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In a recent game of Hanabi we discovered that a helpful technique was to ask the person, usually to the left what they planned to do on their turn (ie. playing or discarding a certain card), and then choose to give them information or not based on that information.

Is this technique legal?

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A lot of this will depend on your group and how you chose to look at the rules. Other than giving information about what is in another players hand there is nothing mentioned about players talking to each other. There is a note in an English translation of the rules that I found that does somewhat address this.

Hanabi based on communication - and non-communication - between the Players. If one interprets the rules strictly then players may not, except for the announcements of the current player, talk to each other. Ultimately, each group should decide by its own measure what communication is permitted communication. Play so that you have fun!

I will note some things that my friends do when we play this game all of which are done without the active player asking for the information.

  • Inform the others what we know about our hand. This can be from what we have been told in the past and can in other peoples hands. For instance if I had a green five in my hand and was told I have a five and can account for all the other fives I would say I have a five and know the color.
  • If we have no or limited knowledge of our hands we sometimes will say if you tell me nothing I will discard from a certain side of my hand. This is used as a reminder that I have gotten no information about my hand lately and am assuming I have nothing but garbage.

While some of those may be breaking the spirit of the game they do make it more enjoyable for the group we play in. It all depends on what your group wants to do.

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  • Your second point is a little unclear. I believe it's very common to use conventions like that, which are agreed upon before the game begins, so they're not really communication. But if you selectively do it during the game, then it becomes communication based on information specific to the game, and potentially breaks rules more directly.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 23 '15 at 22:58
  • @Jefromi I expanded it a little bit, the second bullet point is a way to make a reminder that no information has been received so the entire hand (minus any cards that have clues given) is junk. It does get tricky but the group feels it falls into the category of what the player knows about his hand.
    – Joe W
    Nov 23 '15 at 23:01
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    This is an excellent answer, and precisely addresses the spirit of the game.
    – dwjohnston
    Nov 23 '15 at 23:02
  • I think the second dotpoint is fairly innocuous - it's just saying that you're adopting a certain convention, and lets people know what will happen if they don't clue you in on something. The first one is a little trickier - by saying that you know the colour, it means you can see enough of the other fives to deduce it, and if the other players don't know they have fives then you're giving away information (on the other hand, if everyone is in a position to deduce the colour of their own fives, I don't have a problem with it).
    – ConMan
    Nov 24 '15 at 0:25
  • I think what I'm missing is... are you saying it before it's your turn: "hey after you three take your turns, I'm going to trash this cause I dunno anything better to do"? Or are you narrating an action you take: "I'm discarding this because I know no other reasonable actions to take"? It seems like there's a pretty big difference between the two; the former is really communication, and the latter is just narrating actions and reminding of conventions.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 24 '15 at 0:25

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