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Gang of Four
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Store:  Family Games, Card Games
Edition:  Gang of Four
Series:  Gang of Four
Genre:  Trick-Taking
Format:  Card Games
Family:  Zheng Shangyou

Gang of Four

first edition

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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 20-40 minutes 3-4

Designer(s): Lee F Yih

Publisher(s): Days of Wonder, Asmodee North America

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Product Description

Gang of Four is an exciting game of Cunning, Strategy and Power. Originating in the gambling backstreets of Hong Kong, Gang of Four is the most popular card game to emerge from Asia in decades.

Filled with an endless variety of strategies and tactics, Gang of Four is fun, entertaining and full of surprises, yet is simple to learn and play. The game's premise is simple - be the first to rid yourself of all your cards and ascend to supreme power. But beware - a strategic misstep may find you in a struggle to survive.

Gang of Four is terrific fun for adults and children and is a highly addictive card game for your family or friends.

Product Information


  • 64 card deck
  • 1 rules booklet
  • 2 rule summary cards
  • 1 score pad
  • 1 on-line access card

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 4 reviews

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by Mark Paul
Easier, but equal in skill to Tichu.
January 06, 2007

As a Tichu nut, and a player of other eastern "Climbing" games I came to Gang of Four with a little concern. Tichu seemed more like the real Eastern games and I thought this would be another dumbed down version of the genre. (How many variations of Oh Hell! are on the market?)

Gang of four is a mixture of the going out games and the collection games of the far east, you must go out first, but score the cards in your opponents hands. Clear rules, an online tutorial and play through the Games of Wonder website give you a chance to hone your skills.

Tremendous room for skillful play and tactics.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Jay
I Am Addicted!
September 13, 2003

I leave it to the other reviews for game mechanics. I will tell you that this is a wonderful card game that is very addicting, and has zoomed to the top of my list of desired plays. Added to that is a free one year web pass to play online. The action is particularly great at noon when the French pile in after their work day. This will be one of my games where the cards will wear. And that's a great thing. Enjoy!

This intriguing game from the Far East has me hooked!
May 25, 2003

There is no doubt that Gang of Four is certainly in the same family as Tichu, a game that has developed a cult-like following in some gaming circles. Ive played Tichu twice and both times was very foggy concerning the rules and various strategies. As a result, I felt more like a spectator at a curling event; in other words, I had no clue what was going on. Thus, Ive not gotten caught-up in Tichu-mania. Fortunately for me, Gang of Four is easier to learn and play than Tichu. Still, when it came time to play Gang of Four for the first time, I felt it would be to my best advantage to try the game online first and learn some pointers from experienced players. This was a reach for me, as I had never, ever played an online game. I spend WAY too much time playing, reading and writing about games already, so I have no time or real incentive to jump into online gaming. Still, I figured Id be able to learn the game better from experienced players, so I signed onto the Days of Wonder website and waited for the opportunity to be dragged into a game.

Imagine my surprise when I was dragged into a game with one of the proprietors of Days of Wonder, Eric Hautemont, along with two Frenchmen. They were all very patient in helping me learn the rules and possible strategies. In what was either an amazing accomplishment or an act of charity on the part of my fellow players, I managed to win the game. I must admit that I initially thought the game would not be to my tastes, but I really enjoyed the experience. The online version of the game is VERY good and helps the game play quickly and easily. Overall, it was a most satisfying experience.

However, the next time I played the game was when I was visiting my good friends Craig Berg, Michael Adams and James Miller in frigid Ohio and, to my disappointment, the game fell flat. Scores were ridiculously low as everyone managed to keep their hand size below eight. We played three rounds and I dont think anyone was in double-digits, meaning it would take hours and hours for someone to reach the game-ending score of 100. We aborted after four hands.

Fortunately, my next several experiences were all much better and closer to my online experience. Even though I regularly get thrashed, I find myself enjoying the game and am still struggling, yet eager to learn the strategies necessary to play the game well.

Perhaps an explanation of the game is in order. The deck consists of 64 cards in three suits:

60 cards ranked 1 10, two each in the three colors (green, yellow and red)

1 multi-colored 1

2 Phoenix cards (green, yellow)

1 Red Dragon

When ranking cards, numbers are considered first, then colors. So, a 9 is always higher than an 8. If two 9s are played, however, then the color rankings are examined, with red being the highest and green being the lowest.

