Hanabi Cooperative Card Game Overview
Last week you saw our first game we played on the 4th of July that kept with the holiday theme – Lanterns. That game was about placing Chinese lanterns in a lake and then making a dedication in the form of pairs, sets or runs of lantern colors. But one gets tired of losing all the time, and thats why one of our favorite game types of late has been those that are classified as “cooperative“. We’ve fought zombies and fairy tale monsters, but in Hanabi from R&R Games we embark on a much more peaceful quest. We’re slowly building our fireworks show to entertain the world.
All players in Hanabi are on the same team and you are working together to craft your annual fireworks show for the crowd. Simply, your team’s job is to put the numbered cards in order from 1 – 5, sorted by color. I realize it sounds very easy, but there is a unique twist you haven’t seen in any other game.
This is what your hand looks like to you. That’s correct, you cannot see your cards, but everyone else can!
During each player’s turn they have a couple actions to choose from, but they can only do one.
They can give a clue to another player about the card they are holding either by telling them how many of a particular number they are holding (“this card is a two”) or by stating the color of the card (“these two cards are red”). From these clues, the player holding the cards will hopefully gather enough information to be able to play a card on the center piles. When you give a clue, you take a time marker from the box and place it in a separate pile on the lid.
The card piles begin with a “1” and work their way up to “5”, with ones being more plentiful in the deck and only a single instance of each color of “5” occurring. There are also only eight time tokens, meaning if they are all out of the box and on the lid, you can no longer give any clues – the current player must choose one of the other possible actions.
They can either play a card on the pile (hopefully successfully) or discard a card from their hand and draw another one. You may wish to discard, as it earns your team a time token back, but you also risk discarding an important card since you cannot see what you are throwing away! Remember, there is only one “5” of each color, and if it is discarded, you’ll never complete that pile.
If you choose to play on a pile and do so successfully (the next number required in the pile you call out), then you move on to the next player. If you are incorrect, the card is discarded and the team’s fuse is shortened by one. Thematically this is what lights your fireworks – this will go off at some point, ending the game. You technically don’t lose, but your fireworks ‘show’ will not be very impressive.
Hanabi also includes a set of rainbow-colored cards that can be used in different ways. They can act as wild cards or as a sixth color to work on independently depending on how you wish to structure the game. This is a great addition to the rules to keep game-to-game difficulty high.
At some point the game will end either by your team completing all five piles of cards (not likely) or by the fuse going off after three misses. Scoring is rather simple – count the number of fireworks cards successfully played to the piles and compare your results with the included scoring table.
To us, the only way to truly win is to try and get a perfect score. It is MUCH harder to do that it appears. The only clues you can give other players is the color or number of the card, and since you are limited to so few, your team really has to plan out each move to maintain a balance of hints-to-plays.
Hanabi is a fantastic social game that gets everyone talking strategy, laughing at the failures and sometimes yelling at the one inevitable player who isn’t paying attention! It has been a go-to staple for us in introducing new games to people that have never played a cooperative title – and since you always win on some level (even if your fireworks show was “mediocre”), there are usually no hard feelings.
This is one that you’ll find not only online at Amazon and at your local hobby store, but is also widely carried by major bookstores and specialty retailers. And for around $10, you cannot beat the value.
R & R Games has proven time and time again to have great titles for all ages, so be sure to check out the rest of their game line on their website and monitor their Facebook and Twitter timelines for new product introductions and maybe a special or two!
26 thoughts on “Hanabi Cooperative Card Game Overview”
We have been doing a lot of family game night recently and have a feeling we are going to need to add to our collections of games. This looks like something we would have a lot of fun playing. Thinking strategy is a great mind builder and something that fits well with what teachers are doing with Common Core. Thanks for sharing this game.
How cool is this game. You always find the best family games to play on family night. I love this one might look into it. It reminds me of the game Uno.
My daughter loves to play board games. She loves to find new ones to challenge the family too. This might be up her ally to check out.
It’s a little difficult to play games as a family right now because my son is so young. But we do try and play kid friendly card games.
I really love fun card games. It doesn’t matter how old my sister and I get — we can appreciate a great card game. Hanabi looks like one we’d love.
Never heard of this game but how cool. I think my girls would love it but man, I would try not to cheat and look at my own cards, lol
We really enjoy board games and usually end up laughing so much we don’t even finish the game. I like that you can’t see your own cards! That’s a unique twist!
This looks like a blast! I love a good card game. Thank you for sharing!
This makes me so excited for my kids to get older and play some of these fun games together. We love board games but they can’t get too complicated right now. This looks so fun!
I’ve never played a game where the player doesn’t know what they have! I’m laughing at the scoring, ie booed by the crowd.
We love board games, but we’ve always played the same ones over and over. I love your board games reviews, because they give us new ideas for games to play.
I love board games as they help kids learn while having fun. It also helps us to unplug.
This game looks like fun!
Very interesting that you can’t see your own cards!
Really cool game!
Got this game after reading this review, really fun 🙂