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Disciple Detective – Biblical Hanabi with a twist

Disciple Detective
Designer: Lance Hill
Number of players: 2-5
Age: 14+
Playing time: 20 min
Publisher: Funhill Games (2020)
Ranking BGG: 7.3/10
Read this in Polish

Shall we play Hanabi?

Disciple Detective is a game with biblical themes based on the mechanics of Hanabi. It’s not a reimplementation, but anyone who has played Hanabi will notice the similarity. The essence and common part of both games are three elements:

  1. players don’t see their cards
  2. during the game, they provide information to the other players about their cards
  3. based on the information obtained and their own deduction, they try to guess what cards they have

Unlike Hanabi, we do not convey explicit information about the value or color of the chosen cards. In Disciple Detective – as the title suggests – we have cards of disciples (these are Christ’s disciples). And each disciple has 6 characteristics:

  1. Even/Odd – each card has a number (from 1 to 17) – it’s a question of whether the card number is even or odd.
  2. Alias – this indicates whether a given apostle/disciple was also known by another name. Surprisingly, a few such cases can be found in the Bible. Bartholomew is Nathanael, Peter’s name is Simon, Paul was formerly Saul, Judas is known as Thaddeus, and the apostle Thomas was called Didymus (meaning twin).
  3. Origin – indicates whether the place of origin is known. Peter and Andrew, as well as Philip, came from Bethsaida, Matthew from Capernaum, Paul from Tarsus, and Mark from Jerusalem.
  4. Father – do we know the name of the apostle’s father? Simon Peter was the son of Jonah (according to St. Matthew) or John (according to St. John). Similarly, Andrew who’s Peter’s brother. James and John were the sons of Zebedee. James (called the lesser or younger) was the son of Alphaeus. However, we do not know the names of all of them – we do not know the names of Philip’s, Simon the Zealot’s, or Matthias’s fathers, nor do we know Paul’s or Luke’s.
  5. Occupation – do we know what their profession was? Paul made tents, Luke was a doctor, the first four disciples (Peter, Andrew, John, and James) were fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector.
  6. Writer – which of Christ’s disciples contributed to writing the New Covenant? Here we have four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Paul, on the other hand, is known for his letters. However, Peter also wrote letters

In their turn, a player can do one of three things:

  1. Provide all other players with information about one of the 6 characteristics. For example, touch all cards that are even. Or indicate all disciples whose fathers are known. It’s important: all of them! Unlike Hanabi – such information is shared with all other players, not just one chosen person.
  2. Arrange the cards in hand for each of the other players (from the lowest to the highest number).
  3. Try to guess one of their cards – if successful (confirmed by other players before the player sees the card), the card is played; if not, it returns to the hand, and a token (see below) goes into the box.

Each time you provide information, you place a token in the box. When you successfully guess the name of the apostle, you have the right to remove a token from the box (or provide information „for free”). This is the same mechanism as in Hanabi, with a slight modification. There are no „penalty” tokens. Simply put – if you guess wrong, you move the token as if you were providing information (because it is actually very valuable information for others), and the card returns to the hand, and the game continues.

These six characteristics allow for an easier version to be played, and starting with that version is definitely recommended. However, the more difficult version is the „wow!” version.

Sample disciples’ cards

Quirks that make a 'wow!’

Some apostles have additional abilities, known as „Quirks”:

  1. Peter is fearful, so when arranging cards, despite being number 1, he’s always the last one.
  2. James and John – sons of thunder – wanted to be the first to sit at the right hand of the Son of God. In the game, James, who has number 3, pretends to have number 2 and is also classified as even. John applies to be number 1 and should be marked as odd.
  3. Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael. „Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47). In his presence, no one dares to lie. Bartholomew cancels the „quirks” of all apostles in the player’s hand – Peter is no longer last, James and John remain with their numbers, Thomas is no longer skeptical, etc.
  4. Thomas. The doubter. If he doesn’t touch, he won’t believe. Therefore, Thomas is „touched” every time information is provided. If you indicate even cards, you touch Thomas (which isn’t strange since he’s number 8). If you indicate odd cards, you still have to touch Thomas. Known origin? You touch Thomas. Father’s name? You touch Thomas.
  5. Judas Iscariot. The one who betrayed Him. A liar. He always tells lies. He has number 12, so if you indicate even cards, you don’t touch Judas. If you indicate those who wrote the Gospels/Letters, you touch Judas.
  6. Paul. For the name of Christ, he was whipped and stoned, narrowly escaping death. Therefore, in the game, he is wounded. While wounded, he cannot practice his profession or write. So, as long as he is wounded, when asked about „occupation” or „writer,” the answer is negative.
  7. Luke is a doctor. He treats Paul. In other words, if he is visible together with Paul (even at different players’ hands), Paul is no longer wounded: he has a profession and is the author of Letters.
  8. Mark. A deserter. He left Paul during his travels. Therefore, if he is visible together with Paul, he behaves as if he were not there. We know nothing about him – he has no alias, no origin, he is not a writer.

These „quirks” seem extremely hardcore. I played several initial rounds without them, not daring to delve deeper. In other words, I was sure it wouldn’t work. But it does! And it works BRILLIANTLY! You can actually deduce whether you have a „weirdo.” These are fragments of information. Sometimes, failure in guessing the apostle. Sometimes, however, intentional action (e.g., Thomas can be easily identified  – unless he appears with Bartholomew ;)). Because there are so many configurations, I cannot say whether you will always succeed in winning. I also never played with 5 people, so I never played with Paul, Luke, and Mark, who seem quite difficult to me. However, the gameplay with the first 13 disciples with quirks, was truly fantastic and not as difficult as it initially seemed.

It’s worth mentioning that the game also has a competitive mode. The gameplay is similar to the cooperative one – except instead of providing information, we demand specific information from others – and the winner is the one who discards cards faster. However, I haven’t played in this mode; somehow, cooperation in this particular case is closer to my heart, and every time we preferred to cooperate.

Player aid – all in one place. It also allows you to make notes with a dry erase marker.


All of this information we receive from others doesn’t need to be remembered. We receive dry erase markers along with the player aids and the disciples’ cards, which are designed for them, allowing us to jot down all our observations and conjectures. Similarly, the backs of the cards are constructed – traits that can be crossed out or, on the contrary, marked as present. The only thing missing is dividers. Although we have a dedicated card for crossing out characters, which should be kept in hand together with others, it’s much more convenient to cross out apostles on the player aid (which fortunately is also made of that laminated paper)


The game is fantastic. The twist with the quirks is simply brilliant and one of a kind. I really like this expansion of the Hanabi mechanics. I appreciate the combination of mechanics with the theme. If we wanted to use this game for educational purposes, the knowledge simply sticks in your head because it’s essential during the game. You can never „unsee” that Judas lies, Peter flees, Luke heals, and there’s no deceit in Bartholomew.

The instructions are excellently written – succinctly, objectively, with examples. And with explanations – why each character has certain quirks. At the end, we receive a brief summary – where they came from, who their father was, what their occupation was, etc.

I sincerely recommend taking an interest in the game.


Złożoność gry (4/10):

Oprawa wizualna (8/10):

Ogólna ocena (8/10):

Co znaczy ta ocena według Games Fanatic?
Bardzo dobry przedstawiciel swojego gatunku, godny polecania. Wady mało znaczące, nie przesłaniające mocno pozytywnego odbioru całości. Gra daje dużo satysfakcji.

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