Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

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Soluna
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Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Soluna » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:24 pm

Okay, since it has been decided that Saturday Nights for the Royal Castle Banquet will be our new imp tradition "Mahjong Night" and the fact that many of the member are still a bit unfamiliar to the rules of Japanese Mahjong (a bit different from Hong Kong and Madarin), I will try to guide you guys through the basics rules. I will try to make it as easy as possible to understand.

Intro: Basic Game Idea
4 players are each dealt with 13 tiles, with a dealer/host to start the game by drawing 1 tile and discard any of the 14 tiles (13 + the 1 from drawing) and then each player take turns doing the same. The players must change the tile in specific arrangements such that the 13 tiles plus the 14th tile (either from drawing or a discard tile from other player) will make the 14 tiles a complete arrangement.

1. Understand the Tiles.
There are 5 types of tiles in Japanese Mahjong: PIN, SOU, WAN, WIND, and ELEMENT

PIN:
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
These tiles are know as "PIN", it is listed in the order from 1 to 9, it is easy to understand simply by counting the dots in the tiles. We will denote them as 1Pin, 2Pin, 3Pin and so on.

SOU:
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
These tiles are know as "SOU", it is listed in the order from 1 to 9, it is easy to understand by counting the lines, with the exception of 1Sou, which is usually represented by a bird or a peacock sometimes. We will refer these tiles as 1Sou, 2Sou, 3Sou and so on.

WAN:
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
These tiles are know as "WAN", it is listed in the order from 1 to 9, it is easy to understand to the eastern country because it is written with the number 1 to 9 in Chinese and harder for the others to memorize because they are not familiar with the language. We will refer these tiles as 1Wan, 2Wan, 3Wan and so on.

WIND:
ImageImageImageImage
These Tiles are the "WIND" tiles written in Chinese as East, West, South, North respectively.

ELEMENT:
ImageImageImage
These are the "ELEMENT" tiles, there are other names for these tiles, but for simplicity we will call them element tiles. And for simplicity, the naming of these tile can simply be understood as Red, Green, and White tiles. (Note that sometimes brand of white tile does not have the fancy black rectangles, but simply a full white tile).

That is all the tiles in Mahjong, and much like Poker Cards, there are 4 of each tiles in the game (e.g. Four 1Sou, Four 4Pin, Four 9Wan etc...).

2. Melds and Pairs.
Now that you know about the tiles, now is time to talk about the Melds and Pairs! In a game a winning combination will consist of 4 Melds and 1 Pair (There ARE exceptions, we will talk about them later).

Pairs: Consist 2 tile of the same kind.
An example would be:
ImageImage

Melds: Consist of 3 tiles of the same kind or in an order or consist 4 tile of the same kind.
An example of a 3kind would be:
ImageImageImage
An example of a 4kind would be:
ImageImageImageImage
*Note that in the case of 4kind you need to call "Kan" (covered in next section), and you will draw an extra tile.
An example of a straight would be:
ImageImageImage
*One thing to note is that there is no straights for WIND or ELEMENT tiles.

3. The Calls, Open and Close Hand
There are 3 types of calls in the game, and they are: "PON", "CHI", "KAN". You can call these when another player discard a tile fitting the description below. The only exception is Kan, where you can call Kan if you draw your own 4kind meld.

PON: You have 2kind and any another player discarded the same tile, you can call "PON" to make a 3kind Meld.
e.g. You have ImageImage, Player Bob discarded a Image, you can call Pon to make a 3kind meld, you must then discard 1 tile from your hand after this.

CHI: You 2 tiles that need a 3rd tile to make a straight, you can call "CHI" if the player before you discard such a tile.
e.g. You have ImageImage, if the the player before you discarded Image or Image, you can call Chi to make a straight meld and skip your draw phase. You must also discard 1 tile after calling Chi.

KAN: In general, there are 3 situation in which you may call Kan:
1. You have 3 of the same tiles and another player discard the 4th tile of that tile.
2. You have 3 of the same tiles and you drew the 4th tile. (This is referred as Closed-Kan)
3. You called a Pon, and then drew the 4th tile of the same tile.
*Note that 2 and 3 different in that 2's 3Kind meld is obtained without Pon (meaning obtained from drawing only), and 3's 3Kind meld is obtained through Pon.

Now, it is possible that a player wants to call CHI while another player wants to call PON, in such a case, the player who calls PON will get the tile. The order of magnitude is the following: KAN > PON > CHI, such that KAN will happen prior to PON will happen prior to CHI.

Another thing to note from this is that if you make any calls, that meld will become now open for the other players to see and your hand is now considered as open. The only exception to this is the Closed-Kan, where you called Kan, but the other player cannot see what that tile is (hence is called Closed-Kan). When your hand is an Open Hand, you lose some type of Yaku and reduce Fan (Will explain this in the next section) in some situations, therefore is not always best to call even though you can.

4. How to make a winning combination
To start this section, we have to first understand a few terms:
Tenpai: You are missing the last tile to win.
Ron: This is what you call when another player discard the last tile you needed to win.
Tsumo: This is what you call when you draw the last tile you needed to win.
Yaku: is the set of patterns that is considered as a winning combination. There are a lot different ones, in which I will list some them next.
Fan: is a unit in calculating the points, the more fan will give you more points when you win.

