Hanabi Rules

By Antoine Bauza

2 to 5 players, Ages 8+


  • 60 Hanabi cards in 6 suits.

  • Each with three 1's, two 2's, two 3's Two 4's, One 5

  • 8 Blue clock tokens
  • 4 black fuse tokens

  • Summary

    Hanabi is a cooperative game, ie. a game where the players do not play against each other but work together towards a common goal.

    In this case they are absent minded firework manufacturers who accidently mixed up powders, fuses and rockets from a firework display. The show is about to start and panic is setting in. They have to work together to stop the show from becoming a disaster!

    The pyrotechnicains have put together 5 fireworks, (1 white, 1 red, 1 blue, 1 yellow, 1 green), by making a series rising in number(1,2,3,4,5) with the same colored cards.

    Getting Ready

    Place the 8 blue clock tokens face up on the table. Stack the 4 black fuse tokens nearby with the longest fuse on the top and the explosion on the bottom. Shuffle the 50 cards to make a deck and put them face down. Note, a 6th multicolored suit is included in the game, but it is for advanced play only, please see the Variants section.

    Deal a hand of 5 cards to each with 2 or 3 players
    Deal a hand of 4 cards if there are 4 or 5 players.

    CRUCIAL!: The players MUST NOT look at the cards which are dealt to them! They must pick them up so that the other players can see the fronts of the cards (colored with numbers) and they only see the back (black and white). They are not allowed to look at the fronts of the cards that they hold during the game. This would dishonor them and taint their reputation as master pyrotechnicians!


    The Game

    The player with the most colorful clothing begins the game. The players then take their turn going in a clockwise direction. On his turn, a player must complete one, and only one, of the following three actions (and he is not allowed to skip his turn):
  • 1. Give one piece of information
  • 2. Discard a card.
  • 3. Play a card.

  • NOTE: When it is a player's turn, his teammates cannot comment or try to influence him.


    In order to carry out this task, the player has to take a blue token from the table and place it in the lid of the box. He can then tell one teammate something about the cards held by that teammate.


    The player must clearly point to the cards which he is giving information about. (This saying "You have zero of something" is not allowed as you cannot point to anything.)

    Two types of information can be given and the player giving the information chooses only one type to give.

  • A. Information about one specific COLOR(and only one)
    EXAMPLES "You have 1 red card" or "You have 2 green cards."
  • B. Information about one specific VALUE(and only one)
    EXAMPLES "You have 1 card with a value of 5" or "You have 2 cards with a value of 1."

  • IMPORTANT: The player must give complete information. If a player has two green cards, the informer cannot only point to one of them, he must point to BOTH green cards.
    NOTE: This action cannot be performed if there are no blue tokens left on the table. In that case, the player has to choose to perform a different action.


    This act RETURNS a blue token to the table from the box lid. The player announces clearly that they are DISCARDING, then places a card from his hand in the discard pile (next to the deck, face up). He then takes a new card from the deck and adds it to his hand without looking at it.

    NOTE: This action cannot be performed if all the blue tokens are on the table. In that case, the player has to choose to perform a different action.


    The player takes a card from his hand and plays it to the table. Two options are possible:

  • A: The card either begins, adds to, or completes a firework and it is then added to the appropriate color firework.
  • or
  • B: The card doesn't begin, add to or complete any firework. Discard the card then remove the top black fuse token and place it in the lid of the box. The fuse is burning shorter and time is running out.
  • After playing his card, he then takes a new card from the deck and adds it to his hand without looking at it.

    How the fireworks are built:

    There can only be one firework of each color. The cards for a firework have to be placed in rising order (1, 2, 3, 4, and finally 5). There can only be one card of each value in each firework(so 5 cards in total).

    BONUS for completing a firework

    When a player completes a firework- i.e. he successfully plays the card with a value of 5- move a blue token from the lid back to the table. This addition is free; the player does not need to discard a card. This bonus is lost if all the blue tokens are already on the table.

    End of the game

    There are 3 ways to end the game of Hanabi:
  • 1. The game ends immediately and is lost if the third black fuse token is added to the lid of the box(thus revealing the explosion).
  • 2. The game ends immediately and it is a stunning victory if the firework makers manage to make the 5 fireworks before the cards run out. The players are then awarded the maximum score of 25 points
  • 3. The game ends if a player takes the last card from the pile: each player plays one more time, including the player who picked up the last card. The players cannot pick up cards during this last round(as the pile is empty).
  • Once this last round is complete, the game ends and the players can then add up their score.
    In order to calculate their score, the players add up the largest value for each of the 6 firework cards. For example, if red was 1-5, yellow was 1-3, green was 1-4, white was 1, and blue was 1-3 then the players would score 16 points(5 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 3 = 16)

    Artistic impression is determined by the Artisan League Of Fireworks Technicians reference scale:
    <=5 horrible, booed by the crowd...
    6-10 mediocre,just a hit of scattered applause...
    11-15 honorable attempt, but quickly forgotten...
    16-20 excellent, crowd pleasing.
    21-24 amazing, they will be talking about it for weeks!
    25 legendary, everyone left speechless, stars in their eyes!

  • Variant 1: Add the 6th suit to the game and attempt to create all 6 fireworks. In this variant, the multicolor suit is not wild, it's a separate firework.
  • Variant 2: Same as variant 1, except use only one card of each number(1,2,3,4,5) for the multicolor suit
  • Variant 3: Add the 6th suit to the game and these cards are now wild. In this variant you cannot call out the multicolored suit. Instead, the multicolored cards always count as the color in your clue. But when playing a card, it counts and builds as the 6th (multicolor) firework.)
  • Variant 4: The game does not end after the round where the last card is picked up. It continues until the players are defeated (3 black fuse tokens in the lid of the box OR if an indispensable card has been discarded) or until the players are victorious (all the fireworks are completed). The players can then find themselves with fewer cards in their hand at the end of the game and the score scale is not used: the fireworks display has to be perfect. (Can also combine this with any one other variant)


    A player who is given information can rearrange his hand in order to put the cards concerned in an order which is easier for him to remember (on the left, on the right, further up or down).

    The players can look at the cards in the discarded pile at any time. If a player discards a card that he has no information about, he runs the risk of getting rid of a card which could be useful in completing a firework. Sometimes a player will have no choice and will have to discard a card that he knows nothing about. However, there are multiple copies of cards (except for the cards with a value of 5); so discarding one does not necessarily mean that the firework cannot be completed.

    Clearly identify a firework that you know you cannot complete; for example pulling out the last car in the series slightly. The cards of the corresponding color could still be discarded to put blue tokens back onto the table.


    Communication (and non communication) between the players is essential to Hanabi. If you follow the rules closely, you can only communicate with your teammates when you give them information placing a blue token. However, you can play whichever way suits you best: set your own rules regarding communication. You could always allow comments like "I still don't know anything about my hand" or "So do you remember what you have in your hand?"


    A game by Antoine Bauza
    Illustrations for R&R version: Albertine Ralenti
    Graphic design for R&R version: Jenn Vargas
    English Rules Editiors: Frank Dilorenzo, Anthony Rubbo
    Copyright 2013 R&R Games Inc, all rights reserved. Licensed with permission from Cocktailgames and Les XII singes

    Accessible rules transcribed by Richard Gibbs for 64 Oz. Games accessibility kit in accordance with copyright law, 17 U.S.C. § 121: