Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Dou Dizhu» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dou Di Zhu / Fight the Landlord review by hiew rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
ChokSien Hiew
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This post first appeared at my blog, hiewandboardgames.blospot.com.

I recently visited Hong Kong, on a business trip. I extended my stay to meet up with old friends, and we played a lot of games. We played through the night. The last time I stayed up playing games the whole night was in 2003, and it was also in Hong Kong, and it was also with Ah Chung and Ben. That time, the game was The Settlers of Catan, and I hadn't become a boardgame hobbyist yet. It happened soon after that though.

One of the games that I liked the most was, surprisingly, not one that I taught my friends (who are not gamers), but one that Ben taught Ah Chung and I. This is a very popular card game in China, which uses a standard card deck, and is strictly for 3 players. It is called Dou Di Zhu / 斗地主, which means fighting the land lord or land owner. This is probably a phrase or term people use during the cultural revolution, when the communists went against the land owners. The game has a cooperative element, because two players play against one. It is very much a gambling game - it is designed to be very addictive and it really tempts you to raise the stakes. It plays with your greed, your recklessness, or maybe your timidity.

Here's how the game plays. It has some similarity to Big 2 / 锄大D. All cards are dealt out to all 3 players (including the 2 jokers), except for three. The winner of the previous hand has the opportunity to be the landlord. He looks at his cards, and decides whether he wants to be the landlord. If he does, he shows the 3 leftover cards to the other 2 players, and then takes them into his hand. If he doesn't, he passes the 3 leftover cards to the player on his right, who then has the opportunity to become landlord. If no one wants to be landlord, the cards are reshuffled, and for the next hand the stakes are automatically doubled.

Once the landlord is decided, the other 2 players will play against him. Let's say the default stake (注) is $1. In a normal hand, if the landlord wins, he earns $1 each from the other players. If he loses, he pays $1 each to the other players. So, obviously to be landlord means you win big, or lose big.

The basic structure of the game is like Big 2 / 锄大D, i.e. it's a climbing game. The start player plays a card or set of cards, the next player can play a stronger card/set of the same type, or pass, and this repeats until a player plays a card/set that cannot or will not be beaten. The winner of this trick then starts a new trick by playing a card/set. The objective is to get rid of all your cards.

The possible sets in Dou Di Zhu are different from Big 2. Suits have no meaning. 2's are also stronger than Aces, but the two jokers are the strongest, with the coloured joker being stronger than the other. Here are the possible sets:

* Single cards.
* Pairs. You can play multiple pairs as a set, as long as the numbers are in sequence, and you have at least 3 pairs, e.g. 44556677.

* Triplets. You can attach an additional card to a triplet (e.g. KKK4). You can play multiple triplets (e.g. 444555, or 444555666). You can also attach extra cards to these (e.g. 44485553666J).

* Fours. These are bombs (will be explained later). You can attach an extra card to these, but they will then become less effective bombs, and they do not double the stakes.

* Straights. Minimum 5 cards, but they can be as long as you want them to be.

* Double Jokers. I mention this separately from pairs because this is the royal bomb.

No flushes or straight flushes, since suits do not matter. We did not play full houses, but I'm not sure what the formal rules say (if there are any in the first place). Ben says usually full house is not played because it is too easy to make.

Now, bombs. Bombs can be played no matter what type of set is being played in the current trick - pairs, triplets, straights etc. It overrules the type. And very importantly, when a bomb is played, it doubles the stakes. If another bomb is played later in the same hand, the stakes are doubled again, and so on. Bombs are powerful, but you may not always want to play them. If you don't think you are going to win the hand, then it is better not to bomb, because it will only make you lose more. Bombs are not common. Not all games will have bombs, and even for those that do, they may not get used. From the games that we played, we had one game with 4 bombs, but that's extremely rare. It's probably because Chung and I are new. Ben says with veterans at most he has seen 3 bombs.

Dou Di Zhu is very interesting in that it's a 2 vs 1 game. The partnership play is interesting, because you need to guess your partner's intentions, and try to cooperate. Of course, you are not supposed to share information of your cards, or give directions to each other. You should only communicate through card play. You do not need to win yourself. If your partner wins, you win too. Well, there is a little difference. If you win, for the next hand you get first chance to be the landlord. This can be a consideration.

In Dou Di Zhu, the destination is more important that the journey. You win, or you lose. If you lose, it doesn't matter how many cards you have in your hand. You will not be penalised more, or less, depending on the number of unplayed cards. So there is a lot of planning ahead required. You need to plan how to get rid of all your cards. If it looks bleak, then you might as well give up and try to help your partner win (assuming you are not the landlord).

I like the big sets that you can make in Dou Di Zhu. When you have 8 cards remaining, most people don't expect you to be able to play all in one go. This is possible if you plan well. I like the excitement of the bombs. In fact I got so excited over them that I have been using them a bit too recklessly, hurting instead of benefiting myself and my partner, thus earning screams from Ben.