Now, in order to win the game, you need to be in a Tenpai state for a Yaku, if you are in a Tenpai state but doesn't have a Yaku you cannot call Ron or Tsumo.

Now here are some of the Yaku types:
Riichi --- requirement: Have No Calls, Have 1000 Points left at minimum, Have 1 more Draw Phase at minimum.

Ippatsu --- requirement: Within 1 turn a Player calls Riichi.

Closed Tsumo --- requirement: Have No Calls.

Pinn Huu --- requirement: Have No Calls, 4 melds are all straights, pair is not of Element Tiles or your/round Wind Tiles (See next Section).
ImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImage Needing Image

Tanyao Chuu --- requirement: Have no 1s or 9s, Have no Wind and Element Tiles in all Melds and Pair.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImage ImageImage Needing Image

Iipeikou --- requirement: Have No Calls, Have 2 of the same straights of the same type.
ImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImage Needing Image

Fanpai --- requirement: Have a Pon of any Element Tile, or a Pon of your/round Wind Tiles (See next Section).
Have ImageImageImage or ImageImageImage or ImageImageImage or the ImageImageImageImage 3 of kind of the Round Wind or Own Wind.

Rinchan Kaihou --- requirement: Obtain the last tile from the tile drew from calling Kan.

Chan Kan --- requirement: Obtain the last tile from the tile a player calling Kan.

Haitei --- requirement: Obtain the last tile from the last draw phase needed to win.

Ryanpeikou --- requirement: Have No Calls, Have two 2 of the same straights of the same type.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImage ImageImage Needing Image

Sanshoku Doujun --- requirement: Have 3 of the same straight in 3 different tile type.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image Needing Image

Itsu --- requirement: Have the straight 123, 456, 789 in Sou, Pin, or Wan.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image Needing Image

Chanta --- requirement: All Melds and Pair all have 1s or 9s or Wind or Element Tiles.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image Needing Image

Chii Toitsu --- requirement: 7 pairs of different tiles. (An Exception to the 4 Melds and 1 Pair Winning Combination).
7 Pairs e.g. ImageImage

Toi-Toi --- requirement: All Melds are 3kinds.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImage ImageImage Needing Image or Image

San Ankou --- requirement: 3 Melds are 3kind and they must not be obtained through Pon.

San Kan Tsu --- requirement: 3 Kans (4kind), can be open or closed.

San Shoku Dokou --- requirement: 3 Melds of 3kind of a same tile in different type.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image Needing Image

Honroutou --- requirement: All Melds are 3kind and all tiles are 1s or 9s or Wind or Element Tiles including the Pair.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image Needing Image

Shou San Gen --- requirement: 2 Melds of 3kind of the Element Tile, and a Pair of the third Element Tile.
ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image Needing Image

Those are the more common ones, there are other combination, but they don't usually appear in game, for those of who are interested you can look into this link: Yaku Combinations.

5. Winds, Dora, and Furiten
Each Player will represent a Wind, and each Round will be of 1 Wind. In general, we play East Wind round only during the banquet due to the short time limit. In the game flow, if a dealer doesn't win (meaning if someone else called ron or tsumo), then the next player becomes the dealer. If the dealer wins or the round ended in a draw, then the dealer will remain as a dealer until someone else wins.

Thus, in a general cycle there is 4 rounds:
East Wind East
East Wind West
East Wind South
East Wind North
*The above cycle is the East Wind Rounds. The Round Wind mentioned in the previous section refers to the East Wind and Your/Own Wind refer to wind you represent as.

Dora, is the tile that is flipped on the table and it is used for bonus Fan. If the displaying tile is 2Sou, then the dora tile is 3Sou, if it is displaying 7Pin, then the dora tile is 8Pin and so on. In addition, if a player calls Kan, another tile will be flipped to be displayed as the dora tile.

Finally, we will talk about Furiten. This happen often to people who doesn't know the rules of Japanese Mahjong, and Furiten usually happens in 3 ways:
1. You are in tenpai state, but the tile you need is a tile you discarded.
2. You are in tenpai state (no riichi), and didn't call ron on a player's discard.
3. You called riichi, but didnt call ron on player's discard or didn't call tsumo.

In Furiten, you cannot call Ron and call only Tsumo. In addition for situation 1, if your last tile needed was 6Sou or 9Sou because you have 7Sou and 8Sou, but if you discarded 9Sou before, you cannot call Ron on 6Sou nor 9Sou. The state of Furiten for situation 1 and situation 3 will last until the end of the game, whereas situation 2 will last for 1 turn only.

