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Playdate: Mahjong Mornings!

Ben and Jan are learning when to properly call "PON!" and "RON!"!

The crew of Giant Bomb invites you to join us for some fun times with video games.

Nov. 30 2020

Cast: Ben, Jan

Posted by: Jan

In This Episode:

Mahjong

92 Comments

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MunnyShh

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Edited By MunnyShh

Good start to a Monday!

Once learned, how about ranking of Mahjong Minigames? Yakuza, FFXIV...

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TadThuggish

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swag

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hahmstrung

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Edited By hahmstrung

Well, this is a pleasant surprise. I love Japanese Mahjong and happened to have picked it up again a couple of weeks ago!

New anime podcast following Akagi?

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meissnerd

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Let's FUCKING GO

maybe i'll be able to get all the achievments in yakuza 0

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shiyamiro

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Where's the minigame where we have to beat Fatty Bear at Mahjong?

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pimanrules

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Edited By pimanrules

@coolrssl said:

Well, this is a pleasant surprise. I love Japanese Mahjong and happened to have picked it up again a couple of weeks ago!

Funnily enough, my friend group has also been falling deep in riichi mahjong hole over the past couple months. Guess it's just mahjong season.

I find it amusing they got through this entire video without ever learning what yaku are. As much as I love the chaos of figuring it out as they go, I'd love to see them learn from a real tutorial or someone who knows how to play (I volunteer as tribute--or maybe just open a public Discord call and have dozens of people backseat game, I'm sure that would end well).

Mahjong Soul and Clubhouse Games are probably the best way of playing riichi mahjong, right? I've heard people say good things about the Clubhouse Games tutorial, but I found the Mahjong Soul tutorial lacking. I learned from watching that 3.5 hour YouTube tutorial--it's surprisingly good, although if you're just trying to play online it spends a lot of time going over rules like chombo that don't matter in video games, and detailing all the yaku when you really only need to know like two or three to get started.

If they do want to keep winging it, I would say an essential list of things to learn (roughly in order):

  1. The basic shape of a winning hand (14 tiles of four melds and a pair)
  2. What "tenpai" is and how to win by keeping your hand closed (not calling) and declaring "riichi"
  3. When you can call chi, pon, and ron, and what an "open meld" and "open hand" are
  4. What a yaku is, and how to get tanyao and yakuhai
  5. Maybe how to avoid furiten, just so it doesn't bite them in the ass

Things to not-yet care about include:

  • Scoring, including han, fu, and dora
  • The dead wall
  • The entire yaku list
  • The other hand shapes (seven pairs, thirteen orphans)
  • Kans
  • Abortive draws
  • How to read kanji--most English clients will give you the option for Arabic numerals/letters for the tiles
  • Rules that only matter when you're playing physically, like chombo, how to build the wall, or arranging your discards/calls
  • Anything to do with Chinese mahjong or other variants, like the flower and season tiles
  • The three-player and two-player versions. I feel like the overwhelming majority of people play the four-player version, even if it means playing with an AI or strangers, but maybe that's just my friend group.

One tricky thing about learning Riichi Mahjong is that there are a bunch of random Japanese words you have to learn and there's not necessarily a clear consensus on what words should be used in English. Keeping a glossary is a good idea. The one thing I'll nitpick about is that Ben kept saying "wan," when "man" (it rhymes) is much more common in English.

They do seem to have a good grasp on basic strategy though, despite being shaky on the rules. The most basic strategic concepts are tile efficiency (thinking about what tiles you need vs how many of those tiles are left, and trying to maximize that number) and the "five-block" method (figuring out which melds your tiles are going to end up as part of, and trying to keep as close to five (that is, four melds and a pair) as you can). Definitely saw a lot of that in this steam, which is great. Once you get more comfortable with the game, especially once you start learning different yaku and the overall scoring system, you can start thinking about things like maximizing your hand value and defensive play.

Really looking forward to the series continuing and riichi mahjong (cir. 1924) being declared GotY 2021.

