Mahjong and Saki: Stuff They Really Should Have Told Us

Topic started by John_Martone on Nov. 8, 2009. Last post by compassnico 4 years, 11 months ago.
Post by John_Martone (2,992 posts) See mini bio Level 10

Saki is slightly unlike the normal Shonen series. Whereas most series about "anything" will beat us in the face with information about everything about series, they've left us mostly to our own devices about Mahjong... freaking Mahjong
 
In Kaiji we got an entire episode devoted to explaining rock, paper, scissors, yet Saki cannot form the words to actually tell us what a winning hand is, or how scoring works.
 
To this effect I decided to put together an off hand glossary to terms and concepts that go on in Saki. Enjoy.
 

Basics

Meld = sets of one particular character, or a run of 3
 
Pung = Three of a kind
Kong = Four of a kind
Shuntsu = 3 in a row, of the same suit (1, 2, 3 of stones, etc.)
 

Winning the game

A Winning hand is one that consists of 3 melds and one pair. This is referred to as a mahjong.
 
Tsumo - completing your hand off of a random tile draw
Ron - completing your hand off of another players discard 
Tempai - Being one tile away from victory
 
A player who is Tempai may reveal this to the other players by declaring Richi. Calling Richi (when they throw the sticks in) declares they are one away, and obligates them to discard any tile they draw that does not immediately win the game. Winning while Richi gets a bonus, and losing enforces a penalty. 

 Saki Excitedly revealing her winning hand
 Saki Excitedly revealing her winning hand

Flow of play/Winds:

Dice are rolled to figure out who is starting player/dealer. A round is over when all players finish being the East wind/dealer
 
Special rule about the East wind: The Wind only passes when the East wind loses. As long as he or she wins, the number of hands they play continues to lengthen. Thus, the concept of momentum and the importance of the East wind come out.
 
Each turn players draw a tile, then choose to discard one. Players may take a discarded tile out of turn, if it forms a Pung, Kong, or the pair neccessary to win a hand. They discard normally afterwards, and play continues to the right of the player who stole the tile (which could easily result in skipping players)
 
If mulitple players call the same discard, they reveal what it was for, and the hand of largest importance (Pung vs Kong vs winning hand). In particular, if a player calls Kong with a discard, but another player can use the tile to win, it is referred to as "Robbing the Kong" and often connotates bonus points.
 
Special rule about Kong: If a player calls a kong, he or she then immediately takes a tile and discards as normal. That tile, however, comes from a particular part of the remaining pool, and they have no say over which they take.
 
 
 Her classic Tsumo after Kong. But now you know what that means.
 Her classic Tsumo after Kong. But now you know what that means.
Post by AjayRaz (291 posts) See mini bio Level 12
you have no idea how useful this will be. after watching the first episode of Saki, i dropped it because i had no idea what the hell they were talking about. i tried to pick it up again so i could catch up with you guys, and this is actually very helpful. thanks john ^^ 
Post by Konanda (796 posts) See mini bio Level 17
If you don't know how to play mahjong, it helps if you know how to play rummy it's similar to the basics of that card game with the point to be to get a number of melds/tricks from your hand to win. Although just like rummy mahjong has many varients and house rules. In Saki the particular varient they are playing is some kind of Japanese varient and since it's Japan they had to put their own little quirk on the game, which is the yaku and yakuman. (among other things) These are basically certain combinations that give bonus points with yakuman being even more hard to make combinations. Also in most Japanese varients in order to win a player must have at least one yaku.
Post by JJOR64 (2,074 posts) See mini bio Level 16
That is some useful information.  I tried playing the mahjong game on XBLA and I was super confused.  Maybe I should try to find a PC version to play since the XBLA one sucks.
Post by Myhnegon (12 posts) See mini bio Level 11
the terminology they use on Saki is the slightly different Japanese style :
Pung = Pon
Kong = Kan
Shuntsu = Chi
 
Another term is the "Dora" they mention at scoring, that is a bonus point tile that is determined by flipping a tile on that separated section of wall that appears on the table. The tile after the flipped on is worth a bonus .
 
Mahjong seems vastly more difficult to learn than it really is. I would really suggest looking into it if you are interested.  
Flash Game! 
http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/mahjong/mahjong_e.html
Post by MoonStorm (360 posts) See mini bio Level 9
I still don't get it. But is sound a bit like Rummy. 
@Myhnegon: thanks for the link
Post by FLStyle (423 posts) See mini bio Level 12
@Myhnegon said:
" the terminology they use on Saki is the slightly different Japanese style :
Pung = Pon
Kong = Kan
Shuntsu = Chi
 
Another term is the "Dora" they mention at scoring, that is a bonus point tile that is determined by flipping a tile on that separated section of wall that appears on the table. The tile after the flipped on is worth a bonus .
 
Mahjong seems vastly more difficult to learn than it really is. I would really suggest looking into it if you are interested.  
Flash Game! 
http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/mahjong/mahjong_e.html "
I'm having problems with getting points on the flash game, it keeps saying no multiplier whenever I get Ron. Any tips?
Post by Myhnegon (12 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@FLStyle:
that leads into the "difficult" part of learning Mahjong... the "Han"   

Han are a multiplier to the base point value of your hand and without any Han, you have no hand. (Hence the "No Multiplier" thing) This is fairly obviously terribly important for scoring the game and for that matter knowing what is worth playing / trying to play for.
you get Han for a number of different tile combinations in the game 
- 3 dragons 
- 3 winds (must be prevailing or personal wind) 
- Kan 
- three sets of runs (1,2,3 dots  1,2,3 bamboo 1,2,3 characters) 
- straight  
- Tsumo
 
There are also a bunch of specific hands that give you Han. There is a list of some of them on that site under the game. these are how you get the huge point hands that people rattle off a name that takes 2-3 episodes to finish (mild hyperbole, forgive me) 
Post by compassnico (1 posts) See mini bio Level 1
 Just an FYI for whoever is trying to play Mahjong in computer games or whatever: the version they play in Saki is called Riichi Mahjong, or just Japanese Mahjong. There are several other rulesets (Chinese, Cantonse, etc) which are quite different.
 
@FLStyle
Like Myhnegon said, to be able to call Ron (or Riichi, for that matter), your hand has to have at least one Yaku (which would be some sort of special pattern which increases the value of your hand).
When Kana steals Saki's kan in one of the episodes, she was at tenpai but could not call ron on Koromo's hand, since she had no yaku. So Saki calls kan instead, which gives her the Chan-kan (robbing a kan) yaku, which made for one of the coolest plays in the whole series.
You can see a list of yakus here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_Mahjong_yaku
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