There are many different game variants that are played with the Hanafuda deck – some requiring as few as two players and others that accommodate as many as seven. The majority of Hanafuda games are designed for three players and follow the same basic setup. In this format, there are three active players: the oya (dealer), the doni (second player), and the biki (last player).
The object of virtually all Hanafuda games is to get more points than the other players. To do this players must capture and accumulate cards of the same suit or of a special combination by matching them based on their flower, or month.
It is customary to play Hanafuda games on a large cushion, but in other countries the classic card table is the surface of choice. To determine each player's position, at the start of a new game each player takes a card. The player with the earliest month becomes the dealer, and the remaining players arrange themselves counterclockwise to the dealer according to who has the next earliest month.
At the beginning of each hand, the biki shuffles the deck, the doni cuts it, and then the dealer distributes the cards. In games with only two players, the biki performs the doni's duties. Moving counterclockwise, the dealer gives each player (including themselves) their cards, deals several cards face up to the board, and then places the remainder of the deck (called “the stock”) at the center of the table. The number of cards dealt to each player and to the board will vary depending on the game being played and the number of people playing it. If more than three players are participating, then the dealer asks each in turn if they would like to play or drop out. Once three players have committed to play the hand, then the remaining players must drop out.
Starting from the dealer, each player gets to match cards from their hand to the cards on the table based on the flower. If a player cannot pick up any cards or combinations in a round, then they must discard. Once the player has captured or a card or discarded a card, he must take a card off the deck and then gets to match that card or discard. This is how each hand is furthered.
How to Score
Scoring varies slightly from one variant to the next. In some variants the hand winner takes all the points accumulated between themselves and their opponents. In other games, the winner claims only their own points, and in still other games there are special rules that allow players to deduct points from their opponents.
Generally, the player with the most accumulated points is the winner. Games can be played in matches which consists of 12 games, one for each month of the year.
Each variant has its own set of rules. Matching Flowers
is the simplest game based on total points scored. Koi Koi
brings a challenge aspect into the game, and does not rely on individual points, but points based solely on bonus combinations.
View Matching Flowers rules.
View Koi Koi rules.