Kelsey CretcherUnited States
Koi Koi is one of the most played Hanafuda games in Japan. It’s seen in movies, comics and anime (it was played a lot in Summer Wars). It falls under the “Matching” style of game played with Hanafuda and its play style is very similar to a lot of other games played with Hanafuda. Koi-Koi comes from the verb “Kuru” which means “To Come.” When conjugating the verb, the form Koi (来い) is used as an imperative (command), so saying Koi Koi is pretty much commanding or inviting “come-come” to continue play.
The object of the game is to create hands through 2 matches per turn (a planned match and a random match) the score points. The rounds end when one of the players has created a scoring hand, however if they feel they can make another scoring hand before the other player makes one, they can choose to “Koi-Koi” instead of taking the points and ending the round. (It’s super easy and I’ll break it down below).
When researching how to play I’ve realized that there is a heavy blur across the sources between actual rules and house rules that have become standard. So what I present below is the most standard I could finagle and I’ll include common house rules at the end. Some may argue that some of these are house rules here as well, so play as you see fit. I learned from Clubhouse games, Nintendo’s rule sheet and Habafuki.org, I’ve played so much that most of this is from my memory so please let us know if something is wrong!
You can play the game with starting points that you “steal” from each other (this game was a gambling game) or the way I tend to play is just adding points up as I go, starting from a base zero. Also I’m not a stickler for how I deal but I’ve included Nintendo’s dealing method (even though I don’t utilize it haha).
A lot of Koi-Koi is random and luck, but with practice you’ll develop your own strategies and know what cards to try and get. You have to think quickly and change plans on the fly if and when your wanted card is claimed by your opponent!
Game Style: Matching
Length of Play: 6 or 12 rounds (months)
Number of Decks: One full deck, no jokers
Hands (Yaku): 14 and 2 dealt
Goal: Be the first to make a scoring hand and claim points, and get more points than the opponent. In Koi-Koi matches are made between same month cards only. So June matches June and August matches August
Choosing the dealer: Each player draws a card randomly, the player with the earliest month is now the Dealer (or Oya, Parent)
The basic set up is 8 cards face down to each player, and 8 cards face up to create a “Field of Play”. Nintendo rules have you deal two cards at a time (2 to opponent, 2 to field, 2 to self, repeated until each has 8). The deck is placed next to the field of play, face down.
BEFORE YOU START PLAYING: Players need to look for “Instant Wins”
First check the field
If a full month has been dealt to the field, the round is void and redealt.
If there are ¾ of a month dealt to the field, combine the three into one stack, the player who plays the final card of the month gets all of that month.
Then check for dealt hands: If either player has a dealt Yaku (hand) the round is ended and they are awarded the points
Four Hands: 4 cards of the same month: 6pts
Sticky: 2 cards from 4 different months: 6pts
A round consists of both players making a planned match, and a random match. Play starts with the first player.
1.The player may make a match with a card in his hand and a card in the field of the same month. Or they may add a card to the field that matches none of them. When matching to the field the player leaves the card on its match till after step 2.
2.The player now reveals the top card of the deck and one of the following happens:•If it matches a card, the player gets that match, as well as any other match made in step 1 and adds both matches to their library in front of them. (This “library” is the pool from which players can form their Yaku from.)
•If the card matches the first match they made, causing three of one month to be on the table, all three cards stay in play, and remain there until someone makes the final match of the month and claims all the cards.
•If the card matches no card in the field, it is then added to the field.
3.When the player is done matching, they see if they have formed in Yaku in their library. If they have they can either end the round and claim their points, or if they believe they can make another Yaku (potentially a better one) before the other player can make a match , they may Koi-Koi and continue play. Be careful, if the player calls Koi-Koi and their opponent makes a Yaku (any yaku) before they do, the opponent gets double points. See Scoring Yaku when ready.
The Library: The library is the space in front of you, all captured cards are placed here face up, and this creates your "pool" from which you can form your Yaku.
4.Play Continues to the next player.
Play in a round continues until either a player scores Yaku, or the deck is exhausted. The month (round) is then ended and the field and hands are re-dealt. The player with the Highest score is the new Oya.
