Ciphers, Mahjong, and Classical Japanese

In Touhou Mahjong – Fujiwara Mokou and Wriggle Nightbug are ridiculously sexy for nearly opposite reasons. If you’re bi or lesbian – you’ll understand.

I got my Japanese Classical Literature Textbooks today – one of the stories there is the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter – interesting because I did a project that involved it only a few short weeks ago.

I’m catching up on Fullmetal Alchemist – and I remember how much I love it. Ciphers, Mahjong, and Classical Japanese.

Japanese Mahjong (Maajan) is probably the most intellectually challenging version of the game, in my opinion, which is very biased… but nonetheless, that is because the game is very intricate – especially when it comes to scoring and point counting. If you were a god, you could calculate relatively accurately the contents of all the players hands, and the wall by mid-game – which is a bit exaggerated in mahjong manga like Saki – but it’s not as “far out” as you might think. And that’s my schphel.

Now, as promised. (I’m simplifying the names of stuff to a very mild extent)

Basic Rules for Japanese Mahjong

The mahjong set:
There are exactly 4 tiles of each of the following:
-3 suits (dots, bamboo, characters) each suit numbered 1-9
-note: “dots” are coins, “bamboo” are strands of 100 coins, and the “character” symbol represents 10,000 coins – all of this; not important in the slightest.)
-3 “dragons/honors” (green 発 “hatsu”, red 中 “chun”, white ロ “haku”)
-note: Prosperity, Middle, and Blank – people have mused at their meanings, I will not.
-4 “winds” (east 東, south 南, west 西, north 北)
-note: the winds are out of order, they are supposed to be this way, don’t ask questions)
The total of the above tiles comes to 136.

Extra tiles that may or may not come with your mahjong set are:
-4 seasons and 4 flowers (144 set) / used in various Chinese rulesets
-4 Yakitori tiles (I’ll get to that part later)
-Jokers – (for American Mahjong, which is stupid. -nuf said)
-If you’re super awesome, your set may come with random copies of some tiles in RED. These are extra dora tiles (details later)

There should also be 2-3 dice and possibly a marker for east (mine was a funny looking die)
Point marker stick thingys (units of 100, 1k  5k, and 10k)(my set didn’t come with any :<)

If you don’t have a mahjong set that’s fine – I don’t have anyone to play with :< – but that’s what Touhou Mahjong’s for :D

-For the start of the game, there’s this old ritualistic way of choosing your seat that no one does anymore, so forget about it. – Have everyone roll one die and the highest is east (dealer).
-For Japanese Mahjong you’ll only be playing with your set of 136, so shuffle the tiles on the table and then stack them in walls of two tiles high, length 17, face down.
-The dealer will roll 2 dice, and then count, starting with herself counter-clockwise from player to player, then, with the same number, will count that same number from the right side of that player’s wall, towards the center (“right” being from the selected player’s perspective, not the dealer) and then will distribute create a break. Left of the break, starting with herself, she will distribute tiles in groups of 4 counter-clockwise until every player has 12, then she will do the same with one tile so everyone has 13, and then will take a 14th tile for herself. (it seems complex, but it’s really easy after you’ve done it once)
-Now, from the right side of the break separate 14 tiles from the rest of the wall, and put them somewhere (sometimes in the center, or just slightly removed from the rest) – this group will be called the “dead-wall” and it’s special. – Now flip the top tile second from the left so that it shows – this is used to calculate the “dora”
-Congrats! Setup is complete and now you may begin East Wind Round 1 ! :D

