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Subject: I'm a newbie and I'd like information on my Riichi set components rss

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Dominique Doguet
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Hello everyone.

I've just bought my first (second-hand but quite new) Riichi Mahjong set and I was wondering if you could help me with this :



1) is it okay to have four "red 5 tiles" ? It looks like I've got a spare "red 5 circle". And is it okay if I have four of each 5 Circle/5 Bamboo/5 Character along with these red tiles ?

2) a Riichi set is supposed to have 136 tiles but, along with the complete basic set of tiles and red 5 tiles, I also have these four tiles on the upper part of the picture : they look like Flowers but I thought Riichi Mahjong didn't use Flowers ?

Thanks in advance for answering me.
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Dave Bernazzani
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Greetings Riichi fan

The "red 5s" are a feature of modern Riichi. They are considered "dora" all by themselves (they still have to be made into a proper set per the rules of Mahjong but each red 5 counts as 1 dora each... it's possible that a single red 5 tile counts as 2 or more dora if the tile is also considered a dora via the normal dora indicator turned up in the dead wall).

Most times when you play Riichi you put in all four red 5s in place of the normal tiles (i.e. you would swap out 2 normal 5 Circle tiles for the 2 red 5 Circle tiles, etc). You can use fewer than 4 if you want and you don't have to use any. In Japan, the females sometimes use "diamond 3s" in addition to red 5s just to add more dora into the mix. For those that love Riichi but don't have a set with red fives, a bit of red nail polish to put a dot on some fives will do the trick.

Most Riichi sets also work as standard Asian mahjong sets so hence the inclusion of the flowers and seasons. These times would be used if you want to play some of the more traditional Chinese variations of the game. For Riichi players, these generally just fill out the set and sit in their little trays inside the box during play.

Now... go watch Saki Mahjong Anime to get psyched up and enjoy playing!



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Dr. Urza, PhD of Dungeon Crawl
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That's normal, AFAIK.

My Riichi set also has two red 5-pins and four flowers. The five extra tiles are just there to pad it out so it fills all four trays. I suppose you can sub a second 5-pin if you want, but I've only ever played/seen one red 5 per suit.
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Dominique Doguet
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Well, I thank you both, wavemotion and Urza47 for your answers !

To be honest, I've only played Chinese Mahjong so far (and Hong Kong Style Mahjong on a mobile app I enjoy, so there's very little difference with Chinese Mahjong). I've tried to read and grasp the subtleties of Riichi rules and I'd like to clear some of them, if you please ?

1) the wall is not broken the same way as in Chinese MJ, for the 14 dead tiles of the dead wall (sorry if I mistranslated the word) actually help with showing the dora ?

2) the discarded tiles are kept in front of each player, in 6-tiles lines - opposite to Chinese where they are lined together ?

3) after making a Kong or kan, you actually take tiles from the dead wall - which is impossible in Chinese MJ ?

4) now, the really tricky part for me : to claim a valid Mahjong hand, you have to match at least one Yaku configuration ? So it is very unlike Chinese MJ where any valid hand can do the job ?

5) and about scoring, depending on the Yaku(s) you match and the "fans" or "hans" you get, you get paid more and more by other players ?

6) my final question : unlike Chinese MJ where everybody gets paid something, Riichi is like Honk Kong Style because ONLY the winner gets paid ?

Many thanks to the adorable Geek who offered me a "Riichi fan" microbadge !
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Chris Schumann
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More than you ever thought there was to know about Riichi is in Barticle's Japanese Mahjong Guide - 84 pages worth. You can download via this link. NOTE that it will download immediately when you click the link:

http://www.uspml.com/site/dload.php?id=2
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks a lot Whizkid !

I'll download it and read it carefully !
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Dr. Urza, PhD of Dungeon Crawl
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Quote:
1) the wall is not broken the same way as in Chinese MJ, for the 14 dead tiles of the dead wall (sorry if I mistranslated the word) actually help with showing the dora ?

The dead wall is fourteen tiles, like you said. The third top-most tile from the break is flipped face-up as a dora indicator. The four tiles to the left of that are the supplemental tiles taken for kans. The tiles to the right are flipped face-up for each kan that is made, which add additional doras. (for everyone, not just those with kans) Furthermore, the tiles underneath the face-up indicators also become indicators themselves if someone wins after having called Riichi.

