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Subject: Mao : Why? rss

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Brian Poe
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Something that would have been purple if there was light to see it by scuttled across the floor.
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Mao.

The only rule I'm allowed to tell you about this game is this one.

There... that's the rules section out of the way.

The Game

Mao is a card game played with a standard deck of playing cards. Usually two or more decks shuffled together. (Generally 2 + 1 per new player over 2.) Mao can support as many people as you have enough cards for. (We have played with 12.) The game should be played with at least 5 players for a good game.

Mao is a club... Mao is an elite organization. Those who know how to play it consider it a badge of honor to know the rules. This is one of the main turnoffs I've seen to getting people to play. Mao is a game in which you aren't allowed to tell anyone any rules and thus can only be penalized for breaking rules known by the other players. This has some immediate drawbacks for beginners. You have to learn the rules by trial and error.


Teaching/Learning the game

I have tried teaching people to play Mao with a group of experienced players and one new player. The new player generally feels as though everyone is laughing at them and starts sharpening knives. If you are going to have a minority of new players you MUST stress to the experienced players to "play nice." Helpful hints and nudging should be provided. I know many players will criticize me for being to nice to the new players but the bottom line is, the more people that like the game, the more people you will have to play with you next time. I have seen far too many people burned on their first session and absolutely refuse to play.

Playing with only one experienced player is a whole different story. In the beginning all players are equal and it becomes like a game to try and "teach" the rules. I am always rewarded when the lightbulb goes on and they figure out a new rule. To me, this is why I will never stop introducing people to Mao. However, once players learn some rules, they become very excited about enforcing them. This usually leads to VERY cruel beginner players and a little vindictive penalizing. The best way I've found to handle this is to provide a little soothing and try to tone down excessive punishing. Usually everyone arrives at the end together and after teaching a large group of new people everyone always seems pretty proud to say they can play Mao.

Some things I BELIEVE should be told up front.
1.) The rules are fairly simple. (The biggest problem I see with new players is their tendancy to overthink the rules and confuse themselves.)

2.) EVERYONE learns the rules this way.

3.) The BEST way to learn the rules is to WATCH WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING. I cannot stress this enough. Many times I have seen people try to learn to play Mao buried in their own cards until they get penalized for not playing and then try to figure out what to do. What the other players do is a BIG hint in this game, and as long as people are being resonably nice, you have plenty of time to look at your cards to figure out what to play next.

4.) DO NOT GET FRUSTRATED. (This shouldn't be a problem as long as it's a supportive group that wants to indoctrinate new players into the game.)

All this said there is one more thing I must say about teaching new people. There are some people out there who just CANNOT take this game. They reveal themselves VERY VERY VERY VERY quickly. There's nothing wrong with them, they just can't take this kind of game. Don't push it on them. Please.

So why would I want to play this game if I know all the rules?

Mao is a forever changing game. Once a player gets rid of all their cards they deal themselves back in and earn the right to create a new rule. This rule is only known by the player who creates it and the other players are punished for breaking this rule in the same way all other rules are enforced. i.e. You must bark like a dog when a king is played. Failure to bark like a dog when you play a king would get you a penalty card along with a, "Failure to bark like a dog." While this is a very simplistic rule I have seen some REAL creativity when playing Mao and some amazing games have developed. I have seen other board games incorperated into the game. i.e. When a king is played you must make a move on the chess board. Once, someone who wanted to play a different game made a rule that when the ace of diamonds was played, the Mao game would break and a game of Settelers of Catan would begin with the looser gaining a penalty of one card. Two hours later the game continued. It is very rare for our group of gamers to get together without Mao entering into it somehow. If you know someone who plays and can teach you, I recommend trying to learn. It's a great experience and one of the most rewarding games I have ever played.

So... Go out and learn to play... and... have a very very very very nice day! devil

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marc lecours
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I know how to play Mao. But my question is "how does a group learn to play Mao if they are never lucky enough to get into contact with someone who knows how to play Mao? "

Mao is at its funnest in your first game as a newbie, and in your first game as a teacher to newbies. In fact those two first game are extremely fun. After that it settles down into a normal game.
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Jay Moore
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"Mao : Why?"

