Hanabi - Board Game Box Shot

Hanabi

, | Published: 2010

Hanabi : a surprising and amazingly innovative game.

In this collective game, all the players work together to create a beautiful firework display. But every player has to hold his cards back to front: you cannot see your own cards! So you have to give your partners smart advice and remember all the information collected.

Hanabi
images © Abacusspiele

User Reviews (28)

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I play black
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“All The Thinking You Can Cram Into a Pocket”

As I was working my way through purchasing titles in Boardgaming.com’s Cooperative Explorables Collection I focused on heavier/longer games and ignored the smaller/quicker games. But as my admiration for Antoine Bauza grew from positive experiences with his “bigger” games I decided I should check out Hanabi. I like my filler games to be relatively think-free and I like my thinking games to be more epic, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a 30-minute-or-less filler that requires much thinking and remembering.

Observed Set-Up and Play Time
Ah the beauty of the simple filler. There are 11 tokens to punch out of cardboard when you receive the game… but that’s all there is save the cards (only 50 of those). The rules are as easy to grasp as you might hope. Anybody will be able to start their first game of Hanabi 15 minutes after opening it. Games tend to take right around the 30-minute advertised length.

My Learning Curve and Teach Time
For such a “small” game, Hanabi is quite thinky. It takes several games with the same group of players to truly get on the same page and begin mastering the game… and when you play with a different group you start from scratch to some extent in getting familiar with how you’ll approach the game. Your game of Hanabi is scored between 0 and 25 at the end of the game to objectively rate how you did; for the first handful of games my primary group played together we scored in the high teens. After 5 or so games we were able to regularly score in the 20s (although that elusive 25 still evades us). But if I play with a few first-timers, I’ll be right back down in the mid-teens again. It only takes about 5 minutes to teach Hanabi to a newcomer.

Group Sizes and Dynamics
Hanabi supports 2 to 5 players, but I’ve only played with 3 or 4. This isn’t really a game I want to pull out for 2 player or 5 player nights (at 2, I like things either more tactical like Summoner Wars or Krosmaster: Arena or less thinky like Dragonheart or Ascension; at 5, I want to play something big). Oddly for a game that revolves around talking and interaction, this is a very anti-social game. You can literally only say one of two things for the entirety of the game: “these cards are color X” or “these cards are number Y”. Anything else is cheating.

Objectionable Material
Thematically, Hanabi is simply building a firework display. It’s a charming little game built around a pretty universally liked thing. It could be a useful teaching tool in instructing a child on the importance of teamwork, but it requires patience and thought that might be missing in a 5-year-old (who otherwise could play, as you need only color and number recognition). If you can get them into it, the designer’s recommended playing age of 8 sounds about right. However, an 8-year-old may not be too eager to sit down for a 30 minute thinking session.

Comparable Titles
Hanabi is the only cooperative small-box card game I know of… but there are a bunch of good small-box competitive card games that are as easy as Hanabi to get a new group going on. The best of these may be Love Letter, an equally charming and Japanese-themed game-in-a-pocket with plenty of quick but strategic decisions to make (I have the Kanai Factory edition – the Tempest edition won’t share the same Japanese setting). If you like to keep your games in your pocket, Hanabi trumps Love LetterHanabi’s box is about half the size, even though it has 3 times as many cards. A few other games I’d recommend in the competitive card game that can fit in a pocket category are Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom (a fun little monster-breeding game for 4, and definitely more interesting than Hanabi or Love Letter for children) and Tschak! (a dungeon-and-monsters themed game with a pocket-sized board that plays really well with 2 or 4 players, but not so great with 3).

So I mentioned above the cheating, and this is probably the only drawback to Hanabi. Hands-down, this is the easiest game on Earth to cheat at. Since you’re playing cooperatively nobody is incented to call out a slight bending of the rules… and that slight bending may be the smallest of groans or a nearly-involuntary twitch of the eye, but it will have a huge impact on the game. Simply inhaling when somebody is about to discard a card can tell them they shouldn’t discard that card. It can have a several-point effect on the end of game score. To play properly, you (and your teammates) need to concentrate throughout the 30 minutes of playtime to make sure you use no physical “tells”. It’s probably a lot to ask of people who thought they were sitting down to play a lite filler game. But I have 2 people I’ve mastered playing it with, and we have a lot of (thinky, not laughy) fun playing this 3 or 4 times in a row to chase that elusive 25.

 
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Poland
Petroglyph
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“A great filler game”

What is it all about
The objective of Hanabi is to create as many and as long streaks of same-coloured cards as possible. There are 6 colors available, each containing cards numbered 1 to 5. The streaks have to go in ascending order, ie. 1,2,3,4 and 5.

Where’s the challenge then? Well, the problem is that you (the player) do not know your own cards, as you are holding them with their backs facing you. All of the other players see your cards, but they do not see their own.

In your turn you can give a hint to one of the other players, you can discard a card or you can play a card to create or add to a streak.

Giving a hint is a tricky mechanic in itself, as you can only give information about one colour (suit) of the cards or one number. So for example, a correct hint would be: “You have a yellow card here and here.” (pointing the specific cards of course). Giving a hint also costs a special token (you start with 8 of them at the beginning of the game).

Your other option is to discard a card from your hand, which is one of the ways to win back the tokens you use to give tips.

