Mau-Mau is a shedding-type card game that is especially popular in Germany and Central Europe. It is a game, where the goal is to empty the hand of cards by following the proper procedures in order to discard from the hand.
Mau-Mau is best enjoyed when using a single deck, and playing with 2-5 Players. If more than 5 Players wish to participate, a second deck must be used.
How to Play Mau-Mau?
Mau-Mau is played using the 32-card German deck as used in other regionally popular German card games. The game can also be played using the Standard Anglo-American 52-card deck, simply by removing the cards ranked 2 to 6.
Mau-Mau is similar to the American game Uno, which is itself a proprietary version of the generic card game Crazy Eights. Mau-Mau follows a few different rules but can be thought of as a sister game to Crazy Eights.
After a Dealer is chosen randomly, each Player is dealt 6 cards (5 if there are 6 Players), with the remaining cards left in the center of the table as the deck, or stock.
The Dealer will take one card from the top of the stock, and flip it over next to the stock. This will be the first card in the discard pile. Players will then take turns, starting with the Dealer and moving clockwise around the table.
During the course of their turn, Players are free to discard a single card from their hand that is either the same suit (♥♦♣♠) as the top card, or the same rank (7-10, J, Q, K, A).
So, for example, a 6♠ can either have any ♠ card played on it, or another 6.
If a Player is not able to discard any cards from their hand, they draw one card from the stock and end their turn without discarding it.
If the stock is depleted, the discard pile will be shuffled and placed face-down where the old stock was, with the top card being milled face-up in order to create the new discard pile.
Like in Crazy Eights, Mau-Mau has special “Power” cards that confer special bonuses when Played. The Power cards must be played according to the normal rules, the same suit or rank as the top card of the discard pile. However, if a Player Is able to successfully play one of these cards, they will instantly win a huge advantage.
- When a 7 is played, that Player ends their turn, and the next Player must either draw 2 cards, or play another 7.
- If they are able to play a 7, their turn ends, and the next Player in the rotation must draw 4 cards, or play another 7.
This chain of 7s can continue for as many turns as possible.
8s are a skip-next-turn card. When a Player successfully plays an 8, the next Player’s turn is automatically skipped, without them able to discard or draw a card.
The Jack is seen as the Wild Card of the game. A Jack may be played on any card, and may have any card played on it, regardless of suit. A J♦ can have a 6♣ played upon it.
The Aces must be played with an additional card regardless of legality. If a Player’s last card in their hand is an Ace, they must play the Ace and then draw a card. Any card can be played in conjunction with an Ace.
Ending and Winning
As a game nears the end, Players should keep in mind this very important rule:
- When you are down to your last card, you must declare “Mau” verbally. If you do not, you will be forced to draw a card without discarding on your turn.
- If the last card in your hand is a Jack, you must declare “Mau-Mau”, or else you will be forced to draw.
The winner is the first Player to declare Mau, and then end their turn with no cards in their hand.
Rules for Mau-Mau
The rules of the Mau-Mau card game can be summarized as per below:
- Cards may only be played on top of cards that are the same rank, or suit.
- You cannot win the game with an Ace in your hand, if it is the last card in your hand. An Ace must be played with another card.
- Jacks may be played on any card, and may have any card played upon it. Otherwise, the Power cards follow the regular discarding rules.
- Each Player is dealt 6 cards at the start of the game, but only 5 if there are 6 Players at the table.
How to Score
Mau-Mau, when Played using a system of Match Play, is scored like most shedding-type games. At the end of a game, after a Player has successfully declared Mau and discarded the last card from their hand, the round is over and Players tally up their scores.
The winning Player receives 1 point for every card that remains in their opponents’ hands. If the last card was a Jack, with the Player declaring Mau-Mau, then the winning Player will receive 2 points for every remaining card.
Losing Players receive no points. The first Player to 100 points over the course of a series of games is the winner.
Imagine the following is the top card of the discard pile: Q♦
Imagine the following is your hand: 10♥ 8♣ 7♠ J♦ Q♣
Cards in Mau-Mau must be matched, either by Suit or by Rank. This means that you are either able to play the Queen or the Jack.
Jacks are wild cards, and so can be played on any card, although in this case the suit of the Jack and Queen match. However, Players should save their Jacks for as long as they can.
Not only are Jacks useful as wild cards, but they will also confer double the points at the end of the game if the last card in your hand is a Jack. For that reason, it is optimal here to play the Queen instead.
Strategy can help you win in this game. Below you can find two Mau-Mau tips that could possibly increase your chances of winning.
- There is no reason to waste a Power card. Save them for the pivotal moments near the end of the game, when your opponents only have 2 or 3 cards left. By utilizing the Power cards in this way, you can stall your opponent’s victory, perhaps long enough for you to shed all your cards and declare Mau.
- Opposite of Jacks, Aces should be played as soon as they are in the hand. This is because Aces are actually detrimental the closer to the end of the game you get, as you cannot play an Ace without playing another card to accompany it. By playing Aces earlier, not only are you avoiding an awkward situation where an Ace is your last card, but you are also able to clear your hand earlier than your opponents.