Multiplayer Koi Koi


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JayMultiplayer Koi KoiPlaying cards provide the means for many classic casual games, from Poker and Spades to Solitaire. The classic deck of 52 cards consisting of 4 suits of 13 cards each has been around in one form or another for several hundred years. But not all decks were composed of similar cards and quantity.

In Japan, during the 1800's, a new game was created to circumvent laws banning playing cards due to gambling and it is still played to this day. It is called Hanafuda and it uses a deck of cards similar to Western-style playing cards, except that instead of 4 suits there are 12, and instead of 13 cards to a suit, there are only 4. Hanafuda is a relatively simple game of match and capture, in which learning to recognize the cards will be the largest hurdle. Once that is done, however, the game is a lot of fun to play.

And while there are many variations of the game of Hanafuda, one of the most popular of them is called Koi Koi.

Recently, after becoming absorbed with Nintendo's own implementation of Koi Koi in its wifi-enabled casual game collection, Clubhouse Games, a brilliant young developer created his own Flash implementation of the game running on his own multiplayer server.

Bryon Vandiver's Multiplayer Koi Koi combines the same classic Hanafuda deck with a unique ranking system to bring the excitement of this Japanese card game to casual gamers around the world, and all within the convenience of your favorite browser. (Registration required.)

Update: Unfortunately, this game is no longer available to play.

I won't go into all of the cards or the rules of Koi Koi here, as there is too much to cover, and the information is already explained at those links just provided. Instead, I'll go over the rudimentary basics and explain what is unique about this implementation.

Multiplayer Koi KoiIn a Hanafuda deck of cards, there is one suit to represent each month of the year and four cards per suit. Of these cards, there are 5 "light" cards, 9 "animal" cards, 10 "poetry scroll" cards, and 24 "dregs" cards. Each month/suit generally consists of 1 light or animal card, 1 poetry scroll, and 2 dregs (though there are exceptions). The objective of the game is to collect sets of cards by matching the cards in your hand with cards on the board. Only cards of the same suit match with each other. It's just that simple.

Play begins by shuffling the deck, dealing 8 cards to each player, turning over 8 cards on the board, and the remaining cards left face-down on the table. Each turn consists of taking a card from your hand and matching it with a card on the board, and thus capturing both cards and setting them in front of you. If you place a card on the board of a suit different than all others on the board, the card stays on the board. Your turn ends by taking the next card from the remaining face-down cards on the table and placing it on the board. If it matches any one of the cards already on the board, you capture those two cards as well.

The hand ends when a player's captured cards contain one or more complete sets (sets are shown here). The winning player has the option to call "Koi Koi" thus extending the hand to acquire additional sets. Calling Koi Koi can be important to achieve much larger point totals since hand totals greater than 7 receive a double bonus; however, it is also a risky move. If one player calls Koi Koi and the other player is next to complete a set, that player receives a double bonus multiplier in addition to any point bonus multiplier, for a potential quadruple bonus score. In this implementation, there is no limit to the number of times a player can call Koi Koi, short of running out of cards. If all cards are exhausted following a call of Koi Koi and no additional points are earned, all previously earned points are forfeited.

Each hand takes takes only a few minutes to play, and the player that wins the hand gets to go first on the following hand, and there is an advantage to going first.

Scoring in this implementation follows similar rules to Nintendo's DS implementation with one important difference: there is no limit to the number of hands you can play with an opponent. Your score, and thus your rank, is determined by the number of points you have won from your opponents. Therefore, you may begin a game against an opponent with a huge point differential. This keeps the focus on winning hands instead of games, which increases the appeal of this being a quick casual game that be picked up for a quick hand or two at any time.

A quick and painless email registration gets you a free account and password with which to play. Don't let the initial learning curve of becoming familiar with these unusual cards deter you from the enjoyment of this unique card game from Japan. Click.

For trivia fans, Nintendo was founded in 1889 with the purpose of manufacturing and selling decks of Hanafuda cards. A practice the company has continued to this day.

