The last time a mahjong thread was made, it didn't seem like there were any new players. This thread's opening purpose is a visual aid to hopeful beginners, introducing Japanese Riichi Mahjong in the Ari-Ari style. All this means is that common "local" or "house" rules will also be introduced. These rules introduce a little more chance and may increase the pace of play, which increases casual play enjoyment. These rules will also be isolated later on for those who wish to play using the more rigid tourney style rules.
Now with links to other posts relevant to the rules!
Within The Introduction, there are quite a few different topics. All Hail f3 or whatever your search command is (Search I00#, there ya go). Anyways, the topics parsed out are as follows:
- Tiles (I001) - Well, These are the tiles.
- Hand Formation Basics (I002) - Yep, that's how we play.
- Calls (I003) - Because this is how some people like the game
- Riichi and Yaku (I004) - The Defining point for Riichi mahjong. Dora is touched upon in this section.
- Winning (I005) - This is how you win the game.
- Oh Yeah, Question. (I006) - Because I went narration, this section is more on the limits of dora.
- Setting Up and Payment Types (I007) - Wall Building and all that jazz.
List of Yaku w/ differences between Allowed/Not Allowed rule sets - Refer here for Yaku Tables, Fu Counting, Han Counting, and score tables.
The Set Up - Point Stick discussion and distribution. Also In-Game Deposits, Penalties, and Bonuses section (riichi, honba/renchan, proportionality winnings, chombo, and noten)
Washouts - How the game ends if no one wins. Special cases of force draws, etc.
After the opening posts, I encourage questions, discussion about possible tactics, and most importantly I hope that people will use this thread as a means of setting up matches and playing with each other. Mahjong is a multiplayer game, so getting people together is what this is all about. There are FREE to use online sites, such as tenhou.net, where we can play against each other even with large physical location problems. In fact, I encourage the use of tenhou.net, since there is a tab which allows you to look at games you've participated in. Asking about how to do things or what went wrong using this is a great way to improve, and even learn. Online matches in the non-zero lobbies, where we can isolate ourselves to have matches among ourselves (members of beast's lair and maybe other friends), is also the reason for the sticky. Hope everyone interested can enjoy themselves~
We'll use this lobby for online matches, unless you have another preference (in which case, speak up and we can vote) :
For those who need help logging into Tenhou, this is pretty helpful.
For more details on the Tenhou engine and interface, including replay data, etc., this should be quite helpful too.
Anyways, let's get going on this introduction to Japanese Riichi Mahjong.
Training Links for Yaku Mastery and Scoring are in the 2nd post
Assisting (doing all of the actual work for) me for the first portion of this instruction will be Ayumu, the resident Mahjong deity representing Love and Peace.
Is everyone ready~?
*disclaimer: I can't read moonrunes, so these aren't actual translations. I tried to listen properly for the names/categories, but Yui Sakakibara's hilariously erotic voice (hilarious being the part that matters right now) means it won't necessarily be sounded out properly. I'll eventually edit more "proper" names in if this thread actually survives.*
First, let's look at the tiles used in play:
It's too overwhelming to just try to learn all of them at once. So let's start with the suits,shuuhai/shuupai like with a deck of cards.
Numbering 1-9 in three suits, from the top they are manzu (Chinese characters), pinzu (circles, dots, etc.), and souzu[/i] (bamboo, with the exception of number 1 being a bird--don't ask, it just is). In the middle of play, pinzu and souzu are easy to figure out--just count the number of dots or bamboo, remembering the bird for 1 of souzu.
Counting only really helps in manzu up to the number 4--1 has a single line, 2 has two lines, 3 has three lines, and 4 has 4 vertical lines sandwiched between two horizontal lines. 5 is the messiest of the manzu, so that is one way to remember it. 6 looks kinda like a stick person running, so I remember it as a person--1 head, 1 torso, 2 arms, 2 legs, for a total of 6 things. 7, 8, and 9 are harder, but there is a way to remember them. This is Beast's Lair, and Nanaya fans abound. 7 here is the same as Nanaya's seven. Or, you could think of it as a sloppy upside-down cursive Arabic seven. 8 and 9 I don't really have anything to help you memorize with by themselves, but as the left over tiles, 8 has less "strokes" than 9.
