What better way is there to start off the New Year than with some fireworks. So once the clock struck midnight on the 31st of December we started our own firework display with Hanabi, a game designed by Antoine Bauza. In this cooperative card game the aim is to play different coloured cards in the correct order to create the perfect fireworks show. The game has five different colours with each with cards numbered 1-5, play all five colours in sequence from 1 to 5 and you score a perfect game. However, the trick to Hanabi is that you only see what cards of the other players but not your own. You have to rely on the other players to give you hints to your cards in your hand. However, much like I talked about with Concept, Hanabi also restricts your communication with everyone and you can only tell them about either all the cards of the same colour or of the same number on your turn. The game ends when you either play all five cards of each colour, the draw deck runs out or you make three mistakes.
Myself and Ruth have played Hanabi multiple times on Boardgamearena but this was our first time playing it face to face with someone. This added an extra dimension for us as we had to remember what clues we had been given to each other. As expected this didn’t work out very well as we frequently forgot what we had been told about our cards. I misplayed a few times thinking the card something completely different or holding onto one for 20 minutes because I forgot that Ruth told me it was fine to play it. Despite our mistakes we still managed to make a “very good display where the audience were enthusiastic”. A little shy of a legendary, unforgettable show but I think it was still our best score to date.
While there is some restricted communication in Hanabi it is really more a game about memory and logic. You need to remember what you have been told (and sometimes importantly what you haven’t been told) and then see what cards have already been played or discarded and in everyone elses hand. With all of this information you can maybe work out that the blue card in your hand must be the blue 3 or the 5 card in your hand must be the red 5 (sometimes you are also completely wrong and it’s actually the green 5 and not the red 5 at all). The most interesting thing about Hanabi for me is that each game teaches you something new about how you communicate during the game, allowing you to slowly build up over time little tricks to help you eventually achieve that perfect score. Overall, I feel Hanabi is a great game that is easy to teach and set up. It also definitely works really well with two players and is a nice light game to play on a relaxing evening or on New Year’s Eve.
What was the first game you played of 2022, or what are you most looking forward to this year?
Hanabi is a great game! My first exposure to it was in physical format, which requires a major aspect of simply having to keep track of the information you’ve been given, and not lose track as other cards enter and leave your hand. However, there are some other sites online available (hanab.live & hanabi.cards) that will track the clues that apply to your cards in hand, freeing you up to focus on your clueing strategy.
For myself, I got a lot of experience playing Hanabi on all three sites after the start of the pandemic, when I was looking for an opportunity to keep in touch with a nice girl I had recently met but was otherwise going to lose touch with due to everything closing down. We’ve played Hanabi almost every week since then, and at this point have been dating over a year. Turned out to be a good way for us to get to know each other and how we think.
Thanks for sharing your experience, and glad you enjoyed it!