55 Comments

jay finnaly posts another game sorry but that other guy is basiclly takeing over your blog dude

meh i dont usally like the oriental themed car games i cant play for long but this one seems okay

I relly like your site jay but alot of the games i am seeing are dissapointmeants like all the ones from the games competion you spread them out even though most people had allredy plated them all and also i seen alot of posts that are bassically just anoyences rather then fun i guess thats a matter of opion though huh. i usally check here and another gaming site that is fiarly shallow and dose not provide comments but dose update their game lists fairly regulry .I used to admier this site for its selection of games that are good,fun to play and inovative and of course seeing the many user comments and sharing my own. but latley i have had to revert back to the old site as most of the latest posts are about poker nights or events. :(

but on a brighter note Keep those point n click games coming and stay orginal the way your site works is great and i understand its alot of work on the poker nights n all but rmeber to keep your site what it is and keep posting those great games

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whoops that was a long post and thats CARD games not car games XD

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man i better get redy for all the yelling im gonna get for typin all that o.O

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No worries, motzo, I appreciate your feedback.

JohnB is taking over the publishing end of things for me. The site has grown so much that it can no longer be managed and maintained by a single person as in the past. We have many exciting things happening and planned, and it requires a group of people to keep it all running smoothly.

About the first competition entries: it was my mistake to post all the entries at once. That won't happen this time.

However, that being said, we receive new visitors to the site every day, and we saw considerable spikes in our traffic on days when we highlighted some of the more notable entries, weeks after the competition. So, I am pleased with my decision to highlight them again with their own reviews.

I realize that some of you may have already seen and played the compeition games, but each developer that entered our competition deserves a page dedicated to his or her own game, and I am pleased to have provided a forum within which they can get important feedback on their games.

Oh, and if you want point-and-click games, go visit Graeme at Lazylaces. He is the master of all point-and-click games. The reason you don't see more of them here is because, frankly, many of them are not very good.

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lol ok i understand and I kinda should have checked his name instead of calling him that other guy XD

oh and have you any idea of when new games may be added i live in Australia so my time frame is a lil outa whack for all i know i might be checking for new posts at 4 in the morning over there

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dmab i didnt relise how stupid that sounds until after i posted it i mean what time zone are you in .ill work out times for my self.

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Well since no one seems to be playing now, I found this one player flash game version which helped me learn how to play.

http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/hanafuda/hanafuda.html

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THAT'S what that game is!

I first played Hanafuda at the link slgalt just posted, but I had no idea what it was or even if I was winning. Now I still don't know if I'm winning, but at least I know what I'm actually playing. Thanks folks!

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javajunco January 30, 2007 6:54 AM

How funny. Neopets just released a version of the same game a couple of weeks ago. :)

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I love love love this game - I even bought a deck of cards and taught all the kids on a camping trip how to play. It's nice to see a multi player online version of it. It's just too bad that the person you're playing doesn't have a time limit. I have found myself waiting and waiting and waiting - and that's if you've found someone to play with. BTW - url is SLGALT's post is a great version to learn by!!

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Thanks slgalt for mentioning that version. I had intended to include Taro Ito's single-player version in my review, but when I double checked the link yesterday the Flash game showed an error instead of the game.

Perhaps I'll get a quick review of that one up next, as it totally deserves a mention here as well.

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waahoowaa Author Profile Page January 30, 2007 3:44 PM

Forgive me for asking -- but is the slgalt site available in English?

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It doesn't seem to give you a choice other than to call koi koi, then the round ends. Still not sure how to figure out the points structure.

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Just discovered chat, just start typing and the chat box shows up under your name.

And there seems to be lots of getting bounced out of the server going on. I keep changing partners - it's like a square dance in there.

Are "call" and "koi koi" 2 different buttons giving you a choice? Or just one?

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"Call" ends the hand, scoring you the points earned so far.

"Koi Koi" extends the hand, giving you the opportunity to score additional points. However, if your opponent completes a set after you call Koi Koi, they earn a double bonus for doing so (with a potential of as high as quadruple bonus as mentioned in the review).