Lastly, you can play a card to a streak. If you play it correctly (ie. there is a streak you can add to on the table or you play a “1” to start a streak), it is a legal move and you also win back a token. If you play a wrong card however (for example a “4” in a colour which only has 1 and 2 on the table), you must take an error token. Three errors and you lose the game.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Impressions
Hanabi is a great filler game between heavier titles – it plays in around 20-30 minutes and there is much fun throughout. It makes your brain cells work a bit, but most of all it requires good memory. The logic you employ in the game is a rather simple one, but the challenge is to remember the hints you were given let’s say 6 turns ago. Not so easy, believe me.

It is also one of the games where the spectators have lots of fun watching you play. I’ve heard lots of people say things like “How could you not get that hint – it was so obvious!” Well yes, for someone who saw all sets of cards, maybe it was 🙂

All in all, it is one of the better games I have added to my collection lately and I can recommend it as a great party logic game (“party logic game” being in itself a rare thing to see).

 
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96 of 103 gamers found this helpful
“A tiny box chock full o' fun!”

Overview
Hanabi is a co-operative game for two to five players! The goal of the game is build the best fireworks display using the cards to build “runs” from 1 to 5 in each color or suit(5 colors + plus one optional multicolor). Seems simple, but the deduction mechanic is great and challenging, because players cannot look at their own cards!

Pros
Very inexpensive
Small portable box
Cool deduction mechanic

Cons
Not a very deep game
Flimsy card stock

Gameplay
Hanabi has a few simple rules. Once cards are dealt out, players cannot look at their hand, but must hold up their hand so everyone else can see. Players proceed in turn order performing one of three actions. They can either give a clue to another player about their hand if clue tokens are available, discard a card from their hand, or play a card onto the table. The clues that are given can be one of two types. A player tells another person all the cards that in their hand of the same number or of the same color. They cannot just say a number and a color, it has to be one or the other.

When players play a card, it has to go in sequence with other cards of the same suit. For example, you can play a “blue” two if the “blue” one is only blue card in play. However, if you tried to play a “blue” three, and only a “blue” one is in play, your team will take a bomb token. Once all the bomb tokens run out, the game is automatically over and you lose.

Discarding a card is the main way to get clue tokens back after being used. However, you must be careful how many cards you discard, because you could potentially discard a needed card for a firework sequence. There’s one more way to get clue tokens, and that’s when your team successfully plays a “5” onto the board completing a “suit” or firework display of a color.

The game ends when either the bomb tokens are gone thus losing or the draw pile runs out. Players then look into the rule book to see how well they scored.

Conclusion

Hanabi is a fascinating little cooperative deduction game. The fun lies in the player interaction of deciding when to give clues, when to discard, or when to play a card. The game can get really tense sometimes especially when your team runs out of clue tokens. Communication is vital is in the game. The rules are very simple, and make this game highly accessible.

I really enjoy this game. It makes for a great change of pace for a game night. It’s very easy to play and makes a great filler or a lunchtime game at work. The small box makes it very portable, and it’s cheap too! Speaking of which, the cards are really poor quality, but that’s understandable given it’s price.

Gamer Recommendations
Family Gamer – YES
Social Gamer – YES
Casual Gamer – YES
Strategy Gamer – NO
Avid Gamer – NO
Power Gamer – NO

 
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Tinkerer
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10
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“The mother of deduction games”

This is a very special game, and let me begin by saying that this is definetely not for everyone. The game is a dry abstract co-op brainburner, and if that does not sound like your cup of tea you might just be right. I love it, and many of my gamer friends really love it too.

The task is simple, the player group must sort cards of different colors in corresponding piles on the table, placing the red 1 on the bottom, red 2 on top of the red 1 and so on until you collected 1-5 in each color.

There are five different “normal” colors (more about the odd one later) and each color suit is made up by

1 1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5

That is, two cards of each, except for the 1 and 5. Only five cards should go in each pile, so there are some expendables.

Each player is dealt a hand of 4-5 cards (depending on the number of players) and must take turns in clockwise order. Here comes the little detail about this game, you keep your hand so that you only see the back of your cards, that is you can see what everyone else have but not your own cards. Tricky huh?

On your turn you must do one of three things

– Give a clue to another player, pointing out either all cards of a certain color or all cards of a certain number. This cost a clue token, you start with 8 of them.

– Trash a card from your hand, returning one used clue token to the group. Of course you would not want to trash any 5 (only one of them) or for instance both red threes.

– Play a card (if legal it is added to the correct pile, if it’s not you lose a life, three lost lives and the games is over). If you happen to play a legal 5 you also get a clue token back.

If you played or trashed cards you replenish your hand afterwards with a fresh one from the deck. If the deck runs out you may all make a final action and then the game is over.

The goal of the game is of course to get as many cards on the table as possible.

The real problem with this game is that 8 clue tokens is not really enough, and that means that you must give really good clues that maximize the information to the other players. Look at this game as a collective puzzlebox. When giving a clue you must anticipate how the recipient will interpret the clue. “She said this card was my 3, does that mean I should play it or that I should trash it? Or was it meant to include a subtle hint to my neighbour about her four?” It’s vital that you play with people that use logic in sort of the same way you do and that you trust each other. The best clue will give information to more than one player.

Of course one of the hard things is that you must keep track of all prior clues you’ve been given. When someone point out where your blue cards are, that also says that the rest of the cards are non-blue. But then you play a card or two, and you have different info on different cards, which can be highly frustrating to keep track on.