That's all the basics for the Mahjong, there are more technical stuffs, but they are not really necessary. You can ask Sig or Me for more info if you want more clarification on some of the rules.
Image

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Soluna
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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Soluna » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:56 pm

Updated sample combination for the Yaku for easier understanding.
Image

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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Patchy » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:39 pm

Oh man, Mahjong!! Where are you guys playing? I'm guessing http://tenhou.net/ or something like that? And is there an IRC channel going on for the matchmaking and general trash-talking, since iirc tenhou.net doesn't let you chat there? Anyway, I'll play!
Soluna wrote:Now, it is possible that a player wants to call CHI while another player wants to call PON, in such a case, the player who calls PON will get the tile. The order of magnitude is the following: KAN > PON > CHI, such that KAN will happen prior to PON will happen prior to CHI.
Oh I didn't know KAN > PON. But is there an actual situation where that comes into play? We'd have to be cheating and sneaking in additional tiles under our sleeves or something, right?
Soluna wrote:Now, in order to win the game, you need to be in a Tenpai state for a Yaku, if you are in a Tenpai state but doesn't have a Yaku you cannot call Ron or Tsumo.
I was never really familiarized with all those Yakus besides the really obvious ones, so that happened to me a lot, and I was like wtf did I get Furiten again?!?!?! Also I hate Furiten too.

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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Soluna » Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:06 am

Patchy wrote:Oh man, Mahjong!! Where are you guys playing? I'm guessing http://tenhou.net/ or something like that? And is there an IRC channel going on for the matchmaking and general trash-talking, since iirc tenhou.net doesn't let you chat there? Anyway, I'll play!
Yea, we are using Tenhou, we are doing it every Saturday Night now during Royal Banquet in Mabinogi (7~8PM PST), I mean we all sit at 1 table after all (although it is 5 seat per table), so yea <_< you can trash talk in guild chat if you want... Sig also suggest play with Mabi-Gold... we'll see how it goes, I don't want this to become a gambling habit for people.
Patchy wrote:Oh I didn't know KAN > PON. But is there an actual situation where that comes into play? We'd have to be cheating and sneaking in additional tiles under our sleeves or something, right?
It Is not possible to have KAN and PON at same time, but a KAN is a higher form of PON anyway so I just threw that in there. It is is possible to have RON vs KAN though, in such a case RON > KAN.
Patchy wrote:I was never really familiarized with all those Yakus besides the really obvious ones, so that happened to me a lot, and I was like wtf did I get Furiten again?!?!?! Also I hate Furiten too.
As for Furiten you just have to get use to it... or just not call and pray you get riichi XD, not really. Just remember the common ones and start from there, in general the pattern is the same, most of it are just base form and advanced form of a pattern. Like say Honroutou, it is just the advanced form of Chanta, where Horoutou require 3 Melds being 3kind and all Melds/Pair contain a 1 or 9 or WIND or Element, but Chanta only require all Melds/Pai contain a 1 or 9 or WIND or Element. And obviously, Horoutou will have more Fan than Chanta. So just memorize the 1 Fan / 2 Fan Yakus, those are the most common ones you will get anyway...
Unlike something like:
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
This is Chuuren Pooto, it needs to be a closed hand, it is Yakuman (13 Fan or more combination are called Yakuman). With this hand You can win on any tile from Image to Image (Total of 23 Tiles), but what is the chances you can actually pull this off...XD, other interesting ones includes Koku Shimusou aka. 13 Orphans, but yea... chances are those are hard to do...

And do note this is just a basic understanding of the rules, there are also more specific rules, but these should help the beginners who is having trouble understanding why they can't call Ron or Riichi.
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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Patchy » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:49 am

Soluna wrote:As for Furiten you just have to get use to it... or just not call and pray you get riichi XD, not really.
Haha, yeah. I learned that it's kinda dangerous to just PON and CHI whenever, and blindly hope that I somehow had a Yaku going somewhere that I didn't know about.

Anyway, I see what you mean about playing Mahjong during the Banquet thing in Mabinogi. I still think you should have a separate IRC channel for the Mahjong participants though, mainly so I can participate without playing Mabi, and also to keep your guild chat log "clean" from our vulgar gambling chit-chats? :D Although, with the short timer in tenhou.net, there's not much time to talk during a match... From my experience last playing with a fighting-game community, most of the talking happens at the end of a match, where we complained about my quick RON's with cheap-ass Yakus that are worth like no fans, or on that other guy who always goes for the one-suit thing because he says that's the only one he knows... Oh man, good times!

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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Soluna » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:20 pm

You can always use the forum hahaha <_< screenshot the end score or something
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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by shadofrak » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:53 pm

*bump for later*
this is definitely helpful lol i dont completely get it yet but i think ill at least be able to knowledeably play the game
ill try and find someone IRL who can teach me
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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by Soluna » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:48 pm

shadofrak wrote:*bump for later*
this is definitely helpful lol i dont completely get it yet but i think ill at least be able to knowledeably play the game
ill try and find someone IRL who can teach me
Really the first thing to do is to learn the tiles first so you can form 3-Kind or Straights, then from there you can start play the game by playing it and eventually it will make much more sense.
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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by zcoinz » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:48 pm

Yay i'm learning how to play. I play on tenhou.net and my skills are getting way better. Woohoo! :lol:

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Re: Intro to Japanese Mahjong Basics

Post by shadofrak » Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:48 pm

now that the thread has been bumped and i reread it, i understand it much better...
hopefully ill be on for the next banquet for mahjong!!!
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