Japanese Classical

American, Filipino... Any other rule sets you may have heard of or come across!

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MrWitman
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Japanese Classical

Post by MrWitman » Mon May 20, 2013 8:55 pm

i am used to playing Riichi Mahjong, but when searching for a ruleset suitable for teaching new players i've stumbled on Japanese Classical rules and they are really appealing.

features i like:
- you don't need any yaku/fan to go out
- scoring is not the simplest possible, but you don't have to worry about that during the play
- similar to, yet simpler than Japanese Modern
- according to the previous link a weaker luck element than in Japanese Modern, though i don't dare to judge myself

but i've found a ruleset only at two places and these two sources (mahjong.wikidot.com and 4windsmj.com) have few differences. besides, i am influenced by Riichi, so at few places i consider substituing Classical rules with Modern ones:
- at 4winds pin fu earns one double, at wikidot it is not mentioned at all. i am with 4winds
- wikidot uses riichi, 4winds does not. as much as i'd miss it, i am again with 4winds. it seems a natural difference from Riichi Mahjong
- san an kou scores 1 double at 4winds, 2 doubles at wikidot. i prefer wikidot, as it is in line with 2 fans in Riichi (and it is a hard to get yaku)
- toi toi is unrestricted at 4winds and scores 1 double, at wikidot it requires 1 or 2 closed pons, but earns 2 doubles. i am inclined to have toi toi unrestricted and scoring 2 doubles, again adopting it from Riichi
- there is toi toi + san an kou combo in both sources, but it seems unnecessary and confusing, i'd remove it
- 4winds has a relaxed furiten, wikidot stricter. i like strict furiten, but at the same time it makes game more complicated for beginners and following opponent's discards makes for a good defensive play even without an explicit rule

i am a bit confused whether to score one or multiple yakus at 4winds. for example that toi toi + san an kou combo worth 2 doubles apparently scores another 1 double for toi toi, but not the other 1 for san an kou. but i think i can handle it.

do you know any good resource for Japanese Classical rules, ideally complete enough so i could adopt it whole without further comparisons with 4winds and wikidot? what do you think about my ideas mentioned here, which variants are better? or should i stop bothering and just take another complete ruleset?

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Shirluban
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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by Shirluban » Mon May 20, 2013 10:48 pm

I know an other source, on Alan Kwan website, but don't expect to find any "reference".

The real question is: Why would you teach to new players a rule you don't use?
If the final goal is to teach Riichi mahjong, you'd better teach directly Riichi mahjong.
Whatever the rule you choose, you'll have to teach it progressively anyway, so Japanese Classical won't be much easier, and having to learn two rules is very likely to be confusing for new players.

If you just want to teach one and only one rule, Japanese Classical is far from being the simplest.
Chinese Classical rules are pretty simple, apart for the scoring.
Zung Jung / WSOM are very easy to learn. AFAIK, it's the only rule designed to be suitable for both new and seasoned players.
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Scott Miller
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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by Scott Miller » Tue May 21, 2013 2:16 am

I agree with Shirluban... teach just one rule set; the one you want them to play.

If you're looking for simple... the simplest rule set of them all is Filipino which has no special hands (so any complete hand of five sets and a pair wins), and no scoring to calculate, the winner simply wins the pot (what ever is agreed will be the pot). There's a few other details, but that's the jist of it... it really is that simple. My book goes over both classical riichi and Filipino if you're curious.

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MrWitman
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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by MrWitman » Tue May 21, 2013 10:15 am

thank you very much for both replies.

even though i started with the intention of finding a good rules for beginners, exploring various rulesets absorbed me and i started wondering what other variants might be fun to play and whether Riichi is the real pinnacle of mahjong evolution. in that respect it was a weird approach to modify Classical rules to be more Riichi-like.

Shirluban's link looks good and authoritative enough to resolve the aforementioned ambiguities.

i rejected Zung Jung rules before, because i didn't like the pattern-based scoring, but in fact it is not so unnatural merge of basic points and multiplying. i'll look more into them and as of now they moved to the top of my interest-list.

i didn't want to start with teaching Riichi, because it has really high initial barrier before you learn the rules (and get to the game itself). i consider memorising yakus and planning which to play for the biggest obstacle.

