What we want to do here at n3rdabl3 is start a monthly set of posts that focus around a single game and it’s peers in the genre as well as potential Q&As with the designers, advanced strategies, in-depth looks at mechanics and culminating in a full review and recap.

My choice for week 1 is Hanabi. A highly praised co-operative tile / card based game that won the Spiel de Jahres in 2013. It was designed by Antoine Bauza who you might recognise from 7 Wonders, Oceanos, Takenoko, Tokaido, Terror in… oh you get the point, the guy is prolific and highly successful.

Cooperative games are hit or miss with most board gamers. Some players love the “think tank” style of trying to get through a challenge together while others prefer the cold, dark and isolated world of competition. It’s probably because everyone, at some point or another, has had a group project for school or work and quickly discovered that more brains doesn’t always equal more smarts.

Instructions: Organize this mess

In my mind, Hanabi hits that glorious sweet spot that so many other Co-op games miss. As someone who leans toward the competitive side of board games pretty heavily, this game more than others, has shown that it has something for everyone.

There are 2 versions of the game. The first one is the standard and it was played using just cards and some small tokens. The Deluxe edition however comes with nice, high quality tiles not unlike Majong and I think that Deluxe is the only way to go. Some players started playing with the cards and have grown accustomed to it. I started with the tiles and can’t see myself playing without them unless I don’t have an option. Choose your own path. Don’t be sheep.

The rules are simple, there are 10 tiles of 5 different colours all numbered 1-5. Your goal as a team is to get them all in order for each colour. Easy right? DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS because the game introduces 2 simple rules to the game that turns the whole thing on it’s head.

Rule 1: Your hand of tiles can only be seen by your teammates.
Rule 2: You can only communicate through the use of giving clues. The clues must either deal with the colour or value of a single player’s tiles.

This is your view. Beautiful isn’t it?

That’s it. Just something so simple takes an easy concept and makes it an engaging exercise in teamwork and problem solving. Timing, turn order, clue management, implied information and familiarity with your teammates are all important factors you have to make full use of if you are going to successfully get 25 points. (You gain 1 point per tile played).

But your Hanabi-based journey has just begun. Now you get to add a 6th colour that comes with it’s own complications in order to attain the much-sought after 30 point game. Plenty of ways to customise your play as well as plenty of room to develop and refine your own strategies gives this game amazing amounts of replay value. So what are you waiting for?

In the coming weeks we’ll explore more games within the genre as well as the specifics of the rules and strategies for this gem of a game that will both allow a beginner to dip his or her toe in the water or for more experienced player to their next level. Stay tuned!

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