@munnyshh said:

Once learned, how about ranking of Mahjong Minigames? Yakuza, FFXIV...

I've got a bunch of ROM fullsets downloaded (like every DS game, every SNES game), so one night I decided to try playing as many different Mahjong games as I could... good lord there are so many (and most of them are not great).

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MunnyShh

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@pimanrules: yea, I had a feeling there'd be a million of them, so maybe seeing how it shows up as a minigame in other games would be amusing. Like how they built a whole rpg around 2015's Gwent simulator :)

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bb4lake

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Edited By bb4lake

Chombo

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Phished0ne

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Can you do Shogi next?

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pimanrules

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Edited By pimanrules

@munnyshh: My checklist for a top-tier mahjong implementation:

  • English
  • Standard, four-player riichi, playable with humans
  • Togglable Arabic numerals on the tiles
  • Voices for calling
  • Dramatic music when you declare riichi
  • Characters read out the names of the yaku when you win
  • If on a low-res console, some way to zoom in on the tiles
  • Togglable hint system for how many of your tenpai waits are left uncovered
  • Auto-auto-discard when you're in riichi
  • Cute characters with fun quips
  • The dora tiles should be shiny
  • Red fives
  • Never using the words "chow" or "pung"
  • Some indication of the remaining tiles in the wall
  • Edit: Not letting you chombo

The flash version they were playing missed most of those features. I play on Mahjong Soul which has most of them, but you gotta gacha to get a lot of the fun things like riichi music.

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rokettopanchi

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkK2kzSnng

Once you get your mahjong legs under you, this song is mandatory listening while in tenpai on a thicc hand

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rehan1

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Quick Look: Google

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DaveSavedTheDay

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Legitimately excited to learn along w/ them

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noisequeen

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i've been playing the mahjong in yakuza for years, and I'm still real bad at it lol. i gotta learn how to read the discard piles

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Hamry

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This is exactly what I needed

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aseinsha

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You guys should fire up one of the Yakuza games and play Mahjong on there xD

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Jebusman

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Tenhou is pretty good for playing mahjong online, they have an HTML5 based version that runs pretty well @ tenhou.net/3/ . There are browser plugins (at least in Chrome) that translate the interface and put roman numerals over the tiles. I've fallen into the sinkhole bad.

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laetic

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Edited By laetic

Loving the mahjong. A long time ago I made a mobile game intended to teach people how to play riichi mahjong. It's kind of a mess to explain and I love Jan and Ben doing their best. Next up let's see some go! Or chess!

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Kimblee

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Kimblee  Online

I hope you keep at it. Picked it up this year, too.

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darukaru

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Check out the Arcturus mahjong wiki, it's got great information for players of all skill levels.

http://arcturus.su/wiki/Rules_overview

Also maybe hit up the guy who wrote this: https://subatomicbrainfreeze.typepad.com/subatomic_brainfreeze/2012/07/daves-helpful-mahjong-resources-mark-iii.html and see if you can get him to do a stream with you. It's a long shot but hey.

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mathey

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Oh Heck Yeah! I've been wanting to learn how to play this.

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Visualizer

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This rules.

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bacongames

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I am extremely here for this.

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Big_Denim

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I let my premium subscription lapse a few months ago. I decided to renew it to check this out.

I was not disappointed.

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Savutano

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This was fun, let's do it again.

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dreadpan

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Ok now they just need a series on learning Shogi and maybe I can get those last few achievements in the older Yakuza games.

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noisequeen

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on the other hand, yakuza 7 makes me feel pretty good about my mahjong sometimes , like this game just now :]

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TheMasterDS

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Edited By TheMasterDS

You should play this through Clubhouse Games: 51 on Switch. Very good package, and one yall unfortunately missed since it came out during a time you weren't doing QLs! It's also extremely good if you want to learn Shogi, makes it much more accessible due to letting you use international pieces and also having Mini Shogi, which is easier to approach. You should also check out Gomoku, that game rules.

