What's supposed to be fun about Mao?

I have some online friends that love to play Mao every time they get together. Mostly, I hear about this over the Internet, but on the few occasions when I attend those gatherings, they keep trying to get me to play. They won’t tell me how to play — that, after all, is the whole point — so I continue to decline.

As I gather it, the object of Mao is that the rules are secret and you must deduce them all logically.

What the fun in that? It sounds as if they want someone to play the game, knowing that someone has no chance of winning. If I wanted to play a losing card game, I’d play Solitaire.

What’s supposed to be fun about Mao, anyway?

The last time I was at my Saturday night boards-and-cards-game-night, people kept trying to convince me to play Mao, and I kept saying “no, I’m not going to enjoy it”. So they finally talked me into it. And someone played a card. And then nothing happened. And then I played a card. And someone said “penalty for acting out of order”. And I played my entire hand and said “I win” and got up and left.

I find it hard to imagine something more frustrating and totally non-fun.
But to each his own.

Yeah, I keep thinking to myself, “Where does it actually say in the rules I can’t tear up my cards and eat them?”

I can understand that some people enjoy such a game. I want to know what they think is fun about a no-win situation.

Whenever I’ve played Mao, the winner of each hand would get to create a new rule. So the fun part came from working out(and remembering) a continuously changing set of rules.

I agree that the whole “we’re not going to tell newbies anything about the game at all” think is really lame.

I love Mao. Trying to figure out the rules is exactly what’s fun about it. Also, making up new interesting rules is fun.

I wonder if your friends are playing it the same way I’ve played it, though. The point is not to find some sucker who’s never played before and hit him with a bunch of random secret rules. Here’s the way I play (which I learned from my cousins):

In the first hand, there are no secret rules, just a small set of rules everyone knows about–no questions, saying “one card left”, skip/reverse/play again cards, “name your spade”, etc. The winner of each hand becomes the next hand’s Mao and adds one secret rule. The secret rules accumulate as the game goes on, so it becomes more and more difficult. The game is over when everyone decides to quit.

I’ve never played a game of Mao in which everyone didn’t start with the same knowledge. That sounds more like a nerdy hazing ritual than a game to me.

Your way doesn’t sound too bad. You’re the only one I’ve ever heard of who plays it that way, though.

That’s the way me and my friends played, too.

Sounds like there are two basic variants of Mao, then: Fun Mao and Asshole Mao.

Asshole Mao is more true to its namesake though.

New rules are always made in Mao. It’s just you people who are too closed-minded to give the game a chance and learn how it works. Excellent game.

The whole premise of the game is very silly. My wife and I prefer to play a nice sensible outdoor game like Mornington Crescent.

I don’t understand this characterization. Someone wins every hand of Mao. There is nothing unfair or inherently unwinnable about the ruleset or gameplay.

Honestly, what’s fun about it is what’s fun about any game: you have to try to use context and logic to puzzle out the correct winning strategy (there emphatically is such a thing - I won the second hand of Mao I ever played). What’s fun about those Mafia games over in MPSIMS, in which you don’t even know which players are on your side?

I’m not the problem. If somebody is asking me to be the patsy in a game I can’t possibly win, then they don’t know me very well. That’s not fun for me.

Maybe somebody wins every game of Mao. But it won’t be me. I don’t like to play games where I have no chance of winning. The only reason I can think of that somebody would put me in that position:
a) to play “gotcha ya!” and catch me making mistakes about rules I have never heard of,
b) to lose, so that they can win.

If that’s fun for them, great. It’s not fun for me. I like games that are full of close strategic maneuvering, where everything goes right up to the wire. To me, the best game of cribbage comes down to one hand where both players can peg out; the best game of pinochle is where both teams are within striking distance of the end and every trick counts.

A game where I’m guaranteed to get blown away? For multiple hands in a row? For days in a row until I figure out all the rules, if I trust them not to change the rules on me?

No, that’s not my idea of fun at all.

Now I’m starting to wonder how many people in this thread play Fun Mao and how many play Asshole Mao (as designated upthread) and whether anybody even bothers to read the first 10 posts of a thread anymore. :mad:

As I said, the only people who have ever tried to introduce me to the game played the Asshole version, where they gleefully say they can’t tell me anything.

Of course you can win. You will have to play for a while, but it doesnt take days.

Are you against all games with a steep learning curve? I mean, I didn’t win any of my first games of chess either.

The fun of it for them is not laughing at you for not being able to play. (It wouldn’t be for me anyway.) The fun is when you learn it, and start making challenging plays for them to figure out.

This isn’t about a steep learning curve, it’s about an unbalanced playing field.

Yeah, forgive me if I’m skeptical of that. If the objective is to learn the rules through deductive reasoning, they would say that.

Except that that’s something they can’t say, since it’s one more thing to be deduced.

The first time I played I tried every possible action I could think of, until I had more than half the deck in my hand and annoyed the other players so much they started to give me hints. But it was still fun.

You don’t appear to enjoy doing that, no problem. But really, that is the point, since you asked.

And why can’t they say it? Because of a perverse desire to watch somebody else struggle, I feel.

Is there a secret rule that says members of the Red Guard win automatically? :smiley: