Hanabi by R &R Games is a cooperative card game where you’re not allowed to look at your own cards. The premise is that you’re absent-minded fireworks technicians who have misplaced all of the fireworks and need to sort them and work together to launch the best fireworks display possible.

Get used to this view, it’s all you’ll ever get to see of your cards.

There are 3 versions of Hanabi available. The standard version, the deluxe version, and the Target-Exclusive version. The deluxe version replaces the cards with pieces that resemble really thick dominos that can stand up on their own. The Target-exclusive version is just like the standard version, but in a metal tin…at least in theory. In reality, the Target version is poorly-made in comparison. The cards are thin, covered in a flaking clear coat, and have production stamps from China on the backs of every card. Shuffling the cards from the Target version resulted in a fine dust of a glittery clear coat covering the table and my hands. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this post until after I had purchased it. The standard version is really nice and the same price or even less, so I would recommend getting that version instead.

Standard version wildcards. These can be used as a 6th color, as a wildcard for the other 5 colors, or not at all.

To begin, each player is dealt X number of cards depending on the number of players. No one is allowed to look at their own cards and instead they should hold the cards in a way that everyone else can see them. 8 time tokens are placed in the where all players can reach them, which represent the number of clues you can give. Fuse/explosion tokens are stacked and placed within everyone’s reach as well, which will be removed one-by-one for each incorrect player move. If 3 fuse tokens are removed, the fireworks go off and the game is over.

Fuse/Explosion stack and time tokens

On each player’s turn, they can either remove a time token to give another player a clue about their cards, they can play a card, or they can discard a card in order to gain a time token back. Giving clues is very limited and must either refer to the number or color of the other player’s cards, but you can point to the cards you’re referencing (e.g. “This card and this card are both 1s” or “This card is green.”). However, the clue must apply to all the relevant cards in the other player’s hand. For example, you can’t point to one card and say “This is a 2.” if they’re holding other 2s. You must say “These cards are all 2s.”

Playing a card means placing a card in the middle of the table. The objective is to get the cards 1 through 5 of each color in the middle of the table. So essentially, the first card to be played in a game should only be a 1. If you’re confident a card in your hand already exists on the table (i.e. The yellow 1 has been played and you believe you’re holding another yellow 1), you can discard it to regain a time token back. At the end of each turn, players draw back up to their hand limit.

An example of cards played during a game. Cards must be played in sequential order for each color. In this instance, the final score would be 13 since the highest cards of each color are totaled to determine the team’s score.

If a player attempts to play a card that already is on the table or in the wrong sequential order for that color, a fuse token is removed. If all 3 fuse tokens are removed, the game is over and points are totaled. Also, if players play cards 1 through 5 of all the available colors, they have a perfect score and the game is over. If the draw pile is depleted, the game ends this way as well. Once the game is finished, the highest cards of each color are totaled and then the instruction manual will give you a score. Scores range from “Horrible, booed by the crowd” to “Legendary, everyone left speechless, stars in their eyes.”


If you want to add digital elements to the game, there’s an app available for Android and iOS that allows you to keep track of time, fuses, and also shows you a fireworks display based on your team’s score. Personally, we prefer to use the cardboard time and fuse tokens, and then use the app for the fireworks display at the end of the game. It’s a lot more satisfying seeing the fireworks of your labor come to life.

Unboxing Video of Target version and Standard Version (I apologize for the typo in the cut scene):

Overall, this is a great cooperative card game. The element of not being able to see your own cards is entertainingly frustrating and makes for some good laughs. The limited clues you can give is similar to Codenames, so there’s quite a bit of strategy involved as you hope your teammates understand your clues. Check this one out if you’re looking for a fun co-op.


2 thoughts on “Hanabi

  1. I was given the standard version as a gift recently and it has graced the table quite a few times since. It is really hard to beat and prone to ending up in a loop of only one person being able to get advice due to depleted tokens, then of course the discard pile runs down. Frustrating but very fun game!


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