There is some card counting required if you want to play well. At least you should try to remember the big cards. Ben's guideline is to remember J, Q, K, A, 2, and the Jokers. There is, of course, luck in the game, but there is much strategy and room for innovative play and interaction depending on how your opponent(s) and partner play. So I am happy that Ben taught us this game. Very good for when you have exactly 3 players. Maybe this was why it was invented - Big 2 needs exactly 4 players.
8 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Kandell
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
hecose wrote:
All cards are dealt out to all 3 players (including the 2 jokers), except for three. The winner of the previous hand has the opportunity to be the landlord. ... If he does, he shows the 3 leftover cards to the other 2 players, and then takes them into his hand. If he doesn't, he passes the 3 leftover cards to the player on his right, who then has the opportunity to become landlord. If no one wants to be landlord, the cards are reshuffled, and for the next hand the stakes are automatically doubled.


I thought in Dou Di Zhu players bid from 1-3 points for the game on whether they will be the landlord. The losers of the bid pair up against the winner.

Quote:
Very good for when you have exactly 3 players. Maybe this was why it was invented - Big 2 needs exactly 4 players.


Big2 is best with 4--but is still fun with two.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ChokSien Hiew
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: bidding to be landlord, I have not heard of this before. But I am by no means an expert in this game, so there may well be some who play this way. So far I have only played this with two different groups of friends, and there are already some differences between how they play. So I imagine there are even more differences in how other people play.

I have not heard of the 2 player variant of Big2 though. I have always known this to be played as a four player game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Kandell
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Bidding starts at 1 pt, and goes up by increments of 1: 1, 2, 3. When both others pass or bid reaches 3, that person becomes landlord, takes the three cards, and the other two compete against. I've sometimes seem the game called "Dig a Hole" since the landlord digs through the extra cards to see what she can muster. I hadn't heard of the "each bomb doubles the game score", but I like it.

Two person Big 2? Not as good as 4p, but still fun: The one I like is full deck, 13 cards a person. Two jokers are "wild" and each player is given one ahead of time to use as he pleases. We like to use 4-of-a-kind (four cards, no kicker) as a bomb. Also, Sean Ross created a connoisseur's 2p climbing game, Haggis, but it's closer to Zhen Fen or Tien Len.

Really, all these climbing games are the same game with dozens and dozens of local variations.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ChokSien Hiew
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You know these climbing games much better than I do. I actually have not played jokers with Big2, or bombs. In fact, Fight The Landlord is the first time I've seen bombs in climbing games. The things about Fight The Landlord that I find most interesting is how much of a gambling game it is, in the way how the bid can be doubled, and doubled again, and again. Very exciting. Also it's win or lose with no middle ground, unlike Big2 (well, at least the version that I've played) where sometimes it's about minimising your losses when your hand sucks.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Kandell
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
There are so many of these games; and they're all a little different, but basically the same. Everyone I meet seems to have his own house rules, which he insists is the best way. To me that's a testament to the strength of the climbing mechanic. Then there's the two commercialized versions (Gang of Four, Tichu).

Some of the variations you find (between games and regions):
-Is it number of cards left in hand that matters, or is every win the same?
-Does winning certain point cards count also?
-Allowable combinations: do suits matter? do runs count? flushes? are "multi-finger" runs (e.g 22,33,44) allowable? do any combinations allow "kickers" to ease the ridding of singletons?
-What kind of bombs?
-Special cards: everything from jokers to dragons and phoenix.
-Doubling and other bidding

I encourage you to take the ideas you like from one and try it with others. These games beg to be played with "house rules." For instance, you said you like the "doubling". Then try adding Tichu's "small tichu" and "large tichu" declarations. Definitely ups the tension knowing you have that many more points on the line.... I sometimes play with a backgammon doubling cube. Doubling can happen at any point.... As you can tell, I agree with you that all these games in their essence are gambling games. I think they're more fun taken that way.

For what it's worth, my personal favorite of those I've tried is "straight up" four-person Big Two, with one allowable bomb (4 of a kind). No kickers! (Takes away all the fun.) I think some of the fancier games get too strategic and try to make what is essentially a thrilling gambling game of moderate skill into something it ain't. But I guarantee you, you'll find many who disagree.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kimmy Low
msg tools
this game sounds like fun and I checked with some of my friends if theres any online multiplayer dou di zhu game... what do you know?
there are a couple!! try www.acenuke.com or www.viwawa.com
Another popular one is at qq.com I think.

Wonder if there will be a Dou Di Zhu World Tour.... where we can earn real money in a legit tournament.

Cheers.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darryl Boone
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
flag msg tools
badge
Reading your recent posts has been like dipping my bottom over and over into a bath of the silkiest oils and creams.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jkandell wrote:
I thought in Dou Di Zhu players bid from 1-3 points for the game on whether they will be the landlord. The losers of the bid pair up against the winner.

I was taught this game a few days ago by a Chinese after he was taught the game in China. This is how he taught it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Kandell
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Good, I'm not going crazy. :-)

The idea of two temporarily against one is fun. I wonder if there's some way to incorporate more sophisticated bidding into this game, something like all those neat options in Skat.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.