Included in the game is a sixth “color”, multicolored, and if you find the normal game to easy (yeah right…) you can include that in some different ways, one addon is to use it but only have one card of each number, another one is to add it with all 10 cards and make them trigger to clues (“here are your red cards” would include both red and multicolored cards).

When we play this we all look tormented, it’s one tough decission after the other, but we love it that way. I’ve never seen a mechanic like this before, and it is really fresh.

If you have the chance, try it out. You may not like it, or you may be completely won over to the dark side like me. Only one way to find out! And a game only last 20-30 minutes (well, that of course depends on how long you think each turn…)

 
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“The Best Cooperative Firework Making Game on the Market”

The title of this review may not mean much, as I believe Hanabi to be the only cooperative firework making game on the market. Hanabi does not only define its genre, the immersive experience one feels when playing it stands alone in board/card gaming.

Goals

In Hanabi, the players cooperate to complete firework displays. This is achieved by playing, as a group, cards in sequence from 1 to 5 in different colors. This must be achieved without being able to see your own cards. If your team can complete the 1-5 sequence for all colors, or make it entirely through the deck (plus one turn) before having three failures, they win. Summing the highest value successfully played on each color gives your final score. The higher your score, the better you performed.

Game Play

Hanabi’s rules are quite simple. Each player has a hand of cards. During the game, you may not look at your cards, but see everyone else’s cards.

Each card depicts a color and a number. Each color has ten cards, three 1s, two each of 2, 3, and 4, and one 5.

On your turn, you can do one of three things:

1) Play a card from your hand onto a pile (if wrong, take a red token)
2) Give a clue to a teammate (using a clue)
3) Discard a card from your hand (gaining a clue)

When giving clues, you may only give specific information:

– Tell someone the number of a card. If they have multiple cards with that number, you must tell them each card that has that number.

– Tell someone the color of a card. If they have multiple cards with that color, you must tell them each card that has that color

There will be a number of clue tokens the group has available. You must remove a clue token if you give a clue (if there are no clue tokens, you can’t give clues). Discarding a card from your hand gains the team a clue. No other information should be given during the game.

If you play a card, and it is not the next number in sequence for that color, you take a red token. If you ever get three of these as a team, the game ends and you lose. Make it through all of the cards, or play 1-5 of each color, and you’ll win!

My Thoughts

Hanabi has been one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in boardgaming in the last few years. With a simple premise, minimal rules, and unspectacular components, Hanabi shows that a great game doesn’t need to flash and sparkle to light up an evening of gaming.

Hanabi will be group dependent, leaning more towards gamers who are willing to take their time and focus on what goes into a decision, as opposed to the play itself. Instead of simply focusing on winning, the game allows for a group to aim for improving their score to become more successful. It’s not difficult to survive the game, but even a group that has always made it through the game will have a reason to come back for more. Hanabi may appeal more to players that make it through their first game, as the scoring system gives them something more to shoot for.

While the rules state you may only give the types of hints above, different groups I’ve played with have allowed for different levels of table talk. Some games, people will want no other words exchanged, some will allow a person to state what they believe they have been told before. Another option has been players stating whether they are confident that they know what they will (or should) do on their turn. This ability to tailor the game to your group is a fantastic aspect of Hanabi, and can evolve over time. This keeps the game challenging but still fun. If you find your level of table talk is making the game too easy, put an additional restriction on yourselves and play again. We’ve found that, though you’re playing the same game, small changes like this can greatly change the feel of the experience.

Watching a game of Hanabi from the sidelines can’t give a good feel for the tension, decision making, and ultimately the pleasure one feels while playing. This game could be described as becoming more of an experience than a game. You can know the rules and understand the strategies, but until you’re sitting there staring at the backs of the cards in your hand, you can’t grasp the immersion you feel while playing.

I highly recommend giving Hanabi a try for nearly all types of gamers. Family gamers with younger children may have some trouble with the clues and not being able to see your own cards. While Casual and Social groups may be the core audience, there is much for Avid, Strategy and even Power gamers to enjoy. I can’t guarantee it’ll be your favorite game, but it’ll very likely introduce you to a new gaming experience!

 
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I play orange
9
264 of 286 gamers found this helpful
“Ka-Boom! This is gaming.”

Overview:
In Hanabi you are a firework professional who…oh who cares about the flimsy theme–its really a Euro-abstract game with good play. In this co-op game the team has to get cards in their hand onto the table from 1 to 5, in the right order, and stacked in the correct color piles. (5 colors) The problem is, you can’t see your hand but everyone else can! On your turn you either give a clue to others (only get 8 clues), make a guess (3 misses and GAMEOVER), or toss a card to get a new card and clue back. It is fast, easy and yet challenging. This is, by far, the BEST co-op game I have played.

Pros:
–The game is clever and inventive. A unique game for sure.
–It is easy to learn and the rules are easy to teach.
–FAST learn time, and FASTER play make it a good small party game.
–Game designers strive to make games that bring a new dimension and experience to a player–this one has it! It stretches your mind in ways both exciting and new.
–Has decent re-playability. And is a fairly strong small party game.

Cons:
–The art and components are as flimsy as the theme, they fall apart fast.
–Once you get the concept down it can be a little frustrating to play with new people who don’t understand strategies.
-There are no english rules in the box, go online, BGG has some.
-Hard to find game.

Get it or Pass?
For the price, this one is a winner. Unless you really loathe co-op gaming, you will want Hanabi on your shelf.

