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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Question about Mahjogg rss

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Donald M.
United States
Sweet Grass
Montana
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Hi,

I was invited to play the Chinese game of Mahjogg. I played it for about 2 hours for the first time in years. It is a relatively simple game except for the scoring IMO. It was fun to learn and play something that literally millions of people play.

I find many people play this game for 4 to 6 hours at a time though which is too much for me. What is it about this game that Chinese and other Asians seem addicted to?

I refused to gamble when I play so maybe that's part of their fun? As a pure game critique I find it boring after a while though.
 
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f h
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I may not be the best person to answer this since I have yet to actually play the physical game (although I did purchase a decent set of tiles many years ago). I do play the game on my phone though and will run through a round or two sometimes while waiting on something else to happen. I don't know that I could do it hours on end, there's very few things I do for hours at a time anyway Essentially though it is no different than a card game. Do you find it odd that some people can play bridge, poker or rummy for hours at a time?
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Mindy Basi
United States
Urbana
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I think it's the gambling that makes it so compelling in Asia. It's quite different than American Mah Jongg, I believe.

I played a lot of American Mah Jongg as a teenager, but really haven't played it since. I have two nice antique sets.

If you think about it, poker wouldn't be that much fun if you didn't gamble on it. That's the best analogy I can think of. Or blackjack.
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Roger
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Montgomery
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Which version? The American association has a rule about swapping cris crossing tiles and only certain hands are valid to go out. I have a set, and the red book rules from the 20s
 
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Steve B
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It's a gambling game. Out of the millions of players, probably less than 3 of them play it for non-gambling purposes. It is just pure gambling, plain and simple.
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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Oiler1 wrote:
I find many people play this game for 4 to 6 hours at a time though which is too much for me. What is it about this game that Chinese and other Asians seem addicted to?

I clocked up about 1250 games in my life before burning out on it meeple.

That said, I played with the rather boring Chinese scoring rules which excessive multiplications for various combinations. That game is boring in the long term, yes: scoring is too dependent on luck of the draw. But if you go play the Japanese form, Riichi, you will find a more sensible approach to scoring, and a lot more strategy to contend with. Riichi introduces the concept of furiten, which means that you are not allowed to claim ron (i.e., a mahjongg with a discarded stone) if your waiting hand can be completed to mahjongg with one of the stones you discarded previously. This not only means watching out for what kind of hand you're going for, but also how. This makes matters sufficiently interesting for a few more hundred games, IMO.

After that I'd remove all aspects which depend on luck of the draw. So for example out go tenhou (Game of Heaven), chiihou (Game of Earth), and renhou (Game of Man). But that's another discussion.

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Donald M.
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Sweet Grass
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I play the Hong Kong style whatever that is. All my friends are Cantonese that I play with. These people play every day if they could.

They use different terms not Chow or Pong or Kong. I have an app for HK MJ and they refer to those terms which is weird for me.

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/essays/mahjong.htm
 
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G.Daddy.Slim
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Alexandria
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cymric wrote:
Oiler1 wrote:
I find many people play this game for 4 to 6 hours at a time though which is too much for me. What is it about this game that Chinese and other Asians seem addicted to?

I clocked up about 1250 games in my life before burning out on it meeple.

That said, I played with the rather boring Chinese scoring rules which excessive multiplications for various combinations. That game is boring in the long term, yes: scoring is too dependent on luck of the draw. But if you go play the Japanese form, Riichi, you will find a more sensible approach to scoring, and a lot more strategy to contend with. Riichi introduces the concept of furiten, which means that you are not allowed to claim ron (i.e., a mahjongg with a discarded stone) if your waiting hand can be completed to mahjongg with one of the stones you discarded previously. This not only means watching out for what kind of hand you're going for, but also how. This makes matters sufficiently interesting for a few more hundred games, IMO.

After that I'd remove all aspects which depend on luck of the draw. So for example out go tenhou (Game of Heaven), chiihou (Game of Earth), and renhou (Game of Man). But that's another discussion.



I have a lot of friends who play the HK Style Mah Jongg and the much simplified Filipino Style.

I believe the addictive nature is from a combination of social aspect, gambling and tactical feel/interaction with the game itself and the tension/suspense of the "waiting" experience. With 4 players sitting around a table, there is a huge social aspect, the gambling excitement can be palpable, and there is a therapeutic energy that comes from mixing tiles, building the walls and "clacking" the tiles down...

While there is certainly "luck of the draw" involved with the game, I will tell you without a doubt, that a more skilled player will win the game way more often than not. Luck of the draw can be mitigated and compensated for through skillful play. I haven't played the Japanese version, but based on hour description, I don't see how it is any less "luck based" than the HK version. blind drawing cards or tiles will always have a certain amount of luck to them..

While the HK scoring rules may seem to have "excessive multiplications", IMO they are in fact well balanced to add to the excitement of the gambling aspect, as the risk vs. reward of big payoff escalates with each incrementally more difficult combination.
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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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glouie wrote:
While there is certainly "luck of the draw" involved with the game, I will tell you without a doubt, that a more skilled player will win the game way more often than not. Luck of the draw can be mitigated and compensated for through skillful play. I haven't played the Japanese version, but based on hour description, I don't see how it is any less "luck based" than the HK version. blind drawing cards or tiles will always have a certain amount of luck to them.

Ehm... you did read the part where I mentioned my four digit-play count for the game?

As with any game involving random draws (or rolls, for that matter), yes, of course there is room for skill to show through. That's only to be expected. At the same time, it will take many dozens of games to establish a normal skill difference with any accuracy. In most settings those play counts are never reached, and then Mah-Jongg is a game of annoying randomness. Exacerbating this is a scoring system where many score doublings are exactly calculated, and not simplified as for example in Riichi. A player lucking out can acquire such a huge score that given the 'normal' amount of plays in that setting this score can never be countered. Typical examples of these settings would include tournaments. If however you play for days on end with the same people, say your relatives... then of course the odds of others lucking out in a similar fashion are no longer neglegible. Luck cancels out, and what subsequently remains is the desired test of skill.

Because in Riichi the score doublings are not exactly calculated—at least from a certain amount of them onwards—the resulting scores are not pulled apart as much as is the case in, for example, classical Chinese-style Mah-Jongg (which was the dominant mode of play here in the Netherlands until about a decade ago). Thus while it is still possible to luck out, the impact such a hand will have on the complete game is noticably less. But it works the other way around too: because the game insidiously disfavours players betting on such single massive and disproportionate VP events, 'regular' play is promoted. And for that you need skill. Which is exactly what you want: more skill for less plays. It's like having your cake and eating it. (And that's ignoring that Riichi knows about furiten, which places greater demands on how the players play the game.)
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