Hanabi is a game that my husband and I picked up during one of our local game store stops. Whenever we go down to Milwaukee to visit family, we find time to stop into the Board Game Barrister. This was a store we found out about just as we were leaving the area and were pretty sad to realize we had a gaming place within 15 minutes of our house for the last 3 years.

So on our shopping day, we wanted to get one larger game and one smaller game. We saw Hanabi, which my husband knew about, and I snatched it up. It has made for several sessions of hilarious gaming.

Due to the time of year and the simple and cooperative nature of Hanabi, I felt it would be a good first game to promote.

Title: Hanabi – Race the Clock. . .Build the Fireworks. . . Launch Your Rockets!


Geeky Specs

Designer: Antoine Bauza          Published by: Asmodee
Year Published: 2010          Rough Game Time: 25+ mins
Players: 2-5                      Suggested Ages: 8+
Type: Family, Card Game, Co-operative Play

What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

Hanabi (Japanese for “fireworks) is a game about celebrating  our love of fireworks displays.  The point of the game is to create the most AMAZING fireworks display possible, but you can only do this by having the proper balance of colored fireworks. The additional twist is that you cannot look at your hand. You can look at the cards of all the other players, but you cannot see your own cards. You have to work together with your team of fireworks experts to construct the best fireworks display of the millennium!


What’s in the Box?

  • 1 set of directions
  • 60 Fireworks cards (6 colored suits – Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, White, Rainbow)
  • Each color has three 1’s, two 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, and one 5.
  • 8 Clock (Clue) Tokens
  • 4 Fuse Tokens


How To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question

  • Each person is dealt five cards (2-3 players) or 4 cards (4-5 players).
  • The players should not look at their own cards.
  • Put the draw pile to the side and hold up your cards for other players to see.
  • Players can only see the cards of the other players, not their own.
  • Players then are allowed to, at the expense of a clue token, give a hint to another player for what cards to play. They can only tell a player that “these cards are {this color}” or “these cards are {this number}” and the rainbow cards are always included in whatever color you point out. You touch the cards so that the “blind” player can know which cards.
  • Cards need to be laid out in numerical order within their color suit.
  • Players can either discard a card to earn a clock token, play a card, a clock token to give a clue on their turn.
  • If a card the player plays doesn’t match a suit numerically, a fuse is burned.


The End

There are three ways that Hanabi can end:

  1. If the third fuse token is burned, an explosion is caused and the game ends in defeat.
  2. If the players make the 5 fireworks before the cards run out, to make a legendary display, the game ends immediately with a perfect score of 25.
  3. When the cards run out, each player takes one more turn after the last card is drawn and the game ends. The cards are then tallied up.

Score for how man you have in each color. For example:

This gives you 15.

The goal is to set an overall impression with your fireworks. Here’s the layout (from the booklet):


Overall Impression

<– 5

Horrible, booed by the crowd.


Mediocre, just a hint of scattered applause.


Honorable attempt, but quickly forgotten.


Excellent, crowd pleasing


Amazing, they will be talking about it for weeks!


Legendary, everyone left speechless, stars in their eyes!


Rules Weren’t Meant to Be Broken (Or Were They?)

You’re probably asking yourself about the level at which you can communicate with others in this game. Are you allowed to wink or exaggerate your speech? Can you put emphasis on certain words?

The rules say that you can essentially do whatever your group agrees on. If you all feel that using emphasis is alright, have at it! The game is open to enhance your own gaming experience. We probably had the most fun playing with all the weird clues we gave with our emphasis or facial expressions. So don’t feel that you have to be a monotoned android. Have at it!

Do NOT under any circumstances look at your cards! This is the hardest rule not to break, because you want to look. You might even accidentally flash your cards at yourself, but don’t worry, forget them.


Best Played Under These Conditions

I found that playing with 3-4 is probably the best mix. 3, because you have less time to forget your own clues between turns (fewer people). 4 people can be absolutely hilarious, but make sure you can sit to see everyone’s cards well.

This game is also best played with gamers who are interested in having a good laugh and enjoy co-operative games. The point of the game is to have fun and to not be scared to have a laughable moment.

Filler games on larger gaming nights are popular to play between the more mentally taxing games. Hanabi is a great filler game, especially after a stressful game of Elder Sign or any Cthulu mythos game.


Spice Up Your Game

Are you celebrating a holiday where fireworks are a main part of the celebration? For example, in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th and fireworks are one of the main spectacles. Or maybe you’re living in Edinburgh where there are never not fireworks being fired off for one event or another (or every weekend in August).  And let’s not all forget New Year’s Eve!

For the basics, a great candy to make the game more interesting and evokes the fireworks theme are Pop Rocks! So if you want to spice up your game, make Pop Rocks available to the players to amplify the laughs you’ll have.

For other foodie ways to make your game night special, there are countless items on Pinterest for suggestions for fireworks treats. My two favorites are the Fourth of July Cakelettes and the Fireworks Popcorn.

From SheKnows.com

From SheKnows.com

The Fourth of July Firecracker Cakelettes are shaped like little firecrackers using different colored cakes and Pop Rocks. I found it through She Knows and it is a really great treat to serve as a way to amp up the cool on the game. You could use all one color cake if you’re not doing a 4th of July celebration or you can color the cake whatever you want. I personally would prefer making one thing cake of strawberry or chocolate and then just cutting the middle out of one. You wouldn’t even need the extra frosting layers.

From Creative Blog

From Creative Blog

Fireworks Popcorn uses Pop Rocks, Star Sprinkles, White Chocolate, and Popcorn to make some festival looking popcorn. Another great grab snack for gaming.

Expand your gaming evening by theming out the whole meal, snacks, and drinks with some of these options:

  • Trader Joe’s sells Firecracker Shrimp or you can check Pinterest for bang bang or firecracker shrimp recipes to make on your own.
  • You could even get Bombpops or Firecrackers (they seem to have changed the name since my childhood).
  • Firecracker Wine
  • FireworksPopcorn (I use this popcorn always and it’s delicious).

End your evening with some fireworks, if they’re legal in your area or you can even light a few sparklers to celebrate your awesome celebration. This game can easily be played on a patio, at a fireworks display event, or anywhere.



Overall, this game is a great time for family and friends. It is a light, fun game that can inspire copious amounts of laughter and has so many snazzy connections that you can make to spice up a fun game night with friends and/or family. Great for a holiday game and you will definitely end this game with a few memorable moments. It is a very good game that you will like to play and probably not turn down an opportunity to play it. That is why I gave it a solid 8 out of 10.

Rating: 8