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Sorry about the random server restarts. I changed some of the elements of how the scoring works on the server, which requires me to reboot.

I'll leave it alone for awhile.

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I fixed the broken registration code, it should work now.

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Anyway to clear a score and start again? All the disconnects killed my score.

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hahahaha, this is so interesting and such a coincidence because i take Korean in university (i'm originally cantonese) and some of my classmates have been starting to play the same thing but in korean =P i first saw this game in a korean television drama called "All In" and thought it was a traditionally Korean game. it seems to be the Chinese equivalent of Mah-Jong popularity wise. I don't remember what it is in Korean but it seems to be a very well known gambling game with them, like most of my classmates' parents and grandparents know this game very well. now i understand why the tiles are sooo tiny, they're only like an inch in width and an inch and half in length!

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The game itself seems elegantly done. I like how it highlights possible pairings as you're dragging a tile, and I like how it gives tile/pair information when you make a pair, but the infrastructure surrounding the game is lacking.

--If you type in a wrong password it starts to load the game page and then boots you back to the login page without any sort of message indicating what the problem was.

--There's no indication that other people are playing or waiting to play, just a mostly empty game screen until it finds you a partner.

--The biggest problem, however, is that there's no way to deal with a slow or absent (or slow because absent, or slow because ignorant of the game-mechanisms) player. A time-limit per turn would take care of the problem, but I'm not sure what the default action would be if you run out the clock. Would it discard a random card for you? Would it make the first available pair (looking from left to right)? Am I correct in assuming that this is a game in which simply forfeiting your turn wouldn't be an option?

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I don't think it is scoring for getting all the cards in the suit. Is that a glitch or just not being utilized?

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viewfrmhere Author Profile Page January 31, 2007 12:26 AM

Something I didn't realize until I was surprised by an opponent's comments: You can talk to your opponent by simply typing. There's not visible text box, but one pops up when you start typing. I would have liked to see a bit more match info on the screen so I can learn the game easier. Otherwise it's very pretty.

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slgalt - there are no points for getting all cards of a suit in this version.

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Made some changes:

Logins / Disconnects / Invalid passwords etc all receive notice from the server (it was sending those messages, they were just not getting received before the socket was closed) It also tells you the number of active games (the ones you are not in)

I change the tip highlighting SIGNIFICANTLY, now you can mouse over any card, and it will highlight any matching months on the board (sets included). This makes it easier to get a general idea of what's going on.

Also, rank is reset to 50 for everyone that has fallen below that point every 24 hours (this pads out repeated losses)

I'll work on making it so that idlers get punished and I need to change it so that the whole "september: sakura curtain and dreg" thing happens every time someone captures something, or never.

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JIG visitor, Goldie, has sent in a Koi Koi quick reference PDF (450K) to help anyone just becoming familiar with the game.

Cheers, Goldie! =)

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Asterick (or Jay please contact)

Please allow two players from same IP to play! No reason to punish us who play from the same house on the possibility of cheaters hyping up a score for a day.

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Message relayed. He said he would try to take care of that this evening for you. =)

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Wheeee! Thanks!

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Just noticed you can only chat when it's your turn.

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Well, it's time to add Koi-Koi as another addicting pasttime.

I've already been hooked to Webboggle and SudokuCombat for too long. I'm glad to add this site to the list.

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Waahoo! I am ranked #1. :-)

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I love this! i've had the cards for ages but i can never play cos none of my friends know how and they all refuse to learn (!) so i'm really glad i've found this. one little problem though, when there's more than one card of the same suit as the flip card and you have to choose which to capture, it allows you to take a card of any suit which i don't think is right. i might be wrong though, i play with slightly different rules to these. cheers! love tori

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susan winter February 9, 2007 7:06 PM

Have been playing this ever since it came on here and now it won't let me in. Anyone else having this problem? It is not recognizing my password.

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Says connected to server then bouncing me out. :(

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The server was rebooted, aparently something caused the server to die in a firey mass. Sorry about that.

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Susan Winter February 11, 2007 3:05 PM

I think this has happened again: "The server was rebooted, aparently something caused the server to die in a firey mass."

