Gang of Four Game Rules and How to Play Guide

In this article, you can read about the basic rules of the game Gang of Four and learn how to play. The object of the game is to have the lowest score when the first player reaches 100 points. The object of each round is to be the first player to play all your cards.

Start of the game

The oldest player shuffles and deals out the entire deck to each player. If you are playing with three players one extra dummy hand will not be used.

After each hand is complete, shuffle the dummy hand with all the other cards and re-deal. The first hand of the game, the player with the multi-colored one, goes first and must include that one in their play.

The winner of each hand deals and starts the next. Each player then, in turn, plays a combination of cards made up of the same number of cards as the opening combination in a higher rank or passes.

Allowed card combinations

The allowed combinations of cards that can be played are single cards (any single card), pairs (two cards of the same number), three of a kind (three cards of the same number), five-card combinations including straight (five number cards in sequential order), flush (five number cards of the same color), full house (a pair plus a three of a kind), straight flush (five number cards of the same color in sequential order), the gang of four (four or more cards of the same number, the more cards the more powerful).

There are two cards for each number from 1 to 10 in three suits red, yellow and green with one multicolored one (which is the highest of all ones), and two phoenixes (which rank higher than ten) and one dragon (which is the highest single card).

Suit strength

Suit strength descends like a street light. Red is the highest followed by yellow and green is the lowest.

Higher ranks beat lower ranks. A 7 is stronger than a 6 no matter the color.

If the numbers are the same, then the color value decides. A red six beats a yellow six. A higher five-card combination beats a lower five-card combination. A full house beats a straight.

Finally, a gang of four beats any ranked card or card combination of any cards at any time. Only a higher-ranking gang of four or a gang of five, six, or seven can beat a lower gang of four.

Your turn

On your turn, you must play cards equal to the number of cards led unless it is a gang of four.

If a player leads pairs you cannot play a five-card combination. You must play two cards of a higher rank a gang of four or pass your turn. You may choose to pass even if you have cards that could be played. All play is always optional. If you pass you may play later if given another opportunity to play.

When every player consecutively passes so that a player must play on his own card, that player has won the cycle.

All cards played are left face-up in a pile in the middle of the table. You are not allowed to touch or peek at any of the discarded cards.

The player who won the cycle starts the new cycle with any card combination he chooses. The process repeats until a player lays down his last card. Play immediately stops and points are scored based on how many cards remain in each player’s hand.

Point system

You receive 1 point per card in your hand if you have one to seven cards left at the end of the hand. Two points per card in your hand, three points per card, four points per card, and 80 points if you have all 16 cards left at the end of a hand.

Use the score pad to record the number of points for each hand. Once the scores are recorded the cards are gathered, shuffled, and re-dealt. Once a player reaches 100 points or more the game ends and the player with the lowest score wins.

At the beginning of each hand, except for the first and before a new hand has begun, the loser of the previous hand, that is the person who gained the most points, must give to the winner of the previous hand their highest single card. The winner then gives the loser whatever card he wants. Both cards are shown to all players.

Tie, win or loss

In the case of a tie for the loser of the previous round, then the player with the highest total score is chosen. If that still is a tie, then the player closest to the winner counterclockwise is chosen.

When a player is down to their last remaining card in their hand, they must declare the last card. If a player fails to do so, they are not allowed to win this hand, and play continues amongst the other players until an alternate winner is decided.

The player who failed to declare his last card adds one point to his score total for the hand. If a player goes out by playing a card combination other than single cards, no last card declaration is required.

Players can always ask how many cards another player has remained in their hand. The players sitting immediately before the last card player must play his highest-ranking single card first if single cards are being played.

Likewise, that player must open new cycles in the hand with combinations other than single cards if he can do so. These rules do not apply to other players unless the player immediately after them also declared the last card.

Direction of play

The direction of play in a gang of four changes after each hand. The play of the hand is counterclockwise in the opening hand. Then alternates between clockwise and counter-clockwise for each successive hand as indicated on the score pad. This ensures that no player is forced to constantly play after the strongest or weakest player.

High cards

The dragon is the highest-ranking single card of the game and can only be played as a single card. Not as part of a combination of multiple cards such as a straight or flush.

The two phoenix cards are the second-highest-ranking single cards after the dragon with the yellow phoenix ranking higher than the green phoenix. These cards can be played together as the highest-ranking pair or as a pair within a full house. But, not in any other five-card combination such as a straight flush or straight flush.

The multicolored one is the highest-ranking of all ones and can be played on top of any other one. Because the card includes all colors a player may declare that this card is whatever color he chooses when playing as part of a flush.

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