Edit: Shogi Siesta

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SubliminalKitteh

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Ben, basic shogi is actually pretty easy to learn, its the weird larger boards like Taikyoku that are crazy, but don't worry not many people play those / they are never in games like clubhouse 51 etc.

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xkkzz

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Edited By xkkzz

- This rules, I love the idea of documenting learning-as-you-go.

-JP Mahjong is popular in games, but Jan's Grandma might have played Filipino or American mahjong. Filipino mahjong uses 17 tile hands (instead of 14 in JP), and American mahjong has weird hands that change every year. Would be neat to see another variant after you learn one.

- Just these 3 links are good reference and will probably get you most of the way there:

Basic rules: https://mahjong.guide/a-beginners-guide-to-riichi-mahjong/

Yaku reference sheet: https://worldriichi.org/s/WRC_Yaku_1_5_3.pdf

Basic/Intermediate strategy to consider after you get the rules down: https://dainachiba.github.io/RiichiBooks/

-"Mahjong Soul" is the most full-featured English client and will let 2 humans play privately w/ CPU. But... it has a bit of weird sexualized underage stuff buried deep in the gatcha, so maybe just avoid the gatcha there.

- Tenhou is probably the best client for competitive online play and the English extension is here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tenhou-english-ui/cbomnmkpjmleifejmnjhfnfnpiileiin

edit: actually yeah Clubhouse Games on Switch might be your best bet, pretty sure you can start a game with 2 people there, too.

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sub_o

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When COVID is over, go to your local Chinatown, listen to the sound of people shuffling tiles, typically mid-age Cantonese ladies. Ask them to teach you. Terminologies might differ with Japanese tutorials.

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salmonhunter

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This is an excellent time to introduce yourselves to the mahjong manga

The Legend of Kozumi

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Dunchad

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Edited By Dunchad

@pimanrules said:

I find it amusing they got through this entire video without ever learning what yaku are. As much as I love the chaos of figuring it out as they go, I'd love to see them learn from a real tutorial or someone who knows how to play (I volunteer as tribute--or maybe just open a public Discord call and have dozens of people backseat game, I'm sure that would end well).

Look, hat_hair is obviously correct there. If you don't kan, how are you going to get rinshan kaihou?!?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P6U3LRMFAY

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ghost_cat

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Mahjong in da Trap.

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Deadstar

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Anyone know if a Sackboy quicklook is coming?

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eccentrix

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Maybe if I learn enough from this, I can finally watch Akagi.

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BBAlpert

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Edited By BBAlpert
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Genessee

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an entire OCEAN of cheap, repeatitive never-localized games await you two!

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lyrebird

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Love this!

I got into Riichi Mahjong after watching the anime Akagi. It's a great show, might be a fun supplement to learning.

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chrjz

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Edited By chrjz

Y'all just need to watch Saki, the superior mahjong anime, and you'll be good to go

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chazzi27

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I like Mahjong as a matching game...but the competitive version that was in Yakuza always threw me for a loop. I look forward to learning the breadth of the game from you two fine gents!

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soulcake

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Play the Yakuza Majhong

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Trevor_A-train

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5 minutes in and I love this. Thanks folks!

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megame

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Actually played a ton of Chinese (original?) Mahjong growing up, as my parents are from the UK, where I assume that version is more popular than Riichi Mahjong. It’s interesting to see the slight variance but it mostly seems like the same basic setup and play, most of the differences are probably in some of the minutiae and scoring. Definitely glad they got to playing and not Wikipedia, doesn’t seem like the best place to learn rules

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Redic

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I was able to learn on that switch game bundle they put out. it has multi player to

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dwerkmd

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The content I didn't know i needed.

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Relkin

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Let's FUCKING GO

maybe i'll be able to get all the achievments in yakuza 0

That elusive Riichi Ippatsu is a real bitch to get. good luck.

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h2yo

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I was never able to get all 50 Judgment Friends because one was tied to winning Mahjong with Wareme ruleset. I had no fucking idea what I was doing even with tutorial videos on Youtube.

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bludgeonParagon

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Giant Chomb(o)

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goosemunch

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This shit right here, is why I visit this website!