FruglPlay: Hanabi

Here at Frugl we know that sometimes you might want to have a cozy evening in with your mates,  That doesn’t mean we’re standing down from duty.  Instead, our blogger Barry Brett-McStay will be recommending some of the finest board games around to help you have a cracking time.  First up is card-based firework game Hanabi…
A cooperative game where you draw and discard cards of different colours and numbers sounds like one of the lamest games ever.  Designing an awesome fireworks display which leaves a crowd speechless sounds like one of the coolest jobs ever. So combining the cool job with a seemingly tired game concept will inevitably be awesome! Okay, you probably need some more convincing.
Hanabi is the game in question and it’s one of the most innovative card games I’ve come across. The reason? Only your fellow players can see what cards you have!
The basic game consists of five suits of different colour fireworks – red, yellow, green, white and blue. Each suit has 10 cards numbered 1-5, with three 1s, two 2s, two 3s, two 4s and only one 5. Players are dealt a hand of four or five cards facedown which they pick up facing away from themselves. They then work together, using blue clue tokens to give information to other players about the cards you can see but they can’t. The group aims to lay down the numbers one to five in the correct order in the correct suits, thus creating their epic display in the hope of impressing the Artisan League of Fireworks Technicians. Your work is judged from <5 cards correctly laid down (booed by the crowd) to all 25 in place (legendary).
The trick to Hanabi is navigating the blind hands you’ve been dealt. Clues can only be given about either a colour or a number – you point to a card in another players hand and say ‘this is a 4’ or ‘this is a blue’ but not ‘this is a blue 4’. Also, you must give complete information about that colour / number – so if the player has two 4s in their hand, you must point to both cards. It’s important for the game that the group is strict on its communication – sinners aren’t winners, as the Catholic Church’s new slogan should definitely be.
With you struggling to remember what cards you have, coming up with various mnemonics (damn, that’s a weird word when you see it written down…) or systems to keep track, the last thing you need is added pressure. But you get it anyway.
Hanabi has fuse tokens which you add to your pile when you mistakenly place a card in the wrong order / colour. Three fuses and the display explodes prematurely in a messy mess of premature explosion – and no one likes when that happens, right guys?  Not only that, but every time you give someone a clue, the group loses one of their eight blue tokens – when they run out, no more clues. The only way to get them back is discarding a card, which obviously makes it harder to complete that fireworks display. And that will make children sad. You don’t want to make children sad, do you?
VERDICT: A brain-bender but very satisfying tension and teamwork.
HANABI: 2-5 players, aged 8+. Designed by Antoine Bauza. Available on for £9.16 (and similar prices from other less-evil sources)