Monthly Archives: March 2019

Silence and Leadership in Hanabi – Week 2 Game Review

Hanabi is a game seemingly tailor-made for my style of play. It grants everyone an equal level of importance, never pits players in opposition to one another, and encourages thinking about deeper topics such as language, communication, and leadership. Hanabi is a co-op game in which you and your table endeavor to create series of cards (1-6) of the same colors (6 colors). The catch is that you are unable to see your own cards, however you are able to see everyone elses. The trickiest part of this game is the rule that disallows any talking or hint-giving outside of one’s turn, and even then only a single piece of information may be given at a time.

Games that limit one’s ability to talk at the table are always intriguing to me. Tabletalk is such an accepted part of gaming, even when it is used to influence other player’s actions, that to see it challenged is a bold step away from the mainstream. Hanabi not only limits speech out of turn, but it establishes its entire premise on that fact. For me, this made the game more challenging and therefore enjoyable, because everyone at my table was entirely engaged in completing our series of cards. Listening to other tables in the room where the gag rule was less enforced made me thankful for the seriousness of my table.

This seriousness of play however is not something that appeals to every player. Some players gather to engage in an evening of social interaction between friends, which is an acceptable way to play most games. Hanabi on the other hand is not, as tabletalk undermines the core gameplay element of slowly revealing information. This means that only people who want to game to experience a game would enjoy this game such as my friend Stephen or Noah. I don’t think my family would enjoy this game very much because it requires a focused and meditative attitude.

Where Hanabi succeeds most in my opinion, is in its ability to express an often underrepresented facet of leadership. While most games encourage the players to each vocally step up in order to be a leader, Hanabi encourages leadership that comes from congratulating others on their own, independently discovered accomplishments, and also by taking a step back and allowing others to exercise free will and agency without quarterbacking the entire table. Overall, Hanabi is a simple and fun game that explores other ways of thinking about leadership and gaming in general.