Fata Morgana Spiele
Rules Translated by Chris Mellor and then edited by Aaron D. Fuegi (aarondf@bu.edu)
Originally typed by Dawn Thurbon
Originally distributed from The Rules Bank by Mike Siggins

Aaron's notes are mostly given in italics and rule interpretations are based on those at the German Wurzberg Association of Tichu Players (http://uploader.wuerzburg.de/tichu/index.htm) FAQ.

Version 1
Tichu Nanjing (for four players)

The Cards

There are four suits (Jade, Sword, Pagoda, Star) of 13 cards each corresponding in value to Bridge cards ie. The highest card in each suit being the Ace and the lowest being the "2". The "10's" lie between the "9" and the "Jack".

There are four special cards : Mah Jong, Dog, Phoenix and Dragon (see illustrations later) - which brings the total number of cards to 56.

The players play in two teams each of two players. Each player sits opposite his partner and they work together in acquiring points.


Any player in the game can shuffle the deck.

Instead of dealing out the cards, each player in turn takes a card from the top of the deck until the pile is exhausted and each player has 14 cards in his hand. Editor's note: We just deal the cards normally by first dealing 8 cards to each player and later giving each player 6 more (the reason for the two phases of dealing is below). Also, any player can deal, it does not need to rotate as in many games.

Now give one of your cards to each of the other three players. In effect, then, you will pass on 3 cards of your choice and receive 3 unknown ones in return.

The Game

The game is started by the player who has the Mah Jong card. He may lay down any one of the following combinations:


The next player (to the right of the previous player) now has the following options:

Passing or Playing a similar combination but of a higher value.

So, a single card can only be beaten by the playing of a single card (and this must be of a higher value); a run of 2 pairs by a run of 2 higher pairs, a row of 6 cards only by a higher row of 6 cards (3,4,5,6,7,8 is beaten by, at a minimum a row of 4,5,6,7,8,9), a full house by a higher full house (in a full house, only the value of the triple is taken into consideration). In general, every player who plays cards on a given 'trick' will play exactly the same type of combination and number of cards. The only exception to this rule is the Bomb - see later.

Play then proceeds to the next player on the right. If three players pass consecutively, the player who laid the last (highest) card combination, takes the trick and starts play again (where again he can choose from any of the valid combinations listed above) - if he has no more cards in his hand, he retires from the game and play proceeds to his neighbour on the right (if he also has no cards, then play goes to the next person on the right). It is legal for players to pass and then come back in again as long as some other player played in between.

It is not allowable for a player to play on his 'own' trick once the other three players have passed. He must collect the trick and start a new one. Bombs are as usual an exception and any player may play a bomb after three passes.

The Special Cards

The Mah Jong

Whoever has this card in his hand makes the first lead (but in doing so does not actually have to play the Mah Jong card although me may do so if he wishes). Note that the Mah Jong is sometimes also referred to as either the 1 or the Sparrow.

The Mah Jong card has a value of 1 and so is the lowest card in the game. It can be used to form a row eg. 1,2,3,4,5

Whoever plays the Mah Jong (alone or as part of a row) card may call for a card - to do so he names a specific card value (eg an "8" or an "A", but not a special card) as he plays the Mah Jong. If he chooses to do this, the next player who has a card of the chosen value and can play it (in accordance with the rules of the game) must then play it. Note that the named card can (and must if this is the only way to play it) also be used in a Bomb.

If a player does not have the card value asked for, or cannot play it, then he can play any suitable combination or pass.

This condition, imposed by the playing of the Mah Jong card, remains in force on all players for all plays until somebody carries it out. Once the card is played by any player, the condition is no longer in effect on anybody.

The Dog

The Dog has no trick value. It can only be played on your own turn when you have the lead and is played as a single card. It immediately gives the "lead" to your partner. If your partner has already retired from the game, then the lead passes to the player on his right (that is; the next in normal turn order from the partner - remember, Tichu is supposed to be played counter-clockwise).

The Phoenix

The Phoenix is a very powerful card. To offset its strength, it has a value of -25 points in the final point scoring.

It can be used as a wild card (joker) in any card combination (but it cannot be used to create a Bomb - see later). Thus, you could, for example play 23Phoenix56 as a 5 card run 2-6. However, in its role as a wild card it can not be used as any of the other special cards (it can only be a 2-Ace).

It can be played as a single card. It then has a value of a half point above the last card played (eg if the Phoenix is played after an "8", then the value of the Phoenix is 8.5 and can only be beaten by a single card of value "9" or higher. The Phoenix will beat an "A" but not the Dragon. If the Phoenix is led to start a trick it has a value of 1.5

The Dragon

The Dragon is the highest single card and counts 25 points.