When playing with four players, the entire deck is dealt and play begins with the player possessing the multi-colored 1. The player may play a combination of 1 5 cards, which must include this multi-colored 1. In Great Dalmuti fashion, all players must then play a combination of cards consisting of the same number of cards played by the lead player, but in a higher rank. Or, they may pass if they desire or if they cannot play the required combination.

So just what are the possible combinations?

Single card

Pairs (numbers, not colors)

Three-of-a-King (again, numbers, not colors)

Five card combinations, including:

* Straight 5 cards in sequential order (no Phoenix or Dragon allowed)

* Flush 5 cards of the same color of any rank (no Phoenix or Dragon)

* Full House A pair, plus three of a kind

* Straight Flush 5 cards in sequential order and of the same color (no Phoenix

or Dragon)

Four of a Kind numbers, not colors. This is known as the Gang of Four. Please note that it is also possible to play a Gang of Five, Gang of Six or even a Gang of Seven (by using the multi-colored 1 to complete a set of six 1s!). The Gang of Four (or Five, Six or Seven) beats all other hands and can only be beaten by a higher Gang of Four (or 5, 6 or 7).

The two special types of cards in the deck are the Red Dragon, which is the HIGHEST single card in the deck and can ONLY be played as a single card, and the two Phoenix cards. The Phoenix cards can be played as a single, in which case the card may only be beaten by the Red Dragon or the higher ranked Phoenix, or as a pair, either alone or in combination with a full house. They cannot be played as a part of any other five-card combination.

Since players are required to play the same combination of cards (with the exception of a Gang of Four (or 5, 6 or 7), which can be played on any combination, the game has a certain Great Dalmuti feel to it. The critical skill is managing the cards you possess so that you can control the pace of the game and quickly deplete your hand in rapid succession once you gain control of the lead. One would think that your fate would be determined by your hand of cards. To be sure, this does play a factor, but Ive witnessed some incredibly skillful play wherein a player managed to consistently deplete his hand of cards, even when in possession of a seemingly horrible hand!

Players continue to play combinations until no one can play. The player winning the hand then leads the next hand. This process continues until one player depletes his entire hand of cards, at which points scores are tallied. Players score points based on the number of cards remaining in their hand:

1- 7 cards: 1 point per card

8 10 cards: double the points per card

11 13 cards: triple the points per card

14 15 cards: quadruple the points per card

16 cards: quintuple the points per card (OUCH!)

Since the object is to deplete your hand and hopefully score zero points, you can see that minimizing the number of cards remaining in your hand at the end of a round is vital. After four games, Ive managed to somewhat gain the skill of getting my hand down to just a few cards, but I rarely manage to go out first. Ill keep trying, though!

Once the scores are recorded, a new hand begins. This process is completed until one player reaches or tops 100 points, at which time the player with the fewest cumulative points is victorious. In two of the four games Ive played, this took about 30 minutes or so. In the other two games, it would have taken considerably longer if we had played to completion. I think, though, that it is a matter of skill. The more skilled the players involved in the game, the quicker the game will go as they will have mastered strategies and techniques in which to rapidly deplete their hand of cards.

The game also includes a few other twists. One is VERY Dalmuti-ish, requiring the loser of the previous round to give the highest card in his hand to the winner of the previous round, while the winner gives the loser any card of his choice. The difference here is that the winner gets to examine the card given to him BEFORE giving a card to the other player. Further, the exchanged cards are shown to all players.

Another main ingredient is the Last Card requirement. Whenever a player has only one card remaining in his hand, he is required to declare Last Card (kind of like the Uno requirement!). If a player fails to do so, he cannot win that hand and will score one point when the hand is completed. After this declaration of Last Card, the player sitting immediately before the declaring player MUST play his highest single-ranking card, provided that single card combinations are being played or if he is opening the hand.

The game also has a confusing reverse rule wherein each hand alternates direction clockwise, then counter-clockwise. This is done, according to the rules, to insure that no player is forced to consistently play after the strongest (or weakest) player. That may be true, but it also adds considerable confusion to the process.

After over a half-dozen playings (albeit two of them shortened), I am still intrigued by the game. Im generally not a fan of traditional style card games, so the whole straight, full-house, flush lingo still confuses me. I also still have trouble visualizing the various possible combinations I can form from the sizeable hand of cards. Skilled card players will likely have no trouble with these aspects of the game. Still, Im learning, and Im finding that Im enjoying the game more and more as the learning process progresses. I dont think Im ready for Tichu yet, but it may not be too far away!

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