It is assumed you know how to play mahjong already. Otherwise, please ask someone who knows how to play. The main differences in our style of play concerns the way we assign points to certain combinations of tiles.
- The Tiles
- Terms to Know
- What's so special about how we play?
1. The Tiles
The Sticks Suit
The Character Suit
The Ball Suit
From left to right, the tiles have values from 1 to 9. There are 4 of each tile, making a total of 108 tiles so far.
The Honor Tiles
The first three tiles, collectively known as the dragon tiles, are the white dragon, red dragon, and the green dragon.
The other four tiles, collectively known as the wind tiles, correspond to the 4 directions: East, South, West, and North. This is also the order of the rounds in a full game of mahjong, and is the order of players during each round, with East being the dealer, and rotating counterclockwise up to North. There are 4 of each honor tiles, or 28 honor tiles all together, making a total of 136 tiles so far.
The Flower Tiles
These tiles are collectively called flower tiles. There is only one of each flower tile, making 8 flower tiles, and making a total of 144 tiles.
In our version of mahjong, we use the tiles only as bonus points. The point value for flowers is more fully described in the section about scoring.
2. Terms to Know
This is really a section full of terms you should know already.
- A set of 3 consecutively numbered tiles in the same suit
- A set of 3 identical tiles
- A set of 4 identical tiles
- The pair of tiles in a normal winning hand
- Supplement tile
- A tile drawn from the other end of the wall; supplement tiles are drawn only after a player draws either a flower tile or forms a kong.
- chows, pongs, or kongs that are formed by using another player's discarded tile; this is also sometimes called melded
- chows, pongs, or kongs that are formed without using other players' discarded tiles
- Revealed Kong
- (1) A kong which is formed by adding another player's discarded tile to a concealed pong; this kong can not be robbed, but it will not be formed if another player needs the discarded tile to win (see Priority for Tiles below)
- (2) A kong which is formed by adding a tile drawn from the wall onto a revealed pong; this kong can be robbed if a player needs the tile drawn from the wall to win (see Robbing the Kong in the section about scoring)
- Concealed Kong
- A kong formed by drawing a tile from the wall that matches a concealed pong. The player is not obligated to use the 4 tiles as a kong. However, if the 4 tiles are used as a concealed kong, they are separated from the rest of the player's hand face down to show the other players to signify that the tiles are a concealed kong. A concealed kong can not be robbed (see Robbing the Kong in the section about scoring).
- Terminal Tiles
- Tiles numbered either 1 or 9 in any suit
- Simple Tiles
- Tiles numbered from 2 to 8 in any suit
- Priority for tiles
- If multiple players wish to claim a discarded tile, the following rules apply.
- (1) A pong or kong takes priority over a chow.
- (2) A tile to win takes priority over a pong or kong.
- (3) If multiple players need the same tile to win, the player first in turn from the discarder of the tile takes priority.
- Winning Hand
- (1) A normal winning hand is composed of 4 sets, which can be chows, pongs, or kongs, and an eye. In our version of mahjong, a winning hand must be worth at least 3 points. Points for a hand are calculated according to the rules in the section about scoring
- (2) A special winning hand is one of three hands that do not follow the pattern of 4 sets and an eye as defined above. These hands are worth more than the minimum 3 points, and are described more thoroughly in the section about scoring.
- Ready Hand
- A hand that is ready, or a hand that is "waiting", only needs 1 tile to form a winning hand.
3. What's so special about the way we play?
Everyone has a different way of playing mahjong, not even considering scoring of hands. Below is an incomplete list of things we might do differently from the way you learned how to play mahjong.
- There is no dead wall; we don't set aside 14 or 16 tiles at the end of the wall before the beginning of the game.
- Concealed kongs are declared face down.
- We do not use faan as a unit of scoring, and we do not double the amount of points paid to the winner every time they get a point. If a hand is worth 5 points, the winner will receive 5 points from each loser, not 16 points.
- The deal passes even when the game ends in a draw. In fact, the only time that the deal does not pass is when someone either has the wrong number of tiles or when they declared a false winning hand.
- Flowers do not count towards the 3 point minimum needed to win. They are merely bonus points.
- Everyone pays the winner, not just the person who discarded the final tile.
- The dealer doesn't get anything special for being the dealer (i.e., no bonus points for winning).
- There is no special penalty for discarding a tile in a suit for which another player has revealed 9 tiles.
- There is no declaration of being ready, which also implies there is no bonus for declaring that a hand is ready to win. In other words, you do not place your entire face down when you are "ready" or "waiting".
- There is no limit or maximum points for a hand. In other words, a special hand can be worth more than 12 or 13 points, depending on the tiles in the hand.
- For the special hands we have (see the section on scoring for more details), you can complete any of them with a discarded tile.