The Many Versions of Hanabi

In honor of the Fourth of July, I wanted to post about my favorite fireworks-themed game, Hanabi.  Hanabi has been in my personal top 10 for the past couple of years, and it is one of only two games (the other being Tichu) where I collect the various editions.

For fans of Hanabi, this will likely be a fun post walking through the history of the game and its various iterations.

I wrote my history of Hanabi a couple of years ago as part of our SdJ Re-Review series, and in the review portion, I talked about my favorite iterations of the game.  Here’s a brief overview of the different editions on the market.

The First Version: Hanabi & Ikebana

Published by Les XII Singles

HanabiIkebana

Les XII singles printed 1,000 French-language copies of Hanabi & Ikebana in 2010.  The graphic design was done by Antoine Bauza’s wife.  Though Bauza admits that the games are abstract, the theme arises from two arts of the Japanese culture: fireworks (Hanabi) and flower arrangement (Ikebana).  The ideas of flowers is present in both the word for fireworks (Hanabi) and the word for a floral arrangement (Ikebana).  Today, copies of the Les XII edition of Hanabi & Ikebana are relatively difficult to locate.  

I own this edition primarily as a historic memento.  I bought it relatively inexpensively, then when I first met Antoine Bauza, I had him sign it.  He told me at the time that this edition was very rare, and now that I know there were only 1,000 copies, I’d agree!

The Most Popular Edition: Hanabi with Small or Medium Cards

Published by Cocktail Games, Les XII Singles, Abacusspiele (Germany), R&R Games (United States), and Others Elsewhere

After the printing of Hanabi & Ikebana, Bauza got the CEO of Cocktail Games, Matthieu d’Epenoux, to play the game.  He loved it, and he started looking for ways to export it to other countries.  He wanted to keep Hanabi, but cease publishing Ikebana.  Bauza was reluctant to separate the two, but he agreed.  

Cocktail’s German partner, Huch! & Friends, did not pick the game up, so Matthias Wagner from Abacusspiele sought to publish it.  Hanabi received its German release at Essen 2012, and it is still printed there by Abacusspiele.

That version won the 2013 Spiel des Jahres.  Worldwide, the small box editions of Hanabi have sold millions of copies.  

In the United States, Hanabi is printed by R&R Games.  The R&R version (pictured fourth above) was the first version I bought, and I fell in love with it.  At times, Hanabi was hard to get until late 2013, often commanding big premiums on the secondary market.

Around the world — and even in the United States — there are different boxes and even different card sizes.  The Cocktail / Les XII Singles French version, for example, comes in a square box with square cards (pictured first above).  Germany also has a “pocket box” edition (pictured third above).

If you’re in the United States, I’d most recommend the R&R Games version (pictured above).  It is inexpensive and is a great addition to any game collection.  

Target sells a Target-exclusive version in a metal tin, but there are reportedly quality issues with the cards (although I haven’t confirmed this).

Some German Exclusives: Hanabi with Big Cards

Abacusspiele (Germany)

Hanabi Extra comes with eye-popping large cards.  I’ve played this at a couple of game events in the United States, and people often exclaim, “Where’d you get that?”  

As far as I can tell, Hanabi Extra is German-exclusive, although you can import it inexpensively off amazon.de.  It comes with card holders and a really nice box insert.

FunEasy

Hanabi Fun & Easy is similar — large cards with card holders — but this German edition comes with little player mats and chits (shown above) to partially remove the memory element from the game.  I personally kind of like the memory element removed, although that’s controversial among the Hanabi enthusiasts in my life.

The Really Deluxe Versions: Hanabi with Tiles

Abacusspiele (Germany), R&R Games (United States)

Abacusspiele and R&R have both produced deluxe versions of Hanabi.  I haven’t played the German edition — I bought the U.S. edition and they seem quite similar — but I adore my R&R edition.  It is easily my favorite edition of the game, and it is the one I play the most.

It comes in a very sturdy box, with tiles that sit nicely on the table.  The tiles are especially well produced, and there are plastic chits for the clue tokens.

BonusTiles

That (Relatively Unknown?) Promo: Hanabi: Die Bonus-Plättchen

Abacusspiele (Germany)

At Essen 2015, there was a promo released for free.  Hanabi: Die Bonus-Plättchen adds six bonus tokens to the Hanabi card game. As described at BGG: “Shuffle these tokens face down, then place them near the clue tokens. Instead of flipping a clue token when correctly playing the fifth card of a color, flip a bonus token instead and carry out the special action. The action must be carried out immediately.”

The six tiles allow you to:

  • Flip a clue token already used (as in the base game) [×2].
  • Choose a card from the discard pile and shuffle it back into the draw pile [×2].
  • Choose another player and tell her the color AND value of a card in her hand (does not require use of a clue token).
  • Flip up to two unused thunderstorm/fuse tokens to flip an equal number of used clue tokens.
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