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Subject: 20X Reviews #39 - Hanabi After 20 Plays rss

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Peter Barringer
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Check out a Geeklist containing all my other reviews here: 20X Reviews - A Geeklist

Time to 20 Plays: 1 Year, 2 Months

How to Play: Hanabi utilizes a unique mechanic in which players all see each other’s cards rather than their own. The goal of the game is to cooperatively create a fireworks show by playing the 1 through 5 cards in order for each of five colors. Obviously, this is a bit difficult when players cannot see their own cards! On a turn, the active player can do one of three actions. First, s/he can give a hint to another player. These hints can either be about the number of a particular card or cards, or the color—not both. Players only start with eight hints, so they must regain hints by discarding cards, which is the second available action. The third action is to play a card onto one of the firework piles. As long as the card can actually be played, the player may play it. If that card cannot be played (i.e., the active player tries to play a blue 3 when the blue pile is already at 4), this causes players to remove one fuse token. Players can lose by misplaying three cards over the course of a game. Thematically, the fireworks show starts too early. In the end, scoring is based on the number of cards the team was able to play before either running out of cards to draw (at which point each player gets one more turn), misplaying three cards, or finishing all five piles.

I've played it so much because:
1. It’s tense. Decisions are agonizing. Additionally, the rules regarding hints are quite restrictive, which causes hint-giving to become more difficult and/or misleading.
2. It’s cooperative. I love working together with other players to achieve a common goal. My wife and I enjoy Hanabi so much that we have played sixteen times together.
3. It’s quick and portable. You can knock out a game in fifteen minutes and it fits in your pocket. We’ve played on airplanes, even.
4. The mechanics are unique. I’ve never played a cooperative game like this before. The most similar game I can think of, mechanically at least, is Abraca...what?

I'd play it more if:
1. it were less tense. I know this contradicts my first statement, but I’ve seen players get mad at others for giving poor hints or failing to give important hints. It can get heated in a hurry!
2. the components were a bit nicer. I’m only saying this because our cards have bent significantly. There’s a deluxe version, but I’m not really interested in it. This is an amazing $10 game, but I’m not sure it’s worth $40.

Rating:

Overall: Hanabi is easily one of the best values out there. There’s a lot of game here for $10. It even comes with an expansion—a sixth color—which I haven’t even tried yet because my wife and I finally earned a perfect score on my twentieth play of the base game. Now we’re ready for a new challenge!
If you like cooperative games, tension, and difficult decisions, this is well worth the miniscule price tag. It was probably a 6/10 the first time I played it, but I’ve become fonder of Hanabi over time. It’s now easily a 7.5/10, and I foresee it staying in my collection for a long time.
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john newman
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Re: 20X Reviews - Hanabi
Peter,
Solid review. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree that it is a very good value and only $10. I have thoroughly enjoyed Hanabi. I love the tension and I love the deduction aspect of the game. I actually have over 60 plays in. Currently, I give it an 8.0. Generally play it two players. I find it too chaotic with more players. What is your take on player counts. I have only tried it two and three player.

When I play with family, we use what we call a "finesse." We place cards in on the right side of our hand and discard out the left. So, my left most card is the card which I plan to discard. If you give me information on a card that I can play soon, or is a 5, I place it on the right side of my hand. Have you ever played using that technique? Any thoughts on using that strategy?
 
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Devin Smith
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Re: 20X Reviews - Hanabi
John: that's not a finesse, that's merely good practice. I would suggest not rearranging your cards, though, as it's both a leak (you give away information if you move the card 'if you can play it') and makes it harder to track other players' hands.

You can actually finesse in this game in multiplayer: I tell you to play a card that's unplayable, and other players work out that they must have the card that lets the unplayable card be played. Ergo, you get two (or more) cards for one clue.

Hanabi really wants to be played by more than two: being able to see the same cards as (some) of the other players really increases the strategic options available. Keeping a player 'busy' doing things can be a strategy to avoid them discarding an important card without using a clue, and vice versa.
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Dylan Thurston
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Re: 20X Reviews - Hanabi
Totally agreed about the card quality. I've gone through several sets personally.
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Peter Barringer
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Re: 20X Reviews - Hanabi
johnpnewman wrote:
Peter,
Solid review. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree that it is a very good value and only $10. I have thoroughly enjoyed Hanabi. I love the tension and I love the deduction aspect of the game. I actually have over 60 plays in. Currently, I give it an 8.0. Generally play it two players. I find it too chaotic with more players. What is your take on player counts. I have only tried it two and three player.

When I play with family, we use what we call a "finesse." We place cards in on the right side of our hand and discard out the left. So, my left most card is the card which I plan to discard. If you give me information on a card that I can play soon, or is a 5, I place it on the right side of my hand. Have you ever played using that technique? Any thoughts on using that strategy?


I'm with you, John--it's a two-player game for me. I don't suggest it with more than two players now. GREAT two-player game. In all honesty, I almost gave it an 8/10. After I play with the expansion, it might get bumped up.

My wife and I do something similar to your finesse strategy, but it's not as pronounced. We move cards that we KNOW about to one side of the hand as a reminder. We also try not to discard the most recent card we've drawn so the other player has more time to give hints. I've never thought of organizing my hand quite like that.

Love your well thought-out comments as always! I should have reviews for 7 Wonders Duel and Ticket to Ride: Europe in the next few weeks.
 
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Peter Barringer
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Re: 20X Reviews - Hanabi
Excalabur wrote:
John: that's not a finesse, that's merely good practice. I would suggest not rearranging your cards, though, as it's both a leak (you give away information if you move the card 'if you can play it') and makes it harder to track other players' hands.

You can actually finesse in this game in multiplayer: I tell you to play a card that's unplayable, and other players work out that they must have the card that lets the unplayable card be played. Ergo, you get two (or more) cards for one clue.

Hanabi really wants to be played by more than two: being able to see the same cards as (some) of the other players really increases the strategic options available. Keeping a player 'busy' doing things can be a strategy to avoid them discarding an important card without using a clue, and vice versa.


That's a really neat take, Devin. I've never thought of it like that. I've only played with more than two players a couple of times, and it didn't go well despite having several experienced players. We were thinking too small.
 
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