 
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Noble
5
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“The lone dissenting voice”

The baleful lowing of a sacred cow

At the time I write this, there are 14 reviews of Hanabi on this site, all of them positive. The cooperative card game won the Spiel des Jahres 2013, everyone loves it, and so it must be good right? Right?

Right. Sort of…

There are plenty of things to like about Hanabi; the low cost, the small form-factor, the novel hold-your-cards-the-wrong-way-around thing and the pleasing notion that you as players will be creating a fireworks display. Who doesn’t like a fireworks display? Other than pet dogs, no one, that’s who.

And yet I have had mixed experiences with Hanabi that suggest that at certain tables and with certain people it is going to stink the place up. Here’s my personal list of reasons why.

This card is green. No, wait, it’s orange. Green… Oran-Green!

On the version I have, the artwork on the cards is plain enough; a number and a firework burst. It’s the colours that are the problem. I am colourblind and the green and orange cards are indistinguishable. This won’t affect every player, but even my friends whose brains are wired correctly struggle with this to an extent in poor lighting conditions. This makes the game much harder than it needs to be, and can lead to having to ask other players to help you out identifying which cares are which when giving out clues. I understand that this has been corrected on some editions with the addition of symbology. Well caveat emptor because confusion in Hanabi is bad because…

There’s definitely a reason, but which of these cards did you tell me it was on?

It’s a deduction game. Players need to determine the hidden meaning of the clues they are given about the cards in their hand. Then they need to remember them. In practice this equates to one part deduction to two parts memory test. This proportion diverges the more you play with the same people as you will develop codes and standard inferences to the clues you are given. This negates the deduction element and makes the game largely what you can remember being told about your hand. If your (or someone at the table) memory sucks, so will Hanabi.

The Curse of the Cooperative

And I’m not talking about a haunted supermarket. Coop games famously suffer from alpha gamer syndrome where the guy at the table who has ‘worked the game out’ knows what everyone should do and tells them so. Loudly. Hanabi doesn’t suffer from that problem as much as it does from inadvertent (or advertent, which I’m sure isn’t a word) cheating. When you are about to discard a card, certain players will be unable from doing something to indicate that you are about to make a mistake. Humming, screwing up eyes, shaking heads, tapping nails on the table; all of these are skills perfected by my wife. She just can’t help herself. If your group contains someone like this, Hanabi is doomed.

It’s my turn! I guess I have to discard

There can be a real problem of player agency in Hanabi. That is to say that a game, any game, is often defined by the choices presented to its players. Quite often Hanabi presents its players with no choice and only prescribed actions. The fun in the game comes from determining who needs to be given what information about their hand at what time. In order to do so, players spend a token. If all the tokens are spent then you must either play a card or discard from your hand. In games with few players it is common for one player to give out all the clues, and another player(s) to be relegated to playing cards and passing the turn back to the clue-giver. In larger games it is quite possible that a player will know nothing about their hand, have either no tokens left or just a single one and be forced to discard completely blind and risk ‘losing’ the game. Oh, and on ‘losing’ the game…

Damp Squibb

Victories in cooperative games should be sweet. Wins are hard-fought, odds overcome, teamwork triumphant and the payoff, whether thematic or otherwise, should be worth the effort. Did you successfully carry the One Ring to Mt. Doom? Did you thwart the forces of darkness besieging Camelot? Did you defeat the ghosts plaguing your village?

In Hanabi the game stops. You count up the points achieved and think “16 points… I guess we could get 17 next time.” It’s flat, lifeless, pointless, which is ironic given that points is all you will have to show for your effort. Even when you ‘win’ it is just a matter of having the most points possible.

So there you have it. You will see that I have rated Hanabi as better than bad. It isn’t bad. It’s just in my opinion (and yours might vary!) it isn’t great either.

 
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“Challenging. Clever. Filler.”

Most co-operative board games have the players working against the clock or the game itself, sometimes with a traitor amongst the players trying to thwart their efforts. Battlestar Galactica, published by Fantasy Flight Games, and Grosso Modo Éditions’ more recent Nosferatu are typical of cooperative games with a traitor mechanic, whilst Z-Man Games’ Pandemic and Indie Cards and Games’ Flash Point: Fire Rescue are typical of co-operative board games without a traitor mechanic. These games have made the co-operative style of play popular and accepted, the board game Pandemic having made the breakthrough in 2008. Most co-operative games revolve around the players attempting to cope with limited information that they all share. In Hanabi, the players must share information about what each other has on their cards, but they will never know exactly what they have on their own cards.

Named for the Japanese word for fireworks, Cocktail Games’ Hanabi was the 2013 Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year Winner. The players are apprentices who are attempting to put on a firework display for the emperor, but have managed to mix up the powders, fuses and rockets. To succeed, they must launch the fireworks in the correct sequence, and if they do, they please not only the emperor, but their master too.

Designed for two to five players, aged eight and up, Hanabi consists of five sets of coloured cards—red, blue, green, white, and yellow, plus three red tokens and eight blue tokens. Each set consists of ten cards, each containing three cards numbered one, two numbered two, two numbered two, two numbered two, and a single card numbered five. The red tokens are failure tokens, indicating a poorly displayed firework; the blue tokens are clue tokens, used to impart information to another player about the cards in his hands.
A complete firework consists of a single colour that contains cards played in order, from one up through two, three, four, and finally, five. Completing a firework gains the players a blue token; playing a card out of sequence onto a firework, for example, playing a white-4 card onto a white-2 card, would earn the players a red token. If they gain all three red tokens, the game is over.