-The object of play in each round is to attempt to form a yaku hand and maximize your points in respect to the probability of you actually compiling it properly. (More later) Each round has a “prevailing wind” and a round number. Round 1 means the original dealer is dealer, round 2 means the next person counter-clockwise from her is dealer, and so forth up to 4, and then the prevailing wind changes. East Wind Round 4 moves to South Wind Round 1. Now, like I said before the winds are a little messed up. East is dealer, counter clockwise from her is south, then west and then north – , you’ll notice this doesn’t agree with your compass… deal with it. The dealer is ALWAYS east. and your “player wind” changes in respect to wherever the dealer is. These winds are important to scoring, so try to keep in mind your wind and the prevailing wind when you can.
-Play starts with the dealer, she has 14 tiles where as everyone else has 13 so she discards one and the next player (counter-clock) will either do something about the discarded tile or pick another one from the wall. Play ends when the wall is exhausted or a player claims a yaku hand. Upon a discard, one can call one of various things which have a sort of order of importance, namely if two or more people attempt to call on one tile, the more important one prevails. Here they are, from least to greatest: “chii” (sequence), “pon” (set of 3), “kan” (set of 4), “ron” (I win with this tile) – for chii,pon, and kan you have to display the tiles from your hand that form what you called, and then you place them on the table (with the tile you picked up sideways usually)
-Before you discard you have the option of calling “tsumo” (I win) or “riichi” (some call it “reach” – details later).
-By discarding, drawing, and calling you can reconstitute your hand into a winning hand – and that is the object of the round. As said before, when you’re done with a round, you start the next round (shuffle etc) until the agreed number of rounds is reached (usually 4 or 8 – 1 or 2 wind rounds). However, if the dealer wins, the stakes are raised (dealer “ante”), and the round stays in position for another “bonus” round (not uncommon) there are some restrictions like say if the bonus round number gets to be as high as 6. If you reach the end of a round and no one has a winning hand, there are special rules, and according to the specific ruleset, play may or may not continue to the next round, but an ante stick is almost always added nonetheless. Sometimes you can get a higher score from this than if you actually had a hand.

Mahjong Hands:
-With a very few exceptions all yaku hands are standard “mahjong hands” which consist of 3 melds and a pair. A meld being a sequence of 3 (chii), a set of 3 (pon), or a set of 4 (kan). For all melds, they MUST be of the SAME SUIT – and the same goes for the pair. Sequences can NOT wrap (891 etc).
-3 melds and a pair=14 tiles, which is why only one person has 14 tiles at a time and the rest 13 (think about it, it makes sense). But what happens with kan? Wouldn’t you need 15 or more tiles? – When you have a kan, you may declare it, and get an extra tile from the dead wall, and thus your problem is solved. You do not HAVE to declare a kan. For instance, if you have 123333, yes you have a set of 4 3s, however you can also think of it as two melds, 123 and 333.
-However in Japanese Mahjong even if you have a mahjong hand, that may not necessarily be enough to win a round. You must satisfy the criteria of at least ONE yaku. However, even if you don’t have a single yaku, you are still qualified for “tenpai” (details later)
-Note: You can NOT have a sequence of dragons or winds. This makes them harder to form melds out of, and that is why they are worth a lot more points.
-Note: There are some yaku hands (7-pairs and Kokushi Musou) which do not form standard mahjong hands, that’s ok, you can still tenpai on them.

Fu, Han, Yaku, Yakuman and Scoring:
I got Lazy :D – I may make another post about it

Ante (Honba):
-If the round is continued for whatever reason, the dealer winning or the dealer not paying no-ten bappu (later) he/she will place a 100 stick beside her tiles as a marker. They are not actually losing these points, it is just a marker. The number of Ante sticks in play is equivalent to the “honba” or bonus round number. For each ante stick in play, the BASE SCORE increases by 100 points. Meaning that the winner will always get 300 more points per ante. (100 per player for tsumo or 300 from ron). After this happens and the round moves on to the next (for whatever reason) the ante sticks are returned to the dealer (the one who put them out in the first place).

