Mahjong, like Dominoes is a tile game but uses very different tile set. Instead of the dots that we see in the Dominoes set, Mahjong tiles have different drawings namely the bamboo, the character, the circle, the dragon, the wind, the flower and the season. A mahjong set has a total of 144 tiles and the game is always played by four players.
Read this text for a brief general introduction to how the game is played. Or skip to the video instruction below.
There are four duplicates of each tile. There are three suits, the bamboo, character and the circle. Each suit has a series of nine tiles. Ones and nines are considered terminals while 2-8 are simples. There are four wind tiles, one for each direction, three dragons; the red, green and the white, one set of four flowers and one set of four seasons. Dragons and winds are “honors” while flowers and seasons are bonuses. A game can be played with or without the bonuses.
Objective of the game is the play out all your tiles. To play is to form a meld. There are different melds or tile formation;
- Chow – Three or more successive tiles of the same suit. 2 circle, 3 circle and 4 circle is a chow. 2 circle, 3 bamboo and 4 bamboo is not a valid chow.
- Pung – Three tiles of the same suit and of the same number.
- Kong – Four tiles of the same suit and of the same number.
- Pair – Two tiles of the same suit and of the same number.
The game will start with determining the sitting arrangement of the player. This is done by throwing the dice and based on the sum of the dice counting is done counterclockwise; the thrower will sit where the counting stops. Next step is “Breaking the Wall”. All the tiles are laid in the table, facedown and shuffled. Each of the players will draw 34 tiles. If the bonuses are included, the initial drawing is 36. Each player will then arrange the tiles into two layers of 17 or 18 stacks. The player sitting in the east will throw the dice to determine which side to start breaking the wall, and the player on that side will again throw the dice, this time to determine where to start counting. The wall is now divided into two parts, the “dead wall” or the reserves and the live wall which will be dealt.
After breaking the wall, the player in the east will draw four tiles from the live wall, followed by the player sitting in the south, west and then north. They will repeat drawing until each player has 12 tiles with the exception of the player on the east that will be drawing 13 tiles. The game will start with the east player discarding one tile. Discarded tiles can be drawn by the next player if it completes a chow to be played. Otherwise, discarded tiles can be claimed by any player. In case more than one player needs the tile priority will be given to the player who’s going to go out, play kong or pung and lastly, chow. If two players are going out with the discard, the player to the right of the player who discarded the tile gets it.
The game ends when a player is able to play out all his tiles and declaring “mahjong” or when the deadwall is empty. A majong winner gets 20 points while nobody wins in a blocked game. If a player is able to form 4 meld in his hand, he can already declare mahjong and win the game. Score will be counted on the melds played. 6 points for 4 tile pung, 2 points for a 4 tile chow, 2 points for a dragon, pung or a kong, 6 points for a pair of dragons, 2 points for pung or kong of winds and 1 point for every bonus tile. In every game, sitting arrangement can change, according to the throwing of the dice.