Three Player Mü
Lately we've been playing an awful lot of Mü at lunch. I recently reviewed this game so go give that a read if you've never heard of it and then come back here. I'll wait.
Back yet? Good.
Today at lunch there were only three of us, which is pretty rare. Usually when that happens we play three player Tichu, which is somewhat less than satisfying but better than playing nothing at all. Today we didn't have a Tichu deck with us. We had been planning on playing a four player game of Mü but our fourth player had to cancel at the last minute and we didn't get the message.
So what to do when you have only three players and a Mü deck? (We didn't have the rule book with us so we couldn't try any of the three player games described in the Mü & More rules.) Why not try to come up with a good three player variant? Well that's exactly what we did and I think it worked really well. In fact, the common consensus is that it's just as good as (if not better than) three player Tichu.
So, in the interest of continuing to promote this excellent game, I hereby present our rules for...
Three Player Mü
This game plays almost identically to the four player game. Four hands are dealt as normal. The major difference is that one hand is played by a dummy player. Let's call him Fred.
Fred's position rotates with the deal. He always sits opposite the dealer. The "real" players remain in their same positions throughout the game. So the second pile of cards dealt always belongs to Fred no matter who dealt them.
Bidding progresses exactly as in a four player game. Fred does not bid and no one gets to see Fred's cards during bidding. This means that Fred can never be chief, nor can he ever be vice.
Once bidding has concluded, the vice (if there is one) chooses under-trump as normal and the chief chooses over-trump as normal. The chief then chooses a partner as normal. That means the chief can either choose Fred or the remaining player as partner.
Once the partner has been chosen, Fred's hand is revealed to all players. Fred's hand is played exactly like any other player's and his play is controlled by whichever player is on his team. So if the chief chooses to partner with Fred then the chief will play Fred's hand, otherwise the vice will play Fred's hand.
Fred takes tricks just like any other player and his tricks are kept and scored separately, just as if Fred were a real player. All bonuses and penalties apply as normal but since Fred can never be chief or vice, he will never lose points due to a failed bid.
And that's how to play three player Mü. We found that it played very well. Having only three players participate in the bidding definitely alters the feel of the bidding a bit from the four player game but it didn't really seem to be an overwhelming change. The fact that all players get to see Fred's hand is definitely a huge advantage to whomever is leading but it doesn't ruin the game. Especially since all players have exactly the same knowledge. I'd definitely prefer to play with four flesh-and-blood players but as three player games go, this is definitely well worth playing.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!