Hanabi variant

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Hanabi variant

Post by sourisdudesert » 03 May 2017, 09:36

The main goal of Board Game Arena is to promote board games, and we are always happy to help game publishers in any way when we have the possibility.

One of the greatest possibility offered by digital boardgaming is the opportunity to test a new variant of a board game. Some time ago, game publisher Cocktail Games, game designer Antoine Bauza and BGA agreed to experiment a variant of Hanabi.

This variant is very simple:
_ With 2 players, each player has 6 cards in hand instead of 5.
_ With 5 players, each player has 3 cards in hand instead of 4.

Technical explanations about "why" this variant available here.

To play with this variant, you must select "Unofficial variant => yes" on Hanabi game options.

This variant will be available on BGA until June 9th. After that, we are going to gather your thoughts about it. A cool thing is that depending on the result of this test (but not only), the game designer and the publisher may decide to make it an official variant :)

Thanks for your help making great board games even better!

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by Bakersboy » 03 May 2017, 15:44

I am an experienced player of Hanabi and have been using this variant pretty much since its inception.

I find it a great innovation that should be kept after the closing date.

Why? Well with 2 players it is very hard to cover all important cards without running out of clues or getting 'overloaded' (i.e. too many cards to cover in one turn). So having 6 cards helps to balance this and make it fairer.

By the same token, it seems only fair that, with 5 players there are enough players to cover most bases in most cases, so 3 cards each again seems fair.

So I would vote to keep this innovation.

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by Deranged » 03 May 2017, 18:14

I don't play 2p Hanabi.

For 5p, it adds some urgency as cards are discarded earlier, more saving is going on, and there's not as much space as you'd like.

So I vote for keep.

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by Ankeszu » 05 May 2017, 17:55

Although I agree that 6cards per player in 2p is more fair in long term (thus, more proper for the official rule), personally I like 5 cards more.
(It's more challenging in planning and allows bittersweet situations - those when the best option is to discard 5... But mostly, force to think more about possibility and risk of saving cards for later. 5 cards also give the feeling of more similarity with 3p, which I think is good.)
As far as both options are possible to play on BGA, I don't care which one is variant and which one is official. If only one of them is gonna be availible - I vote for 5cards. However, if both versions were still availible later, I suggest having different elo gains for those variants (it's harder to get low score with 6cards). Or make all elo gains in Hanabi the same instead of different due to number of players... Difficulty difference between 2p-6cards and 2p-5cards is quite similar to the difference between (2p-5cards or 5p-4cards) and 3p-5cards.

I played it once. I generally don't play much 5p. From what I see people think about this variant as, well, a variant - possibility adding some nice little variety to the game, but still sticking to 4cards as normal. I can't say I like it more or less, it's just a bit different. I would vote for the old 4cards version as official, still, with possible variant 3cards per player.

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by stupka » 08 May 2017, 19:55

Ankeszu wrote:@2p
Although I agree that 6cards per player in 2p is more fair in long term (thus, more proper for the official rule), personally I like 5 cards more.
I agree with this.

I think it is way more fun with the 5 card game to try to find ways to clue your partner on safe plays and discards when there are many cards that are needed to be saved. It also makes it fun to decide when it is time to bail on a 5 and shoot for a score of 29 instead of potentially tossing a 3 or 4 that needed to be saved.

What I don't like about the 6 player version, is that you can still run into the issue of having a nearly full hand of cards that are saved, but you run out of time to play everything because of the deck size has been reduced by two cards.

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by Gameking51 » 15 May 2017, 18:17

I've played around 1k games of Hanabi but stopped playing as it is not challenging enough. I like the fact that you've introduced new variants; what needs to be added is a 7th and 8th suit. Playing with good players getting 30 is too easy a majority of the time; often its missed because of errors, but the game is not punishing enough to sub optimal plays. I don't like the fact that a player can make a really inefficient clue and still get rewarded with a "perfect" score.

Hanabi is a great game, however the difficulty level is just too easy once playing with multiple conventions competently. I like playing with conventions, I think it makes the game more interesting as an optimisation problem as opposed to just pure deduction.

The proposed variants barely change the game. 2 player is now easier, and fine I think its a more balanced formats as you can't recover from certain bad decks and this reduces the probability of such an occurrence. 5p is now much worse with only 3 cards - the game complexity just got massively reduced, and it ruins certain middle game timings.

Add a 7th, 8th and even 9th suit: now the game can be challenging again. The level of the hardest difficulty should be such that it is REALLY hard to get a perfect score. Only a mixture of impeccable play and fortunate lie of cards should result in a 100% score. Its meaningless when 25% of games end with 30/30 - a much higher % when playing with the best players.

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by Zamiel » 23 July 2017, 09:36


My group has been playing Hanabi for over a year, and we are pushing the game to its limits. We routinely get 30s even when playing with the "Rainbow" variant.

So, on my custom Hanabi server, I've created some new variants that make things much harder, and we no longer get 30s quite as often. I encourage you to play some games with us! Anyways, here's some info on the new variants:

[snip - see below post]
Last edited by Zamiel on 15 November 2018, 23:00, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by AutumnHedgehog » 03 June 2019, 00:03

Played 2p and it was really fun!!

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Re: Hanabi variant

Post by AutumnHedgehog » 03 June 2019, 00:05

Played 2p and it was really fun!!

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