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Subject: Illuminating rss

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Eoin Corrigan
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Hanabi is a simple, cooperative game of deduction which takes 10-15 minutes to play and which is an addictive, entertaining and very affordable little beast.

The components are a deck of cards, organised into several suits of colours and values. Card values and colours are easy to recognise and distinguish. The players’ shared task is to arrange the cards in sequence and by colour. Each player begins with 4 or 5 cards in their hand, which they cannot see, but they can see all of the other players’ cards.

Gameplay is simple. Three actions are possible: (i) Give another player a clue: identify the cards in a player’s hand of a certain value, or of a certain colour. Doing so temporarily consumes one of eight clue markers. (ii) Discard a card and gain a card from the draw pile. Doing so refreshes one of the eight clue markers. (iii) Play a card. If three cards are played incorrectly, i.e. not in sequence, it’s game over.
A game takes 10-15 minutes, so it’s an ideal little filler. However, there’s an addictive quality to Hanabi which can result in Hanabi challenging the main course, not content to be a mere entrée.

Hanabi is extremely entertaining. Like all good games, it’s a decision rich experience. The pace of the game is usually quick, punctuated by pauses as players become enmeshed in the central dilemma of how best to communicate given the restrictions of the rules. Hanabi creates a forum in which players will seek to overcome those communication limitations.

The game’s genius is that it asks us to think in new ways and to develop a new language. For instance, the simple sentence, 'This card is a two' will, more often than not, also mean 'Discard that card', or 'Play that card', depending on game state circumstances. A language will evolve as players play together. The pace that this language evolves will determine the degree to which players begin to master Hanabi.

It’s hard to identify a negative. The worst I can say is that Hanabi won’t be winning any prizes for graphic design; the illustrations and iconography in my version (the German edition) are a little flat and functional.

Highly recommended!
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Paul S
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Nice, succinct review.
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Allen OConnor
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Great review of a great game.
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I seek enlightenment.

Is "Illuminating" (review title) a reference to the game's firework theme, or were you referring to something else?
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Eoin Corrigan
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EndersGame wrote:
I seek enlightenment.

Is "Illuminating" (review title) a reference to the game's firework theme, or were you referring to something else?


It's a double reference:

(i) To the fireworks theme, and

(ii) To what I think is a very interesting aspect of play - the gradual development of a modified language necessary to provide the clues needed to succeed.

I'm looking forward to playing Hanabi with some friends who haven't played before and watching them adapt.
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