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Braindump: Good Mao Rules

16 May 201303:45AMbraindump

(I'm just gonna assume you all know what Mao is by now.)

There's a tendency in making Mao rules to just pick something easy. Some dumb condition which you have to do whenever playing a card. These can be fun*, especially if they're more conditional, but the fun is basically in figuring them out. Once you know the rule - or, once everyone knows the rule, since there's a certain satisfaction in being smug about having figured it out too - these just become meaningless chores, which you nevertheless sometimes forget to do and get penalised for.

A good rule change takes advantage of the fact that Mao's a nomic. You can change the rules. Not just the conditions under which people play cards. The rules. The very underlying structures of reality itself! You have ultimate cosmic power. So, here are things to try:

  1. Changing the basic assumptions of the game.
    Stuff like random draws, or the incomplete information about other players' hands, or issuing penalty cards. Try getting rid of it. Or messing with it. It's totally fair game.

  2. Changing the end conditions
    This one is good because you're practically guaranteed another win (possibly more) until people figure the new conditions out. For bonus fun, use your newfound winning streak to change the victory condition every single round. Again, totally rules-legal.

  3. Change the metagame
    Last time I checked, the rule that said "the winner makes up a new rule" was just as much a rule as "play the same suit or one up, one down from the number". Just sayin'...

  4. Repeal an existing rule
    Just because it's funny watching everyone put their fingers on their noses when they play when you're the only one who knows they don't even have to any more.

  5. Give players more capabilities
    There's a huge amount of empty rules space for trading, revealing, forcing, combos, bluffing... anything that adds another thing for people to be able to actually do other than just play cards.

  6. Shamelessly steal
    See how much of another game you can implement under Mao without anyone noticing. You might end up with Maojack. Or Maogic: The Gathering. Or Maonopoly.

Or you could just stick to making everyone do the chicken dance as they play a card. That's fine too, I guess.

*One of my favourite ones ever was "play only using your non-dominant hand". I got people to write a four letter word on a bit of paper and not let anyone else see it solely so I could figure out which hand they used. Man did everyone get confused.

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