How to play mikado, the pick up sticks game

Number of players
Recommended age
Competition type
all vs. all
Playing time
-10 min
Cost or investment

Brief description of the game

If we say that Mikado is about removing sticks without moving the others. It seems that it is only a matter of a good pulse, but it is not so: it is just as important the strategy when deciding which stick to remove depending on its situation in the stack and the number of points it awards.
Table of contents

How to play MIKADO

Things you need to know before starting to play

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Number of players

Between 2 and 6 players, 5 years or older.

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What do you need to play

A Mikado game. You can easily find simple and cheap versions in local stores.

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Scoring for each MIKADO stick

In a Mikado game there are 41 sticks. Each of them has associated colorful patterns and each pattern has associated a number of points:

15 Sticks KULI

palillo culi de mikado

2 points

15 Sticks BONZEN

palillo bonzo de mikado

3 points


palillo mandarín de mikado

5 points

5 Sticks SAMURAI

palillo samurai de mikado

10 points

1 Stick MIKADO

palillo mikado

20 points

It is important to know how many points you win with every stick!

If you have purchased a commercial game, it may be that the color patterns are different and with different scores. En ese caso sigue las instrucciones del juego.

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Who’s first?

The youngest player starts and the turn is passed to the player on his right.

Goal of the game

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How to win a game of MIKADO?

The player who adds the most points from the removed sticks wins.

Mikado rules: playing a game

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Tossing the sticks

A player takes all Mikado sticks in one hand, places them vertically on the table and drops them.

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That’s how a turn goes

The player whose turn it is will try to pick up a stick from the pile by touching only that stick and without moving any others.

If successful, they keep it and can try with another.

The player’s turn ends when he touches or moves a different stick than the one he was trying to pick up. If that happens the player must leave that stick back on the stack and it is the turn of the next player, the one on his right.


The rules of the classic Mikado allow to use some of the extracted sticks as help to extract others.

Game over. Who wins?

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And the winner is…

The game ends when there are no more sticks in the stack. At that time each player adds the points of each of their sticks. Whoever scores the most points wins.

How to create a homemade version of Mikado

You can use barbecue skewers or thin wooden sticks for this. If they come in different colors, even better! You can paint the scoring patterns with colorful markers. Make sure the sticks aren’t too thin, as it can affect the gaming experience. It’s as easy as that!

If you don’t have barbecue skewers, you can improvise a similar game using thin and small objects you have at home, like pencils, spoons, rulers, or even colored pencils. Use colorful stickers or adhesive tape to mark points on the objects. Each object can have a different value. Let your imagination run wild! Let your imagination run wild!

palillo de brocheta
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Buying guide and tips

If you don’t have the time or inclination for DIY, you can easily purchase a high-quality Mikado set at an unbeatable price on Amazon.

Games like Mikado

There are games with mechanics very similar to Mikado, such as Jenga. Rock me Archimedes is another very interesting balancing game.

Origin of the game Mikado

The game Mikado, also known as “Chinese Sticks” in some places, has its origins in ancient Asia. Although an exact date of its origin is not known, it is believed that the game was developed in China over 1,000 years ago. Over time, the game spread to other parts of Asia, including Japan, where it became popular under the name “Mikado” in the 19th century.

The word “Mikado” is of Japanese origin and refers to the title of the Emperor of Japan. The connection between the game’s name and the imperial title is somewhat mysterious, but it is believed to have been used to add an exotic and appealing touch to the game when it was introduced to the Western world in the 19th century.

In Europe, the Mikado game became a popular pastime during the 19th century and was played in both elegant salons and common households. As it spread worldwide, different versions of the game with various names, such as “Chinese Sticks,” “Mikado,” “Jungle Sticks,” and others, were adapted

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LOODENS rating

It is another one of those games that should be in every home, a must have game that everyone should play from time to time.

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