At game’s start, each player receives a hand of cards, either four or five, depending on the number of players. A player cannot look at his hand, but instead holds them face out so that the other players can seem them. Thus each player can see everyone else’s cards, but not his own.

On his turn, a player can undertake a single action. He can discard card to gain a blue token; he can play a card, either to an ongoing firework or to start one if there is not yet one of that colour; or he can expend a blue token to give a clue; giving clues lies at the heart of Hanabi. To give a clue, a player points to another player’s hand and imparts certain information about that hand. This can be about the cards of a single colour in a player’s hand, such as “You have a green card here” or “You have two white cards here and here”; or about the cards of single number in the player’s hand, such as “You have a three here” or “You have a four here and here”. The clues given must be complete—so if a player has two four cards, the informing player must indicate both of them. If a player discarded a card or played one onto a firework, then he draws a new card.

Play continues until either the players have acquired all three red tokens and thus lost the game; or all five fireworks have been completed in the correct order and the players have scored maximum points, or the deck has been exhausted. In the case of the latter, points are awarded based on the fireworks completed, the top card on each firework adding to the final score. A maximum of twenty-five points can be scored, with scores of between sixteen and twenty-four at least being memorable.

Hanabi is as simple as that. During play, a player is free to arrange his cards how he likes and to an extent can talk about his hand in general terms—only the other players can be specific about his hand and only after having expended a blue token. For a game as simple as Hanabi, it requires a great deal of thought and no little care, because it is a game about memory and deduction, that is remembering where your cards are in your hand and deducing which card to play next from the clues previously given. Essentially though, it is a game about communication and understanding that communication, and about remembering that communication. Get the communication wrong and potential points are lost as the wrong cards are discarded or played onto a firework.

Hanabi is also a filler game, play being expected to last no longer than twenty minutes or so. Unlike more recent filler games, for example, Coup or Love Letter, this one is not combative. Indeed, in comparison to many other co-operative games, Hanabi is benign, the players are not really playing against a game that is set up for them to fail, as in Pandemic or Battlestar Galactica. Even its subject matter is benign, but despite that and its benign mechanics, it is actually more challenging than your average filler game because it is asking the players to think and communicate. Also, where another co-operative bears repeat play by increasing the difficulty level of the game the players have to beat; Hanabi bears repeated play if a group wants to improve its score.

Despite its simplicity, Hanabi is clever because it gives us a new playing experience. One that emphasises communication and deduction to support its co-operative play.

 
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76 of 83 gamers found this helpful
“Great fun with the right group.”

The goal of Hanabi is to make the most awesome fireworks show you can imagine, the only problem is you can’t see what fireworks you have in your hand. The good news is, you can see everyone else. The super bad news, time is running short and you guys have to communicate in short bursts to try to get this thing rolling.

To delve into the mechanics. The goal of Hanabi is to complete the sequence 1,2,3,4,5 in each color. To do this you must play the cards in order, first red 1, then red 2, then red 3, etc. There are 5 colours in which you need to do this in order to create the most amazing fireworks display possible. These numbers come in a variety of rarities(3 ones, 2 two’s, 2 three’s, 2 fours, and 1 five).

On a player’s turn you can play a card on a pile, and if the card is not a valid play you need to remove a detonator token(three misses and the game is over and you total the score) and draw a new card. You can also discard a card, and by doing so regain an information token(you start with 8 of these) and you draw a new card to replace it.

Now, so far this game sounds pretty boring, since it’d be fairly obvious to see on your turn what you can play, and what you can’t. So this is where the twist comes in. You can not look at your hand, but you can see everyone else’s cards. And you cannot communicate any information to them, without consuming an information token, and giving them one of two bits of information. You can either tell them all of the cards in their hand that are of a single colour, or tell them all of the cards in their hand that are of a single value. You have to tell them all of whatever you choose, so it’s up to them to figure out how to interpret what you mean when you tell them a colour or a number, unless you go through two information tokens to give them the same bit.

Additionally, when you complete a colour(i.e. successfully play the 5 card), you also regain an information token.

Now the game has set itself up for success, it ultimately boils down to the group you are playing with to determine how much fun you have with this game. If a team goes in with a strategy of signals/rules, it defeats the spirit of the game for me since your robbing yourself of the incomplete information which gives the game it’s challenge(and table talk is against the rules, you can discuss what information to give, but not who to give it to, or who to give information to, but not what to give them). Likewise it is tempting to try to subtly signal if someone mis-remembers or twists their knowledge around, you need to not give in to that since correcting that information costs you time.

The end result of this ruleset, is a fairly tense experience, where at the start everyone is happy go lucky, but then as the information tokens start to dwindle, it becomes a crazy tense atmosphere of trying desperately to tell the next person in line enough information so they can possibly play a card or discard it(gaining you another information turn), while not leaving someone coming up with no idea of what they have in their hand, a mittful of high number cards, and no information tokens forcing them to play or discard blindly.

I’ve only been able to play this game with 5 people, and that seems rather difficult(since it can take up to 4 turns for any bit of information to become useful, and each individual player will have less information in general because there’s so many people in play). While with fewer players it seems like you could stretch those information tokens a lot further because there’s less people for the information to be spread across(5 bits of information across 3 people means 1 for all, and 2 for most(generally giving you an exact card), but with 5 people it means 1 bit of information each(probably allowing you a guess at playing one card or a safe discard)).