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Now its back to not letting two people from the same IP. Any chance that will be fixed?

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asterick (Bryon) fixed it shortly after you posted your comment. Sorry I didn't mention it then.

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Susan Winter February 14, 2007 7:51 PM

What can we do to keep this from bouncing us out again? Am I the only one having this problem?

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Sorry you're having trouble with the game. I just spoke to Bryon and he just added something to restart the server if it goes down again, so hopefully that will patch things for now. Leave a comment here if you have trouble with it again, please.

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Susan Winter February 15, 2007 6:33 PM

Love, love, love this game and finally have learned the hands, but I have a burning question that is driving me crazy. When do you get to capture a card? For the life of me, I have been paying close attention to try to figure it out and cannot find any pattern. I read the instructions and it says some cards are wild, but it still allows you to capture cards in other situations. Please help. Thanks. Keep up the "great" work!!!.

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Susan Wnter February 19, 2007 11:00 AM

Jay, as you can tell I am addicted to this game. Thanks for your information on capturing cards. That was exactly what I could not figure out. I now keep getting this message: "Error # 2031" Help!

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Still seems to be down. Also been getting the 2031 error message for a few days.

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Susan Winter February 27, 2007 12:20 AM

Glad to see I am not the only one that is having trouble with this game. I was starting to think it was MY computer. It has been down for 5 days as far as I can tell. I wrote Jay who wrote Bryon and then I wrote Bryon who says: "The error 2031 is what happens when the server is no longer accepting connections. The server has a 4 hour restart cycle, so if you see that, it will just reboot on it's own. I just checked and the system appears to be up and running." That was what he said on Saturday. Does that make any sense to anyone?

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I don't like to see comments posted to the site about a game without doing something about it.

Therefore, I'm removing this game from the recommended and replay feature sections until Bryon can get the server into a more stable state.

Sorry this has been a disappointment for you. I can assure you the game ran quite nicely during the several months of testing that he did.

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Susan Winter February 27, 2007 8:15 AM

YAY, it's working now!!!!!

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Susan Winter February 28, 2007 12:40 PM

Just a note to those who are playing this game, since there are so few of us and there have been so many problems with this site, please be courteous and say hi and bye. This way we can know if there is something wrong with the game and not assume the other person is just being rude. Thanks.

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Hey, I just played against Susan. I think.

This really is a great 2-player implementation of the game. It's too bad it hasn't caught on in a larger online circle yet. I got my mom addicted to the one-player version, so maybe I can convince her to try the multi-player version.

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terrytip June 25, 2007 9:20 PM

I first played koi-koi in 1959 when I was in the US Navy in Yokoska Japan... I still have a deck but didn't remember the rules... I wasn't very good at scoring either... the girls in the bar where I learned to play always kept score... Thanks for all the help on the game...

terrytip

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terrytip July 13, 2007 8:22 PM

ERROR 2031.......7-13-2007

Need help signing in...terrytip

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8-24-2007 ... still freezing up???

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hi everybody i was wondering if we can find a website or stuff like this to print hanafuda cards. If someone can help me :)
Thx.

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well, I tried to register, but I didnt receive any emails to activate my account ;(

pls help, I really want to play with others

[Sorry, I just heard from the developer that this game is no longer available. I've removed the tags. -Jay]

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damn, I'm really into this game...

are there any other servers?
I just know this one:
http://jayisgames.com/archives/2007/01/gamedesign_hanafuda.php

but I dont want to play with a computer anymore

[Sorry, I am not aware of any online multiplayer Hanafuda or Koi Koi games available today. For Nintendo DS, a few years back, there was Clubhouse Games that had a Hanafuda game included and you could go online and play against a random opponent. But I doubt there are many people playing that one anymore. -Jay]

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mintavia July 16, 2011 10:51 PM

Real pity. I do not understand why this game is not more popular. There is actually a fairly nice version on Neopets of all places. It is an awesome game. I like the hanafuda game also. Surely there are online versions of this game all over asia...why can't we find any?

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