Hakka Cards is a trick-taking game for 4 players which dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) in China. The cards contain 4 suits, namely Sup, Gon, Zok and Sin in descending ranking. Each suit has a total of nine cards with numerical values 1 to 9. An additional card is called "Wan Sin," which has a numerical value of 1 but does not belong to any suit.
Each hand of the game consists of 4 phases, namely Dealing, Calling, Playing and Scoring. Your goal in the game is to win 6 or more tricks so as to score points. To win tricks, you can form the following patterns with the cards in your hand:
Run - 3 or more cards of the same suit and consecutive numbers (first ranked by suit and then by number)
Set - 3 or more cards of the same number (ranked by number)
Single Card - a card of the highest ranking suit in your hand must be played (ranked by number)
Note that the 9s of all suits, the 1 of Sup, the 1 of Sin and the Wan Sin are also called the "Elder cards" at the start of the game. During the game, the Elder cards will change based on the cards that are unbeatable, for example if the 9 of Sup is played, the 8 of Sup will become an Elder card as it is unbeatable now. The Elder cards are marked with a star and are unbeatable when played as a Single Card. Note that if you are playing a Single Card, you must play a Non-Elder card of the highest ranking suit before playing an Elder card in your hand, unless you are the Privileged Player as mentioned below. More special cases are listed as follows:
After the Calling phase, if you hold the 1s of all suits and the Wan Sin, i.e. the "Five Tigers," you can immediately win with 8 tricks and score 4 points;
the 1 of Sup, the 1 of Sin and the Wan Sin cannot be used to beat other Single Cards, but you can use them to start a trick and you will win that trick;
a Set of 1s can only be beaten by a Set of 9s.
During the Dealing phase, a player will be randomly chosen as the Dealer. The player sitting opposite to the Dealer will become the Dreamer, and the Dreamer will not participate in the Calling and the Playing phases. Each player including the Dreamer will first be dealt 1 card, and after that each player except the Dreamer will be dealt more cards until each of the active players has 12 cards in hand.
During the Calling phase, the Dealer will start by choosing whether to "Call" or "Pass." If the Dealer calls, he will continue to be the Dealer in the next hand. If the Dealer chooses to pass, the turn will be passed to the next player in counterclockwise direction, and that player will become the Dealer in the next hand. If you are not the Dealer but has called, you will become the Privileged Player. During the Playing phase, the Privileged Player can play an Elder card in his hand as a Single Card before playing a Non-Elder card. But if the Privileged Player cannot win the hand, he will lose points to the winner and for the other active player, for example, when the winner wins with 6 tricks, the winner can collect 1 point from each active player. The Privileged Player will then need to lose points for himself and for the other active player, and in this case, he will lose 2 points, the winner will gain 2 points, while the other player will not lose points. If no one calls during the Calling phase, the game will be forfeited and will have to restart by dealing cards again.
During the Playing phase, the Dealer will lead by playing a Run, a Set, or a Single Card as mentioned above. The next player must then play cards of the same pattern and the same number of cards. If the cards in your hand cannot beat the pattern on the table, you must discard the same number of cards as that of the pattern. After each player has played or discarded cards, the highest ranking pattern will win, and the player who played that pattern will win tricks according to the number of cards in the pattern, for example, if the winning pattern contains 3 cards, the winner will win 3 tricks. The winner can then lead the next turn and the game continues.
After winning a turn, if the total number of tricks won plus the number of Elder cards in your hand is equal to or greater than 6, you can claim victory. The game then enters the Scoring phase and the Dreamer will wake up with 5 tricks. If the card in the Dreamer's hand has the same numerical value as a card of the winning hand, the Dreamer will win 1 trick, for example, if the Dreamer holds the 7 of Gon, and the winning hand contains the 7s of Sup, Sok and Sin, the Dreamer can win 3 tricks. The winner and the Dreamer will collect points from the other players while the other players will lose points according to the following table:
Winning 6 tricks - 1 point;
Winning 7 tricks - 2 points;
Winning 8 tricks - 4 points;
Winning 9 tricks - 8 points;
Winning 10 tricks - 16 points;
Winning 11 tricks - 32 points;
Winning 12 tricks - 128 points.
After 4 rounds are played, the game ends.