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Subject: Disadvantages of mahjong - what you do not like in the game rss

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Petyr E
Russia
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There is no perfect game, and each game has its pro's and con's. Can you share what you do not like in mahjong "in total" and in specific variants?

Here are my 2 cents (after 3 tournaments in MCR and 1 in RCR and plenty of "just games" as training before tournaments and for pleasure).

A. For the game itself:
- too heavy set: a decent plastic set of tiles weighs no less than 3 kg (7-8 lb), it's not something you can put in your casual bag;
- weird symbols: not for me (I studied Chinese at school), but for other people, at least the Craks suit could be more comprehensible, and Winds could be of different colors to tell one from another easily; counterclockwise turns and clockwise wall disassembling; everything that can be called a "high threshold" - definitely higher than for Go and card games (for Western-cultured people);
- many tiles in hand: you need to hold them somewhere in a safe place, and the bigger the tiles the harder to conceal them;
- much noise when you mix tiles on a table, not just your table, but neighbors as well, and some people cannot speak loudly "chow" or "pung", so sometimes they just don't even bother;
- not many games with the same tile set: only mahjong (all versions that are similar by the game process) and 2 solitaires; not like card games when you can play many different games with one deck;
- no basic variant common for all beginners: some play Hongkong version, some play Chinese Classical (brought by Babcock to USA), some - Sichuan; I cannot call Riichi a basic version;
- there is no perfect mahjong - some like MCR, others like Riichi more, or Zung Jung;
- it's not easy to gather 4 people for a live play, and (paradox) in a big city it may be even harder than in a small one.

B. For MCR:
- overpowered "self-drawn", as many players noticed already - it's an "illness" of all Chinese versions (except Duplicate MCR as the latest word in the mahjong world); too big luck influence because of it - there is no defense against "self", and quick hands are rare here;
- imbalanced hands: too expensive "pure straight" (16 fans) and "little 3 dragons" (64 fans), for example; too cheap "4 pure chow" (48 fans) in contrary; the whole fan chart looks solid, but only looks that.

C. For RCR:
- complex calculations, so that players have to use charts for yaku and fu or to learn them by heart (dealer, non-dealer, ron, tsumo, fu counting);
- too big luck influence, but for another reason than in MCR: doras; a cheap hand may easily become expensive with doras;
- only 1 dice throw provokes some people to play dirty: mix specific tiles in the wall etc. - to ensure at least half of their hands to be complete (I never met such tricks in other versions);
- many Japanese terms for almost everything, they sound kind of a magic language, but 99% of players cannot spell them properly, and when you try to spell properly they don't always understand you.

That's my list. Yes, I like mahjong and play MCR and RCR (and sometimes Sichuan, Taiwanese or Hongkong). It's rather a list of what to be aware when you try to involve some newbies.
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Chris Schumann
United States
Saint Paul
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For all versions: No 2- or 3-player versions that are well balanced. Goes along with no other games to play with these incredible tiles.

Even if there were a new, perfect mahjong, you'd have to convince everyone to play it, and people who already play and enjoy it have no reason to change. I think Zung Jung is pretty fantastic, so it's what I teach, but I made the effort to teach it and get people to play that way. And still, most folks are not up for a game of that weight.
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Mikko Saari
Finland
Tampere
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The biggest problem in mahjong is that is's intolerably slow with new players. It's a simple game with rounds that are quite luck-heavy, but it all evens out when you play multiple rounds. However, with new players, single round can take 30 minutes or more, which is just way too much - the decision density gets painfully low, and the luck of the draw gets more pronounced.

Zung Jung is practically perfect for me as the rules go, I have no complaints about that.
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Kai Heikkilä
Finland
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Sometimes I wonder if Mahjong has too much luck to be a good competitive game. A single Mahjong game is more governed by luck than skill. You need to play a high amount of games to be able to tell how strong any particular player is. To win a 1-day tournament, quite a bit of luck is needed. It's also not very practical to organize tournaments that last multiple days (at least regularly). Although, when the skill difference between the players is larger, it becomes apparent much more quickly who the stronger players are.
 
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Alan Kwan
Hong Kong
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petyr wrote:
C. For RCR:
- too big luck influence, but for another reason than in MCR: doras; a cheap hand may easily become expensive with doras;

Many players who learned Riichi recently are not aware of this fact: the proliferation of Dora is a recent phenomenon. A few decades ago, competition Riichi adopted only 1 Dora tile (omote); occasionally kan-dora is adopted, but it was not universal. Now we have ura, kan, kan-ura, and red fives. Plus Ippatsu and other crazy things.

Quote:
- only 1 dice throw provokes some people to play dirty: mix specific tiles in the wall etc. - to ensure at least half of their hands to be complete (I never met such tricks in other versions);

This is not supposed to be a standard rule, unless you are playing on an automatic table. Casual players being lazy is one thing, writing lazy tournament rules is another thing.
I actually learned the 2-throw method from a Japanese mahjong book.
 
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Petyr E
Russia
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Alan Kwan wrote:
Now we have ura, kan, kan-ura, and red fives. Plus Ippatsu and other crazy things.


Aka-doras (red fives) has been removed from RCR about 3 years ago, if I remember correctly. Some people try to play without doras at all, and without ippatsu as well.
 
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