Pronunciation of these tiles are a simple affixing the number at the respective defining feature of the suits. 1=ii, 2=ryan, 3=san, 4=suu, 5=uu, 6=ryuu/lo, 7=chii, 8=paa, 9=chuu; manzu->wan, pinzu->pin, souzu->sou. The only exceptions to this naming rule are 4 of the souzu, 2,3,4, and 8. These aren't really glaring exceptions, but rather pronunciation conventions. Ryansou becomes ryanzou, sansou becomes sanzou, suusou becomes sussou, paasou becomes passou.
Next are the honors tiles, tsuupai/tsuuhai. You can think of these as like "jokers" in a deck of cards, but have a more pronounced usage.
Altogether, that means there are 3 suits x 9 numbers for suits + 7 for honors giving us a total of 34 different tiles.
There are four of each tile, giving a total of 136 tiles.
Just remember, there are only 34 different tiles, and the rest are copies. A deck of cards has 52-54 different cards, depending on if jokers are included or not. This task is looking less daunting already, hopefully.
I'm sure you've already noticed, but the honors tiles are divided into two parts:
First are the Four Winds tiles
from left to right, East (Ton), South (Nan), West (Xia), North (Pei).
Last are the Three Dragons tiles
from left to right, White/Blank (Haku), Green (Hatsu), Red (Chun)
Now that you know what all of the tiles are called, let's get onto the game.
Hand Formation Basics
A basic working hand in mahjong consists of 13 tiles, and completed basic hand in mahjong consists of 14 tiles. That is, each player sits with 13 tiles, and takes turns drawing and discarding a tile. We will take a look at the composition of a completed hand, since a working hand doesn't progress if you don't know what to aim for.
4 sets of 3 tiles (mentsu) and a pair/head (atama) make up a winning hand.
let's look at some examples of mentsu.
of these, let's first take a look at the left column.
this type of set is called shuntsu, also called a straight or sequence. you can only make shuntsu in threes, meaning no 1234. of course, you can can have a 123456, but it counts as two sets, not one.
let's look at some restrictions on shuntsu
shuntsu are restricted to staying within the respective suit, and only in increasing order. for those with difficulty on manzu numbering, refer back to second tutorial image, or the 4th image and captions in this post. this shows that while 567 is allowed, 912 is not allowed. Also, the tsuuhai don't form shuntsu ever.
now let's look at the other mentsu
these are 3 of a kinds, koutsu. 4 of a kind is also possible, and falls under koutsu as well, but more will be said on this later.
a winning hand is such made up of 4 mentsu, with each mentsu being either shuntsu or koutsu.
the only part without discussion is the head or pair. from it's name alone, it should easy enough to figure out what it is.
These are the basic structures of hand making. Now let's move onto a critical part of making hands.
Other than drawing tiles, it is possible to build your hand using the discards of other players. There is also a special call required for the 4 of a kind koutsu.
These calls are pon, chii, and kan. It should be noted that using calls to complete a mentsu is exactly that--you can only call if you're one tile away from completing the mentsu.
First we will look at pon and chii.
Note that these are examples, so any shuuhai falls under these terms.
Pon is the completing of a koutsu.
this is shown by the upper diagram using the manzu: iiwan.
Chii is the completing of a shuntsu.
this is shown by the lower diagram using the souzu: sanzou, sussou, and uusou.
Chii has an inconvenient restriction, which will be noted later in the Setting Up section
These two are the basic calls.
It should be noted that calls can only happen on the most immediate of discards--once a new tile is drawn, all discarded tiles are "dead" and sit there to be gawked at for the rest of the hand.
Now let's look at the special call, Kan.
Like with pon, you have to collect the same tile in your hand before making this call. Displayed here, you must already have 3 tiles in your hand before declaring kan.
Let's look at the top row kan more closely.
this type of kan is made by collecting 3 of the 4 tiles, and calling the 4th tile. this is called a minkan. This distinction is necessary for the scoring system.
Now let's look at the bottom row kan more closely.
this type of kan is made when you collect all 4 of the tiles on your own draws. this is called an ankan.
