Mau is a card game
is rumored to be someplace between MIT
and UC Santa Cruz
, both schools with thriving geek
communities. The rules include the stipulation that you are not allowed to bring a copy of the rules to the game, but you are allowed to posess
the rules to the game. There are many different versions
of Mau, but this is the one which I have played.
Mau is a card game for two or more people played with one or more decks of regular playing cards. It is similar to Crazy Eights, and even more like Uno.
Each player is dealt a number of cards, face down. The number of cards dealt is up to the dealer, the only restriction being that each player gets the same number of cards; however, a reasonable draw pile is recommended. The dealer can deal in any order may any desired method (though the players might prevent the dealer from, e.g. stacking the deck). Players may not look at their cards until the dealer has done so.
Play begins when the dealer draws and plays a card from the draw pile. This card is PLAYED by the dealer and has any normal effects that it would have, such as changing the direction of play or forcing the dealer to say something. Play flows in a clockwise direction from the dealer if the first card does not change it.
It is important at all times to be aware of the direction of flow and the current player. Normal play proceeds in the current direction of flow until a card which changes directions is played. In normal play, the current player either plays a card from his hand, face up, on the discard pile, OR draws from the draw pile. Drawing from the draw pile constitutes the whole turn; the player may not draw and then play in a single turn.
In a normal play, the player plays a card matching the top of the discard pile in number or suit. It is valid to draw even if the player has a card which could be played on the current top card.
Many cards have special effects in Mau:
- ACE - Reverses the direction of flow.
- SEVEN - Forces the next player to draw two cards instead of their next turn. The next player draws two cards, after which it is the NEXT player's turn, in the current direction of flow. The only way to escape a SEVEN is to play another SEVEN on top of it. In this case, the next player must draw four cards, or play a SEVEN. Each additional SEVEN adds two cards, until a player is unable to respond with a SEVEN and must draw for the accumulated total. The next player after the player who drew the cards will see a SEVEN on top of the discard pile but does not have to draw; once the cards have been drawn the SEVEN is "used" and acts as a normal card: the next player must play either a SEVEN or the same suit.
- EIGHT - Skips the next player in the direction of flow.
- JACK - The JACK is wild in the following sense: a JACK may be played on any card of any suit, except another JACK or a live SEVEN. After a JACK is played, the first player to state a suit establishes the new suit. This is normally done by the player who plays the JACK, but if that player forgets or does not care, any player may call the suit. The next player must follow the stated suit, not the suit appearing on the JACK at the top of the discard pile.
- JOKER - The JOKER is wild in the following sense: a JOKER may be played on any card of any suit, except a live SEVEN. After a JOKER is played, either neighbor of the player who played the JOKER may play any card at all. Whoever acts first plays; the other must retract his card (if he reacted at all). Play then continues in the direction from the person with the JOKER to the faster neighbor.
- TWO - In a standard game, the TWO acts like any other card. As an advanced rule, the TWO may be given the following property: after playing a TWO, the player must play again. If he does not have a playable card, he must draw from the draw pile. This applies even if the two was his last card, in which case he must play, call "mau", and draw a card. (But he is not required to call "last card" since that is only required on the transition from two cards to one).
The SPAM rule is in effect when playing with two or more decks. At any time, if ANY player can exactly match (number AND suit) the card at the top of the discard pile, they may play it out of turn by calling "SPAM!" Play then continues from that player in the current direction of flow, skipping any intervening players. A player may SPAM himself, but must play the identical cards with separate movements of the hand to allow some reaction time for other players. If four of the same card are played in succession, the third SPAM must be called as "WONDERFUL SPAM", as in "spam spam wonderful spam".
Note the following effects:
SEVEN - SPAMming a SEVEN is nasty. The person next to the SPAMmer, in the current direction of flow, must draw for all the live SEVENs on the pile -- or play a SEVEN.
