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2-player variants?

Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:25 am
by Trystero
When me and my other mahjong-obsessed friend can't pull together a full game we sometimes play a rough 2-player variant. I was wondering if any of you folks have experience with such variants? I know there are some 2 player games using mahjong tiles, but I'm looking for adapting the existing rules in a way that preserves the balance as much as possible.

My own experience is entertaining, if not entirely successful. Our first iteration was just each of us playing two hands at once. Dealer would be east and west, non-dealer north and south. Other than discouraging feeding triplets to yourself, the rules were unchanged. This sort of worked, but it quickly became clear that seeing two hands at once gave players far too much information. Huge, flashy hands became common and we quickly scrapped the format. Our second and more successful variant involves chopping 26 tiles off the end of the wall, essentially enlarging the dead wall to represent the tiles that will never be revealed in a 4-player game. We each get more draws, but the resulting discards are more realistic than when a 'robot' who draws and discards indiscriminately is used. The total number of discards is also more or less the same, which keeps Ron a viable option.

I can't say with certainty how well this is 'balanced', since my friend's playstyle is rather distinct and games with him don't go the way they would normally, but it seems as though the overall flow remains intact until near the end of the hand, with essentially no drawn games and a somewhat greater chance of success with 'big' hands. This bias isn't hugely disruptive in my experience, since I can play my way and my friend plays his way without the usual results changing dramatically. However, we are not a good barometer for this sort of thing, so its entirely possible there are facets of this that pose problems obvious to others which have never come up in our games.

Re: 2-player variants?

Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:56 am
by Ozball
The playing two hands each actually bares some resemblance to Washizu Mahjong (at least the version seen in Akagi) where 3 out of the 4 tiles are transparent and you work with the player to your right as a team, which makes the whole feeding yourself triplets less of a threat since your opponent can see these things coming etc. It would require a set of Washizu tiles though.

There are two two-player variants that I know, although both are more of study/practice than actually playing.

I've detailed one here:

The other is Bamboo Mahjong and you can see a flash version of it here:

The rules are listed at the top:

Bamboo Mahjong
Only bamboo tiles are used. First to 300,000 points is the winner.
You can't pon, chi or make open kans.
There are no reach or drawn hand payments. (Trans Note: While you do use a stick to declare reach, you don't actually wager 1000 of your points.)
There are no dora.
If it's a draw the dealer changes.
You can't make a kan after reaching that changes your wait.
No trickery. (Tras Note: Not really sure on what this one means. イカサマ seems to translate to fraud, trickery, counterfeit. So it might be referring to no-ten reaches or something else entirely.)

Re: 2-player variants?

Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:45 pm
by Barticle
Trystero wrote:[...]when a 'robot' who draws and discards indiscriminately is used.
I recall that a former member of the forum played two-player against his wife, sitting opposite each other but drawing four hands and treating the other two as "dummy" hands; certainly this isn't ideal but it might increase your win-rate. :)

Some Japanese mahjong video-games offer a two-player game with you competing against one CPU character. You'll see some with 二人打ち麻雀 or 2人打ち麻雀 in the title.
Ozball wrote:The playing two hands each actually bares some resemblance to Washizu Mahjong [...]
For the benefit of others (we know Robert's a fan) the full rules of Washizu Mahjong (including cash/blood payments!) are given in my Akagi DS guide (see link below). As Oz noted, adjacent players collude with each other to effectively give two teams of two (in the video-game you control two hands).
イカサマ seems to translate to fraud, trickery, counterfeit.
In a mahjong context Ikasama means cheating. Check out my Akko de Pon DS guide for a comprehensive list of practical techniques! ;)