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81 out of 88 gamers thought this was helpful

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.

Go to the The Resistance: Avalon page
72 out of 79 gamers thought this was helpful

A quick overview of Avalon:

Players are given a secret role(either a good guy(knights) or a bad guy(minions)) and are tasked with creating teams to send out on various quests. The entire group must then vote on the selected team to decide whether or not it is sent on the quest, and then a new team is selected if the first team is shot down, or the team goes on the quest. Once on a quest, the players chosen to go on that quest will select a ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ card to determine whether or not the mission passes, Knights must pass the mission, and the Minions are trying to make the mission fail. A single failure in most missions will mean the quest fails, no failures mean that the quest succeeds. You do this up to 5 times, and the first to 3(either passes(Knights) or fails(minions)) means that side wins. There are also some specialty role cards, which will help by adding more information into the pool.

I’m going to try to draw a lot of comparisons to The Resistance, mostly because I’ve played it more, and the games are very similar.

Compared to mafia/werewolf, I much prefer The Resistance’s style of gameplay. I like the voting to accept a team, and I like the mission results. Both of these are great sources of information that you can use to try to ferret out the neer-do-wells, and since both of these games have that, I can ignore that in my comparisons.

The main difference, is that Avalon has specialty character roles like mafia. And these roles help add in more information into the game, and add a bunch of unique ruffles, but there is one in particular that I quite dislike, and it signals the start of my dislike for this game.

Merlin, who knows who all of the bad guys are, needs to be alive at the end of the game. The minion role that counters him is called the Assassin, and at the end of the game(if the knights win), the assassin kills a knight and if Merlin dies, the knights lose. This means, that in general, even if you play a perfect game and pull off a clutch win at the 7th hour, the minions still have a fairly significant chance to win(generally it seems like they have a 25% chance of killing Merlin if they guess at random). While this does add a fun role for Merlin, who has to try to spread the information he has without drawing attention to himself. Overall this rule just annoys me that the knights can lose the game to a dice roll, and nothing they can do can really stop that.

In addition to this, unlike Resistance, Avalon does not use plot cards in the game by itself. And this kind of makes this game just strictly worse then the Resistance to me. The plot cards add a great open source of information(who gave who what, who player what on who, what did they say about each other), and this creates a bunch of dependencies which you can then talk about openly without fear of repercussion(i.e. Merlin dying and you losing the game) and create teams around exploiting the information that you do know to gain more information. With this mechanic lacking in Avalon raw, and being replaced with role cards, it just puts this game back into a mafia-esque camp, of fun but you’ll still generally be running blind for the first few turns(and since the game only runs for 5 turns that is most of the game).

As a final note here, the art on the cards looks great, the characters are fairly vibrant and detailed, the boards all have enough information on it to help keep track of things, and most of the components are fairly solid cardboard and seem like they’d hold up well. It has the same issue as other hidden information games if the backs of cards start getting marked, but that can be easily fixed with some protectors.

Overall, I’d rate this game as better then mafia for a quick party play, but worse then The Resistance. If you combined the secret roles with the plot cards, this might become more interesting, but the Merlin ruffle will always just be a thorn in my side that I’d rather do without.

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