Alfie Dix, 17, reviews board games that he plays with the family and subsequently with groups of friends. Here’s his review of Hanabi.
There is often that one game in a gamer’s collection that is a bit different to the rest. For me that is Hanabi. Hanabi is a cooperative memory game, a combination of words that immediately make me uneasy and so it’s no surprise that it took me so long to get it to the table. Hanabi is a firework game that is completely un-winnable alone. Each player has a set of cards that they hold facing away from themselves for everyone else to see. The aim of the game for players to collectively create beautiful fireworks on the table from cards . Each firework is made up of cards in the same colour and of ascending order. On your turn you may take one of three possible actions:
- Give a player information about the colour or numerical value of similar cards in their hand. For example, indicating to specific cards in another player’s hand, “This card and this card are both 3s”. But you are restricted in how many times you can do this before you must…
- Discard cards from your own hand. Take a card that you believe can’t be played, looking at it and immediately discarding it.
- Play cards onto the table to form one of the fireworks. Take a card that you believe can be played, looking at it and placing it on a firework if possible. For example, a white 3, could be placed on the white firework if the white 1 and 2 have already been played.
At the end of the game these fireworks are used as a rating to show you how well you performed.
The first thing that I found particularly unusual about this game was the mechanic of holding your cards away from you. There is hidden information but information that’s hidden is your own. This greatly changes all aspects of gameplay as you are utterly reliant on teammates to guide you to the correct answer. This is probably my favourite part about the game as it is so unusual in terms of its system. I think this is most probably one of the reasons that it won a Spiel des Jahres award all the way back in 2013. This award is very difficult to come by and if you are ever in need of a new game for a collection, I thoroughly recommend looking at past winners for a game that suits you taste.
While this unusual mechanic of the game is reason enough to give it a test run, it is not the only highlight. Like many games its small size is perfect for travelling and requires little table space. It can also be cleared away in a flash, making it a great one for restaurants and train journeys. Furthermore, its advanced modes provide even more variation once you have mastered the original game, allowing you to continue playing.
All things considered it is a pretty great game for anyone looking for something new, however, the game is not suitable for all. Some people dislike the inability to know their own set of cards and many struggle with memory. If you are unable to remember what your cards are or what information has been given to you, have trouble with this game these are skills that are necessary for success.
In this case though, the pros outweigh the cons and Hanabi is definitely a game to consider purchasing,