Every time I’ve played so far seems to be great fun, but I can see how after a large number of playings people start getting into ruts and always playing in the same way meaning you can pass along more information then intended by the rules. But still, a great tense experience.

 
Player Avatar
5
Canada
9
83 of 93 gamers found this helpful
“Co-Op with a Twist”

When I first heard about a co-op game where you cannot see your own cards, I wasn’t thinking that a game like that could be that fun. I mean after all, it was just a bunch of cards with numbers on them and all you have to do is organize your cards in sequential order by numbers and colour. How fun could that possibly be??

I saw the reviews, checked out the tutorials and I thought, ok I’ll give it a try. This game won so many awards, its gotta be something special. Well………this game totally caught me off guard.

It is SURPRISINGLY fun!! Here is a game where, like Pandemic, you will want to play again and again to get better at it. Like Pandemic, every time the game beats you, you want to try again and again until you beat it. In Hanabi, you want to keep on trying again and again until you get a perfect score which would be the maximum possible score.

I love the game mechanics where you take away hint points for giving hints but can gain more hints if you burn a card. Burning a card can help you but at the same time, it can hurt you. I also love the fact that your hints are only limited to 2 options: mention the colors or mention the numbers. That’s it. And originally I was worried that people might wanna cheat and just give more hints than they should. But when you really think about it, you are only cheating yourself and your win won’t be that satisfying. So by default, the players that I played with all understood the honour system. And that is you play by the rules, you don’t give more hints than you should be. You don’t give hand or face signals or put emphasis on your tone of voice when you give the hint. Nothing. You play strictly by the rules because you want to test yourself. And that is automatically understood by all the players.

And that also means you gotta play this with the right group. This is a game that is more for avid gamers who understand the concept of co-op games as well as winning properly. This is a game where I’ll want to play again and again and I highly recommend this game if you are a fan of co-op games and are open to a bit of a twist.

9 out of 10

 
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1
10
81 of 94 gamers found this helpful
“A game for building a team”

I was quite astonished the first time I was introduced to Hanabi – a unique game play mixed with team work, fun, and addiction. The idea of viewing others teammates card, but not yours, is one of the corner stones of why the game is so good. But then comes the logical sequence you must learn and build within your team in order to get a better score in the end. You have to adjust the flow of your brain signals to the ones of the other players – simple as that, but not too easy as it sounds :). This happens only through many mistakes and cheating that everyone will do (yes, they will), which makes the game a constant learning and improvement experience. All of this leads to numerous moments of laughter and eventually to addiction as the more you play the better you learn what your teammates are thinking and, of course, a higher score in the end.
I have introduced the game to many friends and it took just a single game to fire the light of addiction 🙂
Enjoy!

 
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1
9
260 of 312 gamers found this helpful
“A great coop game in a small package...”

At first, I had my doubts about this game. Seemed way to simple for a coop game. Boy was I wrong. The four of us played four games and got closer each game. The elegant design of not seeing your cards, but helping others decipher what cards they have to help the group is brilliant. For those that have not played, the premise is simple:

There are 5 colors suits. In each suit there are numbered cards going from 1 to 5. There are three 1’s, two 2’s, two 3’s, two 4’s and one 5. You have three failure tokens and nine clue tokens. Each player draws four cards, faces them so they face their co-players. Hence, the player does not know what cards he/she has. The goal of the game is to player 5 sequences in each color suite in ascending order from 1 to 5. Simple? Nope. On your turn, you can play a card, discard a card, or give a clue. If you play a card, it has to be played so that it is in the correct order of the matching suit. If not, it is considered a failure and a failure token is issued for the team. If you discard a card, a clue token is earned. However, you have to be careful what you discard, because if you discard the last of a number you need (i.e. the only 5), then the game is over. You can give a player a clue by using a clue token. You can tell any player either which cards have the same color (i.e. first and third are blue) or the same number (i.e first and second are 3). Game continues in clockwise order until you collect three failures, discarded a card that was the last one of it’s kind, or miraculously winning the game by creating 5 color suits in ascending order from 1 to 5.

It is a great game! My wife enjoyed playing it enough to try four times in a row with my gaming buddies.

Enjoy!

 
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9
Grand Master Grader
Movie Lover
Book Lover
I play blue
5
84 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“I really wanted to like this one...”

I am fairly new to gaming, so I am always looking for highly rated, affordable titles to play and add to my collection. I bought Hanabi from a local bookstore, and I was pleased with the price and the compact, attractive package. I had read (and watched on YouTube) many positive reviews for Hanabi, and I was excited to try it. The rules and object of the game are simple enough, and the game works for two to five players.

I played Hanabi with two, three, and then four players, and I felt I must be missing something. The game seemed more like a test of my memory than a strategy game. I found that no matter how much or how little information my gaming partners shared, I quickly forgot the makeup of my five card hand. I felt the rules were a bit vague as to how many clues or how specific the clues given by a player on each turn could be. But I soon discovered that it did not matter. Without notes or markers, I could not recall the colors or numbers of my outward facing cards.

Perhaps the problem is that my short term memory is lacking, but I just could not seem to find much “fun” playing Hanabi. Another potential negative are the muted color tones on the cards themselves. Color plays a huge role in the game, so sharper, brighter shades would help players better distinguish differences in the cards. The idea of reversed cards and cooperative play would seem to make Hanabi a perfect party game. I suppose it could be, but only for a select group highly focused of players.

