• New timing considerations

    As you play Hanabi more and more, you run into more and more situations and learn from them to improve your strategy with new tricks. After over 5000 plays, I’ve discovered the following tricks, mainly concerning timing and its consequences.

    As usual, these conclusions apply to most situations, not all. Situation is always what matters the most.

    For simplicity’s sake, all these points suppose we’re playing in normal mode (not multicolor).

    1– Early game chop move

    You clue me several 1s with a number clue. I see 1s on your hand, not on chop. It would be risky for me to clue them because they might be the same color as my 1s, causing bombs.

    If your chop is rubbish I’ll play my 1s first, to see if they’re the same color as yours before I give you any play clue on yours. I don’t care if you discard chop. It’s all for the best.
    However, if your chop is not rubbish I may want to clue you 1 to stop you from discarding and manage timing.

    So if I clue you about 1s to play while I still have uncolored 1s to play, it means your chop is good enough to save —> chop move (save your chop).

    Tl;dr – if I play-clue you 1s that may be the same 1s as those I am supposed to play, chop move.

    2– Needlessly rushing plays / discards

    You hold several clued cards of the same suit which has 2 or 3 cards in play already (e.g. you hold R4 R5 R3 with R2 in play). They are secured, I know you won’t play them rashly.
    So there is no need for me to rush them into play. We can get them played later for free, with number clues that hit these cards + other cards.

    So I won’t rush them into play unless I want you to not discard.

    So if I rush them into play —> chop move.

    Occasionally, this may be true with "several clued cards of the same value".

    The same reasoning applies if I force you to discard a rubbish card that you were holding on to: it means "discard this, not your chop" —> chop move.

    Tl;dr – if, without a real need/urgency to do so, I make you play or discard a low-priority card you had partial info about, chop move.

    3– Needlessly rushing a 4 play

    You hold a 4 that is clued by color only. I shouldn’t rush it into play until we have the 5.

    If you draw the 5, I’ll clue 5 and you can play the 4 (since it now has neg-5). Cost: one clue for two plays.

    If I draw the 5, you play your 4 and I know I have just drawn the matching 5. Cost: zero clue for two plays.

    So if I rush it into play without the matching 5, chop move (see previous point).

    Tl;dr – don’t rush a 4 marked as color into play. It can be played for cheaper/free later.

    4– Pre-save doesn’t need a follow-up save

    No 5s are playable. You have B1 Y5 R3 G2 (no clue on your cards).
    Both cards in bold are is either critical or good cards I’d likely want to save. The other cards are less important.
    So I have to clue 5 now (pre-save) to be able to save-clue R3 next.
    So if I clue 5 now, you know I’m trying to set up such a series of saves.
    So if I clue 5 now, you know that whatever card will be chop after your next discard is one I want to save.

    So after I clue 5 and you discard, I don’t even need to spend a clue to save R3: you should chop move (save the blind R3). Note the same is valid with B1 R3 Y5 G2: I clue 5, you discard G2 and then chop move, saving R3.

    However, it may happen that with a similar situation I clue 5, you discard your current chop, and suddenly something (what you just drew or what another player did or drew, etc.) makes me no longer want to save R3. Since I know you’re going to chop move and keep R3, I’ll clue R3 to make you discard it (or play, depending on the situation).

    Tl;dr – if your teammate is obviously trying to set up a series of saves on you, after they give the first save clue and you discard chop you should chop move. If they clue your chop you should suppose it’s not a simple save (either discard it or play it or consider a new chop move, depending on the situation).

    5– Cluing twin cards for later timing

    We’ve learnt to avoid cluing rubbish cards, including twin cards (two G3, two R2, etc.).

    However, cluing twins costs the same as cluing just one card and these twins may become a powerful support for handling tricky situations later. I insist on "may", because this trick is very situational and should be used with great wisdom since it can lead to hand clogging or other things.

    In this game, beri clues two G1 on move 10, thereby giving HML a known play and a known discard, which can be helpful.

    It it also particularly helpful in cases such as this:
    - you are holding two G3 clued as G: x x x G G
    - at some point in the future, you will have B1 Y5 R3 G3 G3, both Y5 and R3 being critical
    - I clue 3, you discard a G3, and I can now easily save Y5. In the end I’ve saved both critical cards, just because I had clued two G3 on you earlier.

    Tl;dr – twin cards saved on a player’s hand can help you save several cards on their hand later. Or be timing aids in other ways.

    6– Low-clues early chop save


    You have a card to play, and your chop is critical.
    We have 2 tokens left. You give me a play clue. 1 token left.

    Now If I play and you clue me another play, I play, you play, and I have no tokens left to save your chop. We’re doomed.

    So I should instead use the last token to save your chop now and avoid such a tough situation.

    Tl;dr – sometimes you need to save a card a bit early even though it would be better to save it later, because you may not be able to do so when the time comes.

    7– Spontaneous pace

    This one needs an example to be understood, but may apply to slightly different (and even worse) situations than the example described here.

    2-player game
    My hand is nearly full (one free slot).
    R2 is in play.
    You know R3 R4 on your hand. I know R5 on my hand.
    We have 2 clues left.
    My only free card is critical and it’s your turn.

    If you save it, I’ll have to either:
    - clue back, then you play R3, then I’m forced to discard a good card or a critical card;
    - discard a good card or a critical card now, because the above alternative wouldn’t give a better result anyway.

    So you shouldn’t save my critical card. Play R3 instead.


    Now, at this point, I should pace spontaneously by cluing you, anticipating that we may be in the dangerous situation described above.
    If I pace, we’ll play R4 R5 in a row + get a clue back + make free room on our hands. In the end, it costs 1 clue and could solve a tempo nightmare.

    « First LL games – principlesMurder case »

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