Four color cards is an traditional game that has no fixed set of rules (there are many popular variations). The version implemented on BGA is one of the most widely used rule on Taiwan, as described below.
The cards have 4 colors in red, green, yellow, and white with 7 types ( General, Adviser, Elephant, Chariot, Horseman, Cannon, and Soldier ). There are 4 pieces of each, that's 4 × 7 × 4 = 112 cards.
Four color cards is 2 to 4 players game. The players take turns to make a meld and discard a hand card - there are other melding chances that do not follow the player order - or to draw a card from the deck until a player calls "hu" and finishes the round.
If the points of finisher's melds reaches the threshold, the player wins scores from others, else the player loses points to others.
First, the players are dealt 20 cards, the first player has 1 more card and he/she must start by discarding.
Then melds can be made with the card just discarded. Here are the possible melds:
- General, adviser, and elephant can be melded to command meld. - Chariot, horseman, and cannon can be melded to field meld. - Different color soldiers can be melded to soldier meld ( 3 or 4 colors ). - Cards of the same type and color can be melded into pairs, triples or quadruples except generals and soldiers;
the generals can go on their own and soldiers can not meld into pairs.
Scoring is as follows:
- General = 1 point - Command = 2 points - Field = 1 point - pair = 0 points - triple = 1 / 3 points ( ground / hand ) - quadruple = 6 / 8 points ( ground / hand ) - quadruple of generals = 8 / 6 points ( ground / hand ) - 3 color soldiers = 3 points - 4 color soldiers = 5 points
Players can make a triple (pong), quadruple (gan) or a win (hu) with no regards for the player order, but melds of other types can only be picked from the player before oneself. Choices for melds are made simultaneously by players, then priorities apply (strongest combination first, equalities decided by turn order).
If a player can not or do not want to make a meld, he/she should draw a new card out to replace the discarded card (and start another melding phase which he/she have the melding chance with). If a player makes a meld, he/she needs to discard one card from his/her hand. Generals can not be discarded. If the player can not discard, the round ends immediately and the points are scored.
If a player's hand cards are all able to become melds after making a meld, he/she can call "hu" to make the meld and finishes the round.
The combination priorities are listed below: ( equalities decided by turn order )
- hu ( cards in hand + last discarded/drawn card are all able to become melds ) > - gan ( quadruple ) / pong ( triple ) > - chi ( pair, command/field meld, 3/4 different color soldiers, or a lonely general )
There is a extra chance to gain points by drawing a lucky card. If the player gets a card of the same type as one he/she already has, he/she get points depending on the number of cards of the same type.
If the points are less than the target threshold to reach, which is 10, the player loses 10 points plus 1 base point to other players. If the threshold is reached or surpassed, the player earns the points in excess above the threshold plus base points from every other player.
If the game ends by exhausting the deck, no one get points.
Since the game is a gambling game, players start the game with a set amount of credits/money that will increase or decrease with the score of each successive round (three rounds by default).
That's the story of the four color cards game. Enjoy!