 
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4
Miniature Painter
Arrowhead
9
74 of 91 gamers found this helpful
“This is not a party game...”

First up, I’m not going to describe the mechanics. There are many other good reviews that already do this. I’m going to give you a gut reaction review.

So, I hear people calling this a “light” game but I don’t think it’s that at all. When I think of light games I think about games that require little brain power to play – perhaps while imbibing an adult beverage. That does not describe Hanabi.

With Hanabi, you’re going to want to give the game your full attention the entire time that you play. If you’re forced to focus on anything else you’ll feel the important information slipping away from you every second that you aren’t focusing on the game.

Even when you lose a game of Hanabi there will be a feeling of relief from the tension of the game. It’s that intense.

This is not a light game. It’s a GOOD game… but it’s not light.

 
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1
 
187 of 236 gamers found this helpful
“Worth a flutter...”

The deck consists of 50 cards in five colors (red, orange, blue, black and green). Each color consists of the following cards: 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5. At the beginning of the game, the cards are shuffled together and a hand of either 4 (4 or 5 players) or 5 (2 or 3 players) is dealt to everyone. The cards are picked up by each player with the backs facing them so that they cannot see their own hands but may see everyone else’s. The game also includes colored tokens. 8 blue tokens are placed on the table in the box cover and three red tokens are placed next to the box cover on the table.
The goal of the game is to build five complete fireworks displays. This is accomplished by making five stacks of cards (one in each color) that go from 1 to 5 in sequential order. On your turn, you must take one of only three possible actions:
1. Give information to one of the other players
2. Discard a card to discard area
3. Play a card to the display area
Giving information to another player costs one blue token which will be removed from the box cover. If there are no blue tokens available, then you cannot give information and must perform one of the other two actions; you may not pass. When giving information, you are allowed to tell one player about the quantity and location of all cards that are the same color, all cards that have the same value, or the absence of a card of one color or value in that player’s hand. For example, you could say “You have two green cards; here and here,” or “You have three 2s; here, here, and here,” or “You have no blue cards.” No one else may say anything and you must give information about all of the cards that match. So if you are telling a player about red cards, you must point out all of the cards which are red.
When discarding a card, you will simply declare that you are discarding a card and then place that card in the discard area. This card is out of play permanently, but it will now be visible to everyone including yourself. You then draw a card from the deck so that you have the same number of cards that you started with. But more importantly, you may return one of the blue tokens to the box cover. This is how you “recycle” the blue tokens so that more clues can be given. Remember, you only start with 8 blue tokens and no one knows anything about his own hand!
Finally, you may play a card to the display area. To do this, you need only declare that you are playing a card to the display area. You do not have to state what the card is or on which firework you are playing it. If the card may be legally played as the start of a new firework or on an existing firework, hooray! You place the card in its proper location in the display, draw a replacement and play passes to the next person. If the card was a legally played 5, then as a reward for completing the firework you get to return a blue token to the box cover. But be careful; if the card was not a legal play (e.g. you played a blue 4, but the top card on the blue pile was a 2, or you played a red 1 but there was already a red firework started) then you cause an explosion! You place one of the red tokens in the box cover. If you place the third red token, the game ends immediately. Your display goes up in flames and the team loses the game!
Play continues until either the third red token has been used, all 5 fireworks have been completed, or the draw deck runs out. If the draw deck runs out, players continue with the cards remaining in their hands until the person who drew the last card gets one additional turn.
Those are all of the rules. The rules are easy, but the strategy is the fun part.
Scoring:
At the end of the game, the top cards in each stack will be added together. The higher you score, the more impressed the crowd is and the better your rating.
Strategy:
Players have to work together to figure out which cards they are holding. Information is very limited, so frequently players will need to infer additional information from the information they are given. For example, if the blue firework display is currently at 3, and someone tells you “you have a blue card; here,” did she tell you that because it’s a 4 and you should play it? Probably. Other times it will take information from more than one player to narrow down a card. Remember, you’re not allowed to give advice to the other players.
The card distribution is also important to remember. There are three 1s in each color, so losing one of those will probably not be a big deal. But there are only two of the 2 through 4 value cards and only one of each 5. If someone discards a blue 3, the other blue 3 will suddenly be very important because if it gets discarded, the blue firework display will never be able to reach completion.
Giving other players information about what card or cards they can safely discard will also help the team regain valuable blue tokens. For example, if all of the fireworks have been started, then all further 1s will be useless.
Memory is very important since each player will be getting information about her hand that may or may not be immediately useful. I often find myself thinking things, “Okay, this is a 3, these two cards are blue, and this card is black. Do I know anything about the other cards? Well I guess I know they aren’t 3s, blue, or black, since I haven’t played any of these cards yet” Yes, it’s deliciously tricky!
Drawbacks:
The biggest drawback to this game is in the cards themselves.
In the original edition the art is simple yet attractive, but the colors are very hard to discern even under the best lighting conditions. The blue and black cards especially are very difficult to distinguish. Colorblind players will have an exceptionally hard time playing the game because the card suits are only differentiated by color.
In the second edition, the problems with the colors were fixed and symbols were introduced on the cards making them colorblind friendly. However, the art is somewhat more garish and the cards were made in a large square format. Since this game requires you to be holding a hand of cards up visible to all players for the entire game, anything that makes the cards more cumbersome, like an awkward shape, is just unnecessarily complicating things.
Finally, it’s a card game. Sometimes you get a bad shuffle. But that’s always the case with card games.

