Elusive Meeple

Board Gaming Reviews & Strategy


Hanabi – Review

Type: Co-Operative

Time to play: 30-60 minutes (Teaching: 5-10 minutes)

Best played with: 4 Player (2-5 Players)

I am sure you have always wanted to be a great firework artist, building a display for an emperor. Well this is your chance – you and your friends will work together to form a display, the only confusing thematic step is that you don’t know what you have but your friends can help you!

Okay, that makes no sense but I guess that is where the mechanics took over from the theme. It’s a bit of an excuse but it’s worth it, because as players you face a really interesting challenge. You hold your cards to face the other players – the other players can give you advice on your cards but you will have to remember what is where, and when to play it!

In your turn you will have three options – play a card, discard a card or give advice. Advice will cost you time, and time can only be regained by discarding fireworks. Advice is the heart of the game – you tell a player COMPLETE information about one aspect of their hand. You might for example tell them how many of one colour they have and which cards those are. You might tell them how many one’s they have and where those cards are. However, if you do, you must tell them where all the one’s are. You cannot pick out cards that will help and leave out cards that won’t. So advice must be done carefully, find something helpful to say but give enough information to guide not just this turn but for future turns.

If you want though, perhaps after advice, you can play a card. Choose to play it and hope it fits into the current tableau. You will be hoping to go from one to five in every colour to form the perfect display. If you can though, it may be worth discarding first – get rid of the useless fireworks and give yourself more time to advise. Sometimes you will even advise players just to help them to discard cards!

Part of the trick will be remembering what has gone and what you can see – building up the knowledge of the cards will help you work out what to do. Bear in mind the three of the ones, the two of each of 2/3/4, and the one 5 available. You will want to watch out for the critical cards in your path to a perfect display.

This is a brain burner of a puzzle that could be played quickly, but offers a lot to a team willing to play through steadily and with thought. There are lots of decisions to make each game and real tactics to work through. Try not to codify the game beforehand, as the fun is in discovering the surprise choices of your partners, and the crunching challenge of advising people.

This game could be frustrating though for players who get annoyed with other players not making the same “optimal” choice. Advice is very subjective and players can really choose to play or discard off the same advice. Quite a challenge then with a reasonable group.

Last notes,

  • If you like puzzles, then this is a group think that will take time to solve
  • If you prefer a co-op with a time limit then watch the clock here…
  • If you win, try again and see if you can get 25

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