Wait a second: Playing Hanabi without giving hints

Markus Eger, Daniel Gruss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Hanabi is a cooperative card game in which communication plays a key role. The game provides an interesting challenge for AI agents, because the game state is only partially observable, and the game limits what players can tell each other. This limit on communication channels is similar to a common scenario in system security research, and has been researched extensively in that context, for example by bypassing a system's isolation by establishing a covert communication channel. Such channels can be established through anything that the sending party can influence and the receiving party can observe, such as photonic emission, resource contention, or latency. In this paper, we present Hanabi agents that utilize timing as a covert channel so effectively that they can eschew the communicative actions provided by the game entirely. In addition to a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of our approach, and a comparison to other Hanabi agents, we provide its context in the area of security, and an outlook on how it could be related to human behavior in future work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2019
EditorsFoaad Khosmood, Johanna Pirker, Thomas Apperley, Sebastian Deterding
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherAssociation of Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450372176
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2019
Event14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2019 - San Luis Obispo, United States
Duration: 26 Aug 201930 Aug 2019

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Luis Obispo


  • Agent design
  • Hanabi
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing


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