The game of MaoMao is a cardgame, best played with 3 to 6 players (but
there are no real limitations). Each player gets dealt a number of cards, one
card is turned face-up to start the pile, and the rest of the cards form the
pack. On your turn, you either play a card on the pile, or draw one card from
the pack. The first player to lose all his/her cards wins.
That doesn't sound very interesting, does it? However, there is a catch. A
BIG catch. Every player also thinks of a personal rule, which all players should
follow. The problem is: you don't tell the other players what your rule is, only
when they break it.
Rules of MaoFor this game you need about half a deck for every player
in the game. Two 52-card decks suffice for 3 or 4 players, for a game with 5 or
6 players you need 3 decks.
Start of the GameDealer deals five (or some other agreed amount) cards
to each player, and each player will think of a personal rule. When they have
decided what their rule is, they write it down on a piece of paper, and only now
do they pick up their cards. When everyone has come up with a personal rule, the
dealer turns over the top card of the deck to start the pile, and the player
left to the dealer starts the game.
Point of OrderDuring the game (e.g. after dealer turned over the first
card) one is not allowed to talk. When you want to say something, for example to
clarify something, you have to say "Point of Order", and then what you want to
say. Other players can respond to this until the talking is over, which will be
announced when someone says "End Point of Order". You are not allowed to look at
your cards during Point of Order.
The PlayOn your turn you either play a card face up on the pile, or you
draw one card from the deck. Normally the order of play is clockwise. You can
say "Pass" at any time to announce it is not your turn.
Anything of the
above can be changed by a personal rule. When someone breaks a standard or
personal rule, there is a penalty. There is no penalty when the violation is not
Personal RulesAs said above, every player has a personal secret rule.
This can be anything, as long as it is a simple rule, which means no "and" or
"or". Examples of good rules:
Skip a turn on the play of an eight.
Name a town starting with the letter "n" on the play of a heart.
The general form is "cause -> effect". In the first example the play of an
eight by the previous player was the cause, and the effect is that you have to
skip a turn. Several classes of rules can be used:
(*) If there are two or more
of these rules, they might interfere and a neutral arbitrator should be present.
If there is no way to find out whose turn it is, both rules are discarded.
- Rules that change the order of play by causing turn skipping or reversal
from clockwise to counterclockwise. (*)
- Rules that require someone to do something extra, like clapping your hands
or naming a town starting with the letter "N".
- Rules that forbid certain cards to be played. (**)
- Rules that allow special actions, like playing a second card.
- Rules that influence other rules (*)
(**) If one or more of these rules cause the game to block, these rules will
be discarded. A good guideline is to have more cards allowed at any time than
the number of triggercards.
Example: a rule saying you have to switch colour
(red - black - red - black - etc.) will eventually block, but if you restrict
this to apply only to the spot cards, there is no problem.
Announcing Violations and PenaltiesWhen you notice that someone breaks
a rule, you can announce a violation. Below is a list of all the possible
announcements, what they mean and what the penalty is (draw two cards, one card
- "Violation, it's not your turn" is announced when someone plays a
card out of turn. The played card has to be taken back, and two penalty cards
- "Violation, it is your turn" is announced when someone says "Pass"
when it is in fact their turn. Two penalty cards are drawn, and his/her turn
- "Violation, you forget something" is announced when someone forgot
something during their turn, for example clapping their hands. Two penalty
cards are drawn.
- "Violation, illegal card" is announced when someone plays a card
that is not allowed in this situation. For example someone plays the ace of
hearts on the ace of diamonds, but someone's personal rule forbids this. The
played card has to be taken back, and two penalty cards are drawn.
- "Violation, you talked" is announced when someone talks without
announcing Point of Order. This also applies when someone calls a violation
when in fact there was no violation. One penalty card is drawn.
- "Violation, you said the wrong thing" is announced when someone
should say something according to a personal rule, but he/she should've said
something else, for example if you say "cat" when you were supposed to say a
word starting with a "d", this rule applies. Two penalty cards are drawn.
- "Violation, failure to call Mao" is announced when someone forgot
to announce having just one card left. Two penalty cards.
- If nothing else fits you can also say "Violation, that is not
allowed" but you must try to be as specific as possible, without giving
away your personal rule.
In general, your turn ends immediately after you violated a rule, so if you
play more cards after another and someone calls a violation that applies before
your play of the second, the second card has to be taken back.
Drawing penalty cards is not cumulative, except for talking.
Personal rules can never be personal, meaning that you cannot make rules
about the players themselves, only about the cards or the way they should be
played, arranged, etc.
SportsmanshipBecause this is just for fun, don't make unfair rules.
Note that rules like "One can play as many cards as desired" won't work (you are
bound to break someone else's rule somewhere).
When your rule required some
special action, demonstrate it a couple of times, to give others a fair chance
to get an idea.
End of the gameThe game ends when someone is out of cards. The player
without cards has won. The game also ends when the deck is out of cards (e.g.
when all cards but one are in the player's hands). Then the player with the
fewest number of cards wins.
Final commentsIf you think of any good rules, or have any comments or
questions, please let me know! I have played this game many times, and every
time we get new kinds of rules. Some examples of fun rules:
You have to play red cards with your left hand (for this game we had no
When playing a card one rank higher than the previous one, donate one card
to an opponent of your choice. This did not work out because when the others got
the point they all gave ME cards. But it was fun while it lasted :)
When you play a deuce, you will split your hand into two piles, from now on
you will be two players (of course you've only won if you got rid of BOTH piles!
Another effect is that if one of your players plays a deuce, you will have
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