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KOI-KOI PLAYER OPTIONS:

After reading the Koi-Koi rules, you are likely to run into questions about the game, or questions about the rules. You may be exposed to completely different games played with hanafuda cards. And you may meet others who play Koi-koi differently -- everybody plays it a little differently, after all. So you have the liberty to set the rules to suit the way that you and your playing partners enjoy playing the most. Below I show several optional rules that you may set as you choose.

Minimum score requirement: Under this optional rule, players are not allowed to declare "stop" unless the hand scores at least two points.

Different ways to handle special characteristics of the original deal: There are several things you can do if the original deal has four of a kind (or four pairs) face-up on the table, for instance:

Make strict rules optional: You can make the game more strict or more friendly as it suits you. Players of games are free to play with the rules of a game (not only to play under or by them). For example:

After you have mastered Koi-koi and need a more challenging game played with the hanafuda deck, you are almost ready for "Eighty-eight." The game of Eight-eight is the most widely-played hanafuda game in Japan. The reason I said "almost ready" is because before you can graduate from Koi-koi to Eighty-Eight, you need to learn "Matching Flowers (Fool Flowers)." Or so I hear. I guess that means I need to learn Matching Flowers. Anyway, this leads us to our next optional rule:

Make your own special card combinations: Perhaps some of the cards, when combined together, represent something personal to you and your playing partner. You could declare such a special combination a "house yaku" for whenever you play together.

Increase (or decrease) the score limit: Normally a game ends when one player's score hits 50 (you can always choose to play another game after that). But especially if you're using the Matching Flower combinations, the scores will quickly exceed 50. To keep the games from being too short, you can up the score limit to 100 or even 500.

Allow the use of Jokers: Check out the cards below. They all have special Chinese characters on them. First time I saw these pictured on the internet, I thought you could use these as "Jokers" and give them special powers.

But all of a sudden one day I looked at them and realized that these are just the 20-point cards (Brights). The Chinese character says "light" or "bright." Still, though, the idea of jokers or wild tiles is valid nonetheless.

Some (not all) hanafuda decks do, in fact, come with a joker card (especially Korean decks). If your deck comes with a card that doesn't look like the 48 cards shown on our "cards" page, and it's not the "blank" card, then it's probably a joker. Here's one, from Tricia Kirk's restoration deck:

And if one joker isn't enough for you, or if your deck doesn't include a joker, you can use the One November -- the Rain & Lightning card -- as a joker. Here's the Lightning card from Tricia Kirk's restoration deck:

Your Lightning card probably looks somewhat different.

There are several different ways you can use special cards.

4. You could use the jokers as the Koreans do - see the Go-Stop rules.

If your deck does not have jokers (such decks are rare outside of Korea), and if you want to use jokers, you can declare certain cards to be jokers. You could declare the "Rain & lightning" card and/or the yellow Paulownia 1-pointer to be a joker, or you can add the 49th card into the mix and declare it to be a joker, or you could have multiple jokers. You could assign special power cards to each player -- for example, if your favorite card is the Crane, and your opponent's favorite card is the Rainman, you could designate those cards to be powerful only when held or captured by the player whose favorite card it is.

In designating jokers or power cards, you could mark the cards -- or you could just designate them as special cards without writing on their pristine little surfaces.

Allow (or prohibit) special "Matching Flowers" combinations: you could combine the fourteen card combinations from "Matching Flowers" with "Koi-koi" for a deeper game. Some of these already overlap with Koi-koi. Here are those combinations:

Allow "Higo Bana" combinations: you could also try using the eight card combinations from the Hawaiian hanafuda game "Higo Bana." Again, there's some overlap.

Note: see the alternate scoring grid (below) to see some suggested scoring values for using those card combinations in Koi-Koi.

And (now that I have researched the Korean rules) you could also use the Godori combination, as follows:

The Geese, the Cuckoo, and the Nightingale form a valuable combination (these birds only). VALUE: 5 POINTS.

Alternate scoring method: The grid below shows various optional scoring methods at a glance. Choose a scoring method from any column in the grid. This website describes Column T. You would do just as fine to use Column A or B. See the Column key (below grid) to discover where each scoring method comes from.

YAKU (bonus card combinations)

T

A

B

C

D

E

F

H

X

Yaku made with 1-point cards ("Junk")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Ten Plain" -- ten 1-point cards ("Ten Ones;" "Kasu;" "Junk")

1

1

1

1

1

1

 

 

1

Each additional 1-point card after the tenth

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

 

 

+1

Yaku made with 5-point cards ("Flags")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Five Tanzaku" -- five 5-point cards ("Five Fives")

1

1

1

1

1

1

 

 

1

Each additional five-point card after the fifth (incl. Rain)

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

 

 

+1

Six 5-point cards (so long as Rain is absent) ("Six Flags")

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

Seven 5-point cards (Rain not among them)

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

"Blue Tanzaku" -- three purple-ribbon cards (also "Aoi Tan")

3

3

5

5

?

6

4

5

3

"Red Tanzaku" -- three poetry ribbon cards (also "Akai Tan")

3

3

5

5

?

