Once a upon a time ago, in a Boardgames store far far away .....
I have encounters with many small card games that had since held me hostage to the hobby. In spite of the compactness (if there is such a word) of small card games, they packed in lots of fun. They are great to be introduced to non-gamers, who somehow find card games a familiar genre, less geeky, less threatening, great in many social occasions - its simple rules with lots of players interactions are its strengths... and I can go on and on. The recent Blockbuster hit in love letter is a testament of an overlooked genre that needs a breath of fresh air, or do they really?
It continues to baffle me that the fantastic and ingenious card games from Europe just fail to get US release. Sadly to many parts of of the world which continue to look to US for their boardgaming staples would not get a taste of these exquisite card games. As to whether you share the same affinities with the US gaming scenes or you are a hardcore strategy eurogames-philes, we owe it to ourselves and our friends to check these games out... they are great gateway games and help to expand the hobbies. They create many more opportunities for all of us for gaming and making new friends.
Let me share with you my love of these card games. What's best to start with :
Hanabi - the 2012 smash hit in Europe that the world has gone unnoticed.
Hanabi in Japanese means fireworks. Designed by Antoine Bauza (of the 7 wonder's fame), Hanabi is a 2 to 5 players co-operative card game. The goal is for all the players is to work together to complete 5 perfect suite (in 5 colors) of fireworks in correct order. In each colors there are cards numbered from 1 to 5. The distribution of the cards in ranks are three 1s, two 2s, 3s, 4s, and one 5s. Players play cards onto the centre of the table "building up the fireworks" in ascending orders by colors. The fireworks will blow up if cards played are not in order or of a duplicate numbers.
Now that sounds easy except for a twist. The rule requires that all players are to hold their cards facing the other players. You an see all other players' cards but not your own. Hence the information giving and gathering process becomes the heart of the game and the most interesting exercise in verbal and non-verbal communications. Most of the players interactions that elicit laughter and sighs of disappointments as well as coincidental correct play of cards due to misreading of clues are certainly the highlights of the gameplay.
Depending the number of player, each player will hold 4 to 5 cards facing other players. In their turns they can do one of the three actions:
1) Play a card to the table to build up the fireworks. The card stays if it is played is in the correct order, otherwise the fireworks blow up. Players only have 3 chances of blowing up in the entire game.
2) Give a clue to one other player - you may provide a clue in numbers or in colors by pointing to the cards of the other player that of in the same colors or in the same numbers. Remove one of the eight blue tokens from the "well." Once the well is emptied, players cannot provide any clues until more blue tokens are refilled in the well.
3)Discard a card and add a blue token into the well.
Most people I have introduced to enjoy Hanabi for its interactions and the simple rules. Furthermore co-operative game is great to players who are new to the hobby who need a little bit of hand holding in terms of the tactical move like the consideration of players order and task occupation distributions. Hanabi does not suffer from the dominant player syndrome that plagues many co-operative games, you do see certain chemistry amongst player in action depending on the group you are playing with. The last time I have played, new players want to try again right after the game is over because they will like to do better in the final score. The score is the total of the highest card of each color suite which is then given a range rating from mediocre to extraordinary to perfect score of 25.
A good sign of good game when player are allowed to make mistakes and yet knowing that they have the potentials of doing better the next time round.
There are 2 versions of Hanabi in the market: the French version released by cocktail games and the Abacusspiele German edition.
You can get a copy of the Abacusspiele edition at Advent Gameshttp://www.adventgames.com.au/p/8625790/hanabi.html.
U: The theme is pasted on.
Meeple: Who cares if it is counting sheeps or shooting stars... do you enjoy the game?
U: If we can co-operatively cheat the game I might just like the game.
Meeple: Well, you did the right eye brow raising thingy... kinda...
U: Ok..ok we can do better next time can't we?
Meeple: Try me...
Check out other U and Meeples Review http://uandmeeples.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/small-card-games-...
I like it for similar reasons simple, co-op, no one can dominate, and the nail biting, was that information for me to play or cycle..... doh!
As for the US release R&R games is in the process of publishing in the US, CSI has it for May release, so thumbs up to R&R!