I've played Bohnanza(BGG|Publisher) a few times, and it seems that most players will buy a third bean field card as soon as possible. A third bean field card costs 3 gold, but through the course of the game, it feels like the extra flexibility from owning a third bean field will more than pay for itself, as you can save up more beans of a given type in order to sell them for more.

Is it ever worthwhile not to buy the third bean field? Has anyone calculated how much a third bean field is worth (on average) over the course of the game? Should you buy a third bean field as soon as possible, or wait only until it's necessary?

  • It's been ages since I played Bohnanza - I'm going to have to put it on the stack for the upcoming holiday break! Under Chaos in the Old World, Dominant Species, and Dungeon Lords, of course. It might get a little smooshed under there...
    – gomad
    Nov 30, 2010 at 19:20

6 Answers 6


I would never, ever buy the third bean field in Bohnanza except as a last resort (and yes, I win at least my fair share of games and consider myself a good player). Look at the final scoring margins of your games: is the winner usually ahead by half a dozen points or more? In my experience, this is not the case, it's usually much closer than that, and as such, those 3 coins you spent on a third bean field could be the difference between first place and a much less auspicious final position.

Of course, the question really is, does a third field usually pay for itself, or not? Obviously it can pay for itself. But shrewd bargaining, good timing, and paying attention to what cards have been cashed in for gold do too, and I think working hard at improving those skills is way more important than getting a third field at the earliest opportunity. The third field makes the game feel a lot easier - once you have one, you will very rarely be at risk of losing a crop before you have a chance to make some gold out of it. In my experience that leads to complacency and complacency leads to less profitable bean farming!

In short, either you regularly find yourself with not enough fields to make money with, or you don't. If you don't, you don't need a third bean field. If you do, I feel like you could probably benefit from tightening up your game a little - the bean field is an easy but expensive way out of your problems. In one of Uwe Rosenberg's other fine games, At The Gates of Loyang, there's the option to increase the size of your storage barn for a small cost, at which point you can keep 4 vegetables from one turn to the next instead of 1. And I feel that it's a trap in that game too: if you are regularly producing more vegetables than you can use, you're doing something wrong. Unless you've exhausted all the other possibilities for fixing your supply/demand imbalance, you want to be VERY wary of spending your valuable coins!

  • 2
    Yes, this is my experience. In all the games of Bohnanza I've played, the first place was almost never more than 3 coins ahead of the second place, and I've pretty much never seen someone who bought a third field win.
    – AlexC
    Nov 30, 2010 at 9:20
  • Another thing to consider is that Uwe Rosenberg is a pretty smart game designer. If a third beanfield was an obvious bargain and "no-brainer", why not just give it to all players to begin with? Nov 30, 2010 at 19:35
  • 4
    That means also: If the third field is always of no use, why include it at all?
    – Mnementh
    Dec 1, 2010 at 11:22
  • @Mnementh: Good point! My comment arose more from reading some people's suggestions that you should grab the third field as soon as possible, as if it's necessary to win. Obviously having a third field is nice and will give you some number of extra coins: in some cases more than 3 extra. I maintain that it won't usually be worth it, but it does depend on your play group. If you are in a play group where players vindictively refuse to trade with someone with only 2 fields, clearly it is worth buying one! Dec 1, 2010 at 21:07

It depends on how good you are at trading, how long you hold out for rare cards, and how the other players behave (e.g., would the other players refuse a donation they need so they can force you to harvest earlier? do the other players always buy third bean fields immediately?). It also depends on the number of players, but the game has you take out different beans for different numbers of players, so having fewer players doesn't always mean you're better off buying a third bean field.

I've actually found that buying a third bean field (rather than getting one from a Field Bean) is rarely worth it in the base game. The winner of the games I've played has usually been determined by less than three thalers. I rarely find myself wishing I had bought a third bean field in the base game. (In the High Bohn(original BGG|Plus version BGG|Publisher) version, however, I will almost always obtain a third bean field.)

In short: In the base game, I would only recommend a third bean field when it's necessary (you are confident you will make more than 3 coins) or when a large majority of your opponents are also buying third bean fields.

