The following was inspired by Z. D. Smith’s A Curriculum of Vira. The full game of 88 has many complications, but we can identify subsets of the game that are independent of each other. Each additional topic in the following should identify a “complete” game that is playable without adding any of the rules that follow it. They are listed hopefully in some vague notion of increasing “arbitrariness” and complexity.

Core Rules

The game is for 3 players. Deal 7 cards each and 6 to centre, play as in other Hanafuda games (dealer starts, play anticlockwise, each player in turn does: play one card to centre, turn over top of deck, capture any cards that were matched by either card). Try to capture at least 88 points worth of cards; at the end of the round score whatever you obtain over/under that amount (scores are zero-sum). Winner of each deal deals the next one.

(Deki-)Yaku

Next we add in yaku (scoring combinations). These are goals to capture during play. If you complete one of these, at the end of your turn play stops and you are paid for the yaku by each other player (no payments are made for card points).

<aside> 💡 Scores for yaku vary depending on rulesets (I have not yet found two the same), so the following should be considered “typical”. (See Scoring Schedules for more).

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Scoring is done in terms of kan (= 12 points).

• aka-tan: 3 red ribbons (with writing on them): 7 kan (84 points)
• ao-tan: 3 blue ribbons: 7 kan
• shi-kō: 4 brights: 10 kan (120 points)
• go-kō: 5 brights: 12 kan

(It might seem very difficult to collect five brights since play stops when you collect four brights, but keep reading…)

Round-end deki-yaku

If by the end of the round no one has captured any deki-yaku, then see if anyone has captured the following. If so they win the score from each other player (again, no payments are made for card points):

• 16 plain cards: 12 kan (score 2 kan for each additional card over 16*)*
• if a player scores over (88+80=) 168 points: 10 kan
• if all players score 88 points: the dealer wins, 10 kan

Continuing

If during play you complete a yaku but think you can score another one (or improve 4 brights to 5 brights), instead of stopping the game you can call “continue”. If you manage to complete an additional yaku you score for both (do not score both 4 + 5 brights).