-This means you are one tile away from a standard mahjong hand, and/or one tile away from a yaku hand. If you don’t have this you are “no-ten” (short for “no tenpai” [it’s a japanese term actually]). Tenpai is required for riichi, and plays into how points are distributed if you reach the end of the wall and no one has won (agari=ron/tsumo). At the end of the round, you may claim tenpai, and show your tiles to prove it. (No-ten or those that just don’t want to claim it for some reason do not show their tiles). If everyone has tenpai, nothing happens (rare), if no-one has tenpai, nothing happens (not incredibly rare). If at least one person has tenpai and at least one person has no-ten 3000points (no-ten bappu=no-ten punishment points) are redistributed. The cost of 3000 is split between the no-ten players and the reward of 3000 is split between the tenpai players. For example, if one has tenpai and the rest are no-ten, all the no-ten players pay the tenpai one 1000 points. if it’s 2 and 2 – two each pay 1500, so there are 1500 for each tenpai.
-Now for the round continuation thing. Though depending on the specific rules, this is what usually happens. If the dealer is no-ten play continues to the next round, any riichi sticks still in play. In all other cases, the dealer adds an ante stick and the round continues. Pretty simple.

-It sounds like “reach” so if that’s an easy way for you to remember it, that’s cool and all, but I will refer to it as riichi. If you have a hand that is in tenpai, and you have not called on any tiles yet, you may call riichi.
-When you call riichi you place a 1000 point stick in front of you, effectively giving it up. This may double your score, or make scoring possible in fact, but it’s not always advisable because it cautions the other players and you’re paying for the chance. If you are not allowed to have negative points, and you have less than 1000 points, you may not call riichi (in most versions)
-Also when you call riichi, you reduce your options. When you draw a tile you may only discard it or tsumo, and you can only call a tile for a ron. Therefore if you accidentally called it for some reason, you’re screwed, because you can’t change the make up of your hand in any way.
-Riichi is a common way to get yaku hand out of a non-yaku hand in tenpai – though obviously unless you’re trying to scare someone, you don’t want to call riichi if you can determine that it’s actually impossible to draw or call on the tile you need.
-The winner of the round will take any riichi sticks in play as a bonus.
-If anyone riichi-s and the game ends in tenpai/no-ten the stick stays in play.

-With this optional rule, when the game starts, each player is given a useless tile to put beside themselves, usually of a roasted bird or something. Basically it’s a “YOU SUCK” indicator. Whenever you win a hand you give up your yakitori tile. If the game ends and you still have it (you haven’t won a single hand) you lose anywhere from 10k to 15k points (a VERY hard hit) – And if you think that there’s no way you can not win a single hand, think again. I played around 32 hands with 4 people once, and the hand winning spread was ~ 15, 12 (me), 4, 0. (We were playing without scoring, but you get the picture) – and the person that got 0 had played a lot before, more than me actually, and the first time player got 4.

Abortative Draws:
-These happen VERY rarely, so you don’t really need to worry about it. All of them have really long names that I can’t bother remembering so I’m going to name them whatever I’d like. With all of these, the round continues without a dealer ante added.
=You didn’t shuffle well enough!
-This is OPTIONAL.
-If you have 9 or more terminals/winds/honors you can ask for a reshuffle, but it would also be a good chance to go for Kokushi Musou.
=Unlucky Wind
-If on the first round every player discards the same wind tile, you draw the game, and there’s all this bad-luck stuff associated with it. Usually if it looks like this is going to happen, a player avoids it by just discarding a different tile. Riichi sticks stay.
=Riichi Surplus
-If 4 players declare riichi the game is minimalized to a game of pure chance. This is unacceptable. The round is drawn.
=Kan Surplus
-If 4 kans are declared by different people the round is drawn. (You run out of dora tiles to flip – so it’s obvious) However, if all 4 kans are declared by the same person (going for kan-yaku) you flip the last available tile (left of the first dora). If a 5th kan is declared the round must end.