  • I've gotten one answer that says you don't usually need a third field (and it's not worth the cost) and one that says that people always buy the third field as soon as possible. Can you provide any more detailed reasoning or analysis to support your position? Nov 30, 2010 at 1:48
  • @Brian - looks like the voting may favor fewer third fields as well.
    – Pat Ludwig
    Nov 30, 2010 at 14:01
  • @Brian, I wish I had more concrete details to support my argument. Is there, perhaps, a specific point you'd like me to expound on? Nov 30, 2010 at 15:33

As in every good designed game, any option may be two-sided. It depends on game-situation and your personal strategy, if it is right to buy the third field.

First you should observe your own games and evaluate it after the play. Did you buy a third field and thereafter one nearly all the time one of your fields was empty or the game came to an fast end? Buying the third field was wrong. Continued the game on the other hand a long time and all your fields were filled nearly all the time. Good decision! If you didn't bought a field and you had often to clear a field early, because you needed the space? A third field would have been good.

So, in what cases is a third field useful or not? Here some cases:

  • Do you prefer collecting rare or common beans? In the case of the rare beans a third field is useful.
  • Do you cash in early or try to get max-coins from a field? If you keep your beans longer on a field you might need the third.
  • Do you play with many people? Many players have two effects. First the game is faster (not really faster, but everyone plays fewer turns). And it is easier to trade away unwanted beans and get wanted beans. Both things reduce the usefulness of the third field.
  • Do you play generally with rule-variations, that makes the game faster like drawing more cards? Faster games reduce the usefulness of the third field.
  • Do you play with contracts from the first extension? The contracts can be solved with first/second or second/third field. So the third field makes that easier.
  • Do you play with extensions, that introduce new sorts of beans? More different sort of beans makes the third field more useful. More players may cancel this effect, because you can trade the unwanted beans.

Ahh Bohnanza. We play this quite often and we always buy the 3rd fields. I usually win with a lead of about 3-6 coins. In our family we are all fairly accommodating when it comes to trades and (at least I myself) don't think too much about what kind of beans will be coming up. If you play in a more competitive environment then my personal strategy (buy asap) might not be suitable to you.

To be honest we've never explored the option of not buying the third field. We always buy them the first chance we get. I don't have any hard data but only a feel that in the end the field pays off.

I admit that both firefeather and thesunneversets make good arguments against buying the field. Your ability to trade well and read the table will reduce the need for the field. I guess it is possible that the usefulness of the field depends largely on how good of a player you are (probably compared to your opponents).

In my opinion you should go for it as soon as possible instead of waiting until you absolutely need it. It will cost the same amount of coins but the timespan in which you can profit from the increased possibilities will be longer. So you should evaluate your situation in the beginning and make a guess on whether or not you'll eventually need it and plan with that decision from the start.

Indications that you need the third field:

  • It is difficult for your to get good trades (hostile environment or bad trading abilities)
  • There are more kinds of beans per player
  • There are additional constraints on your growing like "Contracts" from the expansion.
  • Many or all of your opponents have the third field
  • Which all leads to you having to prematurely harvest your fields often

Indications that you don't need the third field:

  • You can get good trades (cooperative environment or good trading skills)
  • You can predict the future beans with a good reliability and plan for it
  • None of your opponents has the third field
  • Resulting in you rarely having to harvest a field prematurely
  • I've gotten one answer that says you don't usually need a third field (and it's not worth the cost) and one that says that people always buy the third field as soon as possible. Can you provide any more detailed reasoning or analysis to support your position? Nov 30, 2010 at 1:49

I think that every single new player has asked this in our group. The best we can come up with is:

If you haven't bought one by the time of the 2nd run through the deck, don't.


Don't buy one after the first round, or in a game with more than 4 players. You don't have enough time to make it worth it.

  • That is not always true, depending on what you have in your hand to be planted and what you have currently awaiting to be harvested you can get a net gain from buying the third field.
    – Joe W
    Oct 15, 2015 at 23:45

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