Mus, 4 kings
This is a Spanish card game born in Basque Country. The first reference about this game goes back to 1745, when Don Manuel de Larramendi, philologist and Jesuit basque, quoted it the trilingual dictionary (Basque-Spanish-Latin).
The Spanish pack has 40 or 48 cards distributed in four suits: oros (golden coins), copas (glasses), espadas (swords) and bastos (sticks); the picture cards are sota (jack,10), caballo (horse,11), and rey (king,12). Most games are played with the 40 cards pack (pictures and cards from ace to seven), but some of them need also eights and nines.
Mus games are usually played by four people, if possible round a square table, distributed in two pairs whose players must sit alternatively. It may be played also individually or joining teams of three players, but these variants are very unfrequent.
Game normally is rather long, since several hands have to be played and the dynamic of the game entails in obtaining points according to the further rules.
There is the custom, in this game, to use facial signs to secretly inform to the partner about own cards; this is called to play with signs. If so, players must agree about what kind of sigs are allowed (these are variable, especially according to the geographical environment), so that rivals may understand if they pick them up.
Due to the close relation between signs and being face to face with the other players, the version here offered does not allow the use of signs
The winner of the game is the pair who wins 3 sets; each set is won by the first pair who reaches 30 or 40 points.
In this version there is the option to make shorter games by playing to the best of three sets (win two sets), or just play one only set
Generally several hands are needed to reach those 30 or 40 points, accumulated according to the rules explained in the corresponding section.
The score is marked with points or stones (using chickpeas, beans or stones) that are kept by one of the players of the pair. Whenever 5 points are obtained, that player returns them to the center and his partner takes one stone. So one of the members of each pair keeps the 5 points valued stones, called amarrecos, and the other the one point valued stones. The set finishes when one of the pairs obtains 8 amarrecos.
The version here offered shows the score using numbers
How the game goes on
This section explains how to play the hands, and the way of obtaining those wished stones.
The dealer shuffles the cards, gives the pack to the player in his left to cut it and deals 4 cards to each player, one by one and starting by his right.
The next player for the right has the lead, and has the option to express the wish to discard one or more cards and replace with new cards from the pack. This intention is shown using the word mus. The intention to not discard is informed using the expression not mus, cut, or something like that.
While saying mus, each of the players continue informing about their wish to discard.
When some of them doesn´t want to discard (cut the mus), the remaining players cannot say anything and none of them has the option to discard.
If all the players agree saying mus, they throw, starting the leader, the cards that they want to change to the center of the table. Next, the dealer replaces them from the pack as many cards as they have thrown.
This dynamic is repeated as many times as players agree, until some of them announces that he wants to cut the mus.
If all the cards of the pack have been used and still more cards are needed to replace after discarding, the dealer has to take all the thrown cards, shuffle, and use them like a new pack.
This rule is only applied in the first hand of the game, just to know who will be the first leader.
Before starting, players draw lots (normally dealing one card to each of them, the highest card is choosed) who will be the first dealer. During the first hand, instead of saying mus, each player takes the pack of cards and leaves it on the right. If none of them cut the mus, the action of replacing the cards is made by the player who was the leader, and so on. Finally, the player who cut the mus become the leader during the rest of the first hand.
Once the first hand is finished, the lead changes every hand, advancing counterclockwise.
Lances (bet headings)
When some of the players has cut the mus, they start staking about every heading. The headings that players have to talk about are these:
The bet on grande (high) is won by the player who has the higher card according to their index: King, Knight, Sota, seven, six, five, four, three, two, Ace.
The comparison is made between the higher card of each player; on equal values the seconds cards are compared, and so on.
Is higher than this:
The checking has to be made at the end of the hand, when the bets are made for all the four lances
The second lance is chica (lower). The concept is the same as grande, but reversing the value of the cards (Ace, two, three, ...); the winner is the player with the lower card.
The third lance is pares (pairs). Before betting, players must say if they are able to play this lance, using expresions like pairs yes, pairs not, or simply yes.
The bets can be made when at least one player of each couple has pairs. If so, bets are made like the other lances, but only between the players who have pairs.
The hierarchy between combinations (from highest to lowest) is this:
Duples (double pair)
This combination is made when the four cards have the same value, or when they match doing two pairs. It´s like poker or double pairs in the poker game, but there is no advantage when the four cards have the same value (they are just considered like two pairs). When two players have duples the winner is the one with the higher card, just like grande.
The duples made with kings and aces:
Are higher than duples made only with knights:
This combination is made when three of the four cards have the same value (like trio in poker). When two players have medias the winner is the one with the higher trio; if similar, the fourth card does not mark any difference.
This combination is made when two of the four cards have the same value and the other two cards have different values (like pair in poker). When two players have pares the winner is the one with the higher pair; if similar, the other two card don´t mark any difference.
Same as pares, before betting for juego players must say if they are able to play this lance, using expresions like juego yes, juego not, or simply yes.
Juego is made when, adding the values of the four cards, the sum is 31 or higher. The value of the cards is done by their own index, except picture cards, which value is always 10.
The bets can be made when at least one player of each couple has juego. If so, bets are made like the other lances, but only between the players who have juego
The hierarchical order between different combinations of juego, from best to worst, is given by this list: 31; 32; 40; 37; 36; 35; 34; 33.
When nobody has got juego, another lance is played: punto. In this case, all players may bet. The winner is the one with the highest sum, counting same as juego; so, the best possible combination is a sum of 30.
Next, the common rules about the way of staking in all lances will be described:
In every lance players must choose if they want to bet or refrain from do it, in which case will say something like I pass. (As explained, in pares and juego only players with the necessary combinations are able to opt).
Stakes are made bay saying the number of stones to bet; this action is called to throw an envite. When betting the minimum (two stones), player only have to say envido; an higher stake can be made by using the word envido followed by the number of stones, or simply by saying the number of stones to bet.
Answering the stake back
After receiving one stake made by the rival pair, both players can answer in three different ways:
Accept the bet
If so, it must be expressed by any affirmative answer (the more used is a simple yes).
Decline the bet
If so, the answer is something like no or I pass; the pair who made the stake takes one stone inmediately.
Increase the bet
The bet can be increased by any amount, simply by saying the increased amount, this is to say, something like two more or five more. In this case the tables turn and the pair who made the previous stake must answer using one of the same three possibilities: accept, decline or increase. The process continues until someone accepts or declines the last bet. If the last bet is declined the pair who made it will take the total number of stones in the previous bet (the last bet made by the pair that declines).
- Example 1: the A pair stakes (2 points), the B pair stakes 5 more, and A declines: B takes 2 points
- Example 2: the A pair stakes (2 points), the B pair stakes 5 more, A replies with 10 more, and B declines: A takes 7 points (2+5).
This is a special bet. To throw an ordago means that the actual set is put at stake (ignoring the score). When making or increasing a bet, there are always two options: stake a certain number of points or throw the ordago. The penalty for declining one ordago is made in the same way as the other kind of bets.
If the ordago is accepted the hand is halted, the score of the actual set ignored, the cards are inmediately shown and the set will be won by the pair with the best combination in the corresponding lance.
Show the cards
When all the bets finish, players show all the cards and check who is the winner for each of the lances that have been accepted.
Mus is played by pairs, so for every lance the winner is the pair which belongs the player with the best combination, although that player did not participate actively in the betting.
The lances are checked according to the same order that the bets are made (high, low, pairs and juego).
When nobody has betted for some of the lances it is said to be gone in pass (in pairs and juego this is applicable only when there is at least one player for each pair who are able to bet). If the lance is high, low or punto, the pair with the best combination gets one point; for pairs and juego the winner pair gets the right to increase the score for their tricks in the way that further on will be explained.
Collection of the bet
After doing the bets cards must be checked and score updated according to those bets; this process must be made in the same order of the lances. These are the rules to resolve who is the winner for each lance:
- Grande (high): the winner is the player with the higher card according to the explained hierarchy (for example one king and three aces are better than four knights). The winner pair gets the betted number of stones, or one stone if this lance is gone in pass.
- Pequeña (low): the same criteria is applied, using the reverse hierarchy
- Pares and juego: the checking is made according to the explained criteria about the hierarchy between different combinations.
- Punto: the winner is the player with the highest sum. The winner pair gets the betted number of stones, or one stone if this lance is gone in pass.
When there is a draw with the best combination of cards for a certain lance, the winner will be the leader or, failing that, the nearest to the leader in anticlockwise order.
Collection for each trick
When collecting the bets for pares and juego (or punto, when nobody is able to play juego), as well as the points won according to the bet players may sum the stones corresponding to their tricks, according to the following rules.
This count can be made only by the players belonging to apair in one of these conditions:
- If the lance is gone in pass only the player with the best combination and his partner can count
- If one of the pairs has declined a bet, only the other pair can count
- If the bet has been accepted, only the winning pair can count
The combinations for pares are paid with these values:
- 1 stone for pairs
- 2 stones for medias (trio).
- 3 stones for duples (double pair).
The combinations for juego are paid with these values:
- 2 stones when the value is higher than 31.
- 3 stones when the value is 31.
In punto there is not any reward according to the combination, but the winner pair gets 1 stone for this lance.
End of the game
All the achieved stones must be accounted in the same order that lances are played (high, low, pairs, juego and punto); this is very important when both pairs are near of the 40 stones needed to win the set.
The pair who reaches the 40th stone wins inmediately the set, and subsequent lances in the same hand are ignored.
The importance of this order is obvious when someone throws an ordago: if accepted, it must be checked inmediately, ignoring previous bets in the same hand, even if, as a result of those bets, one of the pairs could already win the set.
Play without twoes
There is a variant, played in La Rioja, in which twoes are removed from the deck, and games are played until 25 points.
This option is available in the 4 kings variant.
Mus with 8 kings
There are two variants in mus: mus with 8 kings and mus with 8 kings.
Main rules are the same, but there is a little difference that has a big influence in the strategies and dynamic of the game.
This card combination makes clear the difference between the two variants:
Playing with 4 kings is not possible to bet on pairs; however, playing with 8 kings, this a very good combination of duples made with two kings and two aces.
You have the necessary information in the mus, 8 kings rules page.
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Play by yourself: mus, 4 kings
Card games web site: Mus
Centro mus Zaragoza 4 reyes