Ankan are the luckiest and most useful/versatile of the kan calls.
Even though it is technically a call, unlike other calls, your hand remains considered "closed". This is a very powerful distinction for scoring. It also looks cool, since you get to turn tiles over.
Minkan are still pretty rare, and have many perks in ari-ari rules.
This minkan shown is made by collecting 3 tiles and then calling on the 4th. This is called a
daiminkan. This distinction isn't really necessary outside of a very obscure and rarely used rule, but since is great, they're calling it that.
Minkan can also be made through the use of Pon.
after collecting two tiles, it is possible to declare pon on the third. then, drawing the 4th tile, you can promote the pon into a kan. it has the same end effect as a daiminkan, but promoting a pon into a kan comes with a risk--if the promotion tile is someone's winning tile, they can call your promotion and effectively steal the tile you drew yourself. It is also possible to already have 3 of the tiles, but declare pon only and save the 4th for either shuntsu or delaying the call of kan.
There is a restriction on the promotion of pon into kan.
This isn't a special rule, but rather the application of the rules on calling in general. If you've already declared pon, that mentsu is already exposed. As such, if someone discards the 4th tile, you cannot call that tile to make a kan--this would make your koutsu made of two tiles self drawn, and two tiles recycled from other players. Called mentsu can only have 1 recycled tile.
These are the three methods of arriving at the kan call.
All kans have a special function. Since you are turning a mentsu, which is usually 3 tiles, into a 4 tile set, the rest of your hand will now be lacking. To compensate, a player declaring kan is allowed to draw an extra tile from the stack of tiles at the end of the game that you usually are not allowed to touch--the dead wall or king's treasure. If you happen to complete your winning hand by the dead wall draw, your hand increases in point value. This chance would be a reason to take the risk of holding onto the 4th tile and only calling pon, instead of making an immediate daiminkan. Risk management is the game, here.
These are all of the "hand building" calls in the game. Increasing points has been mentioned in passing, so let's move onto that.
Riichi and Yaku
In riichi mahjong, scoring is not a simple addition system. It uses a base score and multiplier count to calculate hand values. Granted, higher multiplier scores far exceed the allotted point values in a game, so for hands of 5 multipliers or more, predetermined scores are listed. Also, since base score can only go so high, and for ease of play, "calculated" point hands are also easy to fit in a table. Discussion on base score and a table of values for hands will be given their own section later. This section will be about discussing multiplier points, fan. Fan are awarded in set amounts by meeting certain conditions with your hand. These conditions are called yaku.
First, we will go over the yaku that makes riichi mahjong riichi mahjong--Riichi.
Riichi is the lovely engrish version of the word "reach". In other words, declaring "riichi" means you're telling your opponents that you've reached tenpai. Tenpai is the state of your 13 tiles ready and waiting for your winning 14th tile (15th-18th tile if you're using kan). This image shows a hand about to be in tenpai--14 tiles in hand, discarding either the sussou (4 of bamboo) or ryuusou/losou (6 of bamboo), the upcoming working hand will be waiting on uusou, or sussou and passou, respectively. In the former, uusou will complete the 456 shuntsu while in the latter, sussou or passou will complete the 444 or 888 koutsu, with 88 or 44 becoming the atama.
Declaring Riichi--the deposit
After proclaiming to all of your enemies that you're ready to sink their battle ships if they make one false move or you get lucky, you have to put your money where your mouth is. After declaring riichi, you throw down a 1000 point (from here on, ten; so as to not confuse other point values) counter stick. So not only have you potentially pissed off your opponents, you've also laid money on the table free for the taking, but only if block your assault first. Yeah, riichi is pretty mocking.
Declaring Riichi--timing is important
Declaring riichi is nice and angering and all, but for those tacticians that thrive on countering the offensive asshole of the neighborhood, it is important to know when they're mounting their offense. And since this is courteous japan, we go right out and give them a nice reminder. Riichi's final step is laying out you last unwanted tile sideways, indicating that you're in a state of riichi. This serves two purposes: 1. If you get it fast enough, you get to pour the pressure on. 2. After declaring riichi, you can't change your hand. You've declared that you're ready to make imaginary gusts of wind in anime style. Changing tiles in your hand might mean you're no longer ready. If someone has reached, the other players keep watch to make sure no blatant cheating is happening.
