Over the summer, I wrote about awards given to hobby games. The winner of last year’s Spiele des Jahres (German “Game of the Year”) award is called Hanabi, and it’s one of a very few games I’ve ever played and immediately wanted to play again — multiple times. Hanabi is an unusual cooperative game, where everybody else can see your cards but you can’t. The suggested retail price of $11 isn’t quite as good as a game in the public domain, but it’s still inexpensive, and you can check it out from the library if you’d like to try it out for free.
The bullet points:
Image credit: R&R Games
In a game of Hanabi, the goal is to work together to play cards of five colors in order from 1-5. The game ends either when all the suits are played correctly or when three mistakes have been made, at which point players total the value of the highest card played in each color.
Players start with 4 or 5 cards, depending on the number of players. During a turn, you have three choices: You can turn in one of the group’s 8 clue tokens to give a clue to one of the other players. Clues take the form of statements such as “These cards are blue” or “This card is a 5.” The second choice is to play a card from your hand, which is added to the matching pile if you’re right and counts as one of your mistakes if you’re wrong. The final option is to discard a card from your hand and regain a used clue token. Once given a clue about your hand, you’re allowed to rearrange your cards any way you like.
Hanabi is an excellent memory game, a skill kids normally excel at. (How often have you beaten your kids at Memory?) What it also excels at helping teach are deductive reasoning skills, both in pairing clues and in deciding whether a clue means that a card needs to be played or is safe to discard. What makes it challenging for younger kids is the need to not talk when it isn’t their turn so as to not give away additional information. If your family uses card racks for small hands, this is a good time to break them out so that all the players can constantly see all the cards in play.