It’s been more than a month since the All Aboard event in September, so my memory is a little sketchy now. That’s all my fault – I should have written down notes but I didn’t. Oh well, I’ll have to make do with what I can remember, and the first game that we tried is definitely something memorable:
Hanabi is a cooperative card game for two to five players, where the group takes on the role of “absent-minded firework manufacturers” (I took that from the rules insert) who got the fireworks ingredients all mixed up. Honestly, the theme of this game is very weak – I’ve played this game countless times and I’ve never felt like I was creating fireworks, so I’ll drop the theme and explain the mechanics instead.
In the basic game are sets of cards with five distinct colors (white, yellow, red, green, and blue) and numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The objective of the group is to complete the five sets of cards, in numerical order from one to five. So, let’s say you have a Blue 1 in your hand, and it’s your turn. You can play that card, and later on someone can play the Blue 2. That goes on until all five sets are complete. Sounds easy? There’s a catch – each player holds his/her hand of cards with the back facing them. That means, unlike all other card games that I’ve played, everybody gets to see your cards BUT you. So, how do you know which card to play on your turn?
The game allows players to give clues, or card information, to one other player on their turn. Card information is limited to either the number or the color of the card, but you need to identify all of the cards that share that information. Here’s an example:
You can tell this player any one of the following clues:
- His first card is green.
- His first card is a three.
- His second card is a four.
- His second and fourth cards are blues.
- His third and fourth cards are ones.
- His third and fifth cards are reds.
- His fifth card is a two.
However, the number of clues that the group has are limited – at the start of the game, there is a pool of eight clue tokens, and each time someone gives a clue, you remove one of these tokens from the pool.
There are multiple copies of most of the cards, so players can opt to discard a card in order to place a clue token back into the pool of clue tokens. Still, players have to be careful not to discard all copies of a certain card – for example, if all copies of the White 2 have been discarded, then the set of White cards can no longer be completed.
As you can see, Hanabi requires both individual mental focus – players have to remember not only the clues being given to them, but also the clues given to the other players – and group chemistry – know who to give the right clue at the right time, and how to give it, etc. First time I played it, I was amazed. And it has an affordable retail price of just $10.95!
While Hanabi is not the first game that I’ve tried and bought, it’s the first game that I immediately purchased after playing it. It’s that good. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, I’ll tell you this – Hanabi won the 2013 Spiel des Jahres or Game of the Year award in Germany. It’s that good.
After a few more games of Hanabi, several newcomers approached our table. I was playing with the friend of mine who is 50% responsible for getting me into board games – he was the one who facilitated my first ever session of Last Night on Earth. And that’s what we ended up doing:
Aaah, the game that really got me started. I played this game almost to death, and then I stopped playing it because my nephew got busy with school work and I started working on my unplayed Gamecube games. And now I finally got the chance to play it again. So we played the scenario Defend the Manor, with me and my girlfriend joining the newcomers in the role of the Heroes, and my friend taking up the role of the Zombies. In this scenario, we had to prevent the Zombies from entering the manor that is located in the middle of the board – the moment that there are nine zombies in the manor, we (the Heroes) lose.
Like most of my Last Night on Earth sessions, this game was intense. A lot of things happened – I partnered with one of the newbies, then had to fall back, run around and go to the other newbie who I partnered with to rescue the previous newbie… The game just wove a narrative that’s really too long to cover in this post. And yes, I’ve tried writing about Last Night on Earth game sessions and covering the important details but it’s just too time-consuming as a lot of things happen in one session.
After two intense hours, we finally won. I’m glad to say that the newbies survived, and that only my and my girlfriend’s characters died (they were replaced by new ones). The newcomers seemed enthusiastic about the game, which was my friend’s goal – he wasn’t in it to win it, but he wanted the new guys to have a great time.
Now that I’m writing about it, I find it strange that I only managed to play two games (not sessions, but games) that day. I remember bringing Mice and Mystics but not getting the chance to play it, and I also remember being really tired after the event. I’ll say this though – I was able to make up for the lack of game variety in what I played during October’s All Aboard. Can’t wait to write about it.
As always, I’m ending this post with the list of games that I’ve tried at this event – those in bold are games that I eventually bought copies of:
- Shadows Over Camelot
- Last Night On Earth
- 7 Wonders
- Monopoly Deal
- Cutthroat Caverns
- Conquest of Planet Earth
- Defenders of the Realm
- Flash Point: Fire Rescue
- Smash Up!
- Incan Gold
- Ultimate Werewolf
- King of Tokyo
- Puerto Rico
- Toc Toc Woodman
- Ca$h ‘n Gun$
- Pressure Point!
- Forbidden Island
- Shadow Hunters
- Mice and Mystics
- Timeline: Diversities
- Cards Against Humanity
- The Resistance: Avalon