Madiao Explained in Depth

Madiao is a card game from the fifteenth century, using a set of forty cards, and played as a form of gambling in that time. Interestingly, the name of the game translates to a horse lifting one of its hooves. This is in reference to the style of the game, which requires three players to team up against the fourth player. Hence, the lifted horse hoof is the fourth player, with the three grounded hooves being the ones who are on a team together. In order to play the game requires no more or less than four players, and is based around the idea that three of the players must strategically cooperate to outwit the banker wherever possible.

The banker is decided at the start of the round, and rotates to each of the players as the game progresses. Cooperation of players as a required rule of the game was unusual in card games of the time, and in fact is still unusual in modern card games, which makes Madiao an anomaly as far as the history of card games go. Importantly, the level of cooperation of players determined how the game would play out, meaning that the team of three would quickly teach newcomers and share strategies, making the game perfect for creating bonding situation between family members.

Cards Used

Madiao is played using a deck of forty cards, which are custom made for the game. They are divided up into four suits. These are cash, strings of coins, myriads of strings, and tens of myriads. The cash suit is played in reverse, with the lowest number in the deck being of highest value. It is also important to keep in mind that some cards have stamps, resembling the seals of official bank notes. These cards carry extra value when played, and so must be played accordingly.

Rules Of The Game

Madiao is a notoriously complicated game that is often difficult to grasp to those who are not familiar. There are hundreds of rules, with even more being added as the game evolved through the years. It was said to be common it times past for players to get caught up arguing about the rules for hours, and neglecting the game itself. The essence of the game is that players do rounds in a trick taking fashion, meaning that the first player will deal a random card, and other players must attempt to match this card with one of the same suit.

A player who does not have the required card may sluff a card, which in this game must be played in a specific way. The player who has the highest value card in the sequence will take the trick, or otherwise be the winner of that hand. After each hand in Madiao players must make payments to each other based on the results at the end of each turn. If players cooperate well, the banker player will be doing the majority of paying out, hence the theme of the game. At the end of each round, a new banker is selected and the trick taking rounds proceed. A number of other rules apply to the game, and can be found online.