OBJECTIVE OF HANABI: Hanabi is a cooperative style game where players work together to make sure the firework display goes off without a hitch. Play cards from your hand based on clues other players give you. The more points you score the better the show was!

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-5 players

MATERIALS: 50 base game Hanabi cards, 5 player rules cards, 8 blue hint counters, 3 red danger counters, and 5 multicolored Hanabi cards (these are an included expansion for harder gameplay)

TYPE OF GAME: Cooperative Style Hidden Card Game

AUDIENCE: Children and Adults 8+


The game starts by setting up the “board.” Place the 8 blue hint counters in a line within easy reach of everyone. Then stack the red danger counters so that the explosion printed on one of them is at the bottom and the fuse gets longer towards the top. Next, shuffle the Hanabi cards. For an added challenge you can add in the extra multicolored Hanabi cards, but they are not required. After the deck is shuffled, everyone is dealt a hand of cards based on the number of players there is. For 2-3, a five card hand, and for 4-5, a four card hand.  Do not look at your hand. These cards will be a secret to you while revealed to everyone else. You will hold your cards as though you were playing any other card game, but with the backs facing you. At no point in the game will you need to look at your cards. The remaining cards are placed central to all players and will be the deck for the game.


Determine turn order by who is wearing the most colorful clothing and the proceeds to the left. During a player’s turn, they must take one and only one of the following actions. (Note: you may not skip your turn.) You may: 1) Give a clue to another player, 2) Discard a card from your own hand, and 3) Play a card from your own hand. Other players must not try to influence another person’s actions during their turn.


Giving Clues

To give a clue to another player you must use one of the blue hint counters. Once these are all gone, no more clues can be given until you discard cards to get clues back. Turn over the counter and pick the player you wish to give the clue to. A clue can either consist of a color or a Number, but not both and when giving a clue you must acknowledge all other cards that also fall under the clue you are giving. (Example: If I wanted to tell a player he had a three in his hand, I would have to tell him and point to ALL the threes in his hand.)

Discarding a Card

When discarding a card, it’s always better to pick the cards you know you won’t need in the future, but this is not always possible. Once a card leaves your hand there are no do-overs. You will draw a new card from the deck without looking at it and place it into your hand. Flip over one of any used blue clue counters and play continues.

Playing Cards

Playing cards is how you win the game, but it also poses the most threat. You should only play cards when you think you know what they are. To play a card take it from your hand and place it face up in front of you. Once you remove a card from your hand there are no do-overs. Placing a card makes one of two things happen. Option one is the card is able to be played correctly. In this case, it will either start a new color with a 1 or it will fall into another matching color in chronological order. Option two is that the card cannot be played correctly. This means it is a 1 of an already played color or it does not fall into the correct chronological order of a stack. In this case, remove one of the red danger counters, if the explosion is revealed, the game is over and score points, if not then play continues.

Building Fireworks

You can score points in this game by building fireworks. Play cards in correct order to complete sets. Each color (red, blue, yellow, green, white, and multicolored) has a certain number of cards that are labeled. To complete a set, you need one of each number 1 – 5. Once sets are complete there is no need for repeat cards so feel free to discard them for extra clues. The availability of each number varies. (There are three of each color of 1’s, two of each color of 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, and only one of each color of 5’s.) There can only be one color of each firework, and they are finished when they contain a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 cards in ascending order. Numbers of the same color cannot be repeated.

Finishing Fireworks

Once sets are completed you receive a blue hint counter back, you do not need to discard a card for this bonus. If all hints are available this bonus is lost.


A game of Hanabi has three ways it can end. One option is if you reach the explosion in the stack of red danger counters. The game ends immediately and is considered a failure. Everyone loses. Options two is that the players complete all 5(or 6) fireworks before the deck runs out. The game ends and the show was a success everyone wins with a perfect score of 25 (or 30). The third option is that the final card from the deck is drawn and the game nears its end. Everyone gets one last turn to place cards, give clues or discard cards. After this round, the game is over, and players will score the game.


To score, the highest number played of each color gets added together. In a perfect game containing only the base Hanabi cards that would be 5+5+5+5+5= 25 a perfect score! Your performance is rated based on this score. (0-5 is horrible, 6-10 is poor, 11-15 is honorable, 16-20 is excellent, 21-24 is extraordinary, and 25 is legendary.) If you played with the expansion you have the ability to reach a maximum score of 30. This adds two more levels on the scale. (25-29 is legendary, and 30 is Divine)

Nakoa Davis

2 thoughts on “HANABI”

    • Hi Jay, yes Hanabi is playable with 2 to 5 players. It is a pretty tough game but once players start to get an idea of how the other players play the game gets easier each time.

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