Mahjong, also popularly known as Mah Jongg is a four player game that requires a blend of both skills and luck. The game has been around since 1920 and was published in the US. After gaining popularity it was later modified into various other game forms that had a slightly different set of rules.
However, till the day the American original Mahjong is very popular and hence we will be sharing the rules of the same. So the main objective of the Mahjong game is to match 14 tiles and declare ‘Mahjong’. Read below to know how to play Mahjong, Mahjong rules and lot more about the game.
· Mahjong game objective – To Create set and runs with cards and score the lowest number of points possible.
· Number of Players – 4 players
· Game Materials – 152 tiles, 2 dice, scoring sticks or coins, Wind indicator (optional), 4 racks (optional but recommended), 4 pushers (optional)
· Game Type – Tile matching
· Game Audience – Adult
The game of Mahjong includes 166 total tiles of which 152 are used in the game during the play. The rest are just spare tiles. These 152 tiles are divided into 4 groups –
· Suits – 108 tiles
· Bamboos/Bams – 36 tiles (4 of each)
· Circle/Dots – 36 tiles (4 of each)
· Characters/Craks – 36 tiles (4 of each)
· Honors – 28 tiles
· Winds – 16 Tiles (4 of each)
· Dragons – 12 Tiles (4 of each) White Dragon, Red Dragon and Green Dragon.
Other Game Materials
· Dice – In the Mahjong game, the players will require 2 dice. One for assigning the dealers position and the other to see where to break the wall.
· Racks & Pushers – Each player gets a rack which they can use to hold their tiles while playing. The pushers can be used to push the racks ahead while playing. But you cannot reveal the tiles in doing so.
· Scoring Coins or Scoring Sticks – These tools can be used to keep a track of the score. Players are to assign a point value to the sticks and coins. However, these are optional.
· Score Cards – When you are building hands in the game, you can refer to the information released by National Mahjong League, which is annually updated.
· Wind Indicators – As the name clarifies, wind indicators are used to see the direction of wind current. This wind indicator is the player who started the round. However, these are optional too.
How to Setup ?
· All the 152 tiles are shuffled.
· All players take a rack and place it in their front.
· Players now build a wall by building a row of tiles in front of their rack. This wall is required to be 2 tiles high and 19 tiles across. This wall will thus take all your tiles.
· Once the players have built their walls, the players have to determine who will become the dealer or the East. This is done by rolling the dice by all the players and the one with the highest number on the dice becomes the East.
· To the right of the East/Dealer is South and then West and Lastly North.
· Now the wall breaking takes place.
· East rolls the dice. The number they roll on the dice is counted on the wall from right to left and then the wall is broken.
· For instance, if East rolls a 5, then he has to separate 5 tiles from the right end of his wall.
· Players take turns grabbing 4 tiles until all the players have 12 tiles each.
· Once all the players have 12 tiles, the dealer or East takes 2 extra tiles from the first and third tiles of the top row.
· Next, other players take one tile from the end.
· South will take the first bottom tile and North takes the second bottom tile.
· West has to grab the second top tile.
· This finally will result in East having 14 tiles and the rest of the players having 13 tiles.
How to Read Score Card in Mahajong?
The hands are shown on the score card using either colors – Red, Blue, Green or Numbers. Flowers and Zeros are always blue.
· N,S,E,W = North, South, East, West
· 1-9 = Number on tile
· F = Flower
· D = Dragon
· G = Green Dragon
· R = Red Dragon
· O = White Dragon
· Year = Patterns that create a year. (2019 – 2s, 0s, 1s and 9s.)
· 13579 = Patterns that comprise only odd numbered tiles
· 2468 = Patterns that comprise only even numbered tiles
· Change Up = Varies
· Quints = Hands with at least one quint (5 identical tiles) with one tile as a joker.
· Winds – Dragons = Patterns having Winds and Dragon tiles
· Runs = Patterns having consequently numbered tiles
· Singles and Pairs = Patterns having paired tiles and single tiles.
· Pair = 2 of same tiles
· Pung = 3 of same tiles
· Kong = 4 of same tiles
· Quint = 5 of same tiles
· Sextet = 6 of same tiles
After setup, there is one more thing that you have to go through before you start playing Mahjong. This is Charleston. Note that this step is limited to the American Mahjong and other versions of the game may or may not have this step.
Charleston is basically a tile exchange that allows the players to improve their hand by exchanging the they do not wish to have or are useless to them. Below are the sequential Mahjong rules for Charleston –
1. All players pass 3 unwanted tiles to their right.
2. All players pass 3 unwanted tiles to the player sitting across them.
3. Players then pass 3 unwanted tiles to their left. At this step players can conduct a blin pass where in they can pass over 3 tiles without looking at them.
How to Play Mahjong?
A player will have to play Mahjong with the aim to build a hand that matches the score card. You have to be first in doing so and once you have achieved the aim, call ‘Mahjong’ to win Mahjong.
The game operates in two major phases for players as below –
1. Drawing and Discarding Tiles
The main motive of the game is to basically improve the hand. As mentioned above, East or the Dealer initially has 14 tiles in hand. The game begins by discarding a single tile.
If a player does not call the discarded tile then the game moves to the right. The next player also begins the turn by drawing a tile from the wall. The players are to take a tile from the broken wall that was left off. You are to take the top tile first and then go for the bottom tile.
Next, the players select one of the 2 options – either discard the drawn tile or keep it in hand and discard some other tile. The tiles discarded are put at the center of the table. The discarded tiles can help you see the tiles and deduct an idea of what hand your opponents are trying to make. So keep an eye on the same.
2. Calling Tiles
A tile that has been most recently discarded can be called by any player if the tile completes a quint, sextet, kong, pung or any such other combination for an exposed hand.
Mahjong Rules for calling tiles –
· Dead tiles, that is, the tiles that were earlier discarded cannot be called upon.
· No player can call upon a tile to complete a pair unless that pair completes a Mahjong.
· The Combinations that need just one tile cannot call a tile.
What if more than one player calls?
In a situation where more than one player calls, the following is followed –
· If one player is calling to complete a Mahjong trumps the player who called out only to complete a set.
· If none of the players are completing a Mahjong, the player having the nearest turn takes the tile.
Who wins Mahjong?
The player who declares Mahjong wins the game. The player who creates sets and runs and scores the lowest points wins Mahjong.
The payout in Mahjong depends on the hand and the way the hand was created. You can refer to the below information to know the payout for your Mahjong game –
· For a Mahjong made from a discard, the Discarder pays Mahjong winner twice the value of hand and rest of the players have to pay single.
· For Mahjong from draw off the wall, all players pay the winner double the value of hand.
· For Mahjong off discard with no jokers, the discarder pays 4 times the hand value. All other players have to pay 2 times the hand value. And no singles or pairs.
· For Mahjong made off a wall draw with no jokers, all the players pay the winner 4 times the hand value and no singles or pairs.
Jokers can replace any tile in a Sextet, Pung, or Kong. Players cannot use Jokers in singles or pairs. In case a hand is exposed, and a player has a tile a joker is replacing in the hand of an opponent, that player can exchange the tiles and take the joker after the below conditions –
· Draw a tile or Call a Discard.
· Discard to maintain 13 tile hand.
· Exchange the actual tile for joker. For multiple jokers, this can be more than 1 tile.
Note – Jokers in hands that are no longer in the game because of violation of rules, which means dead hands can be exchanged.
I hope you have all found the article on Mahjong Rules useful and could easily understand how to play Mahjong game. In case you have any doubts, feel free to ask us in the comment section below. We will get back to you as soon as possible.