Filipino (i haven't known it is a variant in itself) is the obvious way to go at first, but i know a group of players playing that way, who got stucked at it and don't want to learn anything more complicated. it does no harm to them, but i believe one should be shown that there is more to mahjong than going out with the first hand possible.

therefore i wanted a variant which can be played like Filipino at first, with no requirements at a mahjong hand, but scores differently and awards more difficult hands. this could be reached with any rules, after including an arbitrary basic point/fan value for any finished hand, but i wasn't happy with this and tried to find a ruleset with this feature built in. if you learn a simple and playable ruleset, you can get familiar with it and then a conversion to other one is rather simply. and given it makes a good game itself, it doesn't matter if you don't progress further.

now my search is over and i think i can go with either Japanese Classical or Zung Jung. once again thanks for your help and that i could sort my thoughts when writing these posts.

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Tom Sloper
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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by Tom Sloper » Tue May 21, 2013 3:08 pm

MrWitman wrote:do you know any good resource for Japanese Classical rules
The books by Eleanor Whitney and by Kanai & Farrell.
Whitney's description of JC is mixed in with CC and what she calls American (I call that one Western/British/Australian). Also, checking http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq02b.htm again, I see that I had Carkner also listed as a JC source.
Full titles of all 3 books at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq03.htm
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wavemotion
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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by wavemotion » Tue May 21, 2013 3:19 pm

I teach a Simplified Riichi to new players (more than 30 new players now! Many have grabbed their first Mahjong sets). I let them know that I've simplified it and re-introduce full rules as they get comfortable.

The main rule changes I make to Riichi for teaching are as follows:

:arrow: Elimination of Mini-Points. Score is based on Han value alone. I've found that nobody I've ever taught has loved or loathed the game based on the mini-point scoring. It's irrelevant when teaching new players. This greatly simplifies scoring.
:arrow: Only common Yaku shown. It doesn't really help to showcase all the double-Yakuman hands that will come once in a lifetime. This is still a fairly wide list - and of that list, I've highlighted 6 that are particularly common/easy.
:arrow: Furiten rule simplified to "you can't Ron a tile to win that you've previously discarded". The rest of Furiten is more complex and rarely adds to the enjoyment for new players.
:arrow: Kan rules simplified such that you just always flip the next dora indicator immediately before new tile taken.
:arrow: Elimination of 300 point continuation scoring (homba).
:arrow: We only allow one redeal if the dealer wins to keep teaching times shorter and more predictable.
:arrow: The only Chombo we enforce is incorrectly declaring Mahjong.

My Simplified Riichi rules are here (I print out copies for everyone at the table when I teach):

Mahjong New Player Aid v1.1

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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by Kyuu » Tue May 21, 2013 10:07 pm

MrWitman wrote:i didn't want to start with teaching Riichi, because it has really high initial barrier before you learn the rules (and get to the game itself). i consider memorising yakus and planning which to play for the biggest obstacle.
After spending the past weekend running around and teaching the game at Anime Central -- this is indeed a big barrier. So, if anything, it may actually be wise to teach the game without even mentioning yaku, until players are ready to handle them.

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Re: Japanese Classical

Post by zzo38 » Mon May 27, 2013 4:33 am

Japanese Classical is the first one I learned to play; I learned it from a book from the library. (However, I didn't actually have a set of mahjong tiles at that time; I do now.) Before that, I have read other books about mahjong, although they were for other variations that I didn't like as much as the Japanese Classical. Now I play Riichi.
wavemotion wrote:Elimination of Mini-Points. Score is based on Han value alone. I've found that nobody I've ever taught has loved or loathed the game based on the mini-point scoring. It's irrelevant when teaching new players. This greatly simplifies scoring.
I do this myself when playing house rules, treating the hand as always 25 fu (which means that rounding is unnecessary, which in turn means that a self-drawn win doesn't mean you get more points due to the payment is rounded).
Kan rules simplified such that you just always flip the next dora indicator immediately before new tile taken.
I use this too.

(I use a few other house rules too, but I won't describe them here at this time.)

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