WBG Score: 8.5
Player Count: 2-5
Published by: Cocktail Games
Hanabi was first published in 2010. It was one of the first games to popularise the idea of not looking at your cards, rather concentrating on the other players. Since then, Hanabi has seen many different releases. This is the one to get though. Want to find out how it plays and why this is the definitive edition? Let's get it to the table and find out.
Shuffle the cards and deal out five face down to each player. Four cards in a four or five player game. With this edition of Hanabi we are also provided with card holders which you can give out at this point, which makes looking at other peoples cards a lot easier. It also avoids the temptation to look at your own as you pick them up. Each player will place their cards into their card holder so that they are facing outwards. They must not look at their own cards as they do this but they can look at the other players cards. Then lay out the eight clue tokens and the three error tiles placed face down. You are now ready to play.
How to Play
Players will now take it in turns to carry out one of the three possible actions. You can either give information to one other player about their cards. Play a card of your own, or discard a card. At the start of the game you will have no idea what cards you have, so the only option available to you will be to give information to another player.
In Hanabi, you are looking to collectively play the cards in sequential order, one to five, in the five colours available. A perfect first move would be to play a one from your hand. So, telling another player if they have a one, that they have a one, is a great way to start! When you play a card or discard a card you will draw back up to the hand limit from the deck, adding the new card into your hand facing away from you like the other cards.
When you give information to other players you can tell them about a certain number or a certain colour. Never both. You can point to the cards you are referring to and they can then rearrange their cards so they can try and remember what they have been told. But remember without ever looking at the front of the cards themselves.
When you give a clue like this you must spend one of your eight clue tokens. When they are all spent you cannot give anymore clues. The only way to get them back is by discarding. When you discard a card you can take one clue token back after you discard. But be careful not to discard a card you need to play. There are three of each coloured number one card, two twos, two three's, two four's, and only one five. If you discard the wrong card, you may then not be able to complete your firework display. If you ever complete one of the colours, laying the final five on top of the one, two, three, and four, you can claim back a clue token if available as a bonus.
Laying all five colours, one to five without making too many mistakes will win you the game. If you ever play a card that is not directly in the correct ascending sequence then you will loose one life and be forced to flip over one of the three error tiles. If you ever have to flip the third tile over, you will all loose the game. You can still score points based on the highest number of each colour, and hopefully still had some fun. The rule book will give you an indication of how well you have done based on your score. But really, let's face it, you lost! Rack 'em up and try again! This time, going for the full fireworks show.
In this version of Hanabi we have three expansions to play with. First, the Colour Avalanche add on, which brings in these ten colourful cards, shuffled into the deck at the beginning of set-up.
With these cards added, you now have to make a sixth firework display, with the same rules as the other five. The only change is in how you give information to other players. You can still tell other players about the numbers for these cards. But not the colours. As they have no single colour, and you cannot say you have one or more multi-coloured cards. But you must include them in the other colours when you give information. For example, if someone had one white and one multi-colour, you have to then say "you have two whites." As the multi-coloured card counts as a white. It counts as every colour. It gets very tricky!
Black Power Add On
This add odd introduces ten more black cards. These cards work a little differently and need to be played in reverse order from five back down to one. Similarly to the multi-coloured cards, you cannot give direct information about the colours, only the number. At the end of the game, you will score a little differently. You will remove one point for each card missing from the black display. So the maximum points is the same as the base game, despite having ten extra cards.
5 Flamboyants Add On.
This final expansion introduces six bonus tiles. Shuffle them up and place them face down next to the deck in a pile during set-up. Whenever you complete a firework display by placing the fifth card down in any colour, you can reveal a bonus tile instead of taking a clue token. The tile is immediately activated and then discarded.
The top left token lets you take a card previously discarded and add it into your fireworks display so long as it fits the next number rule. The next tile lets you gain one clue back. The next one lets you gain a clue and flip over an error tile. The forth token lets you give one piece of colour information to one player. The next one lets you give one piece of number information. The final token lets you take a card from the discard pile and shuffle it back into the deck.
