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Mao (aka "The Game of Mao", "The Game Of", "Chinese Bartog", etc...) are a very unique set of games. The basic game is defined by the fact that the rules were known to a few, or one player. Given that the rules are secret, there are also a huge number of variations of the game.
While I did find learning "The Game Of" fun, I felt that the learning curve was too steep, it lacked replay value once you figured out the rules, and ended up being too much of a power struggle between those who knew all the rules and those who knew none of them. To solve these problems I decided to create Mao Prime. Mao Prime can be extended to behave like almost any version of Mao, because the players get to make up the secret rules. This version also makes most of the generic game play rules known, to help with the learning curve. Both these changes help to remove the power struggle.
Mao Prime is a simple game that plays similarly to Crazy 8s (without any of Crazy 8's card specific rules). It has a small set of rules, which are complicated by the fact that the players cannot be told what some of the rules are. The rules can be split into two sets: Generic Rules and Dynamic Rules. Generic Rules cover the basic game dynamics of the Mao Prime; they are described in this document, and should be told to the players. Dynamic Rules are invented by the players and are unknown to all except the dealer and rule owner; these rules are secret.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.