SCORING THE YAKU
Koi Koi has only 14 hands which make it easy to remember after some practice. Some basic knowlage of Hanafuda generic scoring can help you learn them but aren’t needed as the generic point values aren’t used. I’ve attached a reference sheet for the hands as well as the general Hanafuda scoring (at the bottom). Below is a quick reference for play and the scoring. It’s a ‘in progress” as it’s the card I’ve been working on for my Kickstarter. When a player creates any of the Yaku below, they may stop the round and score or call Koi-Koi as outlined above. Only one player gets any points per round. If you Koi-Koi you can re-arrange your Yaku for a better score, for example, if you have 3 Bright, and you see the Rain-Man is in the field you might want to Koi-Koi in hopes of getting the Rainy 4. Your Yaku isn't "locked" when you Koi-Koi.
If a player’s Yaku is worth more than 7 points at the end of a round they get double points. (This is in the official Nintendo rules, and I’ve seen it a lot of other places, but honestly my house rule is NOT to do this)
END OF GAME
The game ends when you’ve either completed 6 or 12 months. The person with the highest score wins!
Set-Up: Field Multipliers:•If there is a 20pt card (any of the Brights) in the field after the deal, the score for the round is double.
•If there are 2 Bright cards in the field after deal the round score will be tripled
•If there are 3 Bright cards the score is quadrupled,etc.
Matching: Some rules, (including the Clubhouse games but not the Nintendo physical rules) require a match to be made if it can be made in step one. This makes it a little harder to strategize.
•Blind Match: (Submitted by Tigrillo) In Step 2, if a match is not made, you may decided to add the card to the field OR add it to your hand.
Scoring•Combination Yaku: Cards apply to any Yaku that they can, so if you have 5 brights, you also have the cards for Rainy 4 and 3 brights, thus you get the points of all of them. This goes for any cards in any Yaku.
•Rain ruins the Viewing: Viewing Card Yaku are worth 0pts if you have the Rain Man or the Lightning card.
•Viewing Cards: Some have the viewing cards as an optional Yaku, so depending on who you play with, you might want to confirm that they use them.
•Sake Cup and Lightning Card: Similar to an Ace the Sake cup can be worth either 10 or 1, the Lightning cards in some variants is used as a wild card. Which can be used to match any card in the field, or if in the field any card from your hand.
•Koi-Koi: Nintendo actually says you can only Koi-Koi once per GAME, I’ve never seen this anywhere else.
•Month Yaku: (Submitted by Tigrillo) An additional Yaku for 4pts is the full collection of whichever month you're in. (So If in round four or April, you can collect all four cards from April for 4pts)
So there is some strategy to the game, even though it’s also a lot of luck. As you play you’ll learn what cards and combo’s to go for and how to think quickly. Here are some tips:
[floatleft]•I always try to get the Sake Cup, even if you can’t use it, keep your opponent from getting an easy 10pts!
•Don’t throw just anything down in step 1! If you can’t make a match, think about what you add to the field. Don’t play a cherry blossom to the field if you don’t know where the Camp Curtain is. Don’t accidently help your opponent get a good match. Try to play cards that the power match has been made already, or that you know you can match with quickly.
•While the Brights look nice, it’s not always the best method to try and get them. Don’t waster all your time trying to get the 20pt cards and not end up making any match that round.
•Some good ones to try and secure are the Poetry Scrolls and Blue scrolls, those have higher worth yaku.
•Be strategic when claiming the Rain Man. He might secure you the Rainy four, but ruins your chance for the other brights.
•If you’re losing, try to get the Dregs, so you can score first, they can have a few high scoring cards but unless they make a match they don’t get those points. Steal some rounds with some low point combos.
What variants or strategies do you have? To practice play online against others and maybe me head on over to BoardGameArena my Username is MissKLC!
Thanks everyone and see you next time!
Moon Rabbit Hanafuda
This blog is going to follow the Moon Rabbit Hanafuda decks, the impending Kickstarter and History of the cards.
How to Play: Koi-Koi
12 Aug 2016
Subscribe Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:14 pm
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