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The Game of Mao
April 24, 2005 1:21 AM   Subscribe

The only rule I can tell you is this one. In the vein of self-modifying games such as Nomic, 1000 Blank White Cards, Fluxx, and Cosmic Encounter, comes Mao: the game where the only way to learn the rules is by banging your head against them. Repeatedly.
posted by Ironwolf (32 comments total)

 
I am 99% sure this is a repost, but I can't find it.
posted by blacklite at 1:59 AM on April 24, 2005


Damnit! The Game! I was winning until I read this post.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 1:59 AM on April 24, 2005


Oh, wait, I guess not.

But I just lost The Game.
posted by blacklite at 2:00 AM on April 24, 2005


I used to play this game quite a bit when I was younger at camps and that type of thing, but I can't remember the rules anymore.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 2:00 AM on April 24, 2005


This is great. I'm gonna try to get my friends to play this with me at a poker night. Cards UP during Point of Order!
posted by painquale at 2:26 AM on April 24, 2005


"I was younger at camps and that type of thing, but I can't remember the rules anymore."

Failure to say "whoa baby" -- two more cards for you.
posted by weston at 2:36 AM on April 24, 2005


Spadesies, painquale. Draw one.
posted by cali at 2:54 AM on April 24, 2005


Shit, thanks for reminding me cali, I'm still in the dark. Who wants some reciprocal generosity? *deals own hand to everyone around the table*

This is the official game of SF MeFi meetups.
posted by DaShiv at 3:49 AM on April 24, 2005


The person administering the penalty must declare what the culprit incorrectly did or failed to do, but not what the player was supposed to do.

Meh. Too much like my day job.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:52 AM on April 24, 2005


Ah, Mao...Good memories.

I should probably feel like a big jerk for it, but my best memory of Mao is from uni, when this socially horrid guy insisted he be dealt into our game. We played the game purely according to the rules, but he couldn't and wouldn't believe that it wasn't just an extremely involved way of picking on him.
posted by Bugbread at 4:54 AM on April 24, 2005


I've been in a number of card-playing situations, where someone suggested Mao and we were about to play (and thus, I was about to learn), but something interrupted us. I've wanted to figure this game out the old fashioned way, but I no longer know anyone who knows the game.
posted by Plutor at 5:32 AM on April 24, 2005


The rules have been posted all over MetaFilter (and AskMe, if memory serves).

I still prefer Egyptian Ratscrew.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:03 AM on April 24, 2005


What a strange game. It seems the only way to win is not to play.
posted by Eideteker at 6:39 AM on April 24, 2005


Mao is the greatest card game ever invented.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:44 AM on April 24, 2005


Eideteker : " What a strange game. It seems the only way to win is not to play."

Wouldn't you rather play a nice game of chess?
posted by Bugbread at 6:54 AM on April 24, 2005


Mao! Ahh, the memories from junior high youth group trips come flooding back. We would play that game for hours.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:54 AM on April 24, 2005 [1 favorite]


Ah, high school... so many free periods spent on Unofficial Non-Standard Cambridge Five-Card Mao. What a great game. Sort of like a particularly sadistic interactive logic puzzle.
posted by ubersturm at 8:40 AM on April 24, 2005


Thanks for that!

I still have my first edition flux set. I'm always looking for cool new games like this. I'd recommend Democrazy for anyone into flux.
posted by joelf at 8:44 AM on April 24, 2005


Reminds me of Snaps. "The name of the game is Snaps..."
posted by NickDouglas at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2005


See also: Mornington Crescent.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:59 AM on April 24, 2005


Good heavens, Mao brings back memories. Very drunken, fragmented memories.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:10 AM on April 24, 2005


Favorite Rule: "Failure to rub."
posted by The White Hat at 12:24 PM on April 24, 2005


If you're going to teach Mao to a group of newbies (and especially if you're a newbie yourself,) there are two things to remember:

1) Make damn sure you know the rules well before you begin playing because if you make a mistake in enforcement, you can't directly correct your mistake-- people may end up trying to figure out the rules from contradictory clues. Not fun.

2) You will learn which of your friends are "out of the box thinkers" and which are not. People either approach Mao with an unselfconscious sense of discovery or a feeling of paranoid persecution. Try to make the game fun for everyone by bringing people along with liberal use of points-of-order, without breaking the spirit of the game.
posted by Ironwolf at 12:27 PM on April 24, 2005


Ah, high school... so many free periods spent on Unofficial Non-Standard Cambridge Five-Card Mao. What a great game.

Turns out that's the variant I first learned as well!
posted by Ironwolf at 12:31 PM on April 24, 2005


Heh, Ironwolf-- I learned it at camp as "Five-card Untraditional Mao." The dealer had to say that at the start: "This is five-card untraditional Mao. Play begins to the dealer's left. Play begins NOW."

Hard to forget the experience of playing for the first time.
posted by Miko at 3:29 PM on April 24, 2005


Reading the sample game on the site makes it perfectly clear: this is a game in which jerks tend to win.

I like a non-linear rules-variable Calvinballesque game as much as the next frood, but don't they get, paradoxically, old rather fast?
posted by JHarris at 5:37 PM on April 24, 2005


second vote for Ratscrew
posted by jazon at 9:54 PM on April 24, 2005


JHarris, I have to disagree. Anyone playing any game can act like a jerk. "Winning" is not the real point of Mao-- the point is that everyone have fun.
posted by Ironwolf at 12:00 AM on April 25, 2005


It seems the only way to win is not to play.

Wisdom, there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:31 AM on April 25, 2005


Egyptian Ratscrew is the best.
posted by kenko at 7:32 AM on April 25, 2005


Umpteenths for Ratscrew- my personal favorite, and one I'm effectively unbeaten in since I learned to play. The rules are simple, and it's pure adrenaline.

Mao sounds like a fantastically stupid game; it only works if the rules are actually fantastically clear and spelled out somewhere; otherwise, particularly mischievous newcomers who figured out what was going on could essentially destroy the game, and introduce rules like "Ace of spades. Tear a card." followed by "failure to tear a card, tear a card". You could quite quickly demolish the deck. Now that would be fun, watching the Mao "expert" beat at their own game.
posted by hincandenza at 7:24 PM on April 25, 2005


Now that would be fun, watching the Mao "expert" beat at their own game.

But you're forgetting two things:

1) A sense of sportsmanship.

2) A sense of fun.

You may only like games where these two things don't fundamentally matter-- like Poker. In Poker, you play fair (or at least don't get caught) or you get shot-- giving people a "sporting chance" doesn't factor in. In Poker, fun takes a distant second to winning-- winning is virtually the definition of fun. In Mao, both of these values are the opposite of Poker. Which is why one of the tags for this post is "fun" and not "winning." ;)
posted by Ironwolf at 8:16 PM on April 25, 2005


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