My mini resolution of not buying another board game until i play one i already own 100 times has failed miserably as i bought 3 in February.
One of them, the cheapest of the 3, was Hanabi. A co-operative memory, deduction card game.
There is an excellent video review on BGG by Joel Eddy which explains how the game is played and more importantly what the experience of playing it is like.
I won’t go through the rules since Joel does a much better job in his video than i possibly could by writing them down. However, i will try and you give an impression of what the experience has been like. Basically, the goal of the group is to play cards from their hands in the correct order. However, players cannot look at their own hand but only the other players’ hands. Through the use of hints the players want to help the others deduct what cards they should play or discard and when to do this.
Usually i try to introduce each game to as many people as possible. This leads to a greater pool of “gamers” to chose from when we gather to play a game. That was my intent with Hanabi as well but this little card game works best when you have the same group of people playing it. Not only that, but also with the same sitting arrangements i.e. the same order of play.
Hanabi forces the group to come up with a common language when playing. Most of the things we do and the conclusions we draw when someone provides a hint are becoming 2nd nature to us. I’m sure an outsider would not understand just by watching us playing it once. It reminds me of pilotta (which i’ve never played to be honest) in the sense that you have 2 players giving hints to each other. Most of the communication is implicit. The same applies to a game of Hanabi but this time with 4 players. Hanabi goes a step further since you are now “burdened” with how the others are playing, especially the person sitting on your left. If he is playing badly it’s very likely that it’s because you are doing something wrong.
In Hanabi you score points and that’s how you measure how well the group has played. The perfect score is 25 when all cards are played in the correct order. Our group has reached 22 points two times so far. We still have some way to go. At the moment however it’s our go-to board/card gaming experience. Emphasis on the experience.