Mao: the Game

I wrote this page to explain how Mao is played, but there is a problem: It is a Great Travesty to explain the rules of Mao. So how am I going to tell you how to play Mao? Simple: as in my other Web pages, I let you figure it out.

A Sample Game

Let us play the role of a spectator, then, observing a game of Mao. This game happens to have four players. They are using two decks of cards shuffled together. They could use as many decks as is convenient, and it doesn't matter that the backs of the cards from each deck are not identical.

Alex and Ben know the game well. Chris has played several times. Dawn is just starting. Alex is sitting to Dawn's left, while Chris is on her right. Ben sits across from Dawn.

Alex is eagerly shuffling the mismatched deck, a childish grin on his face, as if he can't wait for the fun to begin. Ben, on the other hand, has a very intense look on his face, as if he is preparing to face the ultimate challenge. Chris looks a bit worried, and Dawn looks --well, clueless, but eager to learn.

Alex deals five cards to each player, face down. The remainder go in a pile in the centre, face down. He reaches for the top card, glances at the other players as if to say, "Are you ready?" and places the top card face up in a new pile. 4 of Spades.

Almost immediately, Ben drops a 9 of Spades on top, also face up.

Chris puts down a 9 of Hearts on top of the pile.

Dawn, starting to understand the nature of the game, puts down a 7 of Hearts .

Ben, glancing at Alex with a look of "Will you do this or shall I?", takes a card from the face-down pile and slides it to Dawn, saying, "Failure to say, 'Have a nice day!'" Dawn furrows her brow but takes the penalty.

"Penalty card," says Alex with a grumble as he draws a card.

Ben plays a Jack of Hearts. Almost immediately, Chris yells, "Spades!" as Alex calls, "Diamonds!"

"Point of order," says Alex, and immediately everyone puts the cards in their hands face down on the table. "Did I call first?"

"No, Chris called it," says Ben. "Spades."

"End point of order," says Chris, and everyone picks up their cards again. Chris plays a 7 of Spades. "Have a nice day," she says.

"Penalty card," states Dawn as she draws a card. She learns quickly.

"8 of Spades," says Alex, as he plays a 8 of Spades.

At first, Ben doesn't do anything. Then he takes a card from the face-down pile and slides it to Dawn, saying, "Failure to play within 5 seconds."

Chris plays a 3 of Spades, saying, "3 of Spades."

Ben plays a 3 of Clubs but doesn't say anything.

Alex looks at the cards in his hand, makes a grumbling noise, and draws a card from the face-down pile. He sighs.

Dawn plays a King of Clubs.

Chris plays an Ace of Clubs and says, "Last card!"

Ben glares at Chris.

Alex plays a 2 of Clubs.

Dawn plays a 7 of Clubs, saying, "Have a nice day!"

Smiling, Chris plays her last card, a 7 of Diamonds, on top of Dawn's card and says, "Have a very nice day!" She has now emptied her hand of all her cards.

Smirking, Ben takes a face-down card and slides it to Chris. "Failure to win," he says.

"Oh, shit, I forgot!" exclaimed Chris.

Ben takes another face-down card and slides it to Chris. "Cursing," he says.

And the game continues ...

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