Welcome to the rules page! Here you will find a copy of the Modern Hanafuda rules as they appear in the card game with some edits to fit an online version. There is still some work to be done so pardon our dust. If you are interested in the deck, head on over to the online store. Please note, if you are not using a Modern Hanafuda deck to play Koi Koi, you will not have any Helper Cards as these are a Modern Hanafuda exclusive. Otherwise, enjoy!
KOI KOI RULES
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
2 Players Max Ages 12+ 30+ Minutes*
Determine Game Length*
Determine how many rounds you would like to play this game. A long game consists of twelve rounds. A short game is six rounds. The game time is dependent on your understanding of the winning hands. If this is your first game of Koi Koi, we recommend a six round game. See also Flower Viewing and Moon Viewing winning hands.
Setting up the Deck
Remove the helper cards from the deck. Helper cards have a white border, whereas normal playing cards have a black border (Cards at a Glance). Arrange the helper cards in chronological order, starting with January. If you are playing six rounds, you only need January – June. Put the unused cards back into the tuck box.
Place the helper cards you will be using off to one side facedown with January on top (Arranging the Playing Surface).
Determine Who Goes First
Shuffle the playing card deck and deal out eight cards face down in the center of the table. Each player then flips over one card face up. The player who flips the closest card to the month of January goes first (Cards at a Glance).
If both players have the same suit, the following order is used to determine card rank: lights are the highest, then animal cards, then ribbon cards, and finally dregs. If both players have flipped over dregs from the same month, each player flips a second card. The player whose second card is closest to the month of January goes first.
Repeat these steps until there is a clear winner. Once you have determined who goes first, the player who goes second will become the dealer for the rest of the game. After the first round, turn order will be determined by who won the previous round. Make sure and collect all the playing cards back into deck and reshuffle before moving onto the next step.
SETTING UP THE GAME
Deal starting hands
Deal eight cards face down to each player. These cards will become each player’s hand and should be kept secret from your opponent during play. After the cards have been dealt but before play begins, take a look at your cards and determine if you have been dealt a winning hand (Dealt Winning Hands).
If any player has been dealt a winning hand, this round is over. Skip to the scoring section of the instructions (Scoring).
If neither player has been dealt a winning hand, move to the next step.
Arrange the Playing Surface
Deal out eight cards face up in the center of the table. These cards will be used for matching during each player’s turn and is known as the field. During the game, the field can grow to hold more than eight cards so make sure to leave enough room for expansion.
After the cards have been dealt into the field, place the deck face down and off to one side next to the helper cards. These cards will be used to refill the field and are used for matching cards during each player’s turn.
Next, flip the top card (January) from the helper deck. This signals the start of a new round.
A STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Phase One: Hand Match
Play begins from your hand. If any of the cards from your hand match the suit of any card on the field, pick one card from your hand and stack it on top of one matching card in the field. This indicates that you have claimed this pair of cards and you will collect them during Phase Three: Collect Matches.
If none of your cards match, choose one card from your hand and place it in the field. This card has joined the field and will be available to any player for matching during their turn.
Note: If any player places a card from their hand into the field and it matches a suit in the field, an opponent can call “koi.” If this happens, the opponent has captured both the newly placed card and its match and immediately puts them in their player scoring area. Play continues with the original player in the next Phase Two: Draw Pile Match.
Phase Two: Draw Pile Match
Phase two begins by flipping over the top card from draw pile. If this card matches any unmatched cards in the field, choose one and stack it on top of one matching card
If the flipped card has no match in the field, place it with the other cards. This card has joined the field and will be available to any player for matching during their turn. Play continues to Phase Three: Collect Matches.
Phase Three: Collect Matches
After all matches have been made, any matched sets in the field are now placed in the your scoring area. If at any time there are three cards of the same suit out on the field, the next player to match a card to any of those three cards takes all four cards into their scoring area during this phase
If you do not have any more cards in your hand, the round ends immediately and scoring occurs.
Phase Four: Koi Koi or Score?
Phase four begins if you have collected a winning hand. If you have not collected a winning hand, play passes to the next player. (Phase One: Match Hands).
If you have collected a winning hand, you now have the option to call “koi koi” or “score.”
