So sometime during the holidays, and even some instances before that, I’ve noticed a lot of people playing this card game on their cellphones and on their computers. It wasn’t Mahjong, and it looked something like hearts. It wasn’t until I asked my cousin and uncle that I found out it was a game called Fight the Landlord (斗地主-doudizhu) which is a very popular game here in China. For my Chinese readers or readers who are very familiar with China and Chinese culture here on the Mainland, I don’t think I need to explain how popular it is.
There’s a cards version of the game, an online version on a computer, and various apps for smartphones. I’ve recently been playing the QQ version, where you play with other real players who are logged in.
The game is very similar to a Filipino game we call Tong Its, and another we call Pusoy Dos, where you try to form combinations (very similar to poker) and try to get rid of the cards in your hand, and where the number 2 card is highest. Of course, in Fight the Landlord, the Joker card is the highest. And in Fight the Landlord, you can drop combinations of cards like straights and pairs together, or something like that…it’s quite difficult to explain. I haven’t fully understood the mechanics of the game, one – since I can’t read the instructions in Chinese, and two – because I don’t fully understand how the instructions on Wikipedia go. I guess you just try out the game and learn it through practice. Of course, playing online means that most plays are somewhat automatic and there’s an online guide to help you and give you hints.
The text above just says that the farmers win the round. This picture is from my QQ game. Other games have other designs for their characters and table settings, though gameplay is always the same.
It’s quite fun though, and most of the time I play it when I’m idle or when i can’t sleep. And the great thing is that if you’re the “farmer”, you play alongside a teammate, which is usually what I choose. I don’t yet have the confidence to boldly choose to be a “landlord” when I see that my cards are good (as players can choose to bid for the landlord position if they think their cards have a chance of winning, because landlords start the game with any cards – combo or otherwise). It’s much easier to partner up with someone. Anyways, it’s a win-win situation if you’re helping out your teammate as you both get points for winning. So, getting rid of all your personal cards isn’t always the answer. Sometimes the strategy is to not do anything so that your partner wins, or to beat the landlord so you can give your partner a chance to win. These strategies work especially well when your partner is only 1-3(more or less) cards away, since some players leave combinations to the very end of the game (which leaves other players surprised and unsuspecting of the turnout).
So far since starting to play, I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. Some are really good wins, and some feel really depressing, especially when I haven’t dropped that many cards and I find myself unable to drop anything before the opponent wins. I’d like to believe though, that I am getting a lot better at playing.
Only time can tell if I’m improving. For now, each game is a learning process, and I still commit a lot of mistakes. But as they say, experience is the best teacher.