Mao is a card game that can be described as "Uno for sadists". As many experienced players say, "The only rule I can tell you is this one."
The point of the game is to get rid of all your cards, following specific guidelines. If you don't play correctly, other players are allowed to give you penalty card(s). Other than this, due to the secretive nature of the game, the rules vary widely. The following rules are not definitive, but they are common examples.
Players are dealt a certain number of cards, usually 5-7. The cards may not be touched until the dealer says "The game of Mao has now begun," and a card from the deck is placed in the center, similar to Uno.
You are allowed to play cards that are the same number or suit as the card below. Only one card can be played per turn.
Except to give penalties, and during a point of order.
Point of Order
If you wish to speak, e.g. to argue a penalty, you must call a point of order. Cards may not be touched during a point of order. To end the point of order, the person who started it must say "End point of order."
- A - the next player skips his/her turn.
- 2 - reverse the order of play.
- 5 - must get a high five for another player. One high five for every 5 played.
- 7 - you must say "have a nice day". If the next player also plays a 7, (s)he must say "have a very nice day" and so on.
- spade - rank of card must be called out with "of spades" after it.
- In some variations, after playing the 9 of Diamonds, that player must say "That's the badger"
- If playing a card such as a queen you must say "there's a queer to my left"
- Telling the rules to those who shouldn't know... oops.
- Giving a false penalty.
- In some variations swearing can be penalized
- Holding cards during Point of Order
- If a player says Mao when he/she has not finished or in the middle of play, a penalty of five cards apply due to "Taking the name of our glorious leader in vain"
- Taking more than four seconds to place a card
One Card Left
When you have one card left, you must say "Last Card"
Winning the Game
Once you win, you must say "Mao" or be penalized one card. Now you may deal yourself back in and put a new rule in effect.
Once a player has achieved Mao and left the game, they may draw back in and introduce a new rule. The new rule must not explicitly clash with the original rules or provide an unfair advantage. Some examples of new rules may be: A player must do something specific when they play a certain card, e.g.: Grunt, say a certain phrase or action, a card can only be played if it is conforming to a numerical order or sequence, e.g.: odds and evens, fibonacci, prime numbers. Rules can also be based off any form of nonsense. A player might be asked to make a silly noise corresponding with a card if a rule regarding noise is in effect. Most of the time, rules are only restricted by the rulemakers own imaginative insanity, although, rules such as "I Instantly Win" or rules directed to a certain player are frowned upon.
The Next Game
The winner becomes the dealer for the next game, and gets to make a new rule. After playing for a while with the same people there may be 10 or more new rules to remember!
Have fun! Be creative! And don't be too mean to the newbies!