Calling “score” after capturing a winning hand is a smart and conservative move. By taking this action, you have have succesfully given your opponent zero points for the round. However, calling “koi koi” has the potential of doubling or even quadrupling your current score.
If you call “koi koi,” you have initiated a challenge and your turn is now done. Play passes to your opponent (Phase One: Match Hands). Play will continue until one of the four outcomes happens:
1) You have collected an additional winning hand after you called “koi koi,”
2) You have increased your point total in a winning hand after you called “koi koi,”
3) Your opponent has collected a winning hand after you called “koi koi,”
4) You or your opponent runs out of cards in your hand.
TOTAL WINNING HANDS
Step One: Hand Check
Check to see if there is a winning hand. (Winning Hand Guide) If there is a winning hand, move to the Step Two: Lucky Number Seven. If there are no winning hands, the dealer gets one point for this round and move to Step Four: Game Over?
Step Two: Lucky Number Seven
Total the number of points from the player who captured the last winning hand (Winning Hand Guide). If the total number of points for this hand is seven points or more, double this round’s winning hand total. If the total number of points is less than seven, nothing happens. Proceed to Step Three: Koi Koi Multiplication. Unless otherwise noted, cards can only be counted toward one winning hand.
Step Three: Koi Koi Multiplication
If there was no “koi koi” challenge called for this round, move to Step Four: Game Over?
If a player won a “koi koi” challenge, double this round’s winning hand total. You win a challenge if you have:
- Collected an additional winning hand after you called “koi koi,”
- Increased one of your winning hands after you called “koi koi,”
- Collected a winning hand after your opponent called “koi koi.”
Note: You may only double your score once using the “Koi Koi Multiplication” step. Successive “koi koi” challenge wins, while admirable, will not double your score each time. However, Step Two: Lucky Number Seven and Step Three: Koi Koi Multiplication can stack.
Step Four: Game Over?
After the round is over, go back to the Setting Up The Game section, of this instruction guide, to setup the next round.
After the first round, turn order is determined by who won the previous around. This means that the dealer can go first if they scored last turn but they must still remain the dealer until the end of the game.
Once each round has been completed, total all the scores from the previous rounds. The player with the highest overall score wins! If there is a tie, the dealer wins!
CARDS AT A GLANCE
Each deck comes with a set of helper cards that keep track of game rounds and offers a quick reference to one of the twelve suits. These helper cards have white borders and display each card in the assigned suit. On the bottom edge of each card you will find the name for the month written in English and Japanese, the name of the suit written in English and Japanese, and the category for each card.
WINNING HAND GUIDE
Any 10 Dregs (カス – Kasu) 1 pt
(For each additional dreg, add 1 more pt.)
3 Poetry Ribbons (赤タン – Akatan) 5 pts
3 Blue Ribbons (青タン – Aotan) 5 pts
Any 5 Ribbon Cards (タン – Tan) 1 pt
(For each additional ribbon, add 1 more pt.)
Any 5 Animal Cards (タネ – Tane) 1 pt
(Note: The crane and phoenix card are not considered animal cards. For each additional animal card after 5, add 1 more pt.)
Boar Deer Butterfly
(猪鹿蝶 – Ino-shika-chō) 5 pts
Any 3 Lights (三光 – Sankō) 6 pt
All 4 Lights (四光 – Shikō) 8 pt
4 Rain Lights
(雨四光 – Ame-Shikō) 7 pts
(Any 3 Light cards plus the “Rainman” card)
All Five Lights (五光 – Gokō) 10 pt
(月見酒 – Tsukimi-zake) 5 pts
(花見酒 – Hanami-zake) 5 pts
Both the Moon Viewing and Flower Viewing are optional winning hands and should be determined before you play a game of Koi Koi. These two hands can be cumulative.
DEALT WINNING HANDS
Joined Hand (くっつき – Kuttsuki) 6 pts
Four sets of two cards from the same month. This hand is a dealt winning hand and can only be scored at the beginning of the game.
Hand of Four (手四 – Teshi) 6 pts
Four cards from the same month. This hand is a dealt winning hand and can be collected during the game. It will only count towards your score if you have been dealt the hand at the beginning of the game or during the same round its helper card is face up.