EIGHT - A SPAMmed EIGHT skips TWO players, or THREE, or however many consecutive SPAMmed EIGHTS are played. If an EIGHT causes play to skip to a person who then plays an identical EIGHT but does NOT call SPAM, it skips only one. It's up to the player in this case.
JACK - You can't play a JACK on a JACK so you can't SPAM JACKs.
JOKER - Nothing special -- play proceeds in either direction from the player who SPAMmed.
- ACE - Successive ACEs cancel each other, as always.
- TWO - After playing a TWO, the player is considered to have an extra turn built up. If someone SPAMs a TWO, they o steal the player's extra turn and accumulate an additional one, so they now have two extra turns. Each valid play by the player with extra turns decrements his extra turn collection. These later turns can also be SPAMmed away.
- Player 1 plays 2 of clubs
This accumulates an extra turn: +1 turn
- Player 1 plays 2 of clubs and says SPAM
steals his own turn and accumulates another: +2 turns
- Player 1 plays 2 of hearts
takes a normal turn but accumulates another: +2 turns
- Player 1 plays 4 of hearts
takes a normal turn: +1 turn
- Player 2 plays 4 of hearts and says SPAM:
steals Player 1's extra turn: +1 turn
- Player 2 plays 6 of hearts
takes a normal turn: +0 turns
- Play now proceeds in the direction it started in.
Penalties and Additional Rules
The penalty for violation of any rule is to draw a card from the draw pile. Penalties do NOT count unless called, as in "PENALTY! Playing out of turn." There is a statute of limitations on penalties that is at most until the player's next normal turn, but may be less depending on game conditions.
Many of the penalties have to do with things the player must say when making certain plays; these are additional rules that are presented only here in the penalties section. It is NEVER a penalty to call one of these things when it is not true; for instance, one could call "last card" while still holding three cards (but must still call it when playing the second-to-last card).
Things that must be announced/called
- Call a spade a spade ("SPADE", "TWO SPADE", "TWO OF SPADES" or
something equivalent) when playing it.
- Call "last card" upon playing second-to-last card.
- Call "mau" upon playing last card if it isn't a JACK or JOKER.
- Call "mau mau" upon playing last card if it is a JACK.
- Call "oom papa mau mau" upon playing last card if it is a JOKER.
- Call "spam" when spamming.
- Call "wonderful spam" on third spam.
These rules build up, as in "ten spade last card spam ten spade mau". Failure to call any of these things result, naturally, in a penalty.
The following actions are considered misplay, and incur a penalty:
- Misdealing. If the players don't all have the same number of cards, each
hand is adjusted to match, and the dealer is penalized one card for each
extra or missing card. (e.g.: four players receive 8 cards each; one gets
7, and one gets 10. The two incorrect deals are adjusted, and the dealer
is penalized 3 cards).
- Looking at your cards before the dealer looks at theirs.
- Playing out of order.
- Playing incorrectly.
- Taking too long (usually defined as a slow count of five).
- Flinching (e.g. starting to draw a card, and then playing one instead).
- Asking a question, except during a Point of Order.
- Cursing, swearing, or invoking the name of a major deity, except during a Point of Order. Cthulhu is considered a major deity.
- Calling a Point of Order solely to curse or swear.
- Looking at cards during a Point of Order. This is defined as having the
cards in your line of sight, even if you aren't actually looking at them.
- Being too loud (usually defined by glares from people around you).
- Calling an incorrect penalty.
Statute of limitations: generally speaking, a player may be penalized for a violation at any time until play has gone around and the player has played again.
One final note: while "playing out of turn" is a valid penalty, it is not enforcable when the play is "out of turn" due to a non-sequential event. If one person plays 6 of hearts and the next starts to play queen of hearts, but someone else sneaks in with a SPAM 6 of hearts, the players with the queen of hearts is not penalized for completing his arm motion and playing the Q; nor for "flinching" by retracting it before laying it down. He must, however, remove the offending card.
These rules can be modified by locals. Be sure to find out what the rules are before you play, unless the people you're playing with have intentionally hidden rules.