Dora, Red-Dora, and Ura-Dora:
-Dora are your friends. Each dora counts as one han (even though it DOESN’T give you a yaku hand), which means in short that it doubles your score. Now there are many dora schemes so we’ll start from the basic and move up.
=No Dora=… there just aren’t any. T^T (because standard dora is usually in play, you should state this ahead of time)
=Standard Dora= (this is what’s in place 99.9% of the time and usually goes without saying)
-Remember that tile that we flipped over on the dead wall ages ago? That is the “dora indicator”. It means the NEXT tile in sequence is a dora. (1→2→…→9→1) (green→red→white→green) (luckily it’s in alphabetical order or I’d forget) (east→south→west→north). Whenever someone calls a kan, a new dora indicator is flipped to the right of the existing dora.
=Ura Dora= (this is in place ~40-50% of the time and should be stated before the game)
-at the end of a round, the tile beneath each dora indicator is flipped, becoming an additional dora indicator, doubling the amount of dora. This adds to your score if it applies. – this is always paired up with standard dora.
=Red-5 Dora= (this is in place ~ 15-25% of the time and should be stated before the game)
-One of each of the 5s is colored in all red meaning that it’s a dora. (not a dora indicator)
=Red-Dragon-Dora (This is in place ~2.5-5% of the time and is reasonably rare, but nice)
-The red dragon, you know, being RED and all becomes a dora.
=Red-27 Dora= (this is in place ~1-2.5% of the time, and is very rare, but AWESOME)
-There is a corresponding red dora tile for every single numbered tile. =MASSIVE SCORES
==NOTE: Because there are different dora schemes, dora may be compounded. For instance. Say you are playing Red-Dragon-Dora with Ura-Dora. you have a closed kan-tsu with red-dragons. the dora indicator is green, and the ura-dora indicator is green. That means you have 3 dora per red-dragon tile, meaning that you have effectively 12 han from that one meld. – If you have a yaku hand, that’s at least +1 han, and you have thus a (kazoe-)yakuman, congratulations.

Aotenjou (Limitless Play):
-This is pretty simple, not all that common, and quite insane. Remember back in scoring “limit hands” mangan, haneman, baiman, sanbaiman, and yakuman? – they don’t exist in aotenjou. This means that scores are ridiculously insane. Because of this, you usually start with ~5 million points or so, and getting as many han as possible is a smart way to play. If you want a good example, let’s use our last example with the Red-Dragon-Dora. You would have received 32000/48000 points (base score 8000). Just to be crazy. Let’s craft an impossibility.

Let’s just pretend that this is the hand you are dealt and you are dealer, and this is the first round east-round 1: (w=white,t=west)
-hand g,rrrr,www,eee,ttt / dead wall: *g***** – You declare a kan on your r and draw a w
-hand g,wwww,eee,ttt + *rr* / deadwall: *gs***+ – You declare a kan on your w and draw an e
-hand g,eeee,ttt + *rr*,*ww* / deadwall: *gs2** – You declare a kan on your e and draw an s
-hand g,tttt + *rr*, *ww*, *ee* / deadwall: *gs23+ – You declare a kan on your s and draw a g
-hand gg + *rr*, *ww*, *ee*, *tt* / deadwall 4gs23 / ura: 7nnsg- You declare a fantastically long tsumo
–If your friends haven’t killed you for cheating yet, this is how you calculate your score.

20 fu=winning hand
32*4 fu + 0 fu = melds
2 fu = waiting
2 fu = tsumo
152-> 160fu.

dora: 12 for your r-kan, 8 for your t-kan, 8 for your e-kan – total=28han
suuankou: 13han
four kan: 13han
all honors: 13han
heaven hand: 13han
menzen-tsumo: 1han
rinshan: 1han
3 little dragons: 4han
special tiles: 1*2 for your dragon melds 1 for your west meld, 2 for your east meld – total=5han
total: 91han

base score = fu*2^(2+han) =  1584563250285286751870879006720; round to 1000 = 1584563250285286751870879007000; * 6 for dealer tsumo = 9507379501711720511225274042000 points compare this to 48000 points, which you would have gotten if it weren’t aotenjou.

Granted this does NOT happen, but given you started at 5 million points. You would have won the game (I’m sure there would be no arguments at this point) with a score of +9507379501711720511225269042

If you were gambling and not dead, your return would be 1901475900342344102245054.8084 times your input. ^^;

Ridiculous scores are ridiculous.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: