Ume Botan, or Ume Botan Rule is a hanafuda game created by Ume Botan [梅牡丹, lit. ‘plum peony’], also known as Ume Chan or Ume Channel. He is a Japanese blogger from Kansai Region, and has a wife who is from Tokyo.
After learning that the rules of the game he played using hanafuda is different from those his wife played, he did some research and found out how many different local rules hanafuda has. So, by combining various local rules played in different places in Japan, he and his wife created this game.
The game can either be played by 3 or 4 players at the same time.
Game setup involves deciding the seating position, shuffling the deck, and distributing the initial cards.
A full game consists of 12 rounds; Whether a game should last for more or less rounds is up to the player (as long as the number of rounds is even). Any other house rules should also be established at this point in order to keep gameplay smooth and fair.
Shuffle the deck and have all players draw one card each.
The player who drew a suit for the earliest month becomes “Player 1” (also known as the “oya” [親 - おや, lit. “parent”]), followed by “Player 2”, and so on.
The last player in line becomes the dealer.
If two or more players drew from the same suit, the player drawing the higher point card is treated as having the earlier suit. If even the card points are tied, then the players must draw again.
After the sequence has been decided, all players must sit in line counter-clockwise around the table. This means that Player 1 sits first, Player 2 sits to the right of Player 1, etc.
The last player in line shuffles the deck, asks Player 1 to cut the cards, and then distributes the cards.
If there are 3 players: 7 cards are dealt to each player, and 6 cards face-up to the table.
If there are 4 players: 5 cards are dealt to each player, and 8 cards face-up to the table.
The remainder of the deck is placed face-down to form the draw pile.
If 4 cards of the same suit are dealt to the field at the beginning of a round, generally a misdeal is declared and the same dealer shuffles and distributes cards once more.
If the Lightning Card is dealt to the field, then Player 1 must capture it with the card on top of the draw pile during their first turn, regardless of the suit of the drawn card.
In the author’s rules, this is done by immediately taking the top card from the draw pile and placing it on top of the Lightning face-down before Player 1 starts their turn. During Player 1’s first turn, instead of playing a card from the draw pile, they take the Lightning card and the face-down card.
Next, the round number is checked, as well as the presence of Pine cards on the field, to determine if there is a field multiplier.
Field Multipliers are mutually exclusive; If at least one field multiplier is present during a round, then point exchanges (after all calculations are done) will be doubled for that round only.
|Normal Field||A normal field [平場 - ひらば, hiraba] occurs if there are no field multipliers. Point exchanges are unaffected.|
|Pine Field||A pine field [松場 - まつば, matsuba] occurs if one or more Pine cards are present on the field. Point exchanges will be doubled for this round.|
|Midterm Field||A midterm field [半期場 - はんきば, hankiba] occurs during Round 6 (or the last round of the first half of the game). All point exchanges will be doubled for this round, even if Pine cards are present on the field.|
|Final Field||A final field [締め場 - しめば, shimeba] occurs during Round 12 (or the final round). All point exchanges will be doubled for this round, even if Pine cards are present on the field.|
In each round, Player 1 is the first to play, and turn to play passes counter-clockwise around the table. The core gameplay and turn structure is utterly typical of hanafuda fishing games such as Hana-awase.
On their turn, a player chooses a single card from their hand and plays it to the table.
If a card is played that matches something on the table, then the player must capture, as described above. However, there is no obligation to play a card that matches something, even if the player has one in their hand; they may, if they wish, elect to play a card that matches nothing on the table.
As is typical of hanafuda games, each player’s score pile should be kept face-up and laid out on the table, so that its contents are fully visible to all players. Ideally, the cards should also be arranged by type (Brights, Animals, Ribbons, and Chaff) to make detecting yaku easier.
After a card has been played from their hand, the player takes the top card of the draw pile, turns it face-up, and immediately plays it to the table in the same fashion.
After both cards have been played- one from the player’s hand, and one from the draw pile- the turn ends, and the next player takes their turn.
The Lightning card serves as a wild card, and can be used to capture any other individual card except another Willow.
If it is on the field, it must be captured by Player 1 using the card drawn from the deck during their first turn, regardless of its suit.
This is different from the game Mushi, where the Lightning card on the field is captured by the first non-willow card drawn from the draw pile.
If it is dealt on a player’s hand, that player may use it to capture a non-Willow card during any of their turns.
If it is drawn from the deck, it must capture a non-Willow card on the field.. If there are no non-Willow cards on the field, then it is taken alone into the score pile.
Again, this is different from Mushi, where if there are no non-Willow cards on the field, then it is discarded onto the field, to be captured later.
The current round ends when all players have run out of card in their hands. This will also coincide with the draw pile being emptied.
Due to the usage of a wild card, most rounds will end with two cards remaining on the field - one Willow, and one that matches the suit of whatever card was captured by the Lightning. In other cases, there will be 4 remaining cards (3 Willows and 1 non-Willow), 1 remaining card (1 Willow), or no remaining cards. In any case, the player who used the Lightning card takes all remaining cards on the field into their score pile.
This is different from Mushi, where the last Willow will be added to the score pile of the player who captured the other two non-wild Willows, and the remaining card is added to the score pile of the player who used the Lightning to capture its mate.
The game uses a zero-sum scoring system common to many other such hanafuda games.
First, each player adds up the total points of all their captured cards. The values of the cards are completely standard, as follows:
|Card Type||Value||Number in Deck|
The total point value of the entire deck is 264.
With three players, each player could conceivably earn exactly 88 points (one third of 264), the actual score each player earns is their total number of card points, minus the par value of 88.
With four players, each one could potentially earn exactly 66 points. So again, the actual points earned is the total of the player’s card points, minus the par value of 66.
Then, yaku are handled. Each player adds up the total value of their captured yaku, and they recieve this value from each of the other players. For example, in a 3-player game, if player A has 40 points’ worth of yaku, then they score 80 points in total- 40 from player B, and 40 from player C- while players B and C will each lose 40 points.
In short, the total amount of points gained or lost by each player at the end of the round will be given by the following:
Player's Score = (Player's Total Card Points - Par Value) + (Total Value of Player's Yaku x (Number of Players - 1)) - Total Value of All Opponents' Yaku,
where the par value is equal to 264 divided by the number of players - 66 for four players, 88 for three.
If field multiplier(s) are present, then this calculation will be doubled.
The player with the highest score at the end of the round becomes Player 1 for the next round. In the event of a tie, the player who was earliest in the turn order becomes Player 1.
On the other hand, the player with the lowest score at the end of the round becomes the last player as well as the dealer for the next round, and must sit on the left side of whomever becomes Player 1.
After the desired number of rounds have been played, the player with the highest total score at the end of all the rounds is the winner of the game.
Points from multiple yaku stack, with the following exception:
In these cases, the player claims the most valuable of the mutually exclusive yaku.
|Value||Name of Yaku||Composition|
¶ Bright Yaku
五光 [ごこう, gokō]
|40||Four Brights (Dry 4)
四光 [しこう, shikō]
|30||Rainy Four Brights
雨四光 [あめしこう, ameshikō]
| plus 3 of:
三光 [さんこう, sankō]
|Any 3 of:
松竹梅 [しょうちくばい, shouchikubai]
or 表だんこ [おもてだんこ, omote dango]
Note the inclusion of the Bush Warbler here as a pseudo-Bright.
¶ Ribbon Yaku
裏だんこ [うらだんこ, ura dango]
|The three Poetry Ribbons:
青短 [あおたん, aotan]
|The three Blue Ribbons:
赤短 [あかたん, akatan]
|The three Plain Ribbons, excluding the Willow Ribbon:
¶ Animal Yaku
|20||Boar, Deer, Butterflies
猪鹿蝶 [いのしかちょう, inoshikachou]
¶ Viewing Yaku
花見 [はなみ, hanami]
This Yaku is not counted if the Rainman is present in your scoring pile.
月見 [つきみ, tsukimi]
This Yaku is not counted if the Rainman is present in your scoring pile.
¶ Four-of-a-Kind Yaku
藤島 [ふじしま, fujishima]
桐島 [きりしま, kirishima]
|20||Cards of the Month
月役 [つきやく, tsukiyaku]
|All 4 cards belonging to the month of the current round.
For example, all four January cards in the first round, all four February cards in the second round, etc.
This yaku is typically only used in full 12 round games.
¶ Dandruff Yaku
|50 (in a 3-player game),
40 (in a 4-player game)
頭垢 [ふけ, fuke]
|An extremely poor score pile.
Ignoring all Willow cards, the score pile should be worth 20 points or lower in a 3-player game, or 15 points or lower in a 4-player game.
ALL PLAYERS’ SCORES AND ALL OTHER YAKU DURING THE ROUND ARE CANCELLED.