Overall Rating: 9/10
GLAM Age Range: 8-Adult
Number of Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 20 min
Publisher: Spin Master
Available At: Amazon.com
Quick Take: In this cooperative game you are trying to create a fireworks show in sequence as a team - without being able to see any of your own cards! (Hanabi means fireworks in Japanese). This game is simple to pick up and a blast to play. However, the game is also challenging and requires a bit of luck and a good amount of strategy to get a high score. It's compelling enough for those who take their games seriously and flexible enough that if you want to have a relaxing social game and are more about enjoying the process than going for a high score this is still an excellent pick. This game works with 2 players but is more fun to play with 3 or more. This won the elite Spiel des Jahres (game of the year) for 2013.
How to Play: Your goal as a group is to play in sequence cards numbered 1-5 according to their color (like solitaire). However, you can't look at any of your own cards. Everyone must fan their cards facing outward and rely on clues given by fellow players to accomplish the team goal. In a 4-5 player game, each person is dealt 4 cards. On your turn you're allowed one action - you may either give a piece of information, discard a card, or play a card. You use up a clock token if you give information and you gain one clock token back if you discard a card. If you play a card and it's not in sequence or the wrong color, you use up one of the black fuse tokens. The game ends if you play too many incorrect cards and run out of black fuse tokens or if you run out of cards in the draw pile. At this point you tally up the points for the cards you have successfully played on the table in sequence. The great thing is that success may mean different things to different people in this game. You're going for your high score against yourself. With younger kids and a more casual crowd, you may be fine with a medium level score. With a more hardcore game crew you may expect to go for nothing less than perfection!
Variations: There's a few official variants listed in the rules, a couple make the game more difficult and one makes the game considerably easier. The easier option is to add the multi-colored suit to the game and use these cards as wild cards to help complete your five stacks of fireworks. The more difficult variants are to use the multi-colored suit as its own unique category which requires a 6th and separate firework stack on the table. You can also limit how many cards of each number you add to the deck in play and you can choose how strict you wish to be about communication with your teammates.