The Maobot (Browser)

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Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.


The Maobot is a computer cards opponent specialising in three unusual card games. The first of these is a simplified implementation of Mao (aka The Chairman's Game among many other names), a card-discarding (or "shedding") game with hidden rules inspired by the intuitive navigation of Cultural Revolution-era Chinese Communist Party internal politics. In this instance, each player (the human and the computer) begins with a hidden hand of five cards, with one card visible starting the discard pile. Players can take turns discarding any of the cards in their hand unless doing so violates a given game's hidden rule. The catch is: the hidden rule is randomized and of course hidden, known only to the computer, and can be learned by the player only by accidentally breaking it, punishment for which is here being forced to draw another card from the draw pile (automatically topped up from the discard pile.) The player's hand here tops out at 10 cards, either swollen through penalties or being forced to draw when passing due to an inability to play anything currently in their hand.

Examples of random discard-restricting rules include "You cannot play a card whose value is lower than the total number of cards in your hand", "You can't play a card onto a card of the same suit", "Playing an (x) gives you an extra turn" or "You can't play a face card on a face card." Every time a new game is started, the hidden rule changes; when playing multi-round sprees, the old rules remain in effect along with new rules. The computer has three levels of play savvy, and there are three levels of help available also -- letting you not only know when you've broken a rule, but why.

In addition to Mao, the robot opponent also knows how to play the related shedding card games of Bartok (like Mao, but where new rules are explicitly stated) and Eights.


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Related Web Sites

  • Play the Maobot (Free, legal play of the game from the author's website.)
Pseudo_Intellectual (60344) added The Maobot (Browser) on Mar 25, 2010