It can only be played as a single card and it beats even an "A" (Ace) or an "A and a half" (A Phoenix played on an "A").

It can only be beaten by a Bomb.

If the Dragon wins the trick, the player playing it must give the entire trick away (including its own 25 points) to a player of the opposing team (he chooses which one). Despite this, the player who won the trick also wins the next lead.

A Bomb

Bombs are:

a row of at least 5 cards following on in sequence from each other, and all of the same suit (also known as a "straight flush")

or - four cards of the same value (also known as a "four of a kind").

A Bomb beats all other cards, be it a single card or a card combination. A higher Bomb beats a lower one so four 8's beats four 7's.

A "row" Bomb beats a "4 of a kind" Bomb and is in turn beaten by a higher or longer row Bomb. For example the following list of Bombs is ordered from lowest to highest Bomb:

Bombs can be brought into play at any time - even when it is not your turn. However, you must give a player a chance to lead a card (or group) and Bombs can not be played on just the Dog card. You may yourself lead a Bomb when it is your lead.

Points Reckoning Up

The game is played until three of the four players have played all of their cards. The final play of the third player to go out automatically wins and he collects this final trick (unless of course he played the Dragon).

The one player remaining, who still has cards in his hand, gives:

Now each team counts up the card points they collected:

Exception: However, if both players of one team have a Double Victory (one being the winner of the round and the other going out second - this is also sometimes called a "One-Two"), then that team scores 200 points and the other team 0. In this case, card points are not counted. In fact, once this occurs there is no reason for the remaining players to even finish playing the hand.

Calling Tichu

Before playing his first card, each player has the right to declare a small "Tichu" If he then goes out first in the round, his team receives an extra 100 points - otherwise the team loses 100 points.

But remember:

The 100 Tichu points are given / taken away regardless of the ordinary or double victory points scored - they do not influence them in any way.

You can call a Tichu any time before playing your first card. You can therefore choose to pass for several full tricks and still call a Tichu later.

You can also call a Tichu before passing cards at the beginning of the round - this serves to tell your partner to pass to you his best card (although he is not required to do so).

You may not make any arrangements with your partner during play nor does it help you if your partner wins.

You can also call a "Grand Tichu" before you have taken your ninth card (in the "deal" section at the very beginning of the round). This has a value of 200 extra points. Other than the timing and scoring differences, "Grand Tichus" have the same rules as standard "Tichus". A single player may not call both a "Grand Tichu" and a standard "Tichu".

It is entirely legal for more than one player (even on the same team) to call either type of Tichu. Obviously, however, only one of them can be right.

Winning the Game

When one team reaches 1000 points they are the winners. If both teams reach 1000 points in the same round, then the game should continue until a hand ends where the teams are not tied and the winning team has a score of at least 1000 points.

Notes and Rule Details (by Aaron)

1) None of the four special cards can be used in any type of Bomb.

2) In regard to the requirements of the Mah Jong card:

3) It is legal to play a Bomb on top of any play except the Dog. If played on the Dragon, the trick does not have to be given away. Although you may not play a Bomb when someone else has the lead before that person plays a card, you may yourself lead a Bomb when you have the lead.

4) The order of play given above is counterclockwise - each player is followed by the player on his right. Feel free to play it in the more common American clockwise fashion where each player is followed by the player on his left.


Try to get rid of your bad cards (low single cards and pairs) as quickly as possible and be economical with your "A's", Dragon and Bombs.

Whoever, after a good power play, remains sitting on a single "4" has not yet grasped the garlic. That is, don't leave yourself with low cards and no way to ever get the lead.

If your partner is playing a Tichu, help him unreservedly. When you are the Mah Jong player, do not demand any card that could deprive him of a Bomb nor of a trick. Naming the card you passed to the player who plays after you is one way to make sure not to hurt your partner.

If an opponent declares a 'Tichu' then play against him, so that he finds it hard to get rid of his cards.

Version 2
Tichu Tientsin (for 6 players)

There are two teams of 3 players each.

The rules are the same as for the 4 player game with the following exceptions:

The 'large Tichu' must be declared before you take your seventh card (during the deal stage).

Each player only passes on 2 cards and only to his own 2 partners. He in turn receives a card from each of them.

The "Dog" gives the "lead" to the partner of your choice

When reckoning up:

the last player gives the remaining cards in his hand and all his tricks to the opposing team.

the player finishing fifth gives all the tricks he has won to the winner of the round.

there is now a triple victory where one team has lost all its cards and the 3 rivals still have cards in their hands. This is worth 300 points.

Version 3
Grandseigneur (for 5-12 players)

This was marketed by Hexagames as Karrierepoker.

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell