The Game of Mao – Kline Family Variation


Mao: A Dictator Game

– Kline Family Variation –

Object of the Game:

The object of Mao is to get rid of all the cards in your hand. This is done by playing cards that either match suit or number of the previous card. A penalty of one card is made for breaking any rules. Most rules of the game are not known to players except the Mao. Winner of the round becomes the next Mao and the Mao may write in a new rule that is added to the other rules. Rules that contradict each other defer to the earlier rule. Rules are applied in order they were written.


Before the game begins the deck is shuffled and seven cards are dealt to each player. No players may touch their cards until the dealer looks at his cards. Once all hands are dealt the dealer (referred to as The Mao) states, This glorious game of Mao begins. After this is said, all rules are in effect until the end of the game, or a Point of Order is called.

Game Play:

Play begins to the left of the dealer and proceeds clockwise. Play continues until someone has played all the cards in their hand. When that player plays their last card they must say, Mao or else they take a penalty and also take back their card. Once a player eliminates their hand, they become the new Mao and may add one new rule to the list. Anyone may call out a player for breaking a rule and deal them a penalty card. If it is found that they were incorrect, then they are dealt the penalty instead for acting as the dealer.

Point of Order:

If there is a disagreement about a penalty or players need to leave the table, someone must call a Point of Order. When a player states, Point of Order all players must put their cards down and may only touch the draw or discard piles during the Point of Order. Questions may only be asked during a Point of Order. The Point of Order ends when the player that called it states End Point of Order. Then players may pick up their cards, and resume playing.

End of Game:

The game ends at the end of the round when the draw pile is empty. Whoever is made Mao at the end of that round is the winner.


The Mao is the dealer of the round and is the primary issuer of penalties since they are also the only person allowed to see the rules (though anyone is allowed to issue penalties to anyone who breaks a rule). If a player was found to have broken a rule after the next player takes his turn, then they cannot be punished (the only exception is for acting as the dealer). Rules should not unfairly target a particular player (ex: Whenever Jon plays a card he takes a penalty), and care should be taken to not impede gameplay with a rule (ex: anytime a card is played that player takes a penalty).