Is it Fun
Hanabi is one of my all time favourite card games, and this version just adds to the chaos. I love all the expansion although I regularly play the base game, as it is just so pure. But I like to have the options. Especially playing with more experienced players.
The card holders are brilliant and are the main reason I would recommend this version. They are sturdy, fit the cards well, and do not fall over. Having card holders is not essential with Hanabi, but it certainly helps a lot. You can see other players hands a lot easier, and don't have to ask players to raise their hand, or turn it your way. And as mentioned, it stops you accidently looking at them as habit often takes over in Hanabi. People don't cheat, they are just so used to picking up cards and looking at them from playing other games where this is the norm.
The clue tokens are nice and chunky too, and by far outstrip the small tokens in the regular version of Hanabi. As do the new error tiles, which offer a nice image of a fireworks display too. There is also a handy standee with the main rules and tokens explained. I would very much recommend this version of the game if you want to get Hanabi. But, do you want this game at all?
Similar to games like The Mind, Hanabi relies very much on players getting in sync with each other. Understanding what people are telling you with limited communication is key to winning but also enjoying this game. A very basic example would be that if you have played four of the five ones so far and are only missing the yellow one, if someone had the yellow one, I would be inclined to tell them, "this is a yellow." I would then hope they would think, "hmmm, Jim told me this was a yellow, we need the yellow one still. I don't know what number it is, but I am gong to take a risk and play it as I assume he told me it was a yellow, right now, for a reason." Of course, I could have said "this is a one." But then if that was me, that would make me think I can discard it as we have four our of fives ones down, and the chances are this is one of the four we have already played. These nuances become key.
If you can start to understand the information hidden within the clues, then you will really begin to enjoy this game. If the above example makes you think to yourself that you would never go there in your own mind, then perhaps this game will not be for you. But I would still suggest giving it a try and working out your groups little tells and tricks. It is more likely my style just didn't work for you. Because this game has been a hit for me 100% of the time. I cannot say that about many other games. But do not get me wrong. Hanabi is not about tricking your way to victory. It is about understanding what people are saying within the rules of the game.
You cannot point at two cards and say something silly like "for once I can tell you with my five fingers, that these two cards are white." Emphasising the for and the five in your clue. Slipping in the number four and five to add numerical information to the colour. That is cheating. Although hilarious when done, and it is often done in early rounds with new players I have found. Hanabi is more about giving the right information at the right time such as the above example. If all the two's have been played, tell someone they have two's so they can freely discard them and get some clue tokens back. If you are still looking to play one and two for each colour, some don't tell others about any five's that they are holding, as they won't need to use that card for a while. And if someone has a few cards they can legally play but they don't know it, perhaps give them a clue that would encourage they to do so. Such as saying "these two cards are white" when they are both white twos and you need to play a white two.
All this takes some time for each game to work out their own groups' manner of communication and understanding each others intentions. But when it works, of my! Does it feel good. There is an incredible tension bubbling under for every game of Hanabi. Playing the right card with limited information but getting it right feels great! Discarding the wrong card is frustrating but just adds to the tension. And remember, you have a few free goes at discarding the wrong card as each number has more than one version of it. Just don't discard any fives! Which is why some people do give information about fives early on. You may not be able to use it for a while, but you don't want to accidently discard it. But will you remember what it was fifteen minutes later!? Probably not. Which just adds to the laughter. You can ask, "What do you know about your hand" to a player to avoid giving them information twice, or perhaps to remind them if they have seemingly forgotten. And it never fails to raise a titter when a player who is sitting on the perfect card that they have been told about, but clearly forgotten, reply to this question with a timid "I forgot everything!"
I would recommend this game to anyone. I love it so much and it firmly sits in my mind as a modern classic. I think it has a place in every persons collection and would happily play this game anytime with anyone.