Declaring Riichi--why do it?
So you've declared riichi, announcing to everyone that you wanna blow their heads off. You've also put money on the table. You can't change your position either. You're flaunting and taunting. You're just pissing everyone off. So why is this the namesake of the game, and why do it at all?
Remember those multipliers called yaku? Riichi is a yaku that offers you 1 fan point!
Declaring Riichi--didn't you say 5 multipliers/fan or more were where the real hands were?
Yes. Yes I did. Basically, you want to collect as many fan points as possible, and riichi as a 1 fan yaku gives you +1. Try hard to get more.
Declaring Riichi--no seriously, why do it? 1 fan is nothing. And I know you're not allowed to stack riichi to give you +1 per deposit, unfortunately(?).
Shut up, you fool! do you even know the meaning of a "multiplier"?! You need at least 1 fan if you want your hand to be valid! or do you want to say "I won! 0 ten!".
Since you're an idiot who doesn't even know other yaku yet, riichi will let your trashy hand at least win. Maybe. If you get lucky enough, you might annoy your opponent to death.
Also, if you win while in riichi, you have a chance of gaining uradora!
no seriously, what? wtf is uradora? or dora for that matter?
OBJECTION! You haven't explained shit about dora. is it a yaku?
Huh, I'm impressed; you're not completely stoned 24/7. It isn't a true yaku, but if does increase your fan count if you get it. Let's talk about dora first, since uradora is an offshoot of it.
Dora--The mysterious power of luck.
Remember when I talked about Kan and the dead wall? In the dead wall, a single tile is exposed. This is the dora indicator. If you have the dora in your hand, your fan count goes up by the number of dora in your hand. (E.G. have a pon koutsu of dora, your hand's fan count is inflated by 3)
Dora indicator's method of indicating
The indicator is extremely simple--the next tile in sequence is the dora. For example, the suuwan (manzu's 4) indicator here means the uuwan (manzu's 5) is the dora.
That's cool, but...
seriously. What does riichi and uradora have to do with it?
Dora is the power of luck!
And winning with riichi means you get to flip the tile under the dora--the uradora--and it becomes a new, additional dora! since you can't see it while playing (assuming you're not cheating), getting uradora is lucky!
*Notice: The rest of the yaku will be listed in another post/section titled "List of Yaku and Ari-Ari/Nashi-Nashi differences", without the aid of Ayumu. She's too busy being hilarious to walk you through everything.*
That's great! So this entire time, we're talking about winning. How's it done exactly? I'm pretty sure you can complete your hand by drawing, but shouldn't it also be possible to win off of opponent discards, similar to open calls?
That's right. There are two methods of winning: Ron-wins and Tsumo-wins.
You can declare Ron to win off of an opponent's discard.
By process of elimination, you can declare Tsumo to when if you draw your winning tile yourself.
Moreover, if your hand is in the state that allows for riichi to be declared, tsumo-winning means you've completed your hand by your own powers alone--this rewards you as another yaku--1 fan for complete concealed victory.
BTW, where you're sitting matters in how many points you get.
In mahjong, the East wind seat is dealer (oya).
If you win while being dealer, you get to continue being dealer (with a 100 ten deposit that doesn't subtract from your score... more on this later).
btw, IT'S PUN TIME.
If one player is dealer (oya), the other players are the children. In the real world, parents give more money to their children, but in mahjong, it's reversed. Dealer gains more points if (s)he wins as dealer.
However, this power is a double-edged sword--if one of the children wins, the dealer pays double what the other children would have to pay.
Oh yeah, Question.
Few Quick Questions that I couldn't ask when you were rambling, Ayumu.
What's the dora when the indicator is a 9?
As you recall, dora indicator means the next in sequence is the dora. However, 9 is the end of the sequence. When this happens, 1 becomes the dora. The suit remains unchanged, though. Just remember, even though the dora indicator line says after 9 is 1, it doesn't mean you can make a shuntsu with 9->1.
What about when the dora is a tsuuhai?
