There’s something to be said for a really good filler game, one that can be really short or longer if you have the time, but it doesn’t take much energy or too much thought.
There’s also something to be said for a good dice game. We all like chucking dice, right? (Put your hand down, Jason. I know you don’t)
What a perfect combination of all of that in Würfel Bohnanza, the dice version of the classic bean-harvesting card game.
This game is designed by Uwe Rosenberg, art by Björn Pertoft and published by Amigo Spiel Games and 999 Games.
I know what you’re saying. “Dave, I just don’t get it. How can harvesting beans be fun?”
Sounds like a dirty job. But it truly isn’t!
Würfel Bohnanza, is a dice game where you are rolling dice to complete bean orders on the card in front of you. These orders will earn you coins and more orders that you have to fulfill.
The first player to 13 coins wins! Though what I said above about making it as long or short as you want is that you can lower that requirement to any number if you only have a bit of time. Playing to 13 coins takes 30-45 minutes.
At the beginning of the game, you will be dealt two cards with bean orders, and you have to choose which one you want to do first.
When it’s your turn, you roll all seven dice.
Before you do anything with those dice, your opponents get to look and see if what you rolled will let them fulfill one or more of their orders. If so, they can move their horizontal card upwards, covering the completed ones.
After that’s determined, you will plant at least one die in the beanfield (the card where the dice are sitting in the picture above). You look at the orders you are trying to fulfill and plant the dice that give you the beans you need.
Even if none of the dice are required beans, you still have to plant at least one.
That’s where knowing what’s on the dice will help.
The game comes with these handy reference cards that show what are on each die. There are three tan dice with the configuration on the left and four white dice with the configuration on the right.
If you roll nothing that you need, but you know you need a brown bean at some point, you may want to plant a tan die because there are no browns on that one. You can’t roll a brown with it.
You continue to roll the remaining dice until you’ve planted everything. Your opponents can only use what you roll to fulfill their orders. They cannot use what you’ve already planted.
When you’ve planted all of the dice, you fulfill the orders that you are able to. You can use the planted dice for more than one order (wouldn’t that be a nice possibility in the real world!), but you must complete the orders in sequence as you go up the card.
Once you get above the line in the middle of the card, you can cash in the card for the number of coins on the right side of the card (or, if you complete the card, then four coins as shown at the top of the card). Your next card that you will try to complete is the one that you’ve been using to cover completed orders and you will draw a new one to put horizontally on that one.
When you cash in a card, you turn the card over so you see the coin on the back of it, and add more cards from the draw pile to have a total equal to how many coins you cashed it in for.
As said above, the first to 13 coins wins!
Is Würfel Bohnanza a bountiful bean harvest or is it rotting in the field?
This is my go-to filler game. I have played it 39 times according to my BG Stats app, and I know I played it a few times before I started using the app.
It’s a quick game, but there is also really little downtime, as you’re always checking what the other players are rolling to see if you can fulfill an order. You won’t be sitting there having time to check your phone (unless your order is “7 dice, no orange”, for example, because once they plant something, there are no longer 7 dice for you to check).
Everybody’s involved, and even if you can’t fulfill an order anymore with your opponent’s dice, you can still root against them when they are trying to roll that one green bean and it won’t come up.
The dice are really nicely crafted with clear bean designs on them (in case you are colourblind).
The only issue I have with the dice themselves is that it is really hard to see whether a die is tan or white unless you’re in wonderful light. However, after a round or two when you see the colours of the beans on the dice, you’ll know which one is which.
It just would have been nice to have the dice colours more differentiated.
For some reason I can’t fathom, this isn’t a game for everyone. I know one friend who has bounced hard off of it.
I will never turn down a game of it, though. It’s almost a perfect “before getting to the meaty stuff” or “wind down after playing the meaty stuff” game.
I mean, who doesn’t like chucking dice? (No, Jason, I’m not purposely targeting you. Sit down).
One other issue with the game is that it’s not available over in North America generally. Your store has to import it or you’ll have to get it online. I paid $30 CDN for it, where it’s basically just a bunch of cards and seven dice.
But given the amount of pleasure Würfel Bohnanza has given me, it’s more than paid for itself.
(Review written after 40 plays)