build attractions and upgrade them to match blueprints, stack up towering rides, or simply make the most cash.

Watch out though – your competitors may pay off the safety inspectors to close your rides or hire hooligans to vandalise your park! How will you get revenge?

Play events, build cards to your theme park tableau from the market or your hand, and draw cards in quick single-action turns.

Every player has a rival, every strategy has a counter, and every action matters in this accessible yet deep and replayable game.

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The lines for this one will close on September 15th, so queue up today! [link]

Game News: Imperial Struggle

Twilight Struggle, designed by Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews, has long been held as a the pinnacle of two player strategy games. Taking players through the Cold War as either the United States or the Soviet Union, Twilight Struggle employs a card-driven system where each card can be used for command points to expand your reach or to trigger events, sometimes benefiting your opponent as much as they do your side. Perhaps the greatest strength of this game is the detail put into the event cards – all of the events are pulled straight from the headlines of the Cold War, and the ramifications each has on the game will often mirror actual events. Only the meteoric rise of Pandemic: Legacy was able to dethrone Twilight Struggle as the top rated board game on BGG.

Eleven years later Gupta and Matthews are back at it again, this time with Imperial Struggle: The Second Hundred Years’ War, 1697-1789. Representing the battle for supremacy between Britain and France, Imperial Struggle is easier to play than its predecessor, yet still maintains the thematic immersion which made Twilight Struggle such a huge success:

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In 1697 the Sun King, Louis XIV, emerged from a decade of war with his Continental ambitions still unsatisfied. Meanwhile, King William III of England sat easier on his new throne than he ever had before. With the Spanish succession crisis unresolved and looming, there were no illusions that the new century would be a quiet one. But neither France nor England could have anticipated the tumult of the years to come: a Second Hundred Years’ War, during which these two tenacious adversaries would compete fiercely and proudly along every axis of human achievement. On battlefields from India to Canada to the Caribbean Sea their armies and fleets would clash; in the salons of Paris and the coffee-houses of London the modern world’s politics and economics would be born; and finally a revolution would rock the foundations of society – a revolution that could have ended not in blood and terror but in a triumph of democracy and liberty that might have transformed the world beyond imagining.

Imperial Struggle is a two-player game depicting the 18th-century rivalry between France and Britain. It begins in 1697, as the two realms wait warily for the King of Spain to name an heir, and ends in 1789, when a new order brought down the Bastille. The game is not merely about war: both France and Britain must build the foundations of colonial wealth, deal with the other nations of Europe, and compete for glory across the span of human endeavor.

Imperial Struggle covers almost 100 years of history and four major wars. Yet it remains a quick-playing, low-complexity game. It aims to honor its spiritual ancestor, Twilight Struggle, by pushing further in the direction of simple rules and playable systems, while maintaining global scope and historical sweep in the scope of a single evening. In peace turns, players build their economic interests and alliances, and take advantage of historical events represented by Event cards. They must choose their investments wisely, but also with an eye to denying these opportunities to their opponent. In war turns, each theater can bring great rewards of conquest and prestige… but territorial gains can disappear at the treaty table. At the end of the century, will the British rule an empire on which the sun never sets? Or will France light the way for the world, as the superpower of the Sun King’s dreams or the republic of Lafayette’s?

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You can read more about Imperial Struggle over at the GMT Games site – and pre-order it using their P500 program. Who knows? Maybe this one will wind up as the new number one!

Kickstarter Update – 8/9/2016

With the hubbub surrounding Gen Con, the Kickstarter projects have been quieter than usual. So with Indy returning to normal, let’s take a look at a few campaigns you might have missed.

First up we’ve got Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Games with Near and Far. A sequel to Above and Below, this game incorporates many of the same thematic and gameplay elements, wrapped up in more of Laukat’s stunning artwork:

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nandfFour wanderers search for the Last Ruin, a city that legends say contains an artifact that will grant the greatest desires of the heart. A lost love, redemption, acceptance, a family rejoined– these are the fires that fuel the wanderers’ journeys, but can they overcome their own greed and inner demons on the way?