This is very important. Since there are two types of tsuuhai, there are also two sequences. The top row shows the Wind sequence, ton->nan->xia->pei->ton. Just a reminder, even though the dora sequence exists, you can't make a shuntsu with winds.
Likewise, the Dragon sequence, haku->hatsu->chun->haku is shown, and can't be used as shuntsu.
Remember back when you were showing me the shuuhai? What are those red 5 tiles?
ah, those are special tiles. these are ari-ari only tiles, the red-dora tiles! regardless of the dora indicator, having a red 5 in your hand counts as a dora.
do note that it is only the red 5s that count as dora; the red chun of the three dragons is not a dora unless by dora indicator.
Anymore more tangents? No? Then I'll tell you about set up.
Setting Up and Payment Types
The first thing to do when setting up is determining seat position.
Four tiles are placed face down, one per wind (ton, nan, xia, pei). These are shuffled as much as 4 tiles can be shuffled, and then players pick them randomly.
After taking your seats in the proper positions, create the walls (sometimes called mountains) 17 tiles wide, 2 tiles deep, 1 wall per player. The current east is known as the Dealer of the Beginning.
The Dealer of the Beginning then rolls a pair of dice, and counters counterclockwise per player, starting on him/herself. The last counted player is now the True Dealer.
Now the True Dealer rolls the dice, and also counts counterclockwise starting on him/herself. Whoever's wall the final count lands on will have their wall as the starting point of the game. The place to start drawing from is determined by the already rolled dice. Counting that same number starting from the owner's right hand side towards the left, the final count is where the dead wall (7 sections deep) ends, and the starting hand draws begin. Tiles are drawn clockwise, while player turn is counterclockwise. Hands are built by each player drawing in rotation 4 tiles at a time--2 tiles wide, 2 tiles deep--for three rotations, then a single tile is drawn. The dealer then starts the game.
As stated before, Chii has a really inconvenient usage restriction.
You can only call chii on the immediate discard of the player to your left. You cannot call chii on discards by the player across from you nor by the player to your right.
Pon, and likewise kan, however, can be called on any player's discard.
In the case of one player calling chii on a tile, and another player calling pon/kan on the same tile, the pon/kan takes precedence. In the same vein, Ron has higher priority than any of the building calls.
Since we are reflecting on calls, let's reflect on winning.
In the case of tsumo-winning, all other players pay the winner by sharing the load of the hand. If a child wins by tsumo, then half of the payment is made by the dealer, while the other two children each pay a quarter of the total.
In the case of ron-winning, the player that discarded into the winning hand must pay the entire hand's value.
While it was implied earlier with "you get to keep being dealer if you win as dealer", if anyone who isn't dealer wins, dealer status is shifted one player counterclockwise. A whole game of riichi mahjong is played in a segment called a hanchan, which consists of two rounds of everyone being dealer once. That is to say, in a game of riichi mahjong, everyone gets to be dealer twice (assuming the game doesn't end prematurely).
A hanchan is half of a whole chan. Each "round" is represented by a wind. Since riichi mahjong is played by only half a chan, east round wind and south round wind are the only winds that get played. West wind round and North wind round are not usually played in riichi mahjong.
-Yeah, apparently I'm doing something wrong. I think I'm supposed to win, but someone tells me that my move is illegal. What's going on?
There are two possibilities I can think of off of the top of my head.
The first is that instead of proper yaku, you've only collected dora. While dora do inflate your han count, they don't count as the minimum 1 yaku necessary for a winning hand. Hording dora will boost your hand's value, but having only dora means you've got the air for a balloon, but no balloon to blow up.
The other thing I can think of is if you tried to declare ron while you've discarded a tile you could use now to complete your hand. Even if you couldn't use it at the time, this is a technical state called "furiten". You're in a tenpai state, but you've passed up one of your winning tiles. Even if your hand is in such a position that that tile wouldn't give you a necessary yaku, while the other wait will, your hand is still in furiten. Either be more careful, or change your wait! You could also hope for tsumo, but that's hardly an often winning strategy.
Disclaimer: all images copyright their respective owners (heavily Akabee Soft 2, the Zero image prior to editing by Capcom, etc.)