Interrogatory. Take a card.
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Dick Ruck
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Point of Order:

I thought that the only rule I'm allowed to tell you about this game is that you have to get rid of all your cards.
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Chris Bailey
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Doesn't sound like a very good game if you have someone who knows the rules and nobody else does.
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Jay T Leone
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ixnay66 wrote:
Doesn't sound like a very good game if you have someone who knows the rules and nobody else does.


I'm with Chris. If no one has played this in my group, who sets the rule? Why can't there be complete chaos of 'you played this card which violates my rule but abides by your rule'?

I'm confused just thinking about it. I guess I won't be playing this...
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Paul Orr
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Go to a con. Play it there.
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King of the Dead
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This game is not a game.

This 'game" sucks.

I make the rule that I win all the time.

Yay!!

I like this game now!!!!!!11
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Dick Ruck
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Nazhuret wrote:

I make the rule that I win all the time.

And that is legal!

But no-one will play with you again...
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Randy Cox
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I must say this sounds awful. So let's say I'm lucky enough to win a round and my new rule is "bark like a dog when a king is played." I play an ace and the next person has no way of knowing my special rule (which I may change before it gets enacted, for that matter). They are simply playing in the dark. What fun is that?
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Dick Ruck
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Randy Cox wrote:
I must say this sounds awful. So let's say I'm lucky enough to win a round and my new rule is "bark like a dog when a king is played." I play an ace and the next person has no way of knowing my special rule (which I may change before it gets enacted, for that matter). They are simply playing in the dark. What fun is that?

It is no different to the rest of the game. You have to deduce the rules from the actions of the players 'in the know'. (I'm not even allowed to tell you what these actions are! LOL) If you have got to the end of your first round, you will have a fair idea of the structure and rules of the game.

However, remember that ALL of the other players will not know your new rule - even those who know the game. So everyone suddenly has a new rule to deduce. And a lot of the fun, once you know the game, is deducing that new rule. It can be especially frustrating when everyone else has deduced the new rule and you are the last one!

Taking this one stage further. If I play the game with a group consisting only of players who know the game, then the pleasure I get stems from two things: trying to be the player who gets to make up a new rule, and trying to deduce someone else's rule. The simplest rules can be the hardest to deduce!
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King of the Dead
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[q="Crabro"]It is no different to the rest of the game. You have to deduce the rules from the actions of the players 'in the know'. (I'm not even allowed to tell you what these actions are! LOL)[q]

That's the awful part.
To my mind it doesn't matter if everyone is in the same boat.
 
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Steven Hoffman
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I'll take a card when next I play,

In my group we introduce newbies by saying 1 thing.

"Its Card on Card, Suit on Suit. Like Uno."

But from there were very mean, misleading people on who's turn it is by looking at another person expectantly, then punishing them when they play out of turn, and then the other player for delay of game.

That's just because were mean.

The rules themselves don't matter much besides card on card suit on suit and there are massive regional differences in the game. The point is that your group has a set of basic starting rules that you typically begin with, and get more complicated from there.

Oh, and in our games, its illegal to say... the word that's not in my post... at least at the improper time. *Takes a second card*

It's worth a try.
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Gerard Green
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Randy Cox wrote:
I must say this sounds awful. So let's say I'm lucky enough to win a round and my new rule is "bark like a dog when a king is played." I play an ace and the next person has no way of knowing my special rule (which I may change before it gets enacted, for that matter). They are simply playing in the dark. What fun is that?


Playing in the dark is the fun. Don't knock it until you've tried it. In your example, it doesn't matter that you played an ace and the next person doesn't know your rule. If he does play a king, you give him a card and say "Failure to bark like a dog." If he doesn't, wait until someone does. They'll figure it out. That's the point.
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Tom Swider
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Just play Eleusis instead, as that's what this game appears to be based upon and predates it.
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Phil Hannay
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Crabro wrote:
Nazhuret wrote:

I make the rule that I win all the time.

And that is legal!

But no-one will play with you again...


Not legal by the Mao meta-rules we play by!
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Daniel Kearns
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I tried playing this game once, was never able to successfully play a card aaaaaand, yeah, really annoyed the shit out of me.
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