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Learning Path


People from all around the world like to play Hanabi. Thanks to the internet, we regularly see new players from all walks of life. Some only play for a few days, while some continue to play for years! But no matter how long people play for, there is always more to learn, because Hanabi has a ton of depth, similar to chess.

For those who love Hanabi and wish to continue playing with the group, the path from a new player to an expert player is a long one. It will be filled with many practice games, countless mistakes, and the learning of many different conventions. If that sounds daunting, it isn't meant to - getting to know the various people in the group and playing a lot of Hanabi will be a ton of fun, regardless of your skill level.

When playing with new players, everyone in the group knows to keep it simple, and only use the basic strategies that are covered in the beginner's guide. However, after someone plays a few beginner games, things start to "open up" a bit, and new "special moves" start to be taught, like Chop Moves and Layered Finesses. There's a lot to learn, and we don't want to overwhelm new players with it all at once. So what is the correct order to learn stuff in?

Handily, we sort our conventions into different "levels" based on experience. Before a game starts, newer players should make it clear to the group what level they want to play with. And then everyone in the group should stick to using only conventions in that level. For advanced players, it may be tempting to show a newer-players an advanced move. But don't do it! Keep it simple! Let them learn the fundamentals before introducing more complicated things.

Why is this kind of thing important? A common mistake we see from intermediate players is that once they learn about an advanced move, they think that they understand how it works, and then they whip it out in a completely inappropriate situation. As the expression goes, "you have to learn to walk before you learn to run". Intermediate players who know advanced moves but have poor planning and a poor understanding of the game are much harder to play with than intermediate players who stick to the basics, make predictable moves, and incorporate things slowly.

If you are a newer player and you feel like you have mastered the concepts in the beginner's guide, then use the left sidebar to start exploring the level 2 conventions.

For information on how variants tie in to the levels, see the variant summary.

Level Summary

The following is a quick summary of the levels.

Level NumberLevel NameMain Conventions Learned
1FundamentalsThe Early Game, Prompts, Finesses
2Basic Finesses5 Stalls, Double Finesses, Reverse Finesses, Self-Finesses
3Basic StrategyPlaying Multiple 1's, The Fix Clue, Sarcastic Discards
4Chop MovesTrash Chop Moves, 5's Chop Moves
5Intermediate FinessesHidden Finesses, Layered Finesses, Clandestine Finesses, Stacked Finesses, Ambiguous Finesses
6Intermediate Chop MovesOrder Chop Moves, Trash Order Chop Moves, Scream Discard Chop Moves, Generation Discards, Tempo Clue Chop Moves
7End-GamePositional Discards, Positional Misplays
8StallingDouble Discard Situations, Locked Hand Saves, 8 Clue Saves
9Special DiscardsGentleman's Discards, Baton Discards, Sarcastic Finesses, Certain Finesses
11ContextStale 1's Clues, Focus Inversion
12Intermediate Bluffs3 Bluffs, Critical Color Bluffs
13Trash MovesTrash Bluffs, Trash Pushes
14Double BluffsDouble Bluffs, Pestilent Double Bluffs
15Ejections & Discharges5 Color Ejections, The Unknown Trash Discharge
175 TechEarly 5 Chop Moves, 5 Pulls, 5 Number Discharges
19Advanced MovesOccupied Play Clues, Out-of-Order Finesses, Suboptimal Finesses, The Good Touch Bluff, The No-Information Double Finesse
20IgnitionTrash Double Ignition, Replay Double Ignition, Poke Double Ignition, Chop Move Ignition
21Emergency DiscardsEcho Scream Discard Chop Moves
22Charms & Miscellaneous4 Charms, Blaze Discards, Hesitation Blind-Plays
23Unnecessary MovesUnnecessary Moves
Extrasn/aOther rarely-used conventions / edge-cases

Variant Summary

Hanab Live has a lot of different variants and the H-Group plays a good mix of them. The point of variants is that they increase the difficulty of the game, giving experienced players an additional challenge. In the same way that it is counterproductive to play with advanced conventions before you have a good grasp of the underlying mechanics, it is equally counterproductive to play with complicated variants. For that reason, beginners should stick to playing "No Variant" until they have the fundamentals down.

The following is a rough description of how some variants map to convention levels.

No Variant1
3/4/6 Suits2