Bakabana (or possibly pronounced bakahana) is a 4-player hanafuda game attested in the Oita Prefecture of Japan. Its basic gameplay is similar to that of other Hana Awase type games, but it uses unique point values for the cards, and most notably features a different play style for a rotating participant each round.
Choose the first dealer as the group sees fit. For subsequent rounds, the role of dealer passes counterclockwise.
After shuffling, the dealer (referred to as oya, “parent” in Japanese) for the round passes 9 cards face-up to the field, 6 cards face-down to themselves and to the two players to their right (known as the two “children”), and just 3 cards face-down to the final player, who is known as “Kan.”
If 3 cards of any given suit were dealt to the field, they are stacked together to signify that they will all be captured whenever the fourth is played.
There is only one Lucky Hand in Bakabana, and it can only be earned by Kan.
If Kan’s dealt hand contains three cards of the same suit, they may reveal their hand to halt gameplay and earn 20 points from each other player. The deal is then thrown in, and the same dealer as before shuffles and re-deals the cards.
As in most fishing games played with hanafuda, players take turns in counterclockwise order, beginning with the dealer. However, the player in the Kan position merely watches the action and does not participate, with one notable exception which will be discussed under the “Wild Card” heading.
On your turn, choose one card from your hand to play to the field. If it matches suits with one card on the field, overlap the two, indicating that you will capture those cards. If it matches suits with two cards on the field, choose one of those two to capture with your card. If your played card matches three cards on the field, all four will be captured. If your played card does not have any matches on the field, it will simply become a field card.
After playing a card from your hand and making a match as is appropriate, flip over the top card from the deck and play it to the field in the same manner as above, again making a match by suit if possible. Once you have played a card both from your hand and the deck, collect any cards captured into your scoring area. Captured cards are public knowledge and should be clearly organized by card type.
If a player’s hand contains the Lightning card, they may use it as a “Wild Card” to pair with and capture any card on the field. Note that if there is a stack of three cards on the field, the Lightning may only be used to take one of them, not all three.
If the Lightning card is dealt to the field, however, it functions merely as the Chaff of Willow and must be captured with another card of the same suit.
The Lightning is the only card that Kan may play during the main six rounds of a hand. They may choose to do so at any point in the game, but it must be after the second Child’s turn, when Kan would normally have a turn if not for the asymmetric gameplay.
Once the Dealer and both Children have exhausted their hands, a few cards should be left on the field. These are then automatically captured by Kan, along with any cards in Kan’s hand.
In Bakabana, the scores for each round will total to zero, making it easily suitable for playing for money or chips. Note that Kan’s score is calculated differently from that of the other 3 players.
Each player totals their card points, rounded up to the nearest whole number, and the non-Kan players exchange points based on their differences in scores. Kan is not subject to this comparison, and merely earns their captured card points from the other players.
Then, yaku points are calculated, and are taken from each of one’s opponents; for this purpose, Kan is subject to the same calculations as the other players.
Once scoring is complete, the cards are thrown in and shuffled, and the player to the right of the current Dealer becomes Dealer for the next round.
See the sections below for details on card points and yaku values.
In the event that a player has only captured 2 or fewer card points (or 0 points for Kan), the round is invalidated, and normal scoring calculation does not occur. Instead, this low-scoring player earns 10 points from each other player, and the next round is played without changing dealers. This is referred to in Japanese as ふけ fuke, literally “dandruff”.
The Dealer scored 13 card points, Child 1 scored 6, Child 2 scored 7, and Kan scored 2. No player achieved a yaku.
Therefore, the Dealer takes 7 points from Child 1 and 6 points from Child 2. Child 1 has given 7 points to the Dealer as just described, and gives 1 point to Child 2. Child 2 has at this point given 6 points to the Dealer and 1 point to Child 1. Kan then takes 2 points from each of the other 3 players.
In total, the Dealer’s final score for the round is 7+6-2=(+11); Child 1’s is -7-1-2=(-10); Child 2’s is -6+1-2=(-7); and finally, Kan’s score is 2+2+2=(+6).
The Dealer scored 10 card points, Child 1 scored 9, Child 2 scored 6, and Kan scored 3. Child 2 also earned the Blue Ribbons yaku.
Therefore, the Dealer takes 1 point from Child 1 and 4 points from Child 2. Child 1 has given 1 point to the Dealer and also takes 3 points from Child 2. Child 2 has thus given 4 points to the Dealer and 3 to Child 1. Kan then takes 3 points from each other player. For their yaku, Child 2 also takes an additional 10 points from each player, including Kan.
In total, the Dealer’s score for the round is 1+4-3-10=(-8); Child 1’s is -1+3-3-10=(-11); Child 2’s is -4-3-3+30=(+20); and Kan’s score is 3+3+3-10=(-1).
* The Lightning card’s value is dependent on the card that it is used to capture. If it is paired with another Willow, it is merely treated as a Chaff and is worth no points; if used as a wild card, it is worth the same number of points as the card it was paired with.
A player may earn points for any and all of the following yaku whose cards they have captured.
Due to the asymmetrical gameplay, yaku are calculated differently for the last player (Kan). For the first three players, all three cards of a given yaku must be captured to earn its points. But because Kan has fewer chances to capture cards, they qualify as completing a yaku if they have obtained two of the three required cards. If Kan has all three cards for a yaku, it counts as two yaku, so 20 points, instead.
大役 [おおやく ōyaku]
小三個 [こざんこ kozanko]
青短冊 [あおたん aotan]
赤短冊 [あかたん akatan]