Quote:
2) the discarded tiles are kept in front of each player, in 6-tiles lines - opposite to Chinese where they are lined together ?

Correct. This is important for the furiten rule, which requires a complete accounting of each player's discards. Note that when a tile is called, you "point" it to indicate which player had discarded it; it still counds towards furiten for that player.

Quote:
3) after making a Kong or kan, you actually take tiles from the dead wall - which is impossible in Chinese MJ ?

Supplemental tiles are taken from the four spots in the dead wall as described in #1.

Quote:
4) now, the really tricky part for me : to claim a valid Mahjong hand, you have to match at least one Yaku configuration ? So it is very unlike Chinese MJ where any valid hand can do the job ?

Correct, every winning hand must have at least one Yaku. (but more increases the value of the hand) There are ways to get Yaku that aren't hand patterns per se, usually in a closed hand. The most common of these are by calling Riichi and winning a closed tsumo. (since you can't Ron a discard in the latter case, most players will call on a tenpai hand without other Yaku) Even an open hand can score a Yaku like "Ron the last discard", but I wouldn't count on it. Make sure you have a Yaku in mind when you call your first tile -- all simples or "tanyao" is a common one.

Also note that dora tiles don't count as yaku; they just provide additional han.

Quote:
5) and about scoring, depending on the Yaku(s) you match and the "fans" or "hans" you get, you get paid more and more by other players ?

Yes. There's a pay table that tells you the value for each han/fu value. 5 han is Mangan, which is the soft limit where fu are no longer relevant. Beyond that, you get more at 6,8,11, and 13. 13 is Yakuman, which is the hard limit, and quadruple a Mangan. You can get those just by accumulating enough han or by getting a listed Yakuman hand. Some special hands even provide multiple Yakuman.

Quote:
6) my final question : unlike Chinese MJ where everybody gets paid something, Riichi is like Honk Kong Style because ONLY the winner gets paid ?

Correct. Winning a tsumo (self draw), everyone pays; East pays double. (If East wins, everyone pays the East rate) If winning by Ron, the player who discared the winning tile pays all of it! Thus, Riichi is as much about not losing as it is about winning.

In an exhaustive draw, the noten players pay the tenpai players a sum total of 3000. So if multiple players are in tenpai, they all will get paid on a draw. (if there's a noten player to pay them)
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Dominique Doguet
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An a big THANKS to Urza47 for his precious answers !

That's why I love BGG : everybody is there for everybody !
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Dominique Doguet
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Here I am after a few hours spent reading and searching.

@Whizkid : this Barticle Guide is just nothing less than a gold mine ! The few questions I still had were answered as if the Guide read my mind ! I think the real challenge is to get accustomed to the terminology of Riichi Mahjong, especially since I'm not fluent at all in Japanese.

@Wavemotion : I've had a look at "Saki" and it looks really nice - quite alike those animes I watched when I was younger. While researching, I also had a glance at "Akagi" : do you know it ? It looks darker, less child-aimed, and it really seems to dwell on the rules of Riichi with all its detailed game scenes.

In conclusion, I'm eager to get my usual Mahjong buddies to have our first game of Riichi ! I hope I'll be able to explain clearly what I've learned. And be sure I'll mention you two and Urza47 for giving me such precious hints !
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Kai Heikkilä
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deejaydeep wrote:
While researching, I also had a glance at "Akagi" : do you know it ? It looks darker, less child-aimed, and it really seems to dwell on the rules of Riichi with all its detailed game scenes.


Akagi was the thing that originally kindled my interest in Mahjong. I'm a big fan of the author of Akagi, Nobuyuki Fukumoto, and if the series seems interesting to you I would recommend checking out his other stuff too (like Kaiji). Another great mahjong anime is Legendary Gambler Tetsuya which is focused on different cheating techniques used in Mahjong.
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks for the information, Heikai. Before writing my first post on this thread, I didn't know that Mahjong game could be the subject of an anime script, so to learn that there are at least three animes that deal with it is a big surprise for me ! And I think it will be the other way round for me : it's my interest in Mahjong that will kindle my wish to watch these animes !
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