Gameday First Play – Tichu

Posted on by Jesta

A Chinese shredding game.

Arguably the most played game in the world?

Tichu is a partnership climbing card game, and the object of play is to rid yourself of your hand, preferably while scoring points in the process.

The deck has a very similar look to a traditional 52 card deck. You have 4 suits numbered 2 to Ace including Jack, Queen and King. The suits are Jade, Sword, Pagoda and Star.

The are also 4 special cards, The Dragon, The Phoenix, The Dog and the Mah Jong.

This is a 4 player game where you play in a partnership with the player opposite you. You shuffle the deck and deal out 14 cards to each player.

Fact: In China, they take turns taking a card from the stack instead of deal in them out.

Once you have your hand of cards everyone gives one of their cards to each other player. This means passing two cards to your opponents and one to your partner.

The player with The Mah Jong card will play first. (But you don’t have to play the Mah Jong) It can be used in a run and has a value of 1.

To play, you can choose one of 6 type of hands.

A Single – 6
A Pair – 66
A run of 3 Pairs – 667788
A Triple – 666
A Full House – 66777
A Run of at least 5 cards – 56789

Then in order around the table, you need to play the same combination of cards with a higher value, or pass. If you pass, you can come back in on your turn.

Tichu Cards

When 3 players pass, the player who played last, and therefore has the highest value on the table takes all the cards face down in front of them and starts the next round.

The Dog card has no value and can be only used to lead a trick, passing play across to your partner.

The Phoenix can be used as a Joker in any card combination, or as a single card 1/2 higher than the previous card. So if it’s played on a 6, it’s technically 6.5.

The Dragon cannot be beaten as a single card and cannot be used in a run, but you have to give the trick to one opposing player.

There are Bombs, which are a straight flush of 5 cards or 4 of a kind (You can not use the Phoenix in a Bomb) which you can play at any time to win a trick. A bomb can only be beaten by a higher value bomb.

When 3 players run out of cards in hand the trick ends.

The player left in the round gives any cards in hand to the opposing team and any tricks they have won to the player who went out first.

For scoring…

Kings & Tens – 10 points
Fives – 5 Points
Dragon – 25 Points
Phoenix – -25 Points

If both players on the same team go out first, they get 200 points and there is no other scoring for the round.

You play to a point total, usually around 1000. First team there wins.

This is one of those games you need to play a lot to be good, but casually it’s good fun too. You’re not allowed to communicate with you partner you just have to play cards and hope you’re doing it right. 🙂

It’s a very good game and one I will probably end up buying.



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