 
Player Avatar
7
United Kingdom
I play yellow
Gamer - Level 6
8
79 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“fun coop but play with the right people”

Enjoyable card game but can be frustrating when played with the wrong person.

overview. you have sets of cards (fireworks)5 or 6 sets depending on how you choose to play which you are trying to lay down numerically from 1 to 5 and in the corresponding colours. EG Red fireworks from 1 up to 5. So if you had 5 sets completed from 1 to 5 you would score maximum 25 points (the highest possible)

The neat mechanic of the game is that only your coop players see your cards and you can see theirs. The idea is to help the each other work out what colour or number cards you have (by either stating they hold a certain colour or number amongst their cards)

Now I found playing with my son we seem to get scores of around low 20’s, but with other people i am lucky to get over 12!!! some have real trouble remembering the card info they are given.

It is frustrating but fun, BUT play it with people who have good memories!

 
Player Avatar
4
Gamer - Level 2
8
67 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Think as much as you want”

First of all, I will clarify that I wont make a explanation of how the game is played nor a list of good and bad things it has. I will simply point out one positive aspect of it that I find interesting and maybe some other stuff related to the same.

So, the thing is that Hanabi is a game that works strangely well like a light or medium game. Let me explain:

It is true that usually medium games and sometimes also heavy games can be played less seriously and still enjoy them, in a lighter way. But they tend to lose something, they are prepared to play with the correspondent effort and it they are not as good without it. But in Hanabi the situation changes.

At first sight, it seems to be a light game, in which the first try almost always ends up without having thought that much for the hints and actions. It can be played in that way when the mood isn’t a good one to intense games, or the players simply don’t like heavy games. This way, the game is really fun and the interaction implemented by “cheats” which we would call house rules is fantastic.

The best thing though is that there is still a lot more to the game. It can perfectly be played as a medium to heavy game, not long, but with a lot of thinking involved. After the first games new strategies come up, and is unbelievable how many forms of interpreting the hint there are, and how much things can be said just by “the two cards are blue”!

Because of all of this I think that, for just 10$, this is one of the games that can be played with both family and “serious” gamer friends.

 
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5
Petroglyph
Arrowhead
9
71 of 92 gamers found this helpful
“A riddle-based review for a riddle-based game”

Right before I played Hanabi for the first time, I heard a riddle — and found that the logic of the riddle’s solution applied perfectly to Hanabi. You see, every game of Hanabi poses a series of riddles based on logic and insinuation. The other helpful reviews here already discuss the mechanics and components of the game, so instead I offer this riddle. If the solution delights you as it did me, Hanabi is a game you will want to play.

A Logic Riddle in the Vein of Hanabi
A madman has kidnapped four men, imprisoned them in a room, and contrived a sadistic game for them. He has tied each of the men to a chair and arranged them in a line. Each man faces the back of the man in front of him — except that a wall separates the first and second men. Each man wears a black or a white hat, in alternating order.

<–1 (b) || <–2 (w) <–3(b) <–4(w)

The men know there are two white hats and two black hats, but they do not know what order they are in. None of the men can see his own hat, but only the hats of the men in front of him. That is, the fourth man can see the hats of the second and third men. The third man can see the hat of the second. The first and second men cannot see any hats at all.

The madman informs the four that if one of them can correctly identify his own hat color, they may all go free. Otherwise, he will flood the room and drown them. They are not allowed to communicate in any way or to speak — unless one of the men decides to declare the color of his own hat.

Which of the four men, using logic alone, can correctly identify the color of the hat he is wearing?

However …
Whatever you think of the riddle, be aware that Hanabi is a multi-player co-op game. Your fun with the game will depend not only on your fondness for logic but on how logical your teammates are as well. That said, with the right group, you will find ample opportunity to admire one another’s cleverness every time you break out this game.

 
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2
Rated 25 Games
Check Out My Favorites
7
70 of 96 gamers found this helpful
“I really liked it, but my group got frustrated”

This game is one of my favorites. I love how its a different kind of co-op than the survival/race against time (pandemic and forbidden island) genre. It’s incredibly easy to teach and is very compact.

My group did not like that two facts…one that it’s scored versus a win/lose condition. They were not at all satisfied that we came up with a “good performance.” They wanted to just win! They also didn’t like how frustrating the game can get when you know you are not going to do that well.

Although I would highly recommend it, I’d be careful and assess your own playgroup before you make this purchase (although it’s hardly a high stakes investment).

 
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4
Gamer - Level 2
9
67 of 92 gamers found this helpful
“Fun mini brain-burner”

We had just finished a marathon game of Mage Knight and we were wanting to jump right into another long-ish game, and we (wisely) decided we needed a bit of time in between. We looked at our filler games and nothing was grabbing us, then we noticed the little Hanabi box, wedged between a couple of other games. We had been neglecting to open it. We heard it was a lot of fun, but “Fireworks” isn’t a theme that really gets my gamer juices flowing.

We gave it a shot, and it was just a ton of fun. It’s hard not to cheat. Just really hard. It’s a good game to play if you need to practice your poker face. We laughed a ton, we stressed out a bit… it was great. I recommend it. It plays quick, it’s easy to teach. Good to cleanse the palate a bit between games.

 

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