In Near and Far, you and up to three friends explore many different maps in a search for the Last Ruin, recruiting adventurers, hunting for treasure, and competing to be the most storied traveler. You must collect food and equipment at town for long journeys to mysterious locales, making sure not to forget enough weapons to fight off bandits, living statues, and rusty robots! Sometimes in your travels you’ll run into something unique and one of your friends will read what happens to you from a book of stories, giving you a choice of how to react, creating a new and memorable tale each time you play.

Near and Far is a sequel to Above and Below and includes a book of encounters. This time players read over ten game sessions to reach the end of the story. Each chapter is played on a completely new map with unique art and adventures.

Answer the call of the ruins and begin your journey.

  • Search for a lost city in a strange and wonderful world of ruins
  • Manage and recruit adventurers, each with a unique identity
  • Read from a book of stories, building an amazing and memorable tale each time you play!
  • Choose your path in connected quest lines
  • Includes a gorgeous atlas of 11 maps to play on!
  • Buy skills for your character over a ten-map campaign
  • 2-4 players, 90 minutes

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Near and Far has crushed the funding goal, but ends soon – head over before the evening of Thursday, August 11th! [link]


Next up Greater Than Games brings the powerhouse design team of Christopher Kirkman, Richard Launius, and Darrell Louder together for the epic Fate of the Elder Gods:

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fotegThe time has come. All signs and portents point to this momentous night, and you and your siblings of shadow stand ready. Your cult has sacrificed much – and many – to prepare the ceremony to awaken the dread god whose name twists your tongue and whose dark purpose twists your mind. But this night is one of great power, and your lodge is not the only one who seeks to harness that power. Other cultists prepare similar yet horribly different ceremonies, and investigators roam the streets and locales of Arkham, seeking to stop the inevitable annihilation. You must strike now, before a cult of a different old one ushers in their own maddening end times. In your hands lies the Fate of the Elder Gods!

In Fate of the Elder Gods, 1-4 players take on the ever-maddening role of cults trying to summon ancient evil and herald the fall of mankind! Each cult is competing to be first to summon their god, but they must also repel intrepid investigators working to seal off the gate to beyond with Elder Signs. Gather arcane artifacts, cast powerful spells, embrace the Dark Gift of your Elder God, and be first to awaken your dread master… before it’s too late!

During the game, players use a variable hand of spell cards to do one of two things to aid their cult in their mission: Use the spell’s Astral Symbol to navigate the areas around Arkham on the unique Fate Clock board, or use the symbols in a location’s Astral Column to ready a spell. Readied spells can be cast at any time, but while in a cult’s Spell Reserve their primary Astral Symbol can aid in readying future spells, creating an engine for pumping out more potential power.

As cults travel to the six locations on the Fate Clock, they activate specific powerful abilities, such as gaining useful artifacts at The Museum or enabling their Elder God’s Dark Gift at The Ceremony. As cults send more and more cultists to a location, they may gain control there, adding even more powerful abilities. However, cults must be careful how they navigate Arkham as a location with lots of activity will attract pesky investigators. Tempt fate too many times and the investigators may raid your cult’s lodge, placing Elder Signs, and generally getting in the way of summoning your Elder God. Gain too many Elder Signs and it’s game over!

If any cult can manage to raise their Summon Track to 9 before the investigators save humanity, their Elder God awakens and they win! Of course, “win” is a relative term as it will certainly herald the end of the world — but that’s a small price to pay for eternal servitude to the Ancient Ones.

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This campaign will run until August 19th, so don’t delay! [link]


Finally, solo gamers everywhere will be rejoicing as Van Ryder Games brings a stand alone expansion to A.J. Porfirio’s hit game Hostage Negotiator with Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave:

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hncwIn Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave — a standalone expansion to the solitaire game Hostage Negotiator — each turn represents a conversation between you and a hostage taker. You play cards and roll dice to increase conversation points, decrease the threat level, and release hostages.

Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave uses the same “hand-building” mechanism found in Hostage Negotiator that puts cards you purchase directly in your hand for next turn, but it features new Conversation Cards, new Terror Cards, new Pivotal Events, and all new Abductors — each with new rules and new demands! It can be played right out of the box and also expands the original Hostage Negotiator.

Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave comes in a box that fits all released content for Hostage Negotiator to date with room for more.

Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave is completely playable without any other content. So if you don’t own the original Hostage Negotiator, you are still getting a fully playable game right out of the box. But having the original as well really brings out the most in this expansion! With new Conversation Cards, new Terror Cards, new Pivotal Events, new Abductors, and new Demands that can all be integrated with the original, your Hostage Negotiator experience will be taken to an all new level! Plus, with a larger box that can easily fit all released content -including the entire original game box- with room for more, you won’t have to worry about any storage concerns whatsoever. But you’ll still have the portability option of the original for taking on trips!

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August 18th marks the end of this Kickstarter project, so head over there today to get your copy! [link]

Game News: Expanding 7 Wonders Duel and Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Let’s get some game news rolling to head us off into the weekend, shall we?

Last year Asmodee and Repos Productions released 7 Wonders Duel, an amazing two player game set in the world of 7 Wonders. The game has been a hit, and this week news broke that there will be an expansion forthcoming: 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon.

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7wdpIn the award-winning card game 7 Wonders Duel, you compete against another player to build the greatest city of the ancient Mediterranean world by constructing a variety of temples, taverns, workshops, schools, and stables. These great citites are also are home to incredible Wonders: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus at Rhodes, and more. Any city you build combines the best of Greece, Egypt, Phoenicia, Rome, and Persia, all built out of stone, wood, glass, and papyrus. People pack your city’s streets, houses, and theatres, but the divine element that was so pervasive in those civilizations has been missing from the game. Until now.

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon brings the gods of the ancient world into 7 Wonders Duel. You can now seek the favor of deities from five different ancient cultures and bring them together to watch over your city. You might even build your patron gods and goddesses lavish temples to dwell in, or dedicate to them one of the expansion’s two new Wonders.

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Look for 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon to hit stores sometime in the 4th quarter of 2016.


Next up Fantasy Flight Games brings a revamping of one of their Arkham-themed games with the second edition of Mansions of Madness. This isn’t just a reprint with some small updates – this is a whole new experience. The new Mansions of Madness requires the use of an app as the Keeper, instead of a player, making this fully cooperative…or even solo!

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m0m2eFantasy Flight Games is proud to invite you to return to the insanity in Mansions of Madness Second Edition, the app-driven horror board game inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

This fully cooperative adventure will take you and up to four fellow investigators through the dark and desolate halls and alleyways of Arkham. Much like the original Mansions of Madness, the second edition sends you through a series of thrilling and confounding scenarios in which you must explore unpredictable maps haunted by bloodthirsty monsters, in order to solve intricate puzzles and uncover ominous secrets. Focus your mind and grab a weapon…fast! The game will be available everywhere next Thursday, August 4.

While the haunting spirit of the classic favorite remains the same, Mansions of Madness Second Edition’s innovative app takes a new and unique approach the sinister Arkham universe. In removing the need for a Keeper player, the app enables you to play a fully cooperative game, and shrouds each scenario’s randomized secrets in complete and utter darkness. Throughout every game, the app generates an entirely unique map, full of differing items to utilize, monsters to confront, and events to endure. Instead of the map being fully visible from the start of the game, however, the app obscures the majority of the board in shadows until you endeavor to explore further. 

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This one looks to be one of Fantasy Flight’s big Gen Con releases, so expect this to hit stores next week!

Board Everyday Podcast #11 – Origins Recap

Annnnnnnnd we’re back! After a long hiatus, Dan and Laura sit down to talk about their trip to Origins, their new house, and Hong Kong Phooey!

This episode contains portions of “Vodka and Beer” by The Vivisectors, licensed under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Find more at thevivisectors.bandcamp.com

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Board Everyday Podcast #10 – Granite Game Summit Recap

The crew recaps the amazing time they had at the first Granite Game Summit and discusses an upcoming break.

This episode contains portions of “Vodka and Beer” by The Vivisectors, licensed under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Find more at thevivisectors.bandcamp.com

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