6

4

5

3

"Dueling Triads" -- All the purple AND poetry ribbons

+3

 

10

15

 

 

 

 

+3

"Grass Tanzaku" -- the Wisteria, Iris, & Clover 5-point cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

5

1

Yaku made with 10-point cards ("Animals")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five 10-point cards ("Five Tens")

1

1

1

1

1

1

 

 

1

Each additional 10-point card after the fifth

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

 

 

+1

Boar, Deer, Butterflies ("Ino Shika Chou")

5

 

5

 

5

6

2

 

5

Sak・Cup, Deer, Butterfly (Chrysanthemum, Maple, Peony)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

Boar, Deer, Geese (Red Beans, Maple, Pampas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

Boar, Nightingale, Bridge (Red Beans, Black Beans, Iris)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

Yaku made with 20-point cards ("Biggies")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Dry 3 Bright" -- Three 20-point cards (Rainman not incl.)

8

8

5

 

5

6*

 

 

8

"Four Bright" -- Four 20-point cards (Rainman or no)

 

+4

 ***

5

8

 

 

 

 

"Rainy Four Bright" -- Four 20-point cards (incl. Rainman)

+2

 

 

 

 

8*

 

 

+2

"Dry Four Bright" -- Four 20-point cards (excl. Rainman)

+4

 

8

 

 

10*

6

 

+4

"Five Bright" -- All five 20-point cards

+4

+4

10

5

10

15*

10

 

+4

Crane, Phoenix, Moon (Pine, Paulownia, Pampas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

1

Yaku made with mixed card combinations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Viewing the Moon" -- Sak・Cup & Moon ("Tsukimi Sak・quot;)

5

 

5

 

5

6

2

 

2

"Viewing the Blossoms" -- Sak・Cup & Curtain ("Hanami Sak・quot;)

5

 

5

 

5

6

2

 

2

"Viewing the Blossoms under the Moon" -- all 3 "view" cards

+5

 

 

 

 

 

4

5

+2

"Three Bright" -- Crane, Nightingale, Curtain

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

5

1

"Straight Wisteria" -- the entire Wisteria (Black Beans) suit **

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

"Straight Paulownia" -- the entire Paulownia suit **

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

"Straight Rain" -- entire Rain suit **

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

Yaku at the original deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a quad in the hand on the original deal.

5

 

?

?

 

 

 

 

5

Dealing a quad face-up on the original deal.

R

 

?

 

 

R

 

 

R

Having four pairs in the hand on the original deal.

5

 

?

?

 

 

 

 

5

Dealing four pairs face-up on the original deal.

R

 

?

 

 

 

 

 

R

Multipliers at the original deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a twenty face-up on the original deal.

2x

2x

?

2x

2x

 

 

 

2x

Having a 2nd twenty face-up on the original deal.

3x

3x

?

3x

3x

 

 

 

3x

Multipliers for going "Koi-koi"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going "Koi-koi"

2x

2x

?

2x

2x

 

 

 

2x

Going koi twice

3x

3x

?

3x

3x

 

 

 

3x

Column Key:

Other symbols in grid:


+ COLUMN B (Nintendo's Japanese rule sheet):

Consider Column B's Biggies section, and contrast it with Column A right next to it. Nintendo's English rules say that the player earns 8 points for having 3 twenties (excluding Rainman), and an additional 4 points for any additional twenty (including Rainman or no). Nintendo's Japanese rules are in Japanese (duh) so I can't read them (doh!). So it's not clear to me if the player earns both the 5 points for having 3 twenties and the 8 points for having 4 twenties, or just the 8 points for having 4 twenties. I suspect that in this column, the twenties yaku are exclusive rather than combinative -- but I can't be sure. I have put + signs in front of known "additive" yaku.

If you use Column B, since we're not sure if the twenties yaku are "additive" or "exclusive," you get to decide for yourself. Try it however you like, and see if it plays right for you, balancing the difficulty with the score and the excitement. If you think a yaku's high value throws off the gameplay, try a different interpretation of the scoring the next time you play.

* COLUMN E (Sakura Taisen's rules):

The Twenties section is not additive under Sakura Taisen's rules. If you get a Four Bright yaku, you do not also get the Dry Three Bright yaku. Similarly, if you get the Five Bright yaku, you do not get any other yaku for twenty-point cards. So there are no + signs in this section of this column.

** STRAIGHT SETS (Matching Flowers game):

These suits only. There's a reason for this, and it's based on the uneven distribution of point values among the various suits. It's not recommended, therefore, to extend this yaku to all suits. I mean, really, these yaku were intended for an entirely different game, after all!

*** SCORING A FOURTH BRIGHT/BIGGIE:

From a 2017 email...


CONCLUSION:

You may make your own rules as you see fit (see Mah-Jongg FAQ #14 - it applies equally well to hanafuda or any table game); just be prepared to have to make rule adjustments when you play with other players who play hanafuda their own way. Take it slow -- there's a lot of enjoyment in these little cards, no need to rush through to an advanced game before its time. As you become ready, try other rules. (You can always make the rule more strict after you both get really good at basic Koi-koi strategy and are ready to take it to another level.) Never forget: sometimes the simplest games are the best. Enjoy.

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Copyright 2000, 2001, 2003, 2017 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. Reproduction by written permission of the author only.