Tabletop game Head-2-Head: Hanabi vs. The Game

Antoine Bauza | R & R Games – Steffen Benndorf | IDW Games

In a world full of games powered by hate and anger, sometimes it is good to sit down with your friends and work together. “Hanabi” by Antoine Bauza and “The Game” by Steffen Benndorf are card games that involve a lot of working together, but force a limited amount of conversation, at least involving the games themselves. So, which one is better, which game would you rather play when you and your friends are at a restaurant? Which game is the definitive small box, co-op card game? Which game deserves a place on your shelf or in your pocket? Enough with all these questions, let's put these two games Head-2-Head and find out.

Hanabi card game review head to head with The Game - Gameapalooza Australia

In “Hanabi” each player is dealt cards following the rules for player count adjustments, place the deck in the middle of the table, the clue and bomb tokens next to the box lid and the game is ready to begin (I mean “Hanabi”. On a turn, the active player performs one of three possible actions: play a card to the fireworks array, yes you're a team of fireworks specialists, with the aim of placing sets of cards, each of the five colours numbered one through to five, they can discard a card retrieving a clue token in the process. The final option is to give any other player a clue by spending a clue token... But wait!, you say, 'Why would I need to give other players clues?'. Well in this game you cannot see your cards, rather you can only see everyone else's cards. That's right your confused and vision impaired fireworks specialists (sort of). When a player gives a clue they can either tell the other player all the cards of the same number or all the cards with the same colour that is in their hand, 'These two cards are blue' for example. Using the information provided to you by your friends, you will work together to complete all the sets of the coloured fireworks in the array. If your team runs the draw deck empty, the team loses. Alternatively, if four card play attempts are incorrect the fireworks blow up in the teams faces and you also lose. When the game ends, total the highest cards in each pile and that is your total score.

Hanabi card game review head to head with The Game - Gameapalooza Australian tabletop game reviewsThe beautiful cards of Hanabi.

In “The Game”, each player is dealt cards depending on the player count, four cards are placed on the centre of the table, two 1 to 99 cards and two 100 to 2 cards. On a turn, the active player must place at least two cards, in ascending order for the 1 to 99 piles and descending order for the 100 to 2 piles. In this game players cannot name or suggest specific numbers or number ranges to the group, they can only request for players not to play on specific piles as to make the game slightly more difficult (this time I meant “The Game”). Now, you're right, that does seem impossible. How can you possibly stack up these piles when you are limited to the cards in your hand? “The Game” allows for a little trick, a jump if you will. When a number is exactly ten higher (or ten lower, depending on the pile) you may place that card to create a ten number gap, for example, on a 1 to 99 pile there is a 27, a player may play a 17 on that card and get the pile closer to 1, a 7 could then be played on the 17, etc.

This is the main aspect of the gameplay and will be the secondary goal for most players to achieve (primary goal is to win). Players will continue to play cards, minimum two at a time, until the deck is depleted, then players only have to play one. Once all the cards have been played, the team wins. If the active player cannot play any of their cards, the team loses.

The Game: Spiel... so lange du kannst! Review - Gameapalooza AustraliaCan you defeat The Game? Just one more go!

Gameplay Head-2-Head!
Both games are cooperative, both are card games. However, not only does “Hanabi” have more options for a player to do on their turn but, not being able to see your own cards allows it to stand out. “The Game” has excellent gameplay thanks to its simplicity, but “Hanabi” wins this round.

“Hanabi” has a good amount of replay value. The rules provides multiple variants for players to try, one including a sixth card type (both lengthening the game and increasing difficulty). However, despite the game discouraging table talk, “Hanabi” is hindered by repeated plays with the same players, the way players give clues can decrease the potential of the game as the limitation of clues is what defines the difficulty of the game.

“The Game” has the same issue as “Hanabi”, the more often the game is played, the easier it becomes. This would not be as much of an issue, however, there is no variants provided. You can buy the 'On fire' expansion which provides additional difficulty but at the moment, can be hard to find.

Replay value Head-2-Head!
Assuming you will be playing these games with different people, they are as replay-able as each other, as the issue mentioned will be avoided. If you are playing with a common group, “Hanabi” takes the cake thanks to its included variants and extra cards.

Game Build Quality
“Hanabi” comes with a deck of cards and a handful of tokens. The tokens are okay, nice and thick but nothing too special. The cards on the other hand leave a lot to be desired. In our copy the backs of the cards have different tones almost as if they were from different printers (the copy is over a year old so hopefully this issue has been fixed). This does not affect the gameplay however. Despite this, the cards and box do look nice, the deluxe version is certainly the best version, providing Mahjong tiles in place of cards.

“The Game” comes with a deck of cards. They are pretty good cards on a decent card-stock, but they are black-bordered. After a few shuffles the cards will begin to mark, not great for a game of secrecy. The art is also very strange, quite dark for a family weight game.

Quality Head-2-Head!
This may seem knit-picky but when you compare two decks of cards, there is not much more to go on. “The Game” wins this round, a better quality of card-stock, disregarding the art.

Gameapalooza House Rules
Hanabi: Great the way it is!
The Game: Can be played with the expansion rules (without the expansion cards) with a quick internet search.

2-5 Players
Ages: 8+
Setup Time: less then a minute
Play Time: 25 minutes

The Game
1-5 Players
Ages: 8+
Setup Time: less then a minute
Play Time: 20 minutes

Overall Head-2-Head
Overall, “Hanabi” and “The Game” are fantastic co-ops, both are card games worthy of your attention, however, on Head-2-Head, there must be a winner. And yes, not only has it won the majority of the minor areas; and yes, just as the Spiel Des Jahres awards, “Hanabi” wins this one (just barely). The pitch is where “Hanabi” takes control. It is just a simple card game where you cannot see your cards, you can almost hear the minds blow when you tell anticipating gamers about this game. Unfortunately, the card jumping in “The Game” does not have the same effect, still great though.