The classic tile-based melding game where players compete to build sets with the highest point value.
Popular varieties include Chinese (International) Mahjong, Hong Kong Old, American Mahjong, Riichi (Japanese) Mahjong, Taiwanese Mahjong, and mahjong solitaire.
Note: The rules presented below are the bare minimum needed to get started with mahjong. Feel free to dive deeper into the world of mahjong to discover more detailed scoring methods, new strategies, and more!
The ultimate goal of mahjong is to complete a hand of melds containing four sets of three/four tiles and a pair.
Watch which tiles other players discard and be ready to interrupt their turn to claim the tile and complete your own sets.
With practice, you will learn to build more valuable sets and earn more points with each winning hand.
Win successive hands to increase your points total so you're the highest scoring player at the end of the game.
Mahjong - A complete hand consisting of four melds and a pair (minimum of 14 tiles).
Pung - A meld of three identical tiles.
Kong - A meld of four identical tiles.
Chow - Three consecutive tiles of the same suit.
Revealed pung/kong - A meld a player has placed face-up on the table.
Concealed kong - A kong formed in a player's hand that is placed face-down on the table.
Suits - Dots (Circles), Characters (Craks), and Bamboo (Sticks). Each suit is numbered 1-9 with four copies of each tile.
Honor tiles - Winds and dragons. There are four of each of the four wind directions and four of each of the three dragons.
Bonus tiles - Flowers and seasons. There are four unique tiles for each, but only one copy of each tile.
Mahjong is best played with 4 players, though you may proceed normally with only 3.
You will need 144 mahjong tiles in all – 108 numbered suit tiles, 28 honor tiles, and 8 bonus tiles. (The bonus tiles are optional; you may remove them before playing if you wish.)
Tiles are traditionally arranged in walls that form a square at the center of the table. For PlayingCards.io, tiles are stacked in a deck for ease of use.
Decide on a point target for winning the game, or choose a certain number of rounds (16 is common).
Players take seats named after the four directions of the wind (north, south, east, west). The first dealer is chosen at random and always takes the East seat.
Playing the Game
Roll the spinner to determine which seat each player will take. The player with the highest number takes the Player 1 (East) seat, the second highest Player 2 (South), and so on. Use the "DEALER" disk to mark the current dealer.
To begin, the dealer gives each player 13 tiles, then takes an additional tile for themselves.
The dealer goes first and play progresses counter-clockwise, moving from East to South to West to North.
At the beginning of each turn, any player may choose to claim the last tile that was discarded. That tile must complete a meld in their hand, and they must declare which type of meld it will complete – mahjong, kong, pung, or chow. If multiple players try to claim the same tile, the one with a higher value match takes priority (mahjong is the most valuable, chow the least). Note that a chow may only be called if your turn is starting and the player whose turn just ended discarded the tile you needed. After claiming a tile, that player will place their match on the table face-up, then discard a tile. The player to their right then takes their turn and play proceeds counter-clockwise from the player who claimed the tile.
If a player does not wish to claim a tile to start their turn, they will instead draw a tile from the deck.
If a player draws a Bonus tile (Flower or Season), they immediately place it on the table to be scored later, then draw a replacement. Flowers and Seasons are never discarded, and they're never part of sets or hands.
When drawing a tile, first check to see if it completes a pung. If it does, you may play it face-up on the table to form a revealed pung. If a drawn tile matches a pung you already played on the table, you may add it to the meld to turn it into a revealed kong.
If a drawn tile creates a kong in your hand, you may place the entire kong face-down on the table. These are called concealed kongs and they remain hidden until the end of the round.
Play continues around the table with players drawing, discarding, and often claiming discarded tiles or adding to pongs of their own.
A hand may end in one of four ways:
A player draws a tile that completes a mahjong.
A player claims a tile discarded by another player that completes a mahjong.
A special action called "robbing the kong." Here, a player announces they are stealing the tile another player is trying to add to a melded pung and using it to complete their own mahjong.
If a player's turn begins and there are no more tiles available to draw, the hand ends with no winner.
When a hand ends, the player with the winning mahjong tallies their score. Tiles are then reshuffled, the player to the previous dealer's right becomes the next dealer, and a new hand begins.
The game ends after 16 rounds, when a player reaches the pre-determined number of points, or when players simply decide they're done.
Taking a Turn
Claim the most recently discarded tile if you can use it to form a pung or kong. If you do, place the meld on the table for other players to see, then skip to step six.
If you do not claim a tile, draw one tile from the stack.
If you draw a Flower or Season, place it on the table and draw another tile.
Check to see if the tile you drew completes a meld. Add matching tiles to revealed pungs, place newly formed pungs face-up on the table, or place newly formed kongs face-down on the table.
If your hand forms a mahjong, declare it to win the round, then proceed to the scoring section.
Discard a tile to end your turn.
When a player forms a mahjong, they will declare it, show it to the other players, then receive points based on the sets in their mahjong.
Score the mahjong using the chart below:
Four chows (no pungs or kongs) - 2 points
Four pungs/kongs (no chows) - 6 points
One dragon pung/kong - 2 points
Two dragon pungs/kongs - 6 points (do not add two points for each individual dragon meld)
Seated wind pung/kong (holding a set of wind tiles that matches your current seat) - 2 points
Flower/season tile - 1 point each (these will not be part of the mahjong hand, but displayed on the table)
Win by drawing, not discarding - 1 point
Players will also sacrifice points to the winner. Add the following value to the winning player's total while subtracting them from the relevant players' score:
If the mahjong was completed by drawing a tile, each player pays the winner 8 points plus the total value of the winning hand.
If the mahjong was completed by claiming a discarded tile, the player who discarded it pays the winner 8 points plus the total value of the winning hand. The other two players then pay the winner 8 points each.
If the game ends because there are no more tiles to draw, no points are sacrificed or distributed.
Once the points are tallied, each player will return their tiles to the deck, reshuffle, and begin a new hand. Note that the dealer will change in a counter-clockwise order, starting with East and proceeding to South, West, North, East again, etc.
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