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Useful Notes: Example Mao Game
This is an example game of Mao, to give people a rough idea of how a game is played.

There are four players: Anne, Bob, Claire, and David.

Anne is an expert Mao player, and is the one who is getting the game started. Bob has played before, so he knows what to expect. Claire and David have never played Mao before.

They're playing a fictional version of Mao called 'Toronto Mao'.

Anne piles three decks of playing cards untidily onto the table around which all four players are sitting.

Anne: Ok everyone, please take five cards for your starting hand.

Everyone takes five cards from the untidy stack.

Anne: We are playing five-card Toronto Mao. Play goes in a clockwise direction, you can pick up a card if you can't play one, and the Joker is the Nine of Diamonds.
Anne takes a card from the stack and puts it down, face up, to begin the game's play pile. It's the 5 of Diamonds.
Anne plays the 3 of Diamonds.

Bob's turn is next. He knows that you can play a card of either a matching suit or rank as the last played card, so he plays the Queen of Diamonds.

Claire: So what, we just play any card?
Claire has immediately broken a rule by asking what the rules are, so Bob takes a card from the stack - a penalty card - and gives it to Claire.

Bob: Asking the rules.

Claire: What? I'm just asking what I need to do.

Bob: Just play a card.

Claire: Any card?

Bob: Any one.

Claire plays the 2 of Diamonds. This is a valid card, so her turn ends.

David's turn is next. He plays a 3 of Spades. This is not valid to play on a 2 of Diamonds (the suit doesn't match), so Anne takes the invalid card, and a card from the stack (his penalty card), and gives them to him.

Anne: Bad card.

David: How are we supposed to know if it's a bad card?

Anne: You get penalised if it's bad.

David: What if I can't play a card?

Anne: You can pick up a card if you can't play.

Bob gives Anne a penalty card.
Bob: Explaining the rules!

Anne gives the penalty card to Bob, since this is a bad call - that is, Bob takes the penalty that he was giving to Anne.
Anne: Bad call. That rule is one of the free ones, I gave it at the start of the game.

Bob: Ah.
Bob waits for a moment, then gives another penalty card to David.
Bob: Failure to play within ten seconds.

David: What!

Anne: Just pick up a card.

David picks up a card and takes it into his hand.

The turn order has come back to Anne. She plays an Ace of Diamonds. The Ace makes the next player, in this case Bob, miss a turn. Bob knows this, so he does nothing.
It is therefore now Claire's turn, but Claire doesn't know what the Ace does and assumes Bob hasn't played yet.

Bob waits ten seconds, then gives Claire a penalty card.
Bob: Failure to play within ten seconds.

Claire: What? Isn't it your turn?

Bob gives Claire another penalty card.
Bob: Asking whose turn it is.

Claire: But it's your turn!

Bob gives Claire another penalty card.
Bob: Lying!

Claire: Agh!

You can probably see at this point why some people hate Mao. It's probably best to stress to newbies that they're expected to learn by trial and error, and that they shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes.

Claire plays the Jack of Diamonds. This card allows people to call out a suit, which will be the new suit that has to be played.

Anne: Spades!

Bob: Bah!

Bob had wanted to call Clubs, but Anne beat him to it. Claire and David don't know what just happened, although David has a suspicion. He tries playing the 3 of Spades again.
The 3 of Spades is now valid, since Anne called Spades. However, there is also a rule that any player who plays a Spade has to say the name of the card.

Bob gives David a penalty card.
Bob: Failure to say 'Three of Spades'.

David: Why?

Bob gives David another penalty card.
Bob: Continued failure to say 'Three of Spades'.

David: Three of Spades!

Anne plays a 4 of Spades, since David's turn ended when he played the 3 of Spades.
Anne: The Four of Spades.

Bob looks a little unsure. He gives Anne a penalty card.
Bob: Failure to say Four of Spades?

Anne gives him the penalty card back.
Anne: Bad call. I said it.

Bob: You said the Four of Spades.

Anne: That's still valid. In the Toronto version of this game, you can say it how you want, as long as all the words are in the correct order. I could say 'the Four of la la la Spades la la la' if I wanted.
Anne gets ready to give Bob a penalty card for not playing within ten seconds, but he quickly plays an 8 of Spades. The 8 reverses the order of play, so it's now Anne's turn again. However, she first gives Bob a penalty card.
Anne: Failure to say 'The Eight of Spades'.

Bob: Agh! Eight of Spades.

Claire doesn't realise the turn order has reversed, so she plays a card. Anne gives her a penalty card.

Anne: Playing out of turn.

Claire: What!

Anne plays an 8 of Hearts, reversing the turn order again, so it's Bob's turn now. She also has only one card left, which requires her to say 'Last card.'
Anne: Last card.

Bob plays a 9 of Hearts.

Claire's turn is next. Claire is now totally lost as to whose turn it is, but she guesses it's hers. She plays a Jack of Hearts, which, like before, allows a player to call out a suit.

Anne: Diamonds!
Anne has changed the suit to Diamonds. Since she also called Last card on her last turn, this means her last card is almost certainly a diamond.

David's turn is next. He plays the King of Diamonds .

Anne's turn is next. She plays the 9 of Diamonds, and thus has no cards left, which means she must say 'Mao' to win the round. However, the 9 of Diamonds also requires her to say 'That's the badger'.
Anne: That's the badger, Mao.
Anne has now successfully won Mao, which means that she can think of a new rule, and re-enter the game with that rule in play, able to penalise others for breaking it until they figure out the rule. The game continues without her for a few minutes, before she picks up five starting cards and says 'Re-entering the game with new rule'.

The game would carry on from here as before, plus Anne's new rule.

Note: in general, a person will not win Mao this quickly, even if they have played before. If they did, they would probably just carry on without introducing a new rule, to allow the newbies time to figure out the basic rules.
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