sumstuf wrote:Are mahjong strategies universal? Like are there any general strategies that are almost the same no matter which style your playing?
There are huge changes in strategy based on the variant you\'re playing, so I\'d say few strategies are universal. For example, if you let an opponent ron off your discard, the penalty can be quite great in Riichi, thus making it a highly defensive game. Meanwhile, in the Taiwanese variant, the penalty is a slap on the wrist, so you might as well risk it if given a choice between tenpai and a safe discard.
There are a couple basic things that do tend to apply to all the variants I know of, though. I think most (if not all) of these are probably covered by Tom Sloper\'s link, but I might as well:
1. Calling chi/pon/kan is not necessarily a good thing, so don\'t just call willy-nilly at every opportunity. Having to expose a meld in your hand is inherently disadvantageous; the only thing that can make it a good move is if you happen to really need that tile.
2. Learn patterns of tiles and waits. For example, If you have a 334, you can turn it into a meld if you get a 2, 3, or 5 (if you draw a 2 or 5, discard the 3; if you draw a 3, discard the 4). For a wait example, tenpai with a 7778 means you can win on a 6, 8, or 9.
3. When playing with real tiles or a game that lets you arrange your tiles manually, avoid the temptation to set aside melds in your hand by placing them away from other tiles of the same suit. It may make hand organization seem easier at first, but you may miss some possibilities and learn slower. For example:
7-bam 7-bam 1-crak 2-crak 3-crak 5-dot 5-dot 5-dot 2-bam 3-bam 4-bam 7-bam 8-bam
7-bam 7-bam 7-bam 1-crak 2-crak 3-crak 5-dot 5-dot 5-dot 2-bam 3-bam 4-bam 8-bam
1-crak 2-crak 3-crak 5-dot 5-dot 5-dot 2-bam 3-bam 4-bam 7-bam 7-bam 7-bam 8-bam
These three are all the same hand, but if you had put aside two of the 7-bam as a pair, you might fool yourself into thinking that you\'re just waiting for a 6-bam or 9-bam, and if you put all three 7-bam aside, you might look at it and think you\'re just waiting to pair up the 8-bam.
(That last tip comes courtesy of a personal anecdote with my cousin, who once set aside three 8-crak and then drew a 7-crak and a 9-crak, resulting in a hand arranged as 8-crak 8-crak 8-crak 5-crak 5-crak 7-crak 9-crak. But she thought she was only waiting for a 8-crak to form a 789 shuntsu. Someone discarded a 5-crak, and she was about to pass on it, but luckily for her, I was sitting behind her and called ron for her.)