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, and is described below.
The cards come in 4 colors: red, green, yellow, and white. There are 7 types ( General, Adviser, Elephant, Chariot, Horseman, Cannon, and Soldier ). There are 4 copies of each card. In total, that's 4 × 7 × 4 = 112 cards.
Four color cards game is for 2 to 4 players. The players take turns 1/ making a meld, and 2/ discarding a hand card. There are other opportunities to meld that do not follow player order, or opportunities 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 defined threshold, the player wins scores from others; otherwise, the player loses points to the other players.
Set Up: The players are dealt 20 cards, and the first player has 1 more card.
That first player must start by discarding.
Then melds can be made with the card just discarded. Here are the possible melds:
- - COMMAND MELD :: General, adviser, and elephant can be melded to command meld. 將, 相, 仕
- - FIELD MELD :: Chariot, horseman, and cannon can be melded to field meld. 車, 馬, 炮
- - SOLDIER MELD :: Different color soldiers can be melded to soldier meld ( 3 or 4 colors ). 兵/卒
- - SETS MELD :: 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) without regard 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 does not want to make a meld, they should draw a new card to replace the discarded card (and start another melding phase which they have the melding chance with). If a player makes a meld, they need to discard one card from their 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, they 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 they already have, they 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 predetermined amount of credits/money that will increase or decrease with the score of each successive round (three rounds by default).