Hanabi got its hooks into me over the weekend.
My little brother arrived home with a bag full of games for us, including Coup (as witnessed above), Hanabi, and some add-ons for Star Realms and Netrunner. Coup was good fun – it’s a lighter Mascarade that’s quicker to play, a really good opener for an evening.
But it was Hanabi that really left an impression on me. I love games that tell stories, and I’m beginning to understand that I also love games that engage me in different ways as well. After being on our shelf longer than almost any other game in our collection, Pandemic is still one of our most played games (yes, we’re fairly new to this). Pandemic is as much as puzzle as it is a game, and it is a fiendish one. Planning ahead and coordination between players is as essential as striking a balance between keeping the infections at bay and gathering resources to ultimately cure them. It’s not a game where players idly chat in between turns. During a game of Pandemic, everyone is talking, and thinking about the game. It’s tense, engaging, and I love it.
Similarly, Hanabi is as much a puzzle as it is a game, more so than Pandemic, even. In it, players hold hands of cards facing the wrong way around, so that they can be seen by everyone else at the table. Players then need to give each other limited information about what cards they are holding, in order to collectively match numbers and suits. There are other factors as well, but that’s more or less it. From just a couple of plays, it seems to be about optimising information flow between players. Which might sound dull, but damned if it isn’t engaging. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I played it at the weekend, and that, if anything, is a sign of a really great game: it will remain in your head long after it has left the table.
On a side note, I personally think Aileen drew herself looking way too happy when throwing me out of the house. Also, if asked, she will always state this as her favourite comic. These things worry me sometimes.
See you all next week!