Dice on Fire Review: Hanabi

A quick review of a quick game: Hanabi. A firework-shooting, risk-taking, often frustrating (in a good way!) cooperative card game.

So at its core, Hanabi is very simple. We have five suits of cards, numbered one to five (with some duplicates of the low numbers). As a team, we try to lay cards to build sequential piles for each suit, starting with the one and going up to the five. There are no winners or losers - we just see if we can build the sequential piles.

Sounds easy right? And boring. The twist which makes this game so much fun is so simple, so obvious, that I'm a little annoyed that I didn't think of it first: instead of holding your hand of cards facing you, you hold it facing the other players. Subsequently, you have no idea what cards are in your hand and rely on other players to give you clues as to what you're holding. As we move around the table, players can play a card in their hand onto the table, hoping it fits into one of the existing sequences, or they can spend one of the group's limited tokens to clue another player into what card they're holding - only giving away information about a single number or suit - "this and this one are number 4" costs one token, as does, "your entire hand is blue cards".

So as the game goes on you piece together limited information about your cards, take calculated risks and watch in frustration as a team-mate inadvertently plays a wrong card. If a suit is currently showing a two and someone plays a four, well that four is trashed and you folks are boned!

Hanabi reminds me a lot of Divinare - another tense memory game - they both induce that good kind of frustration as you try and figure out, "what was that third card again?" and deduce other hidden information. The difference is that Hanabi, as a team based game, really gets the game-group's spirits high: you'll all swear vehemently together or you'll all cheer together - either way you'll have a good time.

I highly recommend Hanibi for quick and fun play sessions.

Colourblind Information

Colour is used to distinguish suits and it can be difficult to differentiate, but shape is also used. You will need to request that your whole group uses shape descriptions rather than colour descriptions (or just remember that red means circle, etc.). The use of colour is not too problematic.