So you’ve already purchased Hanabi thanks to my glowing review and you decided to try it out with your friends. “That Billy guy had me buy this game and we just get our butts kicked!” you loudly exclaim to yourself like some kind of weirdo.
Well I’m here to tell you that I have the secrets to victory. A quick warning before we get started however: This guide assumes you already know how to play and are familiar with how the game works. This guide is not about how to play but how to play well.
1. Only give clues for plays
This is important because when you give a clue on a play, it progresses the game. You are spending a clue to get one of the required 25 plays. This is a solid ratio and what we should be aiming for. Many people give clues on discards, seeing it as a win. If I give a clue about three 1’s, I spend a clue so that the other player can earn us three for a net gain of two. That sounds all fine and dandy except it doesn’t actually push us any closer to the goal of playing the full set of tiles. That brings us to our next guideline.
2. Ignore tiles you want to be discarded
Hand in hand with our previous guideline, you want to purposefully ignore any tiles you have no use for. When it comes time for the other player to discard, they will choose tiles that have been ignored by their teammates. This makes their decision less of a shot in the dark and more of a guided decision. If you ignore it, it must be able to be discarded.
3. Play the newest tiles that get clues and discard the oldest tiles that don’t get clues
Combining 1 and 2, we get to 3. This is the most important of all of the guidelines and it is an established norm when it comes to consistently taking down the boss monster that is Hanabi. Before the game starts, every player should establish which side is their “new” side and which is their “old”. For example, all new tiles that are drawn should be placed on the right or the “new” side, this naturally creates an “old” side on the left. When clues are given, following guidelines 1 and 3, the newest tile that was given the clue is the one that should be played.
4. Never double discard
We know that there are three copies of 1, two copies of 2-4 and only a single 5 for each colour in the game. When one of the green 4s is discarded, everyone should make sure that the second one doesn’t get the same treatment. The problem arises when the player before you discards a tile, such as the green 4, you CANNOT then discard on your turn. This is because if you have the other green 4, no one has had the time to warn you about it and you’ve just made winning impossible. Find something else to use your action on.
There are plenty of other tips and guidelines to explore for Hanabi but I’ll let you guys figure them out yourselves. If you